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Motor Madness

Second-hand cars are not cheap here, nor is the process of buying one easy, there’s no such thing as seeing a car, agreeing to buy, sorting the insurance, and posting the little slip off to Swansea! The process in Bulgaria is much more lengthy and time-consuming, and to the non-initiated, it can be very daunting and you may even feel like giving up altogether.

 But, do not fear, help is at hand! Deyan Angeloev, of Star-BG is here with a quick guide to help to take the pain away.

Making the deal

Usually, the price can be negotiated between the owner and the buyer - if you’re not happy with the price, don’t buy the car!

Next comes one of the major differences between the UK and Bulgaria. The sale must be legalised in front of a Notary. The Notary will check that the person selling the car is the legal owner and will prepare the contract of sale. The seller and buyer will check, agree and sign the contract in front of the Notary. (As this is a legal document, you should have a translator present to make sure you fully understand the terms of the contract and what you are signing. The Notary can arrange a translator for you, or you may take your own.)

At this point the money for the deal changes hands - not before! When they are happy with the paperwork, the Notary will attest the deal.



There are several insurance companies available in Bulgaria, but it can be difficult knowing which one to choose. As in the UK, policies vary and include different ‘benefits’, such as breakdown cover, and of course, there are variations in cost. Some of the different types of policy include - obligatory civil insurance, partial or full insurance, driver only insured, and all seats insured.

Here again, we see a difference between Bulgaria and the UK. In Bulgaria the insurance company places stickers and etchings in the bottom corner of all the windows on the car to show that it is insured.

The expiry date of the policy is shown on the stickers. Although this part of the process is performed as part of the insurance procedure, it is not done at the same premises!

If you don’t have a Bulgarian friend to help you with this, or you have not been through the process before, it can be one of the most daunting tasks of buying a car! You may want to consider contacting a ‘helping hand’ company to assist with arranging your car insurance.


‘Annual Technical Test’

This is the test that would be known as an ‘MoT’ in the UK. Believe it or not, this test is obligatory in Bulgaria. You wouldn’t think so by the look of all those wobbly Lada’s on the motorway, or the rusty old bangers chugging up hills belching out blue smoke, but rest assured, it is.

As in the UK, the date of the test is the same each year. Some insurance companies may include the MoT test as part of their ‘benefits’ package.

There are various places available that are certified to perform the test, however the most popular is the ‘SBA’ (the Syndicate of Bulgarian Drivers). If the car fails the first test, the owner has to pay for a second test - no free re-test here.

Once passed, the owner receives a test certificate and another window sticker.



A sort of ‘road tax’. The cost of a vinetka (or vignette) depends on the category of the vehicle, how long you want the vinetka for, and which roads you want to travel on - i.e. if you stay within the city limits you don’t need a vinetka, but this is pretty rare! Vinetkas can be purchased from ‘OMV’ fuel stations and post offices.