Bulgaria at a Glance
Working in Bulgaria
Traditionally, the main industries for work in Bulgaria were metallurgy engineering, machine manufacturing, chemicals, and land and agriculture. However, in recent years this has shifted towards energy, tourism, transportation, IT, food, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. These sectors are where most jobs can be found.
Bulgaria is also becoming a popular country to place outsourcing business with. Due to its political stability, robust banking system, cheap yet qualified workforce and low taxes, multinationals such as Boeing, BMW, Siemens, and Nortel are outsourcing to small programming firms in Bulgaria.
The Gross Domestic Product per capita in Bulgaria was last recorded at 4692.43 USD in 2013. The GDP per Capita in Bulgaria is equivalent to about 37 percent of the worldwide average.
Work Permits for Bulgaria
Expats are only allowed to begin working in Bulgaria after they have obtained a work permit. The bases for obtaining a work permit are an employment contract, or a business trip to undertake certain activities. EU citizens who are employed, self-employed, or on a business trip are permitted to work in Bulgaria without restrictions and without the need of a work permit.
Where work permits are required by expatriates, they should be requested by the local employer. They will then be issued by the Bulgarian Employment Agency. Work permits are typically issued for a maximum duration of one year. If the terms and conditions for its issuance are still valid, the work permit may be renewed for an additional one-year term.
A compulsory requirement for obtaining a work permit is that the expat is granted a long-stay visa. Visitors on short-stay visas may not seek employment or apply for work permits in Bulgaria.
Expats who generally do not require a work permit in Bulgaria include:
- Managers of companies or branches of foreign legal entities
- Members of the Managing Board or Board of Directors of local companies, who are not employed on a labor contract
- Trade representatives of foreign companies registered at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and
- Expats with permanent residence in Bulgaria
Social Security in Bulgaria
The National Social Security Institute (NSSI) manages the state social security in Bulgaria. It administrates the social security for all compulsory sickness, maternity, unemployment, accidents at work, disability, old age, survivors and death.
The National Social Security Institute is a legal entity composed of a Head Office in Sofia city and local offices in each of the 28 district centers of the country. Contributions to the social security schemes are made by employers, employees, self-employed people and the state.
As Bulgaria is a member state of the European Union, social security schemes are generally transferable between countries and benefits can be received on the basis of foreign insurance. Foreign social insurance is proven by the relevant E-forms taken from the social security institutions of the applicant's home country.
For expatriates hailing from out of the EU, some foreign social insurance will be accepted by Bulgarian institutions if an expat’s country of origin has signed international treaties in the field of social security with the Republic of Bulgaria.