BulgariaOfficial Name: Republic of Bulgaria
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
1 page per stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
No for stays under 90 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
10,000 Euros or equivalent
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
10,000 Euros or equivalent
Embassies and Consulates
16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria
Telephone: +(359) (2) 937-5100
Emergency After-HoursTelephone: +(359) (2) 937-5101
Fax: +(359) (2) 937-5209
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bulgaria for information on U.S. - Bulgaria relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A valid U.S. passport is required for U.S. citizens. Your U.S. passport must be valid for at least three (3) months from the expected date of departure from Bulgaria. U.S. citizens may stay in Bulgaria for a total of 90 days within any six-month period without a Bulgarian visa. This law is strictly enforced. Travelers who have been in the country for 90 days and then leave will not be able to re-enter Bulgaria before the six-month period expires. Please plan and apply for your visa early.
- Visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Bulgarian Embassies/Consulates websites for more information on the entry and exit requirements for Bulgaria.
- Carry your U.S. passport at all times or a Bulgarian residence permit, known in Bulgaria as lichna karta.
- U.S. passport cards are recognized as proof of citizenship and identity but are not sufficient for international air travel to and from Bulgaria.
- Visitors are required to maintain medical insurance for the durantion of their stay in Bulgaria. You may be required to present proof of medical insurance at the port of entry.
Traveling with Children Under 18 years old: Regulations apply to Bulgarian minors, Bulgarian-U.S. dual citizen minors, and U.S. citizen minors when one or both parents are Bulgarian.
- If a Bulgarian or dual U.S. citizen-Bulgarian child is traveling out of Bulgaria with only one or neither parent, the absent parent(s) must sign a certified/legalized declaration authorizing temporary custody for travel purposes. The declaration must be certified by a Bulgaria notary public.
- If declaration is signed in the U.S., it must be certified by a U.S. notary public and the court in the jurisdiction where the notary is licensed, have an apostille, and translated into Bulgarian by a licensed translation company.
Visit the Embassy of Bulgaria website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Bulgaria.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
When traveling or living in Bulgaria, you should:
- Be aware of the local security situation and take appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.
- Monitor media and local information sources, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Address specific safety concerns to Bulgarian law enforcement authorities who have responsibility for the safety and security of all residents and visitors to Bulgaria.
- Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of large gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.
Crime: ATM skimming, credit card fraud, and traffic incidents remain the most common threats to U.S. citizens traveling to Bulgaria. The majority of incidents involving U.S. citizens are monetary in nature, though incidents of racism, ethnic slurs, and harassment of African-Americans have occurred. Report crimes to the police by dialing 112.
- Pick-pocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in crowded markets, on shopping streets, and aboard the busiest tram and bus lines. Con artists operate on public transportation and in bus and train stations.
- Use caution at ATMs. Be wary of people who approach you at an ATM and offer assistance. Do not give your PIN to anyone under any circumstances.
- Travelers should be suspicious of "instant friends" and should also ask persons claiming to be government officials to provide identification.
- Police stations may provide translators for anyone who needs to report a crime, but will often require the victim to return at a later time or bring his/her own translator.
- Pay special attention to the drink prices at high-end bars and nightclubs. Travelers have been charged exorbitant prices, especially for champagne and hard alcohol. Bills have been as high as several thousand dollars for drinks, and in some establishments, the management may use force to secure payment.
- Use taxis with meters and clearly marked rates displayed on a sticker on the passenger side of the windshield. Taxi drivers are known to overcharge unwary travelers, particularly at Sofia Airport and the Central Train Station. The airport has a clearly marked exit within the arrival terminal that leads travelers to metered taxis at a fair rate and a booth to assist with obtaining taxi services. Finding reputable taxis at the Central Train Station is more difficult. Inquire about the fare before entering a taxi and always account for all luggage, packages, and hand-carried items before paying and releasing a taxi.
- Automobile theft and break-ins are common in residential areas or in parks. Four-wheel-drive vehicles and late-model European sedans are the most popular targets.
- Burglary is a common crime. If you plan to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis, take measures to protect your home and consider installing window grilles, steel doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.
Report crimes to the local police and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (359) (2) 937-5100.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency telephone line in Bulgaria is 112 for police, fire, or ambulance services.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department's travel website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bulgaria are severe; convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.
- Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and, if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
- Bulgarian law enforcement authorities may take you in for questioning if you do not have your U.S. passport or long-term residence card with you, or if you take pictures of certain buildings.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Special Circumstances: Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy.
- You may exchange money at local banks or exchange bureaus. Be wary of people on streets who offer higher rates of exchange, they are usually con artists who intent to swindle unwary travelers.
- Damaged or worn U.S. dollar bank notes are often rejected at banks or exchange bureaus.
- Most shops, hotels, and restaurants do not accept travelers’ checks or credit card. Local banks such as Unicredit, Bulbank, Bulgarian Postbank, and United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) can cash travers’ checks.
Corruption remains an important concern of the Bulgarian government. You may refer complaints of public corruption by e-mail to the Ministry of Justice at email@example.com or by phone to +359 2 987 0697. All grievances must be made in Bulgarian.
If you plan to import an automobile to Bulgaria, be aware that customs duties on personal vehicles can be high. All documents must be originals or certified copies and contain an apostille.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI individuals are stigmatized by society in Bulgaria and societal discrimination against LGBTI individuals is widespread. LGBTI individuals should avoid displays of affection in public.
While LGBTI individuals are protected by the anti-discrimination law, hate speech and labor discrimination based on sexual orientation are not considered criminal offenses.
While there is no legal barrier to organize an LGBTI event, the pride event participants were attacked in the past. The recent pride parades were also postponed on police request due to concerns that they could not effective protect those participating in LGBT event.
Persons with Mobility Issues: Local law requires improved access to buildings for persons with disabilities and new public projects take this requirement into account; however, this law is rarely enforced in older buildings.
Bulgarian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and with access to health care. In practice, however, the government does not effectively enforce these provisions. Societal discrimination persists against persons with disabilities.
Communiting in Bulgaria is nearly impossible for disabled individuals. Busses, trams, and trolleys are generally old, extremely crowded, and lack accommodation for disabled travelers. Even in newer public vehicles access is extremely limited and disabled travelers rely on fellow passengers to help them on and off the vehicle.
- Sofia metro is the most accessible system for disabled individuals, but its reach is limited.
- Disabled travelers should consider traveling with a friend or family member who can assist them in navigating the transportation systems in Bulgaria.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Bulgarian medical personnel is knowledgeable and is trained to a high standards, however most hospitals and clinics are not equipped with appropriate medical supplies and not maintained to Western standards.
- Basic medical supplies, over-the-counter and prescription medications are widely available, but highly specialized medication and/or treatment regimens may not be.
- Not every hospital/clinic is equipped for pediatric care. If you are in need of emergency services for an infant/child, please call ahead to ensure those services are available.
- Response times for an ambulance can take up to an hour or longer. Taxi or a personal vehicle is a faster option.
- Hospitalization and or medical evacuation may cost thousands of dollars. Since Bulgaria is a cash-based economy, make sure you have access to cash to cover a medical emergency. Most hospitals expect immediate cash payment for service rendered.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Tuberculosis continues to be a serious health concern in Bulgaria.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further health information, go to:
Travel & Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: The Bulgarian road system is largely underdeveloped.
- Roads are in poor repair and full of potholes.
- Rockslides and landslides are common on mountaneous roads.
- Livestock and animal-drawn carts are common or roads especially during agricultural seasons.
- In winter roads are icy and potholes proliferate.
The U.S. Embassy in Sofia advises against driving at night because such road conditions are more dangerous in the dark. Some roads lack pavement markings and lights, and motorists often drive with dim or missing headlights.
Traffic Laws: Driving in Bulgaria is dangerous. Aggressive driving habits, the lack of safe infrastructure, and a mixture of late model and old model cars on the country’s highways contribute to a high fatality rate in road accidents.
- Avoid confrontations with aggressive local drivers. Drivers are known to speed, swerve into oncoming traffic or go the wrong way on divided highways.
- Traffic lights late at night blink yellow in all directions, leaving the right-of-way unclear and contributing to frequent accidents.
- Heavy truck traffic creates numerous hazards along the two-lane routes from the Greek border at Kulata going to Sofia, and from the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo to Plovdiv. Expect long delays at border crossings.
- A U.S. state driver's license is only valid in Bulgaria when used in conjunction with an International Driving Permit.
- If pulled over by a police officer, be aware that under Bulgarian law the police officers may not collect fines on the spot, but may confiscate your driver’s license depending on the offense.
- Right turns on red lights are not permitted.
- Keep your headlights on at all times no matter the time of day or weather.
- At unregulated crossings, the driver on the right has the legal right-of-way, but this rule is frequently ignored.
- The use of seat belts is mandatory in Bulgaria for all passengers. Children under 10 years of age may ride in the front seat only if seated in a child car seat.
- Drivers may be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood level as low as 0.05 percent. The penalties for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death range from a US $25 fine to life imprisonment.
For specific information concerning Bulgarian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please visit the Bulgarian Embassy website.
Visit European Commission site for latest information on speed limits, traffic fines and regulation.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Bulgaria’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight:
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bulgaria’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Bulgaria’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.