The EU Court allowed foreigners to buy agricultural land in Bulgaria

March 5, 2024
Bulgaria allows non-EU citizens to buy agricultural land

Seventeen years after joining the EU, the court in Luxembourg lifted the restriction on EU citizens acquiring agricultural land in Bulgaria. The restrictions were supposed to be lifted back in 2014, but instead, with changes to the Law on Ownership and Use of Agricultural Lands (LOUAL) and contrary to European law, the state imposed artificial legal bans, leading to a penalty procedure from the EC. Now, the decision of the EU Court takes immediate effect, and there are no longer any obstacles for EU citizens to purchase agricultural lands in Bulgaria.

Five years after Bulgaria’s accession to the EU, citizens of the Union and the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) were given the right to acquire non-agricultural land in the country. Since 2012, they and the companies registered in Bulgaria, as well as foreign companies from EU and EEA countries, can own non-agricultural land.

For agricultural land, the restrictions were supposed to be lifted from January 1, 2014. Instead of this happening, a new requirement was introduced in Article 3b of LOUAL for everyone wanting to acquire it – they must have resided in Bulgaria for at least 5 years.

The rule introduced by this provision is general for all citizens – Bulgarian and foreign – and it follows that individuals who have not resided or been established in Bulgaria for at least the last 5 years do not have the right to acquire agricultural land by any type of transaction. As for legal entities, the requirement of registration at least 5 years before acquiring the land can be overcome if the partners (or founders of a joint-stock company) meet the requirements for residence or establishment.

Bulgaria Golden Visa

This change also facilitates easier investment in real estate in Bulgaria under the Bulgarian Golden Visa. Until now, foreigners had to buy a ready-made company to use for the purpose of purchasing property. Please note that in specific cases, it is recommended to register a VAT company for investing in the Bulgarian Golden Visa based on investment in real estate. If you invest in a property where the seller is VAT registered, you can recover the VAT. In the case where the price of the real estate is 312,000 euros with VAT, you can recover 62,400 euros in VAT. This practically makes the required investment just 250,000 euros.

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