Located in the southeast part of the Balkans, Bulgaria has a diverse topography. The north of the country is dominated by the vast lowlands of the Danube Plain with the river Danube defining the border with neighboring Romania. The south of the country, by contrast, is dominated by highlands and elevated plains while, in the east, the Black Sea coast attracts tourists all year round. The most important sectors of Bulgaria’s economy in 2014 were industry (23.5 %), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (21.3 %) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (13.2 %).

Bulgaria’s main export partners are Germany, Turkey and Italy while its main import partners are Russia, Germany and Italy.

Capital: Sofia

Geographical size: 111 002 km²

Population: 7 245 677 (2014)

Population as % of total EU population: 1.4 % (2014)

GDP: € 42.011 billion (2014)

Official EU language(s): Bulgaria

Currency: Bulgarian lev BGN

Foreigners residing in Bulgaria on legal grounds have all rights and obligations under the Bulgarian Constitution, except those for which Bulgarian citizenship is required.

Why Bulgaria?

Political and business stability

  • Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO and WTO
  • The stability of the currency is supported by the currency board, pegging the Bulgarian lev to the euro at the level of 1.96
  • Bulgaria has one of the lowest government debts in the European Union (18.9 % of GDP) and one of the lowest budget deficits (-1.5%) as of 2013

Low cost of doing business

  • Bulgaria has the most favorable tax regime in Europe. Corporate income tax rate is 10%, the lowest in the EU. Personal income tax is 10 %, flat rate. Industries in high-unemployment areas are granted 0% tax rate
  • There is a 2-year VAT exemption for imports of equipment for investment projects over €5 million, creating at least 50 jobs
  • Depreciation time for computers and new manufacturing equipment is 2 years
  • 5% withholding tax on dividends and liquidation quotas (0% for EU tax residents)
  • Bulgaria has one of the most competitive costs of labor in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Favorable office rents and low cost of utilities. Bulgarian cost of electricity for industrial users is 70% of the European average.

Strategic location

Located at the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria is a strategic logistics hub. Ease of transportation of cargo is provided by

  • Five Pan-European corridors ( IV, VII, VII, XI, X), which pass through the country
  • Transport program TRACECA, which connects Europe with Caucasian and Central Asian region
  • Four major airports: Sofia, Plovdiv, Bourgas and Varna
  • Two main seaports: Varna and Bourgas
  • Numerous ports at the Danube River

Access to markets

Due to its location Bulgaria provides direct access to the following key markets:

  • European Union – zero tariff market with population of 500 million
  • CIS – still not well penetrated market with a high potential
  • Turkey – zero tariff market of near 80 million population
  • Middle East – a market with high purchasing power
  • North African market

Third-country nationals

Third-country nationals have the right to a transit through the territory of Bulgaria without a visa under the terms and conditions set by EU legislation. When an agreement between the EU and a third country is in force on the conditions for issuance of a visa, entry and residence of nationals of that country, the procedures under the respective agreement apply.

Foreigners may reside in Bulgaria for short-term periods (90 days from the date of entry), continuous stay (1 year), long-term (with an initial authorized period of 5 years and renewable) and permanently – for an indefinite period.

Among the foreigners who can obtain continuous residence permit are:

  • Persons who engage in commercial activity in the country, by means of which at least 10 jobs for Bulgarian citizens have been opened;
  • Foreign specialists staying in the country under international treaties;
  • Representatives of foreign companies.

Among the foreigners who can obtain a permanent resident status are:

  • Persons who have invested or increased their investment over BGN 1 million through acquisition of:
    • shares in Bulgarian companies traded on the Bulgarian regulated market;
    • bonds and treasury bills as well as derivative instruments issued by the state or municipalities, with a residual maturity of not less than 6 months;
    • ownership of assets of a Bulgarian company with more than 50% state or municipal participation in the capital in accordance with the Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act;
    • state or municipal shares owned of a Bulgarian company in accordance with the Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act;
    • Bulgarian intellectual property;
    • rights under concession contracts operating in the Republic of Bulgaria;
  • Persons who have invested over BGN 1 million over 1 million in Bulgarian licensed credit institution for a period of not less than 5 years;
  • Persons who have invested at least BGN 6 million in the capital of a Bulgarian company whose shares are not traded on a regulated market;
  • Persons who have received a certificate for class investment / priority investment project.

Among the foreigners who do not require work permits are:

  • Foreigners with long-term or permanent residence in Bulgaria;
  • Managers of companies or branches of foreign entities;
  • Members of boards of directors of companies who do not work under an employment relationship;
  • Commercial representatives of foreign companies.