Upon your arrival in Bulgaria you will need a bank account for organizing your finances, therefore a comprehensive article Bulgaria: Banking in Bulgaria. Most services are connected to the Bulgarian bank system and especially for payments such as social security, taxes or utility bills a bank account proves the easiest way to handle these payments. Here we have some practical tips for you for banking in Bulgaria.
What do you need?
> Any bank is fine for personal banking as all banks are connected to national payment systems
> Bring your Bulgarian ID card and your Passport or ID Card
> Get internet banking
> Get an account statement (for your employer)
> If you open a business account, bring extra the registration papers and a minimum deposit of BGN 1 (opening fees apply)
Leva or Euro Account?
Typically a bank will open 2 Leva personal accounts for you: 1 main account and 1 card account. It is not strictly necessary to open a Euro account, but beware many foreign banks do not accept transfers in Leva. So if your intention is to send money abroad a Euro account can be practical. An extra account will be added to your main account and usually does not cost any extra fee.
Business accounts are structured similar to personal accounts, but beware that fees are high and it deserves your attention to find out which bank and fees work best for your business activity.
Credit Card or Debit Card?
In the first period of your stay in Bulgaria you can get a Visa or Master Debit Card which will permit you all local payments, online purchasing and opening eg. a PayPal Account. A Credit Card is issued to those who have a permanent residence (5+ years in Bulgaria) or with some banks to those who can show a credit history from their own country. Credit repayments run automatically in the next month. Should you wish to spread your repayments, get in touch with a client advisor for an alternative repayment scheme.
Internet Banking with Electronic Signature Certificate
Internet banking permits you to organise your payments, transfers and account information at home. All banks offer internet banking and most banks have an application for smartphones/tablets. Online banking applications are usually also available in English. For basic operations internet banking is pretty much plug and play. You might need to set up your account together with the helpdesk. This proves useful is many cases, just to be sure your set up is correct. For payments, utility payments and payments to budget you may need an Electronic Signature Certificate.
The Electronic Signature Certificate is useful for making payments for utility, insurance or taxes. This requires some extra effort and installations, but it will save you a lot of hassle afterwards. The Certificate is attributed to 1 PC/IP address. This set up permits you to make many payments directly through the application of the bank. Institutions and utility companies upload your payments directly in your bank application.
In your internet banking application you can select Taxes/Utilities Payment, enter your NRA number and the application will inform you of outstanding bills and taxes. Ask you bank contact for more information to make sure the process is well executed.
As a private person or single business owner you can make most payments from your internet banking application. For more complicated payment structures seek advise from an advisor at your bank.
Note: Usually banks have English language for applications and English speaking Client advisors, for example to assist you to set up the Electronic Signature Certificate.
Loans and Credit
Consumer Credit/Loans: Consumer Loans for up to BGN 30.000 can be obtained fairly easy based upon your salary. It goes without saying that a longer employment history will contribute to your possibilities. For this type of loan background checks are usually limited to your payment and credit history in Bulgaria. Interest rates differ from bank to bank, but beware that interest for these type of loans is high 7% – 9,5%. The runtime for consumer credit is 7 years with possibility to pay back faster. Always ask your loan provider for the conditions.
Mortgage: A mortgage or house loan is more difficult to get, but not impossible. Banks give upto 90% of the property value in mortgage. This will require an income situation in Bulgaria, credit history investigation of your home country and the proprty needs to be in Bulgaria. Expats are usually required to have permanent residence in Bulgaria to qualify for a mortgage loan. Note: Since a few years natural persons from all countries are allowed to buy property in Bulgaria.
Business Loans: Business loans are available for profitable Bulgarian registered companies. As business loans are specific to the business activity and situation, it is always advised to seek advise with a business loan officer from your bank. It is said that at the moment DSK is favorable to grant business loans.