Definition of Youth

The National Youth Strategy (2010-2020) defines young people as aged 15 - 29 years, according to "international and European standards for youth work."


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • --
  • Female
  • 18
  • 16
  • --

  • No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Penal Code of Bulgaria

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.21% Male (15-24) %
  • 97.78% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 86.06%Male %
  • 84.47% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 26.40% Male (13-15) %
  • 31.80% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Bulgaria has a national youth strategy 2010-2020. A youth law was adopted in 2012. See the youth policy briefing for more details.

The youth law (2012), “determines the main principles, management and financing of the activities conducted for implementation of the state youth policy.” It covers youth work, youth organisations, volunteering, youth policy and information. The national youth strategy 2010-2020 outlines the situation for young people and details nine strategic aims including:

  1. Economic activity and career Development;
  2. Improving the access to information and quality services;
  3. Promoting healthy lifestyle;
  4. Social exclusion,
  5. Volunteering;
  6. Participation;
  7. Rural development
  8. Intercultural dialogue;
  9. Crime prevention.
The youth policy aims to be the, "...establishment of favourable conditions to complete personal growth of youth and their participation in social and economic life..."

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
According to the Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Bulgaria (2012), the Youth Directorate within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for the implementation of the national youth policy and youth programmes. Since 2012, responsibility for youth policy rests with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science. In addition, inter-ministerial working groups are established around different issues, including youth employment, professional qualifications, and the EU Structured Dialogue process.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Though the youth law highlights that,

The dialogue with young people at national, regional, district and local level on matters affecting them is not structured yet, unlike the established European models of representation through national, regional and local youth councils.

The ‘Implementation and Monitoring’ section (2.9) notes, however, that youth participation in public policy, "could be structured through youth councils.” Though the membership of the Bulgarian National Youth Council in the European Youth Forum was terminated in 2002 due to inactivity, attempts have been renewed to establish a national youth council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
No youth budgetary information could be found on Bulgaria. According to the World Bank, Bulgaria spent 10.8% of its government expenditure and 4.1% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank

Additional Background

According to the Youth Unemployment in Bulgaria paper, youth unemployment is currently a major challenge,

Young people have always been considered a group at the margin of the Bulgarian labour market. They did not manage to escape from this unenviable position even during the 11 consecutive years of economic growth, mainly due to structural constraints, such as insufficient qualifications, skills, experience and social capital. Predictably, young people have suffered a disproportionately severe blow from the recession, leading to exceptionally high levels of unemployment and inactivity and low rates of labour market participation and employment. The economic crisis has added powerful cyclical factors to the structural ones.

The Report on the study visit to Bulgaria (2005) critically reflects on youth policy and civil society in Bulgaria,

Unfortunately relations with the government are difficult. Bureaucracy, lack of communication among the NGOs and the government, and the constantly changing labor force in the institutions are barriers that must be broken to achieve success.

The more prominent NGOs based in the capital city are forced to aid the smaller NGOs since the government is not willing to help them. The communication between NGOs and the government is more difficult for the organizations which are based out of Sofia. The local representatives are ineffective and unable to provide the needed information.

Many of the European programs are managed by corrupt governmental agencies. This causes NGOs to seek money from abroad and cooperate with strong European organizations. An example for that is our cooperation with European Bureau for Conscientious Objection.