Engage In Bulgaria

Table of Contents

About Bulgaria

Capital City

Sofia

Population

As of March 2024, the estimated population of Bulgaria is 6.6 million.

Currency

The currency in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). The currency symbol is Лв.

Exchange Rate Calculator

USD

Overview

Bulgaria, officially known as the Republic of Bulgaria, is a captivating country nestled in Southeast Europe. Situated on the eastern flank of the Balkans, Bulgaria shares borders with Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and is blessed with the scenic coastline of the Black Sea to the east. With its rich history dating back to ancient civilizations and its stunning natural landscapes, Bulgaria offers a fascinating blend of cultural heritage, picturesque mountains, enchanting beaches, and vibrant cities. The country boasts a population of around 6.4 million people, with the majority being ethnic Bulgarians. The official language is Bulgarian, written in Cyrillic script. Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic, with Sofia serving as both the capital and the largest city. Throughout its history, Bulgaria has experienced various empires, kingdoms, and political changes, which have shaped its identity, traditions, and architecture. Today, Bulgaria embraces its past while embracing modern developments, offering visitors a remarkable journey through time and a plethora of unique experiences.

Employment Relationship

Permanent Employment

Employment contracts concluded for an indefinite period are considered permanent employment. Such agreements cannot be transformed into a contract for a definite period, except at the employee's explicit wish, as expressed in writing. All contracts are considered contracts of indefinite duration unless expressly agreed otherwise.  Either party can terminate an indefinite-term contract by providing a notice period or compensation in lieu of notice. 

Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts

The Labour Code limits the duration of fixed-term contracts to 3 years. Fixed-term contracts can also be concluded for a specific duration, to complete specified work, replace an employee who is absent from work, or fill a vacancy until the competition to fill it is complete. Fixed-term contracts can be concluded to complete temporary, seasonal, or short-term work and activities. Fixed-term contracts can also be concluded for permanent tasks with a duration of 1 year and can be renewed only once for at least 1 year. Employees hired under a fixed-term contract may request conversion to an indefinite contract at any time after the expiration of the probationary period. The employer must respond to the request in writing within 1 month of receiving the request with the reasons for the acceptance or refusal. If an employee continues to work after the expiration of the agreed term for 5 or more working days without a written objection from the employer, the fixed-term contract is converted to an indefinite term contract.

Temporary Employment Contratcs

Temporary employment contracts can be concluded for the performance of temporary or seasonal work. Employers can also hire temporary employees through temporary hiring agencies to complete a particular task or replace absent employees. The total number of employees hired through temporary agencies cannot exceed 30% of the entire workforce. Employers must conclude a written agreement with the temporary employment agency to engage its services. The temporary employment agency is responsible for paying salaries. The user employer is responsible for providing a safe work environment and determining additional overtime or night work payments.

Probationary Period

According to the Labour Code of Bulgaria, employment contracts can include a probationary period of up to 6 months. If the duration of the employment contract is less than 1 year, the probationary period cannot exceed 1 month. An employee can undergo probation only once with the same employer. During the trial period, the parties shall have all rights and duties they would have had under a final employment contract.

Working Hours

The standard workweek is 40 hours or 8 hours per day. For employees working in risky work environments or employees under 18 years of age, the daily working hours are reduced by 1 hour. An employer can extend working hours on some working days for business reasons by giving a written order. Employees can then be compensated through a respective reduction of the workday duration on other days. The duration of extended working hours cannot exceed 10 hours a day. 

Holidays / PTO

Statutory Holidays

  • New Year's Day - January 1 
  • Day of Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Yoke - March 3 
  • Labor Day - May 1 
  • St. George's Day - May 6
  • Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavonic Literature - May 24
  • Unification Day - September 6
  • Independence Day of Bulgaria - September 22
  • National Awakening Day - November 1 
  • Christmas Eve - December 24
  • Christmas - December 25
  • Nativity of Christ - December 26
  • Good Friday - Date subject to change 
  • Great Saturday - Date subject to change 
  • Easter Sunday and Monday - Date subject to change

Paid Annual Leave

Employees become entitled to a paid annual leave of at least 20 days once they complete 8 months of service. Annual leave is extended by at least 5 days for employees working in harmful or hazardous conditions and for those who work an unstructured workday. Employees under 18 years of age are entitled to 26 days of paid annual leave. Employees must pay employees a remuneration equal to the average daily gross remuneration during annual leave. It is prohibited to pay cash in lieu of annual leave, except in cases of termination. The paid annual leave can be used in parts or at once. Employees must obtain written permission from their employers. Annual leave must be used until the end of the relevant calendar year, but it can be postponed by a year if work circumstances require it.

Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to sick leave authorized by health authorities in case of temporary disability resulting from a general disease, an occupational disease, occupational injury, etc. Employers must pay 70% of the daily remuneration for the first 2 days. After that, employees who have worked for at least 6 months are eligible to cash benefits equal to 80% of their remuneration paid by the National Social Insurance Institute. The benefit for temporary disability due to an occupational accident or disease is 90% of the daily remuneration. This benefit is paid for a maximum of 18 months.

Maternity Leave

The Labour Code of Bulgaria provides a maternity leave of 410 days for each child, 45 days of which are to be taken before delivery. The employee can use the remaining 410 days based on a written request submitted to the employer. If a child is stillborn or dies while in full-time infant state support or adoption, the mother has the right to leave for 42 days from birth. With the mother's consent, after the child has reached the age of six months, the father may use the remaining leave until 410 days instead of her. 

Paternity Leave

When they are married to the mother or living in the same household, fathers are entitled to a 15-day childbirth leave starting from the child's delivery date. Employees must inform their employers in writing when availing themselves of this leave. With the mother's consent, after the child attains 6 months of age, the father may use the remaining days of the 410-day maternity leave instead of the mother. When the father is unknown, the leave can be used by one of the mother's parents.  From March 2023, fathers can also avail a 2 month paid leave until the child turns 8, if they have not utilized the paternity leave of 15 days. This leave can be used all at once or in parts. This leave is paid at the rate of minimum wage by the National Social Security Institute. They must inform their employers at least 10 days in advance. 

Termination of Employment

Notice Period

The minimum notice period for dismissal is 30 days in the case of indefinite term employment contracts (the notice period cannot exceed three months). For fixed-term contracts, the notice period is 3 months but not more than the remainder of the contract term. The notice period must be confirmed in writing. Employment contracts can be terminated without notice in case of misconduct, falsification of identity/qualification, medical reasons, etc. If a contract is terminated before the expiry of the notice period or without a notice period, the initiating party will be responsible for paying the other party for the remaining notice period.

Severance Benefits

Severance benefits are paid according to the reason for termination: Dismissal due to the company's closure, redundancy, reduced workload, or work stoppage for more than 15 days – compensation for the period the employee was out of work, but not more than 1 month Dismissal due to illness – compensation for 2 months, provided the employee has worked for at least 5 years Termination due to retirement – 2 months' compensation, or 6 months' compensation if the employee has worked for 10 years with the same employer Employees dismissed due to disciplinary issues are not entitled to severance pay.

Social Security

Pension

The legal age of retirement is 62 years and 4 months for women (increasing by 2 months a year until 2029 and 3 months a year after that until it reaches 65 years in 2037) and 64 years and 8 months for men (increasing by 1 month each year till it reaches 65 years in 2037). To be eligible for a pension, employees must have made contributions for 15 years and worked 36 years and 6 months for women and 39 years and 6 months for men, increasing by 2 months each year till it reaches 37 years for women and 40 years for men in 2027. The old-age pension amount is calculated as the total of 1.2% of each service year's pensionable income (monthly average income of that year). Currently, the minimum pension is BGN 580.57 (Bulgarian levs) per month, and the maximum is BGN 3,400 per month.  Persons who have reached the age of 70 years and do not receive any other pension (including from any other country) are entitled to a social pension if their family's average income is less than the national minimum wage. The current social old-age pension is BGN 276.64 per month.

Dependents/Survivors Benefit

Eligible survivors include a widow, widower, children under the age of 18 years or 26 years if they are studying, and parents over the typical retirement age who do not receive a pension. The surviving spouse is entitled to pension 5 years before retirement age or earlier if they are disabled. The pension to survivors is calculated as a percentage of the pension due to the deceased insured person depending on the number of survivors, ranging from 50% for one survivor to 100% for 3 and more. In case of death due to an occupational accident or disease, survivors receive 90% of the permanent disability pension (more than 90% disability) that the deceased would have been entitled to receive. The minimum pension for survivors is BGN 435.53 (Bulgarian levs) per month, and the maximum is BGN 3,400.

Invalidity Benefit

Those who have lost 50% or more of their ability to work permanently or for an extended period can receive benefits. They must fulfill certain conditions to be eligible. The amount of disability pension is equal to 1.2% of the average monthly income for each year of service, multiplied by coefficients depending on the degree of disability ranging from 0.5 to 0.9. There are minimum levels of pension determined by the government each year. People with disability due to work-related accidents or diseases are entitled to monthly pensions if the disability is more than 50% and is permanent. The amount of disability pension is equal to the country's average monthly insurance income for 12 calendar months before the month during which pension is granted, multiplied by a coefficient depending on the level of disability. Persons over the age of 16 years and under 70 years with a permanent disability of more than 71% are eligible for social disability pension.

Taxation of Compensation and Benefits

Personal Income Tax

The Income Tax Code of Bulgaria imposes tax on the income of resident and foreign natural persons. Residents must pay taxes on their income from sources in Bulgaria as well as foreign countries. Foreign nationals are required to pay taxes only on their income from sources in Bulgaria. The tax year is the same as the calendar year, running from January to December. Bulgaria has a flat rate taxation system based on the income category ranging from 5% to 15%.

Immigration

Types of Visas

The following visa categories are issued in Bulgaria: Airport transit visa (Category A) – This visa is issued to foreign nationals who arrive by aircraft and stay in the international transit zone at an airport in Bulgaria. Short-stay visa (Category C) – This visa is issued for transit or planned short-term stay in Bulgaria. The transit visa allows foreign nationals 1, 2, or 3 transit passages through Bulgaria, each for two days. It has a validity of up to 12 months. A planned short-stay visa is issued to foreign nationals who enter Bulgaria once or multiple times within 12 months from the issue date. It allows a stay of up to 90 days. The multiple-entry short-stay visa can be valid for up to 1 year and, in extraordinary circumstances, for up to 5 years. Long-stay visa (Category D) – This visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to settle for a continuous period or permanently. It is valid for up to 6 months and allows a stay of up to 180 days. Also, it can be issued with a validity of 12 months and allow a stay of up to 360 days in cases where persons come to carry out scientific research, study in 1-year educational programs, or complete business trips.

Work Permit

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Bulgaria are required to obtain a work permit from the Employment Agency in Bulgaria. A work permit is issued for a maximum of 1 year. It can be renewed for further terms of 1 year, provided the conditions for initial issuance are still valid. The maximum term is 3 years. Employees must submit documents for identification, an employment contract, their educational qualifications, etc.  Managers, members of a Board of Directors, and employees on short-term projects for 3 months do not require a work permit. 

I'm ready to hire in Bulgaria

Get in touch!

Contact us for a free consultation

By submitting this form, you acknowledge that you have read our Privacy policy