One of the most popular enquiries after Brexit is how expats and people who own property in Bulgaria will be affected. There are approximately 1.3 million Britons living in Europe many of which chose Bulgaria for their second home or just bought a holiday home in Bulgarian resorts. Around 7000 British nationals reside permanently in Bulgaria as of March 2016, according to UK embassy data.
Firstly, it should be clear that individual property ownership rights of all UK nationals who have bought or are planning to buy property in Bulgaria will not be seized or violated in any way.
There are obviously some fears that European countries, irritated by Britain’s decision to leave the Union, could try to put pressure on British expats. For example, they can imply new property taxes for non-EU members, or make them pay additionally for healthcare and other benefits. In Bulgaria property taxes are the same no matter of the nationality of the property owner so this fear is irrelevant for owners of Bulgarian properties.
However, there are restrictions to third country nationals about the types of properties they can own.
In Bulgaria non-EU citizens are allowed to buy apartments and in this case they are treated exactly as EU citizens. Non-EU citizens, however, are not allowed to acquire land, so if a British national wants to buy a country house with yard, this may no longer be possible. At least they will not be able to buy such estate as physical persons. They should use the option to form a Bulgarian company and to buy the property into the name of the company, as other investors coming from third countries do now. There are thousands of British expats who have already bought such type of properties in Bulgarian countryside and it is very unclear what the consequences for them will be as there are no clear terms set in place regarding this matter.
The free movement of persons within the EU as well as the common working and retiring conditions have also been a significant factor for choosing Bulgaria for buying and maintaining a holiday home. If a full exit takes place, European countries may decide to impose visas to Britons which will definitely have a negative impact on the property market and impede those who already have their overseas properties. On the other hand, the British wave in Bulgarian property market started even before Bulgaria joined the Union and it had never been a problem to any British to come and visit their property by getting a long-stay visa.
Heathcare is also a big concern as presently UK nationals can benefit from Bulgarian healthcare system and use the same medical services as Bulgarians. Third country nationals are obliged to make additional insurance if they wish to stay in Bulgaria and use medical care.
Regarding those who have chosen Bulgaria for their second home, stay mainly here and do not wish to come back to the UK for visas, a good solution would be to apply for permanent stay permit which will grant them almost equal rights to Bulgarians. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov even commented after Brexit that Britons based in the country are welcome if they decide to apply for citizenship.