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Bulgaria - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Bulgaria. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of robbery.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Petty crime is less widespread in Sofia than in most Western European cities. Nevertheless, petty crimes (such as pickpocketing, mugging and purse snatching) do occur, particularly at railway and bus stations, tourist sites and crowded areas. Some tourists have been victims of overcharging in clubs and have been threatened with violence if they did not pay. Be especially vigilant at tourist resorts along the Black Sea.
Vehicle theft occurs. Park in a guarded location, and always keep valuable belongings out of sight.
Organized criminal groups are active in casinos and nightclubs and are involved in prostitution. Although rare, violent crime, which includes bombings and shootouts generally attributed to turf wars between rival gangs, occurs.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Driving can be hazardous due to aggressive drivers, high speeds, poor road conditions outside major centres and a lack of traffic signs and lane markings. Do not drive after dark and be very cautious in winter. Animals are commonly found on rural roads, posing a risk. Confronting aggressive drivers is not recommended, as they may be armed.
Be cautious when crossing streets, as drivers do not always give pedestrians the right of way.
Police have been known to solicit bribes. While you may be delayed if you refuse to pay the bribe, there have been few reports of problems beyond inconvenience.
Use only licensed taxis with meters. Verify the tariffs on the taxi’s window before entering it. At Sofia Airport, visit the taxis booth within the arrivals terminal to obtain a fair rate.
Rail services are generally poor by Western standards. It is preferable, therefore, to travel by inter-city buses, which are frequent, comfortable and relatively fast.
Most cities and larger towns have public transportation systems. There are regular bus services between most major towns in the country.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
General safety information
Carry adequate identification at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.
Exercise a high degree of caution. Ensure that your personal belongings and passport and other travel documents are secure at all times. Valuables and important documents should be stored in a hotel safe. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Bulgarian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Bulgaria, which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay (minimum €50 per day). You must also present proof of medical insurance (minimum €30,000 coverage) that is valid in the European Union (EU) and covers the costs of emergency medical care and repatriation.
If you are not staying in hotels, you must register with local police within 48 hours of your arrival in the country.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days per six-month period
Business visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days per six-month period
Student visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days per six-month period
You must obtain a visa prior to travel if you plan to stay in Bulgaria for more than 90 days.
Extensions are not granted once you are in the country except in cases of emergency or marriage to a Bulgarian citizen.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical services and facilities do not meet Canadian standards. Private hospitals and clinics located in cities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural facilities. Cash payment is expected at time of service. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and Bulgaria are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Bulgaria to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Bulgarian authorities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Bulgaria. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Bulgarian citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Photography of military installations is prohibited.
You can drive with a Canadian driver’s licence up to 90 days from your arrival in the country. An International Driving Permit is required for longer stays. Carry all related documents, such as ownership, registration and proof of Bulgarian car insurance.
Headlights must be on at all times when driving, regardless of the time of day or weather. Winter tires are mandatory during winter months. You must carry a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and a warning triangle in your car. The use of a cellular telephone while driving is prohibited, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device.
A vignette or highway permit is required to travel on Bulgarian roads. You can purchase this electronic vignette at ports, border points, post offices and large gas stations.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict; the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent. Follow speed limits on all roads. Police conduct frequent checks and may collect fines on the spot. Depending on the offence, they may also confiscate your driver’s licence on the spot.
The currency is the Bulgarian lev (BGN).
The economy is primarily cash-based. Euros are widely accepted and may be exchanged at recognized establishments. Automated banking machines are widely available and credit cards are widely accepted. Major hotels accept foreign-currency traveller’s cheques. The United Bulgarian Bank in Sofia can process money transfers from abroad.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union, you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you are carrying at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the European Commission’s cash controls web page.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Bulgaria is located in an active seismic zone.
There is a risk of avalanches in mountainous regions when rapidly warming temperatures follow a particularly harsh winter. Extreme weather can cause landslides. Exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
The Embassy of Canada in Bucharest, Romania, has consular responsibility for Bulgaria.
Sofia - Consulate of Canada
Bucharest - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Bucharest, Romania, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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