Exporting guide to Bulgaria

Overview

Bulgaria is situated on the eastern side of the Balkans in South Eastern Europe. It is part of the European single market and it's economy is broadly based on services, heavy industry and agriculture.

Trade statistics

£834.0 million total UK exports to Bulgaria for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

66th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

0.1% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

Gateway to emerging Europe

Bulgaria is a part of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, with over 100 million consumers, so it can act as a gateway into these markets. The CEE region is easily accessible from the UK, offers considerable potential for British businesses and has widespread use of English as the business language.

Strategic location

Bulgaria is bordered by large countries such as Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Romania, while its eastern coast borders the Black Sea. If your business is looking to export to a larger Eastern European market, Bulgaria may be a good place to base your operations.

Top five UK goods exported to Bulgaria, in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

Goods Value (£million)
Specialised machinery (capital) 48.2
Beverages 29.8
Cars 20.9
Scientific instruments (capital) 11.3
General industrial machinery (capital) 10.8

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: November 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Bulgaria.

Top five UK services exported to Bulgaria, in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

Service Value (£million)
Travel 322.0
Transportation 85.0
Other Business Services 51.0
Telecommunications, computer and information services 36.0
Insurance and Pension 12.0

Source: ONS UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Bulgaria.

Bulgaria: at a glance

Economic growth

4.2%

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is 7.4% (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

GDP per capita

$10,120

Actual figure (IMF, 2020)
The UK is $41,127 (IMF, 2020, actual figure)

Currency

Lev

Business language

Bulgarian

You may need a translator

Time zone

GMT +2

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High potential industries in the country for UK businesses

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Bulgaria have identified particular opportunities in several sectors:

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Bulgaria

Doing business in Bulgaria is generally straightforward. However, there can be challenges, particularly in work with the public sector - arcane bureaucracy, complicated public procurement and slow judicial processes.

Preparing to export

Tax and Customs

The UK has signed a double taxation convention with Bulgaria. The Ministry of Finance has responsibility for tax in Bulgaria.

VAT

The standard VAT rate is 20%. There are reduced VAT rates of 9% for hotel services. If you’re registered for VAT in the UK, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Bugaria, provided certain conditions are met.

Company tax

Corporate income tax is 10%.

Certain company expenses are taxed at 10%.

Import duties

The internal market of the EU is a single market which allows the free movement of goods and services.

Most goods can be imported into Bulgaria without restriction. However, permits from the Ministry of Economy will be required for:

  • agricultural products
  • precious metals
  • military goods
  • drugs

You are encouraged to use a reputable customs clearance agent familiar with the customs clearance formalities of Bulgaria.

Regulations

Legislation in Bulgaria has been aligned with EU legislation to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

Packaging and labelling

Products and packaging should meet EU standards.

Bulgaria is a member of the:

  • International Organisation for Standardization (ISO)
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
  • International Technical Union (ITU)

The Bulgarian Institute for Standardisation (BDS) is responsible for standards. Bulgaria has standardisation and product certification bodies. Bulgarian ministries or agencies issue specific standards and certificates for various sectors. Labelling must be in Bulgarian.

Services regulations

Information on rules for selling services and business travel to Bulgaria is available on gov.uk.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Bulgaria.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Bulgaria

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

Payment terms

Typically, this is 30 days.

Start-up considerations

Setting up a local office or finding a reliable local partner is critical for doing business in Bulgaria. Business may be carried out:

  • directly from the UK
  • by the appointment of agents/distributors
  • through licensing and franchising
  • partnering with a local company with complementary skill set
  • through a local business or branch

A local business can be established by:

  • registration of a representative office or branch office
  • incorporation of a new legal entity

Various corporate legal entities are available. Foreign investors are allowed to hold up to 100% of the registered capital of a company. New companies can now be incorporated on the new national electronic commercial register.

Partnering with a local company with complementary skills is recommended if you wish to provide consultancy services in Bulgaria.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.