WELCOME TO BULGARIA

Bulgaria is located within Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. It borders with Romania to the north, the Black Sea to the east, with Turkey and Greece to the south and with Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the west.

Although it has had a long history of domination by other nations, from the Roman and Ottoman Empires to the Soviet Union, Bulgaria is a strong country that has managed to maintain its own identity.

A DIVERSE GEOGRAPHY

The country has 385 kilometres of coastline on the Black Sea on its eastern border; its beaches are beautiful, covered with fine sands. Inland are many large forests and rivers. The entire country covers an area of approx. 111 000 sq. km. and is basically divided into two sections, a northern sector and a southern sector, by the Stara Planina Mountains.

These are the so-called ‘Balkans’, which lend the name to the entire geographical area. In the northern section of the country, the Danube Plain stretches to the famous Danube River. This is a very fertile region and most of the grain crops are harvested here.

The southern part of the country is more interesting in terms of diversity of relief; to the east is the Tracian lowland, another fertile area, whereas the western section is more mountainous.

The most prominent in the mountain range are Rhodopi, Rila and Pirin. The former is of lower altitude but spread over a larger area. The other two are higher, more Alpine-like, and are extremely beautiful. The highest point of the country, which is also the highest point in the whole Balkan Peninsula, is 2925m.asl. Bulgaria is one of the oldest states in Europe, having existed since 681AD. Sofia, the capital city, traces its history back as early as the fourth century. Bulgaria was one of the first countries in the world to convert to Christianity, around the 9th century.

A STRATEGIC POSITION IN EUROPE

Bulgaria’s geographical position has always proved strategic, being located on an important military and trade route for Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and Continental Russia. This geographical advantage has made the country an attractive conquest.The Roman Empire sought Bulgaria as a strategic spot to establish its military garrison. Later, in 1382, the country fell under the domination of the Ottoman Empire until the late eighteen hundreds and thereafter, from World War II, under the communist domination of USSR.

Bulgaria regained independence as a democratic state in 1989. Each of these empires has left its mark on the country, leading to a diverse flavour in terms of architecture and culture, an example being the renowned public thermal springs of Sofia, a heritage of the Roman Empire. Bulgaria is located within Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. It borders with Romania to the north, the Black Sea to the east, with Turkey and Greece to the south and with Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the west. Although it has had a long history of domination by other nations, from the Roman and Ottoman Empires to the Soviet Union, Bulgaria is a strong country that has managed to maintain its own identity.
Bulgaria has come a long way since the communist block was disintegrated in 1989, and has much potential for the future.

The population of the country, approx. 8.3 million, is made up of around 85% native Bulgarians. Of the entire population, 30% live in major cities. Most expats relocating to the country are based in Sofia. The city boasts many notable theatres and museums, opera houses and art galleries.

Major industries in Bulgaria are chemicals, steel, textiles and forklift trucks. Trade and services are now 90% privately owned whereas industries are still 70% state-owned; most of them are due to be privatized within the short term future. There is a high unemployment rate throughout the country, so foreign investment, leading to greater opportunities for locals, is welcomed.

A GROWING TOURIST DESTINATION

Although all Bulgarians were required to learn Russian at school until 1989, most prefer not to speak it and many will not; English is the most common second language, and the city offers a good range of facilities for its English-speaking expat community. Bulgarian is a Slavic language written with the Cyrillic alphabet.

Bulgaria’s summer and winter tourism are traditional. The beautiful beaches on the coast of the Black Sea, some of which are amongst the largest in Europe, attract tourists throughout the warm summer months. Resorts such as Albena and Sunny Beach are becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors.

During the snowy winter season foreigners flood to the mountains which are considered to be amongst the finest ski resorts in Europe. The predictable high level of snowfall almost guarantees a good skiing season year in and year out.
Prepare and Plan Visit

In this initial contact the Relocation Coordinator will brief the Transferee, introducing destination services commissioned, and provide access codes to HTLC Network on-line City-Specific Resource Guides. In addition, the Relocation Coordinator will help the Transferee assess personal and family’s housing needs, as well as their hopes and plans for the sojourn in your new destination. The Transferee will be asked to fill out a Personal Needs Analysis Form, which will enable customized service delivery. After gaining a sense of the Transferee’s needs, the Relocation Coordinator will arrange appointments with schools and real estate agents, an appointment will be set up with one of the Local Counsellors for a city briefing and a programme will be finalised for accompanied property and school viewings.

Airport Pickup and Greeting

The Transferee and family will be met at the airport by a Local Counsellor and accompanied to designated hotel.

Destination Country and City Information

The Transferee will be given a briefing on the local city and life in your new destination in general, and will be encouraged to ask any questions. An Information Pack on the destination city will be provided. This Pack includes an information sheet with the HTLC Network office and Local Counsellor contact information and emergency telephone numbers. Further, it includes a city and transport map as well as a hard copy of HTLC Network own City-Specific Resource Guide, which contains a wealth of information such as telephone access codes, English-speaking doctors and expatriate clubs. When available, a copy of the English Yellow Pages, local English language periodicals and other relevant information will also be included in the Information Pack.

City by Zone Tour

The purpose of this tour is to familiarise the Transferee with selected areas of the city and type of housing and amenities available, in order to be better prepared to select the neighbourhood most suitable for personal and family needs. The City By Zone Tour is often delivered in conjunction with a house hunting programme.

International Schooling

The Transferee will be briefed on educational opportunities in the area. The Relocation Coordinator will schedule appointments at the selected schools, and the Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to pre-arranged appointments although the appointments will be privately held between the Transferee and school administrators. Where possible, the Relocation Coordinator will organise enrolment procedure and arrange for company invoicing.

Full-Day Househunting Programme

Following an in-depth briefing by the Relocation Coordinator a programme of property viewings will be arranged. The Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to pre-arranged viewings of up to eight properties.

Two-Day Househunting Programme

Following an in-depth briefing by the Relocation Coordinator a programme of property viewings will be arranged. The Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to pre-arranged viewings of up to fifteen properties.

Lease Negotiation

After the Transferee has selected a property, the Relocation Coordinator will negotiate lease conditions with the real estate agency or landlord according to The national destination law. HTLC Network coordinator will prepare a contract that ensures legal protection for the client. Particular attention is given to include a break clause, as international assignments often change in duration and the aim is to give maximum flexibility within the limits of the national destination law.

Property Inspection and Inventory

Once the lease has been signed, a thorough property inspection is taken in the presence of the Transferee. This includes an inventory of any furnishings, general condition of the property, and meter readings for utility contracts.

Utility Connections, Phone Line and Bank Account

The Relocation Coordinator will arrange all utility and telephone connections, and a Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to open a bank account in the selected area.

Settling-In Assistance

The Local Counsellor will spend time with the Transferee and family, assisting with requested elements of the relocation process, such as arranging language training, obtaining a satellite decoder or internet service provider, shopping for furniture or securing house contents insurance. Duration of this service depends on various company authorizations.

Car Purchase or Lease

The Relocation Coordinator will brief the Transferee on the logistics of making an automobile purchase and will research reputable dealers in the area. The Local Counsellor will accompany the Transferee to dealers and act as a translator. Once the Transferee has made the selection, HTLC Network will take care of necessary documentation including insurance cover. For long-term rental HTLC Network will advise local availability of this service.

Local Registration

If the Transferee requests, and is eligible, the Local Counsellor will assist with National Health Registration. City hall registration is a separate service and if authorizied, HTLC Network will assist with the whole bureaucratic procedure at the relative cityhall.

Ongoing Phone Support

The HTLC Network support Helpline is available to all Transferees for 90 days from date of property contract signing. Extensions to this Helpline can be added in periods of three months.

Car Importation

Importation of car to your new destination, including full document assistance and re-registration with Vehicle registry.

Full Assignment

Tracking Full tracking of all deadlines throughout duration of the Transferees international assignment, notification given of all scheduled renewal dates, such as housing contracts, Permit of Stay and Work Permits. Ad Hoc Services Service rendered both from back and front office is available on an hourly and daily basis.
Immigration procedures and requirements vary greatly from country to country. Documents requested from applicants depend on the citizenship of the individual applying and the status he wishes to obtain in the destination country, be it authorisation to work, authorisation for accompanying family members, tourist or study visas, temporary or permanent residency status.

HTLC Network has been selected by many International Law and Immigration Firms as well as Global Relocation Companies to represent them exclusively for immigration
We work closely with the relevant governmental and police authorities in each country
Our Immigration Team are experts in immigration laws and keep abreast of changing requirements and procedures
We prepare all documentation for HR, all you have to do is print out and sign
We inform the Transferee which specific documents are required , which translations must be obtained and if these must be legalised
We provide HR and Transferees with information on the process flow, timing and specific legal requirements of each destination
We update all parties involved regularly as to the status of the application
Whenever possible, we act with a Power of Attorney on behalf of the company and the Transferee; when the Transferee’s presence is required, he will be accompanied to the relevant office in the destination city
Our Local Counsellors, residents and locals of the destination city, are able to present the all prepared documentation to the relevant offices in person; thus speeding up the process and ensuring an efficient service
Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The city was founded some three thousand years ago by an ancient tribe called “Serdi” and was known as Serdica until the beginning of the ninth century. The city was an important center in Roman times because of its strategic location on military and trade routes. During the Constantine reign in the fourth century, Sofia, or Serdica as it was called then, was an early centre for Christianity.

In 1878, Sofia became the capital of Bulgaria. Today, the city’s architecture is a contrast between Socialist-era block housing and beautiful tree-lined boulevards with balconed buildings by 19th century Russian and Austrian architects.

FAQ BULGARIA

What can I expect to find in an unfurnished, a semi-furnished or a furnished property?

Unfurnished: An unfurnished property will have no furniture at all, but will be predisposed for utility connection.
Semi-Furnished: A semi-furnished property will have some basic furniture. Sometimes a kitchen is included although it will not have electro domestics fitted.
Fully Furnished: A fully furnished property will include all the furniture necessary to live in the property; soft furnishings are not generally included. In some cases, the furnishing can be negotiated with the landlord and articles may be removed or included as wanted. This negotiation may influence the rent.

What sort of flexibility will I have to negotiate rent or furnishings?

There is a small amount of room for negotiation.

How many properties will I be shown?

This depends on the Relocation Package you have; Our Basic Package includes 8 properties and our Extended Package includes 15 properties. You will be told at the outset how many properties you will be shown or how much time you have available to do the house hunting. The properties provided will be as close to your ‘Needs Analysis’ description as possible according to what is available on the market at the time.

How can I secure a property that I choose?

When you choose a property you can ensure that it will not be rented to someone else by paying a ‘deposit’ of approx. 50% of the monthly rental fee.
HTLC Network will negotiate with the owner to keep the property for you for a certain period – generally up to a week. This ‘Pre-Contract’ agreement will be signed in the presence of the real estate agent, who will act as a witness to the Agreement. The ‘deposit’ is paid directly to the landlord.
When the final contract is signed, the deposit is deducted from the rental payment due. Should the tenant withdraw from the Agreement, the deposit is lost.

What costs are involved in renting a property?

Real Estate agency fees: From half a month to 1-month rental value.
Security deposit: usually 1-month rental value, although this may vary according to the property and the length of the contract.
First rental payment (minus a holding deposit if previously paid). Some landlords require an upfront payment of 3 months to 1 year’s rent. This will be specified in the contract.

What other expenses should I expect to pay?

The tenant is liable for all utility expenses according to consumption, but the landlord is liable for the taxes on the property and for garbage collection. Apartments usually have a condominium fee to cover the expenses for the maintenance of common areas, cleaning, lighting etc.

What is the process flow to rent a property?

Once a property is selected, if a Pre-Contract is required in order to hold the property for a week or so, an Agreement to rent is signed in the presence of the real estate agent, who acts as a witness. A ‘holding deposit’ or down payment is then paid to the Landlord.
Once a property is selected, if a Pre-Contract is required in order to hold the property for a week or so, an Agreement to rent is signed in the presence of the real estate agent, who acts as a witness. A ‘holding deposit’ or down payment is then paid to the Landlord.
A legally valid contract is negotiated and prepared. It is also recommended that the rental contract be notarised when signed. The tenant usually pays any notary fees.
In order to have a contract/document notarised, the rental contract along with any other official documents that are signed by a foreigner must be provided in Bulgarian and English or any other language the foreigner understands.
An appointment is made at the real estate agency for contract signing. Security deposit and rent are to be paid to the Landlord and the real estate agency’s commission is to be paid at the moment of the signing. Bulgarian law requires the registration of the contract, although this is not always respected.
A foreigner wishing to sign a contract in Bulgaria has to present his ID card. It is unusual to be asked to prove income to support rental payments.
Please note that a foreigner must register with the local police within 24 hours of signing a rental contract – proof or residency must be presented. Your Local Counsellor will accompany you to do this.

What chance do I have of receiving my full deposit back when I leave the property?

As long as the property is left in the same condition as when consigned (HTLC Network will ensure a thorough inventory is taken of the property and furnishings upon entry) and the correct notice period is served to the landlord, as specified in the rental contract, EMC Network will be able to negotiate a full deposit return when you vacate the property.

What responsibility do I have as a tenant towards maintenance of the property?

The Landlord is responsible for the general maintenance and any repairs required to the property. The tenant is responsible for paying the costs for any damages caused by the tenant.

Can I make any alterations to the property?

Yes, but only with the written agreement of the Landlord. Certain larger alterations require the permission of the other inhabitants of the building.

What if I need to terminate the lease early?

A contract can be prepared for the shortest period possible with the reservation that it may be extended according to requirements. Otherwise, a break clause can be incorporated into a standard contract (generally contracts are of 1 to 3 years duration). The two parties would then agree upon the notice period required, usually between 1 to 3 months.

What expenses are required in order to purchase a property?

Government taxes include 2% Municipality tax and 1% Registration Court Tax. Notary fees come in addition to this. VAT is currently at 20%.
What utility expenses will I have to pay?

I am text block. Electricity, water and gas are billed according to consumption.

How are these accounts charged?

Bills arrive monthly directly to the property, generally in the name of the Landlord. They can be paid through a Bulgarian Bank account, the local post office, Internet or with a debit card.
Central heating is paid monthly and a reading is made at the end of the annual period in which the central heating is provided. The balance due is either charged or credited the tenant.

Will I be able to get Satellite TV?

In almost all apartments Cable TV is installed. Satellite is available as an extra option.

What documents do I need to install a Telephone Line?

A foreigner requires Valid ID and Residency Permit.

How long do i have to wait for my telephone line?

Generally one month from the date of application.

How will i be billed?

Bills arrive directly to the property monthly. They can be paid through a Bulgarian Bank Account, at the post office, via Internet or with a debit card.
What documentation is required for workers coming to Bulgaria?

A Work Permit and Residence Permit.

Is it necessary for me to be present to apply for documents?

No. Bulgarian Law states that any individual for whom an application has been made for a Work Permit should not be present in Bulgaria at the time of application or until the Permit is granted.

What about my family?

Dependant family members can apply for Residency Permit on the basis of being accompanying family members; they do not have the right to work in the country.
Is my licence valid in Bulgaria?

Foreign national driving licences are valid in Bulgaria for one year after which they must be replaced by a Bulgarian license. International driving licences, however, are valid for an unlimited time. If driving with a foreign national license, this MUST be accompanied by a legalised translation.
Why should I choose HTLC Network?

Extensive rapidly growing client list.
Exclusive partner/representative of many Global Relocation Service Providers.
Exclusive representative of many International Law and Immigration Firms.
Quality control guarantee: Head Office directs all relocations and immigrations in every destination.
All staff required to attend on-going training sessions and workshops to keep updated as to global mobility needs.
No language barriers
Assistance provided in all major European languages and many others.
Corporate consultation with HTLC Network’s’ Representatives at location of choice.
HTLC Network own ‘Resource Guides’ providing a wealth of everyday information for expatlife in destination city.
Comprehensive FAQs for each country serviced.
Red Alert List to prepare for the specific challenges of each destination.
Extra ‘Safety’ section in Resource Guides for countries posing specific security threats.
24-hour Emergency Helpline for Transferees throughout the duration of the relocation.
Complimentary 3-month Helpline.
How does HTLC Network assist with Immigration?

HTLC Network will prepare all the necessary paperwork, email it to the Company and direct as to how the various documents are to be printed out and signed. We will send one of our Local Counsellors with Power of Attorney (Delega) to act on behalf of the individual and company.
When the Transferee has to be present to apply for a document, he will be accompanied by our Local Counsellor.

What time scale should be allowed to process Work Permit applications?

When all paper work has been prepared, approved and signed by the relevant companies, it can take 6-8 weeks during which time Italian law states that the expatriate must not be in Italy.

How can we determine a realistic Housing Budget for Transferees?

During HTLC Network’s initial teleconference with the client we go through an in-depth ‘Needs Analysis’ which can include Housing Budget variables for the Destination City. HTLC Network will work with the Company to ensure the workforce locate properties of a suitable standard within the parameters set by corporate policy.

Can the contract be signed in the name of a foreign company?

Legally, yes, as long as it can be proved that the individual who signs the contract has the legal right to sign as a representative of the Company. Many landlords however, will not accept this as it is harder to take a foreign Company to court should there be any missing rent payments or problems. As landlord’s rarely accept a foreign Company signing the lease, it is usually signed by the local company that is VAT registered in Italy.
HTLC Network will prepare the contract in the name of a legal representative of the Company. We require full data of the individual, a photocopy of his/her passport ID pages and a photocopy of the Company’ s ‘Camera di Commercio’ demonstrating position within the Company.
The prepared contract will be emailed to the appropriate Company contact and instructions will be given on how it is to be printed out and signed. Once signed, one of HTLC Network’ Local Counsellors will collect the contract and deliver it to the real estate agent for the signature of the landlord. A signed copy will be returned to the Company whilst the three copies of the contract are being registered, thereafter a registered copy will be delivered.
Arrangements will be made to take a thorough inventory in the presence of the tenant and landlord.

Is it necessary for the Transferee to be present to apply for documents?

For the presentation of document application, it varies from city to city. Wherever possible HTLC Network will prepare power of attorney (Delega) in order for a Local Counsellor to act on behalf of the Transferee and family.
To release the obtained documents, the Transferee and other members of the family must be present as an original signature is required.
How can we guarantee all Transferees will receive the same standard of service? (staff relocating to main cities versus more rural areas)
All Local Counsellors are really ‘local’ to the area where they assist Transferees. They are selected for their good knowledge of their city area.
All Local Counsellors are trained by HTLC Network to follow our set pattern of delivering services using an in-house ‘Training and Operations Manual’.
All Local Counsellors are closely directed by Office Coordinators, ensuring a consistent standard of service is delivered.

How does HTLC Network handle Group Moves?

All relocations are handled by the same system of centralisation. When required, we arrange for a member of our office team to go to the location of a group move to be an in-house Coordinator, working from the Client Company’s premises as a point of reference for HR, Transferees and their families.
In main centres we have several Local Counsellors.

GEOGRAPHY

Area: 110,910 sq km
Time Zone: GMT+2
Capital city: Sofia
Bordering countries: Greece, the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey.
Climate: cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers.

GOVERNMENT

Stateform: Republic Legislative
Branch: Parliament
National Holiday: 3 March
Currency: lev (BGL)

POPULATION

Population: 7,6 million inhabitants.
Religion: Bulgarian Orthodox, Muslim, Roman Catholic
Languages: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups: Bulgarian majority with smaller groups of Turks
Bulgarian 83.6%, Turk 9.5%, Roma 4.6%,
other 2.3% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian)
HTLC Network Group Holding A.G. - VAT CODE CHE-109.302.293 - RTM N°672295 - SWISS FEDERAL INSTITUTE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
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INFO

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