Some essentials you need to know when planning your trip to Bulgaria:
Before you arrive
Custom's formalities and limitations
Upon crossing the state border of the Republic of Bulgaria passengers may import and export commodities that in type, quantities, and value are not of a commercial nature. These do not include objects the passenger carry for personal use and consumption objects. Passengers have the right to import at no custom duty or import fees the objects necessary to the foreign individuals for their stay in the country, which in their type and quantity correspond to both purpose and the duration of their stay, as well as consumption objects: - tobacco products (passengers over 16 years of age) - cigarettes - 200 items, or other tobacco products - 250 gr.; - alcoholic beverages (passengers over 16 years of age) - wine - 2 litres, and alcoholic liquors - 1 litre; - other drinks: coffee - 500g. or coffee extract - 200g. tea - 100 g. or tea extract - 40g.; - perfumes - 50 ml. and toilet water - 250 ml. Passengers who are under full 16 years of age are not entitled to duty-free import of the commodities listed above, except for medications. Passengers older than 16 can import duty-free commodities acquired abroad other than those listed above of a total value up to US$ 100 or the equivalent in other currency units. For passengers under 16 the duty-free import rate for commodities acquired abroad is US$ 50 or their equivalent in other currency units. Personal use objects, new and used, which a passenger may normally need during one's trip, taking into account all circumstances of the travel, are placed under the regime of temporary import with a full exemption of all customs dues. Re-exporting personal belongings cannot take place later than the moment when the natural person who has imported them is leaving the customs territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Important amendments to the Foreign Nationals Act in the Republic of Bulgaria
New requirements enter into force on 1 January 2006 related to the address registration of foreign nationals in Bulgaria.
According to information provided by the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior, important amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2006 related to the address registration of foreign nationals in Bulgaria.
Pursuant to Article 18, Para 1 of the amendments, upon entry to Bulgaria foreign nationals will be required to state in a written form the aim of their visit and the address they will be staying at, by completing an address registration form for that purpose.
Foreign nationals passing transit or exiting Bulgaria within 24 hours will not be required to fill in such address registration form.
In compliance with Article 28, Para 3 of the Foreign Nationals Act, physical or legal persons who have provided accommodation to foreign nationals will be required within 5 days to inform thereof the service for administrative control of foreigners or the respective local police station, by providing information on the name, the date of birth, the nationality, the number and the series of the foreign national’s ID document.
Under Article 28, Para 4 of the amendments, hotel keepers and their staff will be required, upon providing accommodation to foreign nationals, to promptly register them in a special register. Hotel staff will be required to provide the information on the accommodated foreign nationals to the service for administrative control of foreign nationals or to the respective local police station on a daily basis by 6 o’clock a.m.
The amendments to the Foreign Nationals Act will enter into force on 1 January 2006.
Foreigners may export and import Bulgarian banknotes and coins in circulation to the amount of up to BGN 10,000. Sums exceeding this amount may be imported and exported only with a permit by the BNB (Bulgarian National Bank), valid for a period of up to 90 days of its issuance date. The foreign persons may export convertible (hard) currency in amounts that do not exceed the amount of the foreign currency they had imported and declared. They can import unlimited amounts of foreign currency, which is to be declared.
Upon entering and exiting the customs territory of the Republic of Bulgaria foreigners obligatorily fill in a declaration after a sample for the following currency value they carry: - Bulgarian banknotes and coins in circulation in amounts over BGN 10,000; - Bulgarian coins in circulation of numismatic value; - Foreign currency equal to more than US$ 1,000; - Shares issued by foreign entities in foreign currency, obligation notes, treasury-bonds, investment and depository certificates, cheques, bills of exchange, order bills, credit letters and other similar valuable papers; - Precious metals and precious stones and products of these other than the usual amounts for personal and family use - in type, weight, and value; - Coins, containing gold, silver and platinum - in type, weight, and value; - Other (hard) currency values. The export is prohibited of articles, coins of gold, silver, and platinum of historic, archaeological, artistic, and numismatic value included, except for the cases when there is a permit issued by the Minister of culture.
Foreigners leaving the customs territory of the Republic of Bulgaria may export precious metals in the form of ingots, articles made of them and precious stones, as well as coins containing precious metals within the amounts imported and declared, as well as articles purchased within the country, whose equivalence does not exceed the amount of the foreign convertible currency imported and declared by them.
A visa is issued only to bearers of passports or travel documents, which are valid for the country of Bulgaria for at least 3 months after the end of the intended stay and which contain a blank page for affixing of visa vignettes.
I. Holders of valid ordinary passports from the following countries do not need visa for a visit to Bulgaria for a period of up to 90 days within each period of six months:Austria, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.
II. Holders of valid ordinary passports from the following countries do not need visa for a visit to Bulgaria for a period of up to 30 days within each period of six months: Andorra, Australia, Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, USA, the Vatican.
For passport holders of countries enumerated in this section, a visa is needed only if their stay in Bulgaria should exceed 30 days, or they require multiple entry for a longer period of time or a long-term visa.
III. Holders of valid ordinary passports do not need visa to enter Bulgaria in accordance with acting international agreements: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Republic of Korea, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Tunisia, Yugoslavia.
Holders of passports of countries not mentioned in I, II or III need a visa to enter Bulgaria.
Persons visiting Bulgaria as tourists or guests may be insured. Insurance of foreign citizens is normally included in the tourist packages of the Bulgarian tour-operators. Foreign tourists may also enter Bulgaria with insurance policies from foreign insurance companies.
Arriving in Bulgaria
Visitors to Bulgaria may drive using their national licence, as long as it complies with international standards. It is advisable, however, to carry an international licence.
Road signs follow international standards. According to Bulgarian law seat belts must be worn by all passengers, mobile phones can only be used with `hands-free` sets. The limit of the admissible quantity of alcohol in blood for drivers 0.05%. Road assistance - 24 hour service tel. (02) 980 3308.
With regard to speed, motor vehicle drivers should not exceed the following limitations in km/per hour: Speed limits for cars are 50 km/h (30 mph) inside the city limits, 90 km/h (55mph) outside cities and 120 km/h (75mph) on motorways.
There are good bus connections between Bulgarian and European cities and towns. The buses are comfortable and the prices are fairly low.
Most tourists arrive in Bulgaria by plane. Flights from Central Europe last between 2 and 2.5 hours, from England about 3 hours.
The international airports are:
Sofia airport – tel.: +359 2/ 937 22 12
Plovdiv airport – tel.: +359 32/ 60 11 11
Varna airport – tel.: +359 52/ 50 08 34, 50 08 40
Bourgas airport – tel.: +359 56/ 87 02 48
After you arrive
Valid card types in bank machines: Eurocard, MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus, JCB, VISA, VISA Election
Useful Telephone Numbers
Police - 166
Fire Brigade - 160
Traffic Police - 165; 982 72 823
Immergency - 150
Road Help - 91 146