It is critical to observe traffic rules and exercise caution on the roads in Bulgaria. Locals drive quite aggressively, and the road surface can be bad in some places with poorly visible or no road markings at all.
But it’s not as scary as it may seem at first glance. Just keep calm, measured, and focused when driving on Bulgarian roads. Try to accept this style of driving as part of the local atmosphere, adjust to the general rhythm of traffic, and be sure to follow the official rules.
Fines for traffic offences are paid by the renter.
Bulgaria uses right-hand traffic.
Always slow down to 50 km/h before entering a town or city. There are often radars or police on duty in such places.
|Speeding||Within towns||Outside towns|
|up to 10 km/h||20 BGN (~€10.20)|
|11 to 20 km/h||50 BGN (~€25.50)|
|21 to 30 km/h||100 BGN (~€51)|
|31 to 40 km/h||400 BGN (~€204)||300 BGN (~€153)|
|41 to 50 km/h||600 BGN (~€307)||400 BGN (~€204)|
|over 50 km/h||700 BGN (~€3,578), |
license suspension for 3 months
|600 BGN (~€307)|
The fine increases by 50 BGN (~€25.50) for every additional 5 km/h over 50 km/h. In case of repeated speeding within a year, the fine amount is doubled. In case of systematic violations (three or more times within a year), the driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.
A vignette (compulsory road charge) is required for all vehicles driving on most country roads. Such roads are marked with a special sign.
Most rental cars have e-vignettes and you don’t need to buy them separately. Before a trip, check with your rental company or on bgtoll.bg whether your rental car has a valid vignette. The fine for passenger cars is 300 BGN (~€153).
All passengers must wear seatbelts while driving, the fine is 50 BGN (~€25.50).
Children under 3 years of age may ride in the front seat in a special child restraint system, with the front passenger airbag switched off. Children of 3-12 years of age and less than 150 centimetres tall must ride only in the back seat in a child restraint system. The penalty is 50 BGN (~€25.50).
Low beam or daytime running lights must always be on while driving during daylight hours, the fine is 20 BGN (~€10.20).
Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using a hands-free system, the fine is 50 BGN (~€25.50).
Cars inside the roundabout have the right-of-way over any car entering the roundabout unless otherwise specified on the sign.
Give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing. The fine is 100 BGN (~€51). In case of repeated offence, the fine 200 BGN (~€102) and license suspension for a month.
If your car breaks down, you must wear a reflective vest on the road.
The maximum permitted blood alcohol content is 0.5 permille (‰). But we strongly recommend that you do not drink alcohol before driving. Driving under the influence of drugs is strictly prohibited.
Drink driving penalties:
0.5‰ to 0.8‰ — 500 BGN (~€256), license suspension for 6 months
0.8‰ to 1.2‰ — 1,000 BGN (~€511), license suspension for 12 months.
In case of repeated offence, the penalty increases.
Bulgarian police officers often stop cars just to check documents.
You must have the following documents: your driving license, vehicle registration certificate, insurance, vehicle inspection certificate, and your rental agreement if you drive a rental car.
You do not need to show your vignette because the police can check it in their database.
Be polite and calm when dealing with the traffic police. Aggression towards a police officer can lead to a more serious penalty.
It is not a good idea to bribe a police officer because this can result in a penalty.
If the police officer issued a penalty charge notice (PCN), you can pay the fine yourself at a bank, post office, money transfer points, etc. You had better keep your payment receipt for some time.
Make your payment ONLY to the account shown on the PCN. Don’t pay to the police officer in cash because it’s prohibited.
Fines from cameras are posted on the website of the Ministry of Interior after some time. Your rental company will notify you of the debt, provide proof of the offence with the exact date, and offer available payment options.
The Bulgarian driving style is certainly out of the common, but you can adapt to it quite quickly. Just be aware of local peculiarities, drive carefully, and stay calm.