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May 17, 2024

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May 10, 2024

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International Travel


Learn About Your Destination


Republic of Bulgaria
Exercise normal precautions in Bulgaria.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise normal precautions in Bulgaria.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Bulgaria.  

If you decide to travel to Bulgaria:



Embassy Messages


Quick Facts


3 Months beyond the departure date from Bulgaria.


One blank page for entry/exit stamps.


Not for stays under 90 days if using a regular passport; visa required if using a diplomatic or official passport.


For information on COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please see the Embassy’s COVID-19 information page for the latest guidance.


10,000 Euros or equivalent.


10,000 Euros or equivalent.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Sofia

16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria

Telephone: +(359) (2) 937-5100
Emergency After-HoursTelephone: +(359) (2) 937-5101
Fax: +(359) (2) 937-5209

Entry, Exit and 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 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.


  • Visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Bulgarian Embassy website for the most current visa information.
  • While in Bulgaria, always carry your U.S. passport 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 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.

Find information on dual nationality and customs regulations on our websites.

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. 


  • Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay if you plan on transiting a Schengen country review our U.S. Travelers in Europe page.    
  • You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.  
  • For additional information about visas for the Schengen area, see the Schengen Visa page.


Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.    

Safety and Security

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: 

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.) 
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists 
  • Places of worship 
  • Schools 
  • Parks 
  • Shopping malls and markets 
  • Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)  

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.

  • Pick pocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in crowded markets, on shopping streets, near airport ATMs and aboard the busy tram and bus lines. Con artists often 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.
  • Police stations should 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.
  • 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, the Central Train Station, and at Black Sea resort areas. 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. 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. Popular mobile application based taxi services like Uber or Lyft do not operate in Bulgaria, but there are local taxi services that use similar mobile applications such as Yellow Taxi and Taxime.
  • Automobile theft and break-ins are common in residential areas and 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.

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. 

  • Demonstrations can be unpredictable; even those intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
  • Exercise caution if unexpectedly found in the vicinity of large gatherings or demonstrations.
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.
  • In an emergency, U.S. citizens should call the police (#112), seek a safe location, and wait for assistance.
  • Messages regarding demonstrations are posted on the Embassy's website.

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.  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.   

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website. 

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. 

  • 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.
  • Bulgarian law enforcement authorities may take you in for questioning if you take pictures of certain government buildings, embassies, or military facilities.

Special Circumstances: Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy, especially outside of major cities.

  • You may exchange money at local banks or exchange bureaus. Be wary of people on streets offering to exchange money, they are usually con artists who intend to swindle unsuspecting 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 traveler's checks. Credit cards may not be accepted outside the major cities. Local banks such as Unicredit, Bulbank, Bulgarian Postbank, and United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) can cash travelers’ 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 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.

See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section six of our Human Rights report for further details.  

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.

Students:  See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.  

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.

  • Adequate health facilities are available at some hospitals in major cities, but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards.
  • Hospitals and doctors require payment “up front” prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is not always available.
  • Medical staff may speak little or no English.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals. 
  • Not every hospital/clinic in equipped for pediatric care. If you need emergency services for an infant/child, please call ahead to ensure those services are available.

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 coverage overseas. 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:

  • Infants, children, and teens
  • People over 65 years of age
  • People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • People with heart disease or diabetes
  • People who work or are active outdoors

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

  • U.S. citizens have suffered serious complications or died during or after having cosmetic or other elective surgery.   
  • Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry. People seeking health care overseas should understand that medical systems operate differently from those in the United States and are not subject to the same rules and regulations. Anyone interested in traveling for medical purposes should consult with their local physician before traveling.
  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information on Medical Tourism, the risks of medical tourism, and what you can do to prepare before traveling to Bulgaria.
  • We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation in the event of unforeseen medical complications.  
  • Your legal options in case of malpractice are very limited in Bulgaria.   
  • Although Bulgaria has many elective/cosmetic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, the quality of care varies widely. If you plan to undergo surgery in Bulgaria, make sure that emergency medical facilities are available and professionals are accredited and qualified.  


  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with few controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients.  Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.  
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States.  Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States.  Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for use in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.   

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. 

Travel and 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 mountainous roads.
  • Livestock and animal-drawn carts are common on roads, especially during agricultural seasons.
  • In winter, roads are icy and potholes proliferate.
  • Some roads lack pavement markings and lights.
  • Motorists often drive with dim or missing headlights

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.

  • A U.S. state driver’s license is only valid in Bulgaria when used in conjunction with an International Driving Permit. Such permits must be obtained in the United States prior to travel. Following recent enhanced police enforcement, most rental car companies now require international driving permits to rent cars to U.S. state driver’s license-holders.
  • Avoid confrontations with aggressive 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.
  • If pulled over by a police officer, be aware that under Bulgarian law the police officer 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.
  • 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.
  • Check out Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior’s road rules guide.

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

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Bulgaria.  For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: July 26, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Sofia
16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria
+(359) (2) 937-5100
+(359) (2) 937-5101
+(359) (2) 937-5209

Bulgaria Map