Country profile

Located in the Balkans, Bulgaria was a member of the Eastern Bloc and a socialist republic until 1990. It joined the European Union in 2007, but its application to become a member of the Schengen Area was rejected following concerns regarding corruption. Neither is it a member of the Eurozone, although the nation’s currency – the lev – is pegged to the Euro. Bulgaria is the EU country with the lowest personal income tax rate and one of the lowest corporate tax rates. Even though average wages are the lowest in the EU, the economic outlook for Bulgaria is relatively optimistic, particularly as IT services, tourism, and manufacturing continue to grow and provide employment.

  • Official name: Republic of Bulgaria
  • National anthem: Dear Motherland
  • Location: Europe
  • Capital city: Sofia
  • Official language: Bulgarian
  • Independence: 5 October 1908, from the Ottoman Empire
  • Government type: Parliamentary democratic republic
  • Head of State: President
  • Head of Government: Prime Minister
  • Basis of legal system: German civil law; Roman civil law
  • Currency: Bulgarian lev
  • Climate: Temperate; continental

Programme Profile

The Bulgarian Immigrant Investor Programme

  • Created in 2009, it finds its legal basis in Article 25(1) of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act and Article 14(a) of the Citizenship Act
  • Only for non-EU nationals
  • Requires a period of nominal permanent residence in Bulgaria
  • Two investment options:
    • A guaranteed investment in government bonds, leading to citizenship in five years
    • A larger investment in government bonds or in a Bulgarian company, leading to citizenship in three years. As of 2019, it is not possible for applicants to combine government bonds and company investments
    • The investment must be retained for a period of five years, after which time it is returned to the investor without any interest
  • Submissions are made to a local Bulgarian consulate and redirected to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which issues a first-stage visa for the applicant to enter Bulgaria and file for permanent residence. Processing is then conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • No Bulgarian language or local culture test. Since 2019 however, applicants are required to sit an interview
  • Two formal trips to Bulgaria required, to file for permanent residence and to register permanent residence and receive the relevant identity documents
  • Permanent residence may be expected within six to nine months of submission, while citizenship rests on the option selected by the applicant
  • The Bulgarian Government published a draft bill proposing changes to the Programme in March 2020