Bulgaria - US Consular Information Sheet

Criminal Penalties
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bulgarian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bulgaria are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Foreigners charged with a crime may be denied permission to depart Bulgaria. Criminal cases have been known to take years to resolve, regardless of outcome.

Special Circumstances
Bulgaria is still a largely cash economy. Visitors should exchange cash at banks or Change Bureaus. Some Change Bureaus charge commissions on both cash and travelers' check transactions that are not clearly posted. People on the street who offer high rates of exchange are usually con artists intent on swindling the unwary traveler. Damaged or very worn U.S dollar bank notes are often not accepted at banks or Change Bureaus. Major branches of the following Bulgarian banks will cash travelers' checks on the spot for leva, the Bulgarian currency, or other desired currency: Bulbank, Bulgarian Postbank, Biochim, First Investment Bank and United Bulgarian Bank (UBB). UBB also serves as a Western Union agent and provides direct transfer of money to travelers in need. ATM cash machines are increasing in numbers in Sofia and other major cities. Most shops, hotels and restaurants, with the exception of the major hotels, still do not accept travelers' checks or credit cards. Due to the potential of fraud and other criminal activity, credit cards and ATM's should be used with caution.

Children's Issues
For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.