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Driving in Bulgaria

General Info

Bulgaria flag

Population: 6.9m

Area: 110,910 sq. Km

Currency: lev (plural leva) (100 stotinki) - BGN


Top 10 popular attractions:  

  • Rila Monastery
  • Belogradchik Rocks 
  • Tsarevets 
  • Seven Rila Lakes 
  • Nessebar 
  • Etara 
  • Perperikon 
  • Koprivshtica 
  • Cherven Fortress 
  • Boyana Church

Essentials

Driving licence:

National driving licences conforming with the model in Annex 9 of the 1949 Convention or in Annex 6 of the 1968 Convention or to the European Communities’ model are accepted.

If the national driving licence does not bear the photo of the holder, the visitor must have an International Driving Permit. A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive a car in Bulgaria until the age of 18yrs old.

International Driving Permits (1949 or 1968) are recognised.

Important documents:

When driving in Bulgaria the following documents should be carried: 

  • Full, valid driving licence* (with paper counterpart)
  • Proof of insurance/green card (third party or above)
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Proof of ownership (V5C certificate)
  • International Driving Permit (see driving licence section)

While driving in Bulgaria you are required by law to carry the following items. Hefty on-the-spot fines can be issued for failing to carry specific items: 

  • Headlamp beam deflectors: Depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually
  • Warning triangle: all vehicles (except mopeds and motorcycles) which have broken down must be indicated by a warning triangle
  • Reflective jacket: it is compulsory for any person who has to step out of the car, day and night, in case of breakdown or emergency on a motorway. It is also compulsory for motorcyclists
  • Fire extinguisher/first aid kit: Compulsory on board private vehicle
  • Motorcyclists: riders and all passengers of motorcycles must wear crash helmets

 

Rules of the road & regulations

Rules of the road:

  • Overtaking & passing

    Drive on the right, overtake on the left.

    Rules follow the provisions of the Conventions on Road Traffic.

  • Priority

    Rules follow the provisions of the Conventions on Road Traffic.

    Priority belongs to vehicles travelling on main roads indicated as such by signs.

    Trams have right of way over other road users whether they come from the right or the left.

  • Warning of approach

    In built-up areas drivers are prohibited to sound their horn between 22:00 and 06:00 hours (on public holidays up to 09:00) and between 12:00 and 16:00. Outside these hours the horn may be used if it is really necessary. The horn may be used outside large towns to prevent an accident.

    Places where the use of audible warning devices is prohibited are indicated by the international sign.

Towing:

Caravans, camper vans and luggage trailers are admitted temporarily without a customs document. Objects of value should be declared.

Seat belts: 

It is compulsory to wear a seat belt on the front seats and the rear seats of a vehicle.

Travelling with children: 

Child restraint systems must meet the requirements of rule 44/03 of the UNECE. Children under the age of three may not be transported in vehicles not fitted with child restraints. Children aged 3 or over, measuring less than 150cm in height, may travel in a vehicle without child restraints but they must occupy a rear seat. 

Children must be placed in special restraints suitable for their size and weight, according to EU regulations.

Snow chains:

Snow chains are permitted. Their use can become compulsory according to road conditions, in which case this is indicated by the international road sign. When driving with snow chains, the speed limit is 50 km/h.

Speed limits:

  Inside Built-up Areas Outside Built-up Areas Motorways
Moped 45 km/h 45 km/h  
Motorcycle 50 km/h 80 km/h 100 km/h
Car 50 km/h 90 km/h* 130 km/h*
Car & Caravan or Trailer 50 km/h 70 km/h 100 km/h
Lorry      
up to 3t 50 km/h 70 km/h 100 km/h
over 3t 50 km/h 70 km/h 100 km/h

* 140km/h on certain motorways (must be signposted)

Penalties

  • On-the-spot fines

    The police can impose fines on-the-spot for offences against traffic regulations. A receipt is given

Parking

  • Parking regulations

    Stopping and parking are prohibited at places where they may obstruct traffic. These places are indicated by signs. 

    In one-way streets, parking is on the left only.

    There are no parking disks on meters; however there are Blue Zones and Green Zones where parking is limited by means of tickets. These are valid for thirty minutes or one hour; the driver must write the date and time on the ticket and put it behind the windscreen of his vehicle. It is possible to cumulate several tickets. Tickets can be purchased from kiosks or from sellers on the spot.

  • Enforcement of parking regulations

    Parking fines range from 200 to 2000 BGN. Wheel clamps are used and are released on payment of a fine of 30 BGN. Vehicles causing an obstruction can also be towed away and a fine of 60 BGN is levied.

Traffic lights:

  • Traffic lights

    The international 3-colour traffic light system is used.

Drink/drug driving

  • Legal limit

    The maximum level of alcohol in the blood is 0.05%.

  • Alcohol

    The police can impose random breath tests on resident and visiting drivers. If the test is positive, the driver will be required to undergo a blood test carried out by a hospital doctor.

    The police can test drivers for the use of drugs, at the roadside.

Availability of fuel

Filling stations are to be found in large towns and on main roads at an average distance of 30 to 40km. Some petrol stations are open day and night all the year round but most are open from 06:00 to 21:30 hours daily.

Motorists should not use the red pumps at petrol stations as these are for service vehicles only.

  • Price of fuel
    (April 2014)
Unleaded petrol (95 octane) 2.52 BGN per litre
Unleaded petrol (98 octane) 2.70 BGN per litre
Diesel 2.56 BGN per litre
LPG 1.24 BGN per litre
  • Means of payment

    The purchase of fuel must be paid for in leva (cash). Some foreign petrol stations, e.g. Shell, accept credit cards.

Download  a copy of our Travelling in Bulgaria guide.

Download  a copy of our full Driving Abroad report.


Useful guides and maps

Michelin Motoring Atlas: Europe

What RAC can do for you

RAC offers great value, flexible RAC European breakdown cover tailored to meet your needs. We also offer comprehensive travel insurance, including cover for medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings.  Whilst away, use our Route Planner for all your driving directions.

RAC can cover you against vehicle break down in Europe, with options available to suit your travelling requirements.

RAC European breakdown cover Basic and Comprehensive cover provides you with a wide range of benefits.


Source: All information in this document is sourced from the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) & the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and, to the best of the RAC’s knowledge, is correct at the time of publication (August 2013).

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. There has been an increase in burglaries from hotel rooms in Sunny Beach. Keep valuables in a safe. 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.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

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

Office: British Embassy Sofia
Street Address: 9 Moskovska str.
ZIP Code: 10308
City: Sofia
Country: Bulgaria

Telephone: (359) 933 9222
Fax: (359) 933 9219

Email: britembcon@mail.orbitel.bg britembvisa@mail.orbitel.bg

Website: http://www.british-embassy.bg/


Office: British Consulate Varna
Street Address: 40 Graf Igantiev Street
Postal Address : PO Box 229
City: Varna
Country: Bulgaria

Telephone: (+359-52) 6655555
Fax: (+359-52) 6655755

Email: bozhilov@unimasters.bg


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