Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European
two-pin plugs and schuko plugs are in use.
Bulgarian is the official language, which uses the
Cyrillic alphabet, but English, German and French is spoken in
resorts, hotels and restaurants.
Tips of 10% of the bill are customary in restaurants, while
hotel porters and taxi drivers expect the change to round up the
bill. With non-metered taxis you needn't add a tip to the fare you
agreed on beforehand.
Most visits to Bulgaria are trouble-free. Violent crime is rare,
but criminal groups target casinos and nightclubs and groups of
young pickpockets are active in city centres and the Black Sea
holiday resorts. Car theft is common.
Foreigners should be aware that a shake of the head means 'yes'
and a nod means 'no', although allowances are often made for
visitors; it is useful to clarify the answer verbally to avoid
Relationship building is important in Bulgaria, and initial
meetings may be used as an introduction, after which more
business-related meetings can be planned. Face-to-face meetings are
therefore preferred over communication by email, fax or phone. The
use of English in business is increasing, however the services of a
translator might be required, and presentations should include the
use of visuals where possible. Introductions include firm
handshakes, and the exchange of business cards; dress should be
conservative business attire and punctuality is expected. Business
hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The country dialling code for Bulgaria is +359, followed by the
relevant city code. The city code for Sofia is (0)2. Bulgaria
offers a direct dialling service to 58 countries, which can be
reached by adding the prefix 00 to the country code (e.g. 0044 for
the United Kingdom). Calls to countries that cannot be accessed by
direct dialling must be placed through an operator at 0123. Betcom
or Bulgarian Telecommunication Company phone booths require a
special card available from kiosks. Telephone offices are also
available and are attached to post offices. Bulgaria is one of the
few countries in Europe that has no peak or off-peak call times.
The country has mobile GSM operators, and several Internet Service
Providers. Internet cafes are on the increase in the big
Travellers to Bulgaria, aged 17 and older, do not need to pay
customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1
litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; 50g of perfume or 100g of
eau de toilette; and gifts. Allowances are larger for goods
purchased within the EU. Prohibited items include arms and
ammunition, narcotics and pornography.