Reading the signs at the entrances to Sofia is pretty easy. Even if they were not translated, using Latin letters, most of us expats would manage.Fifteen years ago, when I came to Bulgaria for the first time and had no clue about Bulgarian or Cyrillic, I looked at street signs the same way I would have in Pyongyang, meaning I looked at them as drawings. It worked. Nowadays, street signs are easy, as long as there are any.
Most of us can probably read menus in restaurants by now. Many of us can probably read anything in Bulgarian, but understanding the content is a different story.
Some service providers, such as banks, now have bilingual deposit and transfer forms.
Vivacom has an English section on its website, so do other companies. Great, we appreciate that.
Members of a British expat forum told me, the Bulgarian police was even giving out speeding tickets with English translations. Should we be happy or sad?
If there is any place where employees should speak English, it’s the immigration office, right? Well, at the immigration office in Sofia nobody speaks a word of English, while the application forms for new I.D. cards (there is one lying on my desk, right next to me) are partially translated.
It’s different with tax forms. Any expat, who is not a fluent Bulgarian speaker or reader and who is self-employed, will obviously need an accountant.
Our northern neighbor, Romania, is now taking action, in this regard. They have one advantage: No Cyrillic. Still, the country’s tax agency ANAF will provide English tax forms online, including taxpayer registration forms, tax return forms, corporate income tax and personal income tax forms. Starting next year, all Romanians, along with expats in Romania, will have to fill in their tax forms online, since there won’t be any printed forms anymore, starting in 2017.