Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Bulgaria International Travel Information
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 cannot stay more than a total of 90 days in Bulgaria within a 6 month-period without a Bulgarian visa. This law is strictly enforced. Travelers who depart the country after a 90 day stay will not be able to re-enter Bulgaria without a visa before the six-month period expires.
U.S. official, service, and diplomatic passport holders must obtain a Bulgarian visa prior to arrival. If you are traveling on a U.S. official, service, or diplomatic passport, you will not be allowed to enter Bulgaria without a visa. Please plan ahead 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.
Visit the CDC’s website for immunization information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Bulgaria.
Traveling Through Europe: If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.
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:
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Sofia as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Crime: U.S. government personnel are not prohibited from traveling to any specific areas of Bulgaria due to crime. Most criminal acts in Bulgaria take place in Sofia. Other districts with a slightly lower level of crime than Sofia are Varna, Plovdiv, Burgas, and Stara Zagora. The lowest crime levels are in the districts of Smolyan, Kardzhali, Vidin, Silistra, and Razgrad. Most of Bulgaria experienced a decrease in crime in 2021 compared to 2020.
ATM skimming, credit card fraud, and traffic incidents remain the most common threats to U.S. citizens in Bulgaria. 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.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on significant holidays, and during international events. They mainly occur in downtown Sofia in the areas surrounding and between Parliament and the Presidency.
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.
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.
Special Circumstances: Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy, especially outside of major cities.
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 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.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details::
LGBTQI+ Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTQI+ events in Bulgaria.
However, LGBTQI+ individuals face cultural stigma and widespread discrimination. LGBTQI+ individuals engaging in public displays of affection may attract unwelcome attention or harassment.
According to LGBTQI+ organizations, courts rejected the right of same-sex partners for protection against domestic violence because the law treats “spousal” only as applying to married persons who cannot legally be the same sex. The Commission for Protection against Discrimination reported receiving very few cases regarding sexual orientation.
Travelers with Disabilities: Bulgarian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care, but societal discrimination persists. Bulgarian law requires improved access to buildings for persons with disabilities and new public projects take this requirement into account, but authorities rarely enforce this law in older buildings. 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 to Sofia. 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.
The U.S. government does 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. Credit card payment is not always available. 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 the 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 for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The air quality varies considerably and fluctuates with the seasons. It is typically at its worst in the winter. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
Health Facilities: The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals in Bulgaria. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy: If you are considering traveling to Bulgaria to have a child through use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) or surrogacy, please see our ART and Surrogacy Abroad page.
Surrogacy is illegal in Bulgaria. For additional information, visit the Government of Bulgaria’s website for information on foreigner surrogacy.
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 plentiful but are known to overcharge passengers. Do insist on use of the meter when using a taxi or use a mobile application based taxi service.
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.