Table of Contents
Key Country Facts
Bulgaria is a country located in southeastern Europe, bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. Its capital and largest city is Sofia, and the country has a population of around 7 million people. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the United Nations.
The total area of Bulgaria is 110,994 square kilometers (42,855 square miles), making it the 16th largest country in Europe.
Bulgaria has a predominantly continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The climate is milder along the Black Sea coast, where temperatures are moderated by the sea. The average temperature in the summer is around 27°C (81°F), while in winter it can drop to around 0°C (32°F) or lower, especially in the mountains.
Bulgarian culture is a blend of Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions and Slavic cultural influences. The country has a rich cultural heritage, with ancient Thracian and Roman ruins, traditional folk music and dance, and distinctive local cuisine. Bulgarian folk costumes are also notable, featuring intricate embroidery and designs. Popular traditional festivals include Kukeri, Surva, and Martenitsa.
The majority of Bulgarians are Eastern Orthodox Christians, with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church being the main religious institution in the country. Other religious groups in Bulgaria include Muslims, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and others.
The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet. English, German, and French are also commonly spoken as foreign languages, particularly in urban areas and among younger generations.
The payroll cycle in Bulgaria is typically monthly, with salaries paid out at the end of each month. Employers are required to provide their employees with a pay slip detailing their gross salary, deductions, and net pay.
Employment in Bulgaria is regulated by the Labour Code, which outlines the rights and obligations of both employers and employees. Some key provisions of the Labour Code include:
- Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Bulgaria as of 2023 is BGN 690 per month (approximately USD 415).
- Working Hours: The standard work week in Bulgaria is 40 hours, with a maximum of 8 hours per day. Overtime is permitted up to a maximum of 60 hours per month.
- Annual Leave: Employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid annual leave per year.
- Sick Leave: Employees are entitled to sick leave with full pay for up to 10 days per year, and up to 30 days with reduced pay.
- Maternity Leave: Female employees are entitled to 410 days of maternity leave, with 45 days before the birth and 365 days after. During this time, they receive maternity pay equal to their average daily wage.
Employment contracts in Bulgaria are required to be in writing and must include certain information, such as the job title, duties, salary, working hours, and duration of the contract. Contracts can be either fixed-term or indefinite, and employers are required to provide employees with a copy of their contract within three days of the start of employment.
Employment contracts can be terminated by either the employer or employee, subject to certain conditions and notice periods. Employers must provide written notice of termination and may be required to pay severance pay to the employee, depending on the length of service and reason for termination.
Probation Period / Trial Period
Employers in Bulgaria are allowed to establish a probation period for new employees, during which the employer can assess the employee's suitability for the job. The maximum probation period is 6 months, and during this time, either the employer or employee can terminate the contract without notice.
The standard work week in Bulgaria is 40 hours, with a maximum of 8 hours per day. Employees are entitled to at least 1 day off per week. Employers are required to provide their employees with a break of at least 30 minutes for every 6 hours worked.
Overtime work is permitted in Bulgaria, subject to certain limitations. The maximum overtime that an employee can work is 60 hours per month, and the rate of pay for overtime work must be at least 150% of the regular hourly rate.
Employers in Bulgaria may provide bonuses to their employees as a form of incentive or reward. Bonuses can be paid at the employer's discretion, and there is no legal requirement to provide bonuses. However, if an employer does provide a bonus, it must be included in the employee's taxable income.
Employers and employees in Bulgaria have the right to terminate an employment contract at any time, subject to certain conditions and notice periods. An employer may terminate a contract for reasons such as redundancy, misconduct, or poor performance, while an employee may terminate a contract for reasons such as breach of contract, illness, or personal reasons.
Employers and employees in Bulgaria are required to provide notice of termination, with the length of the notice period depending on the length of service and reason for termination. The notice period for employees ranges from 1 to 3 months, while the notice period for employers ranges from 1 to 6 months.
Redundancy / Severance Pay
Employers in Bulgaria may need to make employees redundant due to a range of factors, such as economic downturns, restructuring, or changes in the business. Redundancy must be carried out in accordance with Bulgarian employment law and regulations, including providing notice and severance pay to affected employees.
Female employees in Bulgaria are entitled to 410 days of maternity leave, with 45 days before the birth and 365 days after. During this time, they receive maternity pay equal to their average daily wage. Maternity leave can be extended in the case of multiple births or complications during childbirth.
Male employees in Bulgaria are entitled to 15 days of paternity leave, which can be taken within 2 months after the birth of the child. During this time, they receive paternity pay equal to their average daily wage.
Both male and female employees in Bulgaria are entitled to parental leave to care for their child. The total duration of parental leave is 2 years per child, with the first year paid at 90% of the employee's average daily wage and the second year unpaid.
Vacation and Annual Leave (paid time off)
Employees in Bulgaria are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid annual leave per year. The length of annual leave can increase with length of service and collective agreements.
Employees in Bulgaria are entitled to sick leave with full pay for up to 10 days per year and up to 30 days with reduced pay. The number of days may vary according to collective agreements, company policies or labor contract.
Employees in Bulgaria may be entitled to other types of leave such as marriage leave, compassionate leave, educational leave or special leave for military service, among others. The number of days for each type of leave may vary according to collective agreements, company policies or labor contract.
Employers in Bulgaria may offer other benefits to their employees such as health insurance, pension contributions, meal vouchers, and transport allowances. Some of these benefits may be required by law, such as social security contributions and health insurance.
There are 12 public holidays in Bulgaria, including New Year's Day, Liberation Day, International Women's Day, Orthodox Easter, Labor Day, Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, Bulgarian Independence Day, National Revival Day, Assumption of Mary Day, Unification Day, Christmas Day, and the Day of Goodwill.
Personal Income Tax
In Bulgaria, personal income tax is levied on an individual's taxable income. The personal income tax rate is 10%, which is the lowest rate in the European Union. Taxable income includes income from employment, self-employment, rent, and other sources.
There is also a tax-exempt threshold, which is currently set at 3,840 BGN per year (approximately 1,950 EUR). This means that individuals earning less than this amount are exempt from paying personal income tax.
In addition, Bulgaria has a flat tax rate of 10% on capital gains, inheritance, and gifts.
In Bulgaria, both employees and employers are required to make social security contributions. Social security contributions are calculated as a percentage of an employee's gross monthly salary.
The total social security contribution rate is 34.8%, which is split between the employer and employee. The employee pays 12.9% and the employer pays 21.9%.
The social security contributions fund various benefits, including healthcare, pension, disability, unemployment, and maternity benefits.
Visas and Foreign Workers
To be eligible for a work visa in Bulgaria, you must have a valid job offer from a Bulgarian employer and meet the requirements set forth by the Bulgarian government. You may also need to provide evidence of your qualifications and work experience.
Obtain a Work Permit
Before applying for a work visa, your Bulgarian employer must obtain a work permit for you from the Bulgarian Employment Agency. The work permit is valid for up to 1 year and can be renewed for up to 2 additional years.
Apply for a Visa
Once you have a work permit, you can apply for a Type D long-stay visa at the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your home country. You will need to provide a valid passport, work permit, proof of health insurance, and evidence of sufficient financial means to support yourself during your stay.
Attend a Visa Interview
As part of the visa application process, you may need to attend a visa interview at the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your home country. During the interview, you will be asked questions about your job offer, qualifications, and reason for coming to Bulgaria.
Wait for Processing
The processing time for a Bulgarian work visa can vary depending on the embassy or consulate where you apply. Typically, it can take up to 1-2 months to receive a decision on your application.
Arrive in Bulgaria
Once your visa is approved, you can travel to Bulgaria and start working for your employer. You will need to register with the Bulgarian authorities and obtain a residency permit within 3 months of arriving in Bulgaria.
It's important to note that the above information is a general overview of the work visa process in Bulgaria, and specific requirements may vary depending on your individual circumstances. It's recommended to consult with a professional immigration lawyer or visa service provider for guidance on the specific requirements and process for obtaining a work visa in Bulgaria.