One of the most culturally diverse countries in Europe, with centuries of History encompassing several empires, from the Greeks to Slavic to Ottoman powers, Bulgaria is a bucket list destination for many. From its metropolitan capital of Sofia, which features both sky-high buildings and classical European architecture, to the Bulgarian Riviera, this Eastern Balkan country truly has a lot to offer.
Here, you will find all the latest Covid entry requirements for Bulgaria and all other information travelers must know before booking their trip:
Entry Requirements For Countries Permitted To Visit Bulgaria For Tourism
COVID-19 Testing Entry Requirements
After enforcing an entry ban on American visitors in 2021, Bulgaria is again ready to receive tourists arriving from the United States and several other countries worldwide. And what is best: both vaccinated, and unvaccinated Americans are now eligible to visit Bulgaria, which has adopted simpler entry requirements in line with the rest of the European Union.
As of February 1, Americans must present one of the following in order to enter Bulgaria:
- A Covid vaccination certificate;
- Evidence of previous Covid infection and subsequent recovery;
- A negative Covid test: if opting for a PCR, travelers must observe a 72-hour pre-arrival testing window; when choosing rapid antigen tests, they must not be older than 48 hours before the border crossing.
Bulgaria has a color-coded system in place for classifying countries and their epidemiological risks as green, orange, red, or dark red. Even though the United States is on the red list, along with the United Kingdom and many other non-EU states, entry is still allowed for these countries’ citizens so long as they are able to satisfy border officials with the above documentation, as per the new Health Order.
On the other hand, those traveling from dark red zones are required to present both a vaccination certificate and a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before arrival, irrespective of nationality. Currently, other EU and EU-associated countries on Bulgaria’s dark red list include Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Thus, when traveling to Bulgaria from these other European destinations Americans must follow dark red zone list rules.
Quarantine Entry Requirements
When it comes to quarantine mandates, travelers from the United States and Canada are granted entry into Bulgaria without the need to self-isolate so long as they present one of the documents list above. When it comes to vaccination certificates, they must contain the same data as the EU Digital Covid Certificate, which generally include an individual’s name, birth date, vaccine batch and manufacturer, and date of vaccination.
This means that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CC) Vaccination Record Card isaccepted as valid proof for entry. However, travelers should note the EU as a whole, which includes Bulgaria, has recently set a 9-month validity period for two-dose or one-dose vaccination courses. Now, in order to have their certificates extended and continue to enjoy unlimited travel, Americans require a booster dose.
Validity Of Travel Documents
Below, you will find all the relevant information pertaining to the validity of Covid travel documents to Bulgaria:
- Two-dose certificates are valid from the 15th to the 270th day after the second dose was received;
- Proof of a booster/third dose for two-dose programs, or a Johnson & Johnson/Janssen booster extends the validity of a vaccination certificate indefinitely, at least for now;
- A COVID-19 Certificate of Recovery is accepted from the 11th to the 180th day after a positive test was documented.
When unvaccinated and attempting to travel to Bulgaria, Americans and Canadians, as well as any other non-Bulgarian and EU nationals, must arrange pre-departure tests. Those arriving in Bulgaria without the necessary documentation risk being denied entry or being quarantined for 10 days, with the possibility of ending the isolation period earlier if a test is taken at least 72 hours after arrival. Regardless, Americans should not attempt to visit Bulgaria without one of the papers listed.
There is, at present, no specific health form or pre-departure passenger locator form/registration required for those traveling to Bulgaria, as can be verified on the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Recently, other EU and EU-partner countries like Ireland and Norway also scrapped the Covid-era forms, meaning Americans can now travel to a much less bureaucratic Europe.
COVID-19 Travel Insurance Entry Requirements
Similarly to health forms, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes no mention of travel insurance covering Covid as a requirement for travel. Regardless, we advise all our readers to purchase travel insurance before going abroad, especially during these uncertain times. With HeyMondo’s comprehensive coverage, travelers do not have to worry about flight cancelations, quarantine costs, or even Covid treatment needed while abroad.
And, with the strict travel policies of countries like the United States and Canada, those returning home to America may even find themselves stranded, and with mounting costs, if prevented from flying due to a positive Covid test. It goes without saying that, even though no travel is risk-free in the world we are living in, being insured can at least give travelers some peace of mind.
COVID-19 Health Requirements While in Bulgaria
Even though being vaccinated is not a prerequisite for travel to Bulgaria, there may be restrictions that apply to non-immunized individuals once inside the country:
- As of October 2021, all those aged 18 and over must present a Covid certificate (vaccination record, recovery letter, or negative PCR/antigen not older than 72 hours and 48 hours, respectively) in order to access all public spaces (restaurants, cafés, cinemas, gyms, shopping centers, hotels, museums etc);
- Masks are mandatory in all public spaces and open public spaces where there is a crowd and physical distance of at least 1.5m cannot be enforced;
- Group gatherings, including celebrations, are limited to 15 people when held indoors, and 30 when outdoors.
On the other hand, all shops and tourist facilities remain open across the country, and there are also no curfews in place anywhere in Bulgaria, or restrictions on inter-city travel.
COVID-19 Vaccine Entry Requirements
While travelers do not need to be specifically vaccinated to visit Bulgaria, when unable to produce a vaccination certificate they must present a PCR test issued within 72 hours of crossing the border. Or, if undertaking a rapid antigen test instead, the testing window is shortened to 48 hours.
The testing period is counted backwards from the planned border crossing, and not from the moment of embarkation. Once in Bulgaria, a Covid certificate, either valid vaccine passport, recovery paper, or successive tests, are needed for entry into most establishments.
Visa Entry Requirements For Bulgaria During COVID-19
Bulgaria has maintained its usual pre-pandemic visa regulations, which means travelers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and numerous other nations can enter visa-free. They are allowed to remain in Bulgarian territory for 90 days in any 180-day period, with arrival counting as day 1 and date of departure counting as the very last day.
Visits to EU countries in the Schengen Area do not count towards the 90-day limit, as Bulgaria is not yet a member of Schengen. Any time spent in fellow non-Schengen EU countries such as Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania also do not count towards either the Schengen Zone’s own 90-day limit or Bulgaria’s. In order to stay longer in the country, Americans are advised to obtain a long-stay visa in advance.
American and Canadian travelers, as well as other non-EU citizens, are also require to have a passport valid for at least 3 more months after the date of planned departure from the Republic of Bulgaria. Non-compliance with these rules may result in difficulties when landing in, or leaving the country, especially for those who overstay their 3-month tourist visa.
Bulgaria Covid-19 Entry Requirements
- Ensure that the passport is valid for more than 3 months following the date of intended departure;
- Have either a valid vaccination certificate which contains data similar to the European Union’s own Covid Digital Certificate, a negative PCR (taken 72 hours prior to arrival) or rapid antigen test (48 hours), or a certificate of recovery issued before 180 days have elapsed since infection;
- For those vaccinated, certify that the original vaccination certificate was issued in the last 9 months, or then arrange to have a booster at least two weeks before traveling;
- If arriving from a Dark Red Zone, present both a vaccination card and a negative PCR test;
- Be able to satisfy border authorities with any documents proving you are a genuine visitor and will not seek to overstay your visa, such as a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds during your stay.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com