Currency Information

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 Feedback 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..

  Front of the 1 leva banknote features an icon of St. John of Rila (876 - 946).
  Back of the 1 leva banknote depicts the principal church in the Rila Monastery
  Front of the 2 leva banknote reveals a portrait of Paisii Hilendarski (1722 - 1773), a famous figure of Bulgarian national Revival.
  Back of the 2 leva banknote features shields belonging to Bulgarian tsars, and a facsimile of the "Istoria Slavyanobolgarska" (“Slavonic-Bulgarian History” – a book calling on Bulgarian people to remember their past and former greatness, written by Paisii Hilendarski, a Bulgarian monk of the Hilendar Monastery on Mt Athos, in 1762)
  The front of the 5 leva banknote depicts Ivan Milev (1897-1927), a prominent Bulgarian painter from the beginning of the 20th century and one of the first followers of art noveau in Bulgaria.
  The reverse of the 5 leva banknote represents elements of paintings by this artist.
  The front of the 10 leva banknote depicts Dr. Petar Beron (1799-1871), a distinguished Bulgarian scientist and teacher. In 1824 he wrote the first Bulgarian textbook, popularly called "the Fish Textbook", which paved the road for a modern system of education in Bulgaria.
  The reverse of the 10 leva banknote features sketches from Petar Beron’s textbook and his personal telescope, along with a representation of the Moon's phases.
  The front of the 20 leva banknote displays the portrait one of the greatest and certainly the most controversial Bulgarian statesman of all times - Stefan Stambolov (1854-1895). Stambolov is credited with bringing stability and prosperity to the newly re-established (in 1878) post-liberation state of Bulgaria, but is also blamed for introducing certain dictatorial methods during his rule. Stambolov was assassinated by his political opponents in 1895.
  The reverse of the 20 leva banknote features the building of the National Assembly, and fragments of Eagles’ Bridge, and Lions’ Bridge in Sofia.
  The front of the 50 leva banknote displays the portrait of one of the greatest Bulgarian poets and intellectuals - Pencho Slaveykov (1866-1912).
  The back of the 50 leva banknote features some illustrations to his books of poetry.
  The front of the 100 leva banknote
  The back of the 100 leva banknote

Additional Information

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:

  • New Year's Day is celebrated on January 1
  • National Day (Liberation from the Turks) is celebrated on March 3
  • Easter (not on the same day as in Western Europe – usually a week later; according to the East Orthodox Calendar) – usually 3 days in a row
  • St George’s Day – May 6th
  • Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day is celebrated on May 24 (also Education and Culture Day, Day of the Slavonic Literacy)
  • Christmas is observed on December 25

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 Bulgaria is a very safe country to visit; but you must use common sense and always try to be on the safe side.

  1. Change Bureaus should always give you the exact funds as you change currency from Dollars to Leva, for example. There are a couple of important rules:
    • Examine the currency carefully!
    • Refuse any bill that is torn, cut, taped, something written on it, or otherwise mutilated.
    • Do not allow yourself to become intimidated or rushed
  2. Be careful of the following scenario - you give the attendant the exact amount you would like to have changed but then he (or maybe a charming She) wants to give you back a “rounded sum in BGL”, so “you should give him some leva more and he would give you exact sum”. Do not buy that story and never let yourself to get lost in numerous calculations or explanations. Otherwise you should go out immediately (hope you haven’t handed your money to him in advance!) and look for another place.

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.

Credit cards - American Express, Diners Club, BankAmericard, Visa, Access, Euro card, MasterCard and Carte Blanche, among others, are accepted in Bulgaria. Many times (but NOT ALL) they can be used for the payment of standard services: hotel accommodation, restaurants, nightspots, shopping, car rentals, plane tickets, etc. Taxis do not normally accept credit cards. Detailed information for credit cards could be found on our Travel Tips page.