This Article considers the process whereby foreign persons may obtain Bulgarian Citizenship together with a Bulgarian Passport.
Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union for the last 10 years, as an emerging market with a fast growing economy and full access to the EU now has never been a better time to invest in a European Country with the lowest tax burden.
Bulgaria is a serious contender for those persons who are seeking a second passport, who wish to set up a business in Bulgaria and to create a company.
The good news is that with several legislative amendments to the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act in recent years the possibilities for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship under the so-called fast-track procedure for investors has been extended.
As a result of the changes, Bulgaria has become one of the most practical options for foreign investors with a desire to achieve Bulgarian and more specifically European access and citizenship rights.
The financial dimension of the total investment to acquire Bulgarian citizenship is BGN 2 000 000 or approximately EUR 1 000 000.
The procedure is divided into two steps:
Step 1 – Permanent Permit by investing BGN 1 000 000
An initial investment of at least BGN 1 000 000 (≈ EUR 512,000), which allows investor to apply for immediate permanent residence in the country.
Doing this, the investor must be prepared to declare the origin of his funds.
The investment may be in any of the following ways (and is not limited to this list):
1. Shares in Bulgarian commercial companies, traded on a regulated Bulgarian market, or
2. Shares and treasury bonds and derivative instruments issued by the State or by municipalities, or
3. Ownership rights over an isolated part of the property of a Bulgarian commercial company with more than 50 percent state or municipal participation in the capital under the Act of Privatization and Post-Privatization Control, or
4. Shares or stocks owned by the state or municipalities in a Bulgarian commercial company in compliance with the Act of Privatization and Post-Privatization Control, or
5. Investment of at least BGN 6,000,000 (≈ EUR 3,703,000) in the capital of a Bulgarian company whose shares are not traded on the Bulgarian stock market.
Step 2 – Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment
The second part of the fast-track procedure is set in the Bulgarian Citizenship Act – one year after the acquisition of a permanent residence, the initial investment should be increased by another BGN 1 000 000, after which the foreigner can apply for Bulgarian (European) citizenship.
The objective of this second step is to accelerate the procedure for a non-EU citizen to acquire Bulgarian and European citizenship, thereby moving freely within the borders of the European Union which is one of the leading business development destinations.
The foreigner citizenship law gives investors a wide range of assets through which they can benefit from the fast track procedure. Investors are given a variety of assets in which to invest, such as government securities, intellectual property, into a contract account for trust management in a Bulgarian bank, shares of companies on regulated markets, etc.
Fast-Track vs Standard Procedure – Final Calculation
Under the standard procedure, the foreign citizens may apply for citizenship after the fifth year of legal residence in the country. In other words, anyone investing BGN 1 000 000 and holding a qualifying investment for 5 years, may obtain dual citizenship.
With fast –track procedure this period is decreased to one year and the ammount of investment is BGN 2 000 000.
Benefits of the Fast-Track Procedure
There are many advantages that makes the fast-track procedure preferable option for those wishing to obtain second passport
- No Bulgarian language skills required
- No obligation for renouncing the first citizenship of the foreigner
- There aren’t any requirements for physical presence and residence in Bulgaria