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Changing Money in Bulgaria

Changing Money in Bulgaria

Changing Money in Bulgaria


General Information

The currency of Bulgaria is the Lev - or in the plural form, Leva. (In Bulgarian, "lev" is the old for lion.). The economy is stable and the value of the lev is tied to that of the Euro. As of Jan 2005, $1US was worth 1.50 Leva. Bulgaria remains a largely cash economy. Visitors should exchange cash at banks or change bureaus. Some change bureaus will charge commissions on both cash and travelers' check transactions which are either not clearly posted or posted in fine print. Beware of people on the street who offer high rates of exchange or who may ask you to make some change for them. These people are confidence tricksters who are very good at spotting non-Bulgarians and are intent on swindling the unwary traveler. Old, dirty or very worn bank notes may not accepted, and bills with "scotch tape" over any torn places will be refused.

Changing money at Sofia Airport is possible at various change Bureaus but the rate will not necessarily be in your favor so, we recommend that you change a small amount and use the change bureaus downtown.

You are allowed to bring the equivalent of 8000 leva into Bulgaria without declaring it (about 4000 Euros). If you are carrying more you have to fill a declaration in at customs when you arrive. You can bring as much as you want without problem as long as you declare it.

Do not be tempted not to declare it as if found it will be seized and you will not get it back and can face prosecution and a fine. Cases like that are making the news everyday!

For larger amounts of money into Bulgaria we recommend using money transfers. It is the safest way to transfer money to Bulgaria. do have in mind that you will have to fill out a declaration form if you withdraw more than 8000 leva out of the bank.

Bulgarian Credit Cards and Traveler's Checks


Credit Cards and Traveler's Checks

While it's a sensible precaution to carry a percentage of your funds in the form of travelers' checks, they are certainly not convenient for everyday use, except in Sofia and the coastal and ski package-resorts. Elsewhere you'll be lucky to find a private exchange that will touch them, and even banks can be reluctant to accept any but the particular brand to which they're affiliated. If you can't find a branch of Bulbank (which accepts any brand bearing the Eurocard or Mastercard logo), a three- or four-star hotel is your best bet for changing checks. In holiday resorts, be prepared for a commission charge of up to five percent.

Credit cards can be used to pay for car rental, and at top-notch restaurants and hotels in the major cities and resorts, but can only be used throughout most of Bulgaria as a means of obtaining cash from an ATM. You can in theory get cash advances in leva with Eurocard, Access, Visa, Diners Club and Mastercard, but most banks are still either unequipped to deal with the procedure or simply can't be bothered. Again, Bulbank is likely to be able to handle transactions more efficiently than other banks.

Almost all cards can also be used to get cash from ATMs, which are relatively plentiful in city centers but much rarer in other areas.


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