Bulgaria is usually a safe country to travel and vacation in. Travelers should still be on their guard and take precautions. The embassy recommends Norwegians staying in Bulgaria to make use of the Foreign Travel Registration.
Bulgaria is usually a safe country to travel and vacation in. Travelers should still be careful and take reasonable precautions. The embassy recommends Norwegians staying in Bulgaria to make use of the Foreign Travel Registration.
Norway is represented at the Embassy in Bucharest, Romania and at an Honorary Consulate General in Sofia and Consulate in Varna. If an emergency passport is needed when leaving Bulgaria, this will be issued in Bucharest. Case processing time, etc., for obtaining emergency passports at one of our consulates in Bulgaria for return to Norway is estimated at approx. five to seven working days.
- Countryaah: Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Check to find information of population, geography, history, and economy about the capital city.
Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest:
Royal Norwegian Embassy
Strada George Enescu 11, 6th floor
Sector 1 010301 Bucharest
Tel: +40 (0) 21 306 98 00
Fax: +40 (0) 21 306 98 90
E-mail: emb. [email protected]
Opening hours Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday, 1 p.m. 9am to 3.30pm. Outside the embassy’s opening hours,
travelers can contact the UD’s 24-hour operating center on tel: +47 23 95 00 00 or by
e-mail: [email protected]
Honorary Consulate General in Sofia:
Venceslava Petkova Yanchovska Ivanova (English)
26-30, Bacho Kiro Str.
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Tel: +359 2 4177077
E-mail: [email protected] The
consulate’s opening hours are Monday-Friday from 09.00-16.30.
Honorary Consulate in Varna:
32 Tsar Simeon I, 7th floor, 9000 Varna
Tel: + 359 52 63 07 96
Fax: + 359 52 600 259
E-mail: [email protected]
Office hours Monday to Friday: 10am. 10am to 12pm
The risk of terrorist incidents in Bulgaria is considered low. The government supports the US-led global war on terror and Bulgaria is – in principle – a potential target for Islamist extremists. This was emphasized in July 2012 when Israeli tourists were attacked in the country’s first, and so far only, case of international terrorism. The country’s Muslim minority (ten percent of the population) is neither politically nor religiously radicalized and will hardly lend support to Islamist extremists.
For typical holiday destinations, it should be noted that robberies, pickpockets and other petty crime may occur. It is therefore recommended to leave passports and other valuables in a hotel safe or in another safe place. It is possible to bring a copy of the passport to prove identity. If the passport is lost or stolen, you should report it to the local police. Since the police often do not speak English, you may want to bring a local acquaintance. Experience shows that the police workload and lack of language skills make the notification process time-consuming.
Accident figures in traffic in Bulgaria are among the highest in Europe. The reason for this is poor infrastructure, old car parks and lack of respect for traffic rules. It is therefore important that as a motorist you exercise great care in traffic. If you are stopped in traffic control by the traffic police “Traffic Police” (§±§ì§ä§ß§Ñ §á§à§Ý§Ú§è§Ú§ñ), you should not give out passports or other personal documents until the police officers themselves have legitimized. Some police officers may try to attract bribes, usually in the form of questionable fines issued on the spot. If you are in doubt about the validity of a fine, ask for a receipt, or ask to resolve the matter at the nearest police station. If it is necessary to stop the car, it is wise to do this in a safe place, such as a gas station, a roadside or in an urban area.
If you drive your own car to Bulgaria, you must be able to show a valid driver’s license, all registration and ownership documents, as well as the car insurance must be valid for Bulgaria (so-called “green card”). For rented car, the original contract must be brought. There is a mandatory special fee for the use of the motorways known as “vignettes”. This can be purchased at border crossings and major gas stations and is paid in leva (BGN). For private cars, this is ten BGN for one week and 25 BGN for one month (2015). You can also see the government information booklet about traveling in Bulgaria. For more information on driving in Bulgaria check NAF’s pages on car travel or the European Commission’s traffic safety information portal.
Taxis are readily available and affordable to use compared to Norwegian prices, but many vehicles may be in poor condition and lack seat belts. When using a taxi, make sure that the driver card and taxi meter are clearly visible in the car. Prices may vary slightly between the different taxi companies, and a price list is usually pasted on the car window or inside the dashboard. At Sofia Airport you can order reliable taxis at OK Supertrans’s front desk in the Arrivals Hall. The quality of the train service is, by European standards, generally very poor, with low standards and a lot of delays. There have been several fires on Bulgarian trains. If you are traveling by train, it is advisable to check the possibility of reserving a sleeping compartment and whether a bicycle can be taken on board. This may vary between regions and you may have to pay extra for this. Theft occurs,
Traveling by bus is relatively fast and comfortable and bus departures between cities are relatively frequent. Accidents can occur.
Protests due to socio-economic and political problems can occur in cities across Bulgaria. These are usually peaceful, but can attract extreme groups, so there is a small risk of violence. Avoid all protests, stay up-to-date on the news and follow the advice of local authorities.
Racially motivated harassment occurs, but is mainly directed at the local Roma population and refugees. Nevertheless, travelers belonging to a visible ethnic and/or religious minority are advised to exercise caution when traveling in the country. Homosexuality is not illegal, but Bulgarians tend not to be very open about it. The gay community generally keeps a low profile.
It is important to be aware of the very liberal attitude of the Bulgarian when it comes to the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Wild dogs are common and can be dangerous. Avoid getting too close to loose dogs, especially if they are in a flock. Take any dog bites seriously and seek immediate medical attention, as rabies and other animal diseases are found in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is in an earthquake-prone area in the Balkans, with an average of 52 earthquakes a year of varying strength. The most vulnerable areas in Bulgaria are the Sofia area, Shabla ¨C Balchik (near Varna), Tarnovo ¨C Svishtov, Plovdiv ¨C Chirpan, and the Kresnad Valley. The last major earthquake hit the municipality of Pernik outside the capital Sofia on May 22, 2012. The earthquake had a strength of 5.6 on Richter’s scale. Only buildings were damaged in the quake.
Floods and landslides can occur in heavy rainfall or snowmelt. The most vulnerable areas are the cities, villages and tourist sites on the Black Sea coast (especially in the northern areas), as well as a large part of the inhabited areas along the Danube. During the summer months there is a large fire hazard, but usually in uninhabited areas. Heavy snowfall in the winter months (November-April) can sometimes lead to power outages and poor access.
You should always have valid travel insurance for the duration of your stay.
The embassy recommends Norwegians staying in Bulgaria to use the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ travel registration.
Local emergency numbers:
- Common emergency number: 112 (can be used for fire, police and ambulance and has English speaking personnel),
- Police: 166,
- Ambulance: 150,
- Fire Department: 160
In the event of a crisis or emergency, travelers are encouraged to contact the embassy, see contact information above.
Please note that entry regulations may change. The Foreign Service is not responsible if the following information on entry regulations or visa requirements is changed at short notice. It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that travel documents are valid for entry and to familiarize themselves with the current entry rules for each country.
When entering Bulgaria, the passport must be valid for at least three months from the date of entry. Norwegian citizens can travel visa-free to Bulgaria for up to three months. It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure that the travel documents are valid.
People who have dual citizenship (Norwegian and Bulgarian) must enter Bulgaria on their Bulgarian passport. When leaving the same passport must be used. Please note that the Embassy cannot provide assistance if you lose your Bulgarian passport during your stay.
Norwegian citizens do not need a visa when entering Bulgaria. The freedom of visa is valid for three months or 90 days (over a period of six months). After this period, you must apply for a residence permit in Bulgaria.
Holders of travel visas and foreigners passports, which are issued to refugees and persons residing on humanitarian grounds respectively, do not need a visa for entry into Bulgaria.
Norwegian nationals who are holders of emergency passports can travel freely in and out of the country by the expiry date of the document, but we note that the entry rules can be changed at short notice.
Coronavirus (covid-19): Norwegian travelers should keep abreast of the development of the coronavirus. Follow local authorities’ advice, guidance and instructions on how to deal with the situation. The emergency phone in Bulgaria is 112.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travel that is not strictly necessary for all countries. The Travel Council initially applied from March 14 to April 14, but was extended until April 3. On the coronavirus and travel website you will find answers to current travel and coronavirus questions. The Institute of Public Health has a theme page about the coronavirus. There you will find information, news, messages and daily and weekly reports on the coronavirus.
Relevant links with information from the Bulgarian authorities on the situation: See the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further information is available on WHO and ECDC ‘s websites.
The public health service in Bulgaria is poorer than in Norway, but especially private hospitals can offer most of the expertise and treatments. You should bring a European health insurance card to Bulgaria, as the card entitles you to treatment on the same terms as those living in the country. In addition, it is strongly recommended to take out private travel insurance. No vaccinations are required when entering Bulgaria.
For official health professional travel advice, check out the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s pages for health professional guidance for Norwegians when traveling abroad.
The facilities at most Bulgarian public hospitals are simple and old-fashioned compared to Norwegian conditions. The standard of health care is acceptable, although special equipment and advanced treatment are less available. Health professionals rarely speak English.
Private hospitals are generally well-equipped and relatively affordable compared to similar clinics in Norway. Note that private hospitals and clinics exist only in major cities and tourist areas. No vaccinations are required when entering Bulgaria.
You should bring a European health insurance card to Bulgaria. If you bring the health insurance card and are a member of the National Insurance Scheme, you are entitled to health care benefits during a temporary stay abroad (shorter than 12 months). The health insurance card entitles you to treatment under the same conditions as those living in the country in which you reside. See here for additional information about your health rights as a tourist in Bulgaria.
If you stay in Bulgaria for more than 12 months, there are other rules that apply. Employed employees and students who are members of the National Insurance Scheme are entitled to extended benefits for health care in Bulgaria. The extended benefit entitles the person to full coverage of the costs of living and care in public or private hospitals, the cost of ambulance and the partial coverage of some other health services. Different rules apply to tourists, pensioners, students and posted workers staying within the EU/EEA area.
For example, the health insurance card does not cover extra expenses for returning home if you fall ill or are exposed to an accident outside the Nordic region. It is therefore also recommended to take out a private travel insurance, which can cover expenses related to injuries, accidents, illness, home transport and death. If you are affected by illness or accident during a temporary stay abroad, you should contact your insurance company, any tour operator and the embassy if you need practical help. Here is supplementary information on what the embassy can help you with.
Bulgaria is one hour ahead of Norway, and according to allcitycodes, the area code for calls from Norway is + 359. Broadband is well developed, and wifi is available at newer hotels and restaurants. Local currency is Bulgarian leva (BGN), two leva equals one euro. Note that card use is not as widespread; cash use is most common. Power voltage and plugs are the same as in Norway.
Time difference in relation to Norway: + 1 hour.
National telephone prefix: + 359
Electrical voltage is 220-230 volts, frequency 50 Hz. Electrical plugs are the same as in Norway.
The Bulgarian currency, lev (BGN), is not convertible. The value is linked to the euro. The estimated rainfall equals two leva one euro. Local currency can be taken out with Norwegian bank cards in banks and ATMs. Convertible currency can be purchased in banks and currency exchange offices.
Credit and debit cards can be used in hotels and restaurants, as well as in larger stores. The usual cards such as Mastercard, Visa, Eurocard, and AmEx are generally usable. Cash is used in taxis, in the market and in local small shops.
Banks are usually open Monday to Friday from 1am to 3pm. 9am to 5pm. Stores are open until around 10pm. 20:00. Some shops are closed on Sunday.
Special national holiday days in Bulgaria are March 3 (National Day), May 6 (St. Georg’s Day/Army Day), May 24 (Cultural Day), September 6 (Reunion Day) and September 22 (Independence Day). The Orthodox Easter is usually not coincident with Norwegian Easter.
The largest nationwide GSM networks are Mtel, Telenor and Vivacom.
It is possible to drink water straight from the tap, but due to old pipe systems or taste of chlorine, both Bulgarians and tourists often use to buy bottled spring water.
Bulgarian is a South Slavic language written with the Cyrillic alphabet. Many signs are written only in Bulgarian without English translation, which makes it easy to know the alphabet if you are traveling around the country on your own. Most Bulgarians living in the larger cities or along the coast both understand and speak some English. The English skills outside these areas are somewhat less.
The Bulgarian word for “hello” is “zdravej”, while “have it” is pronounced “dovishjane”. “Thank you” is “blagodarja”. In Bulgaria it is common to shake your head when you say “yes” and nod when you say “no”. This can create confusion for Norwegians who are used to the opposite. In other words, if the taxi driver shakes his head when you ask for a ride, that means you can just hop in.
In the capital Sofia there is a well-developed transport network. The subway covers large parts of the city, and there are trams and buses. Taking a taxi is relatively inexpensive in Bulgaria, so for tourists it can be just as easy to take a taxi around the city. All taxi drivers must have a valid driver’s license and taxi meter clearly visible in the car.
If you are satisfied with the service at a restaurant or caf¨¦ visit in Bulgaria, you can give tips of around ten percent. For taxi rides or other services it is usual to round the amount up to the nearest leva.
In a work-related context, Bulgarians dress formally. Men usually wear shirts and ties, while women often wear suits or dresses to their knees.