Things to know
Port City on Bulgaria's Black Sea
Varna is the third-largest city in
Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and in the Northern
A port city next to the coastal resorts of Golden Sands, St. Konstantin and Albena, Varna is famous for the "Gold of Varna," - 6,000-year-old Thracian jewellery discovered in a necropolis, which is displayed inside the Archaeological Museum, along with Greek, Roman and Ottoman antiquities.
Varna is the most interesting and cosmopolitan town on the Black Sea coast. A combination of a port city, naval base and seaside resort, it’s an appealing place to while away a few days, packed with history yet thoroughly modern, with an enormous park to amble around and a lengthy beach to lounge on.
In the city centre, you’ll find Bulgaria’s largest Roman baths complex and its finest archaeological museum, as well as a lively cultural and restaurant scene.
The city has several universities, a naval academy, oceanography and fishery-research institute, a medical school, museums, a theatre, an opera house, and an art gallery.
The 4th-century Aladzha Monastery, one of the earliest Bulgarian monasteries, overlooks the city from the north; its cells and chapel are impressively carved out of the rock.
Much of Bulgaria’s maritime and river transport passes through Varna’s harbour, which accommodates vessels up to 20,000 tons. Major export items are livestock, grain and processed foodstuffs. Industries here include flour milling, boatbuilding, and manufacturing.
The "Seaside Capital"
The port city of Varna is known as the seaside capital of Bulgaria, and is something of a much-loved destination among Bulgarians.
Sun and sand are among many reasons to visit this idyllic spot by the Black Sea but there are many other reasons to make a trip to Varna an unmissable experience.
One of the key archaeological discoveries in understanding human prehistory was made right here – the Varna Necropolis contains more than 300 graves featuring elaborate gold, copper and other items. The collection is considered the oldest gold in the world, crafted by the people of the Varna Culture circa 4560 BC.
On a hot summer’s day, there’s nothing better than a walk in the cool shade of the Sea Garden of Varna with an ice cream in your hand and a broad smile on your face, safe in the knowledge that you’re in one of the most beautiful coastal parks on earth!
From the Sea Garden, you can hop straight on the beach where a line-up of lively beach bars offers everything from hookah, creative cocktails, and party music. A visit to Varna isn’t complete without a night dancing on the sandy beach. If you can’t choose one single bar, why not try them all!
Bulgarian cuisine features a lot of grilled meat and huge salads made with fresh vegetables. If you’re a wine connoisseur and want to delve deeper into the subtleties of the Bulgarian wines, try some of the local varietals like Mavrud, Shiroka Melnishka (Broad-Leaved Melnik) or Gamza.
If you visit Varna, don’t restrict yourself to just the local beaches. Head north for some rugged rocky landscapes, or south for the smooth sandy beaches that are attractive to both families and part-goers. The Bulgarian coast may be short, but it’s versatile!
How does Varna Compare?
The average cost of living in Varna is approximately €640, which is in the top 24% of the least expensive cities in the world, ranked 7057th out of 9294 in a recent global list and 3rd out of 21 in Bulgaria.
The median after-tax salary is €695 which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.1 months.
Ranked 1546th (TOP 17%) in the list of best places to live in the world and 2nd best city to live in Bulgaria.
With an estimated population of almost 340K, Varna is the 3rd largest city in Bulgaria.
A furnished one-bedroom apartment in the city centre can cost as little as €250, which is virtually impossible in many European Countries but you'll be compromising on the standard of the accommodation at this price bracket. If you don't need to live in the city centre, this cost could be even lower!
Renting a quality studio apartment in the central parts of the city will cost you around 400 lv (€405). A 2-bedroom apartment in the central zones will cost anywhere between 600 lv (€307) and 800 lv (€409).
Bus transportation is well-developed and there are buses travelling to most parts of the city, even Vinitsa, which is significantly separated from the central parts of Varna. You can hop on a bus from the early morning hours until 11 pm or even midnight and the bus ticket only costs 1 lv (€0.51)
Overall, a single person can live comfortably in Varna for around 860 lv (€440) without rent, while a family of four will need about 3,000 lv (€1,535)monthly without rent.
Cost of Living
Bulgaria operates a flat tax system whereby personal and corporate tax rates are 10% across the board. For anyone looking to reduce the amount of tax they pay on their income or business profits, therefore, Bulgaria is definitely attractive!
The Bulgarian tax system is quite comprehensible if you keep in mind a few things. As in most European countries, taxes apply to locals as well as foreigners. The fiscal year is equal to a calendar year. It’s useful so you may plan how to manage your money distribution and spend them in the best way.
According to the Bulgarian legislation to be considered a "taxable resident" you must reside in Bulgaria for 183 days annually. As usual, the tax office will consider the location of your employment or freelancing, own business, residence permits, availability of property, family and others.
There are different types of taxes in Bulgaria.
Both state and local authorities are collecting taxes. The most important taxes are collected at state level. The list includes corporate taxes, VAT and of course social security and income tax.
On the local level, there are various fees, most of them related to properties, a.k.a. property taxes.
The tax limitation in Bulgaria is 5 years.
All income earned in Bulgaria is taxed at a flat rate of 10% – both corporate profit and personal incomes
VAT applies at a flat rate of 20% on virtually all goods and services – food, books, machinery, etc. No exception, unless 9% on tourism-related activities.
Social security is paid by every employee. At this moment the employee pays 12.9% and the employer contributes what corresponds to 17.9%.
Eligibility to Work in Varna
If you have skills that are in demand in Bulgaria, then you will be welcome as a worker. Sofia in particular has a strong ex-pat presence. This is because skilled Bulgarians tend to go abroad to seek wages commensurate with their skills, leaving a hole that is filled by skilled ex-pats, who are content to earn less than they might in other countries but live well thanks to Bulgaria’s low prices.
See the visas section for information on entering, staying in and working in the country.
The National Employment Agency can provide advice on job seeking and hiring, and lets you apply for vacancies listed in government job centres.
Tax And Social Insurance
There is a flat rate of 10% income tax and 13% social security contributions (pension, health, unemployment etc.), deducted at source. Employers also make a contribution. You will need a social security number to make these payments, but your employer will usually take care of getting one for you. Although you pay in from day one, eligibility for social security benefits doesn’t begin until you have completed six months’ full-time employment.
Your health payment contributions will go to a private health insurance scheme. It is your responsibility to understand exactly what your package provides and to add anything else you think necessary, e.g. dental care.
If you are self-employed, you should note that a business is expected to pay a minimum wage to its owners as well as its staff. In 2017, owners were expected to be paid at least BGN 460 (£198) per month.
The state pension is currently around BGN 150 per month, for someone who has worked a full 40 years in Bulgaria. A private pension is highly recommended.
Are any skills in particular demand?
Bulgaria has a general shortfall of skilled workers, but the fields of IT and Engineering are particularly in demand.
Do I need to speak the local language?
You will be expected to understand Bulgarian well enough to work at the skill level for which you were hired. Non-native speakers will almost always be asked to complete both an oral and written language test. The Bulgarian alphabet is based on Cyrillic, so this must also be mastered.
If you are able to speak more than one language, this could be extremely advantageous in finding a job, especially if you are looking for a role that involves interacting with non-Bulgarians. For example, if you want to work in customer support and you speak a Scandinavian language, or one of the less well-represented European languages (e.g. Dutch,) then you have a good chance of getting a well-paid job.
Typical working hours and annual holiday entitlement
Bulgaria has a definitive Labour Code that lays down a range of rights in black and white.
Working days are fixed at eight hours, and working weeks at 40 hours. Extended working time is allowed by prior arrangement, and is usually compensated for by time off in lieu.
Paid annual leave, once you have been with one employer for eight months, cannot be less than 20 working days.
Qualifications And Training
Experience is the most important thing. It does not need to be translated into a Bulgarian equivalent. Bring your certificates to the interview.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
All those entering Bulgaria should have at least six months of validity remaining on their passports, counted from the date they travel.
Many nationalities will qualify for entry to Bulgaria without a visa for a period of up to 90 days, whilst for others, it may only be up to 30 days, within each six-month period. This 30- or 90-day visa-free period does not entitle you to work and is intended for tourism, recreation, or short-term visits to friends or family. In order to work in Bulgaria, citizens of most countries will require a visa and work permit.
You may also need a visa before you travel if you’re planning to stay for a period of longer than 90 days, or if your intended visit would mean that you have been in Bulgaria for more than 90 days in the last 180 days. Any separate visits to Bulgaria within the previous 180 days will count against the 90-day limit. As Bulgaria is not within the Schengen area, visits to other EU countries will not count against this total.
For British passport holders, the rules and regulations are subject to change depending on the outcome of leaving the European Union. Therefore, if you are intending to visit any country in the EU in the foreseeable future, make sure you stay up-to-date with any requirements. UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry and exit, as well as airside transit.
Immigration authorities in Bulgaria may ask you to prove that you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay and/or proof of a return or onward travel ticket.
Valid health insurance is required, and it is possible that you may be asked for evidence of this too.
All foreigners visiting Bulgaria are required to register as foreigners at a local police station within five days of arrival. This registration is usually done on your behalf through the hotel or accommodation provider that you are using, assuming you are visiting as a tourist. However, it is worth checking at the reception desk to confirm this. If the hotel confirms that they have submitted this registration on your behalf, enquire whether you can have a copy of the registration slip, in case you need it when you exit the country.
Visa C – Nationals of countries that do not qualify for visa exemption can apply for visa C if they wish to travel to Bulgaria. This is valid for single or multiple entries with stays that do not exceed the 90-day limit within a six-month period.
Visa D – This visa is typically issued to students, long-term business travellers, work permit holders or investors. A personal interview is required in order to obtain this visa. This visa can also be granted to foreigners who have married a Bulgarian citizen permanently residing in Bulgaria. Eligible pensioners can also apply for visa D. Family members, such as spouses, dependent children and, in some cases, parents can qualify, as well as those who work for NGOs and charities operating in Bulgaria.
Visa A – This visa is valid for an airport transfer only, and is for those who do not qualify for visa exemption.
If you are a foreign national wishing to apply for a Bulgarian visa, you will need to hold a valid passport issued within the last 10 years. The passport will need to have a minimum validity of three months beyond your intended departure from the Republic of Bulgaria. It must also contain at least two blank pages for stamps and visas.
You can apply for a visa at your local embassy or consulate, and you should do this no more than three months before you intend to travel.
You should complete and sign your visa application in either English or Bulgarian. If you are from the European Union and wish to extend your application to your family, you can fill in the relevant fields on the paperwork.
For visa D applications, a personal interview must be conducted with no exceptions.
Applications must be accompanied by relevant supporting documents, such as:
• Photocopies of your passport
• Photocopies of your most recent Bulgarian and Schengen visas, and, if applicable, your latest visas to the UK and the US
• Two recent passport-size photographs to passport specifications (i.e. white background, colour photo, clear shot of head and shoulders etc.)
• Proof of medical insurance valid in the EU for the duration of the trip; this will need to state cover all costs in regards to repatriation, urgent medical care, and emergency hospital treatment; the insurance cover cannot be less than €30,000
• Tickets (both original and a copy) or ticket booking confirmation, or proof of sufficient financial means for the duration of your trip
• If applicable, copies of birth certificates for your children
• Payment of any applicable visa application fees
The Republic of Bulgaria does not issue open work permits.
In order to obtain a Bulgarian work permit, you need to have secured a job with an employer based in Bulgaria first.
Work permit applications are filed by your employer on your behalf and are issued by the Employment Agency at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
The employer is also required to submit the following supporting documents in addition to the specific application form:
• A letter stating the reasons for the request
• Three passport-size photos of the employee
• A copy of the company’s certificate of incorporation
• Copies of the employee’s education and qualification certificates
• The employment contract
• A copy of the employee’s valid passport
Bulgarian work permits are valid for one year (on a renewable basis) and allow you to work for a single company/employer. There are exemptions for citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland, who do not require a work permit to be authorised to work in Bulgaria. This condition is not applicable if you have obtained permanent residence or claimed asylum in another country.
Regardless of the type of permit being requested, you are required to open a bank account in Bulgaria. The bank will then issue a confirmation letter to support your permit application.
A residence permit is compulsory for all foreign nationals, regardless of their nationality. It must be requested within 90 days of your arrival in Bulgaria. There are two types of residence permits, the long-stay permit and the permanent residence permit. The long-stay permit is valid for one year for non-European nationals and for five years for European nationals. The permanent resident visa has an unlimited validity.
Long-stay resident permit
The long-stay resident permit is issued to foreign nationals holding a valid work permit, spouses of Bulgarian citizens, qualifying foreign investors, eligible retirees, family members of visa D holders, children (or grandchildren) of Bulgarian citizens, and full-time foreign students studying at an accredited institution.
An application for the long-stay permit must be made at the Sofia Immigration Office or at your local Police Immigration Department in Bulgaria. For applicants who are nationals of any European Union country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Sweden, the supporting documents you will need for your application are as follows:
• Completed and signed application forms
• A valid passport
• Proof of address
• Employment contract or company registration certificate (whichever is applicable)
• Proof of health insurance, translated into Bulgarian
• Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependants throughout the duration of your stay
For nationals of other countries, in addition to the above, you may require:
• Proof of accommodation and other facilities during your stay in the country
• Proof of compulsory social or commercial insurance covering you for the duration of your stay in Bulgaria
European nationals have to pay a resident tax upon filing their application form. A temporary resident permit will be issued upon receipt of payment. The long-stay resident card will be issued within three months of application.
The permanent residence permit is issued by the Ministry of Interior. You can become eligible to apply for permanent residence once you have resided in the country for five continuous years. Permanent residence allows you to enjoy the same rights as Bulgarian citizens, except the right to vote.
The permanent residence permit must be requested within 60 days of your long-stay resident permit’s expiration date, and it should then be issued to you within two months.
Information is taken from: