Many clients are often asking us whether it is easy to obtain Bulgarian citizenship? Most of them believe that the big western countries (USA, Canada, Germany, France, etc.) are granting citizenship much more difficult than a small country, such as Bulgaria. But is this really so?
The ease of granting citizenship – a two sided coin
The difficulty of obtaining citizenship in certain country depends on two factors – legislation and red tape. And in general, these two are inversely proportional. The more difficult the legislation, the less hassle for the red tape. The easier the legislative procedures, the more red tape issues. But this is also too general to rely upon. Lets dig a bit deeper.
The citizenship legislation in Bulgaria
In general, the Bulgarian citizenship legislation is as “difficult” as the citizenship legislation of other western countries. Very broadly speaking, the average difficulty to get Bulgarian citizenship is roughly the same as getting citizenship of France, Germany, USA, Italy, etc. By “average difficulty” we mean getting citizenship via all available routes (marriage, standard naturalization, investment if available, etc.). There are some very important differences though.
Bulgaria has working investment citizenship option, while the other countries don’t
Bulgaria is granting citizenship for investment to qualifying applicants. So here we can’t make any comparison with the citizenship legislation of the big western countries (as these don’t have investment citizenship). The investment citizenship in Bulgaria however is affecting strongly all other citizenship routes. Simply put, for the Bulgarian authorities to be able to sustain its investment citizenship program, they have to make sure the overall rate of granting citizenship remains under control. And we are afraid, the “under control” policy has gone already way too far unfortunately.
Citizenship by marriage, standard naturalization
Especially in terms of citizenship by marriage, the Bulgarian legislation is much more restrictive compared to the bigger western countries. France and Italy for example will grant citizenship to spouses of their nationals even if they are living abroad. This would be out of the question in Bulgaria.
With all that being said, the Bulgarian legislation is more relaxed in terms of providing citizenship by investment (in fact, it is only Bulgaria that has an option for citizenship by investment). The Bulgarian legislation however is stricter in terms of granting citizenship by standard naturalization (by marriage, etc.).
Citizenship and red tape
Red tape is everywhere. Citizenship procedures are no exception. We estimate that the amount of bureaucracy is basically the same everywhere in the EU, Bulgaria included. USA and Canada doesn’t defer by a lot, so its all more or less the same.
The future of citizenship
During the many years of our practice, we see one very clear pattern. Obtaining second citizenship is becoming more difficult, to put it mildly. This is especially true for the investment citizenship options, but standard citizenship naturalization routes are also becoming pricier and are now more difficult to comply with.