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By joining the European Union on January 1, 2007, Bulgaria completed the harmonization of its legislation with the EU and became subject to EU regulations on wildlife. There are no dedicated wild animal wet markets, urban or otherwise, in Bulgaria. Hunting is largely conducted as a part of leisure activities (including special hunting tours) and to catch animals for international sale. Meat and fish, including wild-caught, are sold at regular farmers markets. General veterinary and sanitary control rules apply in all situations where such products are sold. 

I. Regulatory Overview

As a member of the European Union, Bulgaria adheres to EU regulations on wildlife, its usage, and its protection.[1]

Bulgaria adopted the Animal Protection Act in 2008. Its provisions regulate the maintenance and usage of animals, including wild animals.[2] Wild animal hunting is regulated by the Hunting and Game Protection Act, adopted on June 6, 2001.[3][4] Article 64a of the Act forbids the sale, exchange, or donation of game and game products without documents related to their origin. The Act specifically stipulates the rules for the sale of wild animals and wild animal products.[5]

Under this Act sale is allowed only for the purpose of resettlement of animals, farming, zoo and zoo needs, import, and export.[6] Amendments to the Act instruct on procedures for obtaining licenses for sale.[7]

The law firm Peter Atanasov & Gabriela Nasheva offers an overview of regulations for the sale of wild animals and animal products.[8] Regarding trade in game and game products, the firm notes that

trade in game products, as well as live game for resettlement in nature and for farming for the needs of zoos, . . . is carried out at negotiation and prices determined by the persons managing the game. The game and game products subject to the transaction shall be accompanied together with a veterinary certificate and a document of origin. The minimum prices for the sale of live game and game products are approved annually by the Executive Director of the EAG and the Minister of Agriculture and Food, respectively.[9]

II. Legal Status of Markets

Bulgaria is a fully operating market economy, in which the majority of the companies are private. After market reforms, Bulgaria completed its major privatizations in the 1990s and early 2000s.[10] All farmers markets and agricultural markets became private enterprises. Farmers markets are privately owned and management of the markets are obliged to follow standards and sanitary norms introduced by the government. As a member of the EU, Bulgaria is subject to the EU regulations.[11] The markets are growing in numbers every year in Bulgaria and are almost everywhere either in cities or rural areas.

III. National Legislation on Veterinary and Sanitary Standards

The Law on Veterinary Activity of the Republic of Bulgaria regulates veterinary medical requirements for raw materials and foods of animal origin.[12] Also, the Law provides minimum requirements of protection and welfare for the sale of animals. According to this Law, raw materials and foods of animal origin must be placed on the market if they meet the requirements of this Act, the Foodstuffs Act, and secondary legislation for their implementation.

Under this Law, raw materials and foods of animal origin intended for placing on the market must meet the health requirements and have passed a veterinary medical control as well as be marked with a health or identification mark that identifies their origin. Additionally, the veterinary registration number of the production and storage site where they originated from must be entered into the veterinary documents.[13] The Law also defines the veterinary standards and requirements for those who carry out production, transportation, trade, and placing on the market of raw materials and foods of animal origin. According to article 248, they must adhere to the veterinary-sanitary and hygienic requirements during the realization of their activities and must

  • provide an opportunity to veterinarians to freely use the premises and equipment necessary for the realization of their activity;
  • inform within the proper time the official veterinarians on changes in the activities in their establishments;
  • cooperate with veterinarians during the realization of their activity; and
  • conduct disinfection, insect prevention, and rodent prevention measures using means approved by the Ministry of Health.[14]

Article 439 of this Law stipulates the amount of fines for those who violate veterinary and sanitary rules and norms while carrying out production, trade, or placing on the market of raw materials or foods of animal origin, animal by-products, and products, stating

[a]ny manufacturer, who manufactures or places on the market veterinary medicinal products, in violation of the requirements, with which the license for use of the veterinary medicinal products have been issued, shall be punished with a property sanction, shall be fined in the amount of 2,000 to 5,000 BGN [approx. US$1198.86 to $2997.16], and in the case of a repeated violation – property sanctions in the amount of 5,000 to 10,000 BGN [US$2997.16 to $5,992.87].[15]

The Law on Veterinary Medical Activity of the Republic of Bulgaria introduces the veterinary requirements for the safety of raw materials and foodstuffs of animal origin during their production and transport, and introduces the rules and standards for placing them on the markets.[16] This Law also regulates the types and quantities of veterinary–sanitary documentation for trade and exchange of animals, germinal products, animal by-products, and raw materials and foodstuffs of animal origin.

Under this law, veterinarians are obliged to carry out clinical examinations and veterinary medical inspections at the place of origin of the animals of the embryonic products, the animal by-products, and the products obtained from them, for an observance of the veterinary medical requirements for identification of the animals; implementation of the program for prevention, supervision, control, and eradication of animal diseases; and observance of the veterinary medical requirements in centers for the extraction and storage of germinal products, at markets and collection centers for animals, and at sites for cleaning and disinfection of vehicles.[17]

The Food Law of the Republic of Bulgaria provides basic definitions, goals, and principles for food safety and defines procedural rules for food control.[18] Under this Law, the specific requirements are envisaged for direct deliveries of small quantities of raw materials and foodstuffs of animal origin to the final consumer and to local retail outlets. Primary products like raw hen, quail eggs, fresh and chilled sea, freshwater fish, fresh meat, poultry, and rabbits slaughtered on the farm, as well as hunted large and small game or the meat of large and small game, cannot be delivered to consumers without special issuance of an ordinance from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of the Republic of Bulgaria.[19]

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Prepared by Iana Fremer
Legal Research Analyst
August 2020

[1] European Parliament, Briefing No. 6: Bulgaria and the Enlargement of the European Union,; Member-State Law: Bulgaria, European e-Justice,; Bulgaria: Overview,,

[2] Animal Protection Act of the Republic of Bulgaria, No. 13, adopted Feb. 8, 2008, last updated Nov. 22, 2011, (in Bulgarian).

[3] Hunting and Game Protection Act of Bulgaria, No. 151, adopted June 29, 2001, last updated Apr. 5, 2019, (in Bulgarian).

[4] Id. art. 9, para. 12.

[5] Id. arts. 71–77.

[6] Id. art. 71.

[7] Id. paras. 110–114.

[8] Sale of Wild Animals and Wild Animal Products, Law Firm Peter Atanasov & Gabriela Nasheva, (in Bulgarian).

[9] Id. ¶ 6.

[10] U.S. Commercial Service, Department of Commerce, Doing Business in Bulgaria: Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies, 2015,

[11] Ekaterina Arabska, Farmers’ Markets as a Business Model Encouraging Sustainable Production and Consumption, 7(1) Visegrad J. Bioeconomy & Sustainable Dev. 2 (May 2018),

[12] Law on Veterinary Activity of the Republic of Bulgaria, No. 87, adopted Nov. 1, 2005, last updated June 20, 2020, (in Bulgarian).

[13] Id. ch. 2, arts. 67 & 68, paras. 1 & 2.

[14] Id. art. 248.

[15] Id. art. 451.

[16] Law on Veterinary Medical Activity of the Republic of Bulgaria, No. 87, adopted Nov. 1, 2005, last updated June 9, 2020, (in Bulgarian).

[17] Id. art. 67.

[18] Food Law of the Republic of Bulgaria, No. 90, adopted Oct. 15, 1999, last updated June 9, 2020, (in Bulgarian).

[19] Id. art. 21b.

Last Updated: 12/31/2020