Residence permit and citizenship in Bulgaria by investment

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Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 19 April 2024 12 minutes read
Bulgaria gives residence permit and citizenship by investment

Bulgarian citizenship by investment can be obtained by several ways: making investments in government bonds, trust bank accounts, shares of local companies and intellectual property of the country. The minimum amount of investment is at least EUR 257,000. The State Investment Program was created by the government of Bulgaria in order to attract substantial funds from countries outside the European Union. It allows wealthy foreigners in 5-6 months to obtain a permanent residence permit for 5 years, and in a year – a Bulgarian passport.

The main advantage of investing in the Bulgarian economy is the possibility of obtaining EU citizenship. All contributions to the assets of the Republic are repayable, at the expiration of the investment term the owner can use them at their discretion. Another significant plus is the right to get Bulgarian passport through investment for a foreigner and their family members. Children acquire citizenship together with the applicant, and the spouse – in 3 years after the investor receives a national identity card.

What benefits a Bulgarian passport gives to its owner

A foreigner who gets Bulgarian citizenship through an investment program gets a number of advantages of a European citizen. The main benefits of Bulgarian passport are:

  • Empowering the holder with all the rights and privileges of an EU citizen, that is to reside and work in any state of the European Union.
  • Studying for free at state universities and getting a diploma that is recognized in any country of the world.
  • Visa-free entry or simplified procedure for obtaining a visa upon arrival in more than 150 countries of the world.
  • The right to buy real estate in Bulgaria, where prices are low compared to the average cost of housing in the EU.
  • Fostering the development of profitable businesses due to the low tax rate on personal income – 10%.
  • Advantages of investing in the Bulgarian economy.

Foreigners who have made significant investments in the economy of Bulgaria do not have to give up their native citizenship, learn the national language and renew their residence permit every year. Besides, the Bulgarian investment program has a number of advantages:

  • Obtaining a permanent residence permit for 5 years for all family members at once.
  • Obtaining substantial profits through investing in several assets at the same time.
  • No requirements for a non-refundable investment or donation.
  • Obtaining Bulgarian passport after 6 years is available to the applicant and their immediate family members.

Who is eligible for the procedure

The program of investment immigration is suitable for wealthy foreigners who want to quickly and easily get a European passport, without the need for passing any additional language and cultural tests and the requirement for mandatory residence in the country. This option is also suitable for foreigners planning to provide their children with a European education. Entrepreneurs with Bulgarian citizenship have the right to establish a company in any other EU or EEA state, as well as to engage in free trade in the entire territory of the European Union.

The requirements for the investor

The requirements to the investor depend on the chosen method of investment. But there is a general list of prerequisites for candidates wishing to invest in the Bulgarian economy:

  • 18 years old or over;
  • citizenship of a non-EU country;
  • certificate of no criminal record in the territory of the home country;
  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence;
  • investment of the necessary amount in the economy of Bulgaria, confirmed by the relevant certificate.

Preparation of documents for Bulgarian citizenship by investment

Investment options

Wealthy foreigners can invest in the Bulgarian economy in different ways, for a period of 5 years or more. The minimum amount of investment is 257 000 EUR, the maximum is not set. Making investments in the country allows the use of several financial instruments in order to avoid risks. For the investors, whose assets are not available in full at the time of investment, there is an option of financing from an expert Bulgarian bank.

Foreigners can invest with the help of certified investment intermediaries, which are licensed local banking institutions and financial companies. Since Bulgaria is a part of the European Union, the activities of such organizations are strictly controlled by the local government and EU regulatory bodies. The options for investment business projects in any field can be selected from the state agency Invest Bulgaria. This organization is subordinated to the Ministry of Economy of Bulgaria and was created in order to attract and develop local entrepreneurship. Types of investments are shown in the table below.

Investment option Minimum amount, EUR Term for obtaining citizenship
Government bonds 1 000 020 6 years
Shares of Bulgarian companies: Bulgarian stock market traded and private 257 000/
1 000 020/
3 065 000
Trust account 512 000
Intellectual Property 512 000

Investing in government bonds

Foreigners interested in obtaining citizenship by investment can put up to EUR 1 000 020 in the purchase of Bulgarian securities and keep the investment for 5 years. The government bond market of Bulgaria is divided into two categories:

  • treasury bills, bonds and financial government instruments derivative thereof;
  • shares of Bulgarian companies that are traded on the regulated financial market.

This type of investment has a low risk and yields up to 3.125%. Immediately after the purchase of bonds, the foreign investor receives the certificate required for permanent residency and can proceed to the registration of residency for themselves and close family members. Securities can be purchased independently with the help of a specialized broker or through investment funds. This method of investment gives the right to apply for citizenship in 6 years.

Investments in Bulgarian intellectual property

Permanent residence permit can be obtained by investing at least 512 000 EUR in intellectual property of Bulgaria such as copyright objects with a corresponding patent, as well as inventions protected by the state trademark. One-time investment should be kept for 5 years, after this period it is possible to apply for a passport.

The difficulty of this method is the complexity of the evaluation of each patent and the difference in value agreed upon between the parties and established by the state authorities. But a specialist with experience in this field can take advantage of this method of obtaining residency, and at the same time receive the profit on investment at the end of the investment period.

Purchase of shares in Bulgarian companies

Foreigners can obtain long-term residency and, in the future, citizenship of the republic by investing in one or more local companies. The conditions of investment may be different:

  • starting from 257,000 EUR on the condition of additional creation and maintenance of at least 10 jobs for local citizens;
  • at least EUR 1,000,020 on the condition of the purchase of shares in companies that are involved in the implementation of priority investment projects;
  • investment of a minimum 3,065,000 EUR in private companies registered in Bulgaria.

After the investment is made, a permanent residence permit is issued for 5 years, and then the national ID-card is issued. When selecting promising areas of business (industrial sector, information technology and services, research and development, health care) investor can significantly increase their profits and keep the investment for any period of time.

Investments in a trust account

A convenient way to invest the funds required for citizenship by investment is to open a trust account in a Bulgarian bank. A trust management contract is concluded for a period of 5 years and more. It implies purchase of assets in amount starting from 512 000 EUR, selected by the investor: real estate, stocks, bonds. At the end of the investment term, the owner of the account can sell all securities and return the amount with a profit. This method is suitable for investors who want to entrust deposits in different securities, not spending time on each purchase and management of the entire package.

The most popular is investing in government bonds of Bulgaria – the risks are low, the purchase of securities does not involve additional costs, immediately after the transaction an investment certificate is issued, and you can begin the process of obtaining permanent residency. The purchase of shares of local companies traded on the stock market is also in demand.

Investing in Bulgaria with further obtaining a Bulgarian residence permit

The required documents

  • 2 photos;
  • a valid passport of the applicant and copies of all pages;
  • certificate of no criminal record;
  • bank statements on the origin of funds;
  • medical certificate;
  • insurance policy;
  • certificate issued by the Bulgarian Investment Agency;
  • depending on the method of investment, the following may be additionally needed: statement of the relevant state authority, statutory documents, bank account, letter of guarantee on the financing of the project by the applicant, investor’s CV.

How to get a Bulgarian passport for an investor: step-by-step guide

  1. Choosing the right investment option. This stage is one of the most important for a foreigner wishing to obtain a local ID card. Consultation of specialists in the field of investments allows you to choose the most appropriate way to invest, subsequently receiving a profit.
  2. Investing in the selected assets. The applicant provides proof of payment – a certificate from the bank. Then, depending on the type of investment made in the state agency IBA, the applicant is given the appropriate class of certificate.
  3. Obtaining investor visa. Permission for entry is issued by the Bulgarian consulate upon request of the applicant. The documents confirming the investments in the economy of the Republic are enclosed additionally.
  4. Submission of an application for permanent residence. Foreign investor upon arrival in Bulgaria rents or buys a house and submits all documents for long-term residency in the Department of Immigration at the Ministry of Interior.
  5. Obtaining a residence card. Application for permanent residency is considered by the government for 3-6 months. After the approval of the application the applicant receives a residence card which allows living in Bulgaria, free movement throughout the EU, and free or on the rights of the local population to study at European universities.
  6. Application for citizenship. An application for a passport is sent to a branch of the Ministry of Justice of Bulgaria.
  7. Obtaining naturalization certificate. Application of the future citizen is considered 6-12 months and is approved by the Minister of Justice and the President of Bulgaria. Once the procedure is completed, the applicant receives a Certificate of Naturalization.
  8. Issuance of ID card and Bulgarian passport. Each resident receives an internal ID card (plastic card), as well as a European Union passport after obtaining citizenship of Bulgaria.

Comparison with other EU programs

Many EU countries offer investment programs that make it possible to obtain citizenship by making investments. Let’s learn more about the main requirements and features of the most popular of them:

  • A Portuguese passport can be obtained in 5 years by investing 250,000 EUR or more. In this case, the future citizen is obliged to confirm a basic knowledge of the national language.
  • Greece offers a residence permit to foreigners who have invested in the country at least 250,000 EUR. You can apply for citizenship after 7 years, and the candidate shall stay outside the country no more than 10 months over the past 5 years, as well as pass the language test.
  • The most expensive in the EU is the Austrian investment program. Despite the high financial threshold of about 10 000 000 EUR, the number of applicants for a local residence permit exceeds the quota set by the state. At the same time, investments in the Austrian economy must include the creation of jobs and the development of exports.

Compared to other European countries, the conditions of Bulgaria’s investment program are more favorable to applicants. Also a significant plus is the possibility of returning all funds with a profit at the end of the minimum investment period established by the Republic.

Successful obtaining of a residence permit in Bulgaria for investment

Obtaining Bulgarian citizenship without making an investment

Bulgarian passport can be issued not only as a result of investments made, but also on a number of other grounds. For example, minor children of a citizen of the country can receive an ID-card, if they have been residing in the republic for 3 years or more. In this case, one of the parents must provide guarantees of financial security of each child.

If there is a proof of Bulgarian origin, it is possible to get the citizenship in a short period of time – in about 15 months. For this procedure it is enough to prove the ethnicity of one or more relatives in the direct line – a parent, grandfather or grandmother.

Foreign students studying at a local university are granted temporary residence for 1 year, with the right to extend. Upon completion of their studies, students can apply for a residence permit on the basis of employment and then apply for an ID-card.

Foreigners who legally work in the territory of the country also acquire temporary resident status for the period specified in the employment contract. The work permit is given only after the official invitation from the Bulgarian employer. After 5 years the employee can apply for citizenship.

Compared to other grounds, issuance of Bulgarian ID-card under the investment program is the most advantageous option. By investing a certain amount of money in the economy of the republic, a foreigner gets a number of benefits:

  • obtaining permanent residence permit in 6 months without the requirement of residing permanently in the country and passing the language test;
  • the opportunity to make a profit at the end of the investment period;
  • the right to recover all the funds invested or to transfer them to other assets;
  • inclusion of spouse and children in the immigration process followed by granting them citizenship.

Investments in the economic sector of Bulgaria allow foreigners to quickly immigrate to the European Union without additional requirements and non-refundable investments. The advantage of choosing this particular country is the simple and clear procedure for obtaining citizenship by investment, low tax rates and real estate prices. Immigration lawyers will help the applicant find suitable assets for investment in order not only to move to EU territory, but also to make a profit and enjoy the benefits of European citizenship.

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