How to drive in Bulgaria
Rules, required equipment, speed limits, highways. All you need for driving in Bulgaria
One of the most crucial things you need to know before visiting Bulgaria with a car is definitely the driving conditions. Here is all you need to know about driving in Bulgaria.
The first and most important thing you need to know is if your driving license is valid in Bulgaria. Any national driving certificate that is according to the model found in EU Conventions from 1948 and 1968 as well as those according to the EU Communities Model are valid. If your document does not bare your photo, you should definitely also have an International Driving Permit (if you come from the UK).
In general, it is better to have such a permit since it is required in over 140 countries and those of you who do not have such may not be able to drive in Bulgaria as well.
It is important to remember that you can drive in Bulgaria only if you are officially over 18 years old. It is a strict rule that it is followed. And any driving license for people under that age is considered invalid in the country.
You must have always your driving certificate with you, whenever you are driving, as well as a few other important documents:
• Your ID
• Driving license
• Vignette for driving in Bulgaria – you can read more about that in our blog
• Insurance of the car
• Documents to for ownership of the car or rental documents
• International driving permit (when necessary)
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It is required to carry some protection items such as: a reflective jacket (which is used whenever you need to step out of the car for repairs, especially during night time), a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, a warning triangle (so you can indicate that your car has some trouble on the road).
Bringing the documents and equipment with you is absolutely compulsory.
If you carry these documents and equipment while driving around Bulgaria, you should have no trouble with the law at all.
Right driving direction in Bulgaria!
Another quite important thing you need to remember is that in Bulgaria people drive on the right. Whenever you need to overtake – you can do it on the left, naturally using the lights indicator for your actions. And remember that it is compulsory that you have your headlights on in the daytime as well. Yet another crucial thing is that wearing a seatbelt on any seat in the car is also a must!
Standard signs and 3-colored traffic lights
The general rules applied to road traffic in Bulgaria are exactly the same as the ones in the Conventions of Road Traffic, that is known and used worldwide. The standard signs and 3-colored traffic lights are in use. So you should not really encounter any unfamiliar signs and markings while driving.
If you are traveling with your family, do not forget that there are some special rules about driving with children. Any child under the age of three should be traveling in a suitable seat, that is used as a child restraint. Every child should be placed in an appropriate to their age and size restraint seat. It is also prohibited that children ride on the back passenger’s seat. It is a strict rule that is followed in Bulgaria, so keep that in mind whenever you drive around the country with your family.
Speed limits in Bulgaria
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind is the speed limits in Bulgaria. In living areas such as cities, villages, etc. the speed limit is 50 km/h. Outside built-up areas the speed limit reaches 90 km/h and on the motorways, it is 130 km/h. Some of the motorways have a speed limit of 140 km/h, but that should be indicated with a sign for the particular motorway. If you break the speed limit you can get fined both on the spot and receive a speeding ticket afterward as well.
If you get pulled over for speeding the authorities can impose fines on the spot or write you a ticket. In case you were caught speeding beyond the acceptable on some of the traffic control cameras you can receive a speeding ticket as well.
Keep in mind that if you break any of these limits with much higher speed over the limits, you risk having a fine that can sometimes reach 2000 leva.
Speed cameras in Bulgaria
Another reason to get fined is for inappropriate parking. There are some strict regulations about parking areas and conditions, especially in big cities. There are different parking zones – Blue and Green as well as the prohibited areas.
Driving on Bulgarian highways
If you are about to drive in Bulgaria, you really should learn some more about the main roads and motorways. The main motorways are definitely Trakia (A1), Hemus (A2), Struma (A3) and Maritza (A4). There are some other, smaller ones, that are under construction or are just not as significant in general.
Trakia Motorway, marked A1, is a motorway in southern Bulgaria. It connects the capital Sofia with the second-largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv and continues to Burgas on the Black Sea coast. The motorway is part of Pan-European Transport Corridor 8. The total length of the Trakia Motorway is 360 km.
Struma Highway is a motorway in Bulgaria that connects Sofia with the Kulata border checkpoint, thus providing a motorway link from the capital to the border with Greece. There are parts(lots) of the motorway still under construction. The highway has a length of 172 km.
The Hemus motorway, marked A2, is a partially built motorway in Bulgaria. Its planned length is 424 km, of which 190 km are in operation, the other parts are under construction. According to the plans, Hemus motorway would connect Sofia with the third-largest city of Varna, at the northern Black Sea coast.
Maritsa is a motorway in southern Bulgaria. It connects the Trakia Motorway with the Republic of Turkey at Kapitan Andreevo Border Checkpoint. Its length is about 117 km. It passes along Dimitrovgrad, Haskovo, Harmanli, Lyubimets and Svilengrad. Maritsa Motorway is part of Pan-European Transport Corridor 4 and European Road E80. The highway also crosses the road traffic to Greece at Novo Selo road junction.
In Bulgaria, we have speed roads as well. It is something that resembles a motorway but it has no emergency lanes and the speed limit is again 90 km/h.
As a conclusion, there are some key things you need to remember before you drive in Bulgaria.
1. Do not forget to buy a vignette sticker for driving in Bulgaria!
2. Don’t forget to carry with you your driving license and the documents of the car
3. It is better if you pick motorways and larger roads, not the smaller ones.
4. There are Blue and Green parking zones with fees per hour almost in every big city.
5. In Bulgaria, we drive on the right!!!
6. It is advised that you should use well-known petrol stations like Lukoil, OMV, Gazprom, Shell
If you follow these simple rules you should have no trouble driving around Bulgaria.
Safe travels and drives safely