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US citizen here. My answer to my own question leads towards "no". No harm in asking.

I have means to obtain a residence permit in Spain.

Can I then overstay the 90/180-day visa-free stay my US passport enables in Bulgaria?

Assume for answering the question that Bulgaria never becomes part of Schengen.

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    Your residence permit for Spain allows you to reside in Spain. It does not allow you to overstay the 90 days in the other Schengen countries or the seperate 90 days for Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 21:30
  • Your question is unclear. Are you asking if you can combine the up to 90 days’ stay in Bulgaria that a Spanish residence permit would allow with a 90 day visa-free stay, to enable a longer stay in Bulgaria? Or do you want to know about visiting Bulgaria using a Spanish residence permit?
    – Traveller
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 6:48

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A third-country national who does not have a Bulgarian residence permit or Bulgarian type D long-stay visa is limited to 90 days presence in Bulgaria in any 180-day period. Nationals of some countries must have a type-C short-stay visa. The US is one of several countries whose citizens are not subject to this requirement.

Someone who normally would need a visa for a short stay can substitute (for example) a visa from a Schengen state, Romania, or Cyprus, or a residence permit. The foreign document serves as an exemption from the visa requirement, not as an authorization of stay. Thus, for a US citizen, the foreign document has no effect: there is no visa requirement to in any event.

Therefore, the answer to your question is indeed no. A US citizen's stay in Bulgaria is treated the same no matter what.

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