Citizenship By Investment Bulgaria The Ultimate Guide By Experts | GCS

Bulgaria might be a small gem in Eastern Europe, but the Balkan nation certainly has a steady (but quiet) reputation for granting non-Europeans with a permanent residence permit, and even an EU passport. Known as Citizenship By Investment Bulgaria, it’s an attractive scheme, to say the least. Provided that a qualifying investment in the nation is first made, applicants and their family members are immediately rewarded with EU residency and later, European citizenship. A Bulgarian passport can be in your hands in two years’ time (with the Bulgaria citizenship fast track option).

Find out how to acquire Bulgarian citizenship with our ultimate guide, where we’ll walk you through:

  • Investment program benefits
  • Investment options to obtain permanent residence
  • Step-by-step guide to Bulgaria citizenship
  • Program fees
  • Plus more!

What Is Bulgaria Citizenship By Investment?

Bulgaria’s citizenship program is actually a hybrid residence-to-citizenship scheme (also known as golden visa), offering foreign investors the chance to first obtain a permanent residence permit, followed by becoming a Bulgarian citizen in two short years. Provided that an investment is made of course, you and your family members can live, work, and study in a European country, with visa free access to all of the EU.

While there are many citizenship investment programmes out there, like Dominica citizenship by investment or Turkey investment citizenship for instance, Bulgaria is definitely the underdog of investor visa schemes, as it’s a golden visa and citizenship program all-in-one. Since the program isn’t openly advertised, it makes it all the more special to apply for permanent residency.

Why consider Bulgaria citizenship?

Despite being an EU country, Bulgaria has retained much of its charms, rich history, traditions, and stunning landscapes. Strategically located between Western and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria has direct connections to the EU and Russia, making it a perfect country to do business with either spheres.

As a Bulgarian citizen, you can freely travel and invest in property throughout the EU, with enhanced global mobility.

Bulgarian Citizenship Benefits

Favorable tax rates

Favorable tax rates

No Bulgarian language or residency requirements

No Bulgarian language or residency requirements

Financing options available for the golden visa

Financing options available for the golden visa

Dual citizenship recognized

Dual citizenship recognized

Bulgarian passport

With a Bulgaria passport, enjoy visa-free access to over 160 countries, including the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, the British Virgin Islands, Japan and the entire European Union. As a resident in Bulgaria, you can also apply for the USA E2 visa, which allows you to live and work in the US. 

Family members qualify for Bulgaria golden visa

Your spouse of at least five years and dependent children (unmarried and under the age of 18) qualify for the same permanent residence and citizenship benefits. .

Unlimited access to the EU

Live, work, and study anywhere in the European Union with a Bulgaria passport.

Exciting investment projects on offer

As an investor, you can choose from six different types of investment projects that are all government-approved. 

Dynamic market in an EU country

With Bulgarian citizenship, you have instant access to the country’s leading science and technology scene, along with its strong logistics sector. 

Bulgarian investor visa requirements

Thanks to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, the eligibility guidelines for obtaining the Bulgarian investor visa are quite straightforward.

  • You must be over 18 years old
  • Be a non-EEA citizen
  • Hold a clean criminal record and be a non-criminal offender
  • Pass medical tests
  • Have enough funds to make the necessary investment
  • Provide proof as to where the funds come from
  • Investment must be maintained for at least five years.

Investment options for permanent residence

Bulgaria has six investment options to obtaining the Bulgaria residence permit. All the eligible investments for citizenship are unpacked below.

Buy units and shares in investment funds
Buy units and shares in investment funds
Buy units and shares in collective or alternative investment funds, amounting to BGN 1 million (€511,292). You must hold your investment for five years.
 Initial investment in a Bulgarian company
Initial investment in a Bulgarian company
Invest BGN 1 million (€511,292) in a Bulgarian company. As the investor, you must hold shares of the company and own 50% or more of its capital.
Buy shares of Bulgarian commercial company
Buy shares of Bulgarian commercial company
Invest BGN 1 million (€511,292) in a Bulgarian commercial company.
Acquisition of rights under concession agreements
Acquisition of rights under concession agreements
Invest BGN 1 million (€511,292) in the acquisition of rights under concession agreements
Increase the capital of a Bulgarian company
Increase the capital of a Bulgarian company
Boost the capital of a Bulgarian company, by helping them implement a priority investment project. The investment must amount to BGN 2 million (€1 million).
Increase the capital of a Bulgarian company not listed on securities market
Increase the capital of a Bulgarian company not listed on securities market
Invest from BGN 6 million (€3 million) into a Bulgarian company that isn’t listed on the securities market.
    • Make a minimum Investment of €511,292 in the capital of a trade company. The condition is that the contribution towards the assets must create at least ten full time jobs for Bulgarians. The investment must also be proven to the Ministry of Economy. 
    • Invest at least €511,292 in Exchange Traded Funds or alternative investment funds. The minimum net asset value requirements apply in both cases. The funds must be licensed and registered by the Financial Supervision Commission and the investment strategy must be focused on  Bulgarian companies mainly. In addition, the investment must be in either assets and/or bonds of Bulgarian companies traded, including special purpose investment companies. Funds you can choose from include private equity, venture and hedge funds.
    • Make a minimum investment of at least €511,292 in rights under concession contracts on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria
    • Invest at least €1 million in the share capital of a Bulgarian trade company. The investment must be implemented as a priority investment project certified under the Investment Promotion Act and verified by the Ministry of Economy. Alternatively, the investment must be focused on shares or bonds of companies, traded on a Bulgarian regulated market or multilateral trading facility in Bulgaria.
    • Invest €3 million in the capital of a non-publicly traded Bulgarian capital.

In each case, the investment must be maintained for a minimum of five years at least.

Step-by-step guide to obtaining citizenship

1. Go through pre-approval & make investment
2. Procure investment certificate
3. Apply in person for investor visa
4. Apply in person for permanent residence
5. Bulgarian citizenship

1.Go through pre-approval process

Introduced in March 2021 by the Bulgarian Investment Agency, the main applicant must go through a due diligence check to ensure the source of funding for the investment is legitimate. Documents to submit include a criminal background certificate, source of funds information, information on the applicant’s professional background, proof of ID, and proof that the applicant has the funds to make the investment. 

2.Make the investment

Your investment must be made in Bulgarian Lev, and there are three financing options on the table. You can finance the capital yourself, finance via the Bulgarian government, or finance externally. What matters is proving that the money is sourced legitimately. 

3. Get your certificate

Afterward, you need to acquire an official confirmation certificate, issued by the Investment Agency. This is a document that gives you the right to obtain the investor visa.

4.Apply for investor visa

To apply for citizenship by investment, you must go to your nearest Bulgarian embassy or Consulate and get an investment visa. With this visa, you can apply for the permanent residence card in Bulgaria.  

5.Become a permanent resident

Submit all the necessary paperwork and obtain your permanent resident card. You’ll also receive your TIN (Tax Identification Number, locally known as EGN).

6.Bulgarian citizenship

There are two ways to apply for citizenship. You can go through the Regular Track, which means you must be a permanent resident for five years before being eligible for citizenship. You can also opt for Fast Track, but first, you must double your investment to €1,024,000 and then you can apply for citizenship after just one year of being shaving permanent residence.

Citizenship By Investment Application Processing Time

 

Note that the timeline to receive citizenship depends on whether you opt for the regular track option (five years) or fast-track route (two years). Most foreign investors actually go for the quicker option, considering EU citizenship is yours within two years.

Bulgarian Taxes

Bulgaria has an attractive tax scheme for residents. Personal tax is taxed at 10%, with 5% taxed on dividends. It’s considered one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in Europe. That’s not all. There are low business costs involved, with the corporate tax rate amounting to just 10%.

Document Checklist for Bulgarian Citizenship By Investment

General documentation needed for Bulgarian citizenship by investment:

  • Birth certificates of all the applicants
  • Passports of each applicant
  • Residence Proof (Recent utility statement)
  • Biometric, colored passport photos of each applicant
  • Applicant marriage certificate (optional)
  • Death or divorce certificate of spouse (optional)
  • Proof that all the applicants have a clean criminal record
  • Proof of having passed medical checks
  • Proof of investment
  • Proof that the funds were sourced legitimately 

Fees for Bulgarian Citizenship By Investment Program

Bulgarian citizen application fees:

  • €20,000- family of two
  • €5,000- each dependent, up to five
  • €2,500- each additional child

Fast-track legal and processing fees to obtain citizenship quickly:

  • €30,000 family of two
  • €7,500 for each dependent, up to five
  • €2,500 each additional child

Due diligence fees:

  • €7,500 for main applicant
  • €3,000 for dependents aged 14-18
  • €5,000 dependents above 18

Frequently Asked Questions About Bulgarian Citizenship

What is Bulgarian citizenship by investment?

Established by the citizenship act, Bulgarian citizenship by investment is a scheme that grants qualifying investors and their family with residency in the country, followed by Bulgarian citizenship, provided that an investment is made in the nation first.

What are the eligibility requirements for applying to the citizenship by investment program in Bulgaria?

To obtain citizenship, anyone who isn’t already a citizen of the EEA and who is at least 18 years old can apply. There are a few other eligibility criteria, for example, you must have a squeaky clean criminal record, and have a good financial standing. You must also be willing to hold your investment for five years.

Is Bulgaria a residency by investment or citizenship by investment scheme?

 It may seem like a tricky answer, but Bulgaria is actually a hybrid between a golden visa and citizenship scheme. You technically become a permanent resident first, but are eligible to acquire Bulgarian citizenship via the fast-track option in two years time, or alternatively, five years time.

What’s the minimum investment required for Bulgaria citizenship?

You must make a minimum investment of €512,000 to get permanent residence. If you’re after Bulgarian citizenship in two years time, the investment amount doubles.

Do I need to travel to Bulgaria to apply for permanent residence?

Yes, you will need to make at least one trip to Bulgaria to submit your biometric information and apply for the permanent residence permit. At the same time, you will also be issued with a personal tax number.

How to apply for Bulgarian citizenship?

To apply for Bulgarian citizenship, you must collect all the necessary documents, make the investment, provide proof of your investment and submit all paperwork. Afterward, when you’re rewarded with permanent residency, the final step to apply for Bulgarian citizenship is to submit your application.

How long does it take to acquire my permanent residence permit?

To obtain permanent residence, it takes around 4-6 months.

Are my family members eligible to become Bulgarian citizens?

Yes, your spouse (of at least five years) and all underaged dependent children can be added to the same application. No extra investment will need to be made. However, there are extra application fees to consider for minor children and your spouse.

Is Bulgaria part of the EU?

Absolutely yes, Bulgaria is part of the EU, and as such has access to the same EU citizenship benefits. As a EU citizen, you can live, work, study, and travel anywhere in Europe’s Schengen zone.

Did the Bulgaria citizenship by investment program recently change?

Yes, as a matter of fact, to avoid European Commission criticism, Bulgaria made some key changes to its program in March 2021, scrapping the majority of its investment options and replacing it with six new investment options.