Bulgarian citizenship by Descent

Bulgaria's Citizenship Act, particularly Article 15, outlines the conditions under which foreign nationals can acquire citizenship based on Bulgarian descent. There are three primary categories eligible for citizenship by origin: individuals of Bulgarian origin, those fully adopted by a Bulgarian citizen, and persons with at least one parent who is or was a Bulgarian citizen.

The Citizenship Act was amended on March 15, 2021, to streamline the citizenship acquisition process, making it faster and more transparent. These amendments have notably shortened the citizenship acquisition timeline by approximately two years.

Reduced Processing Time to Bulgarian Citizenship

Post-2021 amendments, the Bulgarian Citizenship Act significantly reduced the citizenship application processing time from 12 to 9 months. Previously, a two-stage process was required, involving separate applications for a certificate of Bulgarian origin and for citizenship. Now, applicants can submit proof of their Bulgarian origin directly with the citizenship application, simplifying the process.

The amendments also allow for simultaneous application submission and interview, reducing the need for multiple visits to Bulgarian embassies or the Ministry of Justice, thereby streamlining the entire process.

Potential Language Requirements in 2024 

Although the Bulgarian government has successfully reduced the processing times for citizenship applications, there is ongoing consideration to implement language proficiency requirements for applicants of Bulgarian descent. As of now, such a language exam is mandatory for all applicants except those with Bulgarian origin. This proposed requirement is not yet formally instituted, but its potential introduction suggests that applicants might soon need to demonstrate proficiency in the Bulgarian language. In light of these developments, individuals considering applying for Bulgarian citizenship should expedite their application process and submit their applications early in 2024.

Proving Bulgarian Origin

Bulgarian origin can be established by presenting a birth certificate issued by Bulgarian or foreign authorities, showing an ancestor of Bulgarian origin. Our team can assist in obtaining birth or baptism certificates from Bulgarian authorities. If standard records are unavailable, we can help establish Bulgarian origin through specialized court procedures.

For descendants of ethnic Bulgarians born in the Soviet Union, it’s crucial to submit original birth certificates, as statements of birth are often considered insufficient. The Ministry of Justice differentiates between specific Soviet-era documents, accepting only certain types.

Citizenship for Bulgarian Turks

Turkish citizens with Bulgarian origin, particularly those who lost Bulgarian citizenship due to past migrations, can apply for restoration of citizenship. Required documents include a “Passeport D’Emigration” and a birth certificate. Our law firm assists in obtaining necessary documents from Turkish authorities and ensures their legal validation for the application process.

Application Procedure for Bulgarian citizenship by origin

Appointments for citizenship applications are not always necessary, especially for foreign citizens with valid Bulgarian residence permits, EU citizens, and citizens of EEA countries or Switzerland. However, others need to book appointments through the Ministry of Justice’s website.

While the appointment booking process for Bulgarian citizenship applications is intended to be straightforward, it often proves to be challenging due to the system’s management issues and the high volume of applicants vying for limited slots. This can make securing an appointment more a matter of chance than a guaranteed outcome. To circumvent the complexities and potential delays inherent in the Ministry of Justice’s appointment system, a practical alternative is to submit your citizenship application through the nearest Bulgarian embassy or general consulate. This approach can significantly streamline the process, reducing the wait time and expediting your journey towards Bulgarian citizenship.

Document Checklist for Bulgarian Citizenship Application

When preparing to apply for Bulgarian citizenship, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive and well-organized set of documents. Here’s a breakdown of the necessary paperwork:

  1. Application Form: This is the initial document that formally starts your citizenship application process.
  2. Birth Certificate of the Main Applicant: Essential for verifying your identity.
  3. Proof of Bulgarian Ancestry within Three Generations: This involves a series of birth certificates tracing back to your Bulgarian ancestor. Each certificate in this chain is a crucial link establishing your eligibility.
  4. Documents Confirming Name Changes:
    • If deriving Bulgarian origin through a maternal line and there’s been a surname change due to marriage, the mother’s marriage certificate is required.
    • For ancestors who changed their names due to naturalization, the relevant naturalization documents must be presented. Such documents are generally readily available from naturalization registries, especially in countries like the US and Canada.
  5. Criminal Record Certificate: This should be obtained both from your country of origin and any country where you have resided. It’s a standard requirement to assess the applicant’s background.
  6. Curriculum Vitae (CV): Providing a detailed CV helps authorities understand your personal and professional background.
  7. Additional Certificates: Our law firm will prepare and provide any other necessary certificates to complete your application.

Gathering these documents methodically is a vital step in ensuring your citizenship application process is as smooth and efficient as possible. Our team is committed to assisting you in every step of this process, ensuring all requirements are met and your application is presented in the best possible light.

Bulgarian Citizenship by Origin Compared to Naturalization as of May 2024:

Applicants seeking Bulgarian citizenship by origin benefit from less stringent requirements compared to those applying by naturalization. Specifically, as of May 2024, applicants by origin are not required to:

  1. Maintain permanent or long-term residency for the five years preceding their citizenship application.
  2. Pass a Bulgarian language exam or secure an exemption.
  3. Provide proof of a source of income from Bulgaria.

These differences highlight the significance of ethnicity in the application process for Bulgarian citizenship.


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