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Driving in Bulgaria Factfile - Driving Licences

To exchange your driving licence or apply for a replacement if yours has been lost / stolen, you need to go to the local Traffic Police office, called KAT in Bulgarian. Take your residents permit, your passport for id and, if your licence has been lost or stolen, proof from the original issuing authority that you are eligible to drive. The proof from the issuing authority should be translated by a registered translator into Bulgarian. The local Bulgarian traffic police will issue you with a new licence and your old licence is returned to the issuing authority.

Obtaining a new Bulgarian driving licence. To pass a Bulgarian driving test and obtain a valid licence you will need to pass a theory, first aid and a practical. Those wishing to learn to drive and pass the test, must enroll with a driving school which is licensed by the Bulgarian Ministry of transport. There are three elements: first aid course, 40 hours of driving theory and 24 hours of driving lessons. You will also be required to have a medical examination, which is usually obtainable at your local poly-clinic or hospital. This is a general medical examination and an eye test. Your driving school will let you know where you can attend first aid courses. At the end of the class you will be given a certificate. 40 hours of driving theory are compulsory and there are 800 multiple choice questions in the test. You may take your theory test in English. 24 hours of driving are required with the licensed driving school. After this you undertake a practical driving test.

Having successfully fulfilled all the above, a certificate is provided which you should then take to the local traffic police to obtain your full licence. Unusually, Bulgaria also requires proof of education before issuing a licence, so you will need copies of your school or higher education qualifications. If these are in English, get them translated by a registered translator. At the local traffic police you will need all the papers you have obtained during your driving course (medical certificate, first aid cert, etc), plus proof of identity (passport).

Roadworthiness of the vehicle. Referred to as the MOT in Britain, this check is required for all vehicles more than three years old. The test is undertaken in garages which are licensed by the Ministry of Transport. Your vehicle will need to have its roadworthiness checked three years from the date of first registration. The next test will be two years after this. Vehicles more than five years old, undergo the test every year. You have a maximum period of 30 days from the expiry date of the old test for your vehicle to be tested again. You will invalidate your insurance if you drive whilst your vehicle has not passed this test.

At the test centre you will need to bring with you: proof of identity, registration documents, insurance, receipts for vehicle taxes paid. The centre will check brakes, steering, lights, tyres, axle, suspension, wheels, seat belts. As most things Bulgarian you will find differing standards in how thoroughly the test is conducted.
You will be issued with a card and stamp if the vehicle passes. This card will show you when the next test is due. Stick the stamp to your windscreen. If the vehicle fails, the required repairs need to be done and the vehicle tested again.

Buying and selling a car. New cars: if you are purchasing a new car from a dealer, then all you need is proof of identity, providing you are buying the car without any finance. The dealer will register the car with the necessary authorities for you and will assist in obtaining insurance. You will receive from the dealer: the purchase contract, roadworthiness card and stamp, the registration documents.

Second hand cars: there is plenty of choice of second hand cars in Bulgaria. Check out the internet to get a good feel of prices. Numerous car dealers are to be found all over the country. When buying a second hand car, exercise the same caution you would do in your home country. A vehicle purchase contract should be signed at a public notary's offfice, by both vendor and buyer. With this contract you can then go to the local trafffic police and register the car in your name. The seller is obliged to provide you with: registration documents, roadworthiness card and stamp, receipt for annual vehicle tax paid, proof of third party insurance.

You must register the car in your name within 14 days of the transaction. You will need to register the car at the traffic police office which is in the town where you live. To register the car, you will need to complete an application form, which is available at the traffic police office. You will also need to supply all the documentation which the previous owner gave to you, plus proof of your identity.