First Driving School for Foreigners

Different options on getting your Bulgarian driver’s license as a foreigner

In partnership with First Driving School for Foreigners, edited by Scott Green and Andrea Vushkova, photos by Anastasiia Dehtiarova

In our previous article, we mentioned the beginning process of getting your Bulgarian driver’s license. In this article we go through the rest of the requirements, and how the First Driving School for Foreigners can both train and assist you in the process of getting your license. If you already have your license, check our article on buying a second-hand car in Bulgaria.

Driving Courses:

Scenario 1: you’re a beginner and you’ve never held a driver’s license.

The driving course includes 40 theory lessons and 31 practical lessons. Once you join the theory classes, you pay 400 BGN. Then before you start driving, you pay an additional 900 BGN.  You can pay cash or card in their office, or by bank transfer. The exam taxes are all included in the cost of 1300 BGN. Even if you fail the theory or the driving exam, you don’t pay any tax to retake the exam. In case you fail the practical exam, you must take 4 additional driving lessons at 30 BGN each before you have the right to redo the exam. All theory, driving lessons, and exams are in English!

For foreign students in the Bulgarian universities who have INTERHECS Membership, the driving course is 1200 BGN in total. Assistance in the agencies provided by the driving school office is free.

Bank details of the First Driving School for Foreigners:
АС-ВАВИЛОН ЕООД
Булстат: BG175412613
IBAN: BG09STSA93000015475696
DSK Bank

The theoretical part of the driving course
There are 40 mandatory theory classes. For your convenience, the school provides online sessions during the week, and only on Saturday the classes are in person at the driving school. The schedule for the theory lessons is: 
Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. – online via Discord.
Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m - in person. 
There is no official book in English, however, the school will provide you with PowerPoint presentations in English, written by the teachers. They are very useful and support the learning process a lot. You have to cover 19 topics and then you can start doing practice tests here

The practical part of the driving course
The driving school offers driving lessons on a manual or automatic transmission car depending on your preference. Please note though that if you only pass the course and the exam in an automatic transmission car, you have the right to drive only automatic cars. However, if you pass the exam in a manual car, this gives you the right to drive both transmission types.

The driving classes start at the driving school office. The office is located exactly at Metro station Beli Dunav, so it is easily accessible. Of course, we can use different routes, depending on the area where you live, work, study. However, most of the classes should be near the driving school area because this is where the official exam will be held. The duration of one driving hour is 50 min by law, in case the student drives an hour per day. In case the student drives 2 hours per day, their duration is 45 min each, by law. 

The student gets the right to do the official practical exam only when he/she has passed the internal exam, provided by the instructor from the driving school and only when he/she has covered all the mandatory 31 driving hours. Students don’t pay any tax to take the internal exam. 

The duration of the official practical exam is 25 to 35 minutes. It is provided by inspectors from the Ministry of Transport. They give the directions in Bulgarian but your instructor, who is also in the car during the exam, translates for you in English. In case you fail, you should take 4 additional driving hours, by law. Then you have the right to redo the exam.

What documents to prepare to apply for the driver’s license at the Traffic Police Office?
You apply for the driving license in the main Traffic Police Office of the district where your address is, according to your residence permit. You have the right to apply on the third official working day after the exam day. There is no deadline to submit the following documents:
-a copy of your Bulgarian ID card;
-a medical certificate stating your health as a driver of a motor vehicle class B;
– the original plus two copies;
-Red Cross certificate- the original plus two copies. You must attend a course at the Red Cross for giving premedical help in case of road accidents. At the end of the course, you get a certificate which must be presented at the Traffic Police Office. You can do the training during the driving course or just after. You sign up for the course via their site. The driving school provides you with the materials you should study, in English. The lectures are in Bulgarian and just the test at the end is in English. The course is one day, it costs 60 BGN which you can pay online or on the spot. If you have already completed this course in another country, you don’t have to do it again. If you are in the sixth year of your medical degree, you need a note from your university confirming this, you still need to go to the Red Cross office and show your document to get approved, pay 8 BGN, and then you don’t need to sit the course;
-original education recognition certificate plus two copies;
-an application form and a declaration filled in on the spot, in Bulgarian;
-a fee of 27 BGN paid on the spot by card (normal service in case you want to get the license in one month) or 57 BGN (fast service in case you want to get the license in a week).

Scenario 2: you already have a driver’s license from a country that is not a member of the EU.

If your driver’s license is still valid as a document and it is issued from a country outside of the EU, you are allowed to drive with it only if it is translated and legalized in Bulgarian, but not longer than one year. Even if you have an International DL, it has the same validity for Bulgaria as the main one.

You need to pass the mandatory theory and practical exams. In your case, you don’t have the obligation to cover the mandatory theory and practical hours. It is your choice to prepare by yourself for the theory exam or to be prepared by the driving school. This, of course, makes the difference in the cost.

In relation to the driving hours, you need to drive at least 4 hours with an instructor, to be explained the rules for the exam, to become familiar with the exam routes and with the car itself. The school registers you with the number of your current driver’s license which proves your experience. That’s why it is not mandatory to take any theoretical or practical classes. You don’t need the education recognition certificate to be registered in the driving school software. But you do need it to apply for the physical Bulgarian driver’s license in the Traffic Police Office after you are done with the exams.

Important: If the driver’s license is expired as a document, you are still allowed to use it for registration in the driving school. It still proves your experience as a driver. You need to pass the mandatory exams and then you apply for the Bulgarian driver’s license. One of the mandatory documents you must submit to the Traffic Police Office is the education recognition certificate.

Fees in case you prefer to prepare for the theory part on your own:
Registration in the driving school, the administrative services, and the materials in English cost 200 BGN. The theory exam tax is 70 BGN. In case you fail, you pay the same tax to redo the exam. One driving hour is 40 BGN. Its duration is 50 min. The practical exam tax is 80 BGN. In case you fail, you pay the same tax to redo the exam.  The school provides you with the materials in English to prepare on your own. 

The fee in case you prefer the school to prepare you on the theory part is 850 BGN in total. It includes the registration in the school, preparation for the theory test, several driving hours to be prepared for the practical exam, and all the exam taxes, regardless of the attempts. The school provides you with materials in English.

The schedule for the theory classes is: 
Tuesday and Thursday 6 to 9 p.m., the session is online;
Saturday the classes are in person. The early session is from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The late one starts at 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
You can choose which one to attend or just to stay the whole day in case you want to cover the material fast. 

Important: 
You have the right to do the official theory and practical exam only if your current driver’s license is translated into Bulgarian and notarized! The original driver’s license and its translation in Bulgarian will be required by the inspectors just before the exams.

What documents to prepare to apply for the driver’s license at the Traffic Police Office?
You apply for the driving license in the main Traffic Police Office of the district where your address is, according to your residence permit. You get the right to apply at the third official working day after the exam day. There is no deadline to submit the documents.
Documents:
-a copy of your Bulgarian ID card;
-medical certificate which states your health as a driver of a motor vehicle class B;
– the original plus two copies;
-Red Cross certificate - the original plus two copies; You must attend a course at the RED CROSS for giving premedical help in case of road accidents. At the end of the course, you get a certificate which must be presented to the traffic police office. You could do that during the driving course or just after. You sign up for the course via their site. The driving school provides you with the materials you should study, in English. The lectures are in Bulgarian and just the test at the end is in English. The course is one day, it costs 60 BGN which you pay online or on the spot. If you have already completed this course in another country, you don’t have to do it again. If you are in the sixth year of your medical degree, you need a note from your university confirming this, you still need to go to the Red Cross office and show your document to get approved, pay 8 BGN, and then you don’t need to sit the course;
-original education recognition certificate plus two copies;
-a copy of your current driving license and its translation in Bulgarian;
-an application form and a declaration filled in on the spot, in Bulgarian;
-a fee of 27 BGN paid on the spot by card (normal service in case you want to get the license in one month) or 57 BGN (fast service in case you want to get the license in a week).

Scenario 3: you’re from a country that has a bilateral agreement with Bulgaria for direct transfer of driver’s license.

In this case, there is no need to be registered in a driving school, no need to pass any exams. You just apply for direct transfer. Some of the countries that have agreements are member countries of the EU, and others like Israel, UAE, Russia, and Ukraine. You will have to check for your specific country and if there’s an agreement.

If your driver’s license is issued by a country that is from the EU, there’s no need to submit your education diploma for recognition. However, this requirement remains if the driver’s license is issued by a country that is not a member of the EU. These drivers are not obligated to pass the obligatory course for giving premedical help in case of road accidents, provided by the Red Cross Center.

Mandatory documents you must submit:
-the physical original driving license and a copy;
-a copy of the Bulgarian residence permit;
-education recognition certificate (in case your driver’s license is not issued by a country member of the EU;)
-medical check which states your health as a driver of a motor vehicle class B (Important: This is not required if the person is an EU citizen!).
You are permitted to transfer your current driver’s license only if you have at least 6 months of residence in Bulgaria, considered from the date of issue of the residence permit.
The tax you pay at the Traffic Police Office is 27 BGN and you will have a Bulgarian driver’s license within a month. You don’t have the right to pay for fast service. 

If you contact the First Driving School for Foreigners their team is going to check and confirm if you have the right to switch your license without any exams or not. They can also assist you in the Traffic police office. This costs 50 BGN.

Important: In case you are an EU citizen in Bulgaria, with a driving license issued by a country that is also an EU member, once you get a permanent address in Bulgaria, you have the obligation to change your license to a Bulgarian one. The conditions remain the same.

Scenario 4: you are an EU citizen, living in Bulgaria, and have I lost your driving license, issued by your country. Or your driving license has expired and you don’t want to go back to your country to renew it.

Do not worry! This is manageable! 
In case you have lost your EU driving license, you need a statement from the Traffic Police Office from the country that issued the license. The document should state the number of the license, the date of issue, and your personal data. No need for the document to be Apostilled but it must be translated into Bulgarian and notarized. You need to present this at the Bulgarian Traffic Police Office when you apply for a Bulgarian driving license.
What else is required, is:
-a copy of the Bulgarian residency permit;
-medical check for a driver of a motor vehicle category B;
-application form and a declaration;
-27 BGN fee which you pay on the spot, by card.

In case your EU driving license is expired, you apply for a Bulgarian one, submitting the following documents:
-original driving license and a copy;
-a copy of the Bulgarian residency permit;
-medical check for a driver of a motor vehicle category B;
-27 BGN fee which you pay on the spot, by card.

Important: In both cases you have the right to apply for a Bulgarian driving license if you have at least 6 months stay in Bulgaria, considered from the date of issue of the very first residency permit!

Additional taxes which are not included in the fees of the driving school: 
-translation and legalization- it depends on the number of pages and the language. The average is 12 BGN per page and 30 BGN per document for the notarization;
-education recognition – 35 BGN government fee;
-if the driving school applies for the education recognition online, instead of you- 25 BGN fee;
-Red Cross course – 60 BGN;
-medical check – 30 BGN.

This article was created in partnership with First Driving School for Foreigners because they have proven to be an expert in their field, they are able to assist you throughout the entire process of getting your Bulgarian driver’s license. Please note though, since regulations and procedures can evolve over time, we ask you to not consider the contents of this page as coming from an official source. As our goal is to provide our community with the most accurate information, if you find some inaccuracy or any outdated details, please let us know at [email protected], possibly with the links to correct official resources, so that we can verify and update the publication. Thank you.


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