Currency and Money Matters in Bulgaria

1. What is the official currency of Bulgaria?

The official currency of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN).

2. Are there any restrictions on foreign currency transactions in Bulgaria?

Yes, there are certain restrictions on foreign currency transactions in Bulgaria. These include:

1. Limitations on cash transactions: According to the Bulgarian laws, cash payments above a certain threshold (15000 Bulgarian Lev or approximately 7500 euros) must be made through a bank transfer or electronic payment method. This rule applies to both local and foreign currency transactions.

2. Approval for large transactions: For transactions over 50000 Bulgarian Lev (approximately 25000 euros), individuals and businesses must obtain prior approval from the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB). This requirement is applicable for both incoming and outgoing transactions.

3. Currency exchange limitations: There are no restrictions on exchanging Bulgarian Lev into foreign currencies, but individuals can only convert up to 2000 Bulgarian Lev per day without any documentation. Any amount higher than this must be supported by relevant documents such as an invoice or a contract.

4. Reporting requirements: Banks and other financial institutions in Bulgaria are required to report all foreign currency transactions of 10000 euros or more to the BNB.

5. Special rules for non-residents: Non-residents are allowed to open foreign currency accounts in Bulgarian banks with no restrictions on withdrawals or transfers abroad. However, they need to provide proof of the source of funds when making large transactions.

6. Restrictions on certain currencies: Due to economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and United Nations, there may be restrictions on conducting transactions involving specific countries or entities.

7. Anti-money laundering regulations: All currency exchange activities in Bulgaria are subject to strict anti-money laundering regulations, which require banks and financial institutions to verify the identity of their customers and report any suspicious activities.

It is important to note that these restrictions and regulations may change over time, so it is best to consult with your bank or a financial advisor for up-to-date information before conducting any foreign currency transactions in Bulgaria.

3. What is the current exchange rate for local currency to US dollar in Bulgaria?

The current exchange rate for Bulgarian Lev (BGN) to US Dollar (USD) as of September 29, 2021 is 1 BGN = 0.59 USD.

4. Is it better to use cash or credit cards for purchases in Bulgaria?

It is generally better to use credit cards for purchases in Bulgaria, as they are widely accepted and can often offer better exchange rates than cash. Additionally, carrying large amounts of cash may put you at risk for theft. However, it is always a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases and as a backup in case of any issues with your credit card.

5. Do businesses in Bulgaria typically accept US dollars or do they prefer local currency?

Businesses in Bulgaria typically prefer local currency (Bulgarian Lev) for transactions, although some larger businesses catering to tourists may accept US dollars. It is advised to exchange your currency to Bulgarian Lev before making purchases in the country.

6. Are there any hidden fees or charges when exchanging money in Bulgaria?

When exchanging money in Bulgaria, it is important to be aware of any potential hidden fees or charges.
Some possible fees or charges to watch out for include:

1. Commission fees: Many exchange bureaus may charge a commission fee for exchanging money. This fee is usually a percentage of the total amount being exchanged and can vary between different bureaus.

2. Exchange rate markup: Some exchange bureaus may offer an unfavorable exchange rate, meaning that you will receive less local currency for your own currency. Keep an eye on the current exchange rate and compare it with what the bureau is offering.

3. Transaction fees: Certain banks or exchange bureaus may charge transaction fees for exchanging money, especially if using a credit or debit card.

4. ATM fees: If you plan on using your debit or credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM in Bulgaria, keep in mind that there may be additional fees charged by both your home bank and the local Bulgarian bank.

5. Minimum or maximum amounts: Some exchange bureaus may have minimum or maximum amounts that can be exchanged at one time, so make sure to check this before proceeding with the transaction.

It’s always best to research and compare rates and fees from multiple sources before making any exchanges, and ask the bureau about any potential hidden charges beforehand.

7. Can I use ATMs from my home country bank in Bulgaria to withdraw money?

It depends on your home country bank and the specific ATM in Bulgaria. Some international banks have partnerships with Bulgarian banks, allowing their customers to use ATMs for a lower fee or no fee at all. However, it is best to check with your bank before traveling to see if they have any partnerships with banks in Bulgaria and what fees may apply for using foreign ATMs.

8. Is it necessary to tip service workers and what is the customary amount in Bulgaria?

It is not necessary to tip service workers in Bulgaria, but it is customary to round up the bill or leave a small amount as a tip. The amount can vary, but typically 5-10% of the total bill is considered a good tip. It is also common to leave larger tips for exceptional service.

9. Can I purchase traveler’s checks before traveling to Bulgaria, and are they widely accepted?

Yes, you can purchase traveler’s checks before traveling to Bulgaria, but they may not be widely accepted. It is recommended to have a combination of cash and credit/debit cards when traveling in Bulgaria. While traveler’s checks can be used at some banks and major hotels, they may not be accepted by smaller businesses or establishments. It is best to check with your bank or credit card company for the availability of traveler’s checks in Bulgaria and make alternative payment arrangements if needed.

10. Are there any restrictions or limits on bringing foreign currency into or out of Bulgaria?

According to the Bulgarian National Bank, there are no restrictions or limits on bringing foreign currency into or out of Bulgaria for individuals, as long as it is declared if the amount exceeds 10,000 EUR or its equivalent in another currency. However, individuals must declare any sum exceeding 2,000 BGN (approximately 1,021 EUR) if they are traveling outside of the European Union. This declaration can be done at customs or at a bank within seven days after leaving the country.

For businesses and legal entities, there are certain limitations and requirements when bringing foreign currency into or out of Bulgaria. These include providing documentation for the source and purpose of the funds, obtaining permission from the Bulgarian National Bank for amounts exceeding 25,000 BGN (approximately 12,772 EUR), and submitting transaction reports to the central bank.

It is important to note that all banknotes and coins in circulation in Bulgaria must be denominated in Bulgarian leva (BGN). Other currencies must be exchanged for leva at authorized exchange offices or banks. It is also illegal to carry more than 500 BGN (approximately 255 EUR) worth of Bulgarian leva when entering or leaving Bulgaria without declaring it. Violations may result in fines or confiscation of undeclared currency.

Additionally, some countries may have their own restrictions on travelers bringing foreign currency into their country. It is recommended to check with the destination country’s embassy or consulate for any applicable regulations before traveling.

11. Do major hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, and if so, which types are most commonly accepted?

Major hotels and restaurants commonly accept credit cards as a form of payment. The most commonly accepted types include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. However, it is always best to check with the specific hotel or restaurant beforehand to confirm which types of credit cards are accepted.

12. Are there any unique features of the currency used in Bulgaria, such as coins with different values or special designs?

The currency used in Bulgaria is called the Bulgarian Lev (BGN), which is divided into 100 stotinki. There are no unique features of the currency, such as coins with different values or special designs. The coins in circulation include 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 stotinki, as well as 1 and 2 leva. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 leva.

However, it should be noted that Bulgaria has issued commemorative coins in the past with special designs to mark important events or celebrations. These coins have a higher value than their regular counterparts and are typically only available for a limited time. Additionally, Bulgaria has adopted the euro currency for many financial transactions and services since joining the European Union in 2007. However, most day-to-day transactions are still conducted using the Bulgarian lev.

13. Is haggling acceptable when making purchases, especially in markets and smaller shops?

Haggling is generally acceptable when making purchases, particularly in markets and smaller shops. It is a common practice in many countries and can be seen as part of the shopping experience. However, it is important to be respectful and polite when haggling. It is also recommended to do some research beforehand to have an understanding of the value of the item you are interested in purchasing.

14. Can I pay for goods and services with a mix of both local currency and US dollars?

This depends on the policies of the specific establishment. Some establishments may accept a mix of both local currency and US dollars, while others may only accept one or the other. It is best to inquire with the establishment beforehand to ensure that they accept a mix of currencies.

15. What is the most convenient way to exchange money while traveling through different regions of Bulgaria?

The most convenient way to exchange money while traveling through different regions of Bulgaria is to use a local ATM or currency exchange office. It is recommended to have some cash in the local currency (Bulgarian Lev) for smaller transactions, and to use a credit or debit card for larger purchases.

It is also a good idea to research the average exchange rates beforehand and compare them with the rates offered at ATMs or currency exchange offices to get the best deal. Additionally, some banks may offer international ATM fees waivers or favorable exchange rates for their customers, so it is worth checking with your bank before traveling.

It may be more difficult to find ATMs or currency exchange offices in rural areas, so it is advisable to plan ahead and have enough local currency before traveling to remote regions. Always be cautious when using ATMs in public places, and avoid exchanging money with unofficial street vendors.

16. Are there alternative forms of payment in addition to cash and credit cards, such as mobile payments or digital wallets in Bulgaria?

Yes, there are alternative forms of payment available in Bulgaria. These include mobile payment options such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as digital wallets like PayPal and Skrill. It is also possible to make payments through bank transfers or using prepaid cards. Contactless payment methods, such as NFC-enabled credit/debit cards, are also widely accepted in Bulgaria.

17. Is tipping expected during taxi rides, at hotels, or at other specific locations like spas or salons in Bulgaria?

Tipping is not expected in Bulgaria, but it is appreciated for good service. It is common to round up the taxi fare to the nearest whole number or leave a small percentage as a tip. At hotels and spas, a small tip can also be given to housekeeping staff or spa therapists if you are satisfied with their services. However, tipping is not required and there is no set percentage or expectation for the amount of tip given.

18. Are there certain stores where tourists can receive tax refunds on their purchases before leaving Bulgaria?

Yes, tourists can receive tax refunds on their purchases at designated Tax Free shopping stores in Bulgaria. These include major retail chains and shopping malls such as Kaufland, Billa, CBA, and Mall of Sofia. Tourists must fill out a Tax Free form at the time of purchase and present it along with their passport at the airport to receive their refund.

19..How should I handle my leftover foreign currency when departing from Bulgaria, including coins and smaller bills?

1. Spend it: The easiest way to use up your leftover foreign currency is to spend it before you leave Bulgaria. You can use it to pay for meals, souvenirs, or any other purchases during your stay.

2. Exchange it at the airport: Most international airports in Bulgaria have currency exchange offices where you can exchange your leftover foreign currency for your home currency. However, keep in mind that these exchange rates may not be as favorable as those offered by banks or exchange offices in the city.

3. Use it for transportation: Coins and smaller bills can come in handy when paying for public transportation such as buses or taxis. This way, you can use up your foreign currency while getting to the airport.

4. Donate it: If you do not plan on using your leftover foreign currency, consider donating it to a charity or organization that accepts foreign currencies. This will not only help those in need but also save you the hassle of trying to exchange small amounts of money.

5. Keep it for future travels: If you plan on traveling back to Bulgaria or another country that uses the same currency, you can keep your leftover money for future use. This way, you won’t have to worry about exchanging currencies again.

6. Convert larger bills into smaller ones: If you have larger bills remaining, try exchanging them for smaller denominations before leaving Bulgaria. These smaller bills will be easier to spend or exchange later on.

7. Sell it online: You can also try selling your leftover foreign currency online through platforms such as eBay or Facebook marketplace. Make sure to research the current exchange rate before setting a price.

8. Deposit it at a bank: Many banks allow customers to deposit their leftover foreign currency into their accounts. Check with your bank beforehand if they accept foreign deposits and what fees may apply.

9. Keep it as a souvenir: Lastly, if all else fails, keep some of your leftover foreign currency as a souvenir to remind you of your trip. You can frame it or add it to your collection of other foreign currencies from your travels.

20. Is there a limit on the amount of local currency I can withdraw from ATMs in Bulgaria each day?

Yes, most banks in Bulgaria have a daily withdrawal limit of 400-500 Bulgarian lev (equivalent to approximately $225-$280 USD). However, this limit may vary depending on the bank and your account type. If you need to withdraw a larger amount, you may need to make multiple transactions or visit multiple ATMs.