Citizenship vs Residence

comparing apples to oranges

Some will argue that we shouldn’t be comparing apples to oranges in the first place. And indeed, in Bulgaria one gets real EU passport, while in Portugal the applicant will be only rewarded with residence permit. Bulgaria has real investment citizenship program, while Portugal only offers residence permit in return for investment.

But if you ask the Portuguese agents, they will tell you all kind of stories to convince you that their residence program is on par and even better than the Bulgarian citizenship program. So let’s give them a chance and analyze the pros and cons of both programs.

Marketing matters

We are often asked “why is it so little known about the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program?“. How come that everybody knows about the golden visa in Portugal and only few are aware that Bulgaria grants citizenship (real citizenship, not residence) in 12 months only? And if you think that Bulgaria is only losing the marketing war with Portugal – think again. Bulgaria has always been the worst player in this field. Before the Cypriot citizenship by investment program was cancelled, everybody knew about it and nobody was counting Bulgaria. But this “low profile” policy is exactly what saved the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program from the “hawks” in Brussel. While all other EU citizenship by investment programs were practically put to a hold (Cyprus and Malta), Bulgaria survived and even revamped its program in March 2021.

Low profile, advantageous conditions and no marketing budget for the Bulgarian program

The fact that the Bulgarian government is keeping low profile about its citizenship program can be explained simply. It is not necessarily because the Bulgarian authorities want to stay under the radar of the “investment citizenship haters” in Brussels (and there are plenty of them). It is simply, because the Bulgarian program is so beneficial to the applicant, that the Bulgarian government has simply no budget to market it. There are no hefty state fees and of course – no irrevocable donation. And consequently there is no marketing budget to boost the program’s promotion.

International citizenship agents hate the Bulgarian program

Portuguese golden visa

Try asking some of the big players in the global citizenship marketplace about the Bulgarian program. We bet they will try to convince you to go for the Portuguese golden visa instead. Most probably, these agents will tell you that “the Bulgarian program is unreliable and is not working” (which is of course a blatant lie). And if you insist and want to get second passport (and not only residence permit), they will offer you Vanuatu or some exotic Caribbean island’s program. They will even offer you the program of Montenegro and will try to convince you that the country is set to join the EU. They will of course forget to tell you that this won’t happen before 2045.

So why are they doing that? It’s simple – they can’t make any money on the Bulgarian program, because there is no room for hefty commissions or mark-up fees. You don’t have to buy overpriced properties in Bulgaria or invest in dubious real estate funds, as you will have to in Portugal. And when the whole process is as transparent as it can be, the big sharks swim away.

The Bulgarian and the Portuguese programs compared

Let’s get straight to the facts and put head to head the Bulgarian Golden Passport and the Portuguese Golden Visa programs.

DescriptionBulgariaPortugal
Instant citizenship program:YESNO
Permanent residence eligibility:immediatelyimmediately
EU citizenship eligibility:after 1 yearafter 5 years
Average time to full EU citizenship:1,5 years7 years
Required investment (most frequently utilized option):512 000 EUR500 000 EUR
Taxes on the investment:NOYES
Government fees:lowhigh
Children over 18 eligibility:YESNO
Taxation in the country:10%14.5% to 48%

We believe the table above says it all. It is up to you – the prospective investment citizenship applicant, to decide which program you will give your preference to. The one that is aggressively marketed or the hidden gem and the only EU true citizenship by investment program – the revamped Bulgarian CIP of 2021.

EU investment residence and citizenship won’t last forever

If you need any assistance, we urge you to contact our offices asap. Knowing the political sentiment in the EU that is against all investment citizenship or residence programs, it may be now your last chance to get hold of EU passport via fast-track procedure.

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