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Bulgaria Mission Stop

Download our 1-page Market Overview of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is an emerging regional leader in a strategic location with the lowest cost of doing business in the EU. The lowest corporate tax in the EU of 10%, the personal income tax at 10% combined with an educated workforce, unsaturated market, good manufacturing base, and stable banking system, is an excellent and thriving market for U.S. exporters to grow their business in Southeast Europe.

With a focused strategic approach to infrastructure development, boosted by $16 billion of EU funds targeting strategic initiatives, there are vast opportunities for U.S. companies in areas such as energy (generation, oil & gas, renewables, and energy efficiency), ICT, infrastructure (roads, tunnels, railways), agriculture, and healthcare. Any U.S. enterprise interested in obtaining EU funds is eligible provided that they work with a reputable Bulgarian partner.

The aforementioned EU funds are aimed at addressing some of the challenges in Bulgaria’s market, including weak rule of law, low energy diversity, and income inequality. As Bulgaria implements these programs, continued opportunities will arise for U.S. companies seeking growth opportunities in this rapidly growing EU Member State.

Itinerary:

Day

Activity

Saturday, October 14

Delegates arrive at Sofia International Airport

Tourist’s attractions and free time on own

Sunday, October 15

Delegates arrive at Sofia International Airport

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m:

U.S. Embassy shuttle or hotel shuttle service to Hilton hotel for “Ice Breaker” Reception

Monday, October 16

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m

Breakfast at the Hotel hotel

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Embassy Country Briefing at the hotel for the U.S. companies

9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

B2B matchmaking meetings at the hotel

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Luncheon and Remarks by: AmCham or the Ambassador

2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

B2B matchmaking meetings at the hotel

5:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Depart for Ambassador’s Residence in shuttle

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Networking Reception at Ambassador’s Residence

8:00 p.m.

Return to hotel. Dinner on own

Tuesday, October 17

First Option:

7:00 a.m

Depart hotel for Sofia International Airport (SOF)

9:50 a.m.

First TAROM flight 292 to Bucharest, Romania (Otopeni-OTP) Arrives in Bucharest at 10:55 a.m. (Airfare ~$114-200.00)

Second Option:

9:00a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

B2B meetings, lunch, retail and/or industry tour

4:30 p.m.

Depart hotel for Sofia International Airport

7:10 p.m.

Last TAROM flight 298 to Bucharest, Romania (Otopeni-OTP) Arrives in Bucharest at 8:15 p.m. (Airfare~$114-250.00)

Travel Information:

The US Commercial Service in Bulgaria welcomes all participants to this year’s Trade Winds Southeast Europe. If you have any issues before or upon arrival please contact Commercial Assistant/Outreach Coordinator Milko Minev at Milko.Minev@trade.gov  or +359-2-937-5145.

Visa Requirements

A valid United States passport is required for U.S. citizens who are not also Bulgarian nationals.  Bulgarian immigration authorities ask all foreigners to declare the purpose of their visit at the border or upon arrival and to provide their intended address. The U.S. passport must be valid for at least three (3) months from the expected date of departure from Bulgaria.  U.S. citizens who enter the country on tourist passports without a Bulgarian visa are authorized to stay for a 90 days within a six-month period.  Travelers on all types of passports (regular, official or diplomatic) who intend to stay more than 90 days must secure a "D" visa from the Bulgarian Embassy or Consulate.  Visa issuance can take 30 - 40 calendar days.  "D" visas are issued for employment purposes, missionary purposes, or if you are married to a Bulgarian citizen, among other reasons. Travelers with an official or diplomatic passport, who intend to stay in Bulgaria for less than 90 days, within six months, must secure a Bulgarian visa type "C" from a Bulgarian Embassy or Consulate prior to arrival.  U.S. citizens must apply for a visa at a Bulgarian Embassy/Consulate in the United States or if not residents in the United States, in their country of legal residence.  U.S. citizens are also advised that if their purpose of stay in Bulgaria changes (i.e., work or marriage status), they must leave Bulgaria and apply again for a D-visa.

See https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/bulgaria.html for more information

All U.S. citizens receive an entry stamp in their passports. U.S. citizens who do not have an entry stamp in their passports will encounter difficulties when they try to leave Bulgaria. When entering Bulgaria by car, if the vehicle has been recorded on the passport, the owner may not leave the country without the automobile. Sometimes vehicles are erroneously recorded on the passport of passengers in the car, who then have problems trying to leave the country without the vehicle.

Holders of Schengen visas can visit and stay in Bulgaria without Bulgarian visas within the validity of their visa, but no longer than 90 days within a 6-month period.

Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria at 1621 22nd St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; http://www.bulgaria-embassy.org/WebPage/Consular%20Information/procedur.htm, main switchboard (202) 387-7969.
Key Business Links:  http://bulgaria.usembassy.gov/key_business_links.html

Medical Requirements

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad so that they can confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States, unless supplemental coverage is purchased. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service, and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost more than USD 50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have found it to be lifesaving when a medical emergency has occurred. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur.

  • Tuberculosis continues to be a serious health concern in Bulgaria.
  • Dial 112 for Emergency. ‘112’ is the common emergency telephone number that can be dialed free of charge from most mobile telephones for police, ambulance, or fire
  • Response times for an ambulance can take up to an hour or longer. Taxi or a personal vehicle is a faster option.
  • Not every hospital/clinic is equipped for pediatric care. If you are in need of emergency services for an infant/child, please call ahead to ensure those services are available.
  • Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
  • Pharmacies (аптека – with a green cross) supply simple medications, such as aspirin, vitamins, Band-Aids, ointments and cold medications. For other medications you will need a prescription from a doctor
  • List of Local Doctors/Hospitals: http://bulgaria.usembassy.gov/list_of_hospitals2.html
  • Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Vaccinations: www.cdc.gov

For more information please visit the U.S. State Department Bulgaria travel page.

Hotel Accommodation

A group booking has been made by the U.S. Commercial Service in Bulgaria for all participants at the hotel below.

Hotel – Hilton Sofia

Address - 1, Bulgaria Blvd., Sofia, 1421, Bulgaria; TEL: +359-2-933-5000

POC for the Trade Winds 2017 – Ms. Katia Kovacheva – C&E Manager/Hilton Sofia . For any questions and reservations please send directly an e-mail to her at katia.kovacheva@hilton.com (phone +359-2- 933-5025)

All participants in the Bulgaria leg of the TW2017 should contact her directly for hotel registrations, confirmations and any questions.

Negotiated rates based on the USG per diem:

SGL room - $141.00; DBL room - $161.00

  • Room rates quoted include lavish Hilton Breakfast;
  • All rooms are non-smoking, accommodated with Hilton Serenity Bed (king size);
  • Rates include free access to the Health Club (Fitness by Precor®, sauna, steam bath, indoor pool and South Park Terrace);
  • Rates are exclusive 9% VAT and City Tax of € 0.67 per person per night (subject to legal change);
  • Rates are inclusive of Internet access;
  • Airport shuttle is available at € 16.00 per person per way;

Hilton Sofia Hotel will complimentary upgrade all participants in the Trade Winds 2017 to their DELUXE Room.

Transportation

Detailed information about travel to/from Sofia Airport is available here: http://www.sofia-airport.bg/en/passengers/and-airport

Getting from Sofia Airport to the Hotel by Taxi or Subway

  • Taxis are prevalent throughout Bulgaria. Travelers are recommended to use taxis with meters and clearly marked rates displayed on a sticker on the passenger side of the windshield. The standard rates normally range between BGL 0.79 and 0.90 (approximately 45 U.S. cents at current exchange rates as of February 2016) per kilometer. Travelers should inquire about the fare, to your designation, before entering a taxi and always account for all luggage, packages, and hand-carried items before paying and releasing a taxi. A 10-12 percent tip is recommended.
  • It is advisable to check the rates before entering the taxi and to have small denominations of Bulgarian bills (called Leva) on hand as taxi drivers will often state they do not have change for larger bills. Credit cards are not accepted by most taxis. (See information below on obtaining Bulgarian currency).
  • There is a clearly marked exit, to the right, once you exit the baggage claim and customs area in Terminal 2 (location of most international airlines). This exit will lead travelers to a long que of metered taxis.
  • Presently, there are no ride-sharing taxis in Bulgaria.
  • Sofia Airport is approximately 20-30 minutes from downtown Sofia and can cost approximately 15-25 BGN (leva) by taxi.
  • Sofia’s congested rush hours are from 8 AM to 9 AM and 5 PM to 8 PM.

Getting to the Hotel via Sofia’s subway is fast and easy on Sofia’s subway system. Here’s how:

  • Upon exiting the airport, look left, there are signs leading to the airport metro station that connects the airport to the downtown area where the hotel is located.
  • There is only one line to the airport and to the downtown area.
  • One trip is approximately one (1) leva and about 60 stotinki (about 90 cents). FYI: an electronic ticket for 10 trips costs 12 BGN. See http://www.metropolitan.bg/eng.

Currency Exchange

Currency exchanges are available at the airport. There are also ATM machines available at all major hotels, including the Radisson.

Bulgaria’s currency is the:

  • Lev, or Leva - лева
  • Coins are Stotinki - стотинки,
  • Currency code is ‘BGN,’ and
  • Currency symbol is лв (lev).

The Bulgarian Lev is pegged to the Euro.

Currently, one Bulgarian Lev equals 0.55 U.S. dollar. Visitors should exchange cash at banks or exchange bureaus. Banks and exchange bureaus do not accept traveler’s checks. Damaged or worn U.S. dollar notes are often not accepted at banks or exchange bureaus.

Due to new check clearing restrictions introduced by U.S. banks for cashing of personal and Treasury checks outside of the US, local banks no longer provide check-cashing services for personal and Treasury checks. The United Bulgarian Bank serves as a Western Union agent and provides direct transfer of money. There are many Western Union branches in major towns and cities. Many shops, hotels, and restaurants, with the exception of major hotels, do not accept credit cards. Please note the most commonly used credit/debit cards are Visa and MasterCard.

ATM cash machines are increasing in Sofia and other major cities, but bankcards, debit cards and credit cards should be used with caution due to the potential for fraud or other criminal activity. Be wary of skimming devices placed on automated tellers. Only use ATMs inside major institutions such as banks or major malls. Limit your use of credit cards to hotel bills or bills from other major vendors.

Bulgarian law requires all travelers entering or leaving the EU through Bulgaria with EUR 10,000 (currently around USD 10,699.20) or more, in cash, to declare the sum to Bulgarian customs. This EU initiative assists efforts to tackle crime and improve security by cracking down on money laundering, terrorism and criminality. Travelers carrying currency in excess of the above amount should use the red "Something to Declare" line, and not the green "Nothing to Declare" line, even if specifically invited into the green line by a customs official.

Travelers who attempt to leave Bulgaria with the equivalent of BGN 25,000 or more must complete a customs declaration stating: the origin of the money, and a certificate from the Bulgarian regional internal revenue service proving that they do not owe taxes, unless the sum is less than the amount originally reported when initially brought into the country. Contact the Embassy of Bulgaria in Washington, D.C. or a Bulgarian consulate for specific information regarding customs regulations (See http://www.bulgaria-embassy.org; http://www.euintheus.org/resources-learning/eu-guide-for-americans/).



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