Buying and Selling

flag Bulgaria Bulgaria: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
International Economic Cooperation
Bulgaria is member of : the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, etc.

For further information, please consult the website of the Ministry of Economy of Bulgaria.

Non Tariff Barriers
Bulgaria's trade policy is the same as those of other members of the European Union. Non-tariff barriers include agricultural and manufacturing subsidies, import restrictions for some goods and services, market access restrictions in some service sectors, non-transparent and restrictive regulations and standards, and inconsistent customs administration across EU members.
For further information, consult the Country Commercial guide "Doing Business in Bulgaria" by Buyusa.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
20% for non-European countries.


Customs Classification
Bulgaria joined the EU on January 1, 2007 and became part of the EU customs union. Bulgaria applies the Harmonised Customs system on the basis of the TARIC classification.
Import Procedures
Importation processes require:
- A customs declaration document
- A post-clearance examination of relevant documents or data
- Submission of an invoice or Pro-Forma invoice, a certificate of origin or a certificate of the movement of the goods in order to take advantage of preferential customs treatment, transport documents, an insurance policy, a specification, an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI) and a packing list
- A veterinary or physio-sanitary certificate for goods of animal or plant origin
- Other documents or laboratory analyses
- An EC Safety & Security regulation and the Advance Cargo Declaration are mandatory for all goods leaving, arriving or moving through the EC

A Bulgarian decree is required for the non-automatic licenses of nuclear materials, explosives, arms, dual-use commodities, plant protection products, and pharmaceuticals for human medicine. Bulgarian Customs exercises control over the export, import, re-export and transit of arms and dual-use goods and technologies.  Bulgarian regulations follow the EU list of dual-use goods.

For more information, please visit the website of Bulgarian Customs.
Importing Samples
Samples are subject to the same procedures.  The customs officials are authorized to seize a sample of merchandise in order to analyze it.
 
 
For Further Information
Customs office
Bulgarian Export Association

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
With a GDP per capita of USD 11,320 (IMF, 2021), the Bulgarian consumer is the poorest in the EU, but wealthier than most other nations in the Balkans. Bulgaria has an ageing and shrinking population as; in 2020, youth aged 0-24 accounted for 23.92% (est.) of the total population and in 2021 the natural growth rate is -0.67% (CIA World Factbook).
The consumer market is characterised by significant income inequalities with Bulgaria having the highest Gini index score among EU member states (40 points in 2020 - Eurostat).
Consumer Behaviour
Strong wage increases coupled with steady economic growth have reshaped the spending habits of Bulgarian consumers over recent years. City-dwellers in particular show growing interest in dining out as well as healthy and organic products (17% of Bulgarians state they have a strong interest in healthy lifestyles according to a national representative study - Knoema, latest data available). Bulgarian consumers prefer buying from local stores near where they live or work, despite the increasing presence of hypermarkets and general retailers (mostly of German origin).
Online shopping is also increasingly popular among Bulgarian consumers and it is expected that the compound annual growth rate for the next four years (2021-2025) will be 12.74%. The eCommerce market had a revenue of USD 712 million in 2020. More than half of the online population (58.3%) is expected to shop online by 2025 (Statistica). Nonetheless, e-commerce has considerable growth potential as its share in enterprises’ revenues is only 11%, the lowest in the EU (Eurostat - 2020).
Consumers Associations
Bulgarian National Consumers Association (BNACC)
Main Advertising Agencies
Publicis
Wunderman Thompson
Gobox
Dentsu Digital Camp

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Despite a GDP growth higher than the EU average, the Bulgarian retail industry experienced significant turmoil in 2016, with the franchise-operated supermarket Carrefour filing for bankruptcy and the domestic supermarkets chain Piccadilly downscaling its business by two-thirds. Actually, the trend of optimization of retailers’ store numbers emerged starting in 2011 when some local retailers had to shut down/sell outlets. Some of Bulgaria’s large hypermarkets and supermarket chains are merging, new entities are being rebranded, others are closing down, and a few others are opening new outlets.

Today, the Bulgarian modern retail market is divided between few brands:
-    Kaufland: 58 stores
-    Lidl: 88 stores
-    Billa: 128 stores
-    Metro Cash&Carry: 11 stores
-    T-market: 69 stores
-    Hit: 2 stores
-    Pro-market: 21 stores
-    Plus (acquired by Lidl)
-    CBA: 146 stores

And the local food market channels:
-    Fantastico: 42 points of sale
-    345 Magazin: 16 stores
Market share

According to Euromonitor International, the Bulgarian distribution market continues to be supported mainly by traditional and often independent grocery stores and stores, which are estimated at around 38,005. The more modern chain stores are growing slowly and there were about 3,301 in 2019.
The market is quite competitive, and the main distributors are:

  • Kaufland - market share estimated at 29% in 2019, according to USDA's latest data available (60 stores)
  • Lidl (99 stores)
  • Metro (11 stores)
  • Billa (130 stores)
Retail Sector Organisations
Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce
Franchising in Bulgaria
Ministry of Trade and Industry

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E-commerce

Internet access

By the end of 2017, Bulgaria had a population of 7 million people, out of which 4.6 million were internet users, making the penetration rate 66.3%. Out of those users, 97% of 16-24 year olds, 92% of 25-34 year olds and 88% of 35-44 year olds went online daily. The older generation also uses the Internet regularly, with 45-54 year olds and people aged over 55 showing a 79% and 74% daily penetration rate, respectively.  Internet speeds and connection reliability in the capital are ranked among the fastest in the world. The government has developed a plan to further connect the country, and its main goal is to improve and expand Bulgaria's broadband infrastructure in remote and sparsely populated areas, as they represent a deficit in the use of internet and all related services. Even though there is a gap between urban and rural connectivity rates, a key factor is that the income of most households living in rural areas is lower than the average for the country. Therefore, the lack of connectivity in Bulgaria households is not due to infrastructural issues, but rather financial reasons. According to the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria, only 0.2% of the households that don't have internet access at home declare that they aren't connected because broadband is not available in their area, while 9% of unconnected households state that it's due to the high cost. As of September 2018, the most popular browsers in the country by market share were Chrome (69.16%), Firefox (12.52%), Safari (6.98%), IE (3.25%), Opera (2.41%) and Samsung Internet (2.17%). As for search engines, the most popular one by far was Google (98.44%), followed by Bing (0.7%) and Yahoo! (0.58%).

E-commerce market
Bulgaria ranks second in southern Europe in terms of e-commerce and is one of fastest growing e-commerce markets in Europe. According to Statista, Bulgaria's e-commerce revenue was estimated at US$ 525 million for 2017, which accounts for 1.05% of the GDP, and indicates a growth of 118% compared to 2016. In 2017, there were 3.6 million e-commerce users in Bulgaria, a number that is expected to grow to 3.8 million by 2022. The average revenue per user in the e-commerce market amounts to US$ 157.49 in 2018 and is expected to reach US$ 210.29 by 2022. 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. 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. The major challenges with e-commerce in Bulgaria are technical malfunctioning of websites during ordering or payment, speed of delivery longer than indicated, difficulties in finding information concerning guarantees, and wrong or damaged goods delivered. According to the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria, the main reasons why people don't shop online is because they prefer to shop in person, to see products, are loyal to shops, or just due to force of habit. Cross-border shopping is becoming more popular, and according to the 2017 European E-commerce Report, 10% of e-shoppers in Bulgaria make purchases from foreign websites. Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in Bulgaria are olx.bg, bazar.bg and pazaruvaj.com.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Bulgaria is well-situated, between Western Europe and Turkey however the roads and railways are badly maintained. The train remains the best way to transport goods in the country.
A bilateral agreement on transport of goods by road and the promotion of combined transport between Bulgaria and the European Community was signed in July 2000. With regard to goods transport, the bilateral agreement establishing certain conditions for the carriage of goods by road and the promotion of combined transport entered into force in 2001.
However, the capacity of the Ministry of Transport to prepare, manage and monitor trans-European network projects is still inadequate.
Ports
The site of Burgas's port
The site of Varna's port
Airports
Sofia Airport
Sea Transport Organisations
Bulgarian Maritime Administration
Ministry of Transport Bulgaria
Air Transport Organisations
Bulgarian Air traffic Authority
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organisations
Bulgarian State Railways

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
For the resources for businesses on managing the manufacturing and the supply chain risk due to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, please consult the report COVID-19: Managing supply chain risk and disruption (Deloitte Canada, 2020), as well as the insights on COVID-19: How to fortify your supply chain (Kearney, 2020).
The World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform provides useful information on the latest strategic trends regarding COVID-19 implications for businesses, including manufacturing and supply systems. The report Outbreak Readiness and Business Impact (World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute) offers insights on handling coronavirus by businesses and strategies for effective response and resilience.

The industrial sector represents 30% of economic activity in Bulgaria and employs 30% of the active population.  Principal industrial activities are centered on electricity, gas, chemical products, nuclear energy and the petroleum industry.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
All.biz - Bulgaria - Directory of companies in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Trade Directory - Bulgaria trade directory
Dun & Bradstreet - Worldwide directory with financial information on businesses
Expat.com - Bulgarian business directory
Findbiz.gr - Business directory for Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia
Invest Bulgaria - Bulgarian business directory
Kompass Bulgaria - Bulgarian business directory
PRLOG Business - Bulgarian business directory
 

To search directories by industry in Bulgaria, check out our service Business Directories.

 
Professional Associations by Sector
46 professional associations listed for Bulgaria.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
General Professional Associations
Bulgarian Industrial Association
Confederation of the industrialists and employers in Bulgaria
 
 

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Latest Update: July 2022