Citizenship by Investment in Bulgaria
The Republic of Bulgaria is a country in Southern Europe that borders five other states: 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, by special contribution to Bulgarian State, and on some other grounds including investment. Below you will find a brief summary of grounds for acquisition of 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 through special merits before Bulgaria is available for people of art, science, for philanthropists, etc., who contribute significantly to the interests of Bulgaria. These applications are handled on case-by-case basis.
Citizenship in Bulgaria (EU) by investment: Amendments from December 2013 that allow fast track citizenship application make Bulgarian residency and citizenship program to be one of the best in EU. It is cheaper and more competitive than the similar passport schemes in Cyprus and Malta. In case of investment route, you apply for permanent residency first; government bond investment of 512,000 is needed. After five years, you will be able to apply for Bulgarian citizenship without additional investment. If the investor prefers to fast-track citizenship application, he can do so by doubling investment (another 512,000 EUR) 1 year from the date of residency approval.
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.
Questions and Answers on Bulgarian (EU) Citizenship
Question: We are considering residency-by-investment program in Bulgaria and then fast track citizenship application (based on doubling the investment by permanent resident). Some web-sites suggest that the fast track citizenship application is possible only for the main applicant. Here is the information we have: “Regarding your questions, his wife cannot take advantage of the fast track. Even if the main applicant doubles his investment, she still has to wait for 5 years of permanent residence before applying for Bulgarian citizenship. All the family members are submitting their citizenship applications based on different articles in the Bulgarian citizenship act. Once the main applicant becomes a Bulgarian citizen all his children are eligible to submit their personal citizenship applications based on art. 15 (1) 3. As for the wife she will apply under art. 12 a of the same act being a member of the family of the investor. You can be sure that all other kind of information regarding the participation of the spouses in the fast track is misleading. As for the children, we confirm that once the main applicant becomes a Bulgarian citizen, immediately all his children regardless of their age and marital status become eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship based on the same article in the law – art. 15 (1) 3. The only requirement for them is to have clear criminal record.”
Answer: We confirm the fast track applies for the main applicant. With regards to your question on the dependents, it becomes more interesting when the father becomes a Bulgarian citizen; ultimately dependent kids will also be eligible for citizenship (regardless of their age or marital status). Children won’t be required to become a PR for 5 years before applying for Citizenship, on the contrary, they can apply for citizenship under another article if the Bulgarian Citizenship Act since their parent is now a Bulgarian. However, spouse will still have to wait 5 years. Alternatively, the spouse can invest separately for PR and will be eligible to fast track citizenship application by doubling the investment (because in this scenario she gets her PR by investment and not by family reunification).
Question: I am interested in Bulgarian citizenship-by-investment. Can you inform about the full cost including the legal fee you charge?
Answer: Permanent residence is possible upon investment of 512,000 EUR (BGN 1,000,000). This is a conservative investment which is made into bonds. After 5 years money will be returned without interest. In this scheme (if you do not want invest additional amounts) citizenship is granted after 5 years. Alternatively, if you do not want to wait 5 years than you can try to obtain citizenship by investment of additional 512,000 EUR into government bonds. This second investment should be made 1 year after you get permanent residency and maintained minimum 2 years. In conclusion, the applicant is expected to invest 1,024,000 EUR in order to get citizenship.
Question: What is the time-frame for Bulgarian citizenship-by-investment?
Answer: The time-frame is 6 months to get permanent residency, after another 12 months applicants are eligible to apply for citizenship. Applications are processed during another 12 months. So, if you start working with our company the citizenship and passports will be possible after 2,5 years.
Question: I can see I can get permanent residency based on EUR 512,000 investment. Do I have to live in Bulgaria to maintain my permanent resident status?
Answer: The applicant and his qualifying family members are exempted from having to live in Bulgaria during their 5-year residence period, unless they want to.
Question: When visa D is issued how many days the applicant can spend in Bulgaria? Suppose if I want to visit Bulgaria, apply for PR and then wait for the decision in Bulgaria. Is it possible?
Answer: Visa D has 180 days (6 months) validity and the holder of the visa could stay in Bulgaria during this period. The law requires PR application to be loaded within the first 3 months of the validity of the visa. The approval term is 3 months, so the applicant has enough time to reside and wait for the approval.
Question: Once I obtain the permanent residence permit, do I have to pay taxes in Bulgaria?
Answer: No, unless you decide to conduct business in Bulgaria or to physically reside in Bulgaria for more than 183 days within 12 consecutive months.
Question: What is the normal track of business immigration to Bulgaria?
Answer: The normal track of getting permanent residence (without considerable investments) involves incorporation of Bulgarian company, creation of ten jobs for Bulgarians and getting temporary residence permit, renewed annually. In this case, permanent residency application is possible after 5 years of residence and business in Bulgaria.
Question: Can you provide me with more information on Bulgarian citizenship? My daughter is 16 and her father is Bulgarian, however she did not had any contact with him since she was 4 month old. Is it possible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship on the grounds that one of the parents is Bulgarian?
Answer: Before 18 years old she cannot apply without parents. Parents must give their notarial consent. In case she reaches age of 18 years the consent of parents is no longer required and she will be able to apply for citizenship of Bulgaria by herself.
Question: Can you assist us with application for Bulgarian citizenship based on ancestry?
Answer: We do not provide services regarding acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship through ethnic origin. We only deal with citizenship by investment.
Question: I have some questions about obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment. How many times should the Investor visit Bulgaria for this program before getting the permanent residency and citizenship? Are there any restrictions for Middle Eastern countries people such as Iran?
Answer: The investor is expected to visit Bulgaria twice to get permanent residency and twice to get citizenship. All the family members will be expected to visit Bulgaria. There are no restrictions for Iran in Bulgaria (sanctions are imposed by the USA and some other countries).
Question: The family consists of husband, wife, and three small kids. Both wife and husband are owners of business but business of wife is profitable, she receives dividends, and she can prove 512,000 EUR are legal and taxes are paid. Business of husband is not profitable or profit is very small (on paper). But it is desirable for him to be the main applicant. Kids are small and it is not convenient for her to visit Bulgaria twice… Is it possible that she sends money from her personal account to her husband’s personal account and then he acts as the main applicant (investor)? Funds will be sent from personal account.
Answer: For Bulgaria we use the combined assets of the main applicant and spouse. Therefore, it is fine to show the EUR 1Mil derived from both. A simple sworn statement explaining this by the main applicant that he received from his wife as gift for the purpose of the programs supported by personal bank statement is sufficient.
Question: I would like to know if the child is not dependent when he is eligible to apply for permanent residence. Can you give more info about that?
Answer: If the child is under 18 years old, he can be included into application for PR (after investor as the main applicant gets his PR status, not simultaneously with the investor). If the child is over 18 years, he cannot apply for PR as a family member of investor irrespective of his dependency or not dependency.
At the same time when the main applicant (investor) gets Bulgarian citizenship his children can apply for citizenship based on their father’s citizenship. It is not important for children’s citizenship application whether they have PR or not, and also not important whether they are dependent or not dependent, married or not married. They can be 30 years old and married but still eligible to apply for citizenship based on the fact their father became Bulgarian citizen.
Question: I have been married to citizen of Bulgaria for 22 years, now we have a son of 19 years. We are still married till today. My son and I would like to get dual citizenship this summer if is possible. How can we do and is it possible? My husband has dual citizenship; he has a Bulgarian passport and a Maltese passport. This summer my son and I are coming to Bulgaria for a month and we wish to issue dual citizenship and Bulgarian ID’s, like how my husband has.
Answer: You are not eligible for BG citizenship because you do not reside there. If you relocate to Bulgaria you will be entitled to get permanent residency and apply for citizenship after 5 years of actual residence in the country. Your son can apply for citizenship without residency in BG because of ethnic origin from Bulgarian father. But in any case, he will not be able to get passport this summer; applications are processed during 18 months on average.
Question: My wife is Bulgarian citizen. We married in Bulgaria but now we live in Holland. Can I get Bulgarian citizenship or if I live in Bulgaria how long I wait to get Bulgarian citizenship through marriage?
Answer: If you do not reside physically in Bulgaria you have no right to apply for citizenship, permanent residence and even for temporary residency permit in Bulgaria based on marriage.
In order to get permanent residency by marriage you must reside in Bulgaria for 5 years. But if you have a common child you can apply for permanent residency immediately. There are no incentives for Bulgarian citizenship. You will be expected to reside in Bulgaria with permanent residency permit for 5 years in order to become eligible to apply.
If you have any questions or wish to use our legal assistance in obtaining permanent residence or citizenship of Bulgaria, contact us today