YOUR LEGAL PATHWAY
FROM STRESS TO CONFIDENCE

Bulgarian
fast-track
Citizenship

The sole purpose of this website is to provide invaluable information to the potential applicants for Bulgarian Citizenship through Investment as per Art.14a from the Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship. All our services are provided completely free of charge. It is strictly forbidden to use the information from this website for any commercial activities.

The Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship was amended in 2013 to include a provision under Art. 14a that allows eligible candidates to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by investment for a shortened period of only 12 months. The Bulgarian parliament passed the amendment in order to address the negative impact of the demographic decline in Bulgaria without any provisions that would be benefitting the state budget. This fact has led to great interest among many foreigners as Bulgaria has emerged to be the only EU country to provide fast-track citizenship option without any commercial benefit to the state (obviously benefiting financially the citizenship applicants). The plan to attract new independent residents who would become citizens of the Balkan country could be achieved by assisting foreign financially independent nationals to obtain Bulgarian citizenship and eventually relocate to Bulgaria.

In order to achieve best results and to ensure fast and hassle-free procedure for the would be Bulgarian citizens (by investment), we work closely with the Bulgarian authorities as well as the financial intermediaries (the licensed banking institutions) that are authorized to administer the financial and investment part of the citizenship application process.

The benefits of the Bulgarian Citizenship

The Bulgarian citizenship comes with a large number of invaluable benefits:

  • all Bulgarian citizens are also citizens of the European Union and as such are entitled to unconditional and ultimate freedom of travel and settlement in all EU member states as well as visa-free travel to a large and constantly increasing number of third (non EU) countries;
  • the unconditional right to acquire investment agricultural land or any other real estate property in Bulgaria and a number of other EU countries, which may otherwise restrict access to foreigners;
  • the right to establish all forms of enterprises in Bulgaria and all other EU states;
  • comprehensive rights to access the education facilities in Bulgaria and the EU member states (thereby paying EU preferential fees rates for schools and universities; to receive preferential student loans or financial assistance);
  • the right to obtain (free) medical assistance EU wide.
flag of the EU

The Bulgarian legal acts that set the foundations of the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment Program are without any doubt the most lucrative opportunity under EU laws for financially independent individuals who are determined to obtain the right to reside unrestricted in all EU member states, alongside with the opportunity to travel visa-free to around 160 countries around the world.

The Bulgarian legislation allows non-EU nationals to obtain Bulgarian citizenship and EU passport by investing in wide range of products, some of which, as is the case with the Bulgarian sovereign bonds, are 100% risk-free. The foreign citizenship applicant is allowed to invest in bank account under management (trust agreement), licensed government project (ie in the tourist sector), purchase of patent or other intellectual rights in Bulgaria, sovereign bonds, shares of companies traded on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange (BSE), etc. The investment in sovereign bonds, as explained above, is fully guaranteed Bulgarian State. The Bulgarian laws allow the non-EU nationals to get Bulgarian passport within 12 months, however the administrative procedures can stretch the whole process for up to 18 months in many cases.

The main legal requirements that need to be met during
the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment application process

due diligence map

In order to proceed with your application for Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment, your licensed legal agent (yes, the application should be only handled by qualifies and fully licensed legal representative) will perform the so called "preliminary due diligence". This is probably the most important part of your application process and this is the stage when, if no corners are cut, the final outcome will be determined with a certainty of at least 99%. We strongly advise you against any attempts to skip the preliminary due diligence process as this may hinder your application!

fingerprint

One of the main conditions, set by the Bulgarian law, is that the citizenship candidate will need to present clean criminal record certificate. The international penal codes differ widely. Many crimes in one country are not considered as such in another. Rehabilitation terms for penal crimes are also different as well as the way the criminal records are constituted. In some countries, the certificates include acquittals and even mere administrative violations. Hence, a criminal certificate that shows some records on the applicant’s history isn’t necessarily a showstopper.

investment in Bulgaria

The citizenship candidate has to be able to prove personal net worth of at least 2 million Bulgarian Lev (equal to 1'022'584 EUR), for which amount a qualifying investment, most often Bulgarian sovereign Eurobonds, will need to be selected and purchased. Although in some rare instances, this investment can be financed (only by licensed credit institution), we strongly advise you against any such practices and urge you to contact us or the relevant Bulgarian authorities if you are being proposed any form of alternative or financed investment and are asked to pay irrevocably any money for that purpose upfront.

What may be the consequences if the main requirements have not been met or the legal compliance is not observed to the smallest detail?

I went through the whole process from start to end and even had my Bulgarian permanent residency card issued. To my astonishment, my citizenship application was declined for reasons of "national security". I still can not understand why did this happen as I have never had any problems with the law?

I provided clean police record certificate, showing that I have not been sentenced or even sued in Oman - my home country. The certificate was legalized and translated according to the Bulgarian laws, but my immigration visa type D was declined and I was told it has to do with my background check.

I opened successfully my bank account in Bulgaria and bought Bulgarian bonds, or so I thought. The return was reasonable, the fees low and the maturity quite close to the date when I had to obtain my Bulgarian citizenship. Still, the government authorities didn’t accept these bonds as legitimate investment.

I was lucky to get my citizenship in less time than I expected. I applied for and got my Bulgarian travel passport as well as my ID card. I was informed that I have to keep my investment for another 2 years though, which sounded illogical. I enquired at my bank and was assured that I can sell the investment?

people comply with laws

The problem with Sharif’s refusal for Bulgarian citizenship is one of the most common situations that that may occur during the citizenship application. It usually happens in cases when the process has not been handled professionally from the very beginning. At the start of each application for Bulgarian citizenship by investment, a careful preliminary due diligence must be carried out by the citizenship agent (or the licensed immigration lawyer) of the applicant. No corners should be cut at this stage. The Bulgarian security services are responsible that only eligible candidates can obtain permanent residency and citizenship consequently. However, it has proven that the security services are less thorough during the first stage of the application when the permanent residency is granted. This is mainly due to the fact that the permanent residency status is granted under the terms of the Bulgarian Law for the Foreigners rather than the Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship, which is considered as critical from national security’s perspective. The initial due diligence should be concluded by the citizenship agent in close collaboration with the relevant Bulgarian (and in some cases EU) authorities in such a way that its successful completion will virtually guarantee the positive outcome.

The disappointment of Faisal with his immigration visa type D (the prerequisite for the permanent residency status) being rejected is also a common problem. The requirement to present clean police record (a.k.a. a court certificate for lack of criminal convictions) is one of the requirements of the Bulgarian law. The clean criminal history and the lack of penal sentences of the citizenship candidate is in no way a guarantee for the "green light" from the security services in Bulgaria. Each candidate is being carefully checked by several different government organizations and the presence of clean criminal history certificate is taken in consideration only for as far that there are no indications of any suspicious activities of the citizenship candidate.

The choice of the right Bulgarian government bonds that can be used with the citizenship program is harder than it may look at first glance. Although the Bulgarian legislation is defining the financial requirements quite clearly (in the Law for the foreigners), it is still quite unclear to the majority of the investors, which bonds will qualify for the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program. We always recommend using professional and licensed company to be commissioned in order to prepare an investment report for the citizenship applicant, showing not only the eligibility of the different bond issues, but also the return, the suggested time to maturity, etc. In the case above, Vivek has purchased Bulgarian bonds through his bank in the USA, which would otherwise qualify (according to the bond issue prospectus), but have failed the "time to maturity" test, so these bonds could not be used for Vivek’s Bulgarian citizenship application.

Last, but not least is the dilemma that John is facing. After he has obtained successfully his Bulgarian citizenship (through the fast-track option), he had planned a luxury property purchase in France so he needed his Bulgarian investment liquidated in order to raise the required capital. We advised him that he should liquidate his investment not sooner than 2 years after he got his Bulgarian citizenship certificate signed by the vice-President of Bulgaria. The bank however, where John held his portfolio, has told him that the funds have no restrictions whatsoever on them so he is free to sell whenever he wants. The truth is however that the Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship foresees the candidate to hold his investment for at least 2 years after the citizenship is obtained. Failure to comply with this may result in the citizenship being revoked (although not necessarily). The bank however never opses any restrictions on the invested funds and is totally unaware of the immigration and citizenship regulations. The bank only serves as financial intermediary and is not involved directly in the citizenship application, hence the assurance that John’s funds can be liquidated at any time.

a man falling

Obtaining second citizenship is one of the most important life changing events in men’s life. New passport means in most cases much greater freedom for its holder – visa free travel worldwide, right of residency in a number of new countries (as is the case with the EU citizenship), etc. It also brings some new duties for the new citizen – eventual tax liability, voting duty, even military duty (not the case in Bulgaria though) as well as need for cultural and social adaptation.

Before all these changes can apply however, the "would be" new citizen has to undergo the most important stage of the "citizenship transformation" – the process of obtaining it!

We will outline below the most common traps in which the uninformed candidate for Bulgarian citizenship by investment falls into. It is often the greed of the citizenship applicant himself that pushes him into cutting corners in order to save time and money. In many cases however, it is the unscrupulous and not licensed "agents" (as they like to call themselves) who are to blame. We hope that after reading the information below, you will be much better informed and protected.

One last word, before we move onto the pitfalls. Not all non-licensed "agents" are alike. There are some who try their best, but their lack of knowledge and experience takes the client to a dead end. Others however, are fishing and hunting for their prey and are carefully planning their strike – these are the ones you should fear the most.

The six most common traps (pitfalls) to be aware of when applying for Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment

USDollars

PAYING TO THE ACCOUNT OF THE "AGENT"
The most dangerous scheme ever – you are being told that the investment (not the legal fees, but the investment itself!) has to be paid to the account of the "agent" who claims that will be representing you and will be processing your Bulgarian citizenship application. Or he claims that he will provide you with an ESCROW account of some sort where you should pay the money (the investment amount) to. This is absolutely guaranteed scam – 100%. We remind again and again – the investment is always done to the account of the citizenship applicant. The money or the investment should never leave the applicant’s own account!

paying to the agent's fund

PAYING TO THE "AGENT'S SPECIAL FUND"
The "agent" is trying to lure you into his extremely complicated (he calls it "comprehensive") financial arrangement. He claims that he has set up a special fund or similar and this fund is making the required investment on your behalf. In many cases, due to the "unique structure" of the fund, you will be provided the opportunity to invest an amount less than the legally required. On top of that, often you are promised extraordinary return on your investment, much higher than the traditional investments from your local banker. Have you been subject of such approach? You can be absolutely sure that this is a scam.

the financed option for Bulgarian passport

THE INFAMOUS "FINANCED OPTION"
Probably the most frequently used scam. You don’t posses the required capital to apply for Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment. Luckily, the "agent" (in all cases not registered one) explains you of an unique "investment option" where he (or someone else) will finance the purchase of the investment in return of non-refundable payment from you in order to cover the debit interest for the financing. While in some rare cases, this may be a legitimate arrangement, in most cases this results into the citizenship applicant paying an amount of 100 000 EUR to 500 000 EUR that is lost forever as his application will be ultimately rejected.

cutting

"CUTTING CORNERS"
Another caveat, that the "would be" new citizens of Bulgaria have to be very careful about. During the citizenship application process, either upon suggestion of the agent, or even on own initiative, the temptation of "cutting corners" in order to save on cost and time may look appealing. We strongly urge you not to even think about it. The laws are very strict and even years after the citizenship application has been approved, should there be enough evidences of "serious misdoing" during the application process ("serious misdoing" is quite subjective), the Bulgarian citizenship may be withdrawn. Criminal charges may apply as well.

selling different citizenships

THE "INTERNATIONAL AGENT"
Another mistake by the applicant for Bulgarian citizenship is to hire an "international agent" who is promoting citizenships from virtually all countries in the world that have relevant "Citizenship by Investments Programs". Not only the chances that this "agent" will be not licensed to act in Bulgaria are virtually 100%, but the knowledge of this particular "agent" of the Bulgarian legislation will be definitely "bellow sea level". In recent years we observe, with great anxiety, the birth of hundreds and thousands foreign companies who start illegally promoting the "Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment Program". Be warned!

doing it yourself

THE "DIY ROUTE"
The good old "Do It Yourself Route" may not necessarily lead to losing your capital, but it will definitely increase the overall cost and with 100% certainty will result in your citizenship application being declined. The Bulgarian laws (as all EU laws) are complicated and for many stages of the citizenship application process you need a licensed immigration lawyer to act on your behalf. On different occasions, we have been contacted by foreigners who have tried the DIY approach. The mess they have created for themselves is hard to even imagine. Obviously their citizenship applications have been ultimately compromised.

What should the citizenship applicant do in order to ensure smooth and ultimately, successful application?

We always recommend investing in Bulgarian sovereign (issued by the Bulgarian state) bonds. Bonds provide lower returns than bonds, but the repayment of the capital plus all interests (the coupon) at the maturity is guaranteed by the Bulgarian Government.

Your lawyer in your home country is definitely not authorized to handle your Bulgarian citizenship application. However, he may be in position to liaise with licensed Bulgarian counterpart, which may be suitable for you if you are prepared to pay the markup fee.

Definitely not! The most important for you in this case is the suitability of the particular bond issue for the purposes of the Bulgarian CBI program. We strongly recommend using the services of specialized company for the bond selection selection.

We always recommend buying the bonds through Bulgarian bank, although it is legally acceptable doing that through your foreign bank. The problem that may arise with the foreign bank is the legal conformity of the documents they will provide for the transaction.

As one final and general advice, we strongly recommend full legal compliance during all stages of the citizenship by investment application. There are some processes that will need to be carried out with extreme caution in order to ensure successful outcome.

Some useful Links and how to Contact us

To contact us for FREE consultation and support, please email us at: apply@bulgarian-citizenship.eu

Bulgarian National Bank

President of the Republic of Bulgaria

UniCredit Bulbank

Bulgarian Stock Exchange

Citizenship & Investments

Invest Bulgaria Agency

Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs