Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Bulgaria

Bulgaria
Population: 6.9m
Area: 110,910 square kilometres
Currency: Lev (plural leva) - BGN

Coronavirus update

Please be aware that driving in Europe may be restricted at the moment.

Check the Foreign travel advice section of the GOV.UK website for up to date advice on all European countries.

Home to breath-taking mountains, golden beaches and an incredible history, Bulgaria is the perfect destination for your next European adventure whether you’re looking for snow, sun or something more cultural.  

However, it’s important to make yourself aware of how Bulgarian driving laws differ to the UK before you set off.

To help make your trip as safe and cost-effective as possible, we’ve put together a guide of everything you need to know before you go, from required documents to rules of the road.

Driving a rented vehicle? Jump to the advice for driving a hire car in Bulgaria section.  

RAC European Breakdown Cover (Basic, Comprehensive and Single Trip) provides a wide range of benefits should you breakdown in Bulgaria to ensure you stay safe. 

To supplement this, RAC also offers travel insurance. Cover will include medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings, among many other benefits.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered from just £7 this winter. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

Things to take when driving in Bulgaria

driving-in-bulgaria-tips

Documents for driving in Bulgaria

  • A valid, full UK driving licence (you must also be 18 or over)
  • A GB sticker (unless your car is equipped with EU number plates showing the country code in a circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background) 
  • Your motor insurance certificate
  • The V5 registration document for your own car or the hire car paperwork for a rental

Driving in Bulgaria packing checklist

Aside from the documents above, there are some legally-required items you must bring with you to drive in Bulgaria.

Unless your headlights can be adjusted, it's a legal requirement to carry headlamp converters (stickers for your headlights when driving on the right, so your lights don't dazzle motorists coming the other way).

A warning triangle is also compulsory to carry in vehicles in case of a breakdown.

It's also recommended to have:

  • Spare bulbs for your car's external lights
  • A fire extinguisher 
  • A first-aid kit
  • A reflective jacket (every passenger should have a reflective jacket which must be worn in case of a breakdown or emergency on a motorway, when stepping out of the vehicle)
  • Snow chains (use of chains can be compulsory depending on road conditions so check local information. The speed limit when driving with snow chains is 50 km/h)
  • A Green Card (this is no longer a requirement, but it could be useful to back-up your insurance documents and show you've got the minimum legal level of cover. To find out more, contact your insurance company)

You can pick up all the car kit you need from RAC Shop.

Rules of the road in Bulgaria

  • In Bulgaria, motorists drive on the right and overtake on the left 
  • All vehicles must also drive with their headlights on, even in the daytime
  • In Bulgaria, the use of horns is generally prohibited in built up areas between 2200 and 0600 and between 1200 and 1600, except in cases of immediate danger
  • When approaching a roundabout, vehicles already on the roundabout have priority. Any exceptions to this rule will be shown on road signs. Trams have right of way over vehicles on the road whether the tram is approaching from the right or left
  • EU citizens driving with a trailer in tow must hold an additional insurance policy for the trailer unless it has a gross weight of under 750kg
  • If you’re caught committing a minor driving offence while travelling through Bulgaria, you could be given an on-the-spot fine
  • Children over the age of three and measuring less than 150cm may travel without child restraints but must sit in a rear seat. Children under the age of three must use restraints
  • To drive legally on Bulgarian motorways, you must purchase a toll sticker - a ‘vignette’ – and display it in the passenger-side windscreen. Vignettes can be purchased at border crossings as well as post offices and petrol stations
  • The drink-drive limit is 0.05%. Random tests are carried out and drivers who test positive will be required to have a follow-up blood test at a local hospital

Bulgarian speed limits

Speed limits in Bulgaria vary depending on the road. In built-up areas, the limit for cars is 50 km/h while outside these areas the limit is 90 km/h. On motorways the limit is either 130 km/h or 140 km/h, depending on local signage.

Other things you should know when driving in Bulgaria

driving-in-bulgaria-tips

  • Parking restrictions in major towns and cities are often indicated by Blue Zones and Green Zones where parking is limited by means of tickets. Vehicles parked illegally can incur fines of up to €100. Wheel clamps and towing vehicles are also in operation
  • Foreign disabled badges are recognised in Bulgaria and should be placed inside the windscreen of the vehicle
  • Petrol and diesel are readily available in large towns and along major routes, with some stations open 24hrs. Do not use red pumps at petrol stations as these are reserved for service vehicles. 

In an emergency

112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting.

Operators can answer your call in their native language, English or French.

Breaking down in Bulgaria

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.

Driving a hire car in Bulgaria

Not all of the information in the guide above will be relevant to those looking to rent a hire car in Bulgaria.

Though it might be a good idea to read through everything anyway, here are the most important things to know for drivers of rental vehicles:

Rental information

  • The minimum age to hire a car is 21, altthough this can vary depending upon your provider
  • You need a full, valid UK driving licence and usually a second proof of ID (passport)
  • Some car rental companies ask that you have held your licence for a minimum term of 1 year
  • Some companies require you to use a credit card for deposit
  • You may not be able to drive outside of Bulgaria unless planned in advance - check with your hire company first
  • Make sure you get car hire excess insurance before your trip to protect yourself from unexpected costs. It's almost always cheaper to do this with a separate insurer and in advance

Hire car driving tips

  • Bulgarians drive on the right and overtake on the left - the opposite to the UK
  • Speed limits in Bulgaria vary depending on the road. In built-up areas, the limit for cars is 50 km/h while outside these areas the limit is 90 km/h. On motorways the limit is either 130 km/h or 140 km/h, depending on local signage.
  • Dial 112 in an emergency
  • It’s compulsory to wear seat belts in the front and rear seats
  • The blood alcohol content limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.05%. That's lower than the 0.08% in England Wales and Northern Ireland, but the same as Scotland.

Car hire excess cover

Protect yourself from unexpected excess costs when hiring a car.

Driving in Bulgaria FAQs

  • Do I need a GB sticker to drive in Bulgaria?

    Unless your car has EU number plates with the country code in a circle of stars on a blue background, you will need to display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle.

  • Do I need a breathalyser to drive in Bulgaria?

    No, it is not compulsory to carry a breathalyser kit in your vehicle when driving in Bulgaria.

  • Do I need headlamp converters in Bulgaria?

    Yes. Depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or adjust the beam manually. This is to prevent you dazzling oncoming traffic when driving on the right side of the road.

  • Can I drive my car in Bulgaria?

    Yes, with a full and valid UK driving licence, you can drive your own vehicle in Bulgaria. However, it is important to make sure that you have all the required items and documents you need to drive legally on Bulgarian roads.

  • How old do you have to be to drive in Bulgaria?

    You must be 18-years-old with a full and valid driving licence to drive in Bulgaria, though most rental companies require you to be over 21 with a minimum of one year’s driving experience.

  • Do I need an international driving licence to drive in Bulgaria?

    If your national driving licence does not have photo identification, you will need to have an International Driving Permit.

  • How do roundabouts work in Bulgaria?

    Traffic flows anti-clockwise around roundabouts in Bulgaria – the opposite direction to the UK. Drivers approaching a roundabout must give way to vehicles already on the roundabout, giving priority to drivers from the right-hand side.

  • Do I have to carry a spare wheel in Bulgaria?

    There is no legal requirement to carry a spare wheel when driving in Bulgaria. However, you should make sure to check all your tyres before setting off. Minimum tread depth for all motor vehicles and their trailers is 1.6mm in summertime and 4.0mm in winter.

  • Can I use a mobile phone in the car in Bulgaria?

    Mobile phones can only be used while driving if the device is connected to a handsfree system.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered from just £7 this winter. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice


Information in this guide is subject to change

British Embassy Sofia

British Embassy Sofia
9 Moskovska str.
10308
Sofia
Bulgaria

Telephone: (359) 933 9222
Fax: (359) 933 9219
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
Website: http://www.british-embassy.bg/

British Consulate Varna

British Consulate Varna
40 Graf Igantiev Street
PO Box 229
Varna
Bulgaria

Telephone: (+359-52) 6655555
Fax: (+359-52) 6655755
Email: [email protected]

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover