Looking forward to drive during your stay in Bulgaria? Find out how to proceed in this article.
Like in any country, you are required to be aware of the highway code and road traffic regulations if you intend to drive in Bulgaria. Indeed, you will probably want to drive if you are making a long-term stay in the country, whether you are renting or purchasing a car. Make sure that your driver's license is valid and recognized in the country. Otherwise, you will have to apply for a Bulgarian driver's license.
As the driver's license is mandatory in Bulgaria, you are advised to check whether yours is recognized by local authorities. Foreigners coming from outside the European Union can use their national driver's license for a maximum of one year. This driver's license should be accompanied by a Bulgarian translation. Following this period, they will have to exchange their driver's license into a Bulgarian driver's license. In some cases, the foreign national will have to pass the highway code oral examination and the driving test all over again.
On the other hand, foreigners coming from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are allowed to use their national driver's license throughout their stay in the country, regardless of its length. In fact, these countries have signed the Vienna Convention regarding road traffic, according to which foreigners do not have to pass the oral and driving tests all over again.
The Bulgarian driver's license has to be renewed every ten years for the following types of vehicles: AM, A1, A2, B and B1. As regards the C-class driver's license, which applies to vision impaired drivers, it has to be renewed every four years.
Exchanging your driver's license
You must be a Bulgarian resident to be allowed to exchange your driver's license into a Bulgarian driver's license. If it is the case, you simply have to call at the nearest road traffic office to your place of residence with your original driver's license and your resident permit. Your original driver's license will then be returned to the nearest municipality to your place of residence in your home country along will the explanations of Bulgarian authorities.
Obtain a Bulgarian driver's license
You are required to register with a driving school for driving lessons. Make sure to check whether the driving school has been accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Transports. Driving lessons generally consist of the following:
- an introduction to first aid
- 40 hours of theory
- 24 hours of driving lessons.
Good to know:
There is no need to panic if you do not understand Bulgarian nor the Cyrillic alphabet as the Highway Code is also available in English and French.
You also have to undergo a medical examination in a public hospital. Once you have passed the driving test, the driving school will issue a certificate which you have to produce to the nearest road traffic office to your place of residence. Other documents to be produced are the following:
- your identity card
- a first aid certificate issued by the Bulgarian Red Cross
- a medical certificate
- the application fees receipt
- copies of your certificates and diplomas.
In some cases, candidates may have to produce a mental health certificate, or any evidence stating that they have settled any fines obtained previously.
All vehicles in Bulgaria have to be insured, at least in respect of third-party payment which is valid for one year. The insurance policy, insurance card and sticker must be displayed on the vehicle's windscreen. To subscribe to the third-party payment insurance, the following documents have to be produced to the insurance company:
- the car's registration certificate,
- road fitness certificate
- your identity card
- proof of address.
Some insurance companies provide further coverage and facilities. Make sure to choose the best policy according to your needs and budget.
In Bulgaria, you are required to drive on the right side of the road.
You must be at least 18 years old to be allowed to drive.
The wearing of seat belts is compulsory both in the front and rear.
Headlights must be switched on continuously on the road from the 1st of November to the 1st of March inclusive.
From the 1st of November to the 31st of March, all vehicles must be equipped with snow chains to meet any eventuality. In some areas, as indicated by road signs, you are required to fix these on the tires.
The vehicle must always be equipped with a warning triangle, reflective jacket (green or orange), a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
Speed is limited at 130 km/h on highways, at 90 km/h in urban areas and at 50 km/h in residential areas.
The maximum level of alcohol tolerated is a rate of 0.5 g/ liter of blood. Drivers can be requested by the police to undergo a breathalyzer anytime. Objection is liable to a fine. In case the test result is positive, you risk a fine, or even seizure of the vehicle.