Bulgaria, a southeastern Balkan country, is famous for its natural beauty, hot springs and many historical monuments recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
You can enjoy either the nightlife or architecture of Sofia, ski in the resorts of Bansko, relax on the quiet beaches of Varna and Nessebar or visit the country’s many monasteries.
Sapareva Banya is an interesting tourist place as it has been recognized as the most important geyser in Europe, with a record temperature of 103°C. The country is also famous for its small fields and rose oil production having produced 80 percent of the world’s rose oil production with Turkey.
Before you book your trip to the Land of Roses, here’s a guide on entry restrictions and requirements to expect.
Who can travel to Bulgaria now?
Holders of valid vaccination, recovery and test certificates from the category of green and orange countries are allowed to travel to Bulgaria.
At present, the green category includes Finland, Vatican City, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Malta, Sweden, France, Monaco and Portugal.
Furthermore, the orange category consists of all countries that are not in the green or red category, and about 5 percent of arrivals from these areas are tested for the COVID-19 virus with a rapid antigen test by border health authorities.
In general, green and orange non-vaccinated, non-exempt travelers are required to submit a COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to departure or a test on arrival.
Furthermore, all holders of EU COVID-19 digital certificates and other equivalent documents are exempted from entry restrictions when traveling to Bulgaria.
The official website states that “in the absence of the above-mentioned documents, the person must be isolated for ten days at home or in another place of residence where he indicated that he will reside.”
Coming from countries that are not allowed to enter Bulgaria?
Travelers from countries with the highest rates of COVID-19 cases and those arriving from red countries are not allowed to enter Bulgaria, TheSchengen.com reports.
However, under special permits granted by the Bulgarian government issued only for essential tourism, unvaccinated travelers coming from red countries can enter the country by following the following rules:
Submit a negative PCR test performed 72 hours prior to departure and quarantine for ten days with the possibility of ending self-isolation by taking a 24 hour PCR test upon arrival
The countries on Bulgaria’s red list are:
Bangladesh Myanmar Bhutan Sri Lanka Maldives South Africa Botswana Tanzania Seychelles Namibia Zambia Oman Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Mongolia Chile Uruguay Brazil Paraguay Bolivia Suriname Panama Costa Rica Guatemala Belize Belize El Salvador Cuba Dominican Republic Fiji Saint Lucia Saint Kitts and Nevis Georgia Romania Grenada Barbados United Kingdom Lithuania Latvia Estonia Romania Slovenia Croatia Slovakia Ukraine Moldova What entry rules should I expect when traveling to Bulgaria?
All travelers arriving in Bulgaria are required to present one of the following documents:
Vaccination certificate indicating that the holder has received a dose or shot of vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Janssen). The combination of one dose of AstraZeneca with a second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is considered a completed vaccination.
The vaccination certificate must include the holder’s name, date of birth, date of vaccination, trade and batch number of the COVID-19 vaccine, the name of the manufacturer, the country of issue of the document, and the name of the competent authority.
A recovery certificate certifying that the bearer has recovered from the Corona virus 11 to 180 days before the trip.
This document must indicate the name of the holder, the name of the medical authority that examined the holder, the date of the positive PCR or antigen test and the positive result of the COVID-19 test.
Document showing negative test result for COVID-19. PCR tests should be done 72 hours before departure, while RAT, 48 hours before entering the country.
Travelers from green countries that do not present an EU COVID-19 digital certificate must undergo a ten-day quarantine, with the possibility of termination if a PCR test taken 24 hours after their arrival is negative.
For those who recovered from the virus six months before entering the country, a PCR test or antigen immunity test must be submitted if they cannot provide a recovery certificate.
At least five percent of all arrivals from orange countries will be randomly tested using an antigen test. Just like travelers from green countries, arrivals from orange countries must be quarantined for ten days if they do not submit a vaccination, recovery or negative test upon arrival in Bulgaria.
“The state (territory) from which the person arrives” means the state (territory) – the starting point of his departure, regardless of the residence associated with their transit through other countries during their movement ”, the official website of the Bulgarian government reads.
Bulgarian digital passport for COVID-19 vaccination
The country was among the first to implement the EU’s COVID-19 vaccination digital passport on June 1, a month before the EU deadline.
The document was drawn up by the European Union in an effort to restore freedom of travel and revive tourism, which has been greatly affected by the pandemic.
The scheme has been in full operation since July 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until June 21, 2022, with the possibility of an extension if necessary. Certification is free, and anyone who has been fully vaccinated with EMA approved vaccines, recovered from the virus, or tested negative is eligible to get one.
Bulgaria has so far approved the use of the following vaccines: Pfizer / BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Janssen and Moderna. In addition to these four, Bulgaria also accepts entry to Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
What is open to tourists in Bulgaria?
Wearing a mask is not mandatory in open public places; However, all people must wear a face covering when using public transportation and visiting pharmacies and medical institutions.
Restaurants and bars are open, with social distancing between seating applied but no face coverings required. On the other hand, travelers interested in visiting museums, cultural attractions, zoos or aquariums such as the UNESCO-recognized Rila Monastery should wear a medical face mask and apply social distancing.
Travelers are allowed to visit cultural events, beaches, parks, gyms, spas and shopping malls and social distancing is advised.
“Shopping malls and retail facilities are open. Visitors are advised to maintain distance and follow safety rules. Users and employees are advised to use protective masks and disinfectants. When using elevators, when there is no other alternative, the elevator is used at reduced capacity”, the authorities explain by also reminding that Maintain a distance of 1.5 meters in such facilities.
Travel insurance is a must when traveling to Bulgaria
Before taking off to Bulgaria, purchasing travel insurance is essential since the country of seven million has one of the slowest vaccinations in Europe, with only 1.8 million people vaccinated as of July 2021. Travel insurance offers full or partial refund of money in In case of flight cancellation or any other inconveniences that may occur.
However, it is highly recommended that the traveler check all entry restrictions and requirements before traveling to Bulgaria as visiting the country against travel restrictions will reduce the chances of a refund.
Travel insurance protection for travel to Bulgaria can be purchased at cheap rates from AXA Assistance, MondialCare or Europ Assistance.
Current status of COVID-19 infection in Bulgaria
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Bulgaria has reported 38 deaths linked to the effects of COVID-19 and 828 cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
Since January 3, 2020, WHO data revealed that 658,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 26,555 deaths have been reported in Bulgaria.
Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows that 25.7 percent of the population in Bulgaria has been vaccinated with the first injection, while 23.4 percent have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning that Bulgaria has the lowest vaccination rate in the European Union. .
Are you planning to visit other EU countries? Here’s what to expect
If you are planning to visit other European countries this winter, the following guides explain everything you need to know before booking your trip:
Note: This article was originally published on July 26. Since then, it has been constantly updated with the latest changes. The last changes to the article were made on November 17, in line with the latest updates from the Bulgarian authorities.