Driving in Bulgaria
Busy traffic in downtown Sofia. Photo by BGNES
Driving in Bulgaria is on the right with overtaking on the left. You may not turn right on a red light.
In Bulgaria signs are shown in Latin with the Cyrillic alphabet so it is good to have an understanding of the language.
There are various dangers to watch out for when driving in Bulgaria. The roads are generally in poor condition, and lanes often do not have markings. You are advised to drive defensively as locals may be reckless, travelling at fast speeds and switching lanes without indicating.
Ongoing road works make drivers even more impatient. There are also a number of heavy vehicles to watch out for.
Driving in the countryside is beautiful but the roads are unpredictable. There can be potholes in certain areas and there is a risk of landslides. Watch out for animals in the road, especially when the harvest is taking place. Parts of Bulgaria can experience severe winter weather conditions so keep in mind fitting winter tyres and snow chains to your vehicle. Avoid driving at night time if possible.
The police in Bulgaria generally do not bother foreigners, but there have been some reports of fines for imagined offenses. Do not pull over for anyone unless they have a white patrol car with POLICE marked across it in blue letters. There have been reports of robbers pretending to be law officers. It is not a legal requirement to pull over if you are in doubt as to the authenticity police. Do not try to bribe police officers. Also avoid road rage at all costs, especially with drivers of expensive cars.
Bulgaria has a relatively high level of road accidents. In case of an accident, do not move your car unless it is in a dangerous position, and wait for the police to arrive. In case of emergency, drivers should call the EU emergency number 112.
If you have a camera take pictures of the accident for police and insurance purposes. You should give a copy of the police report to your insurance company.
The driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts in the front seats. Children under the age of 12 must not sit in the front seat.
In Bulgaria, the drinking limit is virtually zero tolerance and you could be fined for having a blood alcohol limit of as little as .05. You should avoid drinking and driving at all costs as the penalties are very steep and can involve a long prison sentence. Otherwise there are on the spot fines for drink-driving.
When driving in Bulgaria you should have a copy of your passport, domestic license and international driving permit. You must have proof of insurance. Police in Bulgaria can find
you are not having the correct documents. You can use your domestic license but to be on the safe side you should also have an international driving permit.
50 kilometers per hour in built up areas.
90 kilometers per hour on open roads.
140 kilometers per hour on highways.
Police in Bulgaria can give you an on the spot fine for exceeding the speed limit.
The conversion from kilometres to miles per hour is one kilometre = 0.62 miles per hour. Therefore the speed in built up areas is 31 miles per hour.
To drive in Bulgaria you should be 18 though most rental companies require you to be over 21 with a minimum of one year of driving experience.