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Banking in Bulgaria - How it Works

Banking in Bulgaria can be for some a red tape chore which can test the patients of a saint. But however annoying it gets when you are either standing (or sitting) in an extremely slow queue, or signing a stack of papers just to withdraw some money, banking in Bulgaria is usually very efficient and in most cases friendly to its customers.

The banks within Bulgaria are very much international and most have their head offices in Germany, Greece, Austria, Italy, and Hungary to name just a few. Of the true Bulgarian banks, the largest is First Investment Bank or FIB.

 

Opening an account

To open a bank account in Bulgaria is fairly straight forward but is considerably more time consuming than that of the UK. Your passport will be required followed by the signing of your signature on several documents. Depending on the type of account you are normally asked to deposit a small amount of money into it at the final stage.

Don't take risks with your money and unless you have a good working knowledge of the Bulgarian language then make sure to ask in the branch which you are visiting has a member of staff who can speak English. This is rarely a problem now especially if you stick to main branches in the cities, however do check, after all it's your money.

Services

A savings account in Bulgaria is known as a deposit account and most banks offer several types of this product, ranging from a small or no deposit offering from 3 percent interest on your savings, and for the larger deposits of over 40,000 BGN a rate of 7 percent can be awarded.

Most of the services which are offered internationally by banks are also available in Bulgaria. A debit card can be added to the account and internet banking is widely used now.

These days more and more Bulgarian people are taking advantage of what is a relatively new service offered by many of the country's banks; the direct debit and standing orders were until recently hard to find, but most banks now have this as another of their services which is an added bonus for those who are banking in Bulgaria.

Cheques are not common in Bulgaria and if for any reason you have one to cash you must be prepared for a long wait as most cashiers will not immediately be able to identify this odd piece of paper which you want to swap for the banks money. In order to cash the cheque and depending on where it came from, most banks will charge you a fee which can be quite expensive and they will then have to send the cheque back to the issuing bank to be signed for clearance.

Over the previous ten years the banks and its customers have begun to understand each other in terms of the banks having to educate their clients and gain their trust in a culture which until now dealt almost exclusively in cash. Many Companies of all types now pay their employees' wages by bank transfer, and ATMs can be found even in the smallest of towns.

A recent proposal has been put forward by the Bulgarian government to tax savers on their interest at the standard income tax flat rate of 10 percent. See our recent article; Interest on Bulgarian Bank Savings

If you are considering opening an account and banking in Bulgaria you can view the full list of banks in Bulgaria.