Bulgaria is a country located within the Balkan Peninsula of south-east Europe, bordering Romania, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia.
With a rich history finding its roots in the late seventh century and encompassing Byzantine and Ottoman rule, as well as Soviet control as a member of the Eastern Block, Bulgaria is now a parliamentary republic and formally part of the European Union. It is not yet a member of the Eurozone, but the lev, Bulgaria’s official currency, is pegged to the euro.
After almost a decade of decline and slow growth, fiscal discipline returned Bulgaria to stability. The country enjoyed a GDP growth rate of around 1.6 percent in 2014 and 3.0 percent in 2015, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects to be maintained for 2016. Economic growth can also be traced to the Government’s increased efforts in tackling corruption.
Sofia, the capital city, is the most successful city in south-eastern Europe with respect to employment and real GDP, with output fuelled by around 39 percent by the business and finance sectors. Inflows to the capital and to the country are partly due to Bulgaria’s gentle taxation regime, which affords persons and corporations the lowest income tax in the European Union.
The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian.
Bulgaria’s population is estimated at almost 8 million, composed primarily by native Bulgarians, and Turkish and Roma minorities. In recent years however, the country has witnessed rapid demographic changes ascribed to the European Migrant Crisis.
The Bulgarian Immigrant Investor Programme (BGIIP), was created in 2009 with an amendment to the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. Designed as a quick route to citizenship via a period of nominal permanent residence in Bulgaria, the Programme does not require the investor to physically spend time in Bulgaria while waiting for citizenship to be issued. This feature makes Bulgaria one of a handful of European citizenship programmes where prior physical residence in the nation is not compulsory.
There are two investment options under the Programme, the first leading to citizenship in five years, while the latter doing so in three years.
Under the first option, the applicant must make a BGN 1 million (€512,000) guaranteed investment in Government bonds, whilst under the second option the applicant must make a BGN 2 million (€1,024,000) investment in Government bonds or in a Bulgarian company.
Applications under the Programme are first submitted to a local Bulgarian consulate, which redirects the application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and issues a first-stage visa for the applicant to enter Bulgaria and file for permanent residency. Thereafter, processing is conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Programme is only available to non-EU nationals, who must make two formal trips to Bulgaria; once to file for permanent residency, and once to register permanent residency and receive the relevant identity documents.
Permanent residence may be expected within six to nine months of submission, whilst citizenship rests on the option selected by the applicant.
The benefits of Bulgarian citizenship include free movement rights throughout all the member states of the European Union, and visa-free access to over 150 countries and territories. Bulgaria has yet to join the Schengen Area, although it is taking steps towards membership. Dual citizenship is allowed without restrictions.