Update on 09.04.2021, based on the information provided by lawyer Magdalena Miteva during the webinar “Bulgarian citizenship – practical issues and challenges in receiving it” March 30, 2021
When you can apply
If you were granted refugee status in Bulgaria, you can apply for citizenship 3 years after the day you got your status.
If you were granted humanitarian protection, you can apply 5 years after the day you got your status. Make sure to renew your ID card after 3 years — you’ll need it to apply for citizenship later.
If you are a stateless person and have been residing in Bulgaria for 3 years with a permanent or long-term residence permit.
If you have been residing in Bulgaria with a permanent or long-term residence permit, received not less than 5 years ago.
Note: Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and there are some additional grounds to receive Bulgarian citizenship.
To be eligible, you also need to show that you:
- Are at least 18 years old
- Have a clear criminal record
- Are not the subject of a criminal investigation
- Can support yourself financially in Bulgaria
- Are proficient in Bulgarian language
- Are released from your previous citizenship or you will be released from it at the moment of acquiring Bulgarian citizenship. This requirement does not apply for stateless persons, refugee and humanitarian status holders, people with Bulgarian origin or spouses of Bulgarian citizens.
Documents you need
Copy of your birth certificate issued by the relevant Bulgarian or foreign competent authority.
If you are a refugee or humanitarian status holder and do not have a birth certificate, you have to present only the identity document issued to you by the Bulgarian authorities.
First, you need a criminal record certificate from the country of which you are a citizen.
Second, you need a criminal record certificate from Bulgaria. For this, you need to go to the Ministry of Justice and submit a request for it. You don’t need an appointment. An official will issue the document the same day you make your request.
Ministry of Justice - Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate
Address: Sofia, Aksakov Street 5
Open working days, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
For more information check:
Refugee and humanitarian status holders do not have to present a criminal record certificate from their country of citizenship. They need the present only the one issued in Bulgaria.
Proof you're not under investigation
To get the document that says that you are not the subject of a criminal investigation, you need to go to the prosecution office nearest to your permanent address. A list of prosecution office locations is here. You don't need an appointment. You will get your document within 4 working days. You need to pay a fee of 2 leva.
Proof you can support yourself financially
To prove you can support yourself, you need a certificate from your employer, if you have a job, or а document from the National Revenue Agency stating your declared income for the previous year.
To prove your Bulgarian language knowledge, you have 2 options:
If you completed your primary education (7th or 8th grade), your secondary education, or your higher education in Bulgaria, bring a notarized copy of your diploma.
If you don’t have any Bulgarian diplomas, bring a document showing proficiency in the Bulgarian language. The Ministry of Education and Science issues this document.
To get this certificate, you need to submit an application to the Ministry of Education and Science and attach a copy of your identity document.
On the copy of your ID, you should also write:
- “True to the original” in Bulgarian (Вярно с оригинала)
- Your name and surname
- Your signature
If you completed a Bulgarian language course, you can bring a notarized copy of your certificate from this course, too, but there is no guarantee that the Ministry will accept it. The law doesn’t say which institutions are authorized to issue these certificates.
If you don’t have any Bulgarian language course certificates, or the Ministry doesn’t accept yours, you will have to pass a written Bulgarian exam. You can find some samples with answers on the website of the Assessment Centre in School and Preschool Education.
The application process and the exam are free of charge.
Medical document issued by a medical advisory commission (MCC)
This you can get from the medical institution at your place of residence. This document certifies that you do not suffer from acute infectious and infectious diseases.
1. Your autobiography.
2. One photo of you in a passport format.
3. Photocopy of your ID.
4. Photocopy of a document certifying your identity in case you have different names, or there was a change in your name. This is not required if the change in your name is due to marriage.
Note that at any point, you may be required to show your original documents when applying, so make sure to keep them with you.
How to apply
Get an appointment
To submit the application for citizenship, you need to get an appointment with the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate.
You can do this only online. Go to the Ministry of Justice website and reserve a date and time to submit your documents.
You need an email address.
First, you should choose a day that is convenient for you. The system will check if that date is available. If not, try another date.
In the end, don’t forget to click the “reserve” button. You will receive an email with the confirmed reservation.
Submit your documents
Before you submit your application, make sure you have all the necessary documents.
Every document has to be written in, or translated into Bulgarian and legalized.
If you don’t have all the necessary documents, the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate will give you 2 months to submit the ones you are missing. If you cannot get them within this period, they will give you your documents back and terminate your application.
When submitting the application, you need to pay 100 leva.
The application, together with the required documents, you should submit at:
Ministry of Justice - Administrative Service Directorate
Address: Sofia, Slavyanska Street 1
Working days: 9:00 a.m. - 17:30 p.m.
When you submit all the necessary documents, the Directorate will schedule a time for an interview in Bulgarian on the same day of the registration of your application. The interview is conducted by an employee of the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate.
Ministry of Justice - Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate
Address: Sofia, Aksakov Street 5
Working days: 13.30 p.m. - 16:00 p.m
During the interview, you can expect questions related to:
- Your reasons for applying for Bulgarian citizenship
- Your documents
- Your public life in Bulgaria
- Your knowledge about Bulgaria (such as official holidays and important historical events)
How long it takes
The Ministry of Justice has to make a recommendation to the President on whether to grant Bulgarian citizenship to you within 12 months
Citizenship is granted or denied by the President with a presidential decree. Тhe president is not bound by a time limit within which to issue this decree, therefore in some cases it takes years to acquire Bulgarian citizenship. The Presidential decree is final and cannot be appealed before court.
The most common grounds for refusal are related to national security or public order, or to documents that show the applicant is being investigated on suspicion of having committed a crime.
However, you can apply for Bulgarian citizenship an unlimited number of times.
You can follow your case webpage of the Ministry of Justice, “Bulgarian Citizenship” Directory. To do that you have to enter the reference number of your application and a special PIN code that you will receive upon submitting your application.
For more information watch this recording from the webinar that took place on 30.03.2021г.
This article is updated under the project "Legal aid to financially disadvantaged refugees and immigrants during a pandemic by using and improving the Migrantlife.Bg platform", implemented by the Foundation for Access to Rights - FAR with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area.
The project "Legal aid to financially disadvantaged refugees and immigrants during a pandemic by using and improving the Migrantlife.Bg platform" is implemented with financial support in the amount of EUR 10,000 provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism. The main goal of the project “Legal aid to financially disadvantaged refugees and immigrants during a pandemic by using and improving the Migrantlife.Bg platform” is to offer modern digital solutions for access to reliable information and a lawyer during a pandemic.
The entire responsibility for the content of this article lies with the Foundation for Access to Rights - FAR and under no circumstances it can be assumed that this content reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria.