Bulgarian citizenship by origin can be obtained in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, which states that any person of Bulgarian origin is entitled to obtain Bulgarian citizenship under a facilitated procedure.
What does “a person of Bulgarian origin” mean? The answer is given by Bulgarian Citizenship Act. Any person who has at least one ascending relative in the direct line a Bulgarian, is considered to be of Bulgarian origin. Practically that means that if one of your parents or grandparents or even great grandparents was a citizen of Bulgaria or died as a citizen of Bulgaria, you can benefit from this option. Please note that there is a limit of the degree of kinship – the Bulgarian ascendant can only be up to the third degree, i.e. great-grandfather or great-grandmother of the applicant.
This is the easiest way to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization. There are only a few requirements, the most important of which is, of course, is to provide a documentary proof for the Bulgarian origin of your ancestors. This could be: a birth certificate, any documents issued by authorized Bulgarian Emigrant Organizations abroad or documents issued by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Additionally to the above all applicants must match the below criteria:
- Applicant must be of legal age (at least 18 years of age)
- The applicant must have clear criminal record and no criminal proceedings instituted against him at the time of the application
Required documents for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by origin:
- Application form with a CV and passport photos, attached to it.
- A copy of the ID document
- Birth certificate
- Documents proving Bulgarian origin
- Certificate of criminal record
- Medical documents
All documents must be translated into Bulgarian and duly certified before the application.
Prior to the last significant amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act from mid-March 2021, applying for Bulgarian citizenship by origin went through two stages:
1) submission of all documents proving the Bulgarian origin of the applicant to the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad
2) submitting an application for Bulgarian citizenship to the Ministry of Justice or to the respective Bulgarian Embassy
From March 12, 2021, the above-mentioned stage “1” has been cancelled. Applicants for Bulgarian citizenship by origin do not need to submit documents to the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad. The new procedure is significantly easier and faster. Applicants must now submit all documents proving kinship with a Bulgarian ascendant directly to the Ministry of Justice or the Embassy.
A new body has been established – an Advisory Board, which assists the Ministry of Justice for the verification of the Bulgarian origin of the respective candidate. On taking the decision this Board takes into account the following circumstances: 1) whether the candidate knows Bulgarian; 2) whether the candidate identifies himself as a Bulgarian; 3) whether he/she is part of a Bulgarian community or a Bulgarian minority in another country; 4) whether the candidate originates from a settlement that has been part of the Bulgarian country in the past or the Bulgarian Exarchate; 5) whether there is an ascending relative with a traditional Bulgarian surname.
The legal term for processing of the application by the Ministry of Justice has also been shortened. It was 12 months while now, for applications submitted after March 12, 2021, the deadline is 9 months. Within that legal term the Minister of Justice has to come up with an official opinion whether or not a decree to be issued by the President. It is important to specify that the 9 month-term is not the period within which the applicant will receive his / her citizenship decree. This is the maximum period in which an approval or rejection shall be received. There is no deadline for the issuance of the decree by the President which may take a year.