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Explore the market: Bulgaria

Bułgaria Sofia

The Bulgarian eCommerce market is one of those worth watching closely. Its development, growth, transformation shows big potential, especially in such industries as fashion, electronics, and media. We have prepared some interesting information about this country: what to focus on, how to start a business, etc.  We hope you find it useful.

Some statistic data

Population: 7 mln

GDP per capita in 2019:  $9,828

Official languages: Bulgarian

Purchasing power: 0,7 LCU per international dollars

E-commerce market

Size of the e-commerce market

Revenue in the eCommerce market is projected to reach US$874m in 2021. It’s expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2025) of 12.74%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$1,411m by 2025. The market’s largest segment is Fashion with a projected market volume of US$316m in 2021. User penetration will be 44.2% in 2021 and is expected to hit 58.3% by 2025. The average revenue per user (ARPU) is expected to amount to US$286.30.

More info: https://www.statista.com/outlook/dmo/ecommerce/bulgaria

E-commerce in Bulgaria is estimated at around 0,7 B EUR in 2019 thus representing 1,3% of total retail revenue. The expectations for annual growth (CAGR 2019-2024) are around 21% reaching 1,8 B. EUR by 2024. The market’s largest segment is Fashion with a market volume of 228,6 mil. EUR in 2019.

More info: https://heureka.group/bulgaria

Average basket value

The average basket value of Bulgarian consumers is around 150 EUR, with projected growth to more than 200 EUR in the next three to four years.

Most popular marketplaces

  • emag.bg
  • remixshop.com
  • fashiondays.bg
  • technopolis.bg
  • obuvki.bg

More info: https://ecommercedb.com/en/markets/bg/all

Returns / complaints – legal regulations

Under EU rules, a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised. If customer bought a product or a service online or outside of a shop (by telephone, mail order, from a door-to-door salesperson), he also have the right to cancel and return your order within 14 days, for any reason and without a justification.

More info: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/guarantees-returns/index_en.htm

Most popular industries and product categories

Fashion is the biggest e-commerce segment in Bulgaria, with a revenue of US$ 229.3 million in 2017, followed by electronics and media (US$ 169.8 in revenue), food and personal care, furniture and appliances, and toys and hobbies.

More info: https://www.nordeatrade.com/en/explore-new-market/bulgaria/e-commerce

Permits, licenses, certificates by industry

As a foreign individual trying to establish a business in Bulgaria, you will be happy to find out that the same conditions which must be accomplished by a local entrepreneur must be accomplished by you too and nothing extra.

All Bulgarian investors must follow the regulations of the Commercial Code and must register at the Trade Register before starting any type of commercial activity in Bulgaria.

The private companies willing to go public must respect the regulation of the Public Offering of Securities Act and must receive a license from the Financial Supervision Commission or obtain a trading permit under the Public Offering of Securities Act.

Also, keep in mind that the special investment purpose companies have specific requirements which must be accomplished before beginning the trades.

To obtain a license from the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission you must present a series of documents such as information on the company’s capital amount and structure; the origin of the amounts on the basis the capital was covered, requirements of the members of managerial or supervisory boards. This information can be found in the E-Register of the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission. Under Bulgarian Law, the electronic documents submitted to the system e-Register must be signed by electronic signature.

Public companies are required to publicly disclose the information specified by law for their activities on the FSC website. The Commission shall maintain a register of all regulated entities – including public companies and other issuers – including information about their activities, details of shareholdings, the headquarters of the company, management, annual and periodic reports, and more. This register is public, which means that every citizen has the right to access it.

The special investment purpose company are joint-stock company established for multiple reasons, such as collecting cash through the issuance of securities or purchase of real estate to make them available for management, letting, leasing or tenancy.

After registration in the Commercial Register of such entities, but not later than six months, the members of the Board of Directors of your special investment purpose company must issue an application to the Financial Supervision Commission for receiving a special license. Along with the application, you must deliver the constitutive documents (usually the Articles of Association), the prospectus for the mandatory increase of the capital through a public offering, a certificate from the bank stating the deposited capital, the name of the individuals keeping more than 5 percent from the shares with voting rights, evidence of the origin of the funds serving as a source of the contributions. The license is granted no later than one month by the FSC.

Apart from observing these requirements for special permits and licenses for functioning, some companies will also be required to perform an EORI registration.

https://www.lawyers-bulgaria.com/special-permits-and-licenses-for-bulgarian-companies

Preferred payment methods, trusted payment providers

As for payment methods, 80% of Bulgarian online shoppers prefer to pay via mobile, 16% pay by credit card, 2% by eWallet, and 1% by bank transfer.

More info: https://www.nordeatrade.com/en/explore-new-market/bulgaria/e-commerce

Logistics

Expected delivery time

Whether you choose to have your parcels collected from your home or work address and depending on what service you select, you can usually expect delivery of your parcels to Bulgaria within 2-3 days or 6 days via our economy road service.

Most popular courier companies

ECONT, Speedy, DHL

Most popular delivery method

Door delivery is the most expected option, pick-up point from Econt local offices is the second one.

Same day delivery

Bulgarian consumers are not very strict with their expectations regarding quick delivery, same-day delivery is not necessary, to get your parcel in 24-48 h is enough for them. It’s well appreciated if the package has nice, personalized packaging.

Shipping package regulations

Bulgaria has certain restrictions for those shipping home computers, alcohol, jewelry, and silver into the country. Electrical items and furniture are among the items subject to certain duty fees and must be shipped with documentation that includes an invoice.

All medications need to be current, and any animal or plant specimens must include the appropriate documentation.

Running a business in BG

Registering a branch of a foreign company

Every trader can open a branch outside the locality where it is registered, be registered with the Commercial Register. A foreign-registered person entitled to conduct business under its national law, to organize its business in Bulgaria in the form of a branch of a foreign entity the branch of a foreign merchant in the Commercial Register does not rise to a new entity. A foreign dealer is a party to legal relationships involving registered in Bulgaria through a branch and meets with all their possessions to those obligations. In disputes arising from direct dealings with the branch of a foreign trader, claims may be brought and the headquarters of the branch. The branch of a foreign trader keeps business books as an independent trader and establishes a separate sheet.

According to the Bulgarian Commercial Law and applicable Bulgarian legislation that the following entities:

  • Sole trader – ET
  • General partnership – BD
  • Limited Company – Ltd
  • Single-member limited liability – LTD
  • Joint Stock Company – AD
  • Limited Partnership – Limited Partnership
  • Limited partnership with shares – KDA

All except Sole trader represented entities. Their founders can become Bulgarian or foreign natural and legal persons. All businesses must be entered in the commercial register

Sole trader

A sole trader is an individual/physical/. Established by Bulgarian or foreign citizen having the necessary permanent residence in Bulgaria. A person can register as a sole trader with a company. The minimum initial capital of the company is not defined by law. Founder liable for debts of the company and with his personal property. Sole traders participated in the same property as in civil and in turnover. A sole trader is recommended for persons at the beginning of their business when the company does not imply acceptance of the major duties. The company name must contain no abbreviations and last name or middle name of the founder and the designation “sole proprietor” or “Sole trader“.

Benefits:

  • complete independence in decision-making and profit-sharing.
  • relatively easy, quick, and inexpensive registration procedure.
  • the law does not require initial capital.

Disadvantages:

  • trader complies with all my personal property for the obligations of the entity.
  • relatively low confidence by banks when granting loans.
General partnership – BD

A general partnership is a typical representative of the partnerships, which are generally created by well-known founders. In this type of company, participants are united by a particular individual (personal) work. They must be at least two and bear joint and unlimited liability for debts of the company, including personal property (except such inaccessible – housing, salary, etc. (Inaccessible property – minimum rights, without which individuals cannot exist)). The relationship between the founders is determined by the memorandum. They are required to personally participate in the activities of the Board.

The minimum initial capital of the company is not established by law, so this form is suitable for individuals who have little or limited resources and where the company does not imply acceptance of the major duties. Each founding member has the right to manage the company. But without the consent of the other founders, he has no right to participate in other companies or enter transactions relating to the objects of the company itself.

Benefits:

  • the law does not specify a minimum amount of capital on incorporation.
  • form of association appropriate for the development of family business is not large.

Disadvantages:

  • members responsible for the debts of the company with its entire property, i.e. in an action against the plaintiff company can make claims against one or more partners;
  • the necessity of unanimity in decision-making on a range of issues.
  • need a relatively high degree of trust between partners.
  • may encounter difficulties in finding external funding sources.

http://www.lawyersbulgaria.org/content/2011/681/bulgarian-companies-legal-form/

Bank account, banking regulations

In Bulgaria, you can opt for one of the twenty-three commercial banks operating in Bulgaria to provide the full range of banking services such as the opening of an accrual account, the opening of a current account, online banking amongst others. Most of the banks can also issue an electronic token and you can operate with bank account from all over the world.

Here is a brief overview of the limits on fund transfers:

  • There are no limits or restrictions on the monthly amount of incoming fund transfers. In addition, there are no limits on the amount of a single incoming fund transfer transaction.
  • When it comes to outgoing fund transfers, there are no limits either. However, there is a legal requirement for the banks to require their customers to fill in a standard declaration on the source of the funds for every outward fund transfer over BGN 30 000 (approx. EUR 15 000). Along with the declarations on the source of funds, the bank requires the invoices for the said payment(s).
  • The limits for E-banking transfer can reach EUR 150 000 (for a single outward fund transfer).

The required documents for the opening of a bank account in Bulgaria are the following:

For foreign legal entities

  • Official documents certifying the registration, existence, and representation of the company (from the Trade Register in the country of registration)
  • Copy of the Articles of Association
  • Know your Customer questionnaire
  • Beneficial ownership declaration
  • Valid ID document of the representative of the company
  • Declaration of Political engagement (by the representative)
  • Declaration on the source of income

For Non-resident individuals

  • Know your Customer questionnaire
  • Beneficial ownership declaration
  • Valid ID document
  • International Passport
  • Declaration of Political engagement
  • Declaration on the source of income

At this initial stage, you are not required to visit the bank. The preliminary check of documents by the banks may take up to one month.

More info: https://www.mondaq.com/financial-services/1052006/opening-a-bank-account-in-bulgaria

Import/export regulations

As part of the European Union, Bulgaria is also part of the EU’s Customs Union. This enables you to trade with all citizens and companies of the European Union without having to go through administrative procedures for import or export and the payment of customs duties.

For the realization of goods outside the EU, however, you must comply with the customs procedures for the export to non-EU countries and the respective import procedure of the third country. More information on the customs regimes and import and export permits you may find on the following website.

The customs procedures are uniform for all EU Member States and therefore these are governed by acts of the European Union. The main act is Regulation No. 952/2013, also known as Union Customs Code („UCC“). The rules, regulated by the UCC, are supplemented, and complemented by the following European acts:

The Bulgarian Customs Act is of a subsidiary nature, and it governs only matters that are not regulated in the European acts. Furthermore, the Customs Act governs the setting up and organization of the Customs Agency and the activities, carried out by its bodies. The relevant regulatory documents can be found both on the website of the National Customs Agency, as well as on the website of the Official Gazette of the EU.

In the case of export (i.e. physical exporting of goods outside the EU’s Customs Union), no customs duties are payable for export from the EU Member States, except for specific exceptional cases. In these cases, import customs duties are payable in the country, to the territory of which the goods are imported. While the administrative procedure for the export is governed by the rules, the administrative procedure for the import is governed by the local legislation of the country, where the import takes place and maybe specific for the respective country.

When performing import (i.e., import of goods within the customs territory of the EU, under the regime for the free use of goods) import customs duties are payable, in accordance with EU’s common customs tariff, as additional information is available at the following address. The administrative import procedures are governed by the European acts.

In many cases of export from the EU (import to third countries) or import to the EU, the payable customs duty depends on decisions, related to binding origin information (“BOI“) for the goods, often known in practice as certificates of origin of the goods. For the purposes of import to the territory of the EU, the rules on the issuance of a certificate of origin of the goods are governed by art. 33 of the UCC. The origin of the exported goods must be identified to apply tariff and other significant criteria (e.g., in order to ensure eligibility for preferential customs duties when importing goods to the EU).

According to art. 33 of the UCC, such a certificate is issued based on an application, submitted to the respective customs authorities. Тhe Certificates of Origin are only applicable for customs purposes for the respective goods and with respect to the person, to whom the certificate is issued, and not a general effect on all persons for all similar goods.

https://www.mi.government.bg/en/pages/vnos-i-iznos-na-stoki-izvan-teritoriyata-na-es-297.html

Tax rules: Corporation tax

The basic VAT (in Bulgarian: данък върху добавената стойност) is 20%, reduced 9% on tourist services. Export and transactions are free of VAT due to international agreements. Other excise duties: alcohol (not including wine), tobacco and cigarettes, gambling, petrol, natural gas, and electricity (0% for electricity for households).

The Bulgarian fiscal year starts on the 1st of January and ends on the 31st of December of the same year. Financial statements are based on liability accounts made up of constant capital and debts because there is a distinction between long and short-term debts. The profit and loss account gives priority to the repository of the global production and leaves the choice of cost classification either by nature or by function. Companies must publish their financial statements with an appendix every year.

https://heureka.group/bulgaria

VAT registration thresholds

For foreign businesses trading in Bulgaria that are VAT/GST/Tax registered in their home state, the VAT registration threshold is nil. For EU VAT registered companies selling goods over the internet (distance selling) to consumers in Bulgaria, the VAT registration threshold is BGN 70,000 per annum.

More info: https://www.avalara.com/vatlive/en/country-guides/europe/bulgaria/bulgarian-vat-registration.html

The standard VAT rate in Bulgaria is 20%. Most supplies in Bulgaria are liable to VAT and legal entities and tax liable individuals must register for VAT in Bulgaria at the competent authorities. Reduced rates and exemptions are available. Our Bulgarian lawyers can help you register for VAT in Bulgaria.

VAT registration is required for all Bulgarian companies and Bulgarian tax liable persons who produce VAT taxable sales in Bulgaria that reach the 50,000 BGN limit (approximately 26,000 euros) within a financial year. Any legal entities or taxable individuals who record taxable sales below this limit can register for VAT voluntarily.

https://www.lawyers-bulgaria.com/vat-registration-in-bulgaria

Customer preferences

Willing to buy from foreign sellers

60% of online purchases come from international sources. 41% of the sellers are from the EU, 19% from the rest of the world.

https://heureka.group/bulgaria

Most popular countries for import of goods

People from Bulgaria choose products from EU countries, especially Germany, Turkey, Italy, Romania, and Greece.

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