London, United Kingdom
The Bulgarian Investment Citizenship Programme allows non EU investors and their families to acquire Bulgarian citizenship.
Launched in 2013, the programme has helped more than 300 investors get Bulgarian citizenship and therefore EU citizenship. EU citizenship is derivative on the national citizenship of each member state. A citizen of eg Bulgaria, France or Germany is automatically thereby an EU citizen.
Тhe advantages of being a Bulgarian citizen
- Bulgarian citizens who are tax resident in Bulgaria pay low corporate and personal income tax – 10%. Certain types of income and gains are exempt from tax for Bulgarian residents or in some cases to non residents of Bulgaria, and/or subject to lower rates. This is the lowest rate of tax in the EU;
- Bulgarian citizens travel visa free to 169 countries in the world;
- Citizens are able to live and work in all 27 EU countries: a Bulgarian citizen enjoys so-called ‘freedom of movement’ in EU law. This means they can work without a work permit, and are treated for most purposes as if they are citizens of the EU country to which they move;
- Citizens can access EU education at EU citizen tuition fees rates, whichever EU country they move to as Bulgarian citizens or as family members of Bulgarian citizens. Often such fees are substantially lower than the fees applicable to non European citizens; they may also have wider access options – with more places open to them as EU citizens;
- Access to the EU healthcare system on the same basis as other EU citizens;
- US E-2 Visa Treaty Country – Bulgarian citizens can live and work in the USA on a reciprocity basis.
An applicant does not need to:
- Live in Bulgaria;
- Have a bank account in Bulgaria: the investor can use existing banking and/or brokerage relationships;
- Donate to a Bulgarian government fund (by comparison with Bulgaria, e.g. Malta requires a donation of €650,000);
- Learn to speak the Bulgarian language (by comparison with Bulgaria, e.g. Spain and Portugal require applicants to speak their languages);
- Disclose their EU citizenship (this is automatic in Malta and happens regularly in Cyprus).
Legal basis of the programme
The Bulgarian CBI Programme is based on provisions in the Bulgarian Citizenship Act. In early 2021, the Bulgarian Parliament approved а Bill amending the legislation governing the citizenship by investment programme.
Which were the main changes?
- New investment options were introduced;
- Investment will now not be in Bulgarian government bonds – but instead in a number of alternatives;
- Citizen investor applicants must go through a pre-approval process by the Bulgarian Investment Agency;
- An investor’s spouse’s right to obtain Bulgarian citizenship triggers in 3 years, instead of 5 as previously;
- The processing of applications for citizenship is expected to be expedited.
What parts of the programme remain unchanged?
- Standard Track and Fast Track leading to Bulgarian citizenship remain as is;
- Investment size remains €0.5 million for Standard Track and €1 million Fast Track;
- Тhe sequence of steps in the process is unchanged;
Eligible Investment Classes
An investor may acquire, e.g:
- Shares of Bulgarian mutual funds, including e.g. ETFs;
- Interests in an AIF (alternative investment fund) such as a Bulgarian venture capital (VC) fund or private equity fund with a Bulgarian-focused investment strategy;
- An interest in a Bulgarian Certified Priority Investment Project (CPIP);
- Direct investment in corporate bonds or shares/stocks of a company listed in Bulgaria (in which case a higher investment of €1m/€2m in total is required);
- direct investment in the capital of a private Bulgarian corporation (in which case a higher investment is required). The Bulgarian company may then invest in any project or property (eg, a Bulgarian or foreign real estate).
Summary of the Programme
- Fast Track
Investment: Two tranches of ~ EUR 0.5 million each
Holding Bulgarian Permanent Residence: 1 year
Time to Bulgarian Citizenship: 2 years
- Standard Track
Investment: ~ EUR 0.5 million
Holding Bulgarian Permanent Residence: 5 years
Time to Bulgarian Citizenship: 6 years
Holding of Investment
When an applicant for EU citizenship is on the Fast Track, the investment must be maintained for an extra 2 years after grant of Bulgarian citizenship AND 5 years in total, whichever is longer.
On the Standard Track, the investment can be sold immediately after grant of citizenship.
Steps leading to Bulgarian citizenship
- Obtain pre-approval by the Bulgarian Investment Agency as a prospective citizen;
- Мake a qualified investment and receive an investment certificate from the Bulgarian Investment Agency;
- Apply for Bulgarian long term visa Type D at the nearest Bulgarian consulate;
- Apply in Bulgaria for a Bulgarian Permanent Residence Status and and ID card;
- Make the second qualified investment after holding Permanent Residence Status for at least 1 year under the Fast Track and 5 years under the Standard Track;
- Apply for Bulgarian citizenship.
Bulgarian citizenship for the investor’s spouse
The spouse of an investor can benefit from the same investment.
Under the Fast Track, the spouse of the investor may apply for citizenship once the investor has been granted his/her citizenship AND the spouse has held Bulgarian permanent residence for at least 3 years;
On the Standard Track, the spouse of the investor needs to hold permanent residence permit for 5 years, and then apply for Bulgarian citizenship.
Bulgarian citizenship for the investor’s children
Children may decide to apply for citizenship or their parents may do so for them by: (1) becoming a Bulgarian permanent resident first OR (2) applying for citizenship once the investor is a Bulgarian citizen (with no permanent residence stage).
Children regardless of age and whether or not they are dependants or in education, etc, may apply for Bulgarian citizenship immediately after the investor is naturalised as a Bulgarian citizen.
This takes ~12 months. Children born after the investor has Bulgarian citizenship are automatically Bulgarian citizens. Such children must register as Bulgarian citizens. They may renounce their citizenship if they no longer wish to have it.
NBLO – Your Bulgarian Citizenship Lawyers
New Balkans Law Office is a boutique law firm with a strong practice in Bulgarian and EU immigration and nationality law. We deal extensively with applications for citizenship including Bulgarian citizenship by investment, Bulgarian citizenship by origin and Bulgarian citizenship by residence, settlement of family members of EU/Bulgarian citizens, and other citizenship and immigration related matters.
We have helped a number of high-net-worth individuals in obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment and today our clients are 100% successful.
For more information, please contact us at: or via our contact form.