The legislation provides for three main options for acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship – as per the origin, the birthplace and by means of naturalization. According to the legislation in force, if at least one of the applicant’s parents is a Bulgarian citizen, or in case the applicant was born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, then the individual is considered a Bulgarian citizen by law. If none of these conditions is fulfilled, the person may acquire Bulgarian citizenship by means of naturalization, including on the grounds of marriage with a Bulgarian citizen.
The procedure starts with an application, which should be submitted personally with the Ministry of Justice or with a Bulgarian diplomatic or consular office abroad. The submission is to be necessarily in person, since an interview with the applicant is conducted in Bulgarian:
- by an official in the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate on the first business day after the registration of the application with the Administrative Services and Office Directorate every working day from 13:30 to 16:00; or
- by an official in the Bulgarian diplomatic or consular office abroad.
Conditions for Acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization
At the date of submission of the naturalization application, the following conditions should be met:
- a permanent or a long-term residence permit acquired not less than 3 years ago;
- the person has not been sentenced for any crime or offence by a Bulgarian court and no criminal proceedings have been initiated against him/her for such crime or offence, unless he/she has been rehabilitated;
- have an income or an occupation that enables him/her to support himself/herself in the Republic of Bulgaria;
- fluency in Bulgarian language;
- not less than 3 years of lawful marriage (not terminated) with a Bulgarian citizen.
Fluency in Bulgarian Language
The fact that the person speaks Bulgarian can be verified in two ways:
- with a copy of a document for completed language training in Bulgarian language issued by a foreign language department at a university in Bulgaria. The best option is to take a course in the Department of Language Learning at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, where the fee amounts to BGN 489, which includes 5 hours of pre-test preparation for the A2 level exam, and the exam fee. The results of the exam are recognized by the Centre for Assessment in Pre-school and School Education (the “CAPSE”). or
- by passing an exam before a committee of experts at the CAPSE. The exam is in writing and is conducted on a monthly basis, with the dates announced in advance on schedule available at: http://copuo.bg/page.php?c=24&d=19. The exam form is a test, with an basic knowledge level needed for normal communication. The examination may also be conducted at the respective diplomatic or consular office of Bulgaria, where the application for citizenship acquisition has been submitted.
The state fee for the naturalization application is BGN 100. The amount should be transferred to a bank account of the Ministry of Justice.
Legalization and certification
The documents in a foreign language to be enclosed to the application, should be translated in Bulgarian by a sworn translator and should be legalized. If copies of the documents are to be enclosed, the latter should be notary verified, except for the identification document.
Term for Examination of the Application and End of the Acquisition Procedure
Following the application submission, the electronic system at the Ministry of Justice schedules a date for the interview. There is no legal term for the appointment of the interview date, as well as deadline for examination of the application. Therefore, that the continuation of the procedure is within the discretion of the official which processes the file. However, in practice, the procedure usually takes between a year and a year and a half.
Citizenship itself is acquired by virtue of a decree issued by the President, which enters into force on the issuance date.