Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Bulgaria on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Travel

Direct and indirect commercial flights between the UK and Bulgaria continue to operate, but at a reduced level. Flights to regional airports are particularly affected.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Bulgaria.

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

The Bulgarian authorities have issued a list of COVID-19 test centres in locations across Bulgaria (only available in Bulgarian).

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Public spaces and services

An Emergency Epidemic situation is in place until 31 March 2022. Various coronavirus measures and restrictions remain in force during this time.

The police are strictly enforcing measures and failure to comply could result in a fine.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be required to self-isolate for 10 days. Additionally, there is a mandatory 7-day self-isolation requirement (starting from the date of last contact with the infected person) for anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. During self-isolation you are not permitted to leave Bulgaria.

The 7-day mandatory self-isolation period for close contacts may be revoked for close contacts who are vaccinated with a booster dose and who present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours after the mandatory self-isolation period commenced. You must submit the negative PCR test result by e-mail to the relevant Regional Health Inspectorate. You should await their decision before taking action; this is usually received within around 24 hours from submission.

Wearing a face mask is mandatory in all indoor public spaces and all outdoor spaces where it is not possible to maintain a social distance of at least 1.5 metres. Face shields, scarfs or other face coverings are not permitted in place of a face mask.

Exceptions to this measure include:

  • those exercising outdoors/indoors;
  • children under six years old;
  • customers at dining and drinking establishments; and
  • speakers at conferences, congresses, etc

You are required to present a COVID-19 certificate in order to visit the following indoor venues:

  • restaurants and bars;
  • cinemas, theatres, museums, concerts, galleries;
  • conferences, seminars, training;
  • universities, language centres;
  • gyms, swimming pools, SPA centres, sports competitions;
  • hotels, organised tours; and
  • shopping malls and shops with a retail area of over 300 sq.m, with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, pet stores, postal and courier service providers, insurers, payment service providers and telecommunications operators’ offices

In order to enter one of the above establishments you must present one of the following COVID-19 documents:

  • a vaccination certificate. Bulgaria will accept either certificate of completion of a two dose vaccine course (Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Moderna, Covishield, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik) or a certificate of receipt of a one dose vaccine (Janssen, Johnson & Johnson). In both cases immunization must have been completed 14 days before; or
  • a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 (either PCR or rapid antigen test dated at least 11 days, but no more than 365 days, old in English) or an antibody test performed in Bulgaria. See here for further details; or
  • a negative PCR test certificate performed within 72 hours or negative rapid antigen test (RAT) taken no more than 48 hours before entry to the venue – this should include name, date of birth, details of the medical institution and date and time of the sample in English.

For domestic purposes only children under 18 are exempt from the requirement to present any of the above mentioned documents.

Bulgaria will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record and proof of COVID-19 vaccination issued in the Crown Dependencies. Your final vaccine dose must have been administered at least 14 days prior to travel. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

The additional following measures are currently in force:

  • In Sofia, restaurants, gambling halls and entertainment establishments will operate with limited working hours until 10 pm, using up to 50% of their venue capacity
  • mass events such as festivals, fairs, concerts, and team buildings will be suspended
  • private gatherings and celebrations, including weddings, baptisms and funerals, can be attended by no more than 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors
  • indoor team sports are suspended, with the exception of training and competitions for registered athletes at licensed sports federations
  • sports competitions for all age groups can be held without spectators. Spectators can attend if they present the required COVID-19 documentation
  • parks and gardens remain open, visitors must maintain a social distance of 1.5 metres, not use alcohol and follow any other instructions from local authorities
  • visits to national parks and mountains are now permitted as long as visitors can maintain a social distance of 1.5 metres.

Children’s nurseries and kindergartens are open. Schools will switch to online learning in areas where COVID-19 cases exceed an incidence rate of 750 per 100,000 over a 14 day period. University attendance requires demonstration of the required COVID-19 documentation.

In-person classes for adults in language and training centres will be suspended. In-person classes for children in language and training centres will be allowed with a limited capacity of maximum 5 people. Visitors must maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres and wear a face mask. However, visits to children’s centres and clubs will be suspended. Visiting children’s playgrounds and facilities both indoors and outdoors is permitted.

Travel in Bulgaria

Travel to/from airport or other port of arrival

There are no restrictions on travel between cities. There are no longer any police checkpoints and it is not necessary to present a declaration giving the reason(s) for travelling between cities or to the airport.

Road

Restrictions apply at many European land borders, including with Bulgaria, which affect road and rail travel. You should check the travel advice for any countries through which you are considering travel before you depart.

Healthcare in Bulgaria

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Bulgaria

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Bulgaria

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Bulgaria announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Bulgarian national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccines. British nationals resident in Bulgaria are eligible for vaccination. There are two parts to the Bulgarian rollout programme:

  • the National Vaccination Plan, which is proceeding to vaccinate the population according to priority groups; and
  • the Mass Vaccination Scheme “green corridor”, which operates intermittently, as supplies allow.

UK nationals resident in Bulgaria will be offered a vaccination against COVID-19 at the same time as Bulgarian citizens under the provisions of the National Vaccination Plan. They can also put themselves forward as part of the “green corridor” scheme that allows hospitals and clinics to vaccinate all those who wish to come forward, regardless of age or priority grouping. Mobile vaccination buses are also being deployed in a number of areas around the country for ease of access under the ‘green corridor’ scheme.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Health has recommended the administration of a booster dose to the following risk groups of the population:

  • immunocompromised persons:
  • persons in care homes
  • medical staff with a high risk of infection
  • persons over 65 years of age
  • persons who have not developed sufficient immunity one month after the completion of the vaccination.

Booster jabs are available through the Bulgarian public health system and can be administered to all citizens at their discretion, not only the above-mentioned risk groups, at least 3 months after the completion of the vaccination, and for persons who have not developed sufficient immunity – one month after the completion of the vaccination.

Details of these and official information on the Bulgarian vaccination programme is available on Bulgaria’s coronavirus website (in Bulgarian).

Bulgarian Health authorities have announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be administered to women under the age of 60 who are at risk of thrombosis, at the discretion of their GPs. Those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to either receive a second dose of the same vaccine or receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but not earlier than 84 days after the first shot. Those who have received a first dose, but in the meantime became infected with the coronavirus, can receive the second dose no earlier than 6 months after the laboratory confirmation the diagnosis. Those who have recovered from coronavirus, can be vaccinated no earlier than 3 months after the laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis.

On 18 May 2021, Bulgaria’s Health Ministry outlined the procedure to fix inaccuracies in COVID-19 vaccination certificates. Citizens who find discrepancies in their issued certificates (wrong name, date of vaccination, identification number, address, etc.) must send a formal request to the vaccination centre where they received the jab or to the relevant Regional Health Inspectorate, for the region where the vaccination centre is located. The request can be freely worded and should contain the vaccine recipient’s full name, contact details, information about the vaccines administered, as well as a detailed description of the error. If necessary, copies of relevant documentation can be attached. See here for a full list of the Regional Health Inspectorates and their contact details. In cases where the names in the vaccination certificate are misspelled, the errors can also be reported directly to the Ministry of Health by sending an email to mhcallcenter@mh.government.bg with an attached copy of the vaccination certificate and the correct spelling of the names.

Bulgaria has approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for anyone 12 years and above, which are available through the ‘green corridor’ scheme. Bulgaria has approved a reduced dose version of Pfizer-BioNTech for 5 -11 year olds. Not all vaccination centres in Bulgaria are able to vaccinate 5 -11 year olds, a list of centres where this is possible is available online. If you are considering a vaccination for somebody in this age group, you should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider.

Bulgaria’s Health Ministry has approved the EU Digital COVID certificate. From 4 June 2021, all citizens who have already received their certificate will be able to download the document in the new European format on the National Health Information System website without the need to present an electronic signature. In order to obtain the certificate, citizens need to enter their personal identification number, ID card number and the reference number of one of the two vaccines they received. The vaccine reference numbers can be found in the lower left corner on the existing certificates. Foreign citizens will have to fill in their personal number and the number of their permanent residence document, respectively.

Citizens who haven’t received their certificate yet, can obtain it either through the National Health Information System with an electronic signature, at the vaccination centre where they received their jabs, or through their GP. The document can also be saved as a PDF file, which allows it to be printed later or stored on a mobile device.

The process for correcting any errors on the EU compliant versions is still though the Regional Health Inspectorates as detailed above. There is an agreed six week grace period where older versions can be used within the EU, but it is advised that travellers check the current travel advice for their chosen destination before arriving.

Residence can be demonstrated by using either your Bulgarian residence permit or passport along with another form of documentation showing that you are legally resident in Bulgaria, such as a tenancy agreement, S1 social security document or similar.

National Vaccination Plan

To participate in the national vaccination plan, you should make sure that you are registered with a GP/family doctor and ensure that they are aware that you wish to be vaccinated. The family doctor can let you know when the vaccine will be provided under the relevant phase.

Mass Vaccination Scheme (‘green corridor’)

The ‘green corridor’ scheme is designed to facilitate mass vaccination when vaccine supply permits. To participate, check the list of all participating medical establishments.

If you would like to participate in the scheme, visit Bulgaria’s coronavirus website to register. Currently, the platform is available only in Bulgarian. The registration process requires users enter their personal identification data, to select their preferred vaccine, vaccination centre and time slot. Permanent and long-term residents in Bulgaria can use their ‘personal number of a foreign national’ (ЛНЧ – личен номер на чужденец) in order to register.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad. If you’re a British national living in Bulgaria, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Further information

The Bulgarian Ministry of Health has published information (in Bulgarian) and has set up a hotline +359 2 807 87 57.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.