Last update12:12:22 PM

Back You are here: Home Travel Out and About Driving in Bulgaria Factfile

Driving in Bulgaria Factfile

This, the most recent Quest Bulgaria Members Factfile, contains everything you need to know about driving in Bulgaria: taking the driving test, exchanging your licence and even how to buy or sell a second hand car. The factfile covers driving rules and regulations, together with tips and hints on which government departments and other bodies to contact regarding driving licences, car purchases and getting your vehicle through the roadworthiness test . Essential reading for those driving and owning a vehicle in Bulgaria.

Driving rules and regs
Drivers must be 18 years old (except for mopeds, where drivers may be 16) and be in possession of a valid driving licence.
Those coming from another EU country may drive on a valid national driving licence from their own country.
Drive on the right.
Seatbelts are compulsory, including back seat passengers if seat belts are fitted. Children under 12 are not allowed to travel in front seats.
Headlights are now compulsory all year round.
Snow chains may be mandatory in some areas during winter.
You may only use a mobile via a handsfree system.
Third party insurance is compulsory.

When travelling it is mandatory to carry with you, or have displayed, in the car: valid licence, personal identity, vehicle registration papers, insurance, roadworthiness cert, vignette sticker, red warning triangle, reflective vest, first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. If you do not have all the papers and items with you and are stopped by the police, this will result in a fine.

Note : Personal identity. Your long term residents permit is not identity, it is just proof that you have the right to reside in the country long term. Therefore, you should carry your passport if you do not have a Bulgarian driving licence as proof of identity.

Speed limits are : 50 km/h in built up areas, 90 km/h on other roads, 130 km/h on motorways.

Drinking and driving
Blood alcohol limit is .5 grammes of alcohol per litre of blood. The police may stop you at any time to carry out a random alcohol test. If you are over the limit, fines are applied according to the level of alcohol and your driving licence may be confiscated.

Note: If you have a licence taken away which was issued by a country other than Bulgaria, then you may have to take a driving test in Bulgaria in order for a new licence to be issued.

Vignette (or road tax)
This must be purchased and stuck onto your windscreen if you wish to travel outside any urban area. You can buy it for a week, month or a year. It is available at petrol stations and post offices. When entering the country you should buy your vignette at the border.

Note: If you buy a vignette for a year, it runs the calendar year. Thus, if you are in need of one in the latter part of the year, it may be more economical to purchase monthly

Vehicle tax
All vehicles are levied with a tax which is dependent upon the age of the vehicle and the size of engine. This annual tax is paid at the Taxes and Fees Office.

Eco tax
Car owners pay an eco tax, again dependent on the age of the car.

Accident or breakdown
If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident or your vehicle breaks down you should telephone 112. Be aware, that if you need to make an insurance claim, many Bulgarian insurance companies insist that you present your claim within seven days, so check your policy.

Driving on an EU licence
You may drive in Bulgaria on an EU licence. For your own peace of mind, your licence should be accompanied by a certified Bulgarian translation if it is not an international drivers licence. An EU licence is valid indefinitely in Bulgaria, within the confines of its own expiry date. There is no mandatory requirement to exchange it for a Bulgarian one.

If, because you are resident in Bulgaria, you decide to exchange your EU licence for a Bulgarian one, you do not have to sit the driving test again. However, you may be asked to pass a medical and even attend a first aid course. If you lose your EU licence, or it is stolen, you should not be asked to sit your test again. A replacement Bulgarian licence should be issued to you, although, again you may be required to pass a medical test.

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.

Registering a foreign vehicle
. You are allowed to bring your car to Bulgaria and drive for up to six months, provided your vehicle has a minimum of third party insurance. However, most insurance companies will only insure your vehicle overseas for three months. In which case you will have to register the car in Bulgaria in order to obtain further insurance if you wish to continue driving your imported car in Bulgaria.
Again, you need to go to the local road traffic office to apply for registration.

Provided your car was bought in the EU/EEA and you have owned the vehicle for over six months, with more than 6,000 kms on the clock since purchase, you will not be required to pay import duty, providing you can provide proof of purchase to support this.

At KAT you will need the receipt of proof of purchase of the vehicle. Proof of identity and residents permit, together with a roadworthiness card and stamp, vehicle registration documents, receipts that you have paid vehicle taxes due in Bulgaria, proof of insurance. If your vehicle is right hand drive, you will need to have the headlights aligned for driving on the right side of the road. If your car is over ten years old, you will be required to pay an eco tax, the amount of which is dependent upon age of the vehicle. You will be able to then obtain Bulgarian plates. Bear in mind that after re-registration, you are not allowed to sell the vehicle for one year.

Insurance. You may insure your vehicle as third party, which is the minimum compulsory insurance, or opt for fully comprehensive. Proof of insurance must be carried at all times. Your insurance company will issue you with a sticker for your windscreeen, which must be displayed to demonstrate valid insurance. To obtain vehicle insurance you will need the registration documents, valid roadworthiness card, proof of your identity and, possibly, your address in Bulgaria.

In case of accident you will need to fill out a report form which you can get from the insurance company. Indeed, you should keep one of these with you in your car in case of such an unhappy event. It is to be completed by the party responsible for the accident and a copy supplied to the other driver(s). Both / all parties should sign the form in order for it to be valid. If you are involved in a serious accident, the forms will be completed by the police. This form should then be presented to your insurance company.

Useful information:
Bulgarian Traffic Police
Eco Tax - eko taxa
roadworthiness certificate - talon za godishen teknicheski pregled
Vehicle Tax - Danak MPC
Registration Documents - registratsionen talon
Vignette - vinetka
In case of accident - dial 112