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Acquisition of Ownership over Land in Bulgaria

Registering a company in Bulgaria in order to purchase land in Bulgaria is not difficult and time-consuming process now but it is a bit uncomfortable because of the imposed obligations for company management, accountancy, taxes, etc. Many nationals of members-states of the EU are not aware of the current legislation and possibilities. It is good to know that you can acquire land in Bulgaria as an EU-citizen, a physical person if you meet the following requirements:

I. Regulated land, development land or so called "UPI-ureguliran pozemlen imot":

1. before 01/01/2012 -  if you are legally residing in Bulgaria for a set period of time and you are registered as a permanent resident:

1.1.The permanent residence is an equivalent of the UK term Indefinite Leave to Remain/ILR/, which is granted after 5 years of continuous residence in Bulgaria/excluding a temporary absence up to 6 months in an year, a longer absence for military service, etc./

OR are one of the following:

a/you were working continuously for an year as employee or a self-employed person, you have reached the age for pensioning or there is a reason for earlier pensioning and you have resided in Bulgaria continuously more than 3 years;

b/ you are an employee or a self-employed person, who is disabled and you have resided in Bulgaria continuously more than 2 years;

c/ you are an employee or a self-employed person, who is disabled and the disability has been caused by an accident at work or professional illness;

d/ you are an employee or a self-employed person, who has been working and residing in Bulgaria continuously for 3 years and you are working in other member state  but you keep your place of residence in Bulgaria and you are visiting Bulgaria at least one time per week.

For the purpose of applying the conditions a/ and b/, the employment in another member-state is deemed employment in Bulgaria and includes the periods of unemployment occurred in another member state. These conditions do not apply if you are married to Bulgarian citizen or in a durable relationship with Bulgarian citizen.

2. after 01/01/2012  - you acquire regulated land without being a permanent resident and without the need of  Bulgarian company if the land is meant for a secondary residence.  Secondary residence - means a residence which is different from the main, principal residence (domicile), you already have in any EU country, e.g. UK.

Note: There is a second opinion on this subject. According to some lawyers (including the Chairman of the Bulgarian Notary Chamber), pursuant to Appendix VI, Section 3 “Free movement of Capitals” of the Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania, any European citizen legally residing in Bulgaria (staying up to 3 months in the country on the basis of valid ID documents) had been entitled to acquire ownership over land for secondary residence since the date of Accession (i.e. since 01/01/2007). This means that you should have been physically present in Bulgaria when buying a land, but not acquiring it by an agent through POA. The other conclusion is that there was not any need to set up a company to do so in the period between 01/01/2007 and 01/01/2012. Therefore, setting up a company had been a necessary step in the acquisition of Bulgarian land by EU national only up to 01/01/2007. The foreign citizens, who are not considered as nationals of EU member-state, still need to set up a company in order to acquire land in Bulgaria.

II. Agricultural land, forest and forest land:

1. before 01/01/2014 - if you are self-employed farmer with the intention to reside permanently in Bulgaria and you are registered in the BULSTAT register in this capacity

2. after 01/01/2014 - in any other case.

Reference: Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania/Appendix VI, Section 3 “Free movement of Capitals”/, Constitution of Republic of Bulgaria/Article 22/, Ownership Act/Article 29, 29a/, EU citizens and Families Entry, Stay and Departure Act/Article 16 and following/, Act on Ownership and Use of Agricultural Lands/Article 3 and 3a/.