EU Citizenship and Residence by Investment in Bulgaria

Overview

Bulgaria's citizenship programme is an accessible, transparent and respectable gateway into the European economy, society and way of life.

The minimum investment needed to qualify for citizenship is low, at €512,000 (~US $ 554,000).

Applicants may finance this by borrowing.  (Lower sums yet are required if the objective is long-term residence only. We cover this in a separate note dealing with Bulgarian residence by investment).

Unlike other programmes, applicants are required to invest rather than pay into a government fund or make a donation, allowing the future citizen the possibility of profit, as well as of a contribution to the Bulgarian economy.

A further advantage of the Bulgarian citizenship by investment programme is the wide range of qualifying investment classes. This approach is progressive as it avoids potential economic distortion. Unlike the Golden Visa programmes of Spain and Portugal for example, investment is not limited to real estate. Nor is the programme prescriptive as to the number of jobs to be created, as the U.S.’s EB 5 is.

A fast-track process allows acquiring citizenship within approximately 18 months from investing.

Under the Fast Track, the investment made must be maintained for two years following the date on which the applicant takes citizenship, as well as throughout the qualifying period.

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The qualifying investments

An investor on the Bulgarian programme may make a wide range of investments, including:

  • shares of a corporation admitted to trading on the Sofia stock exchange
  • bonds, related instruments or their derivatives, issued by the Government of Bulgaria or by Bulgarian local government, with at least 6 months to maturity
  • investments in the capital of unquoted companies (a higher threshold applies)

In practice, the multiple eligible investment classes accommodate many investment styles and objectives. We will be pleased to discuss with you (and/or your financial advisors) your plans, and their eligibility under the programme. 

Most of our existing clients have chosen government bonds, which are seen as low-risk but we are able to support our clients with their own preferred investment strategy or strategies.

Two speeds

On the Standard Track, an applicant would become a permanent resident on completing the qualifying investment. After holding a qualifying investment for 5 years, on further application, such a resident would qualify for naturalization.

On the Fast Track, if an investor (broadly) doubled their investment at any time after the first year from investing, they become eligible for citizenship within a further 6 months, rather than having to wait for the 5-year period to run out.

Requirements other than the investment itself

The most significant of these are:

  • declaring (and possibly being asked to provide evidence on) source of investment funds
  • police and/or criminal record check search results
  • prior to travelling to Bulgaria to apply for a Residence Permit, applicants must obtain a visa at a Bulgarian Consulate abroad, lodging their visa application at a location depending on their existing citizenship and/or residence
  • at several points during permanent residence, informing the Bulgarian authorities of the status of the investment. If the investment is terminated or converted into an ineligible investment class, the Residence Permit may be withdrawn
  • the investment must be retained for two years following acquisition of citizenship (though it is possible to switch between investments or into different eligible investment classes throughout the qualifying period).

What is not required?

  • applicants are not required to be present in Bulgaria during the qualifying residence, but are required to secure accommodation
  • language competence is not required
  • upon grant, citizenship does not come with additional burdens (e.g., compulsory military service, obligation to vote in elections, jury service)
  • tax residence is not identical with citizenship and acquiring citizenship does not automatically mean an investor needs to change their tax arrangements. (However, it should be noted that Bulgaria has a very favourable tax regime, with the European Union's lowest personal and corporate tax rates which may be beneficial for certain of our clients).

New Balkans Law Office regularly advises on the requirements of the Bulgarian citizenship by investment programme and acts for applicants in all aspects of the process. See below for our experience and how to contact us.

Family members

Close family members of the investor are eligible to acquire permanent residence and obtain Bulgarian citizenship in several ways. The main applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 18 are eligible to become permanent residents after the main applicant is granted resident status. A main applicant’s spouse is only eligible if the spouses have been married for no less than five years at the time of application. Adult children of an investor are eligible in their own right immediately after the investor themselves obtains citizenship. 

Our experience and advantage

NBLO is in a position to advise on the eligibility of an investor’s investment plans (although we cannot provide investment advice as such), to assist in the sourcing, clarification and preparation of supporting documents, to liaise with the relevant government bodies, to assist at each step, including by completing many of the steps on behalf of the applicant, to put together the applications and submit and represent, among others.

As a law firm with a strong and rich practice in immigration and nationality law, NBLO deals extensively with applications for citizenship both involving investment, and not.

Since our members are regulated lawyers, we adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and probity.  This includes our duties under the European Union's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation. This serves to assure our clients that our other clients have passed suitable checks and are worthy associates.

Our work with both private clients and businesses in other areas of law helps us provide a high-quality and seamless service: we are able to draw on our extensive knowledge and experience from other areas ranging from personal taxation to company law (relevant to the realization of investment plans and the assessment of their eligibility under the programme), from family law (relevant to the citizenship applications by family members of the main applicant) to real estate and fund management law (relevant where an applicant has chosen to invest in either of these classes).

Download our brochure about Citizenship by Investment in Bulgaria (PDF)

Frecuently asked questions about the Bulgarian Citienship by Investment Programme

For more information about the program and to start the process of obtaining citizenship, please Contact Us



Recent work:

The bid of one of Europe’s leading energy groups to acquire a nuclear project in Bulgaria

Members of our team advised one of Europe's leading energy groups on its bid (legal due diligence and transaction support) to acquire 49% of the shares in the company intended to construct and operate a Nuclear Power Plant in Bulgaria.

© New Balkans Law Office 2017