Thursday, 1 September 2011

Buy a house, get a passport

Companies are exploiting badly-written Bulgarian residency and citizenship laws to get Bulgarian passports for wealthy non-Europeans which will allow them to gain free access to the UK and other EU countries.

Companies like Key2Europe and Arton Capital are guaranteeing to turn an investment in Bulgarian property into an EU passport in 5 years and the "customer" doesn't even have to set foot in the country at any time in those 5 years.

These companies will broker the purchase of property in Bulgaria and rent out the property for you.  The investment is very tax friendly and you can even claim back VAT on your purchase.

Bulgarian law allows owners of property to apply for a permanent residency permit and there is no requirement to actually reside in the country.  After 5 years the owner can make an application for a Bulgarian passport and can reasonably expect to be successful as the owner of property and a business in the country.

The holder of a Bulgarian passport has a right to live and work in any EU member state, including the UK and the right to free movement between Schengen countries.  They can also expect much easier travel between Bulgaria and non-EU countries as over 100 countries don't require a visa for Bulgarian citizens.

I am told that this convenient arrangement is being used by organised crime gangs - especially in Russia - to help them expand into Europe.  They have already bought the property and are biding their time until they qualify for passports.

The ConDem's tell us they are going to limit non-EU immigration.  Quite how they plan to do this when you can effectively buy an EU passport by buying rental property in Bulgaria is anyone's guess.