Bulgarian citizenship is governed by the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Citizenship Act (BCA) and international treaties in force at the onset of the facts or events connected with the citizenship.
Citizenship cannot be established within a judicial procedure.
Everyone has the right to choose their citizenship and no one can be deprived of Bulgarian citizenship, except in the cases expressly provided for in the BCA.
Requirements for persons wishing to acquire Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization
Art. 12, para. 1 of BCA outlines the requirements that must be met by a person, who is not a Bulgarian citizen, but wants to acquire Bulgarian citizenship. It is necessary to meet the following requirements at the date on which the application for naturalization is filed. The most important condition is the authorisation for long-term or permanent residence in the Republic of Bulgaria to have been received at least 5 years prior to the application.
However, if the foreign national:
- has been married for at least 3 years and is still legally married to a Bulgarian citizen,
- was born in the Republic of Bulgaria or
- was granted authorisation for permanent or long-term residence before coming of age, the required period of residence is 3 years (Art. 13, BCA).
Other basic requirements referred to in BCA state that an applicant for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship cannot be a person that has been convicted of a crime of general nature by a Bulgarian court and against whom there is an ongoing criminal proceedings for such a crime, unless rehabilitated; The applicant further needs to have income or occupation which enables him to support himself in the Republic of Bulgaria; speaks Bulgarian, which is to be established in a way determined by the Minister of Education and Science; has been released from his current citizenship or will be released by the time of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship.
Bulgarian citizenship may be acquired without a validly contracted marriage with a Bulgarian citizen, if the foreigner is of Bulgarian origin; was adopted by a Bulgarian citizen under the conditions of full adoption; one of his parents is a Bulgarian citizen or deceased as a Bulgarian citizen. This procedure requires presenting a certificate of Bulgarian origin issued by the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, which must specify the grounds for establishing Bulgarian origin.
Art. 16 of BCA presents us with another way of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship. According to the provisions of this Article, a foreign national can acquire Bulgarian citizenship if it is in the interest of the country or if the person has special contributions to the Republic of Bulgaria in the public and economic sphere, in science, technology, culture or sports. The proposed acquisition of citizenship for special merit is made by the Minister responsible for the area, under the condition that the foreigner have given their prior consent. The Citizenship Council gives its opinion on the application after the written opinion of the Ministry of Interior and National Security Agency. Based on the opinion, the Minister of Justice then submits a proposal to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to issue a decree, which is to enter into force on the day of its issue.
Documents required for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization
1. Application to the Minister of Justice, which must be written in Bulgarian language and must contain:
a) name, middle name and surname as per the birth certificate. Should any of the names be changed, a document certifying the change must be presented – marriage certificate or a court order;
b) permanent address of the applicant on the territory of Bulgaria or abroad. Applicants living abroad may designate a person living in the Republic of Bulgaria and give their address, where all communications regarding the application shall be sent;
c) the circumstances under which the applicant is seeking to acquire Bulgarian citizenship.
When the person is under 14 years of age or is under judicial disability, the application shall be submitted by both of his parents or his guardian. It is submitted by one parent, if the other is deprived of parental rights.
A person aged 14 to 18 or placed under partial judicial disability submits the application himself. The application shall be signed by both of his parents or his guardian. It is signed by one parent when the other is deprived of parental rights.
In case of dispute between the parents, as well as such between minors and their parents or guardians, the district court decision on the dispute must be annexed to the application.
2. Detailed Curriculum Vitae.
3. Picture – 1 pc.
4. Birth certificate or a certified copy.
5. Declaration form № 2.
6. Certificate of proficiency in Bulgarian language.
7. Conviction status certificate from the Republic of Bulgaria and the country of nationality of the applicant. If the applicant is permanently residing in a third country, he must present a conviction status certificate from the local foreign authorities, as well.
8. Certificate from the Ministry of Interior for a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Bulgaria, which states the term of authorized residence. As of the date of filing the application, this period should be at least 5 years.
9. Document from the prosecutor’s office, stating that there are no ongoing criminal proceedings for a crime of general character against the individual, if the same permanently resides in Bulgaria.
10. Certificate from the employer, stating that the individual is working under a contract of employment, or from the respective tax office for declared income for the previous year.
11. Medical document, issued by the Doctors’ Consultative Committee (DCC) of the hospital of residence, certifying that he is not suffering from diseases under Art. 36 and Art. 36a of the Public Health Act.
12. Proof of payment of the application fee.
Individuals applying for Bulgarian citizenship under Art. 13 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act shall submit an application and the documents listed in the list of required documents for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by way of general naturalization, keeping in mind that the term referred to in the certificate by the Ministry of Interior for a permanent residence permit, must be at least 3 years as of the date of filing of the application. In addition, the following need to be presented:
- Certificate by the respective municipality for the marital status and evidence of a civil marriage, contracted at least 3 years as of the date of submitting the application – for those applying on the basis of valid marriage to a Bulgarian citizen.
- Birth certificate of the child and a certificate of his or her nationality – for those applicants, who have a child, who is a Bulgarian citizen under 18 years of age.
- Documents in a foreign language presented by the applicant need to have undergone legalization and official certified translation into Bulgarian language.
Procedure of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship
Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by way of naturalization, as well as the restoration of Bulgarian citizenship, release and deprivation of citizenship and revocation of naturalization are carried out through a decree of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria. The decree enters into force on the day of its issue.
The Ministry of Justice issues a certificate for the change of citizenship of the respective individuals. After receiving the decree of the President, the Ministry of Justice shall notify:
- Municipalities or mayoralties, where the individual has his permanent address – to enter the change in his citizenship in the registers of civil status of the population;
- The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – for the issuance or seizure of Bulgarian identity documents.
Refusal and appeal
Bulgarian legislation does not provide for possibility of appeal against refusals to issue a decree for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by way of naturalization. Revocation of naturalization Naturalization on the basis of which Bulgarian citizenship has been acquired can be revoked if the individual:
- has used data or facts on whose basis Bulgarian citizenship was acquired, which a court has found to be false;
- has concealed data or facts which, if known, would have been grounds for refusal of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship.
Revocation of naturalization is only admissible until expiry of 10 years of the acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship.
Revocation of naturalization of one of the spouses does not revoke the naturalization of the other spouse or that of the children, unless they have acquired Bulgarian citizenship on the basis of the same false or concealed data or facts.
Deprivation of Bulgarian citizenship
A person who has acquired Bulgarian citizenship by way of naturalization can be deprived of it, if he has been convicted by a final judgment of a serious crime against the republic, provided that he is abroad and would not remain stateless. Depriving one of the spouses of citizenship does not affect the citizenship status of the other spouse or that of the children.