header eures

Какво е EURES

Bulgaria

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 110,993.6 km2

Population – 7,000,039

Official Language – Bulgarian

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

Citizens of the European Union (EU), the States Parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Swiss Confederation, including their family members, may enter and leave the Republic of Bulgaria with a valid ID card or a valid passport and freely reside in the country for a period of up to 3 months. Citizens of the European Union may reside continuously or permanently in the Republic of Bulgaria, for which a long-term residence permit is issued by the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, the Sofia Directorate of the Ministry of Interior or the regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior within 3 months from the date of their entry into the Republic of Bulgaria. Immediately after arriving and taking up residence in Bulgaria, citizens of other Member States are required to register their address with the municipal office at their place of residence. Hotel guests are registered by the hotel administration. Individuals must register with the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, the Sofia Directorate of the Ministry of Interior or the regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior and demonstrate that they are employed, self-employed or enrolled at an educational institution, or have sufficient funds to support themselves without burdening the national social security system. Applicants are issued with Temporary Residence Permits (valid for up to 5 years) subject to the provision of: an ID document, a document attesting to any of the circumstances mentioned above (e.g. an employment contract), a document showing a registered address (such as a rental contract), and a stamp duty receipt. Long-term stay is for a period of up to 5 years. Citizens of the European Union or their family members, who are citizens of the European Union, receive a permanent residence permit if they have resided legally and continuously in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of 5 years.

EU/EEA citizens who wish to relocate to Bulgaria taking their personal motor vehicle with them are not required to change their driving licence. Where a driving licence expires or in the case of loss or theft, a new driving licence may be issued in accordance with the applicable national rules. Where EU/EEA citizens reside and use their motor vehicle in Bulgaria for a period of more than 6 months, the motor vehicle must be registered with the national authorities (Traffic Police/KAT) and a registration fee must be paid.

Citizens of the European Union, the EEA and the Swiss Confederation do not need a work permit.

LOOKING FOR A JOB

Job seekers can browse available job vacancies on the EURES portal, the Employment Agency’s website (under the heading ‘Job Exchange’) and the Bulgarian EURES micro website http://eures.bg. Both national websites provide job seekers with information about upcoming Job Exchanges, which they may attend if they wish.

Having arrived in Bulgaria, citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Swiss Confederation may register and seek employment via the network of Labour Offices - part of the Public Employment Service. In order to register and seek employment through the network of 107 local Labour Offices, they are required to provide a certificate showing the address at which they reside in Bulgaria (issued by the Migration Directorate at the local police department of the Regional Directorate of the Interior (RDVR). The following documents are required for registration with the Labour Office: an ID document, a document attesting to the level of education completed, a document attesting to previous work experience, a licence to practise a particular profession (where applicable). The documents attesting to the completion of a level of education and any qualifications gained and the licence to practise a certain profession must be legalised in the country of issuance. Information, consultations and job mediation services are provided to all registered job seekers. Further information can be obtained by telephone on: +359 2 980 87 19 (Employment Agency Information and Service Centre) or on the Employment Agency website - www.az.government.bg. The website also provides information (but only in Bulgarian) about:

Bulgarian EURES advisers will be able to provide job seekers with information in English, German or French. In accordance with Bulgarian law, services provided to job seekers by the Public Employment Agency are free of charge.

The use of specialist on-line portals has been gaining in popularity as an alternative form of seeking employment in Bulgaria. These are the national EURES site https://www.eures.bg and numerous private websites - among the most popular are jobs.bg, karieri.bg, zaplata.bg, jobtiger.bg, rabota.bg. Another alternative route to employment is to look for a job on the corporate websites of the companies themselves, especially those working in the IT sector.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A JOB

In order to successfully find a job you should prepare a good CV. The use of the European CV format available on the Europass website is recommended - http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu. Employers usually ask for a brief letter of motivation to be submitted along with the CV, so that applicants can demonstrate their interest in the particular job. Following the approval of the initially submitted documents (CV and letter of motivation), employers often ask for additional information and documentation. It is useful to have properly prepared (i.e. translated and authenticated) documents attesting to the level of education completed and qualifications obtained, professional experience relevant to the position you are applying for and references from previous employers. Bulgaria does not yet have a well-established skills validation system.

Applications and any necessary documents relating to vacancies published on the EURES portal should be sent directly to the contact persons indicated in the relevant job announcement.

An interested employer normally invites the applicant to an interview.

Once registered with a Labour Office, applicants interested in a particular vacancy will be provided by the officer with a reference letter to present to the employer.

RECOGNITION OF DIPLOMAS AND QUALIFICATIONS

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  1. a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  2. a language passport,
  3. certificate supplements,
  4. diploma supplements, and
  5. a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

Recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications is an important factor facilitating the mobility of people within the labour market. The EU system for the recognition of professional qualifications is valid for all nationals of EU Member States, nationals of the EEA (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein / Switzerland).

There are two types of recognition in Bulgaria: for "academic purposes" and for mutual recognition for "professional purposes":


• The essence of the recognition for "academic purposes" is to provide access to further education and training (i.e., if a particular stage or a degree is completed, academic recognition certifies the completed stage or degree and allows further education to the next stage or degree ) and may, in addition, facilitate access to the pursuit of a profession;


• The essence of recognition for "professional purposes" is to provide access to the pursuit of a profession (i.e. recognition of legal capacity).

Regulated professions
The list of regulated professions in the Republic of Bulgaria as well as other useful information can be found at the addresses of the National Center for Information and Documentation / NACID /: www.nacid.bg. On the site you can find additional information on: academic recognition; what are the necessary documents and who can submit them, explanations regarding the preparation of documents from and abroad; the forms to be filled in by the applicant; time limits and fees / for example: the competent authority must decide within four months to recognize a professional qualification, the competent authority may require payment for the recognition procedure /; a guide for recognition of professional qualifications in Bulgaria; the addresses of the liaison institutions in the other Member States. The information is also available in English.
Access to all electronic administrative services of the National Center for Information and Documentation with the ability to view documents and references can be accessed through the NACID portal: https://portal.nacid.bg/

CHECK LIST FOR BEFORE AND AFTER YOU ARRIVE IN A NEW COUNTRY

It is advisable for EU/EEA citizens to become familiar with the living and working conditions in Bulgaria before they arrive in the country. It is necessary to make accommodation arrangements in advance. For settlement purposes it is necessary to consider the fact that the country has not yet joined the European Economic and Monetary Union (Eurozone) and the national currency is the Bulgarian Lev (1 BGN = EUR 1.95583). Foreign currencies are exchanged at banks and currency exchange offices in all major cities.

Where a foreign national has family members who wish to attend a Bulgarian school, it is important that the correct documentation to allow entry into Bulgarian schools be checked and obtained before arrival in Bulgaria (see section ‘Finding a School’).

Where a national of another Member State wishes to relocate to Bulgaria taking their pet with them, the animal must travel on an individual pet passport which is based on a standard European template showing the identification number (electronic microchip), any distinctive features, the name and the address of the owner and a record of all vaccinations and de-worming treatments.

Where a foreign national wishes to work in Bulgaria but no employment contract has been concluded at the time of arrival in the country, it is possible to register in person with the National Employment Agency Labour Office (DBT) at the place of residence where their address is registered. The following documents are required for registration: an ID card or a passport, a certificate of address registration in the Republic of Bulgaria and a residence permit. In order to be eligible to seek work and receive job offers, applicants must provide documents attesting to the level of education completed or professional qualification or specialisation, a licence to practise a profession where applicable and documents attesting to work experience. These should be authenticated in the country of issuance.

Foreign nationals must obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) prior to departure to Bulgaria to be able to use free of charge the services of Bulgarian healthcare institutions in a medical emergency. Otherwise they should pay the costs of medical treatment and then apply for reimbursement, such reimbursement being made by the country in which they are insured. More information on: http://www.nhif.bg/

A person who wishes to be attended and treated by a general practitioner must obtain a form from the National Health Insurance Fund allowing them to choose and register with a general practitioner in their area. In order to do so they need to first obtain a foreign national’s ID (LNCh) from the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The completed form is then presented to the selected general practitioner.

Anyone who wishes to work in the country as a self-employed professional (trader, freelancer, craftsman, farmer etc.) must first check the requirements for registration at the National Revenue Agency (NRA) and the relevant chamber - https://nap.bg/.

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

The rules for the employment relations between employers and workers in the Republic of Bulgaria are stipulated in the terms and conditions of employment contracts, which are concluded on a mandatory basis. Prior to the appointment of the worker or employee, employment contracts are concluded in writing to set out the place of employment, the job title, the date of the contract, the duration of employment, the amount of the basic and any additional paid annual leave, the remuneration and duration of the working day or week.

The employer is obligated to notify the territorial directorate of the National Revenue Agency (NRA) and provide the worker or employee with a copy of the concluded employment contract signed by the two parties and a copy of the notification sent to the territorial directorate of the NRA not later than 3 days as from the effective date of the contract.

Employment contracts may be concluded for an indefinite or definite period of time (fixed-term employment contracts). Fixed-term employment contracts become indefinite contracts when work continues to be carried out for 5 or more days after the expiry of the fixed term and no objection is received in writing from the employer. Most contracts also include a trial period of up to 6 months.

The employer must notify the worker in writing of any changes to the terms of employment not later than one month after such changes become effective.

Employment contracts concluded for an indefinite period are terminated by a 1-month notice and those concluded for fixed periods by a 3-month notice but not more than the remaining time period stipulated in the contract. Employment contracts may be terminated without prior notice by mutual consent of the parties or upon their expiry; when a worker or employee returns from a temporary leave of absence; when the work for which a person has been hired is completed etc.

Employers may dismiss employees who have qualified for retirement based on age and length of service with one month’s notice. Under the same conditions, but without notice, employees can terminate their employment relationships with the employer. In 2015 a new type of employment contract (for short-term seasonal agricultural work) was introduced. Such contracts have a duration of one day and must be certified by the General Labour Inspectorate.

The Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents/Legislation’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy sets out more detailed information about employment relations - https://www.mlsp.government.bg/index.php?section=CONTENT&I=226&lang

KINDS OF EMPLOYMENT

In order to work in Bulgaria a person must be at least 16 years of age. As an exception, those aged 15 to 16 years may be employed to carry out work that is not physically demanding, hazardous to health or likely to impair their proper physical, intellectual and moral development or prevent them from attending school regularly or participating in career orientation or vocational training programmes. The employment of persons under the age of 18 carries a requirement for the presentation of a medical certificate attesting to the person’s fitness to carry out the work concerned along with a permit issued by the Labour Inspectorate in each case.

Employment contracts may be concluded for an indefinite or a fixed time period and for work to be carried out on a full or part-time basis, employment contract with a probation period of up to 6 months. It can be agreed in an employment contract that work duties relating to the production of a product and/or the provision of a service can be performed at the employee’s home outside the workplace of the employer for remuneration, using equipment or materials and other ancillary facilities of the employee or the employer. It is possible to conclude an employment contract with an enterprise providing temporary employment. A full working day is 8 hours, equivalent to 40 hours and 5 working days per week. Work may be carried out on a shift basis, including night shifts.

Full-time work is more common. Employers usually include a clause in contracts providing for a trial period that may not exceed 6 months. During the trial period a worker may be dismissed without prior notice. Regardless of the type of work carried out, concluding an employment contract in writing is mandatory.

As from 2015, the Labour Code provides for the possibility of concluding contracts for short-term seasonal agricultural work lasting 1 day.

Before the worker or employee starts work, the employer must provide them with a copy of the concluded employment contract, signed by both parties, and a copy of the notification under Article 62, paragraph 3 of the Labour Code, certified by the territorial directorate of the National Revenue Agency. The worker or employee may enter into employment contracts with other employers to perform work outside his/her normal working hours under the main employment relationship.

The maximum duration of working time provided for in an additional employment contract, along with the working time stipulated in the main employment contract, may not exceed 48 hours per week and, with respect to persons under the age of 18 years, the total working time may not exceed 40 hours per week. Those aged 18 years and over may work more than 48 hours per week solely on the condition that they have stated their consent to do so in writing and submitted that statement to the employer with whom they have concluded an additional employment contract.

An employment contract may be concluded for work carried out on certain days of the month. Where the total time spent working for an employer does not exceed 5 working days or 40 hours per month, either on a consecutive basis or in separate blocks of hours, it will also be taken into account for the purpose of calculating total length of employment.

An employment contract can also be concluded for work on certain days of the month, with this time being recognized as work experience.
More information on labor law can be found on the website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy -https://www.mlsp.government.bg/index.php?section=CONTENT&I=226&lang. Control over the labor legislation is carried out by the Executive Agency "General Labor Inspectorate" - http://www.gli.government.bg/en/

In 2020, women retire at the age of 61 and 6 months with at least 35 years and 10 months of work experience, and men at the age of 64 and 3 months with 38 years and 10 months of work experience. In case the persons are not entitled to a pension under the above conditions, they acquire a pension right at the age of 66 years and 6 months if they have at least 15 years of insurance.

In addition to retirement and old-age pensions, persons may also receive, if they meet the conditions set out in the Social Security Code, disability pensions, survivors' pensions (received from children, surviving spouse and parents) and a military disability pension. More information can be found on the website of the National Social Security Institute - https://www.noi.bg

ENDING EMPLOYMENT

Employment may be terminated by the employer or worker with or without prior notice. The employment contract shall be terminated in writing. Employment is terminated without prior notice in the following most common cases: by mutual agreement of the parties expressed in writing; upon completion of the specific work for which the contract has been concluded; once the period specified in the contract has elapsed; when the person who is substituted returns to work; when an eligible job applicant is available to take up a job intended for pregnant women or disabled persons; upon the commencement of work by the worker or employee selected, including on the basis of a competition; upon the death of the person with whom the employee has entered into an employment contract with a view to his personality; upon the death of a worker or employee; where a position is to be occupied by a civil servant. A worker or employee may terminate an employment contract in writing without prior notice in the following cases: when they are no longer able to perform the work for which they were hired due to an illness and the employer is unable to offer them another position that matches the recommendations of the health authorities; the employer delays the payment of salaries or compensation payable under the Labour Code or under social security law; the employer alters the place or nature of work or the agreed remuneration unless entitled to do so and in case of failure to comply with other stipulations set out in the collective bargaining agreement or individual employment contract or otherwise provided for by law; when a worker or employee transfers to a paid elected office or wins a competition and receives an appointment as a scientist; when recommencing studies as a full-time student or a doctoral student; when working under an employment contract with an enterprise providing temporary employment, upon signing an employment contract with an employer other than an enterprise providing temporary employment; when reinstated to a position on the basis of a court judgement declaring their dismissal unlawful.

The Labour Code (LC) sets out other specific cases where the worker (employee) or employer may terminate an employment contract without prior notice. The worker (employee) and the employer may also terminate an employment contract by giving prior notice to the relevant contractual counterpart of the intended termination. With respect to employment contracts concluded for an indefinite time period, such prior notice shall be given usually 30 days in advance, and with respect to fixed-term contracts – 3 months in advance but not more than the remaining time period stipulated in the contract. The employer may terminate an employment contract by written notice to the worker or employee in the following cases: when an enterprise or a part of an enterprise is closed or some of the staff are made redundant; in the case of a drop in work volumes; when an enterprise suspends its operation for more than 15 days; when a worker or employee is unable to meet efficiency and quality standards in their work; when a worker or employee is not sufficiently skilled or qualified for the job; when a worker or employee refuses to relocate, along with an enterprise or its subsidiary, to another town or area; when the position occupied by a worker or employee has to be vacated for the purpose of reinstating a previous incumbent of the position concerned who has been unlawfully dismissed; when a professor, an associate professor or a doctor of science reaches the age of 65; when acquiring the right to retirement pension and old age pension; in case of a change in the requirements for a job, which a worker or employee no longer satisfies; where there is no objective possibility for a worker or an employee to continue carrying out their job or performing the duties of their office.

In case of disciplinary dismissal, the employer does not owe a notice. Disciplinary dismissal may be required for: three delays or early dismissals in one calendar month, each not less than 1 hour; absence from work within two consecutive working days; systematic violations of labor discipline, etc. according to Art. 190 of the Labor Code

In 2020, women retire at the age of 61 and 6 months with at least 35 years and 10 months of
work experience, and men at the age of 64 and 3 months with 38 years and 10 months of work experience. In case the persons are not entitled to a pension under the above conditions, they acquire a pension right at the age of 66 years and 6 months if they have at least 15 years of insured employment. More information is availabe on the web page of the National Social Security Institute - https://www.noi.bg/

In addition to the pensions payable to persons who satisfy the requirements for age and length of service, the Social Insurance Code envisages a number of cases where pensions are payable on different grounds such as by way of inheritance (paid to the children, surviving spouse or parents of a deceased person) and pensions for military service and disability.

The Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents/Legislation’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy sets out more detailed information about employment relations - https://www.mlsp.government.bg/

EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATION

Workers enjoy freedom of association to form any trade unions of their choice and the right to join and leave trade unions as they wish. 

Trade unions represent and defend the interests of their members vis à vis government authorities and employers in matters of employment, social security and living standards. Union representatives have the right to be informed by the employer and to request meetings with the employer to inform it about issues raised by the workforce. Union representatives have the right of access to all workplaces in the enterprise and any of its subsidiaries.

Trade unions can, within the limits of law, write and adopt their own statutes and rules, and elect freely their governing bodies and representatives, organise their governance and adopt action programmes. Union representatives at enterprise level have the right to take part in the drafting of all internal rules relating to industrial relations, and the employer must invite them to do so.

In any enterprise or company, the trade union organisation can conclude a collective bargaining agreement with the employer.

To be recognised at national level, trade unions must meet certain criteria which are described in the Labour Code. Trade unions meeting the above requirements can apply to the Council of Ministers for such recognition for a period of 4 years. All branches of organisations recognised as being representative at national level are also considered to be representative.

At present, the most popular national trade unions include the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) - http://ktrd.knsb-bg.org and the ‘Podkrepa’ Confederation of Labour - http://podkrepa.org/.

LABOUR DISPUTES - STRIKES

Collective work disputes between employees and employers, in matters of employment, social security and living standards, are governed by the Settlement of Collective Work Disputes Act. In collective work disputes, employees are represented by their professional organisation bodies, and employers are represented by the relevant managers, unless the parties have authorised other bodies or persons. Collective work disputes are settled by direct negotiations between employees and employers, or between their representatives. Such negotiations follow a procedure freely set by the parties. Employees submit their demands in writing, as well as the names of their representatives in the negotiations.

Where no agreement has been reached, or a party refuses to negotiate, the matter can be resolved via mediation and/or voluntary arbitration. For this purpose, assistance can be sought from trade unions and employers’ associations and/or the National Institute for Conciliation and Arbitration. When their demands have not been satisfied, workers can declare a symbolic strike. In this case they would wear appropriate indications, bands, badges, or other similar tokens of protest, and place appropriate protest signs and posters. None of these actions entail the suspension of work. Where no agreement is reached with regard to the collective work dispute, or employers fail to fulfil their obligations, workers can go on strike by suspending the execution of their duties. The decision to declare a strike is taken by a simple majority of workers in the enterprise or subsidiary. The workers or their representative are obliged to notify the employer or its representative in writing, at least 7 days prior to the commencement of the strike. They must specify the duration of the strike and the body that will lead it. Workers are entitled to declare a warning strike, with no prior notice. Such a strike cannot last for more than an hour. The parties involved in the strike make efforts to attain a final settlement of the dispute, via direct negotiations, mediation, or other appropriate means.

SPECIAL CATEGORIES

Under the Bulgarian Labour Code, pregnant women, nursing mothers, female employees in advanced stage IVF, mothers whose child is younger than three, disabled persons and minors (younger than 18) enjoy special protection, including protection in the event of termination.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, mothers, female employees in advanced stage IVF

The employer may not assign pregnant women, nursing mothers, mothers and  female employees in advanced stage IVF to jobs, which may place them under a safety or health risk.

The employer may not send on a business trip a pregnant woman or the mother of a child under the age of three without her written consent.

People with reduced working capacity

Employers must assign workers/employees who have been issued with a prescription for occupational rehabilitation to appropriate work. Otherwise, it must pay compensation to such employees. Workers/employees with a disability of 50 % or more than 50 % are entitled to paid annual leave of not less than 26 working days.

People with disabilities

In Bulgaria direct and indirect discrimination against disabled persons is prohibited by law. Under the Integration of Disabled Persons Act people with disabilities enjoy a number of tax and social benefits and are entitled to financial support on a monthly basis or for a special purpose. Each ministry has a number of responsibilities depending on its area of competence. Government policy on the integration of disabled people is implemented by a dedicated body – the Agency for Disabled Persons.

Minors

Minors (persons younger than 18) can only be hired after a full medical examination and subject to a labour inspectorate permit issued on a case-by-case basis. Workers/employees younger than 18 may not work more than 7 hours per day in a 35-hour/5-day week. They are entitled to a minimum paid annual leave of 26 working days, which also applies to the calendar year in which they turn 18.

More information is available on the website of the Agency of people with disability: http://ahu.mlsp.government.bg/home/

SELF EMPLOYMENT AND OWN BUSINESS

In order to register in Bulgaria, a trader (natural or legal person) is required to comply with the requirements laid down in the Company Act currently in force. Registrations are currently handled by the National Company Registration Agency - http://www.registryagency.bg/

Limited Liability Company (OOD) or Single Private Limited Liability Company (EOOD) is the preferred form of start-up for a small to medium-sized company in Bulgaria, especially after reducing the initial capital requirement during registration to 2 BGN. A common form of doing business is ET (sole proprietorship), but a peculiarity in this form is that the sole proprietor is also responsible with his personal property for his obligations as an ET.

A common form of registration is also a joint-stock company, with the minimum value of the capital at AD is BGN 50,000.

‘Practising a craft’ is the manufacture of items or the provision of services by a natural person entered into the Register of Craftsmen where the person is not registered as a sole trader.

Typical crafts are jewelry, cutlery, watchmaking, engraving, locksmithing, stonemasonry, hats, hairdressing and more. A Regional Craft Register is kept by Regional Craft Chambers - for more information on http://www.rzk-sofia.com/. Self-employed craftsmen should also be entered in the BULSTAT register. More information on http://www.bulstat.bg/

Freelance professionals include: chartered accountants; consultants; auditors; lawyers; notaries; private enforcement agents; jurors; experts court witnesses registered with the courts and the prosecution service; licensed valuators; industrial property representatives; medical practitioners; translators and interpreters; architects; engineers; technical supervisors; professionals in the field of culture, education, science and the arts; insurance agents; and other natural persons who simultaneously meet the following requirements:

a) carry out professional work at their own account;

b) are not registered as sole traders;

c) are covered by the definition of self-employed professionals laid down in the Social Insurance Code.

Self-employed professionals must register with the National Revenue Agency (NRA) - www.nap.bg.

Some freelance professionals (inter alia, architects, engineers carrying out investment design work and lawyers) are also required to register with the relevant chamber/bar association in order to obtain a full licence to practise their profession.

Farmers and tobacco growers are a particular category. They must register with the corresponding Municipal Agricultural and Forestry Service (within the District Agricultural Directorate) responsible for the area. Further information is available on the websites of the State Fund Agriculture - https://www.dfz.bg/ and the District Agricultural Directorates - https://www.mzh.government.bg/bg/ministerstvo/vtorostepenni-razporediteli/

Earnings

In Bulgaria, there is a minimum monthly salary and a minimum hourly wage, which is set annually by the Council of Ministers. As of January 1, 2020, these values ​​are respectively BGN 610 and BGN 3.66 (Council of Ministers Decree No 350 / 19.12.2019), with a normal working time of 8 hours and a 5-day working week. They also determine minimum insurance income for all major economic activities and occupational groups.

Tables with size of social security contributions for state workers for the labor contract and for the self-insured can be found on the website of the National Social Security Institute - https://noi.bg/, section "Information materials". After deduction of the compulsory deductions from the salary, the so-called "taxable income" is formed, 10% of which is due for general income tax. For a gross salary of 2000 BGN (about 1000 EUR), for example, the net salary is about 1550 BGN, and in total all deductions are about 450 BGN.

Work remuneration is usually paid on a monthly basis, with a possibility for payment to be made on a weekly basis. Typically, (where requested by a worker) a part of the monthly remuneration may be paid in advance. Women and men are entitled to equal remuneration for carrying out the same or essentially equivalent work. The age of the person also does not determine difference in earnings according to the law.

Where night work is carried out, higher rates negotiated by the parties to the employment contract apply, which may not be less than the rates determined by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria. Where overtime work is carried out higher rates agreed between the worker/employee and the employer also apply, which may not be less than 50 % higher for overtime work carried out on working days, 75 % higher for work carried out on non-working days and 100 % higher for work carried out on official holidays in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Social security contributions and income tax are deducted from the monthly remuneration of workers and paid into the budget of the National Revenue Agency (NRA) by their employers. Freelance practitioners are responsible for the payment of their social security contributions and taxes on their own. Receiving a salary slip is not obligatory but each worker may request one. The salary slip indicates the gross salary, all deductions made from it and the net salary.

Working time

The length of the working week in Bulgaria is 5 days with a normal duration of weekly working time of not more than 40 hours. The normal length of daily working hours may not exceed eight hours. For operational reasons, employers may extend the working hours on certain working days by written order and compensate that extension by reducing working hours on other days. Extended daily working time may not exceed 10 hours. In such cases, the duration of the working week may not exceed 48 hours. Working hours may not be extended on more than 20 consecutive days and no more than 60 days in one calendar year.

For reasons relating to the nature of the work carried out in certain jobs, employers may make arrangements for working hours that are not fixed where, if necessary, workers are required to carry out their duties outside of regular working hours. In Bulgaria, workers and employers are also free to negotiate work that is carried out during a certain part of the working time provided for by law (part-time work) but this is rather atypical.

In the case of a non-working day, the total length of working time may not violate the continuous minimum daily and weekly rest periods laid down in the Labor Code, namely 12 hours and 48 hours of continuous weekly rest.
When the nature of the production process so requires, work in the enterprise is organized on two or more shifts. The rotation of the changes in the enterprise is determined in the internal labor rules.

The employer may establish a summary calculation of working time - weekly, monthly or for another calendar period, which may not be more than 6 months. The maximum duration of work shift in the summary calculation of working time may be up to 12 hours, and the duration of the working week may not exceed 56 hours.

Regarding flexible working time employers determine the core hours during which employees must be present at their work place, while non-core hours can be recovered on any other day of the week. Recording of working time is governed by the internal rules and regulations of each enterprise. Where night work is carried out, the length of the normal 5-day working week may not exceed 35 hours. The normal length of night work carried out during the 5-day working week may not exceed 7 hours. Night work is defined as work carried out between 22.00 h. and 6.00 h. and, in the case of minors under the age of 16 years, between 20.00 h. and 6.00 h.

Within normal working hours workers are entitled to one or several rest periods, which are not included in the working hours. Meal breaks may not be shorter than 30 minutes. Workers and employees are entitled to an uninterrupted period of rest of at least 12 hours between work days. In the case of a 5-day working week workers and employees are entitled to a rest period of 2 consecutive days, one of which typically falls on a Sunday. In other words, workers and employees are entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 48 hours per week. When work hours are added up to a total, the uninterrupted weekly rest period must be at least 36 hours.

Reduced work hour arrangements apply to the following categories of workers and employees:

  1. workers and employees carrying out work under specific conditions, which present a risk for their life and health that may not be reduced or mitigated regardless of any measures taken, hence reducing the number of hours of work is the only way to limit health hazards;
  2. workers and employees under the age of 18 years.

The types of work to be carried out under reduced work hour arrangements are stipulated in a regulation adopted by the Council of Ministers. Carrying out work under reduced work hour arrangements under paragraphs (1) and (2) article 137 of the Labour Code does not affect the remuneration and other rights of workers and employees.

More information about working hours is set out in the Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents/Legislation’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy - https://www.mlsp.government.bg/

Leaves (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

Each worker or employee is entitled to paid annual leave of a minimum of 20 days. In collective bargaining agreements or individual employment contracts workers and employees may negotiate longer leave periods. Depending on the specific nature of the work, certain categories of workers and employees may be entitled to longer periods of annual leave in addition to that provided for by law. The minimum length of this period for the different categories of workers and employees is determined by the Council of Ministers. Workers and employees workers may take their paid annual leave in a single block or in several shorter periods.

Some days of annual leave may be transferred to the next calendar year; in this case the employer must ensure that such leave is taken by mid-year. Where a worker (employee) obtains their first job, they are entitled to use their paid annual leave after not less than 8 months of work. Where a contract is terminated before a worker or employee gains 8 months of work experience, they are entitled to receive compensation for the number of days of unused paid leave. Paid annual leave may be used after receiving a written approval from the employer. Workers and employees below the age of 18 years and mothers of children below the age of 7 take their leave during the summer and, if they wish to do so, at other times during the year. Workers/employees are also entitled to an unpaid leave, regardless of whether they have used their paid annual leave or of the length of their work experience.

The official public holidays in Bulgaria are: 1 January (New Year’s Day), 3 March (Liberation Day and Bulgaria’s national holiday), 1 May (International Labour Day), 6 May (St. George's Day, Army and Valour Day), 24 May (Day of the Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and the Slavonic Writing), 6 September (Reunification Day), 22 September (Independence Day of Bulgaria), 1 November (Bulgarian National Leaders Day - not studying day), 24 December (Christmas Eve), 25 and 26 December (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday and Monday, which are set for celebrating Easter in the year concerned. When the official holidays under paragraph 1, excluding the Easter holidays, fall on a Saturday and/or a Sunday, the first or the first 2 business days after them are non-working days.

Workers/employees are entitled to sick leave due to general or occupational illness, accidents at work and for the purposes of convalescence treatment, for urgent medical examinations, tests, being placed under quarantine or for looking after a sick family member. These types of leave must be authorised by the healthcare authorities. Workers/employees are entitled to receive a monetary compensation for temporary incapacity for work.

Female workers/employees are entitled to pregnancy/childbirth leave of 410 days per child, of which 45 days must be taken before giving birth. Where the child’s parents are married or live in the same household, the father is entitled to 15 days’ leave which begins on the date the child’s mother is released from hospital. With the consent of the mother (or adoptive mother), after the infant reaches the age of 6 months the father (ore adoptive father) may use paternal leave in lieu of the mother for the remainder of the leave period of 410 days. In addition to maternity and adoption leave, the mother is additionally entitled to parental leave in respect of her first, second and third child until they reach the age of 2 years. With the consent of the mother, this type of leave may be used by the father or any of the child’s grandparents if they are in an employment relationship.

Apart from other types of leave, an employee who studies in or out of high school with the consent of the employer is entitled to paid leave of up to 25 working days for each school year. Students are entitled to a one-time, 30-day paid leave to prepare for and pass a matriculation or state exam, including the preparation and defense of a thesis, diploma project or dissertation.

There are also other types of leave such as leave granted for carrying out civic, public or other duties; carrying out trade union activities; active duty as a member of the volunteer reserve corps etc.

More information about the different types of leave is set out in the Labour Code published under the heading ‘Documents/Legislation’ on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy - https://www.mlsp.government.bg/

LIVING IN BULGARIA

POLITICAL, ADMINISTRATIVE AND LEGAL SYSTEMS

The Republic of Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic, its Head of State being a President. The Bulgarian political system is based on the principle of pluralism. Government is divided into the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branch.

The President is elected directly for a term of 5 years. Following consultations with the parliamentary parties, the President mandates the candidate for Prime Minister nominated by the biggest parliamentary party to form a Government. The Prime Minister directs and coordinates, and is responsible for, the Government’s general policy. The Prime Minister heads the Council of Ministers, which directs and conducts the country’s domestic and foreign policies in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.

Legislative powers and parliamentary scrutiny are exercised by the National Assembly elected for a term of 4 years. The judiciary is independent and exercises its powers through the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Supreme Administrative Court, appellate, district, administrative, and local courts and courts-martial. The Supreme Court of Cassation exercises supreme judicial review over the proper and uniform application of laws by all courts. The Supreme Administrative Court exercises the highest judicial review to ensure the accurate and uniform application of the law in the field of administrative justice, and rules in disputes on the lawfulness of acts done by the Council of Ministers or individual Ministers. The bar is free, independent and self-governing, and is called upon to assist individuals and legal entities in the defence of their rights and legitimate interests. The Police Service is part of the executive branch of government (the Ministry of Internal Affairs) and has regional services throughout the country.

The Employment Agency, which reports to the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, was set up with a view to implementing the government policy of encouraging employment, protecting the labour market and providing services in the areas of professional orientation, adult learning and brokering jobs.

In different regions the government policy in the area of adult learning is implemented by the district administrations and local authorities jointly with the regional offices of the Employment Agency and of different ministries, organisations and social partners.

More information is available on the website of the Council of Ministers - https://www.gov.bg/ and the Regional Administrations website - http://www.self.government.bg/links/?tid=600399

INCOMES AND TAXATION

In Bulgaria, there is a minimum monthly wage and a minimum hourly wage, which is set annually by the Council of Ministers. As of January 1, 2020, these values are respectively BGN 610 and BGN 3.66 (Council of Ministers Decree No 350 / 19.12.2019) at normal working hours of 8 hours and at 5-day working week. Minimum social security income for all major economic activities and occupational groups has also been determined. You can find the 2020 data on the website of the National Revenue Agency / NRA / - https://nap.bg/.

According to data from the National Statistical Institute for the fourth quarter of 2019, the gross average income per household is BGN 3 651.82, the average monthly wage per household is BGN 2 146.14 per month and the average monthly income is BGN 995.71 per person as the main source of income in Bulgaria comes from a salary. Other income comes from entrepreneurship, property, pensions, property sales and more. The total average household expenditure is BGN 3 599.09 per month and for one person is BGN 1 669.81 per month. Consumer spending accounts for the largest share of food and non-alcoholic beverages, followed by housing, water, electricity and fuels.

According to one of the popular job sites, the top 5 highest paid jobs in Bulgaria are software engineers; marketer (in the field of digital marketing); lawyer; doctor (especially surgeons, dermatologists, dentists); Web designer. The rewards in the IT sector, with outsourcing companies and with leading companies in different industries are traditionally high.

Taxation rules apply to all local natural persons (persons who reside permanently in Bulgaria or reside in the country for more than 183 days within any 12-month period and whose centre of vital interests is in Bulgaria) and foreign nationals.

Local natural persons are liable for the payment of tax on income received from sources within Bulgaria and in other countries whereby foreign nationals are liable for the payment of tax on income received from sources in the Republic of Bulgaria. Any income received for work carried out in Bulgaria or for services provided in Bulgaria is subject to taxation as income received from a source in Bulgaria.

In 2008, a flat tax rate of 10 % levied on the income of natural persons was introduced, along with other types of tax relief (for example, the income of persons whose capacity for work is reduced by more than 50 %, donations to healthcare organisations, the Bulgarian Red Cross, childcare facilities, cultural institutions, young families, etc.). The entitlement to tax relief arises at the time of filing an annual tax return.

The general income tax rate (tax on the income received from employment) is deductible from the monthly remuneration and paid by the employer. Where tax is payable only on the income received from employment under the terms of an employment contract, workers are not required to file any documents with the National Revenue Agency - http://www.nap.bg/. Where they have received income from other sources, they must file an annual tax return with the National Revenue Agency. There is no non-taxable subsistence minimum but a statutory threshold of recognised expenses applies, which is deducted for the purposes of calculating the annual taxable base.

An annual corporate tax rate of 15 % is levied on the income of sole traders and the taxable base is calculated by taking into account any tax deducted and/or paid during the tax year under the applicable tax headings.

In accordance with the Corporate Income Tax Act, tax is levied on: the profit of local legal entities; the profit of local legal entities which are not registered as traders, including the organisations of religious denominations, and the profit from the rental of real and moveable property; and the profit of legal entities registered outside Bulgaria which has been generated in Bulgaria. Persons who conduct business as traders within the meaning of the definition laid down in the Company Act, including sole traders, declare any tax due or paid on expenditure pursuant to the Corporate Income Tax Act in the annual tax return. The tax return is accompanied by a financial statement certified by an auditor.

The rate of corporate tax is 10 per cent.

The standard value-added tax rate in Bulgaria is 20 %. A reduced tax rate of 9 % is levied on hotel accommodation when it is part of organised travel and a zero tax rate is levied only on deliveries expressly stipulated by law (e.g. a delivery for processing of goods, a delivery related to the international traffic of goods, etc.).

More information is available on the website of the Ministry of Finance: https://www.minfin.bg/

Text last edited on: 01/2020

SOCIAL SECURITY

State Social Insurance (SSI) in Bulgaria is regulated by the National Social Security Institute (NSSI) and provides benefits and pensions for all social security risks - www.nssi.bg
In order to be entitled to these social benefits, workers and employers pay, in an appropriate scheme, amounts to the four major social security funds:
• Pensions;
• Sickness and maternity;
• Accidents at work and occupational diseases;
• Unemployment.
Employees hired for more than five working days or 40 hours in one calendar month are compulsorily insured for all insurances.
Working hours up to 40 hours during the calendar month are compulsory only for disability, old age and death, occupational accident and occupational disease.
They are compulsorily insured for disability, old age and death: self-employed, craftsmen, sole traders, owners / partners in commercial companies, doctoral students, farmers and civil contractors.
The amount of social security contributions and the proportion in which they are distributed between the employee and the employer are set out in the Social Security Code - https://www.mlsp.government.bg, section "Laws"
The social security contributions are deducted as a percentage of the gross salary of the person for the respective month and are paid by the employer.
The distribution of social security contributions in the Social Security Funds depends on the category of labor and on two chronological periods - before 1960 and after 1959. The amount of social security contributions for persons insured for all insurance risks born before 1960 and work under the conditions of the 3rd category of labor is 24.3%. Birth Contributions after 1960 are respectively - for the 3rd category of labor 19.3%.

Minimum monthly amount of social security income in calendar year 2020 by main economic activities and qualification groups of occupations according to Table for the amount of social security contributions and distribution between insurer / insured / and insured person for 2020 can be found at https://nap.bg/page?id=473

Minimum monthly amount of social security income in calendar year 2020 by main economic activities and qualification groups of occupations according to Table for the amount of social security contributions and distribution between insurer / insured / and insured person for 2020 can be found at https://nap.bg/page?id=473

The self-insured shall pay the contributions due at their own expense.
The minimum monthly amount of the insurance income for self-insured persons, set by the State Social Security Budget Act for 2020, is 610 BGN.

The maximum monthly amount of the insurance income for self-insured persons for 2020 is BGN 3000.

The minimum monthly amount of insurance income for self-insured persons starting business in 2020 is also at the amount of BGN 610.

Minimum monthly amount of insurance income for registered farmers and tobacco producers - BGN 420;

For more information: www.nssi.bg - National Social Security Institute.

Minimum monthly amount of the insurance income for registered farmers and tobacco producers for 2020 - 420 BGN.

Benefits for temporary unemployment/disability

Persons entitled to cash benefits in the case of temporary incapacity for work are persons pursuing work activities and are insured for general illness and maternity and for occupational accident and occupational disease, with contributions to the General Sickness and Maternity Fund and to the Occupational Accident Fund and occupational disease of the state social security.

Insured persons are entitled to cash benefit in lieu of remuneration for periods of leave, temporary disability and long-term employment, provided that they have at least 6 months of work experience as a general sickness and maternity insured person. The 6-month insurance requirement does not apply to persons under 18 years of age. Insured persons for accidents at work and occupational diseases, as well as for employment, are entitled to monetary compensation upon the occurrence of the event, regardless of the length of their length of service, i.e. to have a hospital certificate issued by the medical examination authorities.

Monetary benefits for temporary disability and unemployment are calculated and paid by the National Social Security Institute - www.nssi.bg to the insured persons in a bank account declared by them. The insurer shall pay to the insured person 70 percent of the average daily gross remuneration for the first three working days of temporary incapacity for the month in which the temporary incapacity for work occurred, but not less than 70 percent of the average daily agreed remuneration. General illness is calculated at the rate of 80 per cent, and for temporary incapacity for work accident or occupational illness - at the rate of 90 per cent of the average daily gross employment rate. Average daily contributory income on imported contributions and for self employed - paid insurance contributions for sickness and maternity for the period of 18 calendar months preceding the month of occurrence of disability.

The benefit shall be paid from the first day of incapacity to work or to disability.

Maternity and paternity benefits

They are summarised as:

- pregnancy and childbirth benefits;

- benefits for raising a small child;

- benefits for adoption of a child up to 5 years of age;

- benefits in the event of death or serious illness of the mother/adoptive mother.

Cash benefits for maternity or paternity are payable to insured parents.

Maternity contributions accumulate in the same fund as contributions for general illness (in the case of sick leave). The 'Sickness benefit' chapter on the National Social Security Institute website - www.nssi.bg shows who is entitled to benefit. Social insurance under this fund is obligatory under most regular employment. Your right to benefits does not depend on whether your contributions have actually been paid or are due but have not been paid (except for the self-employed for whom the social security contributions have to be paid).

These benefits replace employment income while you are on maternity leave and cover 410 days beginning 45 days before the due date of child birth. If the birth occurs during those 45 days, the remainder of the 45 days can be used after the birth. The father is entitled to 15 days of paid leave from the date of childbirth. When the child reaches the age of 6 months, the father may assume care of the child and hence the cash benefits from the mother for the remainder of the 410 days.

Adoptive parents are entitled to 365 days leave upon adoption of a child up to 5 years of age starting from the date of the adoption.

In order to receive pregnancy, childbirth and child care benefits, above all you need to have been insured for general illness and maternity for at least 12 months at the beginning of your period of leave. These 12 months may have been continuous or non-continuous and you do not need to have been employed by one and the same employer.

Unemployment benefits

Unemployment benefits  are payable to everyone who has paid social insurance contributions into the unemployment fund of the General State Insurance Fund for at least 12 months in the previous 18 months before becoming unemployed.

Benefits are payable whether or not the insurance contributions have been paid or are due but have not actually been paid.

Employees may also receive benefits if the company in which they work is declared insolvent. Guaranteed debt payments are financed by the Guaranteed Debt Payments for Workers and Employees Fund to which all companies are obliged to pay contributions.

In order to receive unemployment benefit:

  • you must be registered as unemployed at the Employment Agency;
  • you must not be in receipt of a pension for period of social insurance or old age or an early retirement pension in Bulgaria, or an old age pension in another country;
  • you must not be employed in an activity which is subject to compulsory insurance.

If you are employed part-time and your remuneration is less than the minimum wage, you will be entitled to half of the unemployment benefit due to you.

To determine the length of paid insurance contributions which make up your entitlement to unemployment benefit, the following factors are taken into account: paid and unpaid leave for child care, temporary incapacity to work, pregnancy and childbirth, adoption of a child up to 5 years of age and unpaid leave of up to 30 days in 1 calendar year.

Your length of paid insurance contributions and unemployment insurance period stipulated in the legislation of another state outside the EU with which Bulgaria has an international treaty is taken into account.

You are entitled to receive benefits from the fund that guarantees debt payment in the event of insolvency from the moment the court decision on insolvency procedures is recorded in the Commercial Register. You are not entitled to this benefit if you are a member of the managing bodies of the company, a shareholder in the commercial company or his/her spouse or a direct relative. The employer is obliged to notify you of the amount of paid and unpaid labour remuneration and/or cash compensation due to you.

The regional department of the National Social Security Institute checks to establish whether you are entitled to a benefit in accordance with the Guaranteed Receivables Act and drafts a statement. The procedure begins within 1 month of the court decision being recorded in the Commercial Register. While this verification is in progress, you are entitled to submit objections to the information provided by the employer. More information about the procedure can be found on the National Social Security Institute website.

Pension for periods of social insurance and old age

You acquire the right to pension for your period of social insurance cover and old age when you reach a given age, which is different for men and women, and attain a given period of social insurance cover.

If you do not have the required period of social insurance cover for a pension, you acquire it when you reach the age of 66 and a period of social insurance cover of at least 15 years. This age is increased gradually every year. Details are set out in the table here.

If you acquire the right to a pension during the previous year but do not retire, you do not lose your entitlement. You can retire during the following years, whether there are changes in the conditions for retirement or not.

Your entitlement to early retirement depends on the category of the work you perform. Armed forces personnel, certain state employees, investigators, some firefighters and divers retire younger than the standard retirement age. They acquire the right to a pension after accumulating a given period of social insurance cover in these professions. You can find information on each profession here.

In order to qualify for retirement pension after 31.12.2018, the insured persons must have reached the minimum retirement age and a certain length of service. The required retirement age for workers in the third category of employment increases by two months annually for women and men by 2027 reaching 37 years for women and 40 years for men. The required age increases steadily - by two months per year until it reaches 67 years for women and men in 2023.

In addition to retirement and old-age pensions, persons may also receive, if they meet the conditions set out in the Social Security Code, disability pensions due to general illness, disability pension due to an accident at work and occupational disease inheritance pension (received by children, surviving spouse and parents), military invalidity pension, old-age social pension.

Since 2011 retirement pensions shall count the length of time of education of persons having completed tertiary education or higher education if they pay their own contributions calculated on the minimum insurance income for self-employed persons.

You can find changes in the field of pensions, effective from 01.01.2019 at the following link: http://www.noi.bg/pensions/grantpensions

Accumulation of periods of social insurance cover from the Europen Union and the Europan Economic Area

One of the fundamental principles of the EU is free movement and settlement. This is guaranteed in a number of ways, one of which is uninterrupted social security wherever you are located in the EU and for whatever reasons.

Uninterrupted social security coverage means that our periods of insurance cover in the various Member States are valid everywhere in the other Member States as if they were their own.

Periods of social insurance cover from a number of Member States are calculated as if they were attained in one and the same country. The same applies to periods of employment and residence. Only the periods are taken into consideration, not the amount of insurance contributions paid.

Periods of social insurance cover from a number of Member States are taken into consideration for all forms of benefits in all areas of social security:

  • sickness benefit in cash or in kind;
  • maternity/paternity benefits in cash or in kind;
  • disability benefits in cash or in kind;
  • old age pensions;
  • benefits in the event of death;
  • benefits for accidents at work and occupational illnesses in cash or in kind;
  • pre-retirement benefits;
  • unemployment benefits;
  • family benefits;
  • special benefits not dependent on contributions.

Periods of social benefit cover provided in the event of poverty are not taken into consideration.

Benefits or pensions are paid everywhere in the EU no matter where the person lives and which country has granted the benefits.

Your benefit entitlement depends on the conditions in which you acquired the entitlement in the state providing the benefit.

If you have paid social insurance contributions while working in a number of EU countries, your insurance contributions are not transferred to any one of them. Instead, you receive benefits or pensions from all countries in which you are insured or from only one of them but for all insured periods. If your social insurance in one Member State is obligatory and you have also opted to insure yourself on a voluntary basis, only the period of obligatory insurance is taken into account.

A variety of documents are used depending on why you need proof of a period from a different Member State:

  • in order to benefit from the rights to unemployment benefit, the 'U' (Unemployment) series of documents is used;
  • for pensions: 'Р' (Pensions);
  • for illness and maternity (in cash or medical services): 'S' (Sickness);
  • for family compensation: 'F' (Family);
  • the 'H' and 'R' series are general documents issued by all Bulgarian social security institutions;
  • series 'A' is particularly important. These documents show the period and Member State whose social security legislation has applied to you.

All documents which you may need for receiving benefits can be found on the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy website and the National Social Security Institute website. 

COST OF LIVING

Some food products, beverages and cigarettes in Bulgaria are still relatively cheaper than those in other EU/EEA Member States, which is an added advantage and makes the cost of living more affordable.

The average prices of some non-food consumer goods are indicated below: gasoline А95Н – BGN 2.22 per litre; diesel fuel – BGN 2.27 per litre; LPG – BGN 0.98; electricity at two rates – BGN 0.20 during the day and BGN 0.12 during the night, in kWh. The cost of footwear and items of clothing vary within a broad range, depending on the manufacturer, quality and the season (winter sales are fairly typical).

The most consumed food products in Bulgaria cost less than in other European countries. For example: the cost of bread (available in many different types and weights per loaf) is approximately BGN 1.50 per kg, white cheese varies between BGN 8.00 and 11.00 per kg, yellow cheese between BGN 12.00 and 18.00 per kg, fresh milk between BGN 1.80 and 2.50 per litre, and yoghurt costs approximately BGN 2.50 per litre. Food stores are open daily from 7.30 until 22.00 hours, and 24-hour shops also operate.

More information on the website of the National Stastical Institute: http://www.nsi.bg/bg

Text last edited on: 05/2019

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation in Bulgaria is freely available and easy to rent or buy. Properties may be rented on a fully, partially furnished or unfurnished basis. It is also possible to rent a room in a property where the tenant will live alongside the property owners. Property rentals are most expensive in Sofia and other big cities such as Varna and Plovdiv, where rental costs may be up to ten times higher than in smaller towns. Rental contracts are usually signed between landlords and tenants. In most cases, the rent is payable in cash or through a bank on a certain day of the month. Usually, utility bills (water, electricity and heating) are not included in the rent and are payable by the tenant on a regular basis.

For the purchase/sale of a dwelling, both purchaser and seller must provide identification documents, and the latter must also produce documents proving ownership of the property and verifying the existence or absence of encumbrances. The sale transaction is conducted before a notary and entered into the property file.

The costs of renting accommodation or purchasing a property vary within a large range depending on the area, the location within a certain area or the condition of the accommodation/property. The average property purchase prices in larger towns vary between BGN 1 200 per square metre (Pleven) and approx. BGN 2 220 per square metre (Sofia). Prices in smaller towns are lower.

Accommodation is advertised by real estate agencies, local and regional printed media and on various websites.

EDUCATION SYSTEM

The education system in Bulgaria comprises primary, secondary and tertiary education. Education is mandatory from the age of 6 years until the age of 16. Children aged five have to attend nursery school.  Children from 10 months up to 3 years may attend crèches and children from 3 to 5 years may attend kindergartens (state-owned, municipal and private). The subsistence and care for children who attend state-owned or municipal nursery schools or crèches is paid from the budget of the central or local government respectively. Parents pay fees in an amount stipulated by the municipality. Two years before a child is admitted to school at Grade I, but not earlier than the year the child reaches the age of 5, attendance of preparatory groups set up within nursery schools or schools is mandatory.

School education comprises two levels – primary and secondary, and depending on study contents it may also be general and vocational. Primary education is sub-divided into two levels – lower primary education from Grade I up to and including Grade IV and upper primary education from Grade V up to and including Grade VIII. A certificate of completed primary education is obtained upon graduation from Grade VIII which entitles the certificate holder to continue their education. A secondary education degree is obtained upon graduation from Grade XII and successfully taken matriculation exams certified by an issued diploma which entitles its holder to continue their education. A six-point scale is used to assess the knowledge and skills of schoolchildren.

Secondary school graduates may elect to pursue higher (tertiary) education. There are both public and private higher education institutions in Bulgaria. They comprise universities, specialist high schools and independent colleges. Admittance to higher education institutions requires the sitting of a competitive examination. The tuition fees at higher education institutions are determined by the Council of Ministers and are paid in equal instalments.

School education in Bulgaria is free of charge for all school-age children whose parents are gainfully employed in Bulgaria and are citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation.

Further information is available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science - www.mon.bg

Finding a school

There are many primary and secondary state schools and daytime kindergartens in each town in Bulgaria. State school education and textbooks for children in the first seven grades are free of charge. In larger towns children may also attend private schools and kindergartens. There are many universities in Bulgaria. Better known university towns are: Sofia, Varna, Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo.

The Ministry of Education maintains a Register for institutions in the system of pre-school and school education in the Republic of Bulgaria, available at https://reg.mon.bg/Schools/. The register contains information and contacts for public kindergartens, state and municipal schools, private kindergartens and schools, state and municipal centers for special educational support; specialized service units, etc.

You can find detailed information about the universities in Bulgaria on the website of the Ranking System of Higher Education in Bulgaria - https://rsvu.mon.bg/.

Access to education in the system of education requires formal recognition of: completed stages of schooling (educational degrees and vocational qualifications); recognition of acquired tertiary education and of completed periods of study at foreign higher education institutions in a school situated in a foreign country compared to those in the system of public education.

Documents for the completed period or class for grades VII to XII, for the stage of the high school degree, as well as the recognition of secondary education and / or vocational qualification, shall be submitted to the Regional Office of Education by the person or his / her parent.

The following documents are needed:
1. Application form;
2. Document for school education and / or vocational qualification;
3. A document stating what rights the document under item 2 for continuing education gives, in cases where this is not specified in the document under item 2;
4. In case the person wishes to continue his / her education in the first or second high school stage in a Bulgarian school - a reference for the studied subjects with the hours of classes and the grades, if they are not entered in the document under item 2;
5. Translation in Bulgarian of the documents under items 2, 3 and 4 by official translator;
6. Document for the last completed class at a Bulgarian school (if any) before studying at a school in a foreign country;
7. Document for paid state fee - for documents submitted to the Regional Office of Education

A Commission shall pronounce on each specific case of recognition within one month from the date of submission of the documents.

Documents for graduates from I to VI grade are submitted to the school where the person wishes to continue his / her studies. The Director pronounces on each specific case of recognition within 10 days from the date of submission of the documents. There are no state taxes.

Vocational training

Vocational training in the context of lifelong learning

Vocational training in Bulgaria is carried out both within the system of

formal education and training, and through a number of forms of non-formal education and learning.

Initial and ongoing vocational training enables the acquisition of knowledge and skills in a certain profession, vocational qualifications at different levels and new qualifications. Vocational training is available from vocational schools and specialist secondary schools, vocational colleges and specialist academic institutions, licensed vocational training centres, employer and employee organisations, non-governmental organisations, etc.

Vocational training for adults is available at vocational and specialist secondary schools, most of which operate licensed independent vocational training centres. The register of approved vocational training centres can be found on the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training website.

Ongoing vocational training for the acquisition of specific, key or professional competencies relating to different technological processes are available through different forms of informal training from companies and enterprises operating in the relevant areas.

The new Act on Vocational Education and Training introduced a dual training system which enables practical skills to be acquired through work experience. Under the dual system, training hours are divided between theoretical training provided at a vocational school and work at a company.

At the beginning of each year the government adopts a National Employment Action Plan, which regulates the organisation and conduct of vocational training for the acquisition of professional qualification at the employer’s request under the conditions and in accordance with the procedure established by Article 63 of the Implementing Regulations of the Employment Promotion Act, as well as a training plan organised by the Bulgarian-German Vocational Training Centre State Enterprise.

Education and training have also been funded from grants received from European Union Programmes.

The European Programme for education, training, youth and sport, ‘Erasmus +’ was launched in 2014. It is based on an integrated approach that ensures effective interaction between all sectors in education, training, youth and sport. It supports activities in the field of school education, higher education, vocational education and training, adult education and youth work.

Since the beginning of 2007 Bulgaria has had access to financing from the European Social Fund through Operational Programme ‘Human Resources Development’. The priority areas for development aim to: encourage the economic activity of persons who are unemployed or inactive in the labour market; raise productivity and improve the adaptivity of employed persons; enhance the quality and labour market relevance of education and training; and improve access to education and training. The programme may be joined by filing an application with the Employment Agency.

More information is available on the website of the National Agency for Vocational Education and Trainig - http://www.navet.government.bg/, Opeartional programme "Human Resources Development" - https://esf.bg/en/, Centre for development of human resources - http://www.hrdc.bg/, Bulgarian Employment Agency - https://www.az.government.bg/

HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

The healthcare system in Bulgaria is organised and managed by the Ministry of Health. Contributions to the healthcare system are managed by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). Healthcare contributions are paid by all persons working under the terms of employment contracts and self-employed persons and are deducted from the monthly remuneration paid by employers (for persons working under the terms of employment contracts), along with other payable social security contributions. Self-employed persons pay their healthcare contributions themselves.

Insured persons are entitled to use the services of medical professionals and healthcare facilities who/which have concluded a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund.

Outpatient care (excluding emergency care) services are provided by natural persons or legal entities on the basis of contracts concluded with the National Health Insurance Fund. All insured persons choose a general practitioner (GP) with whom they may consult as necessary. If the GP selected is not a specialist who has the necessary competence to treat a certain condition, the patient obtains a medical referral to be examined by a specialist licensed by the National Health Insurance Fund. When visiting the GP, or a specialist on the basis of a referral by a GP, the patient must pay a fee of BGN 2.90. Per day of hospitalisation, a user charge of BGN 5.80 is levied, but for no more than 10 days in any one year. Children up to 18 years of age, pregnant women, non-working family members, military staff and certain other categories of persons are exempt for the payment of applicable fees.

Uninsured persons pay the service fee and the full amount of the medical care received.

There are many specialist private surgeries and clinics in Bulgaria. In the case of consultations and/or treatment in such surgeries/clinics, patients pay for the examination and/or treatment, regardless of whether they have medical insurance or not. More information about health insurance and the conditions for using healthcare services in Bulgaria is available from the websites of the Ministry of Health - https://www.mh.government.bg and the National Health Insurance Fund - https://www.nhif.bg/.

When in need of emergency medical care, call the national emergency number 112.

CULTURAL AND SOCIAL LIFE

As in other European countries, Bulgaria offers a rich and diverse cultural and social life. Bulgarians enjoy spending their leisure time in restaurants where serve food and drinks. Many Bulgarian food products and dishes are popular internationally. Bulgarian cuisine is appreciated by many, including some of the most renowned connoisseurs and gastronomic experts. Bulgarian yoghurt and wine are particularly popular. Most traditional Bulgarian dishes have a historical link to mythology, traditional beliefs or rites, which lends them an exotic flair and an air of uniqueness.

If you live in Bulgaria, you will be able to enjoy your leisure time reading books, going out to dance clubs or visiting concert performances, the cinema, theatre, opera, ballet or exhibitions, travelling within the country (there are many fascinating places of interest awaiting discovery), visiting sporting events or practising your favourite sport. There are many museums of history, community centres, cultural centres and libraries. There are theatres in the bigger cities. Very few of them are state-owned, the majority being municipal theatres, although the number of private theatre companies is also on the increase. There are puppet theatres, opera houses, musical theatres, ballet companies, pantomime theatres, café theatres, variety theatres, nightclubs and music clubs. There is at least one stadium in each city and a number of sports facilities, tennis courts and gyms.

There are many radio stations to choose from in the country and three national TV stations and more than one hundred TV channels broadcast by cable or satellite.

Bulgaria has a rich cultural heritage. Many monuments of culture are UNESCO heritage sites.

Along with diverse and breathtaking natural scenery, the country offers excellent tourist and recreational facilities situated in popular mountain and seaside resorts. Some sports, including golf, rock climbing, gliding, rowing and horse riding, have been gaining in popularity.

There is a complete ban on smoking in public places.

More information is available on the Official Tourism Portal of Bulgaria: https://www.bulgariatravel.org

PRIVATE LIFE

Birth

Each newborn child is issued with a Birth Certificate which shows the personal identification number they have been assigned. Birth certificates are issued by the municipal administration responsible for the locality where the child was born on the basis of the ID documents of both parents.

Marriage

In Bulgaria, only civil marriages are recognised for legal purposes. Civil marriages require the mutual consent of the bride and bridegroom to enter into the marriage to be stated before a dedicated public official. A marriage may be entered into by any person aged 18 years or over and, as an exception and where required for important reasons, a marriage can be entered into by a person aged 16 years only with the special permission of the chairperson of the district court, having jurisdiction in the locality where the under-age applicant resides.

Persons who wish to marry are required to file an application with the municipality not later than 30 days before the planned date of the marriage. The necessary documents include an ID document, a statement of no impediment to the marriage and a medical certificate. A marriage ceremony is witnessed by two persons whose role is to confirm that the bride and bridegroom have entered into the marriage of their own free will.

Death

Deaths are confirmed in writing by medical doctors who issue death certificates. Where death has occurred in unknown circumstances the police must be informed and an autopsy may be performed.

TRANSPORT

Bulgaria has a developed land, inland waterway, marine and air transport infrastructure. Marine transportation services are available along the Black Sea coast (eastern Bulgaria) with Varna and Burgas being the largest sea ports and cities along the coast and inland waterway transportation services are available along the Danube River (northern Bulgaria). The largest airport is situated in the capital Sofia. There are airports also in Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas.

In larger cities you may choose to either drive your own motorcar or alternatively use the services of taxi companies, fixed-route taxi lines or public transport. Sofia is the only city which has a developed tramway network and metro lines. When using public transport all passengers, excluding children up to the age of 7 years, are required to have a valid ticket, travel card or another travel document. Passengers using public transport on the basis of a valid travel document are allowed to carry baggage with them only where its dimensions do not exceed 60 x 40 x 40 cm. Daily travel cards or travel cards valid for longer periods are available from special public transport offices and outlets situated at public transport bus stops. Single tickets may usually be bought from the driver of the public transport vehicle. The price of single tickets is in the range of BGN 1.00 to BGN 1.60 depending on the size of the settlement.

In addition to driving, buses and trains can also be used to travel between settlements. The official timetable of passenger trains in Bulgaria is available on the website of the Bulgarian Railway Company. More information about intercity bus services is available on the website of the Central Bus Station.

There are secure car parks in almost all towns, which offer supervised parking services against a fee.

Rent-a-car services are also offered in larger towns and cities. Rent-a-car desks are available in the ‘Arrivals’ area of Sofia Airport. Possibilities for rent-a-car services can be checked at a number of websites.

 

 USEFUL LINKS

www.government.bg/- Council of Ministers of Republic of Bulgaria

www.mlsp.government.bg/ - Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

www.az.government.bg - Bulgarian Employment Agency

www.eures.bg - EURES Bulgaria

www.gli.government.bg - General labour Inspectorate Executive Agency

www.nacid.bg - National Centre for Information and Documentation

www.registryagency.bg - National Registry Agency

www.nap.bg - National Revenue Agency

www.nssi.bg - National Social Security Institute

www.mvr.bg - Ministry of Interior

www.mfa.bg - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

www.mon.bg - Ministry of Education and Training

www.nhif.bg - National Health Insurance Fund

www.mzh.government.bg - Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

 www.aba.government.bg - State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad

http://www.nipa.bg/ - National Institute for Conciliation and Arbitration (NICA)

http://www.navet.government.bg - National Agency for Vocational Education and Trainig

https://esf.bg/en/ - Opeartional programme "Human Resources Development"

http://www.hrdc.bg/ - Centre for development of human resources

http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu - EUROPASS CV Template

www.sofia-airport.bg - International Airport of Sofia

www.bdz.bg - Trains Schedule in Bulgaria

www.centralnaavtogara.bg - Central Bus Station

https://www.bulgariatravel.org - Official Tourism Portal of Bulgaria

http://www.rzk-sofia.com/ - Regional Craft Chambers

 https://www.dfz.bg/ - State Fund Agriculture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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