Embracing the Opportunities of Bulgarian Citizenship
Bulgaria is an EU member, meaning its citizens enjoy the benefits granted to state members, such as access to high-quality healthcare and education.
But there’s a lot more — so let us name some of the top benefits of being precisely a Bulgarian national of all other countries in Europe.
A Bulgarian passport is a gateway to global mobility. The key advantage when considering a second passport is the increased global mobility. As a holder of an EU member state passport, you can enjoy visa-free access or visa-on-arrival entry into up to 173 countries, including all the Schengen Area states.
A favourable tax climate. Bulgaria stands out among European countries due to its attractive tax system. With one of Europe’s lowest personal income tax rates — just 10% — Bulgaria presents a significant fiscal benefit, especially appealing for high‑net‑worth individuals looking to optimise their financial situation.
Natural beauty: an added perk. Selecting Bulgaria isn’t just about financial reasons; it also means embracing a nation rich in natural splendour. Bulgaria boasts stunning natural beauty, from beautiful Black Sea beaches to majestic mountains, offering unforgettable skiing experiences. Bulgarians abroad also often speak fondly about the local cuisine.
Cultural wealth. Gaining citizenship also provides an opportunity to become a part of Bulgaria’s rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years, be it traditional music festivals or ancient ruins waiting to be explored by those eager to learn about their adopted homeland’s past.
6 ways to acquire Bulgarian passport
There are six ways to get a Bulgarian passport legally and to become a citizen of Bulgaria:
- By descent.
- By investment.
- By naturalisation.
- By marriage.
- As a refugee or another humanitarian status.
- For exceptional services.
Bulgaria citizenship by descent
Bulgarian citizenship is not limited to those born in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Citizenship Act has provisions for foreign nationals of Bulgarian origin, extending up to three generations. So, if your lineage traces back to a grandparent who was a native-born citizen of Bulgaria, you are eligible.
Documents such as birth certificates or official records showing family connections should be enough. If proving ancestry via documentation proves challenging, DNA testing can also serve the purpose.
Bulgaria citizenship by investment
For the affluent individuals seeking global mobility and access to European markets, Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment program is a golden opportunity. Bulgaria closed the golden visa program in 2021 but reintroduced it in 2023.
To apply for a Golden Visa, one has to be a non-EU citizen in good health, over 18 years old and with no criminal record. The applicants must make and maintain an investment of €512,000 in one of the following ways:
- stocks/shares traded in Bulgaria;
- private equity funds;
- venture capital or hedge funds;
- real estate investment companies.
Investors get a residence permit first; after five years, provided they hold their investment, they can apply for citizenship and get their funds back.
For double the investment amount, obtaining Bulgarian citizenship is accelerated to 18 months instead of five years.
Bulgaria citizenship by naturalisation
Naturalisation is a well-trodden path for those aiming to obtain Bulgarian citizenship. The applicant has to:
- be 18 or older;
- hold a long-term or permanent residence permit for at least 5 years;
- not have been convicted of a premeditated crime;
- have a source of income or occupation and can financially support themselves;
- speak Bulgarian.
Although Bulgaria doesn’t permit dual citizenship for non-native Bulgarian nationals, certain categories of citizens are exempt from this rule: spouses of Bulgarian citizens, citizens of a member state of the EU, and citizens of countries with which Bulgaria has concluded treaties establishing reciprocity.
Bulgaria citizenship by marriage
Obtaining Bulgaria citizenship by marriage is a subcase of citizenship by naturalisation. The applicant must be legally married to a Bulgarian citizen and possess a permanent or long-term residence permit for at least three years before applying for naturalisation.
Divorce won’t affect citizenship status after it has been obtained once.
Bulgaria citizenship as a refugee or other humanitarian status
Bulgaria citizenship by naturalisation as a refugee may be granted to a person who:
- received a refugee or asylum status no less than three years ago;
- is over 18 years old at the moment of application;
- hasn’t been convinced of a crime;
- has an income or occupation in Bulgaria;
- is fluent in the Bulgarian language.
Bulgaria citizenship for exceptional services
A person who is not a Bulgarian citizen may acquire Bulgarian citizenship if the country is interested in their services or if the person has special merits for the Republic of Bulgaria in the public and economic spheres, in science, technology, culture, or sports.
How to obtain Bulgaria citizenship by investment
Let’s go step-by-step through the process of obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment.
An investor has to pass a due diligence check and get preliminary approval from InvestBulgaria Agency, a governmental organization established to attract investment to Bulgaria.
After the approval, the investor gets registered in the chosen investment fund, transfers €512,000 and then acquires an investment certificate.
The whole procedure can take up to one month.
An investor must apply for a type D visa in the nearest consulate three months before entering Bulgaria. The documents processing may take up to 35 days.
The investor submits an application in person to the Ministry of Interior Migration Directorate at least two months before the visa expiration.
The procedure will take up to two months, but sometimes this period may be extended.
The investor can apply for Bulgaria citizenship at the Ministry of Justice five years after getting permanent residence.
If the investor doubles the initial €512,000 investment amount, the citizenship can be granted within 18 months, plus the application time of around 6 months.
Bulgaria citizenship by investment vs citizenships of other European countries
While Bulgaria boasts a list of opportunities for its potential citizens, its citizenship by investment program is not the most available.
Let’s compare Bulgaria with some other popular destinations for citizenship by investment programs in the European Union.
|Country||Minimum investment||Permanent residence obtaining period|
- Bulgarian citizenship opens up possibilities like visa-free access to many countries or low tax rates.
- Tracing your roots could be one way in; if you have Bulgarian ancestry, this route might be for you. Alternatively, consider Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment program.
- €512,000 is the required investment amount to get a residence permit in the country and, in five years, Bulgarian citizenship. The process is much faster with double the investment amount.
- Ultimately, if Bulgarian citizenship doesn’t work for you, find a more convenient investment program that will grant you access to European citizenship.
Frequently Asked Questions
A person with at least one parent who is a citizen of Bulgaria or someone born on its territory may be eligible. Additionally, foreigners who have resided in Bulgaria for five years or more and meet other criteria are also eligible.
The process for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship can take up to 5 years but can be shortened to 2 years if you invest double the amount.
For investment-based applications, expect a minimum of €512 000 in investments plus administrative fees.
Purchasing property doesn’t grant residency in Bulgaria. However, a real estate investment might qualify you for the country’s investment immigration program.
To establish your Bulgarian descent, provide official documents like birth certificates or historical records demonstrating lineage back to a native-born ancestor.