Established in 2009, the Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship in Bulgaria was implemented by Bulgaria’s Government to attract foreign investment and business interest in the country. In return, investors and their families would obtain a Permanent Residence Permit and become eligible for Bulgarian citizenship.
As of 1 January 2017, Bulgarian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 154 countries and territories, ranking the Bulgarian passport 20th in terms of travel freedom.
But why is the Bulgaria Citizenship by Investment Program relatively unknown compared to Malta, Cyprus or the Eastern Caribbean Islands? Bulgaria is indeed one of the newest members of the European Union and many applicants have received very limited information about the program.
What are the conditions and benefits of holding a Bulgarian passport?
To qualify for residency application, an applicant must be a non-EU citizen and must meet the following requirements:
1) Full investment
The investor deposits the full amount of BGN 1,000,000 (€511,292) in the Guaranteed Governmental Bond Portfolio for a period of 5 years. No further payment is required. At the end of the 5-year period, BGN 1,000,000 is returned to the investor without accrued interest. The Investment return is fully guaranteed.
2) Financed investment
The investor pays a reduced amount of €180,000. The reduced amount is used to finance a BGN 1,000,000 (€511,292) closed five-year term loan from a Bulgarian chartered bank. No further payment is required.
The IPRC application must contain a copy of the investor’s curriculum vitae, the Investment Certificate that is issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance to confirm the national made the required investment, proof that the investment funds derived from a lawful source, proof that the investor does not have a criminal record, and proof that the investor has a personal net worth of at least 1,000,000 Euros.
Once the investor’s application is approved, the investor receives a Bulgarian permanent resident permit which entitles the holder to travel freely into and out of Bulgaria and to live in Bulgaria indefinitely.
After the foreign investor has been a permanent resident for five years, the investor can apply for Bulgarian citizenship through a process called naturalization. The naturalization application must contain proof that the foreign investor maintained their permanent residence and has not been convicted of a capital crime. Moreover, the applicant must have evidence that the investor has been paying the country’s taxes.
Once the naturalization application is approved, the investor can obtain a Bulgarian passport.
Fast Track Option:
The fast track option allows investors to apply for Citizenship faster (within 2 years after landing), by doubling the investment. The requirements for the Fast Track Option are:
- For the applicant to have at least 1 year of Permanent Resident status
- To double the investment by putting additional BGN 1,000,000 (€511,292) in the governmental bond or in the capital of a Bulgarian company that is carrying out a Priority Investment Project OR a one-time payment of €100,000 (Non-Refundable)
- To hold both investments for a period of at least 2 years after Citizenship is granted.
What are the benefits of a Bulgarian passport?
The Bulgarian passport can be of great value for any non-European citizen, and includes the following benefits:
- Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship give the investor full EU citizenship and entitles the investor to access to the European market and freedom of movement (i.e. the right to travel, work, study and settle/retire in any country of the European Union).
- The Bulgarian passport allows visa-free travel or visa on arrival to 153 countries.
- The right to set and do business in any EU / EEA country or in Switzerland.
- The right to buy land in Bulgaria and other EU countries.
- Access to the educational system in Bulgaria and other EU member states.
- The right to obtain medical care in Bulgaria and in any country in the EU.
What are the differences between Bulgaria and other Citizenship by Investment Programs in Europe?
Bulgaria is not the only country offering eventual citizenship in Europe through investment. It is possible to obtain EU citizenship and a second passport through a €2,000,000 real estate investment in Cyprus and Malta through different types of investment and donation worth €1.300,000.
While Cyprus is faster than Bulgaria, the amount of investment is more important and at risk. The process for Malta is similar to Bulgaria (PR then citizenship), but the cost to the investor is significantly lower bearing in mind that Malta includes a donation of €650,000 to the Government.
For more questions, please do not hesitate to contact HLG Managing Partner, Mr. Bastien Trelcat email@example.com
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.