Bulgaria

Living and Working in Bulgaria Could

Castle Bulgaria GardenRepublic of Bulgaria, commonly known as Bulgaria is a country located in Southeast Europe. It shares coastline with Black Sea to the east, countries like Greece in the south, Turkey in the south east, Serbia and North Macedonia in the west and Romania in the north. Sofia is the capital and the largest city and other major cities in this country are Varna, Burgas and Plodiv. This nation has diverse terrain, mountainous interior and rivers like Danube. This nation has vibrant cultural influence from Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian. Bulgaria has rich tradition of dance and music, costumes and crafts. There are many tourist places in Bulgaria to visit like The rose Valley near the town of Kazanlak which produces more than 80% of the world’s rose oil. This nation has also achieved top position in producing lavender oil, which is multipurpose oil. This country is also famous for its traditional food, Bulgarian cuisine like dishes in made in the Middle Eastern Cuisine, for instance moussaka, Kyufte, gyuvetch and baklahva. Similar to feta cheese, in Bulgaria people make “sirene”, used in making of salads and various pastries.

Bulgaria is a good place to live as it is gives quality life to its residents and is cultural, open and welcoming country. This is a developing country with an upper middle income economy. Bulgaria is a member of European Union (EU), NATO, and a founding member of OSCE. It also has a seat on the United Nations Security Council for three times. This nation is where you can settle easily. Many foreigners, who have come here to work or study, praised this country for its diverse environment and low cost living. This is a safe country to relocate without any issue. Bulgaria has favorable climate, a good lifestyle and most foreigners find that they get a decent value for money when they stay for a short or long term period in this country. However the process of getting the residence permit, work visa or citizenship is tricky. This country also has mountains, beaches, big cities and small villages; a little something for every kind of people. The food here is amazing, the culture is unique and the prices are affordable. Nightlife here is amazing, bright and vibrant with pubs, nightclubs and bars. You can find a job here easily as it is a favorite tourist destination but it will be difficult to work here without knowing Bulgarian or English. All these factors make Bulgaria an ideal and a good place to live and work. Therefore many expats consider it a great idea to living here.

Traveling information:

All the restrictions regarding the covid-19 pandemic have been lifted by the Bulgarian Government and travelers entering this country need not to show the proof of vaccination or negative PCR test result but kindly note that these restrictions can be lifted anytime on a short notice. It is suggested to check with the airlines before you travel. Bulgarian borders are open for travelers from any country. There is no need of Covid-19 testing or quarantine yourself after arrival. All the public transports, restaurant, cafes, bars and shops are open. However wearing a mask and maintaining hygiene is must in public places for safety. Your passport must be valid for at least six months. There are some countries from where you can travel without visa for 90 days like Belgium, Norway, Ireland, United Kingdom, etc. Normal passport holders need to get a visa to enter Bulgaria. You can go to Bulgaria by road or by flight but it is suggested to travel to this country by flight only as this is the most comfortable way to reach here. Travelling to Bulgaria is by flight, also depends on the place you are travelling from. Direct flights are available to reach the major cities in Bulgaria like Sofia, Varna, etc., from many foreign countries. In this country there are several means of transport you can travel with like public buses, trains, cars (rentals or Uber) and commercial flights. Always carry a copy of your passport and visa. 

Documents Required

  • Passport with six month validity
  • Passport with at least one blank page
  • No visa required for less than 90 days stay (also depends on your nationality)
  • No vaccination certificate required.

For more travel advice please visit: travel.gc.ca

How to immigrate to Bulgaria:

If you are planning your visit and settle in Bulgaria, then you need a valid passport and a visa, unless you come from a visa free country as citizens of many EU countries are able to travel to Bulgaria without any visa. There are different types of visas available like Work visa, EU Blue Card and temporary residence permit. To get the work visa, it takes time period of approx one month. The process to obtain a temporary residence permit takes half or a full year and to renew the permit it will be after five years. After five years you can also apply for the citizenship of Bulgaria. The process of moving to this country has two types of procedures. One is for the EU citizens and the other is for the non EU citizens. There are several ways to enter in this country for non EU citizens. Most of the countries are allowed a visa exempt stay up to 90 days in this nation. This is a safe country but travelling here needs more attentiveness.

Requirements may also vary. Travel regulations can change without notice to the public, so it is recommended to you that before you travel, check the current regulation with Travel Exploration or the Bulgarian Embassy in your country. You can also get the permanent residency after applying for it and if you have started a business or own a property in this nation. 

EU Citizen: If you want to visit for less than 90 days in Bulgaria then there is no need to obtain any visa. However, after entering the country it is important to get the residence certificate if you want to settle here. Non EU Citizen: In the process of moving to Bulgaria, you can apply from your home country by visiting the Bulgarian Embassy near you. Residence permit types are work visa, investor visa, student visa, EU Blue card, and temporary residence visa. 

Documents needed for residency permit: 

  • Valid passport
  • Proof of local address
  • Proof of financial means to support oneself
  • Health insurance
  • Other documents based on the purpose of relocation 

For more information please visit:  lawyers-bulgaria.com

People: 

Residents of Bulgaria are called Bulgar or Bulgarians and they have come from the people known in eastern European history during the middle ages. There are commonly three ancestors of modern Bulgarians, which are Bulgarian, Slavs and Thracians. These people are spread all over the world. Although they seem more serious than most Europeans at first, they are very friendly, warm, helpful and hospitable. Most of them are able to speak foreign languages and appreciate foreigners, so they can be a good company. Bulgaria’s population mostly practices Christianity, followed by Islam and others. They have a sense of community. Many of them are fishermen and boat constructors, in cities people work as mechanics and craftsmen. Bulgarian delicacies are famous all over the world and when you meet them even in the first meeting they offer you something to eat or drink. Bulgaria has a rich history and is culturally diverse, which you can easily see in their lifestyle. These people are tolerant, traditional, and happy people. They have different sides of their personality like they are friendly and have strong values. There are many different varieties of customs, music, food, dress and art in their culture. These people are open and welcoming as a result this country is home away from home for many expats. 

Job offers in Bulgaria:

Foreigners are eligible to work in this country after getting the work visa, as this nation does not issue open work permit to foreigners. To get the work visa expats must secure a job with a Bulgarian based company. Many expats find it difficult to land a job here as companies prefer to hire a local graduate over foreigners. Workers from EU and EEA can work in Bulgaria without a work permit but for non-EU and non-EEA workers, they need work permit first. There are many options like working in the Bars, Hotels, Tourism Industry, English Tutor, Internet freelancing, etc these jobs can be found easily on the internet. Getting a job in Bulgaria will be easier if you know Bulgarian or English and with the help of your network of international professional contacts. Making profile on platform like LinkedIn will be helpful. There are many job related websites available on the internet so that you can find a suitable job. Best websites to find a job in this country are zaplata.bg, rabota.bg, jobs.bg etc. 

Bulgaria is considered as an upper middle income nation by the World Bank and has a good reputation among foreign workers who wants to work in this country. It is affordable and also provides everything you could need. The sectors where job can be found are energy, transportation, IT, food, pharmaceuticals and textiles. However, the jobs in demand are Business Analyst, Brand manager, Engineer and Nurses. Many international holiday companies hire people as airport or hotel reps, many of them provide accommodation which can be a perk. Work permit will expire after a certain time and which you have to renew. There are some points you must work on, like discovering yourself, access the hidden job market, search online and then apply for jobs. Prepare a perfect CV format and then submit it. 

How to land a Job: 

  • Make a Curriculum Vitae
  • Search online and apply
  • Make international contacts
  • Prepare for job interviews
  • Apply to small companies if needed

For more information please visit: expatarrivals.com

Unemployment rate:

The overall unemployment rate in Bulgaria has increased to 2.6% in the Month of July 2022 from 2.4% in the first quarter, which was the lowest unemployment rate since the month of July 2021. Youth jobless rate is 10.6% in the month of October 2022, gone down from 14.1% from previous month. The number of employed persons are 2985.60 Thousand, rose by more than 52.40 thousand from previous month which 2933 Thousand in June 2022. The latest news is that the economic expansion of this country is expected to become sluggish in the year 2023, however it will go up in the year 2024. Inflation in the market and higher borrowing costs will put weight on the things consummated in the households. In Bulgaria, the long term unemployment rate is the share of unemployed persons since twelve months or more compared to the total number of active persons (those who are employed or unemployed) that is available and seeking employment.

For more information please visit: tradingeconomics.com

Economy:  

Bulgaria is an industrialized upper middle income country. The economy of this country is based on the principles of the free market, with a massive private sector and small public sector. The Bulgarian economy has seen significant growth and has GDP per capita of $31,148 (PPP, 2022). The national currency Lev is the strongest and most stable in the Eastern Europe. The strongest sectors supporting the economy are energy, mining, metallurgy, machine building, agriculture and tourism. Primary industrial exports are clothing, steel and iron, machinery and refined fuels. The capital city, Sofia is economic heart of this country and head quarter of most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in the country. Also the Bulgarian National Bank and Bulgarian Stock Exchange are situated in this city. Plovdiv is the second important city and has one of the largest economies in Bulgaria. The freedom score of this nation’s economy is 71.0 percent which makes it the 29th freest economy in the 2022 year index. This country is major exporter of electricity, tourism, footwear, equipment and machineries like bicycles, ski equipments, metal products, agricultural products (grains), tobacco, IT sector, outsourced specialized services. 

For more information please visit: en.wikipedia.org

Renting and buying of real estates for foreigners: 

Renting

Renting a property is possible in Bulgaria for expats as well as locals. Many properties for rent are available in this country as you can see on many online portals. Rental markets in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna are dynamic and diverse. Property prices have a wide range and there are discounts and offers to suit your need and taste. To get the accommodation that fulfills your taste and need requires effort and time. You can contact directly to the owner while you are in this country or can take your friend’s help. You can also find the property by contacting a real estate agent or by mouth publicity. 

One or two months’ rent you need to give as a deposit to the land lord. Make a contract before you take the property on rent. Generally only for 12 month the lease is made for renting. Renting an apartment or a house for short term is cheaper than buying a property. The amount of rent may vary from city to city as it depends on the place and size of the property. Prices in the major cities are comparatively higher than the rural areas. 

Documents: 

  • Passport Photocopy
  • Identity Proof
  • Photos passport size
  • Contract with the names of landlord and tenant

Buying

Buying a property in Bulgaria is possible for the European Union citizens. A plot with the house can be owned by a Bulgarian legal entity. Also there are some limitations for foreigners like non-EU citizens cannot buy real estate in this country directly. One of the popular ways is to apply for a residence permit by real estate investment, but the cost of the property must be more than €3,00,000. Buyers need to pay a transfer tax and other fees. 

While buying a property, prices may vary due to various aspects. For instance, the property is in the city centre or is in outskirts, its size, near the coastline or in the middle of the country, etc. It is suggested to take the services of a lawyer before purchasing any property. The signing process may take time as the lawyer will make all the necessary documents including the checks to guarantee that the property is registered on your name. It is suggested to hire a lawyer and a translator if you are not good in Bulgarian or English. 

Process

  • Passport
  • Recent photograph
  • Foreign Identity Number
  • Mortgage Papers

For more information please visit: immigrantinvest.com and bulgarianproperties.com

Climate:

The climate in Bulgaria is Mediterranean Climate in the south and continental in the northern part of this country. It is hot and dry in summer and winter days are mild and rainy. Near the Black Sea region, near the coastal areas, it is observed that the summers are cool and in winter the weather is warm. At the higher parts the climate is more snowy and cold than the other areas in this nation. Bulgaria experiences cold waves in the winter from mid November to mid March, especially December to February. And heat waves in the summer from mid June to mid September, especially in July to August. This nation has four distinct seasons. Temperature varies, making Bulgaria a better holiday destination. 

Spring: This season lasts for three months only as it starts from the month of March, ends in the month of May. This season does not have heavy rainfall as a result this time various multi colored flowers, trees can be seen. The weather is temperate and mild with little rain throughout the country. This is the best time to visit Bulgaria. 

Summer: This season starts from the month of June, ends in the month of August. Days are warmest, or hot. The heat is intense in the lowlands and especially near the sea. Heat waves are more frequent in August and can experience also in first half of September. 

Autumn: This season starts from the month of September and ends till the month of November. Fall in this country is pretty mild and enjoyable. Weather is moderate, days are shorter and you will also experience some rain during this season. 

Winter: This season starts from the month of December and ends in February. The weather is cool, rainy and snowy throughout the country but sometimes you might also experience some sunny and mild days in this season. In the mountains it is as cold as you might also come to see a snowfall. 

For more information please visit: climatestotravel.com

Languages:

There are numerous languages spoken in Bulgaria but the official language is Bulgarian. This language is spoken by more than 85% population of Bulgaria. It is used in educational institutions and government offices. There are also some other languages spoken by people which are Turkish 9%, Romani 4.5%, etc. Also there are few speakers of other languages like Aromanian, Western Armenian, Romanian, Crimean Tatar, Gagauz, Macedonian, English, etc. Bulgarian Sign Language is also used by the deaf and mute population of this country which is approximately 35,000. English is spoken in the urban areas or by the people in the tourist destination. It is suggested to take a tour guide with you or a Bulgarian friend who will help you communicate in the rural areas or the areas where people don’t speak English. It is always helpful either learn the language or learning some basic words from that language, of the country you are visiting. Russian and German are also spoken by 23% and 8% people respectively.

Other languages: 

For more information please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Bulgaria

Traffic:

Driving in Bulgaria is possible for an expat and is an easy task compared to the African and the Latin American cities, as some people may think. An expat can drive for at least six months with their EU license in this nation. For new driving license you have to apply to any traffic registration office. Traffic runs on the right hand side of the road and you can overtake from the left side. Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and the passengers, even on the backseat. Children below the age of twelve are not allowed to sit on the front seat of the vehicles and drunk while driving is prohibited. Bulgarian traffic laws are very strict. Major city like Sofia is one of the biggest in this country with followed by Varna and Plovdiv. Driving on the highways or on the rural areas is safe but if you drive in big cities like Burgas, Ahtopol, or Plovdiv, then it can be tricky sometimes. Most of the roads are in good condition but a few roads are chaotic, have large potholes and bumpy surfaces. Here you can rent a car here with a driver. The speed limit is below 30-50km/h in urban areas, 90km/h outside urban areas. Expressways have speed limit of 120km/h and on motorways you can drive upto 140km/h. 

Documents needed as a foreigner

  • Vehicle’s registration papers
  • Insurance papers of vehicle
  • Driver’s license (International Driving Permit)

For more information visit: en.wikipedia.org

Currency:

The lev (лев), leva or levove (plural), BGN (code) is the official currency of Bulgaria, issued by the Bulgarian National Bank. This currency was established in the year 1999 as the official national currency and is used only in Bulgaria. While this nation is a European Union member state, it has not adopted the euro as its currency. In Old Bulgarian word lev meant lion and in the modern language the word lav, means lion. One lev is subdivided in 100 stotinki. Lev is also nicknamed as kint. Symbol for lev is (lv.) and stotinka is ст. (st.). The paper currency is in five denominations, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 leva. Coins are available in eight denominations 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 st., 1 lev, 2 leva. 

Payment Transaction:

Bulgarian vendors and shopkeepers accept cash, cards or online payment. As well as cheques and invoices are some of offline methods to transfer money are used in this country. Most of the payments are made in cards as there are no extra charges required while using it. However in the market, street stalls and while traveling by public transport, it is suggested to keep cash with you as not all of these accept cards or online payments. Cash is the original and the oldest payment method, used by more than 90% Bulgarian population.

Domestic cards, international credit cards, debit cards, eWallets and bank transfers are also the payment methods used in this country. Bank transfers and Digital wallets are least popular amongst Bulgarians. Payment system has transformed over the time with the advanced technology. There are many ways to make and receive payments online, such as PayPal, EasyPay, Xoom and Revolut, etc. PayPal is the simplest way to receive payment from anywhere in the world. It is available in more than 230 countries and supports approx 25 currencies. Bcard is widely used by the population as this is a national payment card, with you can withdraw and pay money for goods and services. 

List of online payment methods in Bulgaria: 

  • Cash
  • Checks
  • Bank Transfer
  • PayPal
  • eWallet
  • Debit/Credit Cards         

For more information visit: harmony-suites.com and xoom.com 

Cost of living in Bulgaria: 

Cost of living in Bulgaria is cheaper than 55% of the countries in Eastern Europe and 65% cheaper than the countries in the World. Big cities like Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas and Ahtopol are expensive than rural areas. Average living cost in this country also depends upon your lifestyle and your current situation, like whether you are working or a student. Cost of living varies from city to city and also if you are staying alone or with your family.         

The average monthly expense for a single person is approximately 2,000 лв. And the approx monthly expense will rise if you want to move along with your family of four people will be 5,000 лв. Food is cheap compared to housing or utilities. If you are staying in a city where you can go by bicycle or by walking to your university or office or live in a city with a good public transport system, then your cost of living will be much lower.

Monthly rent will cost more in the main city than the rent in rural areas. Expense will also be low if you need smaller accommodation, than the bigger one.

Here are some products mentioned below, so that you will get a clear idea of the cost of living: 

Product

Quantity

Amount in (лв)

(Lev)

Whole Fat Milk

1 lit

2.70

Eggs

12 (a dozen)

5.20

Tomatoes

1 Kg (2 lb.)

3.50

Chicken

500 grams (1 lb)

7.00

Dining (Lunch)

Full meal

20.00

Fast food meal

Combo

12.00

Bread

2 loaf

1.25

Internet

8 mbps (1 month)

25.00

Cleaning help

Hourly

12.00

Public transport ticket

Monthly

110.00

Doctor

Short visit

65.00

Movie Tickets

For 2

25.00

Utilities (heating, gas, electricity)

1 month, 2 people in (900 sqft) flat

185.00

Utilities (heating, gas, electricity)

1 month, 1 people in  (900 sqft) flat

793.00

For more info visit: expatistan.com

Apartment Rent:

The city of Sofia has the expensive apartments followed by the capital city Plovdiv and Burgas in Bulgaria. Fully furnished one bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost you approx 860 лв and same apartment, outside city will cost approx 560 лв. A furnished studio apartment of 2 to 3 bedrooms in the city centre will cost you approx 1,310 лв and outside the city it will cost you approx 840 лв. Finding accommodation here is challenging so asking your colleagues, friends, shopkeepers or waiters in the nearby café or restaurants will be helpful. As you wander on the streets and see some sign boards which will also be useful. In many cities renting a one bedroom apartment, in the city centre will cost around as much as a two bedroom apartment outside the city center. The cheapest Bulgarian cities to stay are Ruse, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin and Lovech, etc. If your stay is for short term then there are many sites on the internet to help you get your accommodation. While talking to the landlord take along the real estate agent or a friend Bulgarian and English speaking with you so that the conversation will be clear and easy. You will get the ideas of the cost of monthly rent in the below mentioned site. Property showing websites also mentions prices below so that you can choose according to your need and comfort. 

For more info visit: expatistan.com  and property.bg

Taxes:

Taxes has an important part in every country’s economy. In Bulgaria taxes are collected on state and local levels. The important taxes are collected on state level which is income tax, social security tax, corporate taxes and Value Added Tax (VAT). Property taxes and other various fees are collected on the local level. Flat 10% tax rate is imposed on all incomes earned within Bulgaria. Salary earned in this nation is subject to various social security contributions. Employee has to pay 12.9% of his salary and the employer pays what corresponds to 17.9%. Corporate income tax rate band is 10% and value added tax band rate is 20% on all goods and services. However,  there is an exemption like a lower rate of 9% is imposed only on hotel services in Bulgaria. Bulgarian state taxes are regulated by National Revenue Agency (NRA). The National Assembly has the authority to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises. The municipal council determines the rate of local taxes. It handles the rights, burdens, carrying out duties along with principals of accrual. It also consist procedural and official provisions of all the tax laws. Tax procedure law has five main sections taxation, taxpayer duties, valuation, penalty, provisions and tax cases. Tax year in Bulgaria starts from 1st January and ends on 31st December. 

For more information please visit: en.wikipedia.org

Health Insurance:

Healthcare in this country is not as good as other Western European Countries; however Bulgarian doctors and nurses are well strained. Health infrastructure of Bulgaria is poorly funded and many clinics and hospitals are in bad condition. The number of nurses are relatively low to the number of patients, as a result some services like administered meals might not be available. Healthcare in Bulgaria has both the private and public healthcare system. 

Public healthcare is managed by the Ministry of Health. Public health insurance scheme funds healthcare in Bulgaria and gives access to medical care through public hospitals and clinics. Medical facilities are poor in public hospitals, especially in rural areas. Expats also find that English is not widely spoken in public hospitals. 

Private healthcare is cheaper in this country; as a result many expats choose to obtain this service. General healthcare standards and facilities of private sector are superior to public healthcare services. Contribution to this system is compulsory for all locals in this country.  

Health insurance in Bulgaria is free for expats living and working here. After obtaining the residence permit, expats contribute to their health insurance through their Bulgarian social security number. They are given access to free or subsidized healthcare through the public health insurance system. 

For more information visit:expatarrivals.com

Important addresses:

Sofia International Airport:
Christopher Columbus Boulevard 1, 1540 Sofia,
Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 937 2211

Stara Zagora Airport:
6006, Stara Zagora,
Bulgaria

Burgas International Airport:
Administration floor 2 office 201,
8016 Burgas,
Bulgaria
Ph: +359 56 870 248

Plovdiv Airport:
4112 Krumovo,
Bulgaria
Ph: +359 32 601 127

Central Railway Station:
1202 Sofia Centre,
Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia Central Station:
1202 Orlandovtsi,
Sofia, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 700 10 200

Burgas Central Railway Station:
8000 Burgas Centre,
Burgas,
Bulgaria

Embassy of India:
ul. “Alfred Nobel” 4,
1113 Geo Milev,
Sofia, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 963 5675

Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain:
ul. “Sheynovo” 27, 1504 Sofia Center, S
ofia, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 943 3620

Embassy of Ireland:
Bacho Kiro St 26-30, 1000 Sofia Center,
Sofia,
Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 985 3425

Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia:
ul. “Frederic Joliot-Curie” 17,
1113 g.k. Iztok,
Sofia, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 870 5098

Summary:

Bulgaria, a country having the coastline of Black sea located mainly in European continent. Sofia is the capital city, nested in the heart of Bulgaria. Its a beautiful country which has diverse terrain, mountainous interior and rivers like Danube. The vibrant cultural have influence from Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian. Bulgaria has rich tradition of dance and music, costumes and crafts and delicious beverages and delicacies. Bulgaria is a good place to live as it is gives quality life to its residents and is cultural, open and welcoming country. This is a developing country with an upper middle income economy. Bulgaria is a member of European Union (EU), NATO, etc. Its easy and safe to settle down in Bulgaria. Many foreigners, who have come here to work or study, praised it for its diverse environment and low cost living. It has favorable climate, a good lifestyle and most foreigners find that they get a decent value for money when they stay for a short or long term period in this country. However, the process of getting the residence permit, work visa or citizenship is tricky. Nightlife here is amazing, bright and vibrant with pubs, nightclubs and bars. You can find a job here easily as it is a favorite tourist destination but it will be difficult to work here without knowing Bulgarian or English. All these factors make Bulgaria an ideal and a good place to immigrate, live and work. Therefore, many expats consider it a great idea to living here.

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