Doing Business with Bulgaria
|Language||the official language is Bulgarian, Turkish is also used, English, Russian and German are widespread|
|Religion||Orthodox (75.9%), Islam (9.4%), Protestantism (1.1%), Catholic (0.8%)|
|State system||parliamentary republic|
|Head of State||Rumen Radev|
|Head of government||Kirill Petkov|
|Currency name||Bulgarian Lev (BGN)|
|Time shift||+1 hour|
|Nominal GDP (billion USD)||77.3|
|Economic growth (%)||3.4|
Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. The country is bordered to the north by Romania (the border is mainly the Danube), to the west by Serbia and North Macedonia, to the south by Greece and to the southeast by Turkey. The eastern border is the Black Sea.
The Republic of Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy with a clearly defined division of power into legislative, executive and judicial, the head of state is the directly elected president, and the executive power is represented by the government (Council of Ministers) assembled on the basis of the results of parliamentary elections by political parties that are represented in the unicameral National Assembly. Due to the distribution of voter preferences in recent years, it is usually a coalition government – four parties are currently represented in the government coalition.
The country has been a member state of the EU since January 1, 2007, therefore the legislation is harmonized with the EU legislation. However, the functioning of the legal system has long-term shown a number of shortcomings and is the subject of repeated criticism by the EC and international organizations. Bulgaria has not yet been excluded from the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) of the EU for this reason.
The Bulgarian economy is an industrial-agricultural, open and market economy with a moderately developed private sector and a certain share of strategic state-owned enterprises (mainly energy, key infrastructure). In recent years, it has shown a relatively high rate of GDP growth above the EU average, however, it remains the country with the lowest incomes and salaries, the lowest GDP per capita and the worst labor productivity in the EU.
For Czech companies, Bulgaria is a well-known and interesting market, where a number of companies have traditionally been active in the field of trade exchange as well as investment. Key sectors of interest include energy, transport industry and infrastructure, ICT, defense industry, healthcare, water management, environmental protection and others. Despite the economic difficulties and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic and foreign analysts expect a relatively quick recovery of the Bulgarian economy and a return to the growth trend. Thanks to the recent approval of the National Recovery and Sustainability Plan and the expected massive influx of funds from the EU, we can expect the appearance of a whole range of interesting opportunities for Czech companies to apply. Bulgaria could also benefit from a possible shift of production investments, for example, from Asia back to Europe.
Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)
- Emergency call: 112
- Police: 166
- Firefighters: 160
- Medical emergency: 150
- Traffic police: 165
- Roadside assistance: 146
Important web links and contacts
Office of the President
- Council of Ministers (Government)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ministry of Interior
- Ministry of Energy
- Ministry of Health
- Department of Agriculture
- Ministry of Economy and Industry
- Ministry of Innovation and Growth
- Ministry of Culture
- Ministry of Youth and Sports
- Ministry of Education and Science
- Ministry of the Environment and Water
- Ministry of Defense
- Department of Justice
- Ministry of Regional Development and Welfare
- Ministry of Transport and Communications
- Ministry of Labor and Social Policy
- Ministry of Tourism
- Ministry of Finance
Other key institutions
- Bulgarian National Bank
- National Revenue Agency
- National Health Insurance Company
- State agency for e-government
- InvestBulgaria foreign investment agency
- Integrated information system of the state administration
- National Statistical Institute
Chambers of Commerce and unions
- Bulgarian Industry Association
- Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- history, geography, local customs, tourist destinations
- information service for investors
- information portal Novinite.com
- Business.bg portal
- Bulgarian National Television
- Bulgarian National Radio
PaulSourcing: Ten Commandments for Doing Business with Bulgaria
The PaulSourcing agency has prepared ten recommendations for doing business with Bulgaria for Czech entrepreneurs interested in business relations with Bulgaria. In 2020, it was supplemented with 4 current tips.
4 recommendations for entering the Bulgarian market during the coronavirus pandemic situation:
- Market research As a first step, you need to find suitable contacts of potential business partners in the local market. Unfortunately, there is no free database of this type in Bulgaria. The best alternative in this case is the google.bg search engine combined with keyword search. If you are interested, PaulSourcing’s foreign office (ZK Sofia) can perform an initial general market screening to see if the offered product or service has potential on the Bulgarian market.
- Search for business partners The second step is to find contacts of potential business partners on the Bulgarian market. ZK Sofia can help you with this step, providing you with contacts from its databases and internal information sources. It will also check the contacts found on the Internet. Identifying the right target group is important. In order to identify the right partner, it is necessary that you inform ZK Sofia about your offer and describe the products you offer.
- Selection of suitable business partners ZK Sofia will individually prepare a so-called “long list” based on the information and send it to you. Once you have selected the companies you consider the most suitable, ZK Sofia will contact them and provide information about your company, including sending presentation materials to a potential Bulgarian partner. Prepare materials in English. If you don’t have them, ZK Sofia will help you translate them into Bulgarian.
- Feedback After that, ZK Sofia will contact the Bulgarian company again to make sure that the offered product is interesting for the Bulgarian market. Currently, many companies operate in a non-standard way and work in home office mode. Therefore, it is very likely that it will not be possible to connect with all the selected companies.ZK Sofia offers the opportunity to introduce yourself on your websitein Bulgarian, where Bulgarian companies will be able to learn more about the products you offer.
The Ten Commandments for Trading with Bulgaria
- Find a local representative Before entering the Bulgarian market, find a local representative with knowledge of your commodity.
- Deal in person Connect with Bulgarian partners in person and get to know them well.
- Do your research Don’t believe companies and individuals who claim they can arrange everything quickly and without problems.
- Remind yourself patiently Be patient, don’t succumb to premature optimism or excessive skepticism. If the Bulgarian customer does not respond, remind them regularly.
- Confirm business meetings Arrange business meetings at least one week in advance. Have the date confirmed on the day of the meeting.
- Tolerate tardiness Tolerate partners’ tardiness, life is slower in Bulgaria and traffic jams are common in big cities.
- Bring an interpreter to the first meeting. Meetings are mostly conducted in English or Russian, with some partners knowledge of Czech is not excluded. We recommend bringing an interpreter with knowledge of Bulgarian to the first meeting.
- Accept tickling Accept tickling and calling by first name; is common, especially when you are significantly younger than your counterpart.
- Set up a payment method For the first contract, consider a suitable payment instrument (advance payment, L/C, bank guarantee), after gaining trust in the partner, you can always soften the payment terms.
- Consult a lawyer Consult law firms well versed in Bulgarian law for all legal questions.