While banks are relatively sophisticated and offer an array of services, Bulgaria is infamous for its paperwork-intensive bureaucracy. This, as well as the lack of English translation and services, are some of the challenges that expats may face when it comes to banking and paying taxes in Bulgaria.
Money in Bulgaria
Bulgaria’s official currency is the Bulgarian lev, which is abbreviated as BGN. Despite being a part of the EU, Bulgaria is not part of the Eurozone, which is the group of countries that use the Euro currency, and it therefore has its own currency.
The lev is subdivided into 100 stotinki. The value of the lev is pegged to the Euro at a rate of around 1.96 to 1. Bulgaria’s banking system and currency is regulated by the Bulgarian National Bank.
- Notes: 1 BGN, 2 BGN, 5 BGN, 10 BGN, 20 BGN, 50 BGN and 100 BGN
- Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 stotinki; 1 BGN and 2 BGN
Banking in Bulgaria
Although there aren't many international banks operating in Bulgaria, local banks are run efficiently and with a focus on customer service. Reliable Bulgarian banks include Raiffeisen, UniCredit Bulbank, DSK and Postbank. Banks are typically open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. All four of these banks offer mobile and online banking services.
Opening a bank account
Both residents and non-residents of Bulgaria can open a bank account. As most documents aren’t available in English, completing the paperwork required to open a bank account can be a challenge.
Expats opening a bank account in Bulgaria will need their passport or national ID card, an address to send correspondence to and a minimum deposit amount. Bank cards can be collected or delivered to the specified address, typically within one week of opening an account.
ATMs and credit cards
ATMs are common in Bulgarian cities, but they may be limited in rural areas and villages. Expats can use any ATM, irrespective of which bank they belong to, but withdrawal fees will be higher from other banks’ ATMs.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Bulgarian cities, but this is not the case in smaller villages, in which cash payments are the norm. Currency can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change are widely available in cities.
Taxes in Bulgaria
The Bulgarian tax year follows the calendar year. Expats will be considered Bulgarian tax residents if they have been in the country for more than 183 days in any 12-month period. Tax residents in Bulgaria will have their worldwide personal income taxed at a flat rate of 10 percent.
Bulgarian companies often automatically deduct taxes from their employees’ salaries every month, saving their employees the hassle of paying taxes themselves.