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Overview A country in south-eastern Europe, and a member of the European Union, Bulgaria occupies a portion of the eastern Balkan peninsula, bordering five countries, including Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania, and features a coastline of 220 miles. The Balkan mountains run through the country while the Black Sea delivers sandy beaches and high-rise rugged cliffs.

Health and Education With an established history of education and a multitude of schooling centres, Bulgaria delivers a good standard of education, which is free at all levels and is obligatory between the ages of 7 and 16. To cater to the many expats from western Europe and the US, especially in the capital Sofia, Bulgaria offers a variety of international schools, including seven IB World Schools and two French high schools. In addition to the University of Sofia, there are teacher-training institutes, various technical institutes and schools for the arts, as well as the American University in Blagoevgrad and the Bulgarian University in Sofia. Bulgarian healthcare is universal and state-funded via the country’s National Health Insurance Fund. In addition, there exists a well-equipped private sector. While Bulgaria spends an above-average for Europe percentage of its GDP on healthcare, its past few decades of poor healthcare has led to life expectancy that is below the EU average at 76 years. Smoking in the Bulgarian population is the highest in the EU.

Transport Bulgaria boasts extensive and well-developed road, rail and bus networks, including high-speed lines, with train services taking passengers to Romania, Turkey, Greece and Serbia, as well as to Moscow, Kiev and St. Petersburg. Bus transport is also widely available with express buses serving cities and large towns. The Danube river is used for domestic and international traffic and there are three international airports, with the main one in Sofia, just 10km east of the capital’s centre, operating 35 airlines with direct flights to 70 destinations in Europe and the Middle East.

Lifestyle Bulgaria offers a relaxed lifestyle filled with friendly people who are welcoming to foreigners, alongside cheap prices and a stable economy. With its varied landscape and climate, Bulgaria delivers similarly on leisure and lifestyle opportunities, from its stunning Black Sea beach resorts and beautiful countryside (including the Pirin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site), to skiing in the mountains during winter. As the second country in Europe with the richest natural mineral springs, Bulgaria delivers big on the natural spa front. There are nine registered UNESCO World Heritage sites within the country, including The Rila Monastery and Srebarna Nature Reserve. Golf and fishing are popular activities here.

Climate Bulgaria has a varied and changeable climate with temperatures ranging from as low as 38.3C to as high as 45C, however it generally has a moderate continental climate, with an average temperature of 10C. There is a lot of snowfall in Bulgaria in winter.

Population 7 million (2019)

Languages The official language is Bulgarian with a number of dialects in operation.

Religion The dominant religion of Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodoxy, more than 75%, with Sunni Muslims the second largest religious group.

Capital City Sofia is Bulgaria’s capital and largest city.

Currency Bulgarian Lev

GDP Per Capita $9,272.63 (2018)

Economy Bulgaria has an open, upper middle-income range market economy where the private sector accounts for more than 70% of GDP. Agriculture accounts for less than one tenth of the country’s income with grains and cereal crops the mainstay, along with tobacco. Among Bulgaria’s main industrial activities are extraction of metals and minerals, production of chemicals, machine building, steel biotechnology and food processing. Bulgaria is Europe’s fifth largest coal producer, exporting to Turkey, China, Russia and the US, and the manufacturing and mining sector employs almost one-fifth of the total labour force. Bulgaria is also the largest producer globally of lavender and rose oil and is one of the biggest wine producers in the world. Tourism is a significant contributor to the country’s economic growth.

Did you know…? The country’s two main cities, the second largest city, Plovdiv, and the first largest city, Sofia, are the two oldest constantly inhabited cities in Europe (8,000 years and 7,000 years, respectively. That’s older than Athens (6,000) and Rome (2,800).

Bulgaria Sofia citizenship by investment


  • Established 12 years
  • Minimum outlay $560,000
  • Processing time 2-5 years
  • Residency or travel requirements Two trips
  • Freedom of movement 174 countries
  • Investment Options 2

Overview Unveiled in 2009, Bulgaria’s Immigrant Investor Programme (BGIIP) is a rather complicated and lengthy programme involving a two-step process that requires short-term residency before citizenship is issued, though physical presence is not necessary during the process.

Pros As with other European countries, Bulgaria boasts a high number of countries and territories to which citizens can travel visa-free or visa-on-arrival. Prior physical residence in the nation is not necessary. Bulgaria offers a good standard of living with an established history of good education and it is affordable to live within. There is no need to speak the language and no need to reside in, or travel to the country while citizenship is being issued.

Cons The biggest con for Bulgaria is that it can take between two to five years to gain citizenship. Plus, it does not offer visa-free travel to the US, which is a primary business hub. Applicants are required to sit an interview when they submit their application and must make two trips to Bulgaria.

USP Bulgaria has the title of being the world’s slowest CBI programme.

Ease of processing The application for Bulgarian citizenship takes the longest of any other CBI programme worldwide, from two to five years, depending on the investment option chosen by the investor. While no local language or knowledge is needed, applicants must undertake an interview upon submitting their application. Applicants must also make two formal trips to Bulgaria, to file for permanent residence, and then to register permanent residence and receive the relevant identity documents. Following criticism from inter-governmental European bodies about its lack of due diligence, in 2019, Bulgaria tightened its requirements for criminal records, and now demands criminal records both from an applicant’s home country and country of permanent residence.

Freedom of movement Bulgaria offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to a growing number of countries (174), including Australia, Japan, South America and Canada, though not to the US, which is a key business hub. Bulgaria is currently taking steps towards membership of the Schengen Area.

Investment options 2

Bulgaria citizenship by investment


Option 1 The first option leads to citizenship in five years. Applicants must make a refundable donation of $560,000 into a government bond portfolio for five years, after which your investment is returned without interest. This entitles applicants to permanent residency and following one year of residency, in which applicants do not need to spend time actually on Bulgarian soil, applicants can undertake the fast-track citizenship path, which involves investing a further $560,000 into government bonds or a Bulgarian company.

Option 2 The second option, titled Fast Track, leads to citizenship in three years. Applicants make a refundable donation of $560,000 in either government bonds or in a Bulgarian company for the first year and then double the investment in the second year. This entitles applicants to permanent residency and following two years, citizenship is granted. The applicant must keep the bonds for two years after citizenship is granted.


Passport Ranking (Henley Passport Index 2021) 16 / 116

CBI Programme Ranking (CBI Index 2021, Financial Times) 54% / 11th out of 13 countries

Ease of doing business Ranking (Doing Business 2020, The World Bank) 61 / 190

Economic Freedom (2020 Index of Economic Freedom) 35 / 178

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