Whenever you visit a foreign country or consider applying for a Bulgarian citizenship by investment or permanent residency there, it is always good practice to learn more about the local customs and etiquette.
This, of course, holds true when traveling to Bulgaria. We’ve created a simple guide to help our clients familiarize themselves with Bulgarian customs and etiquette , both in business and social settings.
Bulgarian Customs and Etiquette to be Aware of Before Traveling:
1. Communication Style
- When greeting someone for the first time, make eye contact and shake hands. You address new acquaintances by Mr. (Gospodin) or Mrs. (Gospozha), accompanied by the person’s last name. Hugging, or addressing someone by their first name the first time you meet is not appropriate.
- Bulgarians are likely to raise their voices and be very animated during conversation; this is standard and not a sign of displeasure.
- Head gestures are an important distinction: nodding your head means “no,” while shaking your head means “yes.” People also express “no” by jerking their head downwards and making a clicking sound.
- Maintain an appropriate distance when speaking. Family and friends will be in closer proximity during a conversation than strangers or people in a business meeting.
2. Social Customs
- If you are invited to someone’s home, you should bring a gift. The gesture itself is more important than the price of the item, so something appropriate is better than something expensive. Wine, alcohol, candy or flowers are common gifts. If you bring flowers, make sure it’s an odd-numbered bouquet, as even numbers are considered bad luck. Also avoid chrysanthemums, lilies or gladiolas as they are used at funerals.
- In Bulgaria, respect and honor is given to those with age and position. In normal social situations, the oldest in the group is greeted first, served first or offered the best food at the table.
- Bulgarians enjoy social gatherings. A good meal may take three or four hours. If you are invited to a meal, you may be asked to begin eating first. This is your host’s way of being polite; you can reciprocate the gesture by thanking your host, and suggesting that the most senior person at the table begins their meal, while you follow.
- The more you eat, the more appreciation you show, so plan on taking at least two servings. Take a smaller portion the first round if you serve yourself, so you can have room for a second helping afterward.
3. Bulgaria Business Etiquette
- Relationship building is important in Bulgaria. Spend time getting to know your peers before getting down to business. Initial business meetings should be used as an introduction, and subsequent meetings can then be used for more in-depth business discussions.
- Bulgarians are not deadline oriented and meetings often last longer than anticipated. Do not rush the process. Bulgarians prefer to ensure they have thoroughly covered the subject at hand before making a decision or ending a meeting. Be patient and do not rush meetings - successful ventures in Bulgaria won’t happen overnight.
- Wear formal clothes to business meetings.
- Behave formally during the meeting; the demeanor will become more friendly and casual if the meeting is going well.
- Eye contact is important to establish trust.
- If a business associate invites you to their home, always bring a gift. Wine, fruit, chocolate, or a dessert are common, and a souvenir from your home country is also appropriate.
For Additional Travel Information to Bulgaria
We hope that this information will be useful when traveling to Bulgaria for business or pleasure. Feel free to contact us with any other specific questions you may have!
And of course, if you are interested in securing an EU passport via Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment program, we currently offer two wonderful investment options. Feel free to contact us for a free initial consultation.