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Citizenship in Bulgaria - Guide for 2024

Citizenship in Bulgaria

Updated on Monday 15th January 2024

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Citizenship in Bulgaria
 
 
In the past few years, Bulgaria has become an attractive destination for those looking to move to European countries with emerging economies. With a low taxation system as well as progressive developments in terms of legislation and options of starting a business or finding good jobs, many of the foreigners living here decided to apply for citizenship in Bulgaria. If you want to know if you qualify for citizenship, our lawyers in Bulgaria can help you. We can also advise if you want to move here and get acquainted with the Bulgarian citizenship requirements for later.
 
 Quick Facts  
 Residency options Temporary and permanent residence are available in Bulgaria. 

 Ways to acquire citizenship

 - naturalization;

- marriage;

- descent;

- birth

 Living requirement for citizenship by naturalization

 A foreign citizen must hold permanent residence in Bulgaria for 5 years in order to obtain citizenship.

 Living requirement for citizenship by marriage  Citizenship by marriage can be obtained after 3 years of being wed to a Bulgarian citizen.
 Conditions for citizenship by ancestry Citizenship by descent is available for those who have parents or grandparents with Bulgarian origin.
 Citizenship by investment availability (YES/NO)

 No

 Special requirements for EU citizens (if any)

No, there are no special requirements for EU citizens applying for Bulgarian citizenship. 

 Special citizenship requirements for non-EU citizens (if any)

 No, non-EU citizens can obtain citizenship the same way as EU nationals.

 Documents to obtain citizenship by naturalization

- application form;

- proof of local residential address;

- clear criminal record;

- evidence for the means of securing a Bulgarian passport 

 Timeframe for obtaining citizenship (approx.)  Applications are processed in 9 to 12 months.
 Access to dual citizenship (YES/NO)

 Dual citizenship is available only for those born in Bulgaria.

 Benefits after obtaining Bulgarian citizenship

 - low income taxes;

- voting rights;

- access to the labor market;

- possibility to start a business, etc.

 Fastest way to secure citizenship

 Ancestry is the fastest way to obtain a Bulgarian passport.

 Best way to obtain citizenship in Bulgaria

 Marriage is the best and simplest way to acquire citizenship in Bulgaria.

 Support in filing for citizenship (YES/NO)  Yes, our immigration lawyers in Bulgaria can assist with the application.

 

Legal pathways for citizenship in Bulgaria

 
There are several ways through which foreign citizens can apply for Bulgarian citizenship in 2024. These are:
 
  1. naturalization which is one of the most common ways through which foreign citizens obtain full rights of living in Bulgaria;
  2. origin which is available only for those who have Bulgarian relatives or ancestors;
  3. birthplace which is available for the children of foreign citizens born in this country;
  4. marriage which is a fast way to getting a Bulgarian passport.
 
No matter the ways you want to obtain a passport, you must first meet the Bulgarian citizenship requirements which can be presented by our lawyers.
 
For those who want to know if Bulgaria dual citizenship is permitted, the answer is yes, however, this option is available for certain persons only.
 

How to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by origin in 2024

 
Bulgarian citizenship by origin is available for persons who have relatives (parents or grandparents who are still alive) and ancestors they can prove they have had a blood relationship with.
 
Obtaining citizenship in Bulgaria this way is not uncommon, however, in the case of those who have lived abroad most of their lives and have lost contact with their Bulgarian relatives completing all the formalities related to finding their relatives can be a lengthy procedure.
 
Our law firm in Bulgaria is at the service of those interested in the requirements they must meet in order to obtain citizenship.
 
Those who are citizens European Union, European Economic Area countries and Switzerland can also qualify for Bulgaria dual citizenship.
 

Applying for Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization

 
Many foreign citizens who decide to move to Bulgaria choose to remain here for a long term. In many cases they reach the timeframe for obtaining permanent residency and from there, citizenship is only one step away.
 
These can obtain citizenship by naturalization in Bulgaria in 2024 if they meet one of the following requirements:
 
  • they have been residents of Bulgaria for 5 years;
  • they have a clean criminal record;
  • they have sufficient funds for support themselves;
  • they know Bulgarian and have a good knowledge of the Bulgarian culture.
 
Foreign citizens who are married to Bulgarian ones can be eligible for citizenship after 3 years of living here.
 
The documents one needs to provide when applying for citizenship in Bulgaria are:
 
  • the application form;
  • the passport or document issued by the Bulgarian authorities;
  • a recent photography;
  • the criminal record;
  • the application fee.
 
Those are married to Bulgarian citizens must also submit proof of changing their names, however, if they got married in Bulgaria, such a document is no longer required.
 
Our lawyers can explain all the Bulgarian citizenship requirements for 2024 in accordance with your status here.
 

How to obtain citizenship by marriage in Bulgaria

 
According to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, anyone who has been legally married to a Bulgarian citizen for at least 3 years, and who is still married as of the date on which the application for naturalization was submitted, may obtain citizenship through marriage.
 
Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions about gaining Bulgarian citizenship through marriage. This is one of the frequent ways to immigrate to Bulgaria, and our lawyers can help you.
 
People who become naturalized agree to assume all of the duties associated with being citizens of Bulgaria. They receive all the privileges and rewards associated with citizenship in exchange. Since Bulgaria is an EU member country, its inhabitants are also EU citizens, giving them the freedom to move around the EU.
 
Here is an infographic on Bulgarian citizenship:
 
How to Obtain Bulgarian Citizenship
 

The citizenship interview

 
In order to obtain citizenship foreign citizens must pass a Bulgarian language exam and must also sustain an interview. The test is organized in the offices of the Assessment Center in Preschool and School Education. It consists of 20 questions and is administered in one hour. If the candidate answers at least 12 of the test questions correctly, the exam is considered passed.
 
The oral interview is another step in the procedure. The interviewer notes the answers on the candidate's linguistic proficiency in Bulgarian. Most of the questionnaire's questions are personal in nature.
 
If you are interested in immigration to Bulgaria whether to apply for residency or citizenship, feel free to address our lawyers. They are at your service with tailored solutions.
 

Who can obtain Bulgaria dual citizenship?

 
Bulgarian dual citizenship is an option for those who born abroad of Bulgarian parents, other applicants being required to give up their citizenship when applying for Bulgarian passports.
 
There are also a few exceptions to the dual citizenship rule, as citizens of EU, EEA and Switzerland can retain their first passports when applying for Bulgaria dual citizenship.
 
We kindly invite you to reach out to our Bulgarian lawyers for detailed information on the requirements applicable on a case-to-case basis.
 

Benefits of obtaining Bulgarian citizenship

 
Bulgaria has been an EU member since 2007. This entitles citizens of Bulgaria to the same rights and privileges as citizens of the EU, including:
 
  • the freedom to live, work, and travel anywhere in the EU;
  • access to the employment market in Europe;
  • visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel is available for more than a hundred non-EU nations;
  • the ability to purchase property or farmland in Bulgaria and other EU nations;
  • access to the educational systems of Bulgaria and other EU countries;
  • the right to receive financial aid and student loans;
  • voting and running for office in Bulgarian and European institutions.

 

Getting a Bulgarian passport comes with numerous benefits and our local lawyers can help you obtain this status if you qualify for it.
 

What is the fastest way to obtain citizenship?

 
Ancestry is the quickest way to obtain a passport, however, this is only because there are no waiting periods from a legal point of view. However, the issues are others in this case. Obtaining Bulgarian citizenship through origin is a two-step process. The State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad must first provide you a certificate of Bulgarian ancestry. The certificate is required for the second stage of the process, which is for the application to the Ministry of Justice for citizenship.
 
People who have lost their ties to Bulgaria and need to obtain the ancestry certificate may find it harder, as they must search for their ancestors in order to prove their connection to the country.
 
Marriage is one of the fastest ways of obtaining a Bulgarian passport, as it can be issued within 3 years of living here. Our lawyers can help foreign citizens who marry Bulgarian nationals in applying for citizenship by drafting the necessary documents and filing them with the Ministry of Justice.
 

Citizenship by merit in Bulgaria

 
According to Section 16 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, people can become citizens of Bulgaria by making extraordinary contributions. Because the merit-based acquisition exempts candidates from some normal standards, it allows for a quicker naturalization process. A person may be eligible for Bulgarian citizenship if he/she has made exceptional contributions to Bulgaria in fields like public and economic affairs, science, technology, culture, or athletics. Compared to the traditional naturalization process, the merit-based acquisition approach has a substantially shorter timetable. Instead of the customary 12 months, the Minister of Justice is expected to provide a proposal in 3 months.
 
No matter the situation you are in, if you need assistance in applying for citizenship, you can rely on our Bulgarian lawyers. Below, you can also watch our video on this topic:
 
 
 

Statistics on Bulgaria’s population

 
Currently, Bulgaria has a large expat community made which is distributed evenly in major cities of the country, and according to this data provided by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development:
 
  • at the level of 2021, the size of the foreign-born population was 0.2 million, out of which 50% were women;
  • they represent 3% of the country’s population;
  • 17% of the foreign citizens living in Bulgaria are of Russian descent;
  • Turkish and German migrants account for 9%, respectively 8% of the foreign-born population.
 
Most of the people immigrating to Bulgaria from non-EU countries came here based on employment contracts. Bulgaria is regarded positively and favorably by the world community and has one of the strongest economies in Southeast Europe. Throughout the past years, the country has enjoyed rapid economic growth, with high levels of foreign direct investment and an average annual GDP gain of almost 6%.
 
If you intend to stay in Bulgaria for more than 90 days, you must register your residency there within three months of your arrival, either at the Sofia Migration Directorate or the closest provincial directorate. You must provide evidence of your income or pension as well as your possession of a Bulgarian bank account. Your monthly income must be at least the national minimum wage in order to be regarded as financially independent.
 
If you want to apply for citizenship in Bulgaria and need guidance, do not hesitate to contact our law firm for tailored support.