Obtaining Bulgarian Citizenship by Residency or Investment
By Maria Thermann

Obtaining Bulgarian Citizenship by Residency or Investment

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Although EU citizens can travel and work freely throughout the EU member states, there are still some restrictions in place for those who wish to relocate permanently and for those who are from "third countries", meaning non-EEA countries and people who are not Swiss citizens. If you have bought a Bulgarian property and wish to retire to the country for example, there are two ways of obtaining permanent citizenship. The easiest way, although it will cost more money, is to hire a specialist law firm to arrange for immigration and deal with work permit requirements before you arrive.

In addition to dealing with your permanent residency needs and work permit issues, a law firm based near your future home can also deal with arranging family permits for non-EU national family members who wish to join you. Some law firms in Sofia even offer planning services for child care and education or buying or renting property, both residential and commercial.

EU citizens do not need a visa to stay in Bulgaria; typically third country or non-EU citizens can stay for 90 days from the date of entry or up to one year, if they are living there continuously. EU citizens who wish to stay longer than 5 years in Bulgaria can obtain a certificate that will grant them permanent residency and lead to full citizenship.

Citizenship by Investment

Since 2013, Bulgaria's government has offered a business immigration programme that can lead to long-term residency and, where applicable, to full citizenship. Since that year, foreign investors who spend more than 500,000 Euros or 1,000,000 BGN. One of the ways to obtain residency by investment is to either start or buy a company that is registered in Bulgaria. There are certain advantages doing this, as Bulgaria has one of the lowest flat tax rates in the EU (10% at the time of writing). Once the legal period of actually living in the country has been met, it is possible for non-EU residents to apply for full citizenship.

If you happen to be from a third country, investing in a Bulgarian business or investing in Bulgarian real estate can provide you with EU nationality and visa tree travel throughout the whole territory of the EU. One advantage of choosing Bulgaria is that the investment is 100% refundable, if you purchase, for example, Bulgarian shares on the stock exchange or buy government bonds or similar investment vehicles. Doing so means you gain unlimited living and working rights throughout the EU territory.

It is also possible to acquire permanent residency status by investing more than 1,000,000 BGN in a Bulgarian licensed credit institution for a time of no less than 5 years or by investing at least 6,000,000 BGN in the capital of a Bulgarian company, where shares are not traded on a regulated market. Investors who get involved with large-scale development projects, such as infrastructure for example, are also able to obtain long-term residency rights.

If you are planning to invest in Bulgaria, be it in a company formation, a trade representative office or simply to retire or live and work in Bulgaria, it is advisable to consult a specialist law firm about residency, inheritance and taxation issues. Here are a few names of multilingual law firms:

Delchev & Partners
8 Tsar Kaloyan Str.
2nd Floor
Sofia 1000
Tel: 00359 888 408 216
or 00359 2 993 0979

CMS Law (Cameron McKenna Mabarro Olswang LLP/Bulgarian Branch Duncan Weston)
Landmark Centre
14 Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard
Floor 1
Sofia 1000
Tel: 00359 2 921 9910

Pavel Pektov
100 Gotse Delchev Boulevard
Entrance G
Floor 4
Apt 12
Tel: 00359 876 705 765
email Petkov.lawyer@gmail.com

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