The Bulgarian national monetary unit is
the Lev (BGL), divided into 100 stotinki. On July 5th, 1999,
the Lev was re-denominated at a rate of 1,000 old Leva to
one new Lev. Banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 leva are
in common circulation. Coins are minted in values of 1, 2,
5, 10, 20 and 50 stotinki. At the present rate of exchange
(June 1st, 2003), 1 USD is approximately equal to 1.65 BGL.
Exchange facilities at daily rates are in operation at the
airport, at the exchange desks of different banks and in many
of the hotels. There is much additional information on this
page, including a currency converter
at the bottom of this page. If you have questions that remain
unanswered after reading here, please post the question in
or the Message Board.
Beginning September 2nd, 2002, the Bulgarian National Bank
issued a 1 Lev coin. It is believed the coin will gradually
phase out the 1 Lev banknote that is currently in circulation.
The new coin differs in that it is two-tone and the obverse
features an effigy of St. Ivan Rilski. The obverse of other
coins features the Madara Horseman - a VIII century bas-relief
hewn in the sheer face of a rock 25 meters above the ground
near the town of Shoumen - and the text "Bulgaria"
inscribed in circumference above it. The reverse value side
of the 1 Lev coin features the numeral "1", the
text "Lev", the year of issue - 2002 - and a graphical
pattern of two crossing lines, while the main design on the
reverse of the other coins features the figure of the denomination
and the year of issue - 1999. The text "stotinki"
is inscribed underneath, and the twelve five-pointed stars
- the symbol of the European Union - are inscribed in circumference
above it. All text is in Cyrillic.
All banknotes feature advanced protective measures such as
transparent register ornament, watermark, micro text, security
thread, holographic anti-copy element, and a relief designation
for blind people..
There are several change desks at the Sofia Airport and you
will find numerous legitimate change bureaus in any Bulgarian
town that will not charge a commission. Working hours of the
banks: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, closed on national
holidays. If you bring foreign currency from home into Bulgaria,
be certain it is clean and untorn, and without any damages.
No store, bank or change bureau will accept mutilated, torn
or excessively dirty foreign currency. Currency exchange offices
throughout the city are open until 5 - 6 p.m., some working
24 hours a day.
Bulgarian National Holidays are as follows:
Banks will almost always charge a commission. Be careful
of anyone who approaches you on the street or on public transportation
offering to " change some currency for you ". You
will probably wind up with some useless fake currency at best.
Likewise, never make "a show" out of carrying cash
in public ... - read our "Travel
Tips" section. You could also find useful information
at the Consular
Information Sheet on the web site of the United States
Consulate at http://www.travel.state.gov/bulgaria.html.
Bulgaria is a very safe country to visit; but you must use
common sense and always try to be on the safe side.
The "yellow coins" (1, 2 and 5 stotinki) are generally
scorned by the Bulgarian people, and if you are not careful,
at the end of a day shopping, you can find yourself weighted
down by excessive coins. Do not be afraid to use the coins
to pay for an individual coffee, a candy bar or a pack of
chewing gum. Practically every bank in the city has an ATM
machine in the lobby; there is also an ATM machine just inside
the Plovdiv Metro store, as well as many other big supermarkets
and stores. See our Travel
Tips Section for a large section of information on Credit
Cards, ATMs, etc.
Western Union operates in Bulgaria and is a very efficient
way to get cash from your countries. Almost each Bulgarian
bank has either Western Union or MoneyGram representatives.
The currency exchange is unrestricted and there is no compulsory
exchange, as is the case in some other countries. Upon departure
from the country any unused Bulgarian currency may be changed
back into the respective national currency at the border.