To succeed in your expansion into Bulgaria, employers and employees must have a strong understanding of the Bulgarian work culture. The Republic of Bulgaria’s expanding and increasingly diversified economy, interaction with its regional neighbours and membership in global institutions have many attractions for foreign companies and international investment.

Bulgaria has a Black Sea coastline and includes the River Danube, which marks most of its border with Romania, a mountainous interior and sprawling lowlands. Bulgaria also has borders with Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. At the eastern end of the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria is at the crossroads of north-south routes to the Mediterranean basin and from the west and central Europe to the Middle East. Culture and heritage include Greek, Ottoman, Persian and Slavic influences, and it is one of the oldest nations of continental Europe. There is a mix of east and west as displayed by its heritage, architecture, cuisine and religions. Bulgarians comprise 80% of the population, with Turks the most significant minority, plus Armenians, Russians, Greeks and Romanians.

Bulgaria joined the European Union (EU) in 2007, NATO in 2004 and the International Monetary Fund in 1990. It is also a member of the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. Bulgaria is pursuing membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and is part of the OECD’s South East Europe regional program. Membership of the EU’s ‘free market’ means incoming companies and workers will be part of a varied employment market likely to feature several nationalities.

As a global Professional Employment Organisation (PEO), we aim to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about the Bulgarian work culture, we want to support your Global Expansion plans.

The Basics of the Bulgarian Work Culture

  • Language: English is taught in schools and widely used in business, at least in the capital Sofia and other major cities and business centres. Outside of these, it may be wise to engage an interpreter.
  • Punctuality: You are expected to be on time. If using public transport in the cities, study the timetables.
  • Getting Started: Face-to-face contact is essential to building business relationships and trust. Relying on emails will not move things along at the desired pace.
  • Negotiations: Where ‘yes’ means ‘no’, and ‘no’ means ‘yes’ … unlike in the body language most western Europeans are used to. Bulgarians shake their head side to side to indicate agreement, but nodding up and down means ‘no’—something to get used to in early meetings and negotiations. Once the relationship develops, Bulgarians will be voluble and enjoy discussion – verbal agreements are a good sign, but always go for contracts. Expect to deal with the top management for decisions when you want to move matters forward.
  • Greetings: maintain eye contact as you make a firm handshake. Titles will be used initially, though your opposite number will likely move quickly to first names.
  • Business Cards: These should show your job title and professional qualifications and are exchanged without undue formality at the first meeting
  • Dress Codes: Smart, conservative and stylish is safest for both sexes
  • Gift Giving: Something modest and thoughtful from the home country will suffice; fine wine is always appreciated. ‘Going expensive’ at the first meeting may be misinterpreted
  • Out of Hours: Business meals with alcohol are an integral part of the business process. Wait to be invited to sit by the host and wish ‘Nazdrave’ –‘Good Health’ – to each of your fellow guests as a toast.

Labour Law and Bulgarian Work Culture

Bulgarian Minimum Wage

The 2022 minimum remained at BGN 645 (€332, US$349) per month, as set by the Council of Ministers. However, there were proposals in April 2022 from the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation to increase the minimum to BGN 710 (€363, US$382) per month.

Probation Periods in Bulgaria

Trial periods are a maximum of six months. If the probation exceeds the fixed-term trial period, the arrangement becomes permanent and indefinite.

Working Hours in Bulgaria

The regular working week is 40 hours based on five eight-hour days, as ruled in the Labour Code. The permitted 30-minute break is not considered working time. Employers can increase working hours by written agreement or consultation with workers’ representatives to 10 hours daily.

Overtime in Bulgaria

Working extra hours cannot exceed 150 annually or 30 in a calendar month, six hours a week or more than three hours on two consecutive days. Remuneration above basic hourly pay is 50% on regular work days, 75% for working on holidays and 100% on public holidays.


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