CAR IN BULGARIA: REGISTRATION
In our series Car in Bulgaria we look at the Registration of a vehicle.
Get your info here and be prepared!
Bulgaria is a beautiful country and just cruising around the country side is already a good reason to have one. Other people will need a car just for getting to work or doing the groceries. A car is freedom and therefore it is good to know a little bit more about owning a car in Bulgaria. In our series of articles on Car in Bulgaria, here we take a closer look at the registration of a car.
Any car or motorcycle that changes ownership or is used within Bulgaria needs to be registered in Bulgaria. KAT (Traffic police) performs the registration of all vehicles. You register your vehicle in the city or region where you live. KAT works Monday to Friday and usually starts around 7:30. We advise to plan a visit to KAT Wednesday to Friday as KAT is less crowded these days. Generally KAT employees usually do not speak English or are any of the forms available in different languages.
It is possible to register any type of vehicle provided it is roadworthy, is technically approved and is known to KAT. With the latter we mean that if you wish to register a vehicle not known to Bulgaria (eg. you have a rare African motorcycle), it will receive a test before you can continue the registration.
As stated, KAT handles all vehicle registrations. You cannot register a car that does not belong to you. Although we know stories of Bulgarian tenners under certain tables.
The registration process takes anywhere between 2 to 5 hours. After registering a foreign car, KAT handles returning the old plates to the country where they originate from.
If you need assistance, we have somebody to help you.
One time costs are Eco-tax and the registration fee. The Eco-tax is paid once at first registration in Bulgaria. The Eco-tax depends on the age of the vehicle and is between BGN 200 and 260; motorcycles and scooters are excluded from Eco-tax. The registration fee is around BGN 50. All payments are in cash or if available by card.
After you complete the registration, you receive 3 cards. The proof of technical control and two proof of ownership cards. The ownership cards are one big and one small. The information on both ownership cards is identical. It is better not to store these two cards together.
The big ‘Talon‘ you keep at home. This big card you need (1) when unregistering the car, (2) when you do the yearly technical control and (3) in some countries (eg. Greece traffic police may ask you for it when driving there). The small card always needs to be in the car when driven by you or someone else.
Your license plates you receive from KAT and they will be placed on the car with special rivets. Your car receives license plates related to your location. For Sofia this will start Cyrillic ‘C’ for the Latin letter ‘S’.
From 1992 Bulgaria agreed to use only letters that exist in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet. This is in itself a comprehensible idea as foreign officials need to be able to read a plate. This does not leave many options, because many cities or regions share the same first letter. To solve this dilemma many regions received a combination or derivation of letters in the name of the city or region. This makes some plates somewhat difficult to understand.
All license plates with C are from Sofia, CO is Sofia region, B is from Varna, EH is from Pleven and some are more difficult to understand: TX is from Dobrich, based on the old Cyrillic name of Dobrich, OB is for LOVech and so on. There is a system, but fortunately it is not necessary to know all these codes. For more information read the following article from Vagabond.
Personalized license plates are possible at an extra charge. Check with KAT for your options and pricing. Some say that people who do not want to pay fines can even buy special issue licenses. These licenses have for example 4 times a 9. These plates can be found, if you do not pay fines, we don’t know.
Until 2016 you also needed to register your vehicle separately at your local municipality. This was to be able to pay the yearly taxes. Fortunately this is not necessary anymore. KAT now automatically registers your vehicle also at the municipality. Read more on yearly taxes in our article Car in Bulgaria: Yearly Cost.
If you modify your vehicle, eg. change the color, you will need to re-register the car. You cannot register a modified vehicle if it has not been tested for road worthiness and safety. Here you should think of for example your home build camper van. The Bulgarian test facility is Technotest. After approval the vehicle can drive everywhere in the EU.
There are a number of reasons why you would want to terminate your registration, a sale obviously being the most common. Otherwise KAT accepts:
In all above cases you go to KAT and file your request. Every request has a fee and once paid, you receive your proof of termination. Officially you also need to terminate the registration at your local municipality. Complete both and your vehicle is exempt from further obligations.
Driving a car is a costly matter in all countries. We receive many requests from people who try to save some money by registering their car in Bulgaria. A good idea, if you do not know the consequences. Namely, once registered in Bulgaria you have to follow up on your legal obligations in Bulgaria too. Add the cost for fulfilling these obligations up and in the end it is not cheaper and you do get a lot more hassle in return. Our advise: do not register a car in Bulgaria if you have no intention to live in Bulgaria.
We hope you have a better idea of how and what with vehicle registrations in Bulgaria. Check our site for further articles on Car in Bulgaria!