Most foreigners have noticed that the Bulgarian visa process is coming closer and closer to normal EU practices as the country integrates more fully into the regional block. The last month is no exception, and from now on anyone seeking a “D” visa, indicating intention to establish residence in Bulgaria, will be required to appear personally for an interview before a consular officer when submitting the visa application.

In addition, lease agreements submitted in support of “D” visa applications must now be notarized to be valid for that purpose.

On the financial front, Bulgarian inflation continues to outstrip predictions. Against start of year government estimates of 4.5% inflation for the year, CPI inflation through nine months has been 8.9%, with year on year inflation of 13.1% measured against the end of September, 2006. With gas prices rising 9.1% last month alone, consumers can expect a significant rise in heating costs again this winter.

The Bulgarian teachers union remains on strike for higher wages, rejecting a package that would have awarded them an average 46% increase from 440 to 650 leva per month. Teachers have demanded a 95% increase to 780 leva.