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Expats

SERVICES

Pre-Visit & Arrival
:

Hotel, temporary accommodation, airport pickup, public transportation, etc.

Housing:

Finding suitable houses ?r apartments, arrange appointments, preview homes, check contract, translation of contract, negotiate with landlords and real-estate agents, etc.

Moving Day:

Visit during moving day to ensure a smooth move, as well as being available by phone.

Furnishings:

Furniture shopping, furniture delivery, etc.

Authorities & Registrations:

Residence registration at municipal district office, utilities, home insurance, bank account, etc.

Schools & Kindergartens:

Information about schools and kindergartens, short-list, contacting and making appointments, visiting, enrolling, etc.

Working & Residence Permit:

Filling out application form, visits to authorities, administrative formalities, documents, application and follow up, etc.

Pets:

Entry rules of pets, tax for dogs, veterinarians speaking a foreign language, etc.

Doctors:

Doctors speaking a foreign language, appointments, etc.

Automobiles:

Renting or buying vehicle, registration, road tax sticker, driving license, taxes, car insurance, importing, inspection, etc.

Entertainment & Recreational Activities:

Language courses, cultural activities, job opportunities for spouses, continuing education, sport activities, etc.

Departure:

Moving firm, cleaning of house, utilities, mail to be forwarded, moving of pets, canceling of vehicle registration, canceling insurance and other services, etc.

INFORMATION ABOUT BULGARIA

Where is Bulgaria?

Bulgaria flag

Located in the Balkans, Bulgaria is fast becoming a favourite destination for would be expats as it recovers from the political and economic chaos following the collapse of communism. Many foreign nationals are buying up property in Bulgaria and the tourist industry is beginning to thrive. Bulgaria is situated in south east Europe and shares its borders with Greece, Turkey, Romania, Macedonia and Serbia. Its coastline borders the Black Sea.

Expats are attracted to Bulgaria for the less hectic way of life that still clings to the old values and, sometimes seems to be lost in a romantic past that could take you back to medieval times. Bulgaria boasts a wonderful terrain with a mountainous interior, the wide plains of the Danube valley in the north and the coastline in the east which attracts holiday makers from all over Europe and further. Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and is where the National Assembly is situated. The Bulgarian countryside is dotted with numerous ancient ruins and historical buildings and the remnants of magnificent monasteries with their colonnaded splendour, arches and vaults to explore.

Bulgaria joined the EU in January 2007.

Population

population

The population in Bulgaria in 2010 is estimated to be 7,563,710. 83.9% of the population is Bulgarian with about 9.4% of the population being Turkish and around 4.7% being Roma. Other ethnic groups in Bulgaria are Russian, Armenian, Vlach, Macedonian, Greek, Ukrainian, Jewish or Romanian.

Language and culture

bulgarian culture

The language most commonly spoken in Bulgaria is Bulgarian which is and Indo-European language from the Slavic linguistic group. Whilst around 84.5% of the population speak Bulgarian, 9.6% speak Turkish and 4.1% speak Roma.

Bulgaria boasts a culture steeped in its ancient Slav history. Wonderful treasures left by the Thracians, Indo-European tribes who inhabited Eastern, Central and South east Europe, in their ancient tumbling buildings, tombs and beautiful frescos. The many festivals and customs of Bulgaria date right back to those ancient times and for the history loving expat, this is the place to be.

Religion

bulgarian religion

Around 85% of the population of Bulgaria follow Orthodox Christianity whilst about 13% are Muslim.

Sport and leisure

Copthorne Gatwick Amenities and Services Image

The football loving expat will want to gravitate to Bulgaria with the game being the most popular sport. All true football loving expats will know the name of Hristo Stiochkov who played for Barcelona, Japan and the USA. He later coached the Bulgarian National football team. The British football fan will know the name of Dimitar Berbatov who joined Manchester United in 2008.

Bulgaria has produced some good athletes including gymnasts, rowers, weight lifters, tennis players and world class figure skaters. The Bulgarian figure skating dance couple Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski became the world champions in 2007.

For the expat who loves winter sports Bulgaria has a great deal to offer and people having been visiting the ski slopes for many years. The mountainous area in the hinterland make it an ideal place for all winter sports and many choose to visit Bulgaria for the quieter slopes and the slower pace than in the more visited resorts in other parts of Europe.

Driving

driving in bulgaria

Driving in Bulgaria is not a happy experience and prospective expats should be cautious before embarking on driving journeys. The roads are poorly maintained, even the main roads with frequent potholes and hazards. The mountainous roads are known to be particularly hazardous with rock falls and landslides being quite common. Livestock and horse drawn vehicles often hold up traffic in the country areas especially during the summer months and there can be long queues at the border areas. Driving can be particularly difficult during the winter months when ice and snow make traveling on the roads hazardous.

The rules and regulations are similar to those in other parts of Western Europe with seat belts being compulsory and the penalties for speeding and drink driving being heavy. The speed limit on the main roads is 90 km/h, 130 on the highways and 50 in the towns and cities.

You can drive on your national license in Bulgaria although it is preferable to have this backed up by an International license.

Public Transport

public transport Bulgaria

The towns and cities of Bulgaria are well served by cheap public transport they are often old, overcrowded and slow although in the capital, Sofia, new buses are gradually being introduced to the fleet. In Sofia buses, trams and trolleybuses run throughout the day from early morning until almost midnight. Getting across the city can be a nightmarish experience with poorly signed stops and lack of information about various routes. The local trains can be equally slow and overcrowded but there are fast trains on the major cross country lines.

Bulgaria has a number of international airports and Bulgaria Air operates domestic services which connect Sofia with the Black Sea coast.

Communication

communication

Although Bulgaria has an extensive telecommunications network which stems back to the Soviet era, it is an old, sometimes inefficient system. However, the quality is gradually being improved as the system is updated. Bulgaria’s Telecommunications Company had its fixed line monopoly terminated in 2005 when competitors were afforded access. Digital cables serving the domestic market are being modernized and gradually bringing interregional connections throughout Bulgaria. To get connected to the telephone in Bulgaria expats must show a passport and residency permit. It takes a few days to be installed and billing is normally monthly.

The internet is considered very good and very fast.

Television and Radio

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The transmission standard in Bulgaria is PAL which is used in most parts of Western Europe, Australasia and South Africa. The public service broadcaster in Bulgaria Bulgarian National Television (BNT) operates four terrestrial channels and a 24 hour program with national coverage. There are three private terrestrial broadcasters BTV, Nova TV, TV2. There is no license fee for either television or radio in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria anticipates the completion of switchover from analogue to digital very soon.

Bulgaria Radio operates a number of radio stations including a station in the Turkish language.

Electricity

electricity Bulgaria

The standard electricity supply in Bulgaria is 220 volts and 50 Hz and the plugs are based on the two pin. Electricity is charged on the basis of consumption and is billed monthly.

Gas

gas Bulgaria

Gas is also charged on the basis of consumption and billed monthly. The main supplier in Bulgaria Overgas is introducing natural gas into a number of areas and improvements are taking place around the capital Sofia which is where most expats are based and will be bringing gas supply to more homes.

Water

water Bulgaria

Water is charged according to consumption. Whilst it is safe to drink in most towns and cities, expats are advised to use bottled water in the rural areas.

Climate and Weather

weather and climate Bulgaria

The climate in the north of Bulgaria is moderate, continental with warm to cool summers, especially in the mountainous areas. Further south around the Black Sea coast the climate is Mediterranean with hot dry summers. There are good levels of sunshine and average rainfall across the country.

Visas and Immigration

Visas and Immigration Bulgaria

Members of the EU/EEA do not require a Visa to enter Bulgaria but prospective expats from outside EU/EEA need to apply for a type D long stay Visa to move there permanently. The type D visa can only be issued through the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your home country. In order to qualify for a type D visa prospective expats must supply proof of financial support which includes savings, employment contracts etc and evidence that suitable accommodation has been arranged. The type D visa is valid for up to 6 months. Once it has been issued you cannot leave the country for three months. An ID card should be applied for in the regional directorate after which you can leave the country and return without a visa.

Foreign nationals from outside the EU/EEA can enter Bulgaria without a visa for up to 90 days within a period of six months. More information about visa entry to Bulgaria can be found on the Bulgarian Embassy website.

Pets

emigrate pets to Bulgaria

As yet, Bulgaria is not a participant of the European Pet Passport Scheme. However, for expats wishing to take their pets to Bulgaria the animal must have an ID number which contains a description of the animal and evidence of appropriate vaccinations particularly rabies and anti tick and worm treatment issued from the country of origin by a qualified vet. This documentation must be available to the border veterinary authorities.

Currency

stotinki

The currency in Bulgaria is the Lev which, until 1999 was only used for domestic transactions inside the country during the communist regime. Since 1999 the Lev has become more stable alongside the Euro. The Lev notes are in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 leva. The coins are 1 leva and 1, 2, 5, 10 20 and 50 stotinki.

Health Service

health service Bulgaria

Prospective expats to Bulgaria should be aware that, although the medical practitioners receive a good standard of training, the hospitals and clinics are not as well equipped and functional as those in the west. Improvements are gradually taking place however. The healthcare insurance system in Bulgaria is administered by the National Health Insurance Fund. The availability state provided healthcare does tend to differ from region to region with the bigger towns and cities providing better access to hospitals, doctors and clinics than in the more rural areas. As the health system in Bulgaria is expanding there are more private clinics and hospitals becoming available which can offer affordable treatment.

Education

education Bulgaria

Full time education in Bulgaria is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 years and is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science. The curriculum at the schools in Bulgaria concentrate on foreign languages, mathematics, information technology, social sciences, natural sciences and ecology, music, art, physical education and sports. The school year has two terms; from September to January and February to the end of June. Education is free to all residents except for the higher education schools colleges and universities. Private education is available. Many expats prefer to have their children attend private schools or International schools some of which offer the International Baccalaureate diploma.

Buying Property/Renting Property

Buying:Renting Property Bulgaria

Foreign investment in property in Bulgaria is one of the fastest developments in Europe with the growing economic stability following the collapse of communism. Bulgaria has a lot to offer the expat buying into the country and its lifestyle with the tourist boom expanding rapidly especially on the coast and in the mountainous areas accommodating the skiing industry. However, buying property in Bulgaria is not simple. There is a lot of red tape and requirements. Only Bulgarian residents can own land although foreign investors can own buildings. The only way around this is to register as a Bulgaria based company then property can be purchased in the company’s name. Expats to Bulgaria should seek the advice of a good lawyer specializing in the purchase of property in Bulgaria before considering a purchase. It may be more advisable to rent property until residence has been completed.