Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Bulgaria International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bulgaria for information on U.S. - Bulgaria relations.
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 traveling on regular tourist passports may stay in Bulgaria for a total of 90 days within 6 months 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 without a visa before the six-month period expires.
U.S. official and diplomatic passport holders must obtain a Bulgarian visa prior to arrival. If you are traveling on a U.S. official or diplomatic passport, you will not be allowed to enter Bulgaria without a visa. Please plan and apply for your visa early.
Visitors are required to maintain medical insurance for the duration of stay in Bulgaria. You may be required to present proof of medical insurance at the port of entry.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Bulgaria.
Bulgaria strictly enforces Bulgarian regulations for minors traveling internationally with only one parent or another adult. Bulgarian parental consent regulations apply to minor children who have Bulgarian citizenship, as well as dual citizen minor children entering and exiting Bulgaria on U.S. passports. Parents should consult the Bulgarian Embassy in the United States for detailed information about the requirements. For further questions, you may also contact the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia (ACS_Sofia@state.gov).
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Crime: ATM skimming, credit card fraud, and traffic incidents remain the most common threats to U.S. citizens in Bulgaria. The majority of incidents involving U.S. citizens are monetary in nature, though incidents of racism, ethnic slurs, and harassment of African Americans and religious minorities have occurred. Report crimes to the police by dialing 112.
The emergency telephone number in Bulgaria is 112 for police, fire, and ambulance services.
Demonstrations may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (359) (2) 937-5101. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regards to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase local insurance that covers search and rescue, medical assistance and transportation by helicopter for the following types of sports: hunting, mountain biking, paragliding, rock climbing and alpinism as well as for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding outside marked ski tracks; trekking expeditions outside established routes; amateur cross country skiing and biathlon competitions; snow kite and similar activities. U.S. citizens are also encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to +359 2 987 0697. All grievances must be submitted in the Bulgarian language.
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. See more information on the Bulgarian Customs Agency website.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Bulgaria. However, LGBTI individuals are stigmatized by society in Bulgaria and societal discrimination against LGBTI individuals is widespread. LGBTI individuals engaging in public displays of affection may attract unwelcome attention or harassment.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Bulgarian 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 access to health care. Societal discrimination persists against persons with disabilities.
Commuting in Bulgaria is very difficult for disabled individuals. Buses, trams, and trolleys generally lack accommodation for disabled travelers. The Sofia metro is the most accessible system for disabled individuals, but its transportation network 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.
For emergency services in Bulgaria, dial 112.
Ambulance services are widely available but training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: 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. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with Bulgaria’s Customs Agency to ensure the medication is legal in Bulgaria.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals list of hospitals and physicians in Bulgaria.
We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Road Conditions and Safety: The Bulgarian road system is largely underdeveloped.
Traffic Laws: Driving in Bulgaria is dangerous. Aggressive driving habits, 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.
Public Transportation: Sofia’s metro system and the extensive bus network are reliable modes of transportation. Taxi cabs are also plentiful but are known to overcharge passengers. Do insist on use of the meter when using a taxi cab.
See our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning Bulgarian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Visit the European Commission site for latest information on speed limits, traffic fines and regulations.
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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Bulgaria should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.