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Bulgaria Citizenship by Investment Program

Home / Programs / Bulgaria Citizenship by Investment Program
Real Estate Investment
550,000 USD
Non Refundable Donation
Mix Investment
Time to get the Residency
6 Months
Time to get the Passport
18 or 60 Months
Visa Free Countries
164 Countries

Bulgarian Citizenship through Investment: 2023 Updates

Bulgaria’s EU membership brings benefits and complexities, marked by stringent immigration processes. Bulgaria’s low taxes, diverse landscapes, and EU benefits make it a compelling choice for those seeking investment-based citizenship, albeit with a significant financial threshold and patience required for the process.

As of March 2022, Bulgaria has ceased its Golden Visa and expedited citizenship initiatives. However, these programs could potentially evolve into new or modified pathways to citizenship in the near future. This program traditionally required a substantial investment, such as in government bonds or real estate, offering residency status with the potential for citizenship following several years of residency and adherence to other legal criteria.

Bulgaria’s Investment Citizenship: A Review

Despite not being a primary choice like Spain, Portugal, or Cyprus, Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment program offered unique benefits. While it wasn’t as fast as Cyprus’s, Bulgaria was rich in culture, history, and economic potential.

  • Historical Mosaic: Enriched by the legacies of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, along with its ties to the Soviet Bloc, Bulgaria presented a diverse historical panorama. It stood as a poignant intersection where East met West.
  • Distinct Cultural Identity: Bulgaria maintained a distinctive cultural identity, irrespective of the rule by various empires. Celebrated traditions such as “Mummers” and the vibrant art scene in Sofia were a source of great national pride.
  • Scenic Diversity: The country boasted an extensive array of landscapes, encompassing the Rila Mountains and the Black Sea shores, catering to those who revel in scenic beauty.

Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment Program

Before its closure, Bulgaria offered a two-step process for obtaining citizenship and a Bulgarian passport. Investors were initially required to apply for the Permanent Residency Programme, investing €512,000 into selected investment fund vehicles. This PR process took about six months to complete. Once residency was approved, applicants could fast-track their citizenship by investing an additional €512,000. The entire process used to take approximately 18 months, which, at the time, was among the quickest ways to gain citizenship in an EU country.

Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment Program Offering

  • No obligation to open a Bulgarian bank or brokerage account. Direct deposits could be made into selected ETF and AIF accounts.
  • Even if the applicant had faced legal consequences in their home nation, it did not impact their application if they had been rehabilitated.
  • EU citizens with a non-EU passport, like those from Dominica or St. Lucia, were eligible.
  • Newborns of investors were directly granted Bulgarian citizenship.
  • Additional benefits included the potential to become a Bulgarian tax resident, the freedom to sell invested ETFs & AIFs, unrestricted purchase of agricultural land in Bulgaria, free movement within the EU, and the right to vote in Bulgaria.

Investment Process

  • Initial Investment: A 512,000 EUR investment made in selected ETFs or AIFs.
  • Achieving Permanent Residency: Approximately 6 months post-investment.
  • Achieving Bulgarian Citizenship: Between 78-84 months after the initial investment.
  • Investment Maintenance Period: 66 months.
  • Application Fees: based on individual and dependents.

Fundamentals of the program:

  • Investment Type Changes: Investors could allocate funds into Bulgarian AIFs, ETFs, or shares of Bulgarian companies on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.
  • Investment Amounts: Investing 512,000 EUR in AIFs or ETFs led to permanent residency. After a 5-year retention of this investment, the investor could apply for citizenship.
  • Language Proficiency Requirement: Bond investment applicants who had secured permanent residency could apply for citizenship, but they had to prove fluency in the Bulgarian language.
  • Spouse Citizenship Acceleration: Once the investor achieved Bulgarian citizenship, their spouse could also apply for the same in 3 years.

Why opt for a Bulgarian Passport?

A Bulgarian passport extends two main practical advantages for the investors:

  • EU Membership: A primary allure of Bulgarian citizenship by investment is the associated EU citizenship. This offers privileges like property acquisition within the EU and considerable freedom of movement. However, Bulgaria’s non-inclusion in the Schengen zone means there might be minor travel inconveniences, like airport queues. But this also grants Bulgaria the autonomy to devise its visa policies.
  • Tax Benefits: Bulgaria boasts a highly attractive tax system in Europe, featuring a flat 10% tax rate applicable to both corporate entities and individuals. This favourable tax regime has turned Bulgaria into a tempting destination for Europeans seeking to reduce their tax burden compared to the higher rates found elsewhere on the continent. Additionally, with no citizenship-based taxation, Bulgaria offers considerable adaptability for tax strategizing.
Other benefits of Bulgaria Citizenship:
  • Citizenship Descent, Bulgarian Citizenship for Family Members: One unique facet of Bulgarian citizenship is its inheritance feature. The citizenship can be passed on to descendants. This permanence makes it an appealing option for those looking to leave countries like the U.S. and also to broaden opportunities, such as education. Unlike some nations, like Portugal, where re-application is necessary, in Bulgaria, the process is automatic.
  • Based on the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, children aged 14-18 could personally apply for citizenship. For those under 14, at least one parent should have been a Bulgarian citizen. In 2022, children under 18 saw a reduced processing time of 9 months for their citizenship applications, with no residency or language requirements.
  • Ideal for Investors: The Bulgarian citizenship by investment program, though not for everyone, presents an easier route to European Union citizenship. It’s particularly suited for Businesspeople in the EU. Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship can simplify business transactions and mobility across the EU, especially for U.S. citizens, given the ongoing visa reciprocity discussions in the EU.
  • Low Costs of living: Living in Bulgaria is notably economical. For a single individual, the cost of living is approximately $800 monthly, which is 1.3 times lower than the global average. The estimated monthly expenses for a family of four are about $2,100, excluding rent. For a single person, monthly costs are estimated at $560 not including rent. On average, living in Bulgaria costs about 48.6% less than in the United States. The prime locations for a well-rounded living experience in Bulgaria are Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas, and Varna, with Sofia and Varna offering more substantial opportunities.

Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment Process

Some key steps included:

  • Eligibility Check: Potential applicants should not be EU citizens, must hold a valid passport, have no criminal record, and not be sanctioned by the EU.
  • Investment: The principal requirement is an investment of €512,000 in a government bond. This amount is returned after a 5-year lock-in period. Financing options are available, either through self-financing, obtaining a loan from the Bulgarian government, or through external sources.

Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment presented a nuanced blend of benefits. While its path to citizenship had been longer compared to Caribbean nations, it promised the perks of EU membership minus its intricacies. As with any investment decision, a deep dive into the specifics, backed by expert advice, is crucial before taking the plunge.

Immigration frameworks are subject to modification, and it is prudent to stay informed about past and present programs. This knowledge can be valuable for future planning, given that countries may reintroduce or revise investment opportunities. For the most accurate and recent information, it is recommended to seek advice from legal experts specializing in immigration law.

Alternatives to Bulgaria Citizenship by Investment Program

With the closure of Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment program, those looking to obtain EU residency and citizenship have several other options. These often include residency-by-investment programs, which can eventually lead to citizenship. Here are some of the notable alternatives:

  • Portugal Golden Visa:
  • Investment in real estate, capital transfer, or job creation can lead to residency.
  • After five years of legal residency, one may apply for citizenship.
  • Spain Golden Visa:
    • Investment in real estate, financial assets, or a business project.
    • Residency can lead to citizenship after ten years.
  • Greece Golden Visa:
  • Real estate investment is the most common route.
  • Residency can eventually lead to citizenship, typically after seven years.

Each country has its own set of rules and investment requirements, and the pathways to citizenship may include language proficiency tests, cultural knowledge assessments, and physical residency requirements. Citizenship paths generally require long-term residency, integration into society, no criminal record, and a stable income source or sufficient funds.

It’s important to consult with immigration and legal professionals for the most up-to-date and detailed information regarding these programs, as policies can change frequently. Additionally, the processing times, investment amounts, and specific application requirements will vary significantly from one country to another.