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Bulgaria - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Bulgaria. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crimes (such as pickpocketing and purse snatching) occur often, particularly at railway and bus stations, tourist sites and crowded areas. Thieves also operate on trains. Keep your valuables safe and out of sight.
Some tourists have been victims of overcharging in clubs. Discussions about overcharging may lead to threats of violence and security guards may force you to pay. Be particularly vigilant at tourist resorts along the Black Sea, where this practice is more common.
Vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins occur often. Park in a guarded location, and always keep valuable belongings out of sight. Always be suspicious if someone offers to help you with a flat tire. These individuals may have punctured the tire themselves and will seize the opportunity to steal a bag or other valuable objects while you are distracted.
Organized criminal groups are active in casinos and nightclubs and are involved in prostitution. Violent crime occurs, though rarely, and includes bombings and shootouts generally attributed to turf wars between rival gangs.
Cases of automated banking machines (ABMs) being fitted with fraudulent card readers are common, particularly in Burgas, Sofia and Varna. To avoid being a victim of this fraud:
- use ABMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid card readers with an irregular aspect
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
See Overseas Fraud for more information on scams abroad.
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.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, airports, transportation networks and public areas, such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and sites frequented by foreigners.
Always be aware of your surroundings in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
In response to terrorist attacks in other European cities, the Bulgarian government has put in place increased security measures in all cities, particularly in places where large crowds gather.
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 instructions 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 proper lighting, traffic signs and lane markings. Do not confront aggressive drivers, as they may be armed. Do not drive after dark outside of major cities and be very cautious in winter, when roads may not be plowed or salted.
Animals are commonly found on rural roads, posing a risk.
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, you should not experience problems beyond inconvenience.
Use only licensed taxis with meters. Verify the tariffs on the taxi’s window before entering it as taxi drivers have been known to overcharge. At Sofia Airport, visit the taxi booth within the arrivals terminal to obtain a fair rate.
Rail services are generally poor. It is preferable 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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are always secure. Valuables and important documents should be stored in a hotel safe. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.
Beware of stray dogs, particularly those travelling in packs. These dogs can be dangerous and could expose you to disease if they bite you.
There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe. Some countries have already experienced disruptions to transportation services, including at ferry ports and railway stations, and have seen major delays at border crossings. The situation also heightens the potential for demonstrations that could turn violent without warning, particularly at railway stations and other transportation hubs. If you are travelling in the region, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities, and contact your transport carrier to determine whether the situation could disrupt your travel.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Bulgarian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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.
You must 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.
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.
Other entry requirements
On entry, you may be required to show proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay, as well as documents for your return or onward travel.
Children and travel
Bulgarian authorities may consider children born to a Bulgarian parent as Bulgarian citizens even if the children were born in Canada and have a Canadian passport. Children under the age of 18 are only allowed to leave Bulgaria when accompanied by both parents or with the consent of both parents. The absent parent(s) must provide a statement of parental consent to travel, notarized by Bulgarian authorities, to be presented upon exiting Bulgaria. Parents of children travelling alone or with one parent are strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Canada before departure to ensure that their child meets the latest entry and exit requirements, which may change without notice.
For more information, visit Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (some content available in Bulgarian only).
See Children for more information on travelling with minors.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - May 2, 2017 00:00 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 may be inadequate. 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. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of 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 and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and Bulgaria are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). 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.
Always carry photo identification, such as a passport. Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe location, in case of loss or seizure.
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 always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Bulgarian passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). 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.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
It is illegal to wear clothing or masks that partially or completely cover the face in public places. Failure to comply can lead to 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, in the vehicle.
Headlights must always be on when driving, regardless of the time of day or weather. Winter tires are mandatory during winter months. You must carry a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and warning triangle in your car, as well as a reflective vest that must be worn immediately when leaving a vehicle that is stranded or involved in an accident.
All passengers in a car are required to wear a seatbelt. Children under 10 years of age may ride in the front passenger seat if they ride in a child car seat and the airbag has been disabled.
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.
The use of a cellular telephone while driving is prohibited, unless the phone is fitted with a hands-free device.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict and could result in immediate detention. 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 at the scene.
Although the laws of Bulgaria do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
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. 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 with at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit. 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 and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Bulgaria is in an active seismic zone.
Bulgaria is prone to flooding after heavy rains. Flooding is often localized, but widespread flooding has occurred in the past. Consult the Bulgarian National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology for information and flooding alerts.
In winter, there is a risk of avalanches in mountainous regions. This risk increases when temperatures rise rapidly following a particularly harsh winter. Extreme weather can cause landslides.
In the summer and early fall, there is a risk of wildfires.
Monitor local news and weather reports and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Bucharest - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Bucharest and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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