In this article we are going to look at how you can secure residency and citizenship in Bulgaria for you and your family, through business and investment.
I am going to cover the two routes for residency and potentially citizenship:
- The Full Investment route
- The Financed Investment route
- The application process
- The benefits of being a resident of Bulgaria, and how it compares with other similar programmes in the EU and the rest of the world.
The EU second residency programs offer increased freedom of movement and, potentially, an excellent second passport. Bulgaria’s Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship was introduced in 2009, and there are two main routes under this program.
1. THE FULL INVESTMENT PROGRAMME
Let’s look at the first route, which is the full investment scheme. There are several investment options under this route:
You can make a deposit of 511,100 euro into a Government Bond Portfolio for five years. After 5 years, the full amount is returned you, without the interest. This investment is fully guaranteed by the government bonds. This is one of the simplest options.
Another option is to invest 250,000 euros in 50% or more of the capital of a Bulgarian registered company. This company must be able to provide 10 jobs for Bulgarian citizens.
If the company operates in an underdeveloped region, the minimum investment amount is lowered to 125,000 euros. In this case, the company only has to provide five jobs for Bulgarian citizens.
The last investment option in the full investment route is to invest 300,000 euros in 50% or more of the capital of a Bulgarian registered company. This company must then invest the same amount into Bulgarian real estate.
So, those are the different options for the full investment route of Bulgaria’s investor program for residence and citizenship. Before we deal with the application process in more detail, let’s look at the second route to securing Bulgarian citizenship.
2. THE FINANCED INVESTMENT PROGRAMME
The second route offered in Bulgaria’s investor program for residence and citizenship is the financed investment scheme:
Here, you make an investment of 195,000 euros, which is used to finance a loan from a Bulgarian chartered bank to purchase government bonds for five-years. At the end of the 5 years, you don’t get the 195,000 euros back. So this option involves a lower minimum investment amount, but you don’t get the capital back, unlike the full investment route.
Those are the two main options for investment through Bulgaria’s investor program for residence and citizenship.
3. APPLICATION PROCESS
You have to pass medical tests in your current country as part of the citizenship application, along with attending an interview with the Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria.
So, those are the steps you need to take to secure Bulgarian citizenship and an EU passport through Bulgaria’s investor program for residence and citizenship.
Through these routes, you can secure EU residency without having to be physically resident in Bulgaria. You only need to visit Bulgaria as part of the various steps in the process.
There is also a fast track option, in which the five years of permanent residence before applying for citizenship can be reduced to only two years. To do this, after 1 year you need to double the investment, for example through investing another 511,100 euros into a Government Bond Portfolio.
After one more year, you can then apply for citizenship.
It’s worth noting that you have to maintain both of these investments for two years after being granted Bulgarian citizenship.
So with this fast track option, you can secure EU citizenship in just over two years by doubling your investment.
4. ADVANTAGES OF THIS PROGRAMME FOR YOU
Let’s now look at some of the advantages of choosing a jurisdiction like Bulgaria for a second passport:
It’s one of the youngest EU member states and has the lowest tax rate of all EU member states: both corporate and personal income tax has a flat rate of 10%.
So, from a tax perspective, it’s quite an attractive place to do business. If you need any advice on this front, get in touch with me as I have tax lawyers who can assist with any tax planning.
It also offers you and your business access to the EU market, so it’s an good option for people who want their company to have access to the EU.
There is no requirement to be physically resident in Bulgaria to maintain your status as a permanent resident.
There are also no language requirements to apply for citizenship.
You don’t need to renounce your current citizenship either – from the point of view of the Bulgarian government at least, as Bulgaria allows citizens to hold dual citizenship and second passports.
In terms of mobility, EU residency allows you to travel, without visa restrictions throughout the EU.
Once you’ve secured Bulgarian citizenship for you and your family, you can then live, work and study in any EU country.
When you compare this program to other EU residency and citizenship-by-investment programs, this offers the option to invest in government bonds instead of real estate. So, if you’d prefer this kind of investment, perhaps due to some of the risks associated with investing in real estate, then Bulgaria is an interesting option for securing EU residency.
It’s worth pointing out that Bulgaria isn’t the only EU country offering programs for residency and eventual citizenship through investment.
Some other programs offer more structured routes to citizenship. Bulgaria’s program isn’t the clearest in terms of how to secure citizenship. I’d be happy to discuss your options with you in more detail if you’re considering securing EU citizenship through Bulgaria’s program.
Some of these programs also have shorter timescales than Bulgaria’s program. For example, Cyprus has a citizenship-by-investment program where you can secure an EU passport after less than 6 months through an investment in real estate.
There are also other programs outside of Europe with lower minimum investment amounts, for example, those in the Caribbean. They also offer EU access along with access to other countries, such as China. So they’re definitely worth considering too.
In summary, for either 511,100 euro investment into a Bulgarian Government Bond or a 195,000 euro contribution into their financed investment scheme, you can secure permanent EU residency in Bulgaria and potentially citizenship for you and your family.