State Department: Bulgaria - Consular Information Sheet, February 14, 1997
Bulgaria - Consular Information Sheet
Country Description: Bulgaria is a moderately developed European
nation undergoing profound political and economic changes. Tourist
facilities are widely available, but conditions vary considerably
and some facilities are not up to western standards. Goods and
services taken for granted in other European countries are still not
available in many areas of Bulgaria.
February 14, 1997
Entry Requirements: For information concerning entry requirements,
travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria at
1621 22nd Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, Tel. (202) 483-5885,
(main switchboard) (202) 387-7969 or the Bulgarian Consulate in New
Medical Facilities: Although Bulgarian physicians are trained to a
very high standard, hospitals and clinics are generally not equipped
and maintained at U.S. or West European levels. Basic medical
supplies are widely available, but specialized treatments may not
be. Visitors must pay cash for medical and health services. U.S.
medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States.
Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical
insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for
medical evacuation, has proven to be useful. Further information on
health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559,
or by visiting CDC's Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
Crime Information: There has been a recent rise in street crime,
much of which is directed against foreigners. Pickpocketing and
purse snatching are frequent occurrences, as is theft from
automobiles, where thieves smash windows to remove valuables left in
sight. There have been a number of incidents in which tourists have
accepted offers of help or coffee from "friendly people" met by
chance at the airport, bus stations or train stations and have been
drugged or assaulted and robbed. Incidents of pilferage of checked
baggage at Sofia airport are common; items of value in checked
luggage are at risk. To avoid being overcharged, travelers at Sofia
Airport should insist on a pre-agreed fare with taxi drivers before
entering the vehicle. Automobile theft is also a frequent problem,
with four wheel drive vehicles and late model European sedans the
most popular targets. Very few vehicles are recovered.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad"
is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. It provides information on
protecting personal security while traveling abroad.
Road Safety Information: The Bulgarian road system is
underdeveloped. There are only a few sections of limited-access divided
highway. Some roads are in bad repair and full of potholes. Heavy truck
traffic along the two-lane routes from the Greek border at Kulata to Sofia
and from the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo to Plovdiv creates numerous
hazards. Motorists should expect long delays at border crossings. A
U.S. state driver's license is not considered valid for Bulgaria; only an
international driver's license is accepted. Persons operating vehicles
with foreign license plates frequently complain of being stopped by police
and fined on the spot for offenses that are not clear.
Currency Regulations: Bulgaria is largely a cash-only economy.
Most shops, hotels and restaurants still do not accept travelers'
checks or credit cards. Visitors can exchange money at change
bureaus. People on the street who offer high rates of exchange are
confidence tricksters intent on swindling the unwary traveler.
There are currently no Western Union representatives in Bulgaria to
provide direct transfer of money to travelers in need.
Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the
country in which they are traveling. Persons convicted of
possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are subject to
imprisonment and fines.
Aviation Oversight: In November 1992, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration assessed Bulgaria's civil aviation authority as being
in compliance with international aviation safety oversight standards
for Bulgaria's carriers operating to and from the U.S. The same
level of safety oversight would typically be applied to operations
to other destinations. For further information, travelers may
contact the Department of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873.
Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens are encouraged to
register in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy, and obtain
updated information on travel and security within Bulgaria.
The U.S. Embassy in Sofia is located at 1 Suborna (formerly 1 A.
Stamboliski Boulevard); telephone (359) (2) 980-5241 through 48. The
Consular Section of the Embassy is located at 1 Kapitan Andreev Street in
Sofia; telephone (359) (2) 963-2022.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated December 14,
1995, to update information on the crime situation, currency
regulations and to provide information concerning road safety.