According to the World Bank, Bulgaria is an industrialised high-income country (2023 est.). It is a member of the European Union (EU), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).
Bulgaria has undergone a significant transformation over the past three decades. It has moved from a highly centralised, planned economy to an open, market-based, upper-middle-income economy securely anchored in the European Union (EU). In its initial transition to a market economy, the country went through a decade of slow economic restructuring and growth, high indebtedness, and loss of savings.
The Bulgarian economy has experienced significant growth (538%), starting from $13.15 billion (nominal, 2000) and reaching an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of $86 billion or $203 billion (PPP, 2022 est.), GDP per capita of $31,148 (PPP, 2022 est.), average gross monthly salary of 1,676 leva (857 euro) (December 2021), and an average net monthly salary of $1,838 (2021). The national currency is the lev (plural leva), pegged to the euro at a rate of 1.95583 leva for 1 euro. The lev is the most robust and stable currency in Eastern Europe.
The most vital sectors in the economy are energy, mining, metallurgy, machine building, agriculture, and tourism. Primary industrial exports are clothing, iron and steel, machinery, and refined fuels.
Sofia is the capital and economic heart of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in the country, as well as the Bulgarian National Bank and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. Plovdiv is the second-largest city and has one of the largest economies in Bulgaria. Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Situated strategically in the Gulf of Varna, Varna is economically among the best-performing and fastest-growing Bulgarian cities.
SMEs play a vital role in the Bulgarian ‘non-financial business economy. They generate two-thirds of total value added and three-quarters of full employment, far exceeding the respective EU averages of 56.4% and 66.6%.
SMEs in Bulgaria employ an average of 4.4 people, surpassing the EU average of 3.9. Annual SME productivity, calculated as value added per person employed, is approximately €12,800. In contrast, the EU average is almost 3.5 times higher, at €44,600.
As in many EU countries, the essential SME sectors in Bulgaria, in terms of both employment and value-added, are manufacturing, wholesale, and retail trade.
Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
Eastern European Time (UTC+2)
1 January – 31 December (calendar year)
Headline rate 20%; reduced rate of 9%; plus zero-rated categories
National Minimum Wage:
BGN 645 (EUR 330) per month
Taxpayer Identification Numbers:
10-digit TIN for foreigners from National Revenue Agency
10-digit Unified Civil Number (UCN) for Bulgarian citizens
Main trading partners:
Germany, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Greece, Russia.