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Driving in Bulgaria

If you're driving in Bulgaria your checklist requirements are:

  • A valid, full UK driving licence - both the photo and paper parts
  • An International Driving Permit - find out more here
  • A GB sticker on the back of your car - even if your car has 'Euro-plates' (number-plates that show a circle of 12 stars on a blue background)
  • Your motor insurance certificate, showing you have permission to drive in Bulgaria
  • Your V5 registration document or hire car paperwork
  • Headlamp converters (stickers you put on your headlights when you're driving on the right, so your lights don't dazzle motorists coming the other way)
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • A warning triangle inside the car in case you break down
  • A road tax sticker prominently displayed in your car - you can buy this from ports, border points and petrol stations

You must also:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Make sure everyone in the car wears a seatbelt at all times
  • Wear a crash helmet if you're riding a motorcycle

It's a good idea to have:

  • Spare bulbs for your car's external lights
  • A Green Card - it's a useful back-up to your motor insurance documents and shows you've got the minimum legal level of cover. If you'd like to find out more, contact your insurance company

Other things you should know:

  • You might have to pay motorway tolls, depending where you travel within Bulgaria
  • It's illegal to carry or use any radar detection equipment
  • If you have a GPS navigation system that shows you where any fixed speed cameras are, you must deactivate this function
  • Unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG are readily available
  • The speed limit is 50kph in towns, 90kph on open roads and 120kph on motorways
  • If you're caught committing a driving offence, whilst driving through Bulgaria, you'll be given an on-the-spot fine
  • The drink-driving limit 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - lower than the UK limit of 80mg per 100ml
  • Don't use your horn between 10pm - 6am or 12pm - 4pm
  • Children under age 12 can't travel in the front seat
  • Some drivers can be aggressive and erratic, and minor traffic disputes can get out of hand - so tread carefully and don't react to other drivers' provocative behaviour. Remember, they may be armed!
  • There have been reports of criminals impersonating policemen and imposing fines or stealing cars or personal belongings
  • Try to avoid driving at night - apart from the poor road conditions and lack of street lighting, it's common to come across horse-drawn carts, motorcycles and scooters driving without lights
  • If you're driving in mountainous areas, watch out for falling rocks and landslides
  • If someone flashes their lights at you, they're not offering to let you go first. It either means they expect you to get out of their way, or they're warning you that there are police ahead

Useful guides and maps

Michelin Motoring Atlas: Europe

What RAC can do for you

RAC offers great-value, flexible European breakdown cover tailored to meet your needs. We also offer comprehensive travel insurance, including cover for medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings.

Sources Foreign & Commonwealth Office, www.nationaldrivesafe.co.uk.

Disclaimer: RAC are not responsible for the content of external websites. The information provided is correct as of August 2009 to the best of our knowledge and should be referred to for information purposes only - it should not be relied upon as formal advice. Please always check the current requirements of the country you are visiting before you leave.

Protests, often at short notice, continue across major cities in Bulgaria, with the largest crowds in Sofia. The protests remain largely peaceful, but are attracting attention from extreme groups so there is a small risk of violence. Avoid large gatherings in public spaces, keep up to date with media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

Be aware of pickpockets in city centres and tourist resorts especially in crowded areas like buses, trains and busy streets. Keep valuables in a hotel safe if possible. See Crime

Be aware of prostitutes around Burgas and Sunny Beach. See Crime

If you need to contact the emergency services in Bulgaria call 112. English speaking operators are available. See Health

Carry a copy of the information pages of your passport at all times as proof of identity.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

FCO TRAVEL ADVICE - know before you go - fco.gov.uk/travel
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