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Currency, payments and foreign exchange
The official monetary unit in the Republic of Bulgaria is called the LEV. As since 1997 the country has been in the conditions of a currency board, the Lev was attached to the German Mark (at a fixed exchange 1 Lev for 1 DM) and since 1st January 2002 the Lev is attached to the Euro. Through the cross rates of all other currencies, foreigners and Bulgarian citizens willing to exchange foreign currency can easily compute the respective value of their money.
The Leva in Bulgaria are of emissions not earlier than 1999. The following coins are in circulation:
The above mentioned coins are of yellow metal.
These coins are made of white metal. The value of one stotinka amounts to 0.01 of 1 Lev.
The Bulgarian paper notes comprise the following denominations:
1 Lev, with the effigy of St. Ivan Rilski;
2 Leva, with the effigy of Paissii Hilendarski;
5 Leva, with the effigy of Ivan Milev;
10 Leva, with the effigy of Dr. Peter Beron
20 Leva, with the effigy of Stefan Stambolov
50 Leva, with the effigy of Pencho Slaveikov
Currency may be exchanged in all Bulgarian banks from Mondays through Fridays in the regular working hours without any commission charged.
A lower bank exchange rate is quoted a rule by the exchange bureaus at the major hotels, railway stations, bus stations, maritime ports, and international airports. Money can be exchanged also in the numerous private exchange bureaus, some of which are open through the week round, and others operate non-stop.
Payments in the Republic of Bulgaria are effected only in Leva or in Leva equivalent. In larger resorts and at places authorised to effect foreign exchange, certain payments may be effected in foreign currency. There are shops selling only for foreign currency and duty free shops at the border checkpoints and in the tax-free zones of the country.
As a rule every article in a shop (selling in Leva or foreign currency) must have a price tag. Bargaining over prices is not customary in Bulgaria. The bargaining habit known from markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia may be done only on the free private market, on flea markets, and in wholesale trade - on commodity markets, ramp-side trade or auctions.
The main international credit cards can be used in the country. In every major town there are cash dispensers (Bancomats) at the larger banks. A growing number of services can be paid for with credit cards - mainly hotel bills, tickets of large agencies, luxury shops and restaurants, vacation costs, certain more expensive souvenirs, etc. Bulgarian citizens or residents may pay with debit or credit cards pay for their phone, central heating, water supply bills, as well as for big purchases, cellular phone bills or Internet service, etc.