The Bulgarian lev is pegged to the euro and its value therefore varies with that of the euro and can fluctuate accordingly in relation to other world currencies.
Don’t be too optimistic about the exchange rate and bear in mind that a sudden fluctuation can cost you thousands of lev (or euros, pounds or dollars). For example, if you’re buying a home in Bulgaria costing €50,000 and paying in sterling, this would be equal to £33,333, at an exchange rate of £1 = €1.50. But if the £/€ exchange rate falls to €1.40 between the time your purchase offer is accepted and the time you come to pay, it will cost you £35,714 – an increase of £2,381!
It’s possible to ‘fix’ the exchange rate to guard against unexpected devaluations by purchasing a ‘forward time option’ or ‘limit order’ from your bank or from a specialised currency exchange firm; the further in advance you buy, the more you pay. The only downside is that you may regret doing so if there’s a big swing in your favour!
It’s recommended that you open an account with a Bulgarian bank if you decide to transfer money to Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian lev is a ‘controlled’ currency, which means that there are certain restrictions on the import and export of funds. These are constantly changing so you should check the latest regulations before importing or exporting currency. You cannot currently buy lev outside Bulgaria, but you can take lev out of Bulgaria and bring them back with you, subject to the following restrictions:
- You can import lev or foreign currency up to the value of 8,000 lev (€4,000) without having to make a declaration. If you’re carrying between 8,000 and 25,000 lev or the equivalent in foreign currency, you must fill out a Customs Currency Declaration and go though the red channel at Customs when you arrive in Bulgaria.
- If you’re carrying over 25,000 lev or its equivalent, you must show how you acquired the money and produce a certificate from the tax authorities in Bulgaria or your home country proving that you don’t have any unpaid taxes.
- Restrictions on exporting currency apply only to commercial transactions (i.e. foreign currency trading) and not to individuals (unless you’re a currency speculator!).
If you fail to make a declaration, you risk being fined or having your money confiscated.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Bulgaria
from Survival Books.