About Bulgaria


WHY BULGARIA



Bulgaria currently offers a combination of unrivalled investment opportunities, the lowest property prices in Europe and unparalleled natural treasures.
The following facts about Bulgaria will help you motivate your decision to buy property in Bulgaria no matter if you are looking for an investment, second home or permanent home.

General Reasons:

  • Bulgaria is only 3 hours flight from UK
  • Average summer temperature is 28C with over 1700 hours of sunshine from May to October
  • Black Sea coast boasts 220km of wide sandy beaches
  • Mountain resorts offer top-quality ski pistes and leisure amenities
  • The beauty and diversity of Bulgarian nature is unparalleled
  • Bulgaria has rich culture and long history, many places of interest that have to be seen (some are World Heritage)
  • Bulgarians are extremely frinedly to foreigners and the majority speak some English

  • Economic Reasons:

  • Stable political and economic environment
  • Sustained GDP growth of around 5% p.a.
  • Bulgaria is already member of NATO
  • Due to become member of the EU on 1 January 2007
  • Booming tourist sector (20% average annual growth of tourist arrivals and 132% increase in British since 2002)
  • Well developed and constantly improving sea and mountain resorts
  • Very competitieve tax regime (15% corporate profit tax)
  • General cost of living is one of the lowest in Europe

  • Real Estate Sector Reasons:

  • Property prices are some of the cheapest in Europe
  • 31% growth in property prices in 2004
  • 11% price growth for Q1 2005, over 30% expected in 2005
  • Rental yields of around 6% p.a.
  • Brand new, luxury developmnets offering 4 star comfort for as low as £25, 000.
  • Low property taxes and operational costs




  • Entry Requirements


    UK and EU citizens who enter the country on regular passports without a Bulgarian visa are authorized to stay for a total of 30 days within a six-month period. If you intend to stay more than 30 days, or if you have official or diplomatic passport, you must secure a Bulgarian visa from a Bulgarian embassy/consulate prior to arrival. Foreigners who intend to stay and live or work in Bulgaria must obtain a special Type 'D' visa prior to arrival. Once in Bulgaria, this visa facilitates application for a residence permit. A one-year multiple-entry visa for Bulgaria allows you to stay for a total of 90 days within a six- month period. If you come to Bulgaria on a one-year multiple-entry visa, stay in the country 90 days and then leave, you will not be able to enter the country within the next 90 days.
    All foreigners are required to register with the regional passport office for foreigners or the police within 48 hours after their arrival in the country and to inform the office about any changes in their address. For those staying at a hotel, a private boarding house or an apartment rented through an accommodation company, registration is taken care of by the proprietor. In Bulgaria a copy of the passport is not considered sufficient for identification purposes - visitors are advised to carry their passport with them at all times. For further information concerning entry requirements, please see the Web site of the Embassy of Bulgaria in London.

    Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
    186-188 Queen's Gate
    London SW7 5HL

    Web site: www.bulgarianembassy.org.uk
    Tel: 0870 060 2350, 0870 0602351, fax: 020 7584 4948
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Consular Section Office Hours: 9.30 - 13.00, Monday to Friday.

    24-Hour Automated Booking System: tel. 090 6554 0750

    24-Hour Visa Information Service: tel. 090 6550 8950

    24-Hour Fax on Demand Visa Application Form Service:
    Tel: 090 6554 0819

    Individual Inquiries on Submitted Applications:
    Tel: 020 7589 3763 (13.00-15.00 only)



    Land


    EU southBulgaria occupies the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The territory of the country is about 43, 000 square miles (111, 000 square kilometres). Bulgaria borders on Romania to the north and the Danube River divides the two countries. The Black Sea lies to the east, Turkey and Greece to the south. To the west are Macedonia and Serbia.
    Within a relatively small area, Bulgaria's landscape exhibits a striking topographic variety. Open expanses of lowland alternate with broken mountain chains, often unexpectedly cut by deep river gorges, as well as high plateaux surrounded by mountains. The main geographic divisions in the country are: the Danube Plain, the Balkan Range, the Rila, the Rodope Massif and the Black Sea coast.
    BG map



    Climate


    climateThe climate is temperate continental and tends to be Mediterranean in the southern and costal areas. The country has a real four-season environment where people can experience the changing colours of a mild autumn, a snowy and icy winter, a lush, green spring and a fairly hot summer. Winter temperatures are low and in January and February they may even fall down to -15 C, but summer often tops 35 C. The average annual temperature is 10,5 C.
    To check the current temperatures in major Bulgarian cities and regions go to weather.digsys.bg



    Population


    The population of Bulgaria is about 8 million. Ethnic Bulgarian are 85.3% of the population, followed by Muslim Turks with 8.5% . About 2.6% of the population are Gypsies and the rest are small ethnic groups of Armenians, Macedonians, Jews, Russians and Greeks making up for the remaining 3.6%. The population growth rate in Bulgaria is one of the lowest in the World, only 0.02% (between 1985 and 1994).
    The Bulgarians are on the whole friendly and hospitable people, their attitude towards foreigners is very positive. They take a justifiable pride in their country's long history and are quite knowledgeable about it.



    Political System


    Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. According to the new Constitution, adopted in July 1991, the entire power of the state shall derive from the people and shall be exerted directly and through the bodies established by the Constitution. The Constitution proclaims pluralism of political views and freedom of religion.
    The supreme legislative body in the country is the National Assembly (Parliament). The President is the Head of State, elected directly by the citizens for a 5-year term of office.
    The council of Ministers is the supreme executive body for internal and foreign affairs.
    The territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is divided into administrative regions and smaller municipalities. The municipality is the primary territorial administrative unit. It is a legal entity where local self-government is exercised through a municipal council elected by the community population for a four-year term of office.



    Religion


    The predominant religion in Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. 82.6% of the population claim to be Orthodox Christians.
    The figures for the other religions are as follows:
    Muslim - 12.2%
    Catholic - 0.5%
    Protestant - 0.8%
    Do not declare - 3.9%



    Educational System


    educationBulgarians value education very highly. This is reflected in the fact that 72% of the population aged between 25 and 64 have completed at least secondary education and 15% have at least Bachelor degree. Just as a comparison the figures for UK are 82% and 18% respectively.
    Education in Bulgaria is mainly supported by the state through the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. School education is compulsory for children from seven to sixteen years of age.
    The Bulgarian educational system falls within the continental European tradition. The main types of secondary schools are: general educational, vocational, language and international schools with total number of 460. Private schools are also being established and they begin to compete successfully with state schools.
    There are forty-one state supported and private higher educational institutions in Bulgaria offering degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels.



    History 681-1944


    In 681 the chieftain of the Bulgarian tribe Onogonduri - Khan Kubrat united all Bulgarian tribes between the Carpathian and the Caucasus Mountains and founded what Byzantine chronicles call Old Bulgaria. In 864 Khan Boris officially adopted Christianity and proclaim it the only official religion in the country. Later during his reign two Byzantine missioners created a Slavonic script for the Bulgarian language and it was declared the official political and religious script in the country. In 1018 Bulgaria was conquered by Byzantium and was under Byzantine dominion for 167 years.

    In 1185 Bulgarians led an uprising and the Bulgarian state was finally restored. During the second kingdom Bulgaria reached its apogee. Bulgaria's territory was three times vaster than the present, culture and economy also flourished. However, after 2 centuries of independence Bulgaria could not resist the Turkish invasion and in 1396 the last town surrendered to the Turks.

    All attempts of Europe to help the Balkan people through the crusades and naval wars ended in failure. The Ottoman Empire was expanding subordinating more and more territories. Bulgarians were under Ottoman dominion for five hundred years but retained their cultural and religious identity throughout these centuries.

    Following a war with Russia for the independence of Bulgaria, on March 3, 1878 Russia signed a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire under which Bulgaria restored its sovereignty and part of its territories. March 3rd is the national holiday of the Republic of Bulgaria.

    After 1878 the leitmotif of Bulgarian society and politics was the struggle for national unification. All wars, including WWI and WWII reflected this objective, although it was never completely accomplished.



    History 1944 onwards


    The communist-led coup of September 9, 1944 marked the beginning of a new stage in the history of Bulgaria. After the death of king Boris III, his six years old son Simeon (which is the present Bulgarian prime minister) and his family had to escape to Spain to save their lives. The communist period was characterized by repressions and killings of political opponents, nationalization of industries and large urban properties. Administration, education, culture and social legislation were refashioned after the Soviet model. State monopoly and heavy bureaucracy inevitably led to economic difficulties, shortages and general drop in living standards. In the '80s those trends became stronger and sapped the foundations of Todor Zhivkov's regime. Increasing foreign debts set off a deepening energy crisis.

    On November 10, 1989 Todor Zhivkov was compelled to resign as party leader and head of state. Without any formal agreement of the authorities, traditional Bulgarian parliamentary parties were restored and new ones were founded. In June 1990 the renamed communists - Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) won the general elections but the popular sentiment was one of growing discontent with them. In July the socialist president was forced too resign, and the leader of the Union Democratic Forces (UDF) and former dissident Zhelyu Zhelev was elected to the post. Next year UDF won the general elections and formed a government. The framework of a new political system was established. Bulgaria was now firmly committed to parliamentary democracy, freedom of speech, protection of human rights and Euro-Atlantic integration.

    Internal conflict within the coalition brought about the fall of the UDF government; conditions for political differentiation in the country were ripe. There was general discontent; people ascribed the difficulties of the transition period to the centre-right UDF government and all these combined to bring back to power BSP in late 1994 elections. However, centre-right opposition was soon consolidated, while at the same time organized crime penetrated state institutions, small and medium sized business was put down, the banking system collapsed, social policies were inefficient, there was a stalemate in the agrarian reform and in the overall transition to market economy. Under the conditions of acute shortages and looming hyperinflation street riots erupted and BSP had to cede power.

    The UDF plus coalition partners won the general election in April 1997. And a second centre-right government was formed. A gradual recovery of market economy and civil society began. A Currency Board was introduced which stabilized the national currency. Privatization and restitution were once more on the agenda. Long-delayed and overdue reforms began, such as the reconstruction of the system of social and retirement funds.

    In June 2001 the elections were won - much to the surprise of many people - by the newly established National Movement Simeon II (NDSV). The new technocratic government was headed by the former Bulgarian king Simeon II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The government is following the main priorities of Bulgarian foreign policy that have been formulated collectively and are supported by all parties in Parliament - EU and NATO (already a fact) membership.



    Exchanging money


    Bulgaria's currency is called Lev. One Lev is made up of 100 stotonki (the name of the coins).
    The following banknotes denominations are in circulation: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 stotinki are in circulation as well.
    Bulgaria has a predominantly "cash economy". The cheque as form of payment is almost nonexistent. Credit cards are not widely used for shopping, lodging and entertainment. For your day-to-day needs, it is advisable to carry cash.
    Commercial banks and licensed exchange bureau quote their selling and buying rates daily. The Bulgarian Lev is fixed to the Euro under the Currency Board Arrangement. The official Bulgarian National Bank exchange rate is 1 Euro equal 1.95583 Levs, however, the banks' and bureaus' exchange rate will not be exactly the same as the BNB exchange rate.
    Do not change money with sidewalk freelancers. You will be offered higher rates, but you may easily get swindled. It is illegal to change money on the street.
    There are ATMs accepting credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro, American Express, etc.). Up to 400 Levs per day can be obtained at a favourable exchange rate using ATM without transaction fees. You are advised to check with your bank what fees it may impose for using the cards abroad.



    Travel and transport information


    Traffic rules are: drive on the right, overtake on the left, and turn right on green light only. Speed limits are 50 km/h in the cities/towns, 90 km/h out of town and 120 km/h on the highways. Road signs follow international standards, with major routes and destinations signposted in both Cyrillic and Latin letters.
    Driving in Bulgaria can be a challenge, with many poor roads, numerous pedestrians in larger cities and lack of parking spaces. Park only where it is allowed, otherwise the traffic control might lift your car. If that happens in Sofia, look for your car at the parking lot behind the National Palace of Culture and be prepared to pay a fine.
    You will need international driving license to drive in Bulgaria. Also "Green Card" international civil liability insurance is compulsory. "Blue Card" insurance is also required and can be obtained at border checkpoint.
    The carefree way to travel around in cities is by bus, trolley bus, tram, underground (only in Sofia) or shuttle. You can purchase single ticket form the driver or from a kiosk. A single ticket costs 50 stotinki. There are also one day, one week and one month passes.
    Taking a taxi is also convenient and cheap way to travel in larger cities. The rate they charge depends on the city you are travelling and vary from 40 stotinki per kilometre in Sofia to 5 levs per kilometre in resort areas.
    There are convenient and inexpensive travel services to most places of interest and regular inter city coach routes.
    Car rental companies, such as Hertz, Sixth, Auto Rent, Sofia Limo, are well established and they do take credit cards.

    Mari Travel - Flights to Bulgaria, London, Sofia, Varna, Online Booking



    Cuisine


    cuisineBulgarian cuisine is very rich and inspiring. It has some connections with European traditions and with Greek and Turkish food styles, but the majority of dishes are unique to Bulgarian cuisine.

    Typical Bulgarian dishes include:

    • Banitza (filo pastry pie with white cheese and eggs)
    • Shopska salad (tomatoes, grilled peppers, cucumbers, onion, parsley and white cheese)
    • Sarmi (stuffed vine or cabbage leaves with rice, minced meat and spices)
    • Kapama (meat and vegetables stewed in a an earthenware dish)
    • Cheverme (meat and vegetables roasted on a split over a fireplace)
    • Moussaka (potatoes, minced meat, tomatoes, spices covered with a layer of yogurt and eggs, then baked)

    Eating out is very common among Bulgarians and there are many restaurants, clubs, and bistros etc. Generally there are four main types of places to eat:

  • Exclusive clubs with excellent cuisine and service any time of the year. A good lunch for two costs around 100 levs.
  • General type of restaurants, which offer typical Bulgarian meals and continental food. Meal for two costs around 30 levs
  • Fast food chains such as KFC, McDonalds, Goody's, Pizza Hut, Happy Grill etc.
  • Ethnic restaurants: Turkish, Lebanese. Greek, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, etc. Most of them are not more expensive than a Bulgarian restaurant.




  • Working Hours


  • Offices - 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
  • Banks - 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
  • Shops - 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 pm. (Monday to Friday, Saturday until noon)




  • Time Difference


  • Winter time: GMT +2 hours (October through March)
  • Summer time: GMT +3 hours (April through September)





  • Voltage


    220 V only, you will need a standard round two-pin adapter available in the UK for powering equipment.



    Official Holidays


  • January 1 - New Year
  • March 3 - Bulgaria's Liberation from Ottoman rule - the National Day
  • Easter - one week after the Catholic Easter
  • May 1 - Labour Day
  • May 6 - Bulgarian Army Day and St. George's Day.
  • May 24 - Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and the Slav Script
  • September 6 - Bulgaria's Unification
  • September 22 - Independence Day
  • blank
  • December 25-26 - Christmas




  • Health and Medical Insurance Requirements


    medicalThe World Health Organization has no vaccinations requirements for visiting Bulgaria.
    The environment in Bulgaria is safe and tap water is also safe to drink in most regions.
    As of December 1, 2001, all foreign citizens travelling to Bulgaria must present valid evidence of health insurance to the Bulgarian border authorities in order to be admitted into the country. The insurance should be valid for the duration of the traveller's stay in Bulgaria. Foreign nationals should consult with their medical insurance company prior to travelling to confirm whether their policy applies to Bulgaria and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Then, in case you have medical problems you can go to a Private Outpatient Clinic or to a state policlinic.
    Pharmacies and drugstores are well stocked with Bulgarian and imported medicines and you should not anticipate any problems of supply in this regard.



    Cultural Events


    cultureMusical life in Bulgaria is very rich. In Sofia you can enjoy the National Opera, symphony and chamber of orchestras, splendid choirs, jazz and folk concerts, etc. There are also Golden Orpheus competition in Varna, Jazz Fest in Bansko and many others. Traditional Bulgarian Folk fests annually take place in Shiroka Laka and Gela in Rhodopa Mountains. In Plovdiv (the 2nd largest city) at the Roman Theatre you can watch many musical and theatre performances.
    The Art Fest of Apolonia is really remarkable event where you can watch concerts, theatre performances, dance shows and art exhibitions. It takes place every September in Sozopol.



    Flight and Airport Information


    There are scheduled flights from UK to Bulgaria every day. Charter flights also fly to local airports during both the ski and summer seasons. British Airways (from Heathrow Airport) and Bulgaria Air (from Gatwick Airport) fly directly to Sofia every day all year round. The flight duration is 2h 50min. Bulgaria Air also operates regular direct flights to Varna International Airport during the summer season.
    While low cost airlines do not operate flights to Sofia yet, the round trip is unlikely to cost more than £250. The Czech, Austrian, Hungarian and German airlines may be a good alternative if you would like to depart from other than Heathrow and Gatwick airports and do not mind a short stopover in the respective capital.

    British Airways
    Bulgaria Air
    Austrian Airlines
    Lufthansa
    Czech Airlines
    Malev Airlines

    Sofia International Airport is the main gateway to Bulgaria and handles more than half of the international air traffic to Bulgaria.
    Once in Sofia, various means of transportation are available. You can rent a car from the airport should you need flexible transportation arrangements. Four pounds is the highest taxi fare you can expect to pay for the longest one way trip within Sofia, but usually it would be just 1-2 pounds. Regular bus (coach) services can take you anywhere in the country in comfortable environment. The longest one way trip imaginable (Sofia - Varna or so) is about 5.5 hours and costs just 8 pounds. The winter resorts - Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo are 1, 2, and 3 hours drive from Sofia, respectively. In general, transportation services are of good quality and reliability.

    Varna and Bourgas International Airports become important in the summer season when they handle significant traffic of incoming tourists from Western Europe and Russia. Numerous charter flights operate to and from these airports and can go as low as £80 one way. They cover the main markets of the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia. Out of season demand sharply drops and arranging a direct flight to the seaside becomes more difficult, but still possible, especially to Varna. There are internal flights to Varna and Bourgas (only in summer) from Sofia.

    Shuttles and regular bus services are readily available between Bourgas and Varna (2 hours) and the resorts in between. Such services are also at your disposal should you want to visit the resorts south of Bourgas or north of Varna. Again, transportation is reliable and one cannot expect to remain stranded.



    Tourism


    seaThe popularity of Bulgaria as a tourist destination is growing rapidly every year. In 2002 the number of foreigners who visited Bulgaria for tourism were 2 992 590, in 2003 this figure was 3 531 567, and 2004 registered another increase - up to 4 010 326. The surge over the 2002 figure is a striking 34%!
    The 132% increase in British tourists is even more stunning (from 110,903 tourists in 2002 to 259,092 in 2004)! These figures are expected to increase even at a higher rate as more and more foreigners are discovering the unspoilt nature, quality resorts and the many recreational opportunities that Bulgaria has to offer. The Bulgarian sea resorts on the Black sea coast are famous for their excellent sandy beaches, calm and safe sea, clear water and air, natural dunes and mineral springs. Average air temperature in the summer is 28C, water temperature is 25C. There are more than 240 hours of sunshine in May and September and more than 300 hours in July and August!
    Since 1999 virtually all of the tourism assets are privately owned and operated. As a result of the major investments and upgrade of the past few years, the tourist sector is now one of the fastest growing industries in Bulgaria. It offers probably the best investment opportunities in the country.



    Sea Resorts


    sea map The Black sea coast is formally divided into north and south parts. Both the south and the north coasts have wide beaches with fine golden sands washed by the clean waters of the Black sea. The difference between the two is that temperatures of the water and air of the north coast tend to be 2, 3 degrees lower than in the south region.
    Famous northern resorts are Zlatni Duni (golden Sands), Albena, Roussalka, Riviera, Slanchev Den (Sunny Day), St. Konstantin and Elena. Places of interest are, of course, the "sea capital" of Bulgaria - Varna, the town of Balchik with its Botanical Garden and the Kaliakra.
    The southern coast includes the well known resorts of Sunny beach, the largest in Bulgaria, Nessebar, Elenite, St. Vlas, Pomorie, Sozopol, Primorsko, Kiten, Ahtopol, Tsarevo and many other smaller. Bourgas is the largest town in this reagion and also the fourth largest in the country, it is an excellent place for shopping and entratainment.
    More information on individual resorts is available from the properties tab on the main menu.







    Mountain Resorts


    mountainsBulgaria is also famous for its high mountain ski resorts. There are three main top-class ski resorts situated in different Bulgarian mountains. All of them offer ecologically preserved natural environment with plenty of snow and sun, pistes of various difficulty, good ski schools and excellent lift network. Most of the hotels are new or refurbished and offer many facilities.

    Pamporovo resort is situated 1650 m above sea level, at the foot of peak Snejanka (1926 m), in the Rhodopa Mountain. It is located in a region, famous for its unique folklore traditions, within 260 km of Sofia and 85 km of Bulgaria's second-largest city, Plovdiv. Due to its southern location Pamporovo has relatively mild winter with up to 120 sunny days from December to May, but also a lot of snow.

    Bansko is the newest Bulgarian ski centre in the Pirin Mountains just 160 km from Sofia. Pirin is a national reserve included in the World Natural Heritage list. Bansko ski resort is growing very fast and offers 17 ski runs with a total length of 56 km, well equipped with cabin lifts, tows, and artificial snow guns. Bansko is the perfect place for sports lovers throughout the year, starting with skiing and ending with hiking, rock climbing, horse riding, and angling. In 2005, Bansko will become the world's fourth winter resort with a five-star hotel from the Kempinski chain.

    Borovets is the oldest and the biggest mountain resort in Bulgaria founded in 1896. Situated at 1350 m above sea level on the northern slopes of Rila Mountain among age-old pine woods, Borovets is located at the foot of peak Moussala (2925 m) - the highest one on the Balkan Peninsula. It stands only 73 km from Sofia, and offers luxury hotels and year-round sports and entertainment opportunities. The total length of the ski runs here is 40 km, descending from a height of 2 534 m.



    Cost of Living


    The low costs of living in Bulgaria, but not at the expense of the quality of life, is something that surprises every visitor. This is a significant attraction for tourists and investors and will remain so for years to come. The average monthly salary of Bulgarians is in the range £100-£150. Below we give you the prices in leva (£1 = 2.8 levs) for some common goods and services.

    Food:
    • Loaf of bread: BGN 0.60
    • 1l pasturised milk: BGN 1.20
    • 400g yogurt : BGN 0.50
    • 1.5l of mineral water: BGN 0.80
    • 33cl bottle of beer: BGN 0.90
    • 0.75l of quality dry white wine: BGN 4 - BGN 6
    • 1 kilo of apples: BGN 1.5
    • 1 kilo of yellow cheese (kashkaval): BGN 6
    • 1 kilo of white cheese (feta): BGN 3.50
    Entertainment:
    • Theatre: BGN 3 to 6
    • Opera: BGN 5 to 10
    • Cinema ticket: BGN 5
    •  Bowling: BGN 6
    •  Aquaprk: BGN 20
    • Sofia Land (like Alton Towers in UK): BGN 7.50 for the day
    • Entance for club/disco: from free to BGN 5

    Other:

    • Newspaper : BGN 0.50
    • 36 exposure colour film: BGN 8
    • Hair cut and blow: BGN 10 - BGN 25
    • Single journy ticket for public transport: BGN 0.50

    Customs Regulations


    Travellers should declare jewellery (if above 60 grams), cameras, computers, and other valuables upon arrival in order to avoid difficulties when departing. Travellers entering Bulgaria with more than 8,000 Bulgarian Leva or the equivalent (around GBP 2,800) in either foreign currency or travellers cheques must declare them to Customs officials upon arrival. Foreign nationals intending to declare money or valuables who enter Bulgaria through Sofia Airport have to use the red "Something to Declare" line and not the green "Nothing to Declare" line at Customs, even if specifically invited into the green line by a Customs official. The Bulgarian government considers entry through the green line to be a formal, irrevocable declaration that the traveller is carrying less than 8,000 Leva, and Customs authorities have sometimes confiscated travellers' entire funds if they are carrying undeclared cash in excess of that amount.
    Travellers who attempt to leave the country with the equivalent of 25,000 Bulgarian Leva or more must complete a customs declaration on which they must state the origin of the money, and present a certificate from the Bulgarian regional internal revenue service proving they do not owe taxes, unless the sum is less than the amount originally reported when initially brought into the country.
    Bulgaria's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes.
    A Border Crossing Guide is available online at: www.bcci.bg/border_cr



    Real Estate Market


    The Real Estate Market Index (REMI) was established in Bulgaria in September 2002. Bulgaria is the first country from Central and Eastern Europe to have this national index. REMI is a professional indicator for investment and business activities in the real estate sector. It is published on a quarterly basis by the National Real Estate Association (NSNI - www.nsni.bg), which is a principal member of FIABCI (International Real Estate Federation). The Index displays the data from the 157 members of NSNI, which represent approximately 80% of the Bulgarian Property Market. According to REMI the average real estate price increase for the whole 2004 was a stunning 31%. The increase for the first quarter of 2005 is 9.5%.
    The average 2004 increase of Bulgarian real estate prices according to the National Statistical Institute (NSI - www.nsi.bg), based on the prices of apartments in the 28 regional towns of Bulgaria, is an unbeliavable 47.5%.
    According to NSI the increse in prices for Q1 2005 in the three cities of Sofia, Varna and Bourgas is 11%.
    The market of Black Sea coastal properties in Bulgaria has grown significantly since the beginning of 2003. Sales prices of new developments have increased almost twice in some areas compared to 2002. Proximity to sea and sea views increased the price by 30% compared to more remote locations.
    Similarly, the demand for holiday homes in mountain resorts has increased dramatically since 2003 and prices are experiencing growth in line with the price growth of sea properties.
    The expectations are that prices will continue to increase systematically but will slow down around 2007 (the projected year of entry into the EU for Bulgaria). Around 2007 there may be one year of 'wait and see' before price hikes take off again as the experince of Centrla European contries shows since accession to the EU.



    Taxation


    Information on personal taxation can be found from the links below.

    Price Waterhouse Coopers' Report

    Comprehensive tax guide