As the capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia has the strongest local economy in the country. It has a far lower unemployment rate than all other Bulgarian cities and compares well with other cities across the European Union; in 2015 it was ranked 30th out of 300 cities across Europe and 1st amongst those in Southeastern Europe for combined growth employment and GDP per capita.
Its main economic output comes from manufacturing, metallurgy, electricity, gas and water supply and food and beverages. Sofia is also an increasingly popular destination for multinationals, and now Siemens, IBM, and Software AG have offices in the city.
Expatriates working in Sofia usually do so for one of these multinational corporations, as English teachers (which are in increasingly high demand), or in the technical industry.
EU citizens working in Sofia for a period of less than three months will not need to apply for a work permit. They will, however, need to register with the Bulgarian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
Non-EU nationals, however, will need to apply for a permit to work in Sofia. In order to be able to apply for a work permit, you must already have a long-term residence permit in place. If you already have employment in place, then your prospective employer can sponsor your application for a permit to work in Sofia.
However, if you do not, then you must submit application forms to both the Bulgarian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and an accredited employment agency.
Unlike many European countries, Bulgaria employs a flat rate for income tax. This means that whatever you earn while working in Sofia, you will only pay 10% of your income as tax. This low income tax rate draws many expats to the country. However, social security contributions (approx. 12–13%) are added on top of this 10% rate.
As a qualified Bulgarian resident, which means that you live in Bulgaria for more than 183 days in a year, you will pay 10% tax on your worldwide income. As an expatriate residing and working in Sofia for less than that, you will pay 10% on your Bulgarian income only.
Your taxes will be deducted at source by your employer, so you won't need to worry about completing and filing a tax return for your earnings.