The Bulgarian Youth Law (2012) “defines the basic principles, management and financing of the activities carried out in pursuance of the state policy on youth.” Besides youth policy, it covers youth activities, youth organisations, youth work and volunteering. The law was last amended in February 2022.

Published on October 4, 2023
Updated on February 22, 2024

Definition of youth

The Bulgarian Youth Law (2012) defines young people as aged 15 to 29 years. The National Youth Strategy 2021-2030 follows this definition.

Definition 1
15 - 29 years
Definition 2

Voting Rights

Majority age
18 years
Voting age
18 years
Criminal responsibility
15 years

Candidacy age

Lower House
21 years
Upper House
--- (unicameral)
--- (tbc)

Marriage & Gender

Without parental consent
18 years
18 years
With parental consent
16 years
16 years


Is same-sex marriage legalized?


Are other genders recognised?
compulsory medical diagnosis

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?

The Bulgarian Youth Law (2012)"defines the basic principles, management and financing of the activities carried out in pursuance of the state policy on youth."Besides youth policy, it covers youth activities, youth organisations, youth work and volunteering. The law was last amended in February 2022.

The National Youth Strategy 2021-2030 "with its 10-year horizon sets the main direction and strategic objectives in the sector." Those objectives include to promote:

  • Non-formal learning;
  • Employment and support for young people not in education, employment, or training;
  • Youth engagement, participation and empowerment;
  • Youth work nationally;
  • Connectivity, tolerance and European belonging;
  • Healthy and environmentally-friendly lifestyles;
  • Culture and creativity among young people.

The Strategy is supported by an annual implementation plan and annual youth reports. A further implementation tool is the National Youth Programme 2021-2025.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth?

The Bulgarian Ministry of Youth and Sports is responsible for the government's youth policy. Its Statutory Regulations (2013) state that the ministry is the central body of the executive that develops, organises, coordinates, and controls the implementation of state policy in the field of youth and sports.

According to the Youth Law (2012), the National Advisory Council for Youth and the Public Council on Youth Affairs assist the ministry in the implementation of youth policy. The National Advisory Council for Youth consists primarily of representatives from different ministries; the Public Council on Youth Affairs is largely composed of representatives from youth organisations.

Youth & Representation

Does the country have a national youth organization or association?

The National Youth Forum is the largest youth platform in Bulgaria, uniting 50 youth organisations. As the country's national youth council, its stated mission is to:

  • represent the interests and needs of young people in Bulgaria;
  • highlight the importance of youth organisations, their development and participation in social and socio-political processes;
  • ensure effective structural dialogue through cooperation with relevant stakeholders and decision-making institutions in youth policy.

The Forum is a full member of the European Youth Forum and describes itself as an active partner of national and European institutions in building and advocating for youth policies.

Youth work

Is youth work a formally recognised profession?

Youth work is a formally recognised profession in Bulgaria. According to the National Youth Law (2012), "a youth worker is an adult who has undergone special training for working with young people and/or has gained professional experience in working with young people and performing youth activities."

The objectives of the National Youth Strategy 2021-2030 include the promotion of non-formal learning by increasing quality and access to it, as well as the establishment of an intersectoral coordination mechanism for the expansion of youth work.

A number of formal training programmes to become a youth worker exist, such as the Master's in Social-Pedagogical Work with Young People at Veliko Tarnovo University. However, according to the EU Youth Wiki, there is no official legal procedure for the validation of skills and competences gained by youth workers through non-formal or informal learning.

Budget & Spending

Does the national youth policy have a dedicated budget?

The State Budget 2022 allocated BGN 7.4 million (USD 3.8 million) of the Ministry of Youth and Sports' overall budget to "Youth Policy."

According to the National Youth Strategy 2021-2030, "The financing of the National Youth Strategy is implemented as a priority through the national and municipal youth programmes, within the framework of the budgets of the responsible fiscal authorising offices for the respective year." The National Youth Programme 2021-2025 has an annual budget of BGN 800,400 (USD 410,090).

The detailed allocation of funds for the National Youth Strategy is carried out through annual implementation plans. The latest available plan from 2019 applies to the old National Youth Strategy 2010-2020 and had a total budget of BGN 82.7 million (USD 42.1 million).

Contextual Figures

Liberal Democracy Index
Youth Progress Index

Economic Indicators

GDP per capita
Human Development Index
Gini coefficient

Youth unemployment

Youth unemployment rate by sex (in percent), compared to total population

Additional background

Bulgaria's current National Youth Strategy 2021-2030 highlights challenges that came to light in the implementation of the previous National Youth Strategy 2010-2020, including:

  • The need to improve existing forms of inter-institutional coordination and to increase administrative capacity for planning, monitoring and reporting on youth policies;
  • The large number of documents and ambiguity about the meaning of each document; and
  • The lack of specified monitoring mechanisms and methods.

In 2020, the Bulgarian Youth Forum, together with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, published an evaluation report on the previous National Youth Strategy 2010-2020, according to which:

"The overall assessment of the National Youth Strategy (2010-2020) as a document can be defined as positive in terms of setting a common and clear direction for the strategic development of the youth sphere and the care of young people as the most important national cause to ensure the European development of Bulgaria. The problem areas, priorities, strategic objectives, tasks and expected results are clearly identified."

"The main problems are associated not so much with the content of the document as with its implementation and reporting. A discontinuous dialogue - on the one hand, between those responsible for youth policies at the national and local level, and on the other, between the administration and youth organisations in general. As a result, there is a lack of understanding of the needs of young people, a lack of representation, a lack of resources (material, financial and human) and generally poor coherence and results in youth policy in the country."

According to Amnesty International's Country Report on Bulgaria (2021):

"Media freedom further deteriorated as journalists were subjected to threats and intimidation. Migrants and asylum seekers faced pushbacks. Domestic violence increased. LGBTI people were targeted by groups hostile to minority rights. Roma faced widespread discrimination. There was systemic ill-treatment of residents in social care institutions."

According to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's Youth Study Bulgaria 2018/2019:

"The wish to migrate among Bulgarian youth has been gradually decreasing over the past two decades (61 percent do not want to emigrate in 2018, as compared with 47 percent in 2014 and only 14 percent in 2001), but it still remains a chronic problem afflicting both the high- and the low-skilled workforce."

"Among young Bulgarians, finding employment has seen a pronounced positive development, which is associated with EU integration and emergence from the post-crisis situation. Some of the problems identified in the 2014 survey are still present: an insufficient match between educational preparation and employment; the startlingly inadequate labour integration of young Roma individuals, also due to their low level of education. While the number of young people who are not involved in education, training or work is not growing, it is nevertheless of significance, and is often reproduced across generations (such as in families that have no work experience at all)."


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  • Update 22.02.2024: Corrected small formatting errors