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A volcano erupted on White Island, New Zealand on 9 December 2019. Follow the instructions of local authorities. Updates are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
Call 1300 555 135
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Pickpocketing and bag snatching are common. Be careful:
Car theft is common. Very few owners get their vehicle back.
Car break-ins are also common, especially when valuables are easily visible. Park in a secure carpark wherever possible.
To protect yourself from crime:
Violent crime can happen, including:
Organised crime groups are active in casinos, nightclubs and the sex industry.
Watch out for drink spiking, especially at popular night spots. Never leave your food or drinks unattended. Don't accept food or drinks from strangers.
ATM skimming and credit card fraud are common. Internet fraud also happens.
To protect your credit and ATM cards:
While there have been no recent terrorist attacks in Bulgaria, they can still happen.
In recent years, terrorists have attacked several European cities. Targets have included:
European security forces have also disrupted several recent planned attacks.
Bulgarian cities and winter ski resorts all have heightened security measures.
To protect yourself against terrorism:
If there's an attack, leave the affected area as soon as it's safe. Avoid the affected area in case of secondary attacks.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Bulgarians hold protests, rallies and other demonstrations at short notice.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent. Minor injuries sometimes occur.
Large earthquakes are rare, but earth tremors are common.
Avalanches may happen in mountain regions, especially when warm temperatures follow a harsh winter.
Extreme weather can cause landslides and flooding.
From June to October, regular alerts for wildfires are issued. Large-scale and fast-spreading fires in forests and fields are a danger.
Get updates from the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology.
Take official warnings seriously. Follow advice from local authorities.
If there's a natural disaster or severe weather:
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
In Bulgaria, you may need to show proof of travel insurance at the port of entry.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Bulgaria. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
Rabies is common. Feral dogs roam city streets, often in packs. Dogs can be vicious and attacks are common.
To protect yourself from rabies:
Tick-borne encephalitis is a risk, especially if you travel through forested areas.
Ticks are common in country areas from April to October.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common.
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical help if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Several West Nile virus (WNV) cases have occurred throughout Bulgaria. There's no vaccine to prevent it.
To protect yourself from disease:
Health care standards are well below those in Australia. Medical supplies are limited, particularly outside major cities.
Several private medical clinics and hospitals in Sofia and other major cities are well-equipped and well-staffed. However, treatment can be expensive. You also often need to pay doctors up-front.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may be evacuated to a place with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for possessing or trafficking drugs can be severe. They can include heavy fines and prison sentences.
Always carry original photo identification.
It's illegal to cover your face in public. This includes wearing a balaclava, full veil or anything else that hides your face.
It's also illegal to:
It's also illegal to:
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Same-sex relationships aren't illegal, but aren't widely accepted.
Avoid public displays of affection.
You don't need a visa to enter as a tourist for up to 90 days within a 6-month period.
You need a visa for other kinds of travel.
While Bulgaria is part of the European Union (EU), it's not yet in the Schengen area.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions may change if Bulgaria becomes part of the Schengen area. Contact the nearest Bulgarian embassy or consulate for up-to-date information.
Children under 18 years of age, including dual nationals, may only leave Bulgaria:
A Bulgarian notary must certify any parental consent.
If you're a single parent, make sure your child meets entry and exit rules.
Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The currency of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN).
Declare amounts over 10,000 euros, or equivalent, if you're travelling between Bulgaria and any non-EU country. You need to do this on both arrival and departure. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
If you don't declare or if you give incorrect information, you'll need to pay a fine.
You don't need to declare cash if you're travelling to or from another EU country.
Bulgaria is mostly a cash economy, although credit and debit card use is increasing.
Exchange money in banks, large hotels or exchange bureaus. Avoid unofficial or street sellers.
Since 2015, pressures on border controls in Europe have increased due to movement of asylum seekers.
Carry your passport when you cross borders, even within the Schengen area.
Check with local authorities and transport providers for up-to-date information on entry and exit changes and delays.
You'll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) and your current Australian driver's licence to drive in Bulgaria.
If you don't have an IDP, your travel and vehicle insurance might be void.
Get your IDP before you leave Australia.
Major city streets and intercity highways are in good condition.
Driving on rural and secondary roads is hazardous due to:
Police strictly enforce traffic laws and conduct frequent checks. These include radar speed checks.
They may collect on-the-spot fines or confiscate your licence, depending on the offence.
If you drive in Bulgaria:
As of 1 January 2019, Bulgaria introduced electronic ‘vignettes’ (e-vignettes). Driving without a vignette incurs fines. You do not need to print the e-vignette, authorities will accept electronic evidence.
If you're hiring a car or other vehicle, check whether your insurance policy covers this.
Ask your travel insurer whether your policy covers you using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Use only authorised taxi and limousine services. Try to arrange these through your hotel.
Don't hail taxis on the street. Use taxis with meters that display clear rates
Taxi drivers may overcharge, particularly at Sofia Airport and the Central Train Station.
You can find companies offering metered taxi services inside Sofia Airport.
Keep your belongings close on public transport, as petty crime happens.
The train system is poor by European standards. There have been several fires on trains.
Accessible public transport is available in Sofia and other large cities. However, it's limited in some parts of Bulgaria.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Bulgaria's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 112 or go to a hospital.
Call 112 or go to the local police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
English-speaking operators are available.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
The Australian Consulate in Sofia provides limited services and doesn't issue passports.
37 Trakia Street
Phone: (+359) 2946 1334
Fax: (+359) 2946 1704
You can get full consular help from the Australian Embassy in Greece.
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.