As a new member of the European Union, Bulgaria offers business opportunities and a quality lifestyle. Depending on the type and amount of investment, an investor may be eligible for different terms of residence and may have the possibility of applying for Bulgarian citizenship, including through an expedited process. Physical residency requirements were lifted in 2013. Eligible investments include the purchase of government bonds, investment in real estate, acquisition of shares of Bulgarian companies, financing a loan from a Bulgarian bank, and creating a specified number of jobs.
The Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship in Bulgaria, also known as the Immigrant investor programs, was introduced in 2009 by amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act, and implementing government regulations. The program allows high-net-worth individuals from non-European Union countries who have a combined net worth greater than €1 million (approximately US$1.3 million) comprised of cash, property, business, or securities and their families to obtain Bulgarian permanent resident status and become eligible for Bulgarian citizenship with all the advantages of EU permanent residency. Applicants must be able to prove that the source of their income is legal and they cannot have a criminal record.
After five years of temporary resident status, permanent resident status is granted to an investor who will then become eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship in two or five years, depending on the type of investment. The investment of specific amounts in government bonds and in a company involved in the Priority Investment Project (a government-run development program) and making a commitment to maintain those investments for a period of at least two years after acquiring citizenship entitles an applicant to acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship within two years through the so called “Fast-Track Citizenship Option.” Applicants and their family members are not required to be physically present in Bulgaria for any time period and their absence from the country does not affect their immigration status.
There are no nationality or religious restrictions for applicants and no requirements pertaining to management, work experience, education, or age for the investor. Previous requirements concerning language competence and relinquishment of current citizenship were eliminated by recent changes in legislation.
The promotion of the Investor Program is endorsed by the InvestBulgaria Agency, a division of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism.
II. Investment Options
Amendments to the 1997 Law on Investment Promotion, which entered into force on February 23, 2013, created a variety of options for qualified investors participating in the Immigrant Investor Program, including the following:
- Open a personal bank account in Bulgaria and deposit the amount of no less than BL1 million (approximately US$675,000) for the purchase of government bonds. After five years, the invested amount will be refunded to the investor without accrued interest.
- Invest an amount of no less than €180,000 (approximately US$240,000) to finance a loan from a Bulgarian chartered bank.
- Invest more than €1 million (approximately US$1.3 million) and become a majority shareholder or legal representative of a company that participates in a government-designated Priority Investment Project.
- Invest at least €125,000 (approximately US$165,000) and obtain no less than 50% of the capital of a Bulgarian company operating in one of the underdeveloped regions in Bulgaria, and create and maintain at least five jobs for Bulgarian citizens under a labor contract.
- Invest at least €250,000 (approximately US$330,000) and obtain no less than 50% of the capital of a Bulgarian company, and create and maintain at least ten jobs for Bulgarian citizens under a labor contract.
- Invest as an individual no less than €300,000 (approximately US$396,000) or obtain more than 50% of the capital of a Bulgarian company, which in turn would invest the same amount in real estate. Financing is allowed as long as the outstanding amount of the loan is under 25% as of the date of the residency application. This final investment option does not lead to permanent residency status and residency should be renewed every year.
Prepared by Peter Roudik
Director of Legal Research
* This report was prepared with the assistance of the Law Library intern Svitlana Vodyanyk.
 Bulgarian Citizenship Act, Nov. 5, 1998, Drzhaven Vesnik [DV] [State Gazette] (in Bulgarian) 1998, No. 36, as amended, available in English at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/docs/Governments/BulgariaLaw BulgarianCitizenship.doc.
 Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act, DV 1998, No. 153, Dec. 23, 1998, available in English at http://legislationline.org/documents/action/popup/id/6200.
 Regulation on Implementation of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act , approved by Government Decree No. 179, June 29, 2011, DV 2011, No. 51; DV 2013, Nos. 41, 62, available at http://www.lex.bg/bg/laws/ldoc/ 2135738597 (in Bulgarian).
 Id. art. 44.
 Act to Amend and Supplement the Investment Promotion Act, DV 2013, No. 16, available in English at http://www.ice.gov.it/paesi/europa/bulgaria/legge_incentivi_investimenti_en.pdf.
 Act to Amend and Supplement the Investment Promotion Act §§ 11–22, 33; Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act arts. 22, 24.
Last Updated: 06/09/2015