Bulgarian residency program includes more than 20 legal grounds for obtaining a long stay permit or permanent residency by foreign citizens. One of the most preferred is the purchase of a real estate property in Bulgaria. Obtaining a long stay permit by property purchase is available for two types of applicants – retired and non-retired. Requirements and preconditions for the different types of applicants vary.
The main requirement in the legal procedure for retired people is the person who applies for Bulgarian type D visa and residency permit to be a pensioner and to receive a retirement pension as per the legislation of his/her home country. Relevant foreign laws which refer to the retirement and pensions in the corresponding country are applicable. For example it is possible in Bulgaria certain category of employees to retire at the age of 60 years but in other countries this to happen at the age of 50 or even 40 years. In such situation a foreigner who has retired in his own country at the age of 40 or 50 is treated as a pensioner on the territory of Bulgaria and he has full rights to apply for a long stay permit card in Bulgaria.
The second requirement is purchasing or renting a property in Bulgaria where the respective foreign pensioner will live. Purchasing a property is not actually a legal condition for granting visa D and Bulgarian residency permit card but this is a standard practice which increases the chances of obtaining residence permit. It is accepted that if a foreigner has the financial potential to buy a property and receive his pension in Bulgaria where he would live – then he would not be a burden to the Bulgarian state and social security system but would even stimulate its economy by investing and spending his income in Bulgaria.
Technically the purchase of a real estate can take place before filing the visa D application. It is possible for a foreigner to arrive in Bulgaria and buy a property with a visa type C (tourist visa) or with a valid Schengen visa and after that to return back to his country and apply for visa D. In Bulgaria it is legally impossible to get a long stay or permanent stay residency permit if Bulgarian visa D has not been granted beforehand.
A common practice is adults who have received Bulgarian residency under this procedure to live during most of their time in Bulgaria and their children or relatives come to Bulgaria for a couple of weeks or months on holiday, especially if it comes to mountain or seaside resort properties. If they are young enough (under legal age), children of retired foreigners can easily obtain residence permits in Bulgaria only on the grounds that their parents (or at least one of them) already have such permit. Spouses of persons who have obtained Bulgarian residence permits also have the right to use this privilege, no matter how old they are.
According to current legislation in force, after obtaining a Bulgarian residence permit card foreigners have to settle in Bulgaria within one year from receipt of the permit, otherwise they are risking their permissions to be taken away. However, this is not a strict rule and there are many foreigners who do not actually live in Bulgaria all the year round and at the same time keep their residency cards.
If you are not a pensioner, and you are interested in purchasing a real property in Bulgaria, there are also other options available. For more information about obtaining a long stay permit by property purchase for non-retired people you can refer to other articles on our website.