Local laws and customs

The Bulgarian authorities treat all drug-related and sex offences very seriously. Custodial sentences can be expected for any foreigners convicted of such offences. Offences relating to drunken, disorderly behaviour and hooliganism may also be treated more seriously than in the UK.

Homosexuality is not illegal, but public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and the LGBT community generally keeps a low profile. There are a few gay bars and clubs in Sofia; the city has also held the annual Sofia Pride since 2008. The event, which is usually accompanied by a LGBT film fest and art week, is growing in popularity and was attended by over 2,000 people in 2017. However, it also attracts some negative attention locally and is held with a heightened police presence and security measures. Should you wish to join the parade, please read carefully the safety rules issued by the organisers. You can find local information on LGBT issues in Bulgaria on the website of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Avoid taking photographs near potentially sensitive areas like military establishments. If in doubt, ask permission.

Covering your face with garments (such as a burka or similar head covering) in public places, including governmental buildings, streets, parks, gardens, restaurants, shops and on public transport is illegal in Bulgaria. There is a fine for covering your face in public places.

There have been numerous reports of buyers being defrauded while purchasing property. Be cautious and seek comprehensive legal advice before making any purchase. Only deal with established and reputable real estate agents or with other contacts that you know to be reliable and genuine. See the Foreign and Commonwealth Office guide to buying property in Bulgaria.