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Crypto License in Bulgaria

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For an extended period, Bulgaria has maintained a cautious stance towards cryptocurrencies, lacking specific regulations or extensive discussions about their status.

The Bulgarian National Bank (“BNB”) and the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission (“FSC””) have yet to classify cryptocurrencies as financial instruments or electronic money, allowing them to remain unregulated and not deemed illegal. The lack of a defined regulatory framework has led to no special licensing regime for establishing a crypto asset entity in Bulgaria.

Thus, the widely used term "crypto license in Bulgaria" refers to an additional registration requirement with the National Revenue Agency (“NRA”) in Bulgaria, rather than a distinct licensing process. This registration enables entities to engage in various crypto-related activities, including cryptocurrency exchange, custody services, wallet provision, crypto payment services, and crypto advisory services given a way for a “Bulgarian crypto license” in the industry.

Bulgaria's regulatory approach to cryptocurrencies has largely followed the guidance of the European Central Bank. The BNB expressed concerns about the inherent risks of buying virtual currencies in 2018, highlighting their extreme price volatility and potential pricing bubbles. The FSC echoed these sentiments in 2022, issuing warnings about the volatility and unregulated nature of crypto investment funds.

Despite the absence of specific regulations, cryptocurrencies in Bulgaria are indirectly regulated by measures aimed at preventing money laundering. In 2019-2020 the Measures Against Money Laundering Act in Bulgaria (or well-known “MAMLA”, in Bulgarian “Закон за мерките срещу изпирането на пари”) introduced the first legal definition of cryptocurrencies in Bulgarian legislation. It defines "virtual currencies" as digital representations of value accepted by individuals or entities as a medium of exchange, without being issued or guaranteed by a central bank or public body. Based on the 5th Money Laundering Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/849) MAMLA also implemented the definition of “wallet provider, offering custodial services” is defined as “a natural or legal person, or other legal entity, providing services for the protection of private cryptographic keys on behalf of its clients for owning, storing and transferring virtual currencies” Further referring to these concepts the Additional Provisions of Ordinance No. Н-9 of 7 August 2020 in Bulgaria, established requirements to crypto-asset exchanges and custodial wallet providers to register in a public register maintained by the NRA in Bulgaria. This created a so-called “cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria”.

Upon registration, companies receive a crypto-certificate or crypto-license, the only state-issued document allowing them to provide crypto-related services.

In summary, Bulgaria's regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies remains open, recently a registration process replaces a formal licensing regime. The position on unregulated status of cryptocurrency activity is confirmed in court practice and opinions of BNB and FSC in Bulgaria. There are no specific crypto-currency or fintech law that regulated this shpere. The country's approach aligns with preventing money laundering, ensuring transparency, and promoting responsible crypto-related activities. It is expected that in its further movements towards “crypto license in Bulgaria” regulation the country will mainly follow European Union approach.

Advantages of Bulgaria Crypto License

Bulgaria crypto license has several advantages, few of which are listed below.

These advantages collectively position Bulgaria as an appealing destination for obtaining a Bulgarian crypto license, attracting businesses seeking a conducive and cost-effective environment for their crypto-related operations.

Types of Cryptocurrency Licenses in Bulgaria

Despite the fact that crypto activity is not specifically regulated in Bulgaria, there might be situations when certain part of crypto activity falls under the existing licensing rules. Therefore, we could conditionally divide the following types of cryptocurrency licenses in Bulgaria:

I. Registration with National Revenue Agency (NRA):

II. Financial Services Commission (FSC) License:

Scope of Financial Services: If the crypto-related activities potentially qualify as financial services or be categorized as related to financial instruments, a license from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) might be required.

Understanding the distinct licensing options in Bulgaria is crucial for businesses to align their crypto-related activities with the appropriate regulatory framework, obtaining of respective so-called Bulgarian crypto license and ensure compliance with national and EU financial regulations.

InteliumLaw's Bulgaria Crypto License Services

InteliumLaw provides comprehensive services related to Bulgaria Crypto License.

  • Crypto Company Setup in Bulgaria Assistance:
    • Professional Guidance: InteliumLaw provides expert assistance in crypto company setup in Bulgaria, ensuring a seamless and compliant establishment process.
    • Structuring Support: Our team aids in structuring the company to align with the regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
  • Crypto License Bulgaria Procurement Support:
    • Licensing Expertise: InteliumLaw offers valuable support in the process of obtaining a crypto license in Bulgaria, guiding clients through the necessary steps and requirements.
    • Regulatory Compliance: We ensure that the crypto licensing process complies with all relevant regulations and legal frameworks, providing a smooth path to acquiring the necessary authorization (Bulgarian crypto license).
  • Terms & Conditions (T&C) Drafting: Tailored Documents: Our legal experts assist in drafting comprehensive Terms & Conditions specifically tailored to the client’s crypto-related activities, ensuring legal clarity and user protection.
  • GDPR Assistance: Data Protection Compliance: InteliumLaw provides support in aligning crypto businesses with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements, safeguarding the privacy and data rights of users.
  • AML Policies Drafting and Compliance Setup:
    • Policy Crafting: Our team drafts robust Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies tailored to the crypto business in Bulgaria, meeting regulatory standards and ensuring effective risk management.
    • Implementation Assistance: InteliumLaw assists in the practical implementation of AML compliance within the company, ensuring adherence to legal obligations and industry best practices.
  • Communication with Regulatory Authorities: Liaison Services: We manage and facilitate communication with regulatory authorities on behalf of our clients, ensuring a transparent and compliant dialogue throughout the crypto licensing and operational phases.
  • Legal Qualification of Crypto Activity:
    • Expert Evaluation: InteliumLaw provides expertise in legally qualifying crypto activities, ensuring that the business aligns with the appropriate regulatory categorization.
    • Risk Mitigation: Our team assesses potential legal risks associated with crypto activities, offering strategic advice to mitigate regulatory challenges.

InteliumLaw stands as a reliable partner for businesses seeking to establish and operate within the Bulgarian crypto license ecosystem, offering a comprehensive suite of legal services to navigate the complexities of the regulatory landscape effectively.

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Requirements for Bulgaria Crypto License

  • Corporate Requirements for Crypto Businesses: The prevalent choices for the corporate structure of crypto businesses in Bulgaria revolve around Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) or Joint-Stock Companies (JSCs).

    Key Elements in Crypto Company Setup in Bulgaria:

    • Minimum one shareholder (good reputation is mandatory, source of funds confirmation will be a plus)
    • Local director is not mandatory, but recommended
    • Minimum Share Capital: a Bulgarian LLC seeking a crypto license in Bulgaria necessitates a minimum capital of BGN 2 (€1).
    • Local Registered Office Address
  • Authorization Procedure:
    Transparent Entry into Public Register: As part of the authorization procedure, applicants are mandated to apply for inclusion in a public register meticulously maintained by the National Revenue Agency. This process not only underscores regulatory compliance but also emphasizes the importance of transparency in crypto operations.

    KYC Proceedings and Strategic Implementation of AML Measures: 

    • Mandatory KYC Verification: Entities aspiring to obtain a Bulgaria Crypto License must diligently conduct Know Your Customer (KYC) proceedings. This crucial step ensures the thorough verification of client identities, aligning with stringent anti-money laundering (AML) regulations
    • Prudent Focus on AML Compliance: Crypto company formation in Bulgaria places paramount importance on the meticulous implementation of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) measures.
    • Stringent Requirements under MAMLA: In accordance with Paragraphs 38-39 of Article 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Measures Act (MAMLA), entities engaged in crypto exchange and wallet provision are obligated to perform:
      • Collection and Custody of essential documents, data, and information.
      • Rigorous assessment of the risk associated with money laundering and terrorist financing.
      • Disclosure of pertinent information concerning suspicious transactions, ongoing transactions, and client profiles.

InteliumLaw provides comprehensive assistance to crypto businesses in Bulgaria, guiding them through the intricate processes of KYC proceedings, public register entry, and the establishment of a solid corporate structure. Our focus on AML measures ensures compliance with regulatory requirements and fosters a secure operational environment for crypto-related activities.

Crypto license application documents in Bulgaria

The process of obtaining a cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria involves preparation and submission of various documents. The application form, crucial for inclusion in the public registry of entities providing professional services related to virtual currencies, mandates the provision of comprehensive information. The key documents and details required include:

  • Identification Documents: Passport and utility bill of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) and the director of the company.
  • Company Information:
    • Name of the company.
    • Location and office address of the legal entity.
    • Correspondence address.
    • Email address for correspondence.
  • Key Personnel Details: Details of the UBO and individuals representing the company’s interests if different from the UBO. Contact persons’ information, including name, title, telephone number, and email address for correspondence if different from the UBO.
  • Corporate Information: Unique Identification Code (UIC) in the commercial register.
  •  Financial Details: Information on the opened payment account, including account number and the name of the payment service provider (multiple accounts can be indicated).
  • Online Presence: Website or mobile application address for virtual currency exchange or digital wallet services.
  • Business Details: Comprehensive description of the intended activity the applicant plans to perform.
  • Global Reach: List of countries in which the applicant intends to offer its services.
  •  Cross-Border Information: Clarification on whether the applicant is a cross-border company or part of a cross-border entity.

Submitting these documents ensures a thorough representation of the crypto entity in Bulgaria, facilitating a smoother evaluation process for the issuance of a crypto license in Bulgaria. InteliumLaw's expertise in guiding clients through this documentation process streamlines the application journey, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Process of obtaining a crypto license in Bulgaria

An obtaining of a crypto license in Bulgaria involves a structured process, ensuring legal compliance and authorization for engaging in cryptocurrency-related activities. The key steps include

I. Crypto company formation in Bulgaria:

II. Notification and Authorization of the Company with the National Revenue Agency (NRA):

Obtain the so-called “Bulgarian crypto license”, also known as the registration certificate, by registering the company with the National Revenue Agency. The registration certificate, issued as an electronic document with a qualified electronic signature, is sent to the registered person via email.

III. Optional Step: Opening a Bank Account:

While not a mandatory step for crypto authorization, opening a bank account is very important for the operational setup.

InteliumLaw provides comprehensive assistance throughout this process, ensuring a smooth and compliant journey towards obtaining a crypto license in Bulgaria. Our expertise encompasses guiding clients through legal requirements, facilitating necessary registrations, and ensuring adherence to regulatory protocols.

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Regulation of cryptocurrencies in Bulgaria

As already described above, at present, cryptocurrencies in Bulgaria are not subject to specific financial services regulations. Crypto related businesses are subject to authorization with NRA in Bulgaria (so-called “Bulgarian crypto license”). However, the country might be affected with the transposition of the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation.

Key Legislation Governing Cryptocurrencies:

  • Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/843 or 5AMLD)
    • Introduced the concept of “virtual currencies” and defined them as digital representations of value.
    • Obliges crypto businesses to implement customer due diligence procedures, with complex due diligence for transactions exceeding BGN 30,000.
    • Created a Public Register for Crypto Service Providers: In response to 5AMLD, Bulgaria established a special register for companies providing cryptocurrency services. This register, under the regulation of the National Revenue Agency (NRA), aims to enhance AML compliance and restrict the potential for terrorism financing.
  • Bulgarian Law on Measures against Money Laundering (“MAMLA”)
    • Adherence to the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) for common AML requirements across member states.
    • Mandates crypto businesses to obtain a crypto license.
    • Requires robust AML and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures to mitigate financial crime risks.

Regulatory Authorities:

The key regulatory considerations for holders of cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria are outlined below.

  • AML Compliance Requirements for Crypto Companies.
    • Customer due diligence, risk assessment, and disclosure of information for transactions exceeding specified thresholds.
    • Internal policies and procedures, including checks on key employees and control of financial instruments.
    • Identification of donors and beneficiaries, accompanied by documentation and risk assessment.
    • Reporting of suspicious activities or transactions.

  • Consumer Protection Measures:
    • Compliance with consumer protection legislation.
    • Provision of preliminary information to consumers regarding services.
    • Ensuring fairness in contract terms and avoiding misleading commercial practices.
    • Right to withdraw from the contract within 14 days and mechanisms for dispute resolution.

  • Data Protection Considerations:
    • Application of GDPR to processing data of Bulgarian/EU data subjects.
    • Compliance with GDPR requirements for controllers or processors not established in the EU.
    • Consideration of Bulgarian Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) for data subjects in Bulgaria.
    • Implementation of safeguards for storing personal data in a cloud, especially when located outside the EU/EEA.

The regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency services in Bulgaria is not extensive and mostly consists of general AML compliance, consumer protection measures, and data protection considerations. Crypto service providers must navigate these requirements diligently to mitigate risks and ensure legal adherence. Also, upcoming changes should be monitored diligently as the new developments yet to come.

Cryptocurrency taxation in Bulgaria

Although Bulgarian tax law doesn't explicitly regulate cryptocurrency taxation, the issued guidance from the tax authorities consider cryptocurrencies as financial assets for tax purposes. Rulings from the Bulgarian tax authorities of 2014 require individuals to pay taxes on gains from the sale of cryptocurrencies as financial assets.

For Bulgarian resident individuals, the taxable capital gain from selling cryptocurrencies is subject to personal income tax at a flat rate of 10%. If the cryptocurrency trading activity is conducted systematically and serves as the main source of income for the individual investor, the gains are taxed as business income at a flat rate of 15%.

Bulgarian resident companies, on the other hand, include any capital gains from the sale of financial assets, including cryptocurrencies, in their corporate income tax base. Corporate income tax is levied at a rate of 10%.

In alignment with the Court of Justice of the European Union's case law, the Bulgarian tax authorities consider the exchange of fiat currency for bitcoins and vice versa as a VAT-exempt transaction. This VAT exemption, however, contributes to the turnover calculation for determining the VAT registration threshold.

How much is the cost of a cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria?

The cost of a cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria can vary based on several factors, including the specific services you intend to offer, the scale of your operations, and other individual circumstances. Due to the nuanced nature of licensing requirements and the need for tailored advice, it's recommended to contact a representative from Inteliumlaw for precise information on the cost associated with obtaining a cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria. They can provide personalized guidance based on your business model and requirements.

How long does it take to get a cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria?

The timeline for obtaining a cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria involves several steps.

First, the crypto company formation in Bulgaria, usually a limited liability company, needs to be completed, and it is then entered into the public register of the National Revenue Agency. The duration of this process depends on factors such as the timeframe for opening a domestic bank account, which can vary based on management choices (local or foreign).

The Authorization procedure (obtaining of a Bulgaria crypto license) typically takes around 14 days, and the application is processed within this timeframe.

Therefore, considering the crypto company setup in Bulgaria and the subsequent Authorization procedure, the overall process can take between 3 to 6 weeks. It's essential to note that these timelines are approximate and may vary based on specific circumstances and individual factors.

Additional Services

In addition to assisting with cryptocurrency licenses in Bulgaria, InteliumLaw offers a range of additional services to support crypto businesses:

By offering these additional services, InteliumLaw aims to provide comprehensive support to cryptocurrency enterprises holding a 'crypto license' in Bulgaria, ensuring they navigate legal complexities, stay informed about industry changes, and receive expert assistance in accounting matters.

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FAQ

Is crypto regulated in Bulgaria?

Crypto-related businesses in Bulgaria are not governed by a specific financial services law. However, it's essential to note that certain aspects of crypto activities may fall under the purview of other financial licenses regulated by the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) in Bulgaria. Holders of a 'crypto license in Bulgaria' are subject to general Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), and consumer protection regulations.

Do I need to be physically present to register a crypto business in Bulgaria?

No, all processes for Bulgarian crypto license could be done remotely.

What are the AML/KYC requirements for crypto businesses in Bulgaria?

Crypto businesses holding a 'crypto license' in Bulgaria are obliged to adhere to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. The requirements include:

  • Customer Due Diligence (CDD): Crypto businesses must conduct thorough due diligence when establishing a business relationship, executing transactions, or in the case of any suspicious activities. CDD involves collecting and verifying customer information, assessing the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, and disclosing information about suspicious transactions.
  • Documentation: Crypto businesses holding a 'crypto license' in Bulgaria are required to collect and prepare necessary documents and information, including the passport and utility bill of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) and director. Additionally, details about the company, its location, office address, contact information, and other relevant details need to be provided.
  • Custody of Documents: Maintaining custody of collected documents, data, and information is essential for compliance.
  • Risk Assessment: Bulgarian crypto license businesses must assess the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing associated with their operations.
  • Reporting: Crypto businesses with crypto license Bulgaria need to disclose information about suspicious transactions, activities, and customers to the appropriate authorities.

These measures are crucial to ensuring compliance with AML/KYC regulations and preventing illicit financial activities within the cryptocurrency space.

How does InteliumLaw ensure legal compliance during the licensing process?

InteliumLaw employs a comprehensive approach to ensure legal compliance throughout the crypto licensing process for crypto businesses in Bulgaria. Our strategies include:

  • Legal Expertise: InteliumLaw's team consists of legal experts well-versed in cryptocurrency regulations, financial laws, and crypto licensing procedures in Bulgaria. This expertise ensures accurate interpretation and application of relevant legal frameworks by holders of crypto license in Bulgaria.
  • Regulatory Monitoring: We stay abreast of regulatory changes, industry trends, and emerging legal considerations. Continuous monitoring allows us to adapt strategies to align with evolving regulations and compliance standards.
  • Tailored Solutions: Every client's situation is unique. InteliumLaw provides tailored legal solutions, considering the specific needs, activities, and goals of each crypto business seeking licensing in Bulgaria.
  • Documentation Assistance: Our team assists in preparing and submitting the required documentation for licensing, ensuring that all necessary information is accurately provided and complies with regulatory standards.
  • Communication with Authorities: We facilitate communication with regulatory authorities on behalf of our clients, addressing inquiries and providing necessary clarifications during the licensing process.
  • Proactive Legal Support: Beyond the crypto licensing stage, InteliumLawoffers continuous legal support, keeping clients informed about regulatory changes and providing proactive solutions to emerging legal challenges.

Can non-residents open a crypto company in Bulgaria?

Yes, the foreign residents are not prohibited from a crypto company formation in Bulgaria.

Who can conduct crypto activities in Bulgaria?

A crypto company that obtained a so-called “cryptocurrency license in Bulgaria” (i.e. authorized by NRA) can conduct crypto activities in Bulgaria.

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