Bulgarian citizenship by descent

Article Breakdown

Bulgaria Passport CoverThanks to a recent amendment in Bulgarian citizenship law for Bulgarian citizenship by origin, if you can prove that you have a Bulgarian parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent, you are eligible to acquire Bulgarian citizenship – and, by extension, the right to live in any of the 27 European Union member states.

The reform has significant implications for the hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian descendants living in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Russia, and other countries who now have a viable path to European Union citizenship.

The provisions of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act govern Bulgarian Citizenship by Origin. The Bulgarian Parliament revised the legislation governing Bulgarian citizenship by origin in March 2021.

Who is eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship by descent?

According to Article 15 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Law, foreign nationals can acquire Bulgarian citizenship based on their Bulgarian ancestors.

The Act provides three categories of people who can petition to obtain Bulgarian citizenship based on their origin:

  1. A person of Bulgarian descent.
  2. A person adopted by a Bulgarian citizen with full adoption conditions.
  3. A person whose parent is a Bulgarian national or died as a Bulgarian national.

The Citizenship Act, which was revised on March 15, 2021, aims to create a more efficient and transparent method for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by origin.

There is no longer any requirement to apply to the Agency for Bulgarians Abroad for a certificate of Bulgarian origin.

Timeline for Bulgarian citizenship by descent

Rounded Bulgaria Flag IconFirst and foremost, you must gather the documentation that proves your Bulgarian origin and that will support your quest for Bulgarian citizenship.

You must present this documentation to Bulgarian or foreign authorities. The processing could take between 12 and 24 months.

Art. 35 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, as revised in 2021, provides that petitions for Bulgarian citizenship by origin should be assessed within nine months of submission. Prior to the modified 2021 Act, the processing time for a citizenship application was 12 months. This cuts the time it takes to become a citizen by three months.

The changes will almost probably save processing time and increase transparency. The bureaucracy has been significantly minimized, and a clear criterion has been established.

It is not necessary to visit the nearest Bulgarian embassy or general consulate twice: once to apply and again twelve months later to be questioned. The application and interview are now conducted concurrently.

While 12-24 months may seem long, the procedure may be shorter than obtaining Bulgarian citizenship through investment.

After 6-9 months of waiting, you become a permanent resident, and then you can seek for citizenship after one year of permanent residency.

As a result, you can become a citizen in 18-21 months from the time you apply.

How can I establish my Bulgarian ancestry?

Bulgaria Coat of ArmsBulgarian origin can be easily demonstrated by submitting a birth certificate issued by Bulgarian or foreign authorities. The certificate must show that at least one of your ancestors was born in Bulgaria and is of Bulgarian descent.

You can seek for naturalization if you have Bulgarian ancestry. Documents produced by Bulgarian or foreign government entities confirming that your forebears were citizens will be required.

The documentation you submit must also include the full names of your ancestors and your relationship to them. This usually refers to birth, marriage, or death certificates.

The most significant change is obtaining a certificate of Bulgarian origin from the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.

This stage used to be required, and while it was time-consuming, it did not ensure a favorable decision. Its removal expedites and simplifies the entire procedure.

Turks from Bulgaria

Citizens of Turkey who have lost their Bulgarian citizenship as a result of migratory processes in recent decades can petition for restoration of their Bulgarian citizenship by submitting a “Passeport D’Emigratoin” and a birth certificate.

Their descendants can petition for Bulgarian citizenship by descent based on the fact that their forebears lost Bulgarian citizenship.

If you do not meet the restoration standards, you can take the normal two-staged approach. You must also supply the following Turkish administration certificates:

  1. Migration certificate
  2. Name identification certificate
  3. A family tree certificate (now available on the website of the Turkish authorities)

The Turkish authorities accepted the dates of admission of Bulgarian Turks migrating from Bulgaria to Turkey. This is validated by the migration certificate.

The Certificate of name identification is used to confirm the names of Bulgarian Turks because their names were slightly changed after they registered with the Turkish administration.

Before including the three certifications in your petition, they must be apostille approved in Turkey.

Bulgaria Country Landscape Photo

Application for Bulgarian Citizenship based on Nationality

The application to obtain Bulgarian citizenship must be filed based on an advance booking of a date and time on the Ministry of Justice’s website.

The application can be submitted in person to the Ministry of Justice in Sofia, or to the nearest Bulgarian embassy or general consulate.

Following the submission of the application, if all relevant documents as listed in the current list have been given, the applicant is interviewed.

The interview is done in Bulgarian by officials appointed by the Minister of Justice and based on a pre-approved questionnaire.

An expert check for document conformity with legal requirements is performed 14 days after the application is submitted and the interview is conducted.

If non-compliance is discovered, the applicant will be notified via message publishing in the Directorate’s automated information system and given two months to correct the anomalies.

If you have already submitted your Citizenship application and there has been no status update for a long period, you can first check the status of your application online using your reference number and PIN.

Can my family also apply for Bulgarian citizenship?

If you have Bulgarian citizens in your family tree over the last three generations, you are now eligible for Bulgarian nationality based on ancestry (among your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents).

When you become a Bulgarian citizen, your children become eligible and can apply. However, your spouse can only become a citizen after living in Bulgaria for a few years (or based on other reasons, e.g. investment).

What documents must I present in order to apply for Bulgarian citizenship by descent?

  • Application form;
  • Bulgarian origin certificate provided by the State Agency for Bulgarians outside of Bulgaria;
  • Birth Certificate;
  • Proof of Bulgarian ancestry of the applicant;
  • Police clearance certificate;
  • Several other certifications may be needed.

Is becoming a Bulgarian Citizen a viable option?

One of the reasons someone may desire to obtain Bulgarian citizenship is to have a traceable bloodline.

That is precisely why many global citizens do not bother to obtain citizenship from countries that do not provide them with any further privileges.

Obtaining citizenship in any way is frequently a hard and time-consuming procedure that requires a large amount of documentation and instruction.

Why Bulgaria?

Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship is an excellent plan B in the sense that you do not have to renounce your foreign citizenship, since Bulgaria allows dual citizenship.

A Bulgarian passport is also a good choice because it enables visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to 173 countries.

As a Bulgarian citizen, you will be able to work and reside in any of the EU member states.

As a result, if you are a citizen of a country with a weaker passport, acquiring Bulgarian citizenship through ancestry should be a no-brainer.

A Bulgarian passport is also a good alternative for US citizens wanting to renounce their citizenship or just as a backup.

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