KEY TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Fire Brigade 160
Road Service 1286
Mountain Rescue Service 963 20 00
Telephone Information Services 144
To send a letter within the country, buy a postal card or an envelope, affix the necessary postal stamp of 0.25 Leva (25 stotinki) and write the address of the recipient on the front of the envelope and the sender’s on the back, for a post card,generally,just the receiver’s address is required. This can be done at any post office. As a rule, post offices are open for letters. parcels and excise bands from Monday through Friday; telephone and cable services are open through the week round.
To send a letter abroad, you should have the envelope weighed and charged according to its weight in grams. For printed matter a lower tariff is applied, and excise bands may not exceed 2 kilograms.
Parcels and small packages (not exceeding 2 kg) are subject to mandatory customs control. Packaging services are available at the post offices in bigger towns, and where no such service is available, the public and tourists are expected to pack up their parcels in the post office hall after examination by the customs authority.
Registered, express and special deliveries are charged under a higher tariff. All parcels must bear sender’s and recipient’s name and address clearly written.
Telephone services in the country comprise local urban, interurban and international calls. Local urban phone services are effected by means of automatic street telephones operated with tokens or electronic cards.
The price of one token is 0.20 Leva, and you can buy them in the post offices or news-stands. The duration of a call is limited to 3 minutes.
There are three types of payphones for local urban, interurban and international calls and cards sold by MOBIKA and BULFON. MOBIKA cards are of 50 to 400 impulses, BULFON, cards are of25 to 400 impulses. The price per impulse is lower for the cards of greater number of impulses. The public phones operated with cards display the remaining impulses. At post offices you pay after the call and calls are usually 1/3 cheaper than if made from public payphones phones.
Calling a telephone number abroad may be done with cards from public phones in the streets or at post offices. Every international call begins with 00 + the code of the respective country, the settlement and the private phone number.
The dialling code for Bulgaria is +359.
The Republic of Bulgaria is part of the international analogue and cellular phone networks. Debit impulse cards or SIM cards could be found in specilised shops. The prices from 20 Leva to 100 Leva vary depending on the number of impulses and the validity term. Internet cafe are wide spread in bigger towns in the country. For about 1.20 Leva – 2.00 Leva you can check your e-mails,surf the web or use Skype,print off documents,record or display data from personal memory devices or CDs and DVDs.
Currency, payments and foreign exchange
The official monetary unit in the Republic of Bulgaria is called the LEV. As since 1997 the country has been in the conditions of a currency board, the Lev was pegged to the German Mark (at a fixed exchange 1 Lev for 1 DM) and since 1st January 2002 the Lev has been pegged to the Euro. Through the cross rates of all other currencies, foreigners and Bulgarian citizens willing to exchange foreign currency can easily compute the respective value of their money.
The Leva in Bulgaria are of emissions not earlier than 1999. The following coins are in circulation:
The above mentioned coins are made of a copper,brass and yellow alloys and are therefore yellow/gold in colour.
These coins are made of white metal alloys. The value of one stotinka amounts to 0.01 of 1 Lev.
The Bulgarian paper notes comprise the following denominations:
1 Lev, with the effigy of St. Ivan Rilski;
2 Leva, with the effigy of Paissii Hilendarski;
5 Leva, with the effigy of Ivan Milev;
10 Leva, with the effigy of Dr. Peter Beron
20 Leva, with the effigy of Stefan Stambolov
50 Leva, with the effigy of Pencho Slaveikov
Currency may be exchanged in all Bulgarian banks from Mondays through Fridays in the regular working hours without any commission charged.
A lower bank exchange rate is quoted by the exchange bureaus at the major hotels, railway stations, bus stations, maritime ports, and international airports. Money can be exchanged also in the numerous private exchange bureaus, some of which are open throughout the week , and others operate non-stop.
Payments in the Republic of Bulgaria are effected only in Leva or in Leva equivalent. In larger resorts and at places authorised to provide foreign exchange, certain payments may be effected in foreign currency. In smaller boutiques,specialist stores ,antique shops,galleries, it is at the retailer’s discretion to allow a payment in a foreign currency rather than leva.
As a rule of thumb, every article in a shop (selling in Leva or foreign currency) must have a price tag. Bargaining over prices is not customary in Bulgaria. The bargaining habit known from markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia may be done only on the free private market, on flea markets, and in wholesale trade – on commodity markets, ramp-side trade or auctions.
The main international credit cards can be used in the country. In every major town there are cash dispensers (Bancomats) at the larger banks. A growing number of services can be paid for with credit cards – mainly hotel bills, tickets from large travel agencies, luxury shops and restaurants, vacation costs, certain more expensive souvenirs, etc. Bulgarian citizens or residents sometimes pay for phone bills, central heating, water supply , as well as make large purchases by debit or credit card.
Air, rail, road and water transport connects Bulgaria to Europe and the rest of the world.
Railway routes cross all of Bulgaria’s land borders. The first big European railway transport artery – Orient Express also cuts through the country. One may enter the country by bus or car through the numerous checkpoints along the borders. The Danube River and the Black Sea are Bulgaria’s main waterways.
Air links are maintained through the country’s local and international airports. There are three international airports in the country – in Sofia, Varna and Bourgas. Daily return flights link Sofia with Varna and Bourgas. During the tourist season, including late spring, the summer and early autumn, there are five to six flights daily in both directions. One-way ticket prices vary between 55 and 60 US Dollars.
Bulgarian air companies fly to most European capitals and some larger cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Milan, St. Petersburgh, etc. Some of the major European airways reciprocate with flights to Bulgaria, doubling or supplanting flights.
Bulgaria maintains air links with some of the countries of the Middle East, Central and South Africa, some countries of North Africa, Central and Southern Asia and North America. Transfers to other destinations are organized through foreign travel agencies and representative offices based in Bulgaria. Telephones of international airports include:
Sofia (02) 937 22 11; 973 22 12
Varna (052) 650 452
Bourgas (056) 684 083
Emergency landings may be performed in some bigger towns like Rousse, Kurdzhali, Razgard, Silistra, Plovdiv, etc. Chartered aircraft, helicopters and amateurs’ gliders possessing special permits may land in the country and air corridors for them are ensured by Bulgarian air-traffic controllers.
Bulgaria’s railway border checkpoints include: Svilengrad, Kulata, Gyueshevo, Kalotina, Vrushka Chouka (only on the Yugoslav side), Vidin (by ferryboat across the River Danube) Rousse, Silistra, and Dourankoulak. Numerous express and passenger trains reach Bulgaria or transit across the country, linking it with Europe, Asia (across Russia and the Middle East), and North Africa (across the Middle East). Travelling by train in Bulgaria is comfortable and inexpensive. The rail network connects practically all major towns and cities of North and South Bulgaria. For less accessible towns and villages and generally less frequented destinations there are narrow-gauge railways. The price of second-class tickets for a 100 km distance amounts to about 1.5 Leva. Ticket costs generally increase in proportion to the distance travelled. Reduced-tariff tickets are granted to students in possession of a valid student ID respective , to soldiers and officers who are issued military tickets, to pensioners, war veterans, handicapped and to railway employees.
Reduced tariffs are also granted to the holders of international cards for student and youth travel. The tickets are issued at railway stations, at ticket bureaus in the towns, and in tourist offices and travel agencies; international travel tickets are available at special international booking offices, agencies and bureaus at the railway stations. The telephones for information are (02) 931 11 11 and (02) 932 33 33.
The road network in Bulgaria consists of motorways and roads of first, second and third class. Most of the network is tarmacked. Motorways link Sofia with Varna (“Hemus”), and Sofia with Plovdiv and Bourgas (“Trakia”).
Local bus services cover most destinations, with express buses linking the country’s major towns. Long-distance and local bus lines reach nearly 90 per cent of Bulgaria’s settlements. Exceptions are made for high-mountain villages and quarters accessible only via truck roads or dirt tracks. The price of a ticket for a 100 km distance is about 6 Leva in a luxury-bus, and 4 Leva in an ordinary bus. The ticket price increases proportionally to the distance.
International bus lines operate to most European capitals and major cities. Via Turkey there are connections by road to the Middle East and Egypt.
Bus tickets can be purchased from specialized bureaus, at bus stations and from transport and tourists agencies in the larger towns. A number of foreign travel agencies also offer these services.
The phone numbers of border checkpoints, including those with railway links, are given below:
Bregovo (Vidin-Negotin) 22 74
Vrushka Chouka (Zaychar), 20 03
Kalotina (Nis), via Sofia 88 15 18
Strezimirovtsi 2 42 89
Gyueshevo (Kriva Palanka), 2 72 10
Stanke Lisichkovo 2 35 31
(Delchevo), via Blagoevgrad
Zlatarevo (Petrich-Stroumitsa) 2 71 74
Koulata 2 31 87
Kapitan Andreevo 65 86
(Svilengrad – Odrin)
Malko Turnovo (Lozengrad) 21 98
Vidin – Kalafat, (ferryboat) 2 49 79
Lom 2 41 02
Oryahovo 23 72
Russe (Gyurgevo) 44 01 86
Silistra (Ostrov-Culuras) 2 66 61
Durankoulak (Mangalia) 244
The waterway border checkpoints are riverside (along the River Danube) and maritime (on the Black Sea coast). The first riverside border checkpoint on the Danube on Bulgarian territory is near the village of Vruv.
Along the entire course of the River Danube there are border checkpoints, which give access by water to and from Bulgaria. These are situated at the river ports of Vidin, Lom, Oryahovo, Rousse, Toutrakan and Silistra. Seaports are Varna and Bourgas.
It is possible to cross from Romania by sea by using the local small ports near Dourankoulak, and from Turkey at Rezovo. These ports can handle small vessels, which do not come from territorial waters.
Water transport for tourist passengers and cargo is available along the entire length of the River Danube and the Black Sea coast. Tourist services are effected by river and sea vessels; both the tickets for them and their timetable depend on the season, the type of vessel and its class.
There are numerous private boats, yachts and motorboats available for charter , which offer tours to local sites of interest and taylor-made cruises . As a rule, water transport costs about twice as much as overland transport.
List of telephone numbers of border checkpoints and riverside (maritime) stations along the Danube:
Vidin (094) 2 49 79
Lom (0971) 2 20 57
Oryahovo (09171) 23 72
Russe (082) 44 01 86
Toutrakan (0857) 25 65
Silistra (086) 2 00 05
Varna (052) 22 23 26
Bourgas (056) 4 27 38
Every tourist visiting the Republic of Bulgaria may import a limited amount of food, cigarettes and alcohol for personal use. Depending on the length of his stay, the admissible number and quantity of the imported goods is indicated at every customs checkpoint.
A special customs declaration is filled should the imported amounts exceed the stipulated quantities, together with an explanation for the reason of this excess. Subject to obligatory declaring are golden articles, valuables in excess of personal jewellery, photographic cameras, electronic devices and apparatus of greater value. The same objects shall be declared also upon leaving Bulgaria, whereby the tourist certifies that the objects have not been made present or sold to other persons. Presents and objects carried for Bulgarian citizens or foreigners residing in Bulgaria shall be declared as well.
Antiques , works of art, historic and cultural treasures, rare coins of numismatic value and securities are subject to a special regime of import and export . The latter require particular permits and accompanying documents which may be obtained in the respective country by the local authorities and the Bulgarian representatives upon import, and by the Bulgarian authorities upon export of the same.
Bulgarian business partners enjoy special conditions for the import and export of raw and prime materials, finished products, foreign exchange, numismatic valuables and works of art.
Raw materials, protected bird, animal and plant species are also subject to customs restrictions. The import and export of works of art for participation in auctions or sales, in exhibitions, fairs or art expositions, require special documents, which shall obligatorily accompany the exhibits or the works of art. The same applies to medicines, narcotics, weapons and ammunition.
The customs offices in Bulgaria most frequently used by tourists and business partners respond to the following phone numbers:
Central Customs Office: (02) 931 15 12
Sofia Customs Office: (02) 931 41 91 (2,3) ; 931 51 52
Sofia Airport: (02) 71 70 51
Plovdiv Customs Office: (032) 22 01 30
Varna Customs Office: (052) 22 55 32
Bourgas Customs Office: (056) 4 23 01
Rousse Customs Office: (082) 44 99 98