After Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union, the country became an attractive and secure place for foreign investments. To further boost the country’s economic growth, the Bulgarian Parliament passed in 2009 number of amendments in the Bulgarian Citizenship, Foreigners in Bulgaria and Investment Promotion laws, which enabled Non-European citizens and their families, who invest in Bulgaria, to apply for permanent residency and citizenship in a much simplified and shortened procedure.
Non-EU nationals and their families (spouse and children below 18) can apply for Permanent Residence in Bulgaria if they invest in several financial instruments. Permanent residence permits are issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior. This entitles the person to the same rights as a Bulgarian citizen, except the right to vote.
- Investment of BGN 500,000 (€255,646) in the capital of a trade company under which tangible or intangible assets are acquired and 10 or more jobs for Bulgarians are created; the reason for maintaining the foreigner’s permit and the investment must be proven to the Ministry of Economy
- BGN 1 million in collective investment schemes (minimum net asset value requirements apply in both cases) or alternative investment funds licensed and registered by the Financial Supervision Commission and whose investment strategy is targeted predominantly towards Bulgarian companies and which solely invest in assets and/or bonds of Bulgarian companies, including special purpose investment companies
- BGN 1 million investment in rights under concession contracts on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria
- BGN 2 million investment in the share capital of a Bulgarian trade company implementing a priority investment project certified under the Investment Promotion Act and verified by the Ministry of Economy or in shares or bonds of Bulgarian companies, traded on a Bulgarian regulated market or multilateral trading facility in Bulgaria;
- BGN 6 million investment in the capital of a non-publicly traded Bulgarian company
- Requirement to maintain the above investments for a period of at least 5 years.
The Applicant must not be an EU citizen. He must possess a valid passport or another foreign travel document and must have a clean criminal record.
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. Spouses and children of the applicant are eligible to acquire permanent residence. Though, they will not be granted citizenship at the same time as the applicant. To be eligible to apply the applicant must make a full investment option of at least BGN 1,000,000 (€512,000).
The applicant must apply for a permanent residence permit and ID card in Bulgaria. If eligible, the investor can apply for citizenship in Bulgaria or at a Bulgarian consulate abroad. Applicants are not required to be in Bulgaria during the whole process. However, when applying for a permanent residence permit and ID card the investor is required to be present in Bulgaria. There are a number of documents that have to be prepared and legalized including, but not limited to, criminal record certificate, marriage license, proof of funds, etc.
The Investor may apply for Bulgarian citizenship by investment if he holds the permanent residence and maintains the investment for five years. There is no physical residence requirements or fluency in Bulgarian language as required by the general naturalization rules.
Bulgarian citizenship requirements for investors are as follows:
- Be of the age of maturity (note: children under 18 obtain citizenship when one of their parents becomes a citizen);
- Must have maintained permanent resident status and a valid residential address for the past five years;
- Has not been sentenced for a premeditated criminal offence and is not subject to criminal proceedings for such an offence;
- Possesses an income and/or occupation allowing him or her to subsist in the Republic of Bulgaria.
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 citizenship.
In February 2021, the Bulgarian Parliament passed legislation and made changes to the Bulgarian citizenship Act, according to which if an investor doubled the investment at any time after the first year from receiving permanent residency, he becomes eligible for citizenship within a further 6 months, rather than having to wait for the 5-year period to run out.
The fast-track option allows investors to apply for citizenship faster by doubling their investment. The requirements for this option are as follows:
- Double the original investment of BGN 1 million under the same conditions as the original investment or
- Invest at least BGN 1 million in the capital of a Bulgarian company implementing a priority investment project certified under the Investment Promotion Act and certified by the Ministry of Economy; or
- The candidates who have opted to invest in a company and create jobs, have to increase their investment by at least BGN 1 million as a result of which at least 20 new jobs have to be created.