Money and Banking in Bulgaria

The local currency is called the lev (official abbreviation BGN). The plural of lev is leva and the abbreviation V is normally used on price tags. 100 stotinki make up 1 lev. Coins are issued in denominations of 1,2,5,10,20 and 50 stotinki and 1 lev. Bank notes come in denominations of 2,5,10,20,50 and 100 leva, the size of the note increasing with value. A word of warning: the 1 lev coin and 100 leva note look very similar to their euro equivalent, so be very careful when receiving euro currency that you are not given leva (the lev is worth approximately half the euro).

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After the Bulgarian banking crisis in the 1990s all the banks were privatized. Today almost all the banks are owned by foreigners. The banking system is regulated by the Bulgarian National Bank, which also fixes the interest rates.

Although Bulgaria has not yet adopted the euro, the lev is pegged to it, with 1.95583 leva equal to €1 (in summer 2007 there were 2.89 leva to £1). Bulgaria is unlikely to start using the euro before (at least) 2016. However, property prices are often quoted in both euros and leva, therefore this guide uses euros for Bulgarian property prices, to help you compare with other European countries. Property deals are generally completed in leva, occasionally in euros.

Banks normally open from gam until 4pm, although some may open earlier and close slightly later.


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