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11. Investment Incentives

Bulgarian investment legislation introduces the principle of equality between Bulgarian and foreign citizens and entities: investors are treated equally regardless of their nationality. Restrictions on business activity carried out by foreign persons could be imposed in very limited sectors (e.g. gambling, tobacco processing, medical research). Doing business in Bulgaria does not require mandatory registration for the purpose with the exception of certain sectors where licensing regime is introduced. At the same time, there is no limit as to foreign participation in registered in Bulgaria companies.

 

 

Investment promotion in specific sectors: certificates for investment class

 

Under Bulgarian law investors can obtain certificates for class of their investment. Depending on the size of the investment, the economic sector and region of the country in which the investment is implemented, the investor can receive a certificate for class of investment. ("Class A" or "Class B") or a certificate for priority project.

 

Investments that can receive a certificate for class are investments in tangible and intangible assets and the related thereto creation of new jobs that meet cumulatively the following conditions:

(i)           The investments are connected with the creation of a new enterprise or expanding an existing enterprise/business activity.

(ii)         The investments take place in one of the following economic sectors:

  • In the industrial sector: manufacturing;
  • In the services sector:

* High-tech activities in the field of information technology and services;

*  R & D and professional activities in central offices;

* Education;

*  Human health and medical care services;

* Warehousing and support activities for transportation.

 

(iii)       The revenues from the investment project to be at least 80% of total revenues of the company.

(iv)       The investment to be maintained for at least five years (three years for SMEs).

(v)         The term for implementation of the investment should be up to three years).

(vi)       The amount of investment for the project to be no less than 20 million levs
Class A and 10 million levs for Class B. This threshold may be reduced for investments in economically disadvantaged regions and for investments in high-tech activities of the industrial and service sectors.

(vii)     At least 40% of eligible costs to be financed through own resources of the investor or through external financing in a form which excludes public support.

(viii)   To create and maintain employment directly related to the implementation of the investment project, and which represents a net increase in the number of employees in the company, which is maintained for a minimum period of five years for large enterprises and three 3 years for SMEs.

(ix)       The assets acquired for the purposes of the investment to be new and purchased at market conditions by persons independent of the investor.

The investments which have received a certificate for class are encouraged through the following measures:

 

  • shorter terms for administrative services (Class "A" and "B");
  • individual administrative services (Class "A");
  • options for acquisition of title or limited rights over real estates on properties at preferential terms (for Class "A" and "B");
  • financial aid for construction of technical  infrastructure elements (for Class "A"  investments and in case of a joint application of  two or more investment projects from class "B");
  • financial aid for staff training for acquiring professional qualifications of persons occupying the new jobs created by the investments (Class "A" and "B").

Issuance of a certificate of investment class

Regulatory framework

  • The Investment Promotion Act; Regulation on the Implementation of the Investment Promotion Act

Competent authority

  • The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism through the Invest Bulgaria Agency (IBA)

Procedure

1)       Before starting work on the investment project the investor shall file an application to the executive director of IBA, accompanied by the required documents.

2)       In case of any discrepancies and/or incompleteness, the investor will be notified in writing and will be provided with a term of up to 2 months from the submission of the application to remedy them.

3)       The executive director shall draw up an opinion and shall submit to the Minister of Economy a justified proposal for the issuance/refusal of a certificate.

4)       The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism shall consider the proposal and shall issue/refuse to issue a certificate/return the proposal for re-evaluation in case of inconsistency with any of the requirements of the Investment Promotion Act/ Regulation on the Implementation of the Investment Promotion Act.

5)       The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism shall notify the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of the investments certified under this Act.

Required documents

  • Application (containing summarised information about the applicant; a resume of the characteristics and the plan for implementation of the investment project; purpose, contents and main parameters of the intention for use of incentives and information about their promotional effect; address, contact persons, signature and seal; list of appended documents);
  • Investment project;
  • Certificate of good standing if the applicant is not registered in the commercial register / copy of id document regarding natural persons;
  • Fixed-form declaration that the applicant has not entered into any out-of-court composition settlement with creditors, that the applicant is not subject of any outstanding order for refund of wrongfully provided aid by virtue of previous decision of the commission, and that the applicant is not an enterprise in difficulty (regarding legal entities);
  • Fixed-form declaration regarding the category of the enterprise (regarding legal entities);
  • Documents certifying the financial status of the person (regarding legal entities);
  • Documents certifying the capacities and sources for financing the investment project;
  • Fixed-form declaration regarding the origin of funds;
  • Document evidencing the absence of any pecuniary liabilities to the government or to the municipality;
  • Certificate of criminal record;
  • Fixed-form declaration by which the person undertakes to notify immediately the minister of economy of the occurrence of any circumstance whereby the investment falls outside the scope of promoted investments;
  • Document certifying the investor's rights with regard to any developed or undeveloped land on which the investment will be implemented, if any.

Terms

  • 30 days from the receipt of the application for drawing up an opinion by the executive director of IBA and submission to the Minister of Economy of the proposal to issue/refuse to issue a certificate;
  • 14 days from the receipt by the Minister of Economy of the proposal to issue/refuse to issue a certificate/return of the proposal for re-evaluation.

 

 

Investment promotion in all sectors: certificates for priority investment projects


Priority investment projects can be implemented in all sectors of the economy. Those are projects essential for the economic development of the country or its regions and meet the requirements specified in the law with respect to minimum amount of the investment BGN 100 million and a minimum number of 200 newly-created jobs. The criteria can be decreased (i) if the project envisage the establishment of an industrial zone or technological park, (ii)  if the project is implemented in the high-tech or knowledge-based services sector or in the high-tech manufacturing sector and/or (iii) if the priority project will take place in a municipality with high level of unemployment.

 

Priority investment projects can benefit from any incentives provided for investments with a certificate for class, and in addition can benefit from the following options:

 

  • transfer or establishment of limited real rights over properties of state and municipal companies at prices lower than the market prices;
  • financial aid grants for investments in education and research sectors as well as investments in the manufacturing sector;
  • institutional support, including by means of a public private partnership.

Issuance of a priority investment project certificate

Regulatory framework

  • The Investment Promotion Act; Regulation on the Implementation of the Investment Promotion Act

Competent authority

  • The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism through the Invest Bulgaria Agency (IBA)

Procedure

1)       Before starting work on the investment project the investor shall file an application to the executive director of IBA, accompanied by the required documents.

2)       In case of any discrepancies and/or incompleteness, the investor will be notified in writing and will be provided with a term of up to 2 months from the submission of the application to remedy them.

3)       IBA's executive director draws up an official opinion and submits to the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism a justified proposal for the issuance or refusal for issuance of a certificate.

4)       The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism shall submit to the Council of Ministers a proposal for the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bulgarian government and the investor/returns the proposal for re-evaluation in case of inconsistency with any of the requirements of the Investment Promotion Act/ Regulation on the Implementation of the Investment Promotion Act.

5)       Based on the Memorandum approved by a resolution of the Council of Ministers a priority investment project certificate shall be issued.

Required documents

  • Application (containing summarised information about the applicant; a resume of the characteristics and the plan for implementation of the investment project; purpose, contents and main parameters of the intention for use of incentives and information about their promotional effect; address, contact persons, signature and seal; list of appended documents);
  • Investment project;
  • Certificate of good standing if the applicant is not registered in the business register / copy of id document regarding natural persons;
  • Fixed-form declaration that the applicant has not entered into any out-of-court composition settlement with creditors, that the applicant is not subject of any outstanding order for refund of wrongfully provided aid as a result of previous decision of the commission, and that the applicant is not an enterprise in difficulty (regarding legal entities);
  • Fixed-form declaration regarding the category of the enterprise (regarding legal entities);
  • Documents certifying the financial status of the person (regarding legal entities);
  • Documents certifying the capacities and sources for financing the investment project;
  • Fixed-form declaration regarding the origin of funds;
  • Document evidencing the absence of any pecuniary liabilities to the government or to the municipality;
  • Certificate of criminal record;
  • Fixed-form declaration by which the person undertakes to notify immediately the minister of economy of the occurrence of any circumstance whereby the investment falls outside the scope of promoted investments;
  • Document certifying the investor's rights with regard to any developed or undeveloped land on which the investment will be implemented, if any.

Terms

  • 30  days from the receipt of the application for drawing up an opinion by the executive director of IBA and submission to the Minister of Economy of the proposal to issue/refuse to issue a certificate;
  • 30 days from the receipt by the Minister of Economy of the proposal to submit the proposal to the Council of Ministers for the issue of a priority investment project certificate.