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Living and working conditions

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 41,865 km2

Population – 17,424,978

Official Language – Dutch; Regional - English, Papiamento, West Frisian; Recognised - Dutch Low Saxon, Limburgish

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

If you are a national of one of the Member States of the EU/EEA or Switzerland and wish to come to the Netherlands, the following procedure applies:

  • registration with the local authority in the Netherlands in which you are resident;
  • if you wish to stay for less than 4 months or if you require a Citizen Service Number you can make a telephone appointment with one of the following local authorities:

https://almanak.overheid.nl/categorie/2/Gemeenten_A-Z/

For residence you will in any case need:

  • a valid passport or other valid travel document;
  • sufficient means of support;
  • a certificate of medical insurance (see Chapter 4.6 on medical insurance).

The following reasons for residence are considered as a stay pursuant to the Treaty Establishing the European Community:

  • work;
  • study;
  • economic inactivity;
  • residence as a family member of an EU national.

Even if you do not need a residence document (period of stay < 3 months), it may still be useful to have a declaration of registration with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service/IND. Organisations such as the Tax and Customs Administration and banks may request this.

LOOKING FOR A JOB

General:

There are many different ways of finding work in the Netherlands. However, more than 60 % of all vacancies are filled informally. Having a good network therefore improves your chance of finding a job in the Netherlands. Channels commonly used to find work include:

The UWV:

The UWV (public employment service of the Employee Insurance Schemes Agency) supports and assists jobseekers in their search for work. Registration with the UWV employment service is not compulsory.

Employment agencies, recruitment and selection agencies and secondment agencies:

There are many specialised employment agencies in the Netherlands. Recruitment and selection agencies, including ‘head-hunters’, are also active. It is normal for these agencies to first ask candidates to take a psychological test or an assessment. As well as temping work, working on a secondment basis is also increasingly common. Among other things, employment agencies use this method to keep IT and other specialists in particular under contract.

Advertisements:

You are advised to consult the Dutch newspapers (also available digitally) for vacancies. The Saturday editions of national newspapers contain the most vacancies.

NRC Handelsblad: managerial positions.

De Volkskrant: public sector, academia/medical professions.

De Telegraaf and Algemeen Dagblad: commercial vacancies.

The main regional newspapers.

Internet:

Online applications on companies’ websites and the use of CV databases, such as that of EURES and the UWV, are the norm. Employers use CV databases to recruit candidates. If you can understand Dutch, you can use the UWV website www.werk.nl.

Job fairs:

Job fairs, particularly speed dates, are becoming increasingly popular. They are organised by, among others:

the UWV

employment agencies

colleges and universities

Keep an eye on the websites of these organisations, among others, for dates and locations.

INCOMES AND TAXATION

Income tax is levied on the pay of an employee. The employer deducts tax at source and remits it together with the social security contributions to the Tax and Customs Administration. This levy at source is an advance levy for income tax.

Income tax is levied on sources of income in accordance with the ‘box’ system.

This comprises three boxes:

  • Box I: income from employment and home ownership,
  • Box II: income from a ‘substantial interest’,
  • Box III: income from savings and investments.

Tax is levied differently for each box. The income from the various boxes is not interchangeable. It is therefore not possible to offset negative income from one box against positive income from another box.

The tax rate for income from employment and home ownership (Box I) is progressive and is charged over four ‘brackets’. Each bracket has a fixed tax rate. As a result, the higher the income, the more tax paid.

Motor vehicle tax: the amount of the motor vehicle tax depends on the weight of the vehicle and the type of fuel used. This may vary slightly from province to province. The website of the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) contains a program for calculating this amount.

Local taxes:

The type and amount of local tax to be paid varies according to the local authority. Common local taxes include: property tax, commuter tax, tourist tax, parking tax, tax on dogs, tax on advertising, sufferance tax (precariobelasting), sewage charges, refuse collection charges, and legal fees.

Information can be obtained from the relevant local authority. Information can also be found on the website ‘Postbus 51’ (www.rijksoverheid.nl) or the homepage of your local authority.

Text last edited on: 07/2019

COST OF LIVING

The Netherlands is a relatively expensive country compared to other EU countries.

The cost of living varies according to the area, and there is a clear difference between living in a town or city and living in the country. The cities are the most expensive, above all Amsterdam.

It is cheaper to live in the north and east of the country than in the centre and west of the country (the Randstad, the conurbation of the western Netherlands).

Although it is difficult to give a precise picture of the cost of living, below is an overall picture of the price/daily cost of a selection of products:

   

Bread:

€1.20

Cup of coffee:

€2.20

Glass of beer:

€ 2.50

Chips with croquette:

€4.00

Cinema ticket:

€10.00

Short bus ride:

€2.00

Litre of petrol (regular unleaded):

€1.65

Car hire (medium-sized):

€80.00

Two-course menu in a restaurant:

€27.50

The price of food varies from shop to shop, so it is advisable to compare prices. The same applies to fuel for your vehicle. Prices generally also depend on where you live in the Netherlands.

There are many different types of supermarket in the Netherlands. Nowadays not every village has a shop. Most towns and villages have a weekly market where it is possible to buy food, clothing, flowers, tools/utensils, etc. Market prices are lower than those in shops.

The Netherlands also has various second-hand shops, e.g. the Kringloopwinkel, a shop specialising in recycled goods. In these shops you can buy clothing, household items and furniture, among other things.

Many Dutch people are currently finding it difficult to make ends meet, and there are various bodies offering advice and information on how to deal with debt and money in general.

Text last edited on: 07/2019

EDUCATION SYSTEM

Children in the 5-16 age group are obliged to attend school by law. Compulsory school attendance applies to all children who live in the Netherlands or stay there for long periods, regardless of their nationality or religion.

A child must start school no later than the first day of the month following his or her fifth birthday. For example, if a child’s birthday is on 22 February, he or she must therefore attend school from 1 March onwards. The majority of children in the Netherlands (some 99 %) start school at the age of four. During this extra year, children can get used to going to school and have the opportunity to learn to understand and speak Dutch better. This applies in particular to children who speak another language at home. A 4-year-old child is not covered by the Compulsory Education Act after enrolling at a school, so the parents can agree with the school on their child’s presence at and absence from school.

After group 8 of primary education (public and religious education), children enter higher general secondary or pre-vocational secondary education. After 4 or 5 years, once the pupil has obtained a diploma he or she can, depending on the level of preparatory education, continue into intermediate vocational education or higher vocational or university education.

Tuition fees must be paid from the age of 18. Student loans are very common in higher education.

School holidays:

Certain periods in the school year are designated as holidays. Children may not be taken out of school for a holiday outside these set periods, except with the consent of the local authority (compulsory attendance officer).

A child is obliged to attend school on a full-time basis up to and including the school year (1 August to 31 July) in which he or she reaches the age of 16. This is followed by a partial attendance obligation. The young person must then follow a course for at least 2 days a week for one year at an educational establishment (intermediate vocational education or adult education institution or institution designated by the Education Minister). In the case of intermediate vocational education combined with a practical training contract, the attendance requirement may be less than 2 days. This partial attendance obligation can be combined with a job, depending on the type of training institution. Young people who leave school after the school year in which they reach the age of 17 are not subject to a partial attendance obligation.

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 E

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 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.

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document

USEFUL LINKS

http://www.government.nl  - Government
http://www.werk.nl   -   Public Employment Service                                       
http://internationalezaken.szw.nl - Ministry of Labour
http://www.arbeidsinspectie.nl - General labour Inspectorate                 
http://www.belastingdienst.nl/organisatie/en/ - Taxes                                                        
http://www.minvws.nlhttp://www.kennisring.nl/ - Social Security                                         
http://www.nuffic.nl, http://www.idw.nl- Recognition of Qualifications

                                                                  

                                                                     Information from the Dutch Ministry of Labor

If you want to work in the Netherlands, you need to know your rights and be familiar with the basic requirements for work and residence. This will avoid frustrating situations. Salaries in the Netherlands are higher than your salaries in your country, but this also applies to everyday expenses. If you are well informed, you have a better chance of finding a suitable and secure job and have a pleasant stay in the Netherlands.
 
Your employment contract
Your rights and obligations depend on your employment contract. Note the following:
You must obtain a contract of employment in the language you speak and understand you. Usually a written employment contract is concluded, but the oral contract is also valid. Agree clearly and precisely on:
§ your salary;
§ exactly when your salary will be paid;
§ pay for additional work;
§ payment of travel expenses from home to work and vice versa;
§ payment of travel expenses for return to Bulgaria.

- Do you work for a Dutch temporary recruitment office? In this case, you will often work for one or several companies. The specificity of working through such a bureau is that the employment contract ends if the company to which your bureau sent you no longer works for you. The Bureau is not obliged to offer you a new job. You will only be paid for the hours actually worked. If you are hired by the Temporary Recruitment Bureau, you can terminate the contract at any time. Ask your desk about other working conditions.
- Do you work for a Bulgarian company in the Netherlands? If you have a contract with a Bulgarian company or with a temporary recruitment office that sends you to the Netherlands, then this is a business trip. If you wish, you can continue to be insured in Bulgaria. To do this, your employer or you must apply for an A1 form in Bulgaria. When posting you, the requirements laid down in Dutch law for pay, hours, extra work and safety apply. This means that in any case you are paid the minimum wage paid in the Netherlands.
  - Do you work directly for a Dutch company (not a temporary staff recruitment desk)? In this case, the Dutch legislation is fully applicable to you. If you have a temporary employment contract, you have the right to receive a salary throughout the contract period. You cannot be dismissed prematurely or leave your job prematurely. If you have a permanent employment contract, you are protected from dismissal. Your employer can only fire you with the permission of the authorities. Often, employment contracts include a trial period of two months. During the probationary period, the worker may be fired without permission from the authorities.
 
Salary
You are always entitled to the gross minimum wage paid in the Netherlands. Your employer must withhold taxes and social security contributions and give you a payroll stating the salary that you are paid and the taxes and social security contributions that you withhold. From 01.01.2019 the statutory gross monthly minimum wage is EUR 1615.80 for persons over 23 years of age. For people aged 15 to 22, the minimum wage is lower. You are also entitled to an 8% holiday allowance. The minimum wage is updated twice a year, on January 1st and July 1st.
If you work in the Netherlands through a temporary employment recruitment office, in most cases under a temporary employment collective agreement, you are entitled to a salary higher than the minimum. If you work extra hours or evenings, you are entitled to a 25% allowance and, at night, a 50% allowance on your salary.
 
Other important facts
 
Taxes
To work in the Netherlands, you need a social security number (the so-called SOFI number). If you work for a Dutch temporary recruitment office, the office can apply for your number with the tax office. If the bureau does not do this, you must apply to the tax office for a social security number. You can do this by phone in English: 0031- (0) 555385385.
If you work temporarily in the Netherlands, you may be entitled to a refund of your income tax. You can ask the tax office for the appropriate form. When filling out the form, you must provide your personal bank account number.
 
Cash sickness benefit
In the event of illness, in most cases the employer must continue to pay you the full amount of your salary. If you work for a temporary staffing bureau, you are paid 91% of your pay for illness. In the absence due to illness should to notify your employer before 10:00 am. If you work through a temporary recruitment office, you must notify the office and the company where you are hired that you will be absent due to illness.
 
Workplace safety
Your employer is obliged to inform you about the risks involved in your job. If necessary, he should provide you with personal protective equipment (such as a helmet or safety shoes) for free.
 
Housing
Find out who will pay for your housing in the Netherlands. If you have to take part of them, ask how much you will pay and for what. Agree in writing. If you are offered a home, it must be suitable for living. The board costs from 30 to 60 euros per week. If you are looking for self-catering accommodation in the Netherlands, the rent is up to € 400 per month, often higher. In larger cities, such as Amsterdam and Utrecht, the rent can be much higher.
If you have complaints about housing conditions, you can contact your landlord first. If he does not take action and if you continue to have complaints about the home, you can contact the municipality.
 
More information is available at
https://www.government.nl/topics/new-in-the-netherlands/documents/publications/2014/03/07/brochure-new-in-the-netherlands-bulgaars
where you can download the brochure in Bulgarian.
 
Assistance with questions or problems
 
General
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your work, you may contact a Dutch or Bulgarian trade union. Usually the condition is to be a member. Several Dutch trade unions have set up a service specifically designed for persons recruited through temporary employment agencies - the Stichting Naleving CAO Uitzendwezen. If you have questions about your rights or salary, you can send them in Dutch or English to:
 SNCU
Postbus 9438
3007 AK Rotterdam
Phone: 0180 642530
Website: www.sncu.nl
 
Labour Inspectorate
You can contact the Netherlands Labor Inspectorate directly to file complaints regarding minimum wage, safe and healthy working conditions and working hours.
For this purpose you can use the form in Bulgarian at www.arbeidsinspectie.nl (website of the Labor Inspectorate in the Netherlands).
 
You can send a letter or call in English:
Arbeidsinspectie
Postbus 820
3500 AV Utrecht
Phone: 0031 (0) 800 - 270 00 00
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Form A1
You or your employer can apply for A1 in:
National Social Security Institute, 62-64 Alexander Stamboliyski Blvd., SOFIA 1303

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture1GENERAL 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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В ход е процедура по разширяване на EURES мрежата в България. Заинтересованите организации могат да кандидатстват по реда на специална процедура за подбор и определяне на организации за членове и партньори на EURES.

Разширяването на EURES мрежата е възможност за различни категории организации, юридически лица, посредници по наемане на работа и др. да обогатят каталога от услугите си с такива в областта на трудовата мобилност, както и да участват в обмена на работни места и профили на търсещи работа лица.

Основните ползи и перспективи пред потенциалните EURES членове и партньори са свързани с това, че:

  • ЕURES, чрез своята платформа, дава на своите партньори и членове неограничен достъп до огромен масив данни със свободни работни места и профили на търсещи работа лица на територията на ЕС, ЕИП и Конфедерация Швейцария;
  • ЕURES сътрудничи с мрежа от експерти в сферата на трудовата мобилност на територията на ЕС и ЕИП;
  • ЕURES осигурява достъп до развита техническа инфраструктура, която включва ползване на електронни (ICT) инструменти;
  • ЕURES предоставя специализирани EURES обучения, организирани от водещи обучителни компании под ръководството на ЕК;
  • ЕURES предоставя достъп до проекти, свързани с трансгранично сътрудничество в сферата на трудовата мобилност;
  • ЕURES осигурява общо подпомагане и съдействие от Националния координационен офис;
  • EURES мрежата създава условия за дългосрочно сътрудничество в регионални структури, установени в трансгранични региони между: регионалните, местните или националните служби по заетост; социалните партньори и други участници от държави членки.

Подробна информация относно начина на кандидатстване и изискванията за присъединяване към EURES мрежата, както и относно системата за мониторинг, който ще бъде осъществен спрямо EURES членове и партньори, можете да откриете на https://www.az.government.bg/pages/nacionalna-eures-mreja/.

Aкредитирани членове и партньори на EURES мрежата в България:

ИМЕ НА ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯТА: БЪЛГАРО–РУМЪНСКА ТЪРГОВСКО–ПРОМИШЛЕНА ПАЛАТА

СТАТУТ: EURES партньор

ОБХВАТ НА УСЛУГИТЕ: допринасяне със свободни работни места 

ДАТА НА ПЪРВОНАЧАЛНО ПРИЕМАНЕ: 05.03.2020 г.

ИМЕ, ФАМИЛИЯ НА ЛИЦЕТО ЗА КОНТАКТ: г-жа Десислава Пенчева

АДРЕС НА ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯТА: гр. Русе, ул. Войводова №12-14, вх. Б, партер

СЛУЖЕБЕН ТЕЛЕФОН: +359 82 507 606

СЛУЖЕБЕН E-MAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


ИМЕ НА ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯТА: УАЙ ЕС ПИ ДЖОБ СОЛЮШЪН ЕООД

СТАТУТ: EURES член

ОБХВАТ НА УСЛУГИТЕ: допринасяне със свободни работни места; допринасяне с автобиографии; предоставяне на услуги на търсещи работа и работодатели за трансгранична мобилност

ДАТА НА ПЪРВОНАЧАЛНО ПРИЕМАНЕ: 18.05.2020 г.

ИМЕ, ФАМИЛИЯ НА ЛИЦЕТО ЗА КОНТАКТ: г-н Дамян Иванов; г-жа Невена Влахова; г-н Светозар Трендафилов

АДРЕС НА ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯТА: гр. София, ж.к Дървеница №50, офис 5

СЛУЖЕБЕН ТЕЛЕФОН: +359 2 974 32 49

СЛУЖЕБЕН E-MAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


ИМЕ НА ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯТА: КОНФЕДЕРАЦИЯ НА НЕЗАВИСИМИТЕ СИНДИКАТИ В БЪЛГАРИЯ (КНСБ)

СТАТУТ: EURES партньор

ОБХВАТ НА УСЛУГИТЕ: допринасяне със заявления за работа и автобиографии при условие, че съответните работници са дали съгласието си; предоставяне на услуги на търсещи работа и работодатели за трансгранична мобилност

ДАТА НА ПЪРВОНАЧАЛНО ПРИЕМАНЕ: 07.08.2020 г.

ИМЕ, ФАМИЛИЯ НА ЛИЦЕТО ЗА КОНТАКТ: г-жа Даниела Алексиева-Стоянова и г-н Иван Алексиев

АДРЕС НА ОРГАНИЗАЦИЯТА: гр. София, пл. "Македония" № 1, ет. 15

СЛУЖЕБЕН ТЕЛЕФОН: +359 2 4010 690 и +359 2 4010 409

СЛУЖЕБЕН E-MAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. и  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 312,696  km2

Population – 38,386,000 (2019)

Official Language – Polish

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

 Entering the territory of Poland 

Citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States may enter the territory of Poland on the basis of a valid travel document or any other document which confirms their identity and nationality. Family members of the citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States, who are not citizens of the respective EU or EFTA Member State, may enter the territory of Poland on the basis of a valid travel document and a visa, if required. Visa applications should be submitted to the Consul of the Republic of Poland or the chief of the unit of the Border Guard.

Family members of the citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States are deemed to be: 

  • spouses,
  • direct “descendants” (descendants in direct line: children) of the citizen or his or her spouse, aged up to 21 years or being dependant of the citizen or his or her spouse, 
  • direct “ascendants” (ascendants in direct line: father, mother) of the citizen or his or her spouse, being dependant of the citizen or his or her spouse.

Citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States or family members who are not citizens of the EU may be rejected to enter the territory of Poland in case:

  • they enter during the validity period of the entry in the register of foreigners who are not desired to stay in the territory of Poland,
  • their stay may pose a threat to the defence or security of the state or to the protection of the security and public order and to public health,
  • they do not possess a document which gives the right to enter the territory of Poland, unless they prove in a different way which does not raise any doubts that they are entitled to benefit from the free movement of persons.

Registration

Citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States and their family members who are not citizens of the states are obliged to register in the place of their permanent or temporary residence of over 3 months not later than within 30 days from the arrival date to the place. Registration is for record purposes only and is aimed at confirming the stay of a person in the place in which he or she has registered. Citizens may register for permanent or temporary residence of over 3 months in writing, by means of an appropriate form in the municipal body which is competent for the location of the real estate the persons resides in, by presenting a valid travel document, whereby family members of citizens of the EU are obliged to present a valid residence card of the family member along with the valid travel document. The registration form must include a confirmation of the owner or of any other entity which has the legal title to the real estate that the person resides in the real estate, as well as a document which confirms the legal right to the real estate, e.g. a civil law contract or an extract from the land and mortgage register, must be kept available. The registration may be completed in person or through a proxy. Furthermore, citizens who possess the trusted profile (eGo) may register electronically on the Electronic Services Platform of the Public Administration (ePUAP). The registration is free of charge. Upon the registration, the PESEL number will be assigned as well.

Staying in Poland for up to 3 months – no obligation to register

Citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States and their family members who are not citizens of the states may stay in the territory of Poland for up to 3 months without the obligation to register their stay. While staying in the territory of Poland, the citizens are obliged to have a valid travel document or any other valid document which confirms their identity and nationality. Family members who are not citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States are obliged to have a valid travel document and a visa, if required.

Staying in Poland for over 3 months – obligation to register

Citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States may stay in Poland for a period of over 3 months in case: 

  • they are employees or self-employed in the territory of Poland,
  • they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family members in Poland so that they are not a burden for the social security system and are subject to universal health insurance or are persons who are authorised to use health care services in accordance with the provisions on the coordination of the social security systems or they have private health insurance which covers any and all expenditures which may be incurred during their stay in Poland, 
  • they are students or participants in a professional training and are subject to universal health insurance or are persons who are authorised to use health care services in accordance with the provisions on the coordination of the social security systems or they have private health insurance which covers any and all expenditures which may be incurred during their stay in Poland and have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family members in Poland so that they are not a burden for the social security system, 
  • they are a spouse of a Polish citizen,
  • they are job seekers, but they may stay up to 6 months without the obligation to register, unless they prove upon the lapse of the period that they continue to be active job seekers and have real chances to get a job.

If the stay in the territory of Poland last more than 3 months:

  • citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States are obliged to register their stay
  • family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States who are not citizens of the states are obliged to obtain a residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States, which is issued for a period of 5 years as a rule (or for a shorter period depending on the period of the planned stay of the citizen of the EU whom a family member joins or with whom a family member stays in the territory of Poland.

To register the stay in the territory of Poland or to obtain a residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States, citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States should submit an appropriate application with the required documents to the voivode who is competent for the place in which the citizen of the EU stays in Poland.

No fees are charged for registering the stay or issuing the residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States.

Right of permanent residence in Poland – applying for evidence documents 

Upon the lapse of 5 years of continuous residence in the territory of Poland, citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States acquire the right of permanent residence. Family members who are not citizens of the states acquire the right of permanent residence upon the lapse of 5 years of continuous residence in the territory in Poland together a citizen of the EU or of the EFTA Member States. The residence is deemed to be continuous in case the interested person has not left Poland for more than 6 months during a year (in total). However, they may stay outside of Poland for a longer period due to: mandatory military services or an important personal event, in particular pregnancy, delivery, illness, vocational training, or delegation, provided that the period does not exceed 12 consecutive months. 

To obtain a document which confirms the right of permanent residence in Poland or to obtain a residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States, citizens of the EU should submit an appropriate application with the required documents to the voivode who is competent for his or her place of residence in Poland. The voivodes issue the documents free of charge

Refusal to register the residence of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States or to issue a residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States

The voivode refuses to register the residence of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States or to issue a residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States

in case:

  • the conditions for residence mentioned in the provisions have not been fulfilled, or
  • the stay of the person concerned poses a threat to the defence or security of the state or to the protection of the security and public order, or
  • the marriage with the citizen of the EU or of the EFTA Member States is a sham marriage.

The voivode is also a competent authority in the following matters: cancelling the registration of residence, exchange or issuing a new certificate on the registration of residence, issuing, replacing or cancelling the residence card for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States, and issuing, replacing or cancelling the document which confirms the right of permanent residence or the card of permanent residence for family members of citizens of the EU or of the EFTA Member States. The decision of the voivode may be appealed against to the Head of the Office for Foreigners in Warsaw through the competent voivode. The appeal should be submitted in writing within 14 days from the receipt date of the decision.

LOOKING FOR A JOB

Nationals of the EU or EFTA Member States may take up employment in Poland without the need to acquire a work permit, under the same conditions as Polish citizens.

In Poland, it is possible to search for a job independently by submitting CVs and motivational letters to selected employers or through:

  • the EURES network which has been founded by the European Commission and brings together public employment services and other authorised organization and which is aimed at supporting employers’ mobility in the EU or EFTA Member States. All citizens of the states may use the services of the network which cover the recruitment services in the EU and the provision of information about the working and living conditions in the states. The Polish job advertisements are published on the European Job Mobility Portal which contains job advertisements by all public employment services of the EU and EFTA Member States and of other Member States of EURES, which makes it possible to find job advertisements placed by the Polish Poviat Labour Offices and the Voluntary Labour Corps there;
  • the Poviat Labour Offices which place job advertisements in the Central Database of Job Offers. To make use of all job offers held by the Poviat Labour Office, it is necessary to register with the Office as an unemployed person or a job seeker. Upon registering, it is also possible to access those job advertisements for which the data of the Polish employer have been submitted to the office which is to select appropriate candidates to work and direct them to the employer;
  • the Voluntary Labour Corps which render recruitment services mainly for the youth, while job advertisements may be found in the “Recruitment Database” and the Central Database of Job Offers;
  • operators who run employment agencies which recruit personnel on behalf of employers. In order to carry out a legal activity in Poland, employment agencies must obtain a certificate which confirms that they have been registered as an employment agency by the Voivodeship Marshals competent for the registered office of agency. Employment agency are not allowed to charge the persons for whom the agency is seeking employment or any other paid work or whom it assists in selecting a proper job and place of work with any fees other than the fee for delegating to work by foreign employers abroad, including travel costs of the delegated person, visa costs, costs of the medical examination and the translation of documents. The fees may be charged for the factually incurred costs in relation to delegating employees to work abroad provided that these fees are specified in the agreement concluded with the individual who is delegated to work abroad. A list of certified agencies is available on the Internet website of the National Register of Employment Agencies. Offers of the employment agencies may be found on their Internet websites;
  • operators entitled to render job placement services without the obligation to register as an employment agency, i.e. foreign entrepreneurs from the EU and EFTA Member States, holding certificates issued in the state of origin and rendering job placement services in the territory of Poland (excluding temporary work) based on the notification submitted to the marshall of the voivodeship;
  • Internet portals which are run by those entities which render job placement services only by storing and making available information about job offers in the form of an electronic document and through the IT systems. These entities are not required to register as an employment agency. 

Polish employers and employment agencies publish job advertisements in the press, the Internet or in their premises, as well as with the use of other communication forms, e.g. social media. 

The majority of daily newspapers, both nationwide and local, contain special columns with job advertisements. The most popular nationwide daily newspaper with job advertisements is “Gazeta Wyborcza” with its Monday supplement “Work”. Furthermore, job advertisements are published in all local dailies.

INCOME AND TAXATION

Average incomes 

In the 2nd quarter of 2018, the average monthly gross remuneration in the national economy amounted to PLN 4,521 (approx. EUR 1,051). In August 2018, the average monthly gross remuneration in the enterprise sector amounted to PLN 4,798.27 (approx. EUR 1,115). 

For example, the average gross income in Mazowieckie Voivodeship (including Warszawa) in different sectors in July 2018 amounted to: enterprise sector – PLN 5,754 (approx. EUR 1,338), industry – PLN 5,597 (approx. EUR 1,301), industrial processing – PLN 5,396 (about EUR 1,254), construction – PLN 6,281 (approx. EUR 1,460), trade – PLN 5,877 (approx. EUR 1,366), transport – PLN 4,655 (approx. EUR 1,082), hospitality and catering – PLN 4,325 (approx. EUR 1,005), ICT – PLN 8,825 (approx. EUR 2,052), real estate services – PLN 6,560 (approx. EUR 1,525), administration and supporting services – PLN 3,784 (about EUR 880). 

Types of taxes

In Poland, there are fourteen types of taxes which comprise of direct taxes (paid by a tax payers which are obliged to pay taxes to the tax authority) and of indirect taxes (paid when purchasing goods).

Direct taxes are the following:

1) Personal income tax (PIT),

2) Corporate Income Tax (CIT),

3) Inheritance and donation tax,

4) Tax on civil law acts,

5) Agricultural tax,

6) Forest tax,

7) Property tax,

8) Tax on means of transport,

9) Tonnage tax (imposed on ship owners operating offshore commercial vessels in international shipping),

10) Tax on the extraction of certain minerals,

11) Tax on certain financial institutions.

Indirect taxes are the following:

1) Tax on goods and services (VAT – 23%, 8%, 5%, and 0%),

2) Excise duty,

3) Gambling tax.

In terms of employment and carrying out economic activity in Poland, the most important taxes are the Personal Income Tax and the Corporate Income Tax

Personal income tax

The most important tax for natural persons who are employed in Poland is the personal income tax.

Incomes received by natural persons are subject to Personal Income Tax. Should tax payers receive incomes from more than one source during the particular tax year, the sum of the incomes from all sources in Poland and in foreign states is taxed. With regard to the incomes received by non-residents in Poland or by Polish residents in foreign states, the provisions of the respective agreements concluded by Poland on the avoidance of double taxation do apply. Poland has signed such agreements with, inter alia, Austria, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. The complete list of countries with the respective agreements is available on the Internet website of the Ministry of Finance.

Any person who resides in Poland must pay the tax on the received incomes in Poland. The person who resides in Poland means any person whose “centre of personal or economic interests” is located in Poland (e.g. lives and works in Poland) or stays in Poland for longer than 183 days a year. The person is a tax resident in Poland and is obliged to pay the tax on the total amount of the incomes received during the particular tax year, both in Poland and in foreign states. Those who do not reside in Poland are obliged to pay the Polish tax only on the incomes received in the territory of Poland. The incomes are taxed in accordance with the principles specified in the agreements concluded by Poland on the avoidance of double taxation.

Incomes are taxable (revenues minus tax deductible expenses). 

Tax deductible expenses are specified depending on the type of the received income, e.g. for those who receive revenues during 2018: 

  • from the employment relationship – the basic tax deductible costs amount to PLN 1,335 (approx. EUR 313) a year and to PLN 111.25 (approx. EUR 26) a month; 
  • from contracts for services - the tax deductible costs are equal to 20% of the received revenues; 
  • from copyrights – the tax deductible costs are equal to 50% of the received revenues, whereby the yearly total costs must not exceed the amount of PLN 42,764 (approx. EUR 10,038); 
  • from economic activity – the tax deductible costs cover any costs which have been incurred in order to receive the respective revenues or to maintain or secure the source of revenues, excluding the expenses which are listed as non-tax deductible in the respective statute. 

The method for calculating income tax is dependent on the source of revenues the incomes have been received. The tax system provides for the following methods to calculate the tax due:

1. progressive tax scale with a degressive amount decreasing the tax due – natural persons who have their incomes taxed under general principles use the two-rate tax scale, with the tax rates of 18% and 32% in 2018 and with one tax threshold in the amount of PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 20,077) and with the amount to reduce the tax due which amounts to:

  • PLN 1,440 (approx. EUR 279), if the yearly income of the tax payer (the tax calculation basis) does not exceed PLN 8,000 (approx. EUR 1,549);
  • from PLN 556.02 (approx. EUR 130) to PLN 1,440 (approx. EUR 279), if the yearly income of the tax payer (the tax calculation basis) exceeds PLN 8,000 (approx. EUR 1,549), however not more than PLN 13,000 (approx. EUR 2,582);
  • PLN 556.02 (approx. 130 EUR), if the yearly income of the tax payer (the tax calculation basis) exceeds PLN 13,000 (approx. EUR 2,582), however not more than PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 20,077);
  • from PLN 0 to PLN 556.02, if the yearly income of the tax payer (the tax calculation basis) exceeds PLN 85,528 (approx. EUR 20,077), however not more than 127,000 (approx. EUR 29,812);
  • PLN 0, if the yearly income of the tax payer (the tax calculation basis) exceeds PLN 127,000 (approx. EUR 29,812). 

By collecting advance tax payments, the amount to reduce the tax due applies only to the incomes which do not exceed the first threshold of the tax scale (PLN 85,528 – approx. EUR 20,077) and amounts to PLN 556.02 (approx. EUR 130) a year.

The progressive tax scale applies, inter alia, to the incomes received from hired labour (the employment relationship, contracts for services or contracts for a specific work), retirement benefits, economic activity, or lease and rental contracts.

Tax payers who have their incomes taxed according to the progressive tax scale, upon fulfilling the conditions specified by law, may benefit from the joint taxation of the incomes received by the spouses and from preferential taxation of the incomes received by single parents.

The joint taxation of incomes may be applied by the spouses who: have been married throughout the whole tax year and have been bound by the matrimonial property throughout the whole tax year. The spouses calculate the tax due in the double amount of the tax calculated on a half on their joint incomes.

On the other hand, single parents have the right to calculate the tax in the double amount of the tax calculated on a half of their incomes;

2. 19% income tax on non-agricultural economic activity or special sections of agricultural production – incomes from non-agricultural economic activity or special sections of agricultural production may be taxed with the tax rate of 19% (based on the accounting books). The profit (loss) is settled under a separate declaration;

3. flat-rate methods of taxation for non-agricultural economic activity – tax payers may also, upon fulfilling the conditions specified by law, choose one of the flat-rate methods of taxation with regard to the incomes (revenues) from non-agricultural economic activity, i.e.

  • lump-sum tax on registered revenues: the achieved revenues are taxed with a certain tax rate; a separate tax declaration on this method of taxation should be submitted until 31 January of the following tax year; 
  • tax card: the monthly amount is established by the head of the competent tax office; tax no tax declarations are submitted in this case, while it is necessary to report the paid and deducted health insurance contributions (tax card) in the annual declaration by 31 January of the following tax year; 

4. flat-rate method of taxation for revenues from lease and rental contracts - may be chosen by tax payers subject to certain conditions specified by law. The tax rate amounts to 8.5% on the achieved revenues up to PLN 100,000 (EUR 23,184.10). The tax rate of 12.5% is charged on the surplus. A separate declaration is to be submitted until 31 January of the following tax year;

5. 19% income tax on certain capital gains – the uniform tax rate of 19% applies to certain capital gains (e.g. from the sale of securities or derivative financial instruments for a remuneration), the profit (loss) from which is settled under a separate declaration;

6. 19% income tax on the sale of properties for a remuneration – the obligation to pay income tax of 19% on the income from the sale of properties for a remuneration comes into existence if the property is sold before the end of the period of 5 years starting from the end of the calendar year in which the property has been purchased or constructed, and if it is not part of economic activity; the income is settled under a separate declaration.

Incomes from the sale of properties for a remuneration may be exempt from taxation, if the respective revenues are used by the tax payer for housing purposes, as mentioned in the Polish tax provisions;

7. flat-rate income tax collected by the payer – the tax applies to revenues (incomes) from, e.g. winnings from lotteries, interest, discounts on securities, interest on cash (not related to the economic activity carried out) on the bank account of the tax payer, units in capital funds, dividends. The revenues (incomes) are not settled in the tax declaration as the respective tax is collected and paid by the payer.

Corporate Income Tax

Corporate income tax is paid by:

  • legal persons,
  • organisational units without legal personality, excluding companies without legal personality, whereby commercial companies in organisation and limited joint-stock companies with their registered office or management board in the territory of Poland are subject to corporate income tax,
  • tax capital groups (which comprise at least two commercial companies with legal personality which operate under capital associations and fulfil the conditions specified by law),
  • companies without legal personality with their registered office or management board in a foreign state, if they are treated as legal persons in accordance with the provisions of the tax law of the respective state and are subject to taxation on the total of their incomes in the state irrespective of the place the incomes have been received.

Tax payers with their registered office or management board in the territory of Poland are subject to taxation on the total of their incomes, irrespective of the place the incomes have been received. Tax payers which do not have their registered office or management board in the territory of Poland are subject to taxation only on the incomes which have been received in the territory of Poland.

Income tax is charged on incomes irrespective of the sources of revenues from which the incomes have been received. The surplus of revenues over costs is a profit during a particular tax year. The difference between costs and revenues is a loss. The loss may be used to reduce the profit in the consecutive five tax years, whereby the amount of the deduction in any of the years must not exceed 50% of the amount of the loss.

As far as revenues from the share in profits of legal persons (e.g. dividends) and revenues of foreign entities from the so called license fees (e.g. interest) are concerned, the revenues are subject to taxation.

In case of capital relations and other specific associations, it is possible to tax incomes by estimation.

The Polish tax law provides for a catalogue of tax exemptions, including for such tax payers as associations, foundations which perform statutory tasks of public utility. With regard to the tax payers, the exemption refers to the incomes which are used for performing the socially useful objectives, as specified by law. The objectives must correspond to the objectives the entities specify in their statutes.

In particular, taxable revenues comprise the receive money, pecuniary values, foreign exchange differences, or the value of the items, rights or other services which have been received without a remuneration or for partial remuneration. The revenues related to economic activity and special sections of agricultural production during a particular tax year also comprise due revenues, even if not factually received, excluding the value of the returned items, and the granted discounts and allowances.

Tax deductible costs are costs which are incurred to generate revenues or to maintain or secure the source of revenues, excluding the costs (expenses) which are not deemed to be incurred to generate revenues, as listed in the Act on the Corporate Income Tax. Costs which are directly related to the respective revenues may be treated as tax deductible costs. Other costs excluding the costs which are directly related to the respective revenues are deducted on the date they are incurred. Should the costs refer to a period which exceeds one tax year and it is not possible which part refers to the particular tax year, they are treated as tax deductible costs in the proportion to the length of the period they refer to.

The costs which are directly related to the respective revenues are settled during the year in which the respective revenues are generated. Other costs are settled during the year they have been incurred. 

The tax base is a difference between taxable revenues and tax deductible costs and is a profit reduced by donations granted for public services, as specified in the Act on Public Benefit Activity and Voluntary Activity.

Donations for entities which carry out such an activity in a Member State of the EU or in a Member State of the European Economic Area, excluding Poland, may also be deducted under the joint limit of 10% of the profit.

Donations for charity and care activities on the basis of the so called church statues – up to 100% of the profit – are also deductible.

The value of the expenses incurred for research and development activity, i.e. the part of the costs for research and development which have also been treated as tax deductible costs, may also be deducted from the tax base.

The tax is equal to 19% of the tax base. In 2017, the corporate income tax rate of 15% was introduced for small tax payers, i.e. the tax payers the revenues of which did not exceed the amount of EUR 1.2 million (approx. PLN 5 million) during the preceding tax year.

Tax payers and payers of taxes do not submit tax declaration during the tax year, but are obliged to pay in monthly advance payments. Small tax payers and tax payers which start economic activity have the right to pay in advance payments for income tax on a quarterly basis.

During the tax year, tax payers can also settle advance payments under the simplified scheme

Tax payers are obliged to submit a declaration on the amount of the profit (loss) generated during the tax year until the end of the third calendar month of the following year and pay the tax due within the deadline or the difference between the tax due on the profit presented in the tax declaration and the sum of the advance payments due from the beginning of the year.

Rights to tax allowances and tax exemptions

Tax payers in Poland have the right to certain tax allowances and tax exemptions by law.

Tax allowances

Tax payers subject to Personal Income Tax have the right to the following tax allowances: 

  • the tax allowances which are deducted from taxable income,
  • the tax allowances which are deducted from the tax amount.

The following items may be deducted from taxable income:

1. social insurance contributions paid by the tax payer;

2. expenses for rehabilitation purposes – the tax allowance is for persons with disabilities or tax payers who support persons with disabilities. For the purposes of the tax allowance, it is deemed that a person is supported in case their yearly taxable income does not exceed the equivalent of twelve social allowances in the amount as of December of the tax year. Payments for children’s maintenance and attendance allowances are not counted towards the incomes.

3. donations for the following purposes: 

  • specified in the Act on Public Benefit Activity and Voluntary Activity, e.g. protection and promotion of health, culture, arts, science, and education,
  • religious associations,
  • blood donation by voluntary blood donors.

The total deductible amount must not exceed the equivalent of 6% of taxable income;

4. donations for church legal persons which carry out charity and care activity – the allowance is subject to the statutes which regulate the relation between the state and individual churches and religious association. The deductible amount may amount to 100% of the tax payer’s taxable income;

5. expenses for using the Internet network – the deductible amount must not exceed PLN 760 (approx. EUR 179). The allowance may be used exclusively during two consecutive tax years; 

6. expenses which are related to the tax payer’s saving for retirement pension – the payments made to the Individual Pension Security Account (IKZE) made by the tax payer during the tax year are deductible up to the amount specified in the provisions on the Individual Pension Security Account. The payments made to the Individual Pension Security Account (IKZE) during the calendar year must not exceed the equivalent of 1.2 times the average monthly remuneration, as forecasted in the national economy for the respective year in the Budgetary Act or in the Act on the Provisional Budget or their drafts, if the relevant statutes have not been passed. In 2018, the maximum deductible amount is equal to PLN 5,331.60 (approx. EUR 1,254).

The following items may be deducted from tax:

  1. obligatory health insurance contributions paid by the tax payer (the deductible amount must not exceed the equivalent of 7.75% of the calculation basis);
  2. child allowance – the allowance may be used by the tax payers who bring up a minor child or an adult child who continues education (up to the age of 25 years). The allowance may be used by parents, legal guardians (if the child lives with the guardian) and foster parents. 

The deductible amounts are the following:

  • PLN 92.67 for the first and second child each (approx. EUR 22) on a monthly basis [PLN 1,102.04 each (approx. 259 EUR) on a yearly basis],
  • PLN 166.67 for the third child (approx. EUR 39) on a monthly basis [PLN 2,000.04 (approx. EUR 471) on a yearly basis], 
  • PLN 225 for the fourth and following child each (approx. EUR 53) on a monthly basis [PLN 2,700 each (approx. EUR 635) on a yearly basis]. 

Tax payers who cannot deducted the full amount due to the fact that the tax amount is not high enough have the right to receive the amount of the unused tax allowance. However, it is to be born in mind that the amount of the unused allowance which is due to the tax payer is limited, must not exceed the total amount of the deductible social and health insurance contributions paid by the tax payer.

Tax exemptions

The objective of the tax exemptions is to, inter alia:

1. conduct the family policy which provides for tax exemptions for, e.g.

  • family benefits received under the provisions on family benefits, family and care bonuses, benefits for guardians under the provisions on the determination and payment of benefits for guardians, pecuniary benefits received in case it is impossible to support child maintenance, benefits on the occasion of the birth of a child under separate provisions and parental benefits received under the provisions on the state aid in bringing up children,
  • maternity benefits received under the provisions on the agricultural social insurance,
  • one-time benefits received under the provisions on the support for pregnant women and families “For Life”,
  • one-time benefits on the occasion of the birth of a child which are paid out from the funds of the trade unions,
  • child maintenance (up to the age of 25 years and for children who receive benefits/additional payments/care benefits or social pensions, irrespective of their age), and up to the amount of PLN 700 (approx. EUR 165) a month for other persons;

2. support persons in a particularly difficult situation due to unexpected circumstances in the form of tax exemptions for, e.g.

  • social aid benefits,
  • one-time benefits from the state budget or from the budget of the local self-government in relation to the occurred incident;

3. support retirees and pensioners with disabilities in the form of tax exemptions for:

  • benefits received by retirees and pensioners with disabilities from their work establishments under the former service relationship, employment relationship or the cooperative employment relationship and from the trade unions – up to the amount which must not exceed the amount of PLN 3,000 during the tax year (approx. EUR 706);
  • increased amounts in the form of family bonuses paid out through the payer in case of retirement benefits and foreign pensions,
  • benefits for covering the total or partial amount of the TV and radio subscription fees;

4. aid in adaptation to work (combating unemployment) and capacities to actively participate in the social life, in the form of the tax exemption for certain benefits for the unemployed under the Polish legal provisions;

5. provide state support for investments in education of children and youths in the form of tax exemptions for:

  • scholarships and financial aid for pupils and students in the form of, inter alia, scholarship of scientific achievements, social scholarships, surcharges for places in boarding houses and student hostels, reimbursement of travel costs for children by means of public transport,
  • awards and prizes received by pupils in competitions, tournaments and contests organized under the provisions on the education system,
  • aid for students in relation to professional apprenticeships during studies and to the redemption of student loans,
  • lump sums for maintenance and accommodation costs paid from the state budget in relation to the referral to teaching at schools and universities in foreign countries, 
  • prizes for exceptional achievements in the field of science, culture and arts, as well as for activities for the human rights to the extent in which the awarded person allocates the prize for public benefit purposes.

The tax return for the particular tax year should be submitted in the relevant form until 30 April of the year following the tax year, and if the last day of the deadline falls on Saturday or on a public holiday, the last day of the deadline is deemed the day following the non-working day or days. The tax return should be submitted to the Tax Office which is competence for the place of residence of the tax payer as of the last day of the tax year. The tax return may be submitted in traditional (paper) form or electronically. Furthermore, there are some situations in which the tax returns may be prepared and submitted by the tax administration. In this situation, the tax payer should submit the application form PIT-WZ electronically. However, the form of tax settlement is available for those tax payers which receive incomes exclusively from payers (under employment contracts, contracts for services or for a specific work, copyrights, as well as retirement pensions and disability benefits).

The Ministry of Finance devises separate information brochures for the tax returns which are valid for the particular year and they are also available on the Internet website of the Ministry of Finance.

Text last edited on: 04/2019

COST OF LIVING

Prices of products and services

In Poland, living costs are diversified, with the highest ones recorded in Warszawa and other large cities. 

Examples of average prices of basic food products: bread (1kg) – PLN 3.44 (EUR 0.80), roll (50g) – PLN 0.30 (EUR 0.07), tea (100 bags) – PLN 14.41 (EUR 3.34), instant coffee (250g) – PLN 6.82 (EUR 1.58), jam (250g) – PLN 3.19 (EUR 0.74), corn flakes (250g) – PLN 3.43 (EUR 0.80), ketchup (430g) – PLN 3.92 (EUR 0.91), oil (1 litre) – PLN 6.18 (EUR 1.43), butter (200g) – PLN 6.12 (EUR 1.42), eggs (10 pieces) – PLN 5.34 (EUR 1.24), hard cheese (1kg) – PLN 16.53 (EUR 3.83), milk (1 litre) – PLN 2.56 (EUR 0.59), cottage cheese (200g) – PLN 1.92 (EUR 0.45), yoghurt (150g) – PLN 1.26 (EUR 0.29), water (1.5 litres) – PLN 1.76 (EUR 0.41), orange juice (1 litre) – PLN 5.51 (EUR 1.28), flour (1kg) – PLN 1.84 (EUR 0.43), sugar (1kg) – PLN 2.00 (EUR 0.46), salt (1kg) – PLN 0.79 (EUR 0.18), pasta penne (500g) – PLN 2.14 (EUR 0.54), loin of pork boneless (1kg) – PLN 14.00 (EUR 3.25), chicken (1kg) – PLN 7.09 (EUR 1.65), sliced ham (450g) – PLN 17.08 (EUR 3.96), bananas (1kg) – PLN 3.56 (EUR 0.83), apples (1kg) – PLN 3.04 (EUR 0.71), potatoes (1kg) – PLN 1.38 (EUR 0.32), tomatoes (1kg) – PLN 3.63 (EUR 0.84), and peppers (1kg) – PLN 6.69 (EUR 1.55).

Examples of average prices of basic household chemicals and cosmetics: dish washing liquid (1 litre) – PLN 5.50 (EUR 1.28), toothpaste (125ml) – PLN 6.25 (EUR 1.45), soap (bar 100g) – PLN 3.20 (EUR 0.74), shampoo (250ml) – PLN 4.10 (EUR 0.95), washing powder (400g) – PLN 5.91 (EUR 1.37), and toilet paper (8 rolls, the cheapest one) – PLN 2.9 (EUR 0.68).

Examples of average monthly costs of utilities per person: electricity – PLN 50 (approx. EUR 11), telephone – PLN 30 (approx. 7), waste (disposal) – PLN 10 (approx. EUR 2), water – PLN 30 (approx. EUR 7), cable TV – PLN 40 (approx. EUR 9), Internet – PLN 39 (approx. EUR 9), gas (gas cooker) – PLN 15 (approx. EUR 3.5), and gas (for rooms with are heated only with gas) – PLN 128 (approx. EUR 30). This makes a total of approx. PLN 214/327 per person (approx. EUR 50/76) on a monthly basis.

Examples of average prices of other products and services: gasoline (litre) – PLN 4.33-5.05 (approx. EUR 1-1.17), urban transport ticket – PLN 3.50 (EUR 0.81), cinema ticket – PLN 17-35 (approx. EUR 4-8), theatre ticket – PLN 80-220 (approx. EUR 18-51), and main dishes served in restaurants – PLN 20-40 (approx. EUR 5-9).

Shops

Opening hours are set by shop owners, but they are usually during the following hours:

  • groceries – from 06:00 (07:00) a.m. until 18:00 (19:00) p.m., some shops may have longer opening hours, 
  • shops excluding groceries – they usually open at 10:00 a.m.,
  • supermarkets (located mostly at the outskirts of large cities) – usually from 09:00 a.m. until 22:00 p.m.

As of 1 March 2018, a statute limiting trading in trade facilities on Sunday and Christmas Eve (24 December) and Holy Eve entered into force. The trading bas is being introduced gradually. During 2018, the trading ban is valid on the first and last Sunday of the month. In 2019, the last Sunday of the month will be a trading Sunday. In 2020, the trading ban will not be valid on the last Sunday of January, April, June and August only. The trading ban will not be valid on the following two Sundays preceding Christmas Day and on the Sunday directly preceding the first day of Easter. Trading and carrying out trade-related activities and entrusting workers or the employed with trading and trade-related activities on 24 December and on the Saturday directly preceding the first day of Easter in trading facilities will be allowed until 14:00 p.m. Should Christmas Eve (24 December) fall on Saturday, trading and carrying out trade-related activities will be allowed until 14:00 p.m. 

The trading ban specified by statute does not refer, inter alia, to: trading facilities at liquid fuel stations, trading facilities which mainly trade in flowers, pharmacies and pharmacy shops, trading facilities which mainly trade in souvenirs or devotional items or press, urban transport tickets, tobacco products, gambling and betting vouchers and postal offices and trading facilities in hotels and Internet shops.

The majority of shops accept payment cards. 

It is also possible to shop online, which is gaining in popularity in Poland. 

Text last edited on: 04/2019

EDUCATION SYSTEM

School obligation and education obligation

The Polish education system differentiates between the school obligation and the education obligation

Education is obligatory until the age of 18, whereby the school obligation comprises of a 8-year primary school (pupils aged 7–15 years). 

Pupils or students who hold a certificate about the need for special education may receive education in specific types of schools until the end of the school year in the calendar year in which they have reached:

  1. the age of 20 years - for primary schools, 
  2. the age of 24 years - for secondary schools.

The education system comprises of public educational units, public educational units with integrated units, public educational units with specific units, public educational units with integrated or specific units, integrated or specific units: 

  1. kindergartens (for children at the age of 3-6 years, and for children with disabilities who hold a certificate about the need for special education and for whom the school obligation has been postponed up to the age of 9 years); 
  2. primary schools (for pupils at the age of 7-15 years), the admission is based on the age criterion;
  3. secondary schools (for students at the age of 15-18/19 years);
  • the 4-year general secondary school, the 5-year technical secondary school, the 3-year branch school of the 1st grade and the 2-year branch school of the 2nd grade,
  • the post-secondary school with education period no longer than 2.5 years,
  • the 3-year special school which adapts to work for pupils who suffer from moderate or serious mental retardation and for pupils with multiple disabilities, the graduation of which makes it possible to obtain a certificate confirming the adaptation to work.

Persons who are not Polish citizens are provided with education and care in public kindergartens or in other forms of public pre-school education, while those subject to the school obligation are provided with education and care at public primary schools, public artistic schools and public facilities, including the artistic ones, under the same conditions as Polish citizens.

Children at the age of 3-5 years whose parents want them to complete kindergarten education have a guaranteed place for kindergarten education in a kindergarten, kindergarten unit at primary schools or other forms of kindergarten education (kindergarten point or centre of kindergarten education). The municipality’s own task is to provide a place for kindergarten education. Children coming from foreign countries are admitted to public kindergartens under the same conditions as Polish citizens.

If particularly justified, children who have reached the age of 2.5 years may start kindergarten education.

Children at the age of 6 years are obliged to participate in a yearly kindergarten preparatory education in a kindergarten, kindergarten unit at primary schools or other forms of kindergarten education, including in the kindergartens and integrated or special kindergarten units. Children who have been diagnosed as needing special education due to a disability may have the school obligation postponed until they reach the age of 9 years. 

Parents of children at the age of 6 years (and more years) who participate in the yearly kindergarten preparatory education are released from the fees for kindergarten education in public kindergartens, kindergarten units at primary schools and other public forms of kindergarten education - they incur only costs of food. 

Parents of children at the age of 3-5 years pay fees for kindergarten education of their children during the time exceeding the time of free education, upbringing and care, as specified by the respective municipality (not shorter than 5 hours a day), as well as for food. The fee for each hour exceeding the free time must not exceed PLN 1 (EUR 0.23).

In primary and secondary schools, the school year is divided into two semesters. Educational classes take place from the 1st of September until the first Friday after the 20th of June. 

Pupils coming from the EU or EFTA Member States may be admitted to primary or secondary schools provided that they possess a certificate, diploma or any other document which confirms that they have attended the school in a foreign country and the number of years of education. Pupils are admitted to public primary schools in their place of residence ex officio (i.e. the school cannot refuse to admit pupils). Pupils are admitted to public secondary schools if they have free places.

Pupils of primary and secondary schools who do not speak Polish have the right to a minimum of 2 additional hours of free classes in Polish a week. Schools may create preparatory units for those pupils who cannot speak Polish. Education in the unit lasts until the end of the school year in which the pupil has been admitted to the unit and may be shortened or prolonged, however not longer than by one school year.

In primary and secondary schools, there is a six-grade assessment scale, from 1 to 6, with 1 being the lowest grade and 6 the highest one. 

Pupils of primary schools have the right to free school books, educational materials and exercise materials for obligatory classes in general education. Books and materials are provided by schools which receive grants from the state budget for that. 

Pupils can graduate from primary schools if they have obtained positive end result in all obligatory educational classes under the final classification and have taken the examination for pupils of the 8th degree. Being part of the system of extramural examinations, the examination for pupils of the 8th degree is conducted in writing, in Polish, mathematics and a modern foreign language and will be extended by the examination in one selected subjects: biology, chemistry, physics, geography, or history, starting from the school year 2021/2022. The minimum results which should be obtained by pupils is not determined. Results of the examination for pupils of the 8th degree are included in the certificate about detailed results of the examination and are taken into consideration in the admission procedure to secondary schools. 

On the basis of a favourable opinion of the Board of Teachers, students or graduates who are not Polish nationals and have difficulties with understanding the read texts due to their limited command of Polish may take:

1) the examination for pupils of the 8th degree, excluding the examination in a modern foreign language - under the conditions and in the form adjusted to their educational needs and physical and mental capacities which result from the limitation;

2) the matriculation examination, excluding the examination in a modern foreign language, language of a national minority, language of an ethnic minority or regional language - under the conditions and in the form adjusted to their educational needs and physical and mental capacities which result from the limitation. 

The matriculation examination is conducted under the system of extramural examinations for graduates of secondary schools and of secondary branch schools and they allow them to gain the matriculation certificate. Apart from graduates of Polish school, the matriculation examination may also be taken by persons holding a certificate or any other document issued in a different country, confirming the secondary education. The matriculation examination is conducted once a year, from May until September, at the main, additional and correction term, as announced on the Internet website of the Central Examination Committee for the respective year.

Graduates take the examination in obligatory subjects:

  • Polish (oral and written part of the examination);
  • a modern foreign language (oral and written part of the examination);
  • mathematics (written part of the examination);
  • a language of the national minority - for graduates of schools or of units teaching the language of the specific national minority.

The matriculation examination in obligatory subjects is conducted in writing, at the basic level, whereby no level is specified for the oral part of the examination. The written part of the matriculation examination in supplementary subjects (biology, chemistry, philosophy, physics, geography, history, history of music, history of art, information technology, Latin and classical culture, languages of the ethnic minorities, languages of the national minorities, modern foreign languages, Polish, regional languages, mathematics, social studies) is conducted at the extent level and covers the requirements specified in the basic programming for general education at the basic and extended level. The level of the examination is not specified for the oral part of the matriculation examination in supplementary subjects (languages of the ethnic minorities, languages of the national minorities, modern foreign languages, regional languages). However, the written part of the matriculation examination in modern foreign languages as a supplementary subject is conducted at the extent level and covers the requirements specified in the basic programming for general education at the basic and extended level or at the bilingual level and covers the requirements specific in the basic programming for general education for bilingual units.

The matriculation certificate is handed out to graduates who have taken the matriculation examination in obligatory subjects and in one of the aforementioned supplementary subjects and have received not less than 30% of the maximum number of scores in each of the examinations, with both the oral and written part. Results of the matriculation examinations, both in obligatory and supplementary subjects, are the basic admission criterion for individual fields of studies.

Upon the introduction of the new school system, the matriculation examination will be conducted under new conditions:

  1. graduates of the 4-year general secondary school - starting from the school year 2022/2023;
  2. graduates of the 5-year secondary technical school - starting from the school year 2023/2024;
  3. graduates of the branch school of the 2nd degree, who have completed their education at the branch school of the 1st degree as graduates of the 8-year primary school - starting from the school year 2023/2014.

However, the matriculation examination will be conducted under the prior conditions:

  1. up to the school year 2026/2027 inclusive - for graduates of the 3-year general secondary school;
  2. up to the school year 2027/2028 inclusive - for graduates of the 4-year secondary technical school;
  3. up to the school year 2028/2029 inclusive - for graduates of the branch school of the 2nd degree, who have completed their education at the branch school of the 1st degree as graduates of the current lower secondary school. Graduates of general secondary schools may continue education in post-secondary schools with the education programme not exceeding 2.5 years. The completion of secondary education or branch secondary education is a pre-condition for being admitted to post-secondary schools. It is acknowledged by law (i.e. without the necessity to submit opinions of Polish bodies or institutions) that secondary education is confirmed by certificates and other documents which are issued by the educational system of the EU or EFTA Member States which give the right to undertake university studies in the particular state. Other certificates or documents on the education obtained in the EU or EFTA Member States may be recognised exclusively by the Education Officer in the course of an administrative proceeding. 

Students and graduates of branch schools of the 1st and 2nd degree, technical secondary schools and post-secondary schools, persons who have completed a vocational qualification course, adult persons who have completed practical vocational education for adults or adaptation course for adults, if the vocational adaptation programming covered the requirements specified in the basic programming for education in the professions, persons who fulfil the requirements to be allowed to take an extramural examination to confirm the qualifications in the respective profession and who pass the examination confirming the professional qualifications in the respective profession will obtain a certificate confirming the professional qualifications and a diploma confirming the professional qualifications upon passing examinations in all qualifications in the respective profession and graduating from the technical secondary school, branch school, branch secondary school or any secondary school. The diploma will allow them to undertake employment in the particular profession.

Graduates of the branch school of the 1st degree may continue education:

  1. at the branch school of the 2nd degree which educates in professions for which a common qualification has been separated for the profession taught at the branch school of the 1st and 2nd degree, to obtain a diploma which confirms the professional qualifications in the profession which is taught on the level of a technician after passing the examination to confirm the qualifications in the respective profession, and to obtain secondary branch education. After passing the matriculation examinations, graduates of the branch school of the 2nd degree will be able to undertake university studies (education in the branch school of the 2nd degree will start in September 2020);
  2. at general secondary schools for adults, starting from the second degree, to obtain secondary education and take the matriculation examination in order to continue education at a university;
  3. in vocational qualification courses which are organised by public and non-public schools which offer vocational education, centres of practical education and centres of lifelong learning, as well as by institutions of the labour market.

Higher education 

The higher education system comprises of:

  1. first-cycle studies - which are a form of education for candidates who have obtained the matriculation certificate, and end by acquiring the degrees: bachelor, engineer, or any equivalent);
  2. second-cycle studies - which are a form of education for candidates who have obtained the university diploma, and end by acquiring the degrees: master, master engineer, or any equivalent;
  3. uniform master studies - which are a form of education for candidates who have obtained the matriculation certificate, and end by acquiring the degrees: master, master engineer, or any equivalent;
  4. PhD studies - carried out by a university, a scientific institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a research institute or an international scientific institute which operates in the territory of Poland and has been founded under separate provisions, which are devised for candidates who have obtained the master’s degree, master engineer’s degree or equivalent, and those who have proved scientific achievements of the highest quality, and by acquiring the qualifications of the academic degree: doctor or doctor of arts;
  5. post-graduate studies - which are a form of education for candidates who have obtained at least the qualifications at level 6 of the Polish Framework of Qualifications in the system of higher education and science, carried out by a university, a scientific institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a research institute or the Medical Centre for Post-Graduate Education, and end by acquiring the partial qualifications at levels 6, 7 or 8 of the Polish Framework of Qualifications;
  6. specialist education - a form of education which allows to acquire complete qualification at level 5 of the Polish Framework of Qualifications, confirmed by the certificate of a qualified specialist or by the certificate of a quality technology specialist.

Only those persons who have obtained the matriculation certificate or the matriculation certificate and a certificate confirming results of the matriculation examination by relevant subjects can apply for admission to a university. The admission rules and mode are determined independently by universities. Universities determine which results of the matriculation examination are a basis for being admitted to the undergraduate or uniform master studies. Universities may organise additional entrance examinations only if they are necessary to verify artistic skills, physical fitness or special predispositions to undertake studies in a particular field, which are not verifiable under the matriculation examination.

It is acknowledged by law (i.e. without the necessity to submit opinions of Polish bodies or institutions to the university) that secondary education along with the rights to apply for university studies at Polish universities are confirmed by the certificates or other documents which are issued by the educational system of the EU or EFTA Member States to give the right to undertake university studies in the particular state. There is a principle for recognising foreign rights to undertake university studies to an analogous extent. Therefore, foreign certificates which give the right to apply for studies in certain fields and types of higher education in the particular EU or EFTA Member States give the right to apply for university studies with the same or similar curricula in Poland. The rights for university studies which have been obtained in a foreign country and their scope should be documented before going to Poland. Higher studies may take the form of full-time and part-time studies. 

The academic year begins as of 1 October and is divided into two semesters. There are currently 368 universities in Poland, with 132 public universities and 245 non-public universities among them. 

Graduates of first-cycle studies can obtain the professional degrees of bachelor or engineer or the following professional degrees equivalent to the degrees of bachelor and engineer:

1) architect engineer – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the studies in the field of architecture;

2) fire safety engineer – for fire fighters of the State Fire Service after achieving the learning results which are specified for the qualifications in the field of safety engineering, specialty of fire safety engineering at the Main School of Fire Service at the courses organised for the fire fighters of the State Fire Service;

3) bachelor of nursing – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the qualifications in the field of nursing;

4) bachelor of obstetrics – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the qualifications in the field of obstetrics;

Graduates of second-cycle studies can obtain the professional degrees of master or master engineer or the following professional degrees equivalent to the degrees of master and master engineer:

1) master architect engineer – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the studies in the field of architecture;

2) master fire safety engineer – for fire safety engineers after achieving the learning results which are specified for the qualifications in the field of fire safety engineering of the Main School of Fire Service;

3) master of nursing – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the qualifications in the field of nursing;

4) master of obstetrics – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the qualifications in the field of obstetrics;

Graduates of uniform master studies can obtain the professional degrees of master or master engineer or the following professional degrees equivalent to the degrees of master and master engineer:

1) doctor of medicine – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the uniform master studies in the field of medicine;

2) dentist – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the uniform master studies in the field of medicine and dentistry;

3) veterinarian – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the uniform master studies in the field of veterinary medicine;

4) master of pharmacy – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the uniform master studies in the field of pharmacy;

5) master architect engineer – after achieving the learning results which are specified for the studies in the field of architecture.

Undertaking studies in Poland by citizens of the EU or EFTA Member States

Public universities do not charge citizens of the EU or EFTA Member States and their family members residing in the territory of Poland with fees for education within the framework of full-time studies in Polish.

The above mentioned persons my start higher studies upon the completion of the recruitment procedure which is valid for Polish citizens who apply for full-time studies. Should they be admitted to the studies, they have - as all foreign students taking up and continuing their studies in Poland - the right to apply for selected financial support benefits (excluding the social scholarship and the student loan), i.e. the rector’s scholarship, the scholarship for persons with disabilities, aid payments, the scholarship financed by a unit of the territorial self-government, the scholarship for the best student or for sport achievements financed by a natural person or a legal person, excluding the state or self-government legal person, and the minister’s scholarship). The aforementioned citizens who take up PhD studies at universities and scientific institutes receive scholarships for PhD students.

Fees charged by public universities in Poland

Public universities may charge fees only for educational services which are related to:

  • teaching part-time students and part-time PhD students; 
  • repeating specific classes of full-time studies and full-time PhD studies due to unsatisfactory learning results; 
  • carrying out studies in a foreign language; 
  • organising extra-curricular classes; 
  • teaching full-time foreign students in Polish.

Lifelong learning and vocational education

Adult persons may enrol in primary school for adults, lower-secondary schools for adults and general secondary schools for adults, as well as take general competence courses, and in case of vocational education – in the out-of-school forms as part of lifelong learning (in vocational qualification courses, vocational skills courses and other courses which enable to acquire and supplement knowledge, vocational skills and qualifications) and in selected post-secondary schools. 

Vocational qualification courses are those courses which are carried out in accordance with the basic programming for education in one professional qualification. Institutions which carry out vocational qualification courses are obliged to include in the curriculum of the organised course any and all components for the respective qualification which are specified in the basic curriculum. Upon the completion of the course, it is possible to take an examination to confirm the qualifications in a particular profession with regard to the respective qualification. The examinations are organised by district examination committees. Those who complete the vocational qualification course and pass the examination to confirm the qualifications in a particular profession obtain a certificate which confirms the qualifications in the respective profession.

Diplomas which confirm the vocational qualifications in the respective profession may be granted to those persons who possess the required level of education for the respective profession (branch or secondary basic education respectively) and passes examinations in all qualifications in the respective profession, i.e. possess certificates that confirm that they have obtained the qualifications specified for the respective profession.

Professional qualifications which may be taught in professional courses are included in the classification of professions of vocational education, as specified by Regulation of the Minister of National Education. 

Qualification vocational courses may be organised by:

  • public schools which carry out vocational education with regard to the professions they educate for;
  • non-public schools which possess the authorisations of public schools and carry out vocational education with regard to the professions they educate for;
  • units of lifelong learning, units of practical education, training centres and vocational education centres;
  • institutions of the labour market which carry out an educational and training activity;
  • units which carry out educational activity under the provisions on the freedom of economic activity.

System of qualifications in Poland

Poland uses an Integrated System of Qualifications. Its objective is to support lifelong learning, confirm competences and facilitate employment by increasing the transparency of qualifications and the possibilities to compare them in Poland and in foreign countries. 

The Integrated System of Qualifications contains such tools as:

  • the Polish Framework of Qualifications - a description of eight levels of qualifications in Poland which correspond to the relevant levels of the European Framework of Qualifications;
  • the Integrated Register of Qualifications - a public register kept in the telecommunication and information system to register qualifications under the Integrated System of Qualifications;
  • uniform standards for describing qualifications and ensuring the quality of qualifications under the informal education. 

The Integrated System of Qualifications refers to the qualifications which are interpreted as a specific set of learning results (consistent with the established standards) the achievement of which has formally been confirmed by a competent institution. In Poland, the Integrated System of Qualifications comprises three types of qualifications:

  • qualifications in the education system and higher education;
  • “regulated” qualifications which are awarded under other legal provisions (outside of the formal education system);
  • “market” qualifications which are awarded without any legal basis embedded in the universally binding law. 

Since 2017, the documents (certificates, diplomas) which confirm the possessed level of qualifications are marked by a graphic sign of the Polish Framework of Qualifications (for complete or partial qualifications).

Learning Polish

Courses in Polish are organised by universities and private language schools. These include summer courses, semester courses, year-round courses, workshops in Polish or post-graduate studies in teaching Polish culture and Polish as a foreign language. The courses have to be paid for. Some of them are financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and are free.

Text last edited on: 04/2019

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.

USEFUL LINKS

www.psz.praca.gov.pl - Public Employment Service

www.eures.praca.gov.pl - National EURES Website

www.poland.gov.pl - Information about Poland

www.mpips.gov.pl - Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

www.ms.gov.pl - Ministry of Justice

www.msz.gov.pl - Minsitry of Foreign Affairs

www.mz.gov.pl - Ministry of Helathcare

http://www.panoramafirm.pl - Employers in Poland

http://www.buwiwm.edu.pl - Bureau of Academic Recognition and International Exchange

http://www.men.gov.pl - Ministry of Education

http://www.mf.gov.pl - Ministry of Finance

www.kraz.praca.gov.pl - Legitimate Private Intermediary Agencies

Анкети

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