Travel tips - Bulgaria

Visas and passports | Embassies | Currency exchange | Credit Cards | Communications | Useful Phone numbers | Foreign airline offices in Sofia | Working hours | Official holidays | Electricity | Time difference

Visas and passports

In order to travel to and within Bulgaria the nationals of all countries need a passport valid until at least six months after the date of departure. You do not have to produce a return ticket on arrival. On arrival, however, all visitors have to register at the hotel or guesthouse they are staying at, or, when visiting friends or camping, at the nearest police station.

Requirements to obtain visa to enter Bulgaria :

  • TOURIST/BUSINESS VISA

1 visa application form, completed and signed 1 Passport-type photograph Your valid, signed Passport/must have six months remaining validity Copy of itinerary showing round-trip transportation Copy of U.S. Alien Registration Card (Green Card) if applicable

  • IF BUSINESS:

A letter of invitation from Bulgarian host A business letter of financial responsibility typewritten on the company letterhead, and addressed to: Embassy of Bulgaria Visa Section, Washington D.C. The letter must explain the purpose of travel and duties to be performed in Bulgaria and guarantee financial support for the applicant while in Bulgaria.

Requirements for U.S. citizens to enter Bulgaria:

  • Tourist Travel

    • U.S. Passport must be valid 3 months beyond intended stay

    • No visa required for stay up to 30 days

    • Tickets and Documents for return or onward travel

    • Vaccination: None required

  • Business Travel

    • U.S. Passport must be Valid 3 months Beyond Intended Stay

    • Tickets and Documents for Return or Onward Travel

    • No Visa Required for Stay up to 30 days

    • Vaccinations - None Required

  • Employment or Study Travel

    • Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate

It is also helpful to register with the embassy of your country on arrival, so that they are prepared to assist you in case of medical or legal emergencies. Your embassy can also provide you with a list of addresses of English-speaking facilities, such as doctors and pharmacies.

There are also several Bulgarian embassies abroad. Nationals of the United States of America and members of the European Union can travel in Bulgaria without a visa for up to 30 days, after which they need to have applied for a visa to extend their stay.

Nationals of Australia, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Norway, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa, Taiwan, UAE, Canada and Japan can visit Bulgaria without a visa if they have pre-arranged a tour of at least three day's duration with Balkantourist or any other authorised agent. Visas are free (but do need to be applied for) to nationals of China, Cyprus, North Korea and Zimbabwe. There are various types of visas, all varying in price.

A Transit Visa, given out if you are only travelling through Bulgaria on your way to another destination, is normally the cheapest, and is available in single and double entry. A Tourist Visa is about the same price and is given out to holiday-makers.

A Business Visa also comes in single and double entry, and can be for three or six months The most expensive type of visa is the Express Visa, issued immediately when applied for in person. The most you will ever pay for a visa to Bulgaria is the equivalent of forty pounds. To apply for a visa you will always need to fill out an application form, and give in your passport, a passport photo and the correct amount of money to pay for your visa.

For a Business Visa you will also need to fill in an extra form, and be in possession of a legalised invitation from a company in Bulgaria; as well as a letter of confirmation from your own company. If you intend to stay with friends, a legalised invitation from your host in Bulgaria is required. Remember that it can take up to 30 days to process a visa.

Embassies

Austria
Sofia, 4 Shipka Str.
Phone/Fax: 980 3572
Afghanistan
Sofia, Gorna Banya district
61 Boriana St., bl. 216A, apt. 15
Phone: 56 7155 Fax: 55 6135
Albania
Sofia, 10 Krakra Str.
Phone: 441 110, 443 381
Fax: 943 3069
Argentina
Sofia, 36 Dragan Tsankov Blvd.
IWTC, bl. 2, fl. 2
Phone: 971 2539, 971 3791, 973 3204 Fax: 714 63 028
Algeria
Sofia, 16 Slavyanska Str.
Phone: 980 2250, 981 0296, 981 0713 Fax: 981 0328
Armenia
Sofia, 11 April 20th Str.
Phone/Fax: 526 046, 547 970
Belgium
Sofia, 1 Velchova Zavera Sq.
Phone: 963 3622
Fax: 963 3638
Brazil
Sofia, 19 F. J. Curie Str., bl. 165/1, fl. 4
Phone: 723 527, 722 497, 723 423 Fax: 971 2818
China
Sofia, 7 Anri Barbius Str.
Phone: 973 3873, 973 3851, 722 127 Fax: 971 1081
Cyprus
Sofia, Uri Gagarin Str., bl. 154A
Phone: 971 2241, 701 077
Fax: 739 795
Czech Republic
Sofia, 9 Yanko Sakazov Blvd.
Phone: 946 1111, 946 1110
Fax: 946 1800
Columbia
Sofia, 1 Al. Zhendov Str.
Phone: 971 3103
Fax: 727 660
Croatia
Sofia, 18 Krakra Str.
Phone: 943 3225, 943 3226, 946 1677 Fax: 946 1355
Cuba
Sofia, 1 Konstantin Shtarkelov Str.
Phone: 720 996, 722 014
Fax: 720 460
Denmark
Sofia, 10 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd.
Phone: 980 0830, 980 2240
Fax: 980 0831
Egypt
Sofia, 5 September 6th Str.
Phone: 881 509, 870 215, 876 468 Fax: 980 1263
Finland
Sofia, 57 Simeonovsko Shosse Blvd.
Residence 3
Phone: 962 5870, 962 5871
Fax: 962 5170
France
Sofia, 29 Oborishte Str.
Phone: 946 0380, 946 0390, 946 1579 Fax: 946 1558
Germany
Sofia, 25 F. J. Curie Str.
Phone: 963 4518, 650 451
Fax: 963 1658, 650 275
Great Britain
Sofia, 38 Vasil Levski Blvd.
Phone: 980 1220
Fax: 980 1229, 981 7753
Greece
Sofia, 33 San Stefano Str.
Phone: 946 1027, 946 1030, 943 3453 Fax: 946 1249, 466 020
Hungary
Sofia, 57 September 6th Str.
Phone: 963 0460, 963 4470
Fax: 963 2110
India
Sofia, 31 Patriarch Evtimii Blvd.
Phone: 882 522, 876 650
Fax: 980 1289, 877-984
Indonesia
Sofia, 53 Simeonovsko Shosse Blvd.
Phone: 962 5240, 683 220, 689 202 Fax: 684 069
Iraq
Sofia, 21-23 A. P. Chehov Str.
Phone/ Fax: 722 016, 700 041, 706 479
Iran
Sofia, 77 Vasil Levski Blvd.
Phone: 987 6173, 987 8546
Fax: 987 7041
Israel
Sofia, 1 Bulgaria Blvd., NDK, fl. 7
Phone: 951 5044, 951 5046, 543 201 Fax: 521 101
Italy
Sofia, 11 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd.
Phone: 980 7747, 980 6950
Fax: 980 3717, 657 238
Japan
Sofia, 14 Luljakova Gradina Str.
Phone: 971 3437
Fax: 971 1095
Kuwait
Sofia, Simeonovsko Shosse Blvd.
Phone: 962 5689, 962 5130, 962 5209 Fax: 683 415
Korea, Democratic Republic of
Sofia, Mladost 1 District
Saharov Blvd., Residency 4
Phone: 779 596, 775 348
Korea, Republic
Sofia, 1 Bulgaria Sq., NDK, fl. 12
Phone: 650 162, 963 4425
Lebanon
Sofia, 19 F. J. Curie St., bl. 1
Phone: 971 3169, 720 431
Fax: 973 3256, 736 003
Libya
Sofia, Mladost 1 District
Saharov Blvd., Residency 1
Phone: 974 3556, 974 3156, 974 3297 Fax: 974 3273
Macedonia
Sofia, 17 F. J. Curie Str.
Phone: 701 560, 971 2832, 703 131 Fax: 705 098
Morocco
Sofia, 129 Evlogi Georgiev Blvd.
Phone: 442 794, 943 3090, 443 753 Fax: 946 1043
Mongolia
Sofia, 52 F. J. Curie Str.
Phone: 659 012;
Fax: 659 376
Netherlands
Sofia, 38 Galitchitza Str.
Phone: 962 5782, 962 5785, 962 5790 Fax: 962 5988
Peru
Sofia, 17 F. J. Curie Str.
Phone: 971 3708, 973 3469
Fax: 9733356 
Poland
Sofia, 46 Han Krum Str.
Phone: 981 5746, 981 5382, 981 0319 Fax: 873 645
Portugal
Sofia, 6 Ivatz Voyvoda Str.
Phone: 943 3667, 943 3670
Fax: 943 3683
Palestine
Sofia, 22 James Baucher Blvd.
Phone: 963 4024
Fax: 963 2571
Romania
Sofia, 4 Sitnyakovo Str.
Phone: 971 2858
Fax: 971 3619
Russia
Sofia, 28 Dragan Tsankov Blvd.
Phone: 963 0912, 963 1278, 963 1314 Fax: 963 4103
Slovak Republic
Sofia, 9 Yanko Sakazov Blvd.
Phone: 943 3281, 943 3288
Fax: 943 3837
Spain
Sofia, 27 Sheynovo Str.
Phone: 946 1209
Fax: 946 1201
South Africa
Sofia, 3 Vasil Aprilov Str.
Phone: 442 916, 441 681, 442 219 Fax: 443 461, 943 3516
Sweden, Norwegian Consulate
Sofia, 4 Alfred Nobel Str.
Phone: 971 2431
Fax: 973 3795
Switzerland
Sofia, 33 Shipka Str.
Phone: 946 0197, 943 3068
Fax: 946 1186
Syria
Sofia, 10 Hristo Georgiev Str.
Phone: 441 585, 443 229, 943 3059 Fax: 442 396
Turkey
Sofia, 80 Vasil Levski Blvd.
Phone: 980 2270, 871 464, 872 984 Fax: 981 9358
Uruguay
1124 Sofia, 91 Tsar Ivan Asen II Str.
Phone: 441 957, 443 042
Fax: 442 283
Ukraine
Sofia, 53 Simeonovsko Shosse Blvd.
Residence 11A
Phone/Fax: 683-064, 683-243, 686-041
United States of America
Sofia, 1 Saborna Str.
Phone: 980 5241, 980 5242
Fax: 981 8977, 963 0086
Yugoslavia
Sofia, 3 Veliko Tarnovo Str.
Phone: 946 1633, 946 1635, 943 3457 Fax: 946 1059
Vatican (The Holly See)
Sofia, 6 August 11th Str.
Phone:981 1743
Fax: 981 9457
Vietnam
Sofia, 1 Zhetvarka Str.
Phone: 658 334
Fax: 963 3658
Venezuela
Sofia, 1 Tulovo Str.
Phone: 943 3061, 943 3495
Fax: 943 3010
Yemen
Sofia, Andrey Saharov St.
Phone: 704 119, 756 163, 749 150 Fax: 756 164
 

Currency exchange

The Bulgarian currency is the Bulgarian lev (BGL) and its plural, leva. Every lev used to consist of 100 stotinki (st). Leva notes are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50. Stotinki coins in use are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50.

After the fall of Communism in Bulgaria, new editions of leva notes were printed, and all notes dating prior to 1974 have been declared worthless. To ensure against receiving counterfeit notes, always check for the Bulgarian Lion watermark. The deregulation of the lev on the exchange market has caused foreign currency, and in particular United States dollars (USD), to become very popular with the Bulgarian population. Black­market currency exchanges and upstart banks vie with airport shop owners and taxi drivers in attempts to separate tourists from their foreign currency. Local currency may not be taken out of the country.

Credit Cards

In the Bank or ATM machines, from the credit cards you can take only Bulgarian leva. There is a Bank commission of 3-5% taking Bulgarian leva from the credit card. There is a daily limit of the transactions.

Communications

Bulgaria offers a direct dialling service to 36 countries. To place a direct international call from Bulgaria you will have to place 00 in front of the country code you are dialling. If the country you are trying to reach is not one of the lucky 36 that can be reached directly from Bulgaria, you will have to place a call through an operator by dialling 0123. If you are placing an international call from a private house on Bulgaria, a telephone operator will always have to arrange the call and telephone you when the lines are available. This sometimes takes up to half an hour, especially if you are not in a major city. Major hotels and resorts, however, are normally in possession of a 'Betkom' direct dial phone with a digital display screen, which you can operate by purchasing a special card sold at nearby kiosks.

Telecommunications: International dialing code for Bulgaria - 359. Direct telephone communication from Bulgaria to countries in Europe, Asia and Africa is possible from Betcom or Bulgarian Telecommunication Company phone booths, with phonecards. Phone calls, telegram and telefax services in the country and abroad are offered by the Sofia Central Post Office and by Post Office in the capital and the country.

Useful Phone numbers

0123 - operator for international calls (if no direct phone call is possible)
1286, 983 308 - Road Assistance
75 361 - Institute for Treatment of Foreign Citizens
798 035 - Sofia Airport - International Flights
722 414 - Sofia Airport - Domestic Flights
121 - operator for long-distance calls within the country
140 - sending of telegrams
144 - telephone information service for office phone numbers
145 - telephone information service for home numbers
146 - Emergency Road Service
150 - Emergency Medical Aid
166 - Police/Road patrols
175 - weather forecast
180 - exact time ("speaking" clock)

Foreign airline offices in Sofia

Airline

Address

Telephone (++359 2)

Aeroflot

2 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd

981-49-43, 980-00-67, fax: 873-998

Air France

36 Al. Stamboliiski Blvd

987-73-25

Al Italia

40 Graf Ignatieff St.

808-786, 808-601

Aua Austrian Airlines

68 Knyaginya Maria-Louisa Blvd

327-061, 327-057, fax: 334-003

British Airways

56 Alabin St

981-70-00

CSA

9 Suborna St

981-54-08

Lufthansa

9 Suborna St

980-41-01, 980-41-41, fax: 981-29-11

Swissair

66 Knyaginya Maria-Louisa Blvd

931-08-71, fax: 931-15-59

Turkish Airlines

11A Suborna St

874-220, 883-596

Working hours

Banks and offices usually work with clients from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Most shops are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and many work around the clock.

Official holidays

January 1 - New Year
March 3 - Bulgaria's Liberation
May 1 - Labour Day
May 24 - the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and the Slav Script
December 25 - Christmas

Electricity

Plugs used in Bulgaria, as in most of Europe, are two-pin plugs; which means that sockets are made accordingly. The common voltage is 220 V, and it is wise to bring your own adapters as well as converters as these may not be available in the area you are travelling to.

Time difference

Bulgaria's time zone lies two hours ahead of Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT). Along with most of Europe, however, Bulgaria institutes its Summer Time. Summer Time is three hours ahead of GMT and is instituted from the last Sunday in May to the Saturday before the last Sunday in September.