Registration of tour operators and travel agencies in Bulgaria

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Bulgarian travel agency or tour operator businesses can be conducted only by Bulgarian companies that are listed in the Register of Tour Operators and Travel Agents, part of Bulgarian National Tourism Register. The registration is made with the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism upon filing an application by the candidate together with a number of documents confirming that the applicant matches the criteria specified in Bulgarian Tourism Act and sub delegated legislation. Below we have summarized some of the basic registration requirements prescribed in Bulgarian Laws.

To begin with, those who want to be listed as Bulgarian tour operators and / or travel agencies must be:

  • Either merchants (Bulgarian companies) registered as per Bulgarian Commercial Act or
  • Legal entities entitled to conduct business under any other law of an EU member state country or another country within the European Economic Area

Any of the above two categories have the opportunity to register as full-service providers or online providers of tour operator or travel agency / tour operator services. The second option is relatively easier. Tour operators and agents that offer only online services benefit from a simpler registration regime and fewer application documents for their listing.

Generally the requirements can be classified in 5 groups:

  • Requirements to the professional qualification, education and experience of the person who will manage the Bulgarian tour operator or tourist agent activity
  • Requirements to the staff –  education, language skills and work experience
  • Requirements to the premises (front office) where the business will be physically conducted
  • Requirements related to the insurance of the tour operator / tour agent in Bulgaria
  • Additionally to the above, the applicant must show proof that it is not under a liquidation or insolvency procedure; it has not operated as a tour operator or travel agent without a license for the last 12 months; its certificate for registration has not been cancelled for the last 12 months.

Carrying out tour operator or travel agent activity without a certificate for registration is considered an administrative offense and is subject to fines ranging from BGN 500 to BGN 20 000.

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12 thoughts on “Registration of tour operators and travel agencies in Bulgaria

  1. We are a travel agency based in India. We are looking to start a travel agency in Bulgaria. Could you advise if any license or registration required to do this? If yes, what are the costs involved.

    • Travel agents in Bulgaria need a permit. There is a state fee payable upon application (EUR 250) for reviewing applicant’s documentation and EUR 1000 for the permit. There is an option for a company in Bulgaria to offer its services only online. In that case there are no office requirements but there are requirements about the domain name and web page. In general requirements are the following:
      – To have a Bulgarian company with registered address in Bulgaria
      – To have a manager who has experience in the field (higher education in tourism). The manager must speak Bulgarian and at least one foreign language. There are also requirements for the staff – education, languages, etc.
      Travel agencies that sell air tickets must have at least one person with IATA certificate.

  2. Thank you very much for this information.
    We are very much interested by opening a TO in Bulgaria, but we would like to examin the possibilities.
    Is there any legal text where we can find the documents required for opening a TO in Bulgaria (office or online)?

    • Dear Sir / Madam,

      Thank you for your enquiry. We can help you set up a Bulgaria based tour operator – which would be able to operate on the territory of the entire EU but at the same time benefit from Bulgarian lowest tax rates (10% for both corporate and personal incomes).

      Our lawyers will contact you to discuss with you different options for Bulgarian company formation that can then obtain an EU tour operator licence.

  3. For EU residents with higher education in tourism, is it possible to set up a Bulgaria based tour operator if they do not speak Bulgarian?

    • Such residents can set up a Bulgarian tour operator company (and be shareholders in it as long as they like) without any limitations. However there is a requirement for the manager(s) of the company for Bulgarian language skills.

  4. I have been in the Travel business (I own a Travel Agency in Italy since 1978) and would like to open a branch office in Sofia. Online travel only and office not open to general bulgarian public.
    What do I need?

    • Thank you for your enquiry. Please be advised that you can do only online travel business and we can assist you in opening a branch in Sofia. Our lawyers will be in touch with you soon for more details.

  5. Hello, I would like to have online (ONLY) travel. What exactly do I need to do? The customers will be most likely from EU countries or USA, and generally not for Bulgarian public. What type of higher education is needed for this? Also is it still a must to have someone who speaks Bulgarian?

    • Please be advised that Bulgarian language is a must. There are different combinations for the higher education and experience requirements for the manager. If the person possesses higher education in tourism, less experience is required and if the person has higher education in different field, more experience is required.

  6. Hi
    1.Could you please outline the full list of expenses that would potentially be incurred in setting up a Bulgarian brick & mortar travel agency and tour operator such as the state fees and your consultancy and advocacy fees etc.
    2. Also the cost for online agency and
    3. Branch office in Sofia of a non EU and EU agency.

    Kindest Regards

    PATRICK

    • Dear Patrick, thank you for your enquiry. Our licensing team will reply directly to you within the business day.

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