Why are the legal fees for the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program rising again?

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legal fees rising Bulgarian CIP
The associated costs with the Bulgarian CIP are still the lowest in the EU. The introduction of the 150 000 EUR donation (irrevocable fee) for the Cyprus CIP however set a whole new target for the Bulgarian authorities to aim at. Although we don’t believe the Bulgarian fees will ever go that far, we believe by the year end the fees will quadruple, the very least.

The Bulgarian program – not simply the cheapest CIP in the EU, but also very, very affordable. Is that set to end?

Everyone who has been searching long enough for the best citizenship by investment program has undoubtedly come to the conclusion that the Bulgarian CIP is much cheaper than all other EU programs. Compared to the programs of Cyprus and Malta, the Bulgarian CIP almost looks like “too good to be true”.

Alongside with Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta are the only EU member states to offer citizenship by investment programs.

No matter the rapidly rising fees, the Bulgarian program is still many times cheaper than all of its peers. Will that last for long? We doubt…

Low investment citizenship fees, because of no marketing costs for the Bulgarian state

So why is that? First and foremost, the Bulgarian CIP is the only EU program that is NOT sponsored by the government. Yes, the Bulgarian government doesn’t spend a penny to market its investment citizenship program. And there is a good reason for that (please keep reading). There are no shiny billboards at Sofia airport, nor are there sponsored conferences around the world to inform the potential candidates about the advantages of becoming Bulgarian (EU) citizen.

So why is the Bulgarian government not marketing actively its own citizenship program?

From the very beginning, when the legislative acts were approved by the Bulgarian parliament, the idea behind the program was very straightforward – to attract new citizens in order to improve the Bulgarian declining population figures. Bulgaria is one of the least populated countries in the EU and it needed some boost by new, investment-minded citizens.

Unlike Cyprus and Malta, Bulgaria never intended to “sell passports” and to financially profit from this. Logically, when there were no profits foreseen, the Bulgarian government couldn’t also allocate any budget money for the marketing of the program. It was more or less left to the potential citizenship candidates to discover the program themselves, for which effort they were (and still are) rewarded with ridiculously low fees.

The reason behind the rising fees

Every happy story has its end however. The Bulgarian (extremely) cheap fees are also nearing that end. With the European Commission worries about all EU CIPs, the compliance procedures are becoming much harder (and expensive) to fulfill. The anti-money laundering legislation is much more comprehensive than an year ago. It takes now a lot more effort to prove someone’s origin of funds for example. The different institutions that need to be dealt with in the course of the application also have their compliance overload. All this leads to sharp increase in the legal fees for the Bulgarian citizenship candidate.

The outlook for 2020

We are in constant contact with the Bulgarian officials and we probably comprehend best the political mood in the parliament. The pressure from the European Commission to tighten the conditions of the program is enormous. It pushes the Bulgarian parliament and government alike to take steps into making the program accessible only for the most determined candidates.

We believe we will soon see the cost of the program to be comparable to those of Cyprus. The conditions will be tightened significantly too. Those, who have already signed up for the program, are the lucky ones to obtain full EU citizenship at extraordinarily favorable conditions.

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