Or what may happen if you apply for citizenship by investment and citizenship by origin at the same time. And most importantly, how can you go for both simultaneously, without risking your applications to burn.

The scenario

Imagine that you believe that you have Bulgarian roots, but you don’t have Bulgarian citizenship yet. At the same time, you want to play it safe and to secure your Bulgarian passport asap. And to put the final touch, let’s assume money is your friend, so investment citizenship is within your reach. So what should you do?

The hypothetical approach

The most logical way forward would be to apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin and, as backup, to lodge application for citizenship by investment. In this case, if you can’t prove your Bulgarian roots and obtain citizenship, you will be still covered by your investment citizenship application. A bulletproof scenario, right? Yes, but only if you do it right. Because if you don’t, both applications may burn to ashes.


WARNING: The legal matter that will be discussed in this article is extremely complicated. We will try our best to present it into “human-understandable” language, but for this to work, we will have to do some simplifications. For any unclarities, we urge you to contact us for assistance.


The problem – the Constitution vs the Citizenship law

A Bulgarian citizen is anyone whose at least one parent is a Bulgarian citizen or who was born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, if he / she does not acquire another citizenship by origin. Bulgarian citizenship can also be acquired by naturalization.

Art. 25 (1) of the Bulgarian Constitution
Constitution of Bulgaria

Persons of Bulgarian origin acquire Bulgarian citizenship through an easier procedure.

Art. 25 (2) of the Bulgarian Constitution

As we can see, the Bulgarian Constitution makes clear distinction between “Bulgarian citizen” and “person of Bulgarian origin”. We would add that this is quite logical and legally sustainable. The Constitution determines that anyone who’s (at least) one parent is Bulgarian citizen, is also automatically Bulgarian citizen. Anyone with Bulgarian parent is Bulgarian citizen and not merely eligible to become Bulgarian citizen. This is what the Constitution states.

Alternatively, a person can be of Bulgarian origin and in this case he is eligible to be naturalized through an easier manner (easier procedure). The Constitution doesn’t specify what Bulgarian origin is. The Citizenship law does.

The Constitutional provisions in short

In other words, a Bulgarian citizen may be or may not be of Bulgarian origin. A person of Bulgarian origin may be Bulgarian citizen or may be eligible for Bulgarian citizenship. The majority of the Bulgarian citizens are of Bulgarian origin. Someone who has obtained Bulgarian citizenship by investment is Bulgarian citizen, but is not of Bulgarian origin. His children will be Bulgarian citizens and will be also of Bulgarian origin.

Bulgarian citizen

Anyone with one parent (or of course two parents) who is Bulgarian citizen is also a Bulgarian citizen. Simple and straightforward, no strings attached. Such person (with Bulgarian parent) is automatically Bulgarian citizen, not merely eligible to be naturalized.

Person of Bulgarian origin

Person of Bulgarian origin is not automatically Bulgarian citizen. Such person however is eligible to obtain Bulgarian citizenship through an easier procedure. The Constitution doesn’t specify what constitutes “Bulgarian origin”.

Bulgarian parliament

The Law on the Bulgarian citizenship – let the real mess begin

The Bulgarian citizenship law is totally messing up with the norms of the Constitution. The law is making use of three different terms:

  1. person of Bulgarian origin;
  2. Bulgarian citizen;
  3. Bulgarian.

What the difference between “Bulgarian citizen” and “Bulgarian” is has been the subject of extremely complicated legal disputes.

The law stipulates that a “Person of Bulgarian origin is a person to whom at least one ascendant is a Bulgarian“. The law also says that a “Bulgarian citizen by origin is anyone whose at least one parent is a Bulgarian citizen“. So it all means that a person of Bulgarian origin is a person who has at least one Bulgarian ascendant or one Bulgarian parent. This is what the citizenship law stipulates. But this contradicts directly the Constitution. Because by the Constitution – a person with Bulgarian parent is automatically considered to be Bulgarian citizen. Such person is Bulgarian citizen and not merely a person of Bulgarian origin, who is eligible to obtain Bulgarian citizenship through an easier procedure.

Sounds confusing? It certainly does. These texts are confusing not only you, but many supreme court and constitutional magistrates. We urge you to read more about one of the controversial decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court (in Bulgarian).

But what all that has to do with the potential problem of applying for citizenship by origin and by investment simultaneously?

The collision and the potential problems if things are not done appropriately

According to the latest amendments of March 2021 of the Citizenship law, Bulgarian origin goes back in time up to the great grand-parents:

… the applicant certifies that he has a kinship with at least one person – his ascending to the third degree inclusive, who is of Bulgarian origin.

Art. 15, par. 2 of the Law on the Bulgarian citizenship (redaction of 2021)

And now under our hypothesis, you have applied for both citizenship by origin and citizenship by investment. For the investment citizenship application, you are applying under the terms of the Law for the foreigners in Bulgaria. This law defines the investment option and is applicable only to non-EU (and non Bulgarian) citizens. Now remember the controversial definitions of the citizenship Law – “Bulgarian citizen” and “Bulgarian”? And now imagine how you need to answer the most important question in your applications – what is your current citizenship?

If you provide information that you are non-Bulgarian citizen (ie Russian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Moldavian, etc.), you think you are giving correct information, right? But at the same time, you apply for citizenship by origin, trying to prove that you have ascendant (mother/father, etc.) who is Bulgarian citizen. But by the Constitution, you are deemed to be automatically Bulgarian citizen. Or not quite? Or you are deemed to be of Bulgarian origin? Maybe not Bulgarian citizen, but simply Bulgarian? Are you sure that you can even answer this question correctly?

Why your answer, the way you submit your application, matters enormously

Or you are maybe thinking that this answer doesn’t really matter. Let’s not forget that the citizenship law foresees cancelation of the naturalization if the applicant has provided data that is not correct. And this cancelation of the naturalization can be done at any time, up-to 10 years after citizenship has been granted (Art. 22).

And if this is not enough, we have Article 313 of the Penal code, but this will be subject of another article.

In fact, it is not only important how you answer the questions and how you submit your application. Any other actions, such as enquiring citizenship status, may lead to the presumption of you knowing you may or may not be Bulgarian citizen (or Bulgarian) at the time of any of your applications.

Explained in simple words

You should not underestimate the collisions (or let’s call them “unclarities“) between the Constitution and the citizenship law. If you are applying for citizenship by origin and by investment, you need to make sure that both of your applications are done with extreme care. The wording and the submission of the documents need to be done by someone who knows what he is doing. This is because by definition, citizenship by origin, as is defined by the citizenship law, should equate to automatic citizenship by the Constitution. And automatic citizenship contradicts the procedures of the investment citizenship.

If both applications are done professionally, with observation of each process that may depend on the other, there should be no problem. If done chaotically however, you may find yourself locked in the cave of the legal absurd. And all this may deprive you of the opportunity to obtain Bulgarian citizenship.

Epilogue

Of course, all of the above is very theoretical and extremely complicated. And of course, even if there are some collisions, if the Bulgarian authorities were keen on giving citizenship, you wouldn’t need worrying at all. But the Bulgarian officials are far from eager to grant citizenship, to put it mildly.

And now imagine that you are from a country that is under constant EU sanctions. Imagine you are coming from a country for which the EU commission wants to remove the Golden Passport option altogether. How do you think the Bulgarian authorities will react to the slightest irregularity with your applications…

Citizenship by origin and by investment simultaneously – still a great idea!

If you believe you are of Bulgarian origin, but you want to improve your chances through an investment citizenship application, we urge you to contact us asap. Combining both applications is a great way to improve your chances, but it needs to be done professionally, with no corners being cut.

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