Bulgarian Citizenship by Origin
Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Bulgarian Citizenship Team
Article 15 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act outlines the conditions under which foreign nationals can acquire Bulgarian citizenship based on their Bulgarian descent. There are three categories of persons eligible for Bulgarian citizenship by origin:
- A person of Bulgarian origin.
- A person adopted by a Bulgarian citizen under the conditions of full adoption.
- A person whose parent is a Bulgarian citizen or has died as a Bulgarian citizen.
The amended Citizenship Act, effective as of March 15, 2021, aims to make the process of obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by origin faster and more transparent. Thanks to these changes, the time required to acquire Bulgarian citizenship has been significantly reduced by at least 2 years.
Our team can advise you on the eligibility of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by origin, to assist in the sourcing, clarification and preparation of the supporting documents, to assist at each step, including by completing many of the steps on behalf of the applicant, to put together the application and submit and represent in front of the responsible authorities.
Furthermore, we may assist you to obtain evidence of Bulgarian origin. This includes birth or death certificates, primary or high school diplomas, marriage or military service certificates issued by local or central government authorities in Bulgaria.
Time to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by origin
As of 2021, the Bulgarian Citizenship Act underwent a significant amendment, reducing the time for citizenship applications to be considered from 12 months to just 9 months. This means that the process to become a Bulgarian citizen is now three months faster than before.
Previously, the citizenship process was a two-stage process, requiring separate applications for a certificate of Bulgarian origin with the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad and for Bulgarian citizenship with the Ministry of Justice. Obtaining the certificate alone could take at least 12 months. However, the amendments now allow for applicants to submit evidence of their Bulgarian origin directly with the Ministry of Justice at the time of applying for Bulgarian citizenship, eliminating the need for a separate certificate.
Furthermore, the amendments now allow for the application and interview to be completed at the same time, eliminating the need for multiple visits to the nearest Bulgarian embassy or Ministry of Justice. This change has also reduced bureaucratic hurdles and introduced clearer criteria, making the process more transparent and efficient.
Overall, these amendments represent a significant improvement in processing time and ease of access to Bulgarian citizenship. It is highly likely that applicants who apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin after the 2021 amendment will have their application approved faster than those who applied before.
How to prove my Bulgarian origin?
Bulgarian origin can be proved easily by presenting a birth certificate from Bulgarian or foreign authorities. The certificate must state that one of your ancestors is born in Bulgaria and is of Bulgarian origin. Our citizenship lawyers can assist you in obtaining a birth certificate of your deceased ancestors born in Bulgaria.
If you are unable to provide evidence of your Bulgarian origin, our team can assist you in obtaining extracts from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages with the local municipality where your ancestors were born, or records from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In the event that no records can be located, our team can help you establish your Bulgarian origin through a specially designated court procedure.
Establishing Bulgarian Origin for Soviet Union-born Ethnic Bulgarians:
All applicants must submit their ancestors’ originally issued birth certificates, specifically avoiding the new format birth certificates. Newly issued birth certificates are not considered sufficient evidence of Bulgarian origin.
The Ministry of Justice distinguishes between “Свидетельство о Рождении” and “Справка о Рождении.” The “Справка о Рождении” is not accepted.
If any of your ancestors were born in 1940 and their birth record indicates “bolgar,” “bolgarka,” or any other synonymous term denoting Bulgarian ethnicity, you must apply with this particular birth certificate. In the event that your original birth certificate is lost, you may attempt to obtain a duplicate copy rather than applying with a newly issued certificate.
It’s important to note that a newly issued birth certificate can still be used for applying for permanent residency based on origin.
Citizens of Turkey who lost their Bulgarian citizenship due to the migration processes in the last decades can apply for restoration of Bulgarian citizenship by providing “Passeport D’Emigratoin” and a birth certificate. Their descendants can apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin based on their ancestors lost Bulgarian citizenship.
If you do not satisfy the restoration requirements, you can follow the standard two staged route. You have to provide a few other certificates from the Turkish administration:
- Certificate of migration
- Certificate of name identification
- Certificate of family tree (now available on the website of the Turkish authorities)
When the Bulgarian Turks were migrating from Bulgaria to Turkey, the Turkish authorities acknowledged their dates of entry. This is confirmed by the Certificate of migration. Since the names of the Bulgarian Turks were slightly changed after they registered with the Turkish administration, the Certificate of name identification is used to confirm the names. The three certificates need to be apostille legalized in Turkey before you forward them to us.
Additionally, our law firm will help you obtain extracts from the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages with the local municipality where your ancestors were born. You may find more details about the pricing of this service here.
To apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin, do I need to schedule an appointment?
Appointments are not necessary for the following cases:
- Foreign citizens with a valid residence permit in the Republic of Bulgaria
- Citizens of an EU member state
- Citizens of a country that is a party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or of the Swiss Confederation.
If you do not fall under the above categories, you must schedule an appointment on the Ministry of Justice’s website to apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin.
In case you cannot wait for an appointment in Sofia, you may also apply at the nearest Bulgarian embassy or general consulate. Although D visa applications should be submitted in your country of residence or citizenship, Bulgarian citizenship applications can be made at any Bulgarian embassy or general consulate regardless of your current citizenship or residence status.
Application for Bulgarian Citizenship by origin
When submitting an application for Bulgarian citizenship by origin, an interview will be conducted with the applicant as long as the set of application documents have been provided. The interview is conducted in Bulgarian by officials of the Minister of Justice, following an approved questionnaire. If you are not fluent in Bulgarian, a member of our team can accompany you during your Bulgarian citizenship interview.
Within 14 days of the submission of the application and the interview, an expert check will be conducted to ensure the compliance of the documents with the requirements of the law. If non-compliance is found, the applicant will be notified via a message published in the Directorate’s automated information system and given two months to remedy the irregularities.
If you have already submitted your Citizenship application and there is no status update for quite some time, we will check the status of your application with the Ministry of Justice. You may first check your application status online here using your reference number and PIN before contacting us.
What documents I have to provide to apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin?
- Application form;
- Birth Certificate;
- Documentation confirming Bulgarian origin, such as birth or death certificates, indicating at least one ancestor of Bulgarian origin within three generations;
- Police clearance certificate from home country and country of residence;
- Several additional certificates which will be prepared by our law firm.
To obtain more information about applying for Bulgarian citizenship by origin, please feel free to contact us.