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In the last ten years, Bulgaria had become one of the preferable countries globally, which attracts foreign investors, being very attractive destination for investment. Why is this so?

Bulgaria is a Constitutional Republic with political and business stability. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO and WTO. It has established a firm legal basis for a low cost of doing business –the corporate income tax rate is 10% (the lowest in the EU) while industries in high-unemployment areas are granted 0% tax rate. Bulgaria is also among the top 10 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that best protects its investors. It also has a free visa regime with more than 146 countries, including the EU, and simplified visa obtaining procedure for 46 countries.

Strategically located as a natural bridge between east and west, Bulgaria provides companies with unique opportunities to invest and to expand across Europe. Five Pan-European corridors pass through the country and transport program TRACECA connects Europe with Caucasian and Central Asian region.

We previously covered the procedures required for residency in Bulgaria. In this issue we focus on the obtaining a Bulgarian citizenship for foreigners.

Bulgaria has numerous legal acts, dealing with the requirements of citizenship. The requirements are listed in the Constitution of Republic of Bulgaria, Entrance, Stay and Leaving of Republic of Bulgaria by citizens of the European Union and the Members of Their Families Act, Act for Foreigners and the Bulgarian Citizenship Act as well as the Regulations for the application of the respective Acts, and in numerous international conventions, dealing with this topic.

The EU citizens and the members of their families, who are not EU citizens, during their stay, have the same rights and obligations under the Bulgarian laws and international contracts, to which Bulgarian country is a party, except those, for which a Bulgarian citizenship is demanded.

The citizenship itself, shows the legal-political relation between a physical person and a state, established its powers over a certain territory and number of people. Having any citizenship, gives to the individual an opportunity to travel, to have certain rights and obligations, to protect his/her rights in a certain way, etc.

CITIZENSHIP for FOREIGNERS

The Bulgarian Citizenship Act defines that a person who is not a Bulgarian citizen can acquire a Bulgarian citizenship if he/she, by the date of the application of the request, is cumulatively:

1. an adult;

2. had received a permission for a permanent or long-term residency not less than 5 (five) years ago;

3. had not been sentenced to a penalty for a crime;

4. has an income or a profession which gives him an opportunity to meet his expenses;

5. speaks Bulgarian;

6. is free of his/her current citizenship or will be by the date of acquiring the Bulgarian citizenship – multi-nationality or dual citizenship are not tolerated in the legislation;

There is an easier procedure for acquiring a Bulgarian citizenship, if the foreign citizen is investing in the Bulgarian economy. The procedure includes the following requirements for the investor:

1. he/she must have – within less than an year –  received a permission for a permanent residency in Bulgaria and increased his/her investment up to BGN 2 million or had invested not less than BGN 1 million for a priority project in Bulgaria, certified under the requirement of the Bulgarian legislation;

2.  he/she has received permission for a permanent residency and received a certificate for investments A class from the Ministry of Economy;

The duration of the procedure required for acquiring a Bulgarian citizenship – depending on various factors – range between 2 and 18 months from the date the application with all the relevant documents had been submitted.

For foreign citizens, who have personal reasons to acquire a Bulgarian citizenship:

The requirement for a residence of at least 5 years in Bulgaria with a proper permit for long-term or permanent residence is reduced to 3 years for the cases, where the foreigner:

– has married and maintains a legally concluded marriage with a Bulgarian citizen for a period no less than 3 years;

– was born in the Republic of Bulgaria but has acquired another citizenship on the basis of his/her origin;

– has obtained a permit for long-term or permanent residence before reaching the age of majority.

The candidates who meet the above requirement should also have a good command of theBulgarian language.

Finally, foreigners, who have a Bulgarian origin, are provided with a more favorable regime and with less demanding requirements to fulfill:

– The Bulgarian origin must be proven through a certificate issued by the State Agency for Bulgarian Citizens Abroad. To obtain such a certificate, the Agency needs evidence for the Bulgarian origin (birth certificate, passport or other private/public document) of the applicant. The certificate is issued after an examination period, which lasts for 2 months;

– For foreigners who have been adopted by a Bulgarian citizen under the conditions of full adoption;

– For foreigners whose parent is a Bulgarian citizen or has been deceased as a Bulgarian citizen.

Foreigners, whose applications for acquisition of Bulgarian Citizenship are based on one of the above mentioned conditions do not need to prove neither their residence on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, nor need to disclose their income or occupation which enables their support in the Republic of Bulgaria. They also don’t have a requirement for release of another citizenship or command of the Bulgarian language.

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