Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Financing
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Methods of Payment

As with any international transaction around the world, the method of payment is determined by the degree of trust in the buyer’s ability and willingness to pay.  Full payment in advance is highly recommended for the first few transactions/deliveries, and while the importer is still unknown. All regularly utilized methods of payment are common in Bulgaria.

The current Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Bulgaria stands at BBB/A-2’, outlook stable. Moody’s credit rating for Bulgaria was last set at Baa1 with stable outlook. Fitch’s credit rating for Bulgaria was last reported at BBB with a stable outlook. In general, a credit rating is used by sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and other investors to gauge the credit worthiness of Bulgaria, which has a significant impact on the country’s borrowing costs. 

Table 1:  A History of Bulgaria’s Credit Rating

Table 1:  A History of Bulgaria’s Credit Rating
FitchBBBpositiveMay 2023
S&PBBBstableMay 2023
MOODY’sBaa1stableFeb 2023

Source: https://tradingeconomics.com/country-list/rating

Entities such as the U.S. Export-Import Bank (www.exim.gov), and the Development Finance Corporation (https://www.dfc.gov/) have provided insurance policies and long-term guarantees to U.S. exporters to allow for more flexible payment terms.

Banking Systems

The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB; regulates and supervises other banks’ activities, carries out research; and compiles and analyzes statistical data. BNB is a member of the European System of Central Banks. BNB operates independently of the government and reports directly to Parliament. The Bulgarian currency is pegged to the euro; the fixed exchange rate is 1 EUR = 1.95583 BGN.

According to the Bulgarian National Bank, the number of ATMs in 2022, the latest year for available data, decreased to 4,997, compared to 5,250 in 2021.  On the other hand, cashless payments increased the last three years and the number of POS terminals in Bulgaria rose to 124,082 in 2022.

There are 25 commercial banks in Bulgaria; five are branches of foreign banks. Citibank is the only U.S. bank with an office in Bulgaria.

While credit cards and e-banking are popular, personal checks are largely unknown and unused. The number of POS terminals in the country and the share of the non-cash transactions grew significantly in the past few years.

Foreign Exchange Controls

There are no restrictions on payments or currency exchanges. Additionally, the international financial remittances for the payment of Bulgarian imports are allowed.  Only bank transfers permit the export of hard currency by commercial entities, including juridical persons and sole traders. Currency transfers for international payments, including the import of goods and services, transportation, interest and principal payments, insurance, training, medical treatment and other purposes defined in Bulgarian regulations, must be supported by documentation such as invoices, certificates, or transport documents, to the transferring bank.

U.S. Banks & Local Correspondent Banks

Some Bulgarian banks may have 100 or more U.S. correspondent banks, and some U.S. banks may have correspondent relationship with more than one Bulgarian bank. As banking relations can change quickly, the best source of current information on correspondent banking arrangements is the banks themselves. While Citibank offers corporate and investment banking services, it does not currently provide retail services.

For more information on the banking system please read the section Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment of the Investment Climate Statement.