We receive more and more questions about whether one can retain his foreign citizenship if he obtains Bulgarian citizenship by origin. In this article you will find the answer to this question, straight from the source.

Citizenship “by birth” vs citizenship by origin

Bulgarian citizenship by birth is conceptually different than citizenship by origin. Citizenship by birth is granted extremely rare, only in the case when the newborn baby (to foreign parents!) doesn’t get another citizenship at the time of birth. Those who are not born Bulgarians, but have Bulgarian roots, become Bulgarians by origin through naturalization.

The question of our prospective client from Canada

Unfortunately, the real professionals in the legal immigration and citizenship field are very few. So here is how our prospective client has been misinformed:

I asked about having to give up my Canadian citizenship because there are articles online that say Bulgaria only allows dual citizenship for those born in Bulgaria… Before we proceed, are there any terms that I should know about, any necessary requirements? For example, my Bulgarian language skills are not great yet.

the question of our prospective client

We must be clear that:

  1. No language test is required to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by origin;
  2. The person obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by origin doesn’t have to renounce his existing citizenship(s).

The legal explanation

Art 12 of the Citizenship Law

The above two statements follow from the Bulgarian legislation. In general Bulgarian citizenship may be acquired if all of the following conditions are met (Art.12 of the Citizenship Law):

  1. the person is an adult;
  2. not less than 5 years ago, the applicant has received a permit for permanent or long-term residence in Bulgaria;
  3. the person has not been convicted of an intentional crime of a general nature by a Bulgarian court and no criminal proceedings have been instituted against him for such a crime, unless he has been rehabilitated;
  4. the person has an income or occupation which enables him to support himself in Bulgaria;
  5. the applicant speaks Bulgarian, which is established by an order determined by an ordinance of the Minister of Education and Science, and
  6. the applicant has been released from his / her previous citizenship or will be released from it at the moment of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship.
    Exemption from their previous citizenship shall not be required for:
    1. persons – spouses of Bulgarian citizens;
    2. citizens of a member state of the European Union, of a state – party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, or of the Swiss Confederation;
    3. citizens of countries with which the Republic of Bulgaria has concluded agreements with which reciprocity is established.

Art 15 of the Citizenship Law

So far it really looks like the applicant for Bulgarian citizenship by origin needs to renounce his Bulgarian citizenship, pass language exam (so he has to be able to speak Bulgarian), has permanent residence in the country for 5 years, etc. But is that really so? Definitely not! Because, there is Art. 15 of the Citizenship Law that stipulates:

A person who is not a Bulgarian citizen may acquire Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization without the conditions under Art. 12, para. 1, items 2, 4, 5 and 6 if it meets one of the following requirements:

  1. is of Bulgarian origin;
  2. has been adopted by a Bulgarian citizen under the conditions of full adoption;
  3. one of his parents is a Bulgarian citizen or has died as a Bulgarian citizen.

The final judgement

So after we remove the above requirements from Art. 12, here are the conditions that need to be met by the candidate for Bulgarian citizenship by origin:

  1. the person is an adult;
  2. the person has not been convicted of an intentional crime of a general nature by a Bulgarian court and no criminal proceedings have been instituted against him for such a crime, unless he has been rehabilitated.

Of course, the procedure is not as simple as it may look now. But these are the legal requirements. And the final goal – to have Bulgarian citizenship, is worth the effort.

We hope this article will help many who are considering restoring their Bulgarian roots by obtaining citizenship. For any questions, please contact our offices.

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