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Working and volunteering

Volunteering

There are a number of opportunities for volunteering in Bulgaria. Various international organisations have ongoing projects in the country, and there are also many local groups that welcome foreign volunteers.

British Society for the Protection of Birds (www.rspb.org.uk) Occasional opportunities to assist with fieldwork relating to endangered species.

Bulgarian Archaeological Association (www.archaeology.archbg.net) Find out about volunteering opportunities on archaeological digs in Bulgaria.

Green Balkans (www.greenbalkans-wrbc.org) Rescue centre for the rehabilitation of injured animals, with a network of volunteers who transport creatures back to their habitats.

Habitat for Humanity (www.habitatbulgaria.org) Organises house-building and community-based projects in poorer neighbourhoods.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwoofbulgaria.org) Can direct you to current projects and openings for volunteers on farms around the country.

Work

Since Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, there are no longer any labour restrictions on citizens of other EU countries, but with high levels of domestic unemployment and some of the lowest wages in Europe, Bulgaria isn’t an obvious destination for foreign job seekers. In fact, local people lament the 'brain drain' as Bulgarian youth seek work in other European countries.

The government is keen for foreigners to establish businesses as long as most of the staff are Bulgarian, but paperwork can still be labyrinthine. Most foreigners working in Bulgaria are employed by multinational companies in jobs arranged before arriving in the country.

If you intend to seek employment in Bulgaria and are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you will need a work visa; contact your local Bulgarian embassy for details. If you do find a temporary job, the pay is likely to be very low. Do it for the experience, rather than the money, and you won’t be disappointed. Teaching English is one way to make some extra cash, but the market is often saturated.

If you arrange a job before you arrive, your employer should plough through the frightening mass of paperwork from relevant government departments and pay the various fees. If you land a job after you arrive, or you’re considering setting up a business in Bulgaria, contact expats for current advice about the plethora of required forms and fees.

Work Your Way Around the World by Susan Griffith provides practical advice on a wide range of issues.

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