Residency PermitYou need to apply for your residence permit within 30 days of entering Albania.
In order to stay or work in Albania, you will need to apply for a residence permit. This process can be confusing and time consuming! After applying for a number of permits over the last few years I have encountered a variety of obstacles and issues that could easily have been avoided if I had known a few specific details regarding notarizing documents and how long things generally take.
Even if you are entitled to 90 days visa-free in Albania, you need to start the application within the first 30 days of your stay. If you have stayed longer than this without applying, you’ll need to leave the country and reenter in order to start your residence permit application.
Please do not confuse this with overstaying your visa-free period! For more details on this see below!) As of January 2020, a residence permit can be applied for online at e-Albania. You can also renew your residence permit online here. You will find the details of the type of visa you should apply for and the relevant documents that you will need on this website.
There are three types of residence permits that you can apply for in Albania:
- Type A; non-renewable, only with the right to stay in the territory
- Type B (AL Blue Card); renewable, with right of entry/exit, staying outside the territory for not more than 6 months
- Type C (AL-C Blue Card); permanent, stay abroad for no more than 12 months without interruption.
However, there is still a lack of detail included regarding the specifics of some of the documents, what needs to be notarized, and how to obtain these documents. This article aims to offer some assistance with regard to a number of these details.
In order to have a smooth sailing and stress-free experience during the application process, we highly recommend applying for your permit as soon as possible! Even if you do not have all the documents, visit the immigration office and confirm the type of permit that you need and exactly what documents you will need for your application.
By visiting the office first you may save yourself time gathering unnecessary documents and you can confirm whether the documents that you may already have are acceptable. Also, if you are worried about overstaying your visa and being fined you may be able to gather some of the documents and pay for the visa while you spend time collecting the more time-consuming documents. To have an overview of the documents needed for the residence permit application, please check out the link here.
This is a new system that was introduced in January 2020. It promises to speed up the process and limit the number of visits to the immigration office by communicating with the applicant online via email. The website says that the application will be reviewed and any issues regarding your application or documents will be explained via email. Once they have accepted all, they will communicate your acceptance via email and you will need to visit the immigration office with your printed out and signed online application form with your application number.
Based on recent experience, as of January 2020, these are the steps to be followed to apply for residence permit:
- Once you are sure that you have all the necessary documentation for your application (we recommend visiting the immigration office for a second time to confirm with an officer) you will need to apply online e-Albania
- It is necessary to upload all your documents and fill in the online application. We recommend uploading photographs of your documents instead of scanned files as the larger file sizes of scanned files can cause problems on the online system.
- Once you have completed the application online you will receive an application number and it is necessary to print out the entire document.
- When this is completed, printed and signed, along with your passport photos, you can return to the immigration office to finalize the application and receive details of how to pay.
Overstaying your Visa
If you are close to overstaying your visa-free period you cannot leave the country (cross a border for example), return and then restart your visa-free period from the beginning!
You will be fined for the number of days that you have overstayed in Albania so please be careful!
The number of days you can stay depends on your citizenship so please be aware of the limit according to your country. This can be a little confusing so to illustrate how this works I will give an example:
In order to continue to stay in Albania, she will need to apply for residency or leave the country for three months in order to restart her allowed permit free period of 90 days.Mary thinks that if she crosses the border and visits Kosovo and then returns to Albania before her 90 days ends she will begin her visa-free period again.
Mary enters Kosovo on her 85th day in Albania and returns to Albania again 5 days later.Now she does not have 90 days visa-free in Albania, she has only 5 days. Her 90 days are paused once she leaves the country, not restarted from the beginning.Unaware of this, Mary waits a month to apply for a residence permit and she now has to pay a fine of 30,000 lek to the immigration office before she is even allowed to begin the residence permit application.
Renewing your residence permit when employed in Albania
You may apply for a renewal of your residence permit within 60 days before your current permit expires. This process is slightly less complicated than applying for the first residency permit. However, you cannot apply for a renewed permit of two years if:
- You have been outside Albania for 6 months or more during the duration of your last permit
- You have a change in residence (please keep this in mind if you are considering moving before applying!)
- You have a change in employment, if you change work you will need to reapply for a work permit to reflect this.
If you have changed residency, changed work, or been outside for more than 6 months you will need to restart the procedure from the beginning again and can only apply for a one year permit once again.
If you have no issues with regards to that mentioned above you can apply for a renewal. You will need to supply the following:
- 2 x passport photos
- Copy of ID
- An updated notarized rental contract
- A document that shows the contributions you have paid via taxes to Albanian state (your work will get this document for you)
- An updated work contract.
You will not need to gather a police certificate or apply for another work permit (if you are working in the same place).
Tips and some extra information
- Please start the process as early as possible! Although the documents are not that difficult to gather, some are time-consuming and in order to avoid a last-minute panic please visit the immigration office as soon as you can!
- It is necessary to make an initial visit to speak to an officer to confirm the type of visa you should apply for. For some permits you will need a certain amount of money in your bank account, (€2,500) this may be necessary for those in part-time employees whose wage is not deemed sufficient to sustain their stay as well as those not working. Please confirm whether you will need to have this amount of money with the immigration office.
- If possible try to deal with the same immigration officer each time you visit, this will help to avoid unnecessary confusion regarding documents.
- Remember that the immigration office is not open to inquiries and applications on Fridays, you can pick up your temporary/completed residence permit on a Friday if it is ready but you will not be able to speak with an officer.
- Ask the officer to write down any documents you are confused about on a piece of paper in Albanian, this will help when you are asking your workplace, landlord etc for necessary documents. When you apply for your first residency permit you can only apply for a permit of one year. When renewing this document you can apply for two years and after that, you can apply for the three-year permit.
You cannot apply for a two or five-year permit with your first application.