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Bulgaria Enforces Entry Ban On U.S. Tourists

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Bulgaria will reintroduce its entry ban on U.S tourists due to rising cases of COVID-19 in the United States. 

The move comes after the EU recommended that EU member states prohibited travelers from the United States after cases exceeded the safe threshold. 

Italy became the first EU country to introduce new restrictions on U.S travelers after the government enforced mandatory quarantine on unvaccinated American travelers and mandatory testing for all U.S travelers regardless of their vaccination status. 

The Netherlands also added a quarantine period for American tourists, even if fully vaccinated.

Although Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Italy are the first European nations to take action on the advice, travel experts expect other countries to follow suit. The news will frustrate travelers, the travel industry, and airlines on both sides of the Atlantic. 

bulgaria beaches open in 2021

The New Travel Restrictions 

The U.S Embassy in Bulgaria released the following statement, “Under the Bulgarian Ministry of Health order, countries are classified as green, orange, or red zones based on their COVID-19 risk.

COVID-19 in Sofia, Bulgaria

As of September 1, 2021, the United States will be considered a Red Zone country. That means persons arriving from the United States, regardless of their citizenship, are prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they meet an exception.” 

If U.S travelers still need to enter Bulgaria, they will have to apply for an exemption and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Bulgarian citizens or individuals with permanent or long-term residence status 
  • Citizens of the European Union
  • Medical professionals, medical researchers, social workers, and their supervisors who are traveling to Bulgaria for work purposes 
  • Foreign officials, diplomats, and technical staff of foreign missions 
  • Students holding the D study visas 
  • Foreign citizens that can receive a decree under Bulgarian Citizenship Law for gaining Bulgarian citizenship 

The new restrictions mean the Bulgarian authorities are prohibiting all non-essential travel from the United States under any circumstances. 

However, if U.S citizens are not arriving from the United States, and are coming from orange or green list countries, they can still enter Bulgaria for non-essential travel (albeit with standard restrictions depending on where travelers are departing.)

Walled city of ancient Apollonia on Black Sea

The United States isn’t the only country that Bulgaria has decided to ban non-essential travel from. Other nations include Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eswatini, Fiji, Georgia, Guatemala, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, the United States, and Zambia.

Bulgaria does have a green list, which includes Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Vatican City. All other nations are on the orange list. 

Sofia, Bulgaria

The EU’s New Guidance On Travel From The U.S

According to a statement from the EU website, “Following a review under the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on nonessential travel into the EU, the Council updated the list of countries, special administrative regions and other entities and territorial authorities for which travel restrictions should be lifted.”

EU and US flag

The EU has a safe travel list, and countries must have a stable or decreasing trend of COVID-19 cases over the previous 14 days. The E.U has removed the U.S from its safe list because of Delta variant concerns. But, the EU does review the list every two weeks. 

EU flags

Various other EU nations have implemented restrictions on American travelers recently, including Germany and the Czech Republic.

The United States has fully vaccinated more than half of its population and Bulgaria enforcing a ban on vaccinated U.S tourists is a surprise to many. 

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