Citizenship and Second Passport of Bulgaria
Bulgaria (officially the Republic of Bulgaria) is a country in Southern Europe. Bulgaria borders five other countries: Romania to the north, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea defines the extent of the country to the east. Bulgaria’s capital city and largest settlement is Sofia, with a permanent population of 1,378,000 people. In 1945, after World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state and was a part of the Eastern Bloc until the political changes in Eastern Europe in 1989/1990, when the Communist Party allowed multi-party elections and Bulgaria undertook a transition to parliamentary democracy and free-market capitalism with mixed results.
Nowadays Bulgaria functions as a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and a founding state of the OSCE. Also Bulgaria has a high Human Development Index of 0.743, ranking 58th in the world in 2010.
Citizenship is based upon the Law on Bulgarian Citizenship, dated November 1998. Citizenship of Bulgaria can be acquired by birth, by descent, by naturalization, for special contribution to Bulgarian State, and on some other grounds. Below you will find a brief summary of grounds for Bulgarian citizenship.
Citizenship by birth: Birth within the territory of Bulgaria does not automatically confer citizenship. The exception is a child born in Bulgaria to unknown or stateless parents.
Citizenship by descent: Child, at least one of whose parents is a citizen of Bulgaria, regardless of the country of birth.
Citizenship by naturalization: Bulgarian citizenship may be acquired upon fulfillment of the following condition: Person has resided legally in Bulgaria for at least five years as a Permanent Resident. Citizenship for special merits before Bulgaria is available not only for investors but also for people of art, science, for philanthropists, etc., who contribute significantly to the interests of Bulgaria. The result (Bulgarian citizenship) can be obtained in scope of 9-18 months. Successful applicants receive full citizenship of the Republic of Bulgaria by decision of the Presidential Decree, and can apply for a Bulgarian passport immediately afterwards. Passports are issued within a few days. Persons who have greatly contributed to Bulgarian society are not required to renounce their previous citizenship.
Citizenship of Bulgaria on some other grounds: The following are eligible for Bulgarian citizenship through other than the normal naturalization process: A stateless person, one of whose parents is of Bulgarian descent. A child aged less than 14 years old who was adopted by Bulgarian parents. Refugees fleeing persecution can get Bulgarian citizenship. Dual citizenship is recognized.
Loss of citizenship: Voluntary renunciation of Bulgarian citizenship is permitted by law. Contact the nearest Bulgarian Embassy for details and proper paperwork. The following are grounds for involuntary loss of naturalized citizenship: 1) Naturalized citizenship was obtained through fraud or false statement. This revocation only affects the person who made the false statements. The person’s spouse and children may retain Bulgarian citizenship. 2) Person commits criminal acts against the security of the state outside of Bulgaria.
It should be kept in mind that acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship for special contribution to Bulgarian society, if is substantiated by philanthropic actions and donations to various cultural and social institutions in Bulgaria normally involves expenses of no less than 250,000 EUR or the investment of no less than 1,000,000 EUR into smart economy or rural areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I am interested in Bulgarian citizenship.
Answer: Permanent residence is possible upon investment of 511,000 EUR (BGN 1,000,000). After 5 years money will be returned without interest. In this scheme citizenship is granted after 5 years. If you do not want to wait 5 years than you can try to obtain citizenship in a special order for economic contribution but in this case we feel investment of at least 1,000,000 EUR into smart economy or rural areas will be required.
Question: I am interested in obtaining some European citizenship, preferably citizenship of EU-country. Roaming through the Internet I have found an offer of Bulgarian citizenship for investment EUR 170,000. The offer states that the investor is expected to pay a reduced amount of EUR 170,000. No further payment is required by the investor and nothing is returned to the investor at the end of the five year period. The reduced amount is used to finance a EUR 511,000 closed five-year term loan from a chartered Bulgarian bank. Once the Permanent Residence Permit is obtained by the foreign investment of BGN 1,000,000 (approximately EUR 511,000) as per the Bulgarian law and legislation, the foreign investor can benefit from a special exemption for physical residency requirement from the statutory 180 days per year over 5 years as per the Art 40 paragraph 5 of the Act for Foreigners in Republic of Bulgaria. This program is advertized as Bulgarian second passport program. Is it a residence or citizenship by investment program?
Answer: The answer is very simple. The web-site you quote advertize only the Permanent Residency Program. No passport is issued or citizenship granted under the Permanent Residency Program. Permanent Residency will provide you with all the rights of a Bulgarian citizen except the right to vote and to have Bulgarian passport for travel. Getting Bulgarian Permanent Residence through investment of BGN 1,000,000 is simply a fast track of normal business immigration.
Question: What is the normal track of business immigration to Bulgaria?
Answer: The normal track of getting permanent residence (without big investment) involves incorporation of Bulgarian company, creation of ten jobs for Bulgarians and getting temporary residence permit, renewed annually. In this case permanent residency is possible after 5 years of residence and business in Bulgaria.
Question: In case I chose the investment route of full investment EUR 511,000 or loan-option EUR 170,000 investment, how much time will it take to acquire Bulgarian citizenship?
Answer: Normally you will have to reside 5 years before you can apply. You may apply for Bulgarian citizenship according to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act. To that effect the Foreign Investor has, as of the date of filing the application for naturalization and as per Article 12 of the Act: to be major; to maintain valid status of permanent residence, not to be sentenced by a Bulgarian court for criminal offence neither to be accused for such a crime in criminal proceedings, unless he has been rehabilitated.
Question: Is it possible to acquire Bulgarian citizenship without residence requirement or investment?
Answer: Foreign citizen may acquire Bulgarian citizenship regardless of the provisions of Article 12 if the Republic of Bulgaria has demonstrated distinct interest in his/her naturalization or if the person concerned has made a special contribution to the Republic of Bulgaria in social or economic spheres, or in the field of science, technology, culture or sports. Bulgarian citizenship is granted personally by the President of the Republic by virtue of a President Decree issued on the grounds of a special well-founded proposal by the Minister of Justice after the completion of a statutory procedure provided for in the Bulgarian Citizenship Act. As it was mentioned in the article above obtaining citizenship on the basis of charitable activities or considerable investment is rather expensive. Dual citizenship is recognized in Bulgaria and renunciation of your previous citizenship is not required.
If you have any questions or wish to use our legal assistance in obtaining permanent residence or citizenship of Bulgaria, contact us today