It is in the roots, not the branches, that a tree’s greatest strength lies.Matshona Dhliwayo
Important update: The legal amendments of March 2021 have improved the options to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by origin.
This webpage will be updated soon with the relevant changes of the law. You can read our article about the new citizenship law.
The Bulgarian law states that each person whose at least one parent is Bulgarian citizen is also considered to be citizen of Bulgaria. This is the so called “jus sanguinis” principle, more specifically “leges sanguinis“. It is also considered that each person who is recognized by Bulgarian citizen is also citizen of Bulgaria. The place of birth of the person is in this case irrelevant as are his other citizenships.
It is important to understand, that even in the case where the Bulgarian parent has obtained his or her citizenship by naturalization and more specifically by investment, his or her children will be also considered to be Bulgarian citizens. This legal postulate comes very convenient in cases when foreign individual acquires Bulgarian citizenship through the fast-track option and can then obtain EU citizenship for his or her dependants. For more information, please refer to Citizenship by Investment.
The ultimate guide – How to obtain Bulgarian Citizenship by Origin
The Bulgarian Law for the Citizenship stipulates that any foreign national can obtain Bulgarian citizenship if he is of Bulgarian origin. We are often being asked whether citizens of certain countries (usually quite distant from Bulgaria) are eligible for Bulgarian Citizenship by origin. The answer is sound and resounding yes, as one’s origin knows no boundaries and there are many Bulgarian trails to be found everywhere in the world. Still, one needs to be extremely cautious as we have heard different reports about unscrupulous agents offering to provide proof of Bulgarian roots to people who have no connection with Bulgaria whatsoever. Be warned that engaging in such schemes is criminal offence. The process of obtaining Bulgarian Citizenship by descent (or by origin) is in general a two staged procedure.
Initially, the citizenship applicant has to apply for and obtain an official certificate proving his Bulgarian origin from the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad. Often, this process is the most serious hurdle that the applicant has to overcome. Logically (or maybe not), the percentage of refusals for the issuance of this certificate is quite high. Luckily, we are in position to assist legally, so if your application is rejected (or delayed without justification), we will take the necessary legal steps to appeal the refusal (or delay) with the relevant Bulgarian Court.
We are the only company in Bulgaria who is able to provide 100% reliable advice, after performing comprehensive due diligence procedure, on your eligibility to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by origin. We are in position to obtain the required documents on your behalf, to prepare the required supporting paperwork, to assist at each and every step during the process, and ultimately to put together the application and submit it in front of the relevant authorities.
With all that being said, we posses the required resources in order to assist you in obtaining the most important – the evidence of your Bulgarian origin. These may be, among others:
- birth certificates;
- certificates of death;
- primary school, high school and university diplomas;
- certificates (proof) of marriage;
- military service certificates.
So if you are still with us, then probably Bulgarian citizenship by origin is something you might be eventually eligible for. In that case please keep on reading to find more about the entire process.
Stage I – Application for a certificate of Bulgarian origin
The formal application should be filed with the nearest Bulgarian embassy or with the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad in Sofia. In order to apply for certificate of Bulgarian origin one needs to attend an interview with the Bulgarian authorities. If the applicant doesn’t speak Bulgarian (as is often the case when the Bulgarian origin dates generations back in the past), he is allowed to use the assistance of an official translator. The official legal certificate is usually issued within 30 days from the submission of the application, if applied for in Bulgaria, or within 3 months if applied at Bulgarian embassy. We always recommend applying in person in Sofia, accompanied by our lawyer, to avoid any delays.
It is important to know that all applications must be submitted in person (it is not possible to submit the application by post or by someone else with Power of Attorney). Once the certificate is issued however, it can be collected by an authorized lawyer with specifically drawn POA.
It happens often that the applicant has submitted promptly his application, however he will be not contacted by the Bulgarian authorities for quite some time. If this is the case, we will check the official status of the application and will report of any irregularities, or the reason for the delay. Unfortunately, in some cases, the certificate of Bulgarian origin may be lost or stolen (or even damaged), in which case our lawyers will assist the client to obtain a duplicate from the authorities.
Proving of the Bulgarian origin – the core of the entire process
One’s Bulgarian origin is best proved by presenting a birth certificate (or marriage certificate in some instances), issued from Bulgarian or foreign authorities (provided the legislation allows for recognition of the certificate in Bulgaria, in the case of foreign certificate). The certificate should clearly state that at least one of the applicant’s ancestors is of Bulgarian origin and that he has been born in Bulgaria. This definition is subject of great deal of controversy and subjectivity though. Luckily, our citizenship lawyers will full assist the applicant both with advice and with assistance to obtain the required documents.
Alternatively (and in some cases more easily), the Bulgarian origin can be also proved by obtaining a certificate of Bulgarian ethnicity from an organization of “Bulgarians living outside of Bulgaria” that is dully registered with the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.
Former Bulgarian citizens, now citizens of Republic of Turkey, who have lost their Bulgarian citizenship during the migration processes in the last forty or so years (mainly during the 1980’s) can apply for restoration of their Bulgarian citizenship by providing “Passeport D‘Emigratoin” accompanied by a birth certificate. Their descendants will be also eligible for Bulgarian citizenship by origin. We encourage all Turkish citizens who believe to be eligible to restore their Bulgarian citizenship, to contact us without delay in order to assist them with their application.
A word of caution: We receive more and more enquiries, mainly by citizens of India, who claim that they are eligible for Bulgarian citizenship by origin. When asked to provide evidence or explanation of their Bulgarian roots, it appears that virtually all of them are being lured by unscrupulous agents, with false promises to provide them with legitimate “Certificate of Bulgarian Origin” without real backing. Please be warned – these schemes are absolutely illegal and will never lead to Bulgarian citizenship being granted.
The required documents for the application for the certificate of Bulgarian origin
The package of documents that needs to be provided include:
- officially approved application form;
- birth certificate;
- copy of the ID document showing the applicant’s current nationality, citizenship and official address registration (permanent address);
- proof of the Bulgarian origin of the ascendant of the applicant;
- official declaration of Bulgarian national consciousness;
- any other documents that may be beneficial for the acceptance of the application (we will provide full advice on these as they differ from case to case).
In some cases, qualifying documents issued by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church or by a recognized organization of “Bulgarians living outside of Bulgaria” may prove to expedite the application considerably.
As obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by origin often proves to be a lengthy procedure, it is often advisable to apply (while the citizenship application is still under review) for a Bulgarian permanent residency by origin. The benefits of obtaining an intermediate status of permanent resident in Bulgaria include, among others, free EU healthcare, favorable taxation and conditional exemption on foreign (worldwide) income, free travel within the Schengen area (after Bulgaria joins the agreement), etc.
Stage II – Application for Bulgarian Citizenship by origin
Once Stage I is successfully completed, the application for Bulgarian citizenship by origin is best to be filed directly at the Ministry of Justice in Sofia. It can be submitted to the Bulgarian embassy or consulate too, though it will often result to delays. At the submission, the applicant will be interviewed and the use of translator is again, permissible.
If the applicant has submitted his citizenship application already, and has not been contacted by the authorities for some time, its best to liaise with us so we can contact the Ministry of Justice through the official channels. The current status of the application (the applicant will be required to enter his reference number and PIN) can be also checked at the official website of the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate. Unfortunately, the information provided online is often being too vague and doesn’t really describe the real status and what exactly the problems with the procedure are (if any).
The required documents for the application for Bulgarian citizenship by origin
The package of documents that needs to be provided include:
- citizenship application form;
- birth certificate;
- certificate of Bulgarian origin issued as per Stage I;
- proof of Bulgarian origin of the ascendant of the applicant;
- police clearance certificate, showing that the candidate has not been sentenced for (serious) crimes;
- a set of additional certificates and documents (we will fully assist for their preparation and issuance).
Your next steps
Obtaining citizenship by origin should be an easy process. Unfortunately it is not. There are many hurdles and obstacles before one can make the winning shot and defeats the bureaucratic machine. Unfortunately, in many cases, the success is only achieved after a legal battle in the Bulgarian courts. It is best to proceed with caution and try to avoid any mistakes that may lead to years of delays of the citizenship application. Please contact us for further legal advice, or in order to start the procedure of obtaining your Bulgarian citizenship without any delays.