Crime Information for Tourists in Bulgaria

Pick-pocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in crowded markets, on shopping streets, and aboard the busiest tram and bus lines. Con artists operate on public transportation and in bus and train stations. Credit cards and ATMs should be used with caution. Be wary of people who approach you at an ATM and offer assistance. Do not give your PIN to anyone under any circumstances. (See the Special Circumstances section below.)

Travelers should be suspicious of "instant friends" and should also ask persons claiming to be government officials to provide identification.

We recommend that you immediately report any crimes to the police, as they have helped recover money and valuables in the past. To avoid becoming a victim of more serious crimes, use the same personal safety precautions that you would use in any large U.S. city.

You should pay special attention to the drink prices at high-end bars and nightclubs. Travelers have been charged exorbitant prices, especially for champagne and hard alcohol. Bills have been as high as several thousand dollars for drinks, and in some establishments the management may use force to secure payment.

Taxi drivers occasionally overcharge unwary travelers, particularly at Sofia Airport and the Central Train Station. We recommend that you use taxis with meters and clearly marked rates displayed on a sticker on the passenger side of the windshield. The standard rates normally range between BGL 0.59 and 0.70 (approximately 40 U.S. cents) per kilometer. Prior to a current law that established a maximum charge per kilometer, some taxi drivers charged as much as BGL 6.70 (approximately US$5) per kilometer. However, there is only sporadic enforcement of the current law.

At the airport, there is a clearly marked booth within the arrival terminal that arranges for metered taxis at a fair rate. Finding reputable taxis at the Central Train Station is more difficult. We recommend that before you enter a taxi, you first inquire about the fare. Always ensure that you account for all luggage, packages, and hand-carried items before you pay and release a taxi. The likelihood of retrieving articles left behind in a taxi is remote.

Automobile theft is common, and very few vehicles are recovered; four-wheel-drive vehicles and late-model European sedans are the most popular targets. Automobile break-ins are also common in residential areas or near parks, especially when valuables are left in plain sight. Residential burglaries are also a frequent occurrence as in any major city. If you plan to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis, you should take measures to protect your home and consider installing window grilles, steel doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system.

Take some time before your trip to learn how to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for personal security.

Use caution when making credit card charges over the Internet to unfamiliar websites. Recent experience has shown that offers for merchandise and services may be scam artists posing as legitimate businesses. In many cases, the businesses do not actually exist.

Don’t buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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