1. Work permits
1.1. General rules
Foreigners may work in Bulgaria only after obtaining a work permit, unless otherwise stipulated by the law. The grounds for obtaining a work permit are signing by the Foreigner of an employment contract with a Bulgarian employer, or sending of the Foreigner to a business trip for undertaking of certain activities in Bulgaria.
European citizens may be employed, self-employed or commissioned to a business trip and may work in Bulgaria without restrictions and without the need of work permits.
Work permits required for Foreigners must be requested by the local employer and are issued by the Bulgarian Employment Agency. A number of legal terms and conditions must be met for the permit to be issued. Work permits are issued for a maximum duration of 1 year. If a work permit is granted to a Foreigner on the basis of a signed employment contract with a local employer, generally, such a permit can be extended, if the terms and conditions for its issuance are still valid, but the total duration may not exceed 3 (three) years. The term of validity of a work permit issued to a Foreigner, who is sent on a business trip, cannot be extended for further one-year periods, unless by exception.
Bulgarian employers must report signed labour contracts with Foreigners and European citizens at the National Revenue Agency within 3 days from their signing.
European citizens, who are sent on a business trip to Bulgaria, are subject to one-off registration at the Bulgarian Employment Agency, which is performed by the local person accepting the seconded employees.
1.2. Foreigners who generally do not require a work permit in Bulgaria
Outlined below is a list of the main categories of foreigners who may work in Bulgaria without the need of possessing a work permit:
• Managers of companies or branches of foreign legal entities
• Members of the Managing Board or Board of Directors of local companies, who are not employed on a labour contract
• Trade representatives of foreign companies registered at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
• Foreigners who have obtained long-term or permanent residence status in Bulgaria, and
• Family members of a European citizen or of a Foreigner who has been granted long-term residence status in Bulgaria.
1.3. Foreigners who may work on short-term assignments without a work permit
Foreigners may also be engaged to perform short-term assignments without a work permit under the following conditions:
• They are sent on a business trip to Bulgaria by their foreign employer
• The assignment in Bulgaria is no longer than 3 months within a period of one year
• The assignment encompasses any of the following: (i) the installation or the warranty repair of imported machinery and equipment; (ii) training in the operating of equipment or the delivery of ordered equipment, machines or other items; (iii) training as part of an export contract for the supply of goods under a license agreement.
For this purpose a one-off registration of the Foreigner should be performed at the Bulgarian Employment Agency before commencement of the assignment.