Bulgarian ethnicity vs Bulgarian citizenship

Our client are often asking us the same question over and over again:

My parents have been Bulgarian citizens at birth, but are of non-Bulgarian ethnicity (e.g. Turks). Later in their life, they have emigrated and have lost their Bulgarian citizenship. Am I then eligible for Bulgarian citizenship by origin, bearing in mind that they are of non-Bulgarian ethnicity?

The short answer is YES. Ethnicity doesn’t count for restoration of Bulgarian citizenship or obtaining citizenship by origin through naturalization. Below we will explain why.

The decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court

If the concept of “Bulgarian” used in § 2, item 1 of the additional provisions of the Law on the Bulgarian citizenship is perceived as ethnic, then the nationality or ethnic origin of persons who have lost Bulgarian citizenship and apply for its restoration will serve as a basis for different treatment. Thus, persons of Bulgarian ethnic origin will be placed by the law in a more favorable position for restoration (of Bulgarian citizenship) than persons of other ethnic origins who have lost their Bulgarian citizenship. This is in direct contradiction to the principle of equality for all citizens under the law and is in conflict with the prohibition of discrimination – art. 6 of the Constitution. That is why the term “Bulgarian”, in view of the constitutional arrangement of the basic principles in the state, cannot be interpreted in view of its ethnic content, but in view of its legal content – the legal and political relationship between a person and the state of the Republic of Bulgaria, i.e. Bulgarian citizenship.

Definition No. 14535 of 3.12.2014 of the Bulgarian Supreme Court

The definition of the Supreme Court is quite clear. It is however unfortunate that many authorities in Bulgaria don’t like to play by the legal rules and tend to believe that “Bulgarian” is someone from “Bulgarian ethnicity”. This can’t be further from the truth as it contradicts the principles of the Bulgarian Constitution. Luckily, our lawyers are fully capable of explaining the officials what the laws are, many times through the intervention of the Bulgarian courts.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or if you have been treated differently during the process of obtaining residence permit or citizenship.

We recommend you also to read our article Bulgarian citizen vs citizenship by origin.

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