Foreign nationals with permanent residency in the Republic of Bulgaria are eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship as the next logical step from which they can benefit.
- Legal basis
According to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, Bulgarian citizenship may be obtained by a person who:
- is an adult or a minor represented by its parents/guardians;
- has obtained a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Bulgaria not less than 5 years ago or 3 years ago;
- has not been convicted of a deliberate crime of a general nature by a Bulgarian court and no criminal proceedings have been instituted against him/her for such a crime, unless he/she has been rehabilitated;
- has an income or occupation which enables him/her to support himself/herself in the Republic of Bulgaria;
- has a command of the Bulgarian language which shall be established in accordance with the procedure established by an Ordinance of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science;
- has renounced his/her previous citizenship or will be renounced from it at the time of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship.
- Exceptions to the rules
There are some exceptions to the rules above.
The requirement that the applicant is released of his/her foreign citizenship, is not applicable in the following cases. The person may keep his/her foreign nationality if he/she is:
- a spouse of a Bulgarian citizen;
- a citizen of a Member State of the European Union, a State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or of the Swiss Confederation,
- a citizen of a country with which the Republic of Bulgaria has concluded international treaties.
- Reduced term for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship
The requirement that the applicant has resided in Bulgaria for at least 5 years on a permanent basis, for which he/she has obtained official permission, is reduced to 3 years if:
- the person has at least 3 years of legally concluded and uninterrupted marriage with a Bulgarian citizen;
- the person was born in Bulgaria but has acquired another citizenship (e.g. by origin);
- the person received the permanent residence permit before reaching the age of majority (18 years old).
The documents are submitted in person to the Ministry of Justice or to the diplomatic/consular mission of the Republic of Bulgaria. The list of documents to be presented includes among other standard documents also:
- Application form, written in Bulgarian;
- Birth certificate;
- Criminal record.
The documents submitted by the interested foreigner should be translated in Bulgarian language and legalized.
- Procedure for obtaining a Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization
The process for obtaining a Bulgarian citizenship includes several main steps.
- Submission of documents to the Ministry of Justice or to the diplomatic/consular mission of the Republic of Bulgaria
The documents should be submitted in person to the Ministry of Justice or to the diplomatic/consular mission of the Republic of Bulgaria in the country of origin or in the country of residence of the foreign national. For minors, the application shall be submitted and signed by their parents or guardians.
When the documents are submitted, the applicant is interviewed in Bulgarian language..
- Proposal of the Minister of Justice to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria
Following an expert assessment of all relevant documents, the Minister of Justice makes a proposal to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to issue a decree for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship.
According to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, the Minister of Justice shall make a proposal for the issuance of the decree within 12 months of the application in the Ministry of Justice.
- Issuance of a decree for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship
The acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship is obtained by a decree of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria.
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