The south-eastern Balkan country, Bulgaria, is known for its natural beauties, hot geysers and numerous historical monuments recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
You can enjoy the nightlife or the architecture of Sofia, ski in the resorts of Bansko, relax on the calm beaches of Varna and Nessebar or visit several monasteries in the country.
Sapareva Banya is an interesting tourist site as it is recognized as the hottest geyser in Europe, with a record temperature of 103 Â° C. The country is also known for its fields of small roses and rose oil products which, along with Turkey, account for 80 percent of global rose oil production.
Before you book your trip to the land of roses, here’s a guide to restrictions and entry requirements.
Who can travel to Bulgaria at the moment?
Holders of valid vaccination, recovery and test certificates of the green and orange country categories are allowed to travel to Bulgaria.
Currently, the green box includes Finland, Vatican City, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Malta, Sweden, France, Monaco and Portugal.
Additionally, the amber category includes all countries that are not in the green or red category and around five percent of arrivals from these areas are tested for COVID-19 with a rapid antigen test by border health authorities.
Generally speaking, unvaccinated and unhealed travelers in the green and orange category must present a COVID-19 test carried out 72 hours before departure or take a test on arrival.
In addition, all holders of EU COVID-19 digital certificates and other equivalent documents are exempt from entry restrictions when traveling to Bulgaria.
âIn the absence of the aforementioned documents, the person is quarantined for ten days at his home or in another place of accommodation where he has indicated that he will reside. the official site explains.
Arrivals from which countries are not allowed to enter Bulgaria?
Travelers arriving from countries with higher rates of COVID-19 cases and those arriving from red countries are not allowed to enter Bulgaria, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
However, under special permits granted by the Bulgarian government issued only for essential tourism, unvaccinated travelers from red countries can enter the country following these rules:
- present a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before departure and
- quarantine for ten days with the possibility of ending self-isolation by passing a 24-hour PCR test on arrival
The countries on Bulgaria’s red list are:
- Sri Lanka
- South Africa
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Dominican Republic
- St. LUCIA
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
What entry rules should you expect when traveling to Bulgaria?
All travelers arriving in Bulgaria are required to present one of the following documents:
- A vaccination certificate indicating that the holder has received one or two injections 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 Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is also considered a complete vaccination.
The vaccination certificate should include the holder’s name, date of birth, date of vaccination, COVID-19 vaccine trade and lot number, manufacturer’s name, document issuing country and name of the ‘competent authority.
- A recovery certificate proving that the holder has recovered from the Coronavirus, 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 on which the positive PCR or antigen test was carried out and the positive result of the COVID-19 test.
- A document showing the negative test result for COVID-19. PCR tests must be carried out 72 hours before departure, while RAT, 48 hours before entering the country.
Travelers from green countries who do not present an EU COVID-19 digital certificate must undergo a ten-day quarantine, with the possibility of ending it if a PCR test carried out 24 hours after arrival is negative.
For those who have recovered from the virus six months before entering the country, a PCR or antigen immunity test must be presented if they cannot provide the recovery certificate.
At least five percent of all arrivals from Orange countries will be tested at random with an antigen test. Similar to travelers from green countries, arrivals from orange countries must undergo a ten-day quarantine if they do not provide a vaccination, recovery or negative test upon arrival in Bulgaria.
“The State (territory) from which the person arrives” means the State (territory) – the point of departure of his departure, regardless of the stay associated with his transit through other countries during his displacement “ the official Bulgarian government website reads.
Bulgaria EU COVID-19 Digital Vaccination Passport
The country was among the first countries to implement the EU’s COVID-19 digital vaccination passport on June 1, a month ahead of the deadline set by the European Union.
The document was drawn up by the EU with the aim of restoring the freedom to travel and reviving tourism, which has been heavily affected by the pandemic.
The device has been fully operational since July 1, 2021 and will be effective until June 21, 2022, with the possibility of being extended if necessary. The certificate is free and anyone who has been fully vaccinated with the vaccines authorized by the EMA, recovered from the virus or tested negative can obtain 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 at the entrance Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
What is open to tourists in Bulgaria?
Wearing a mask is not compulsory in open public places; however, all people should wear a face covering when using public transportation, going to pharmacies and medical facilities.
Restaurants and bars are open with social distancing between seats enforced, but no face covering is required. On the other hand, travelers interested in visiting museums, cultural monuments, zoos or aquariums such as the UNESCO-recognized Rila Monastery should wear a medical mask and apply social distancing.
Travelers are permitted to visit cultural events, beaches, parks, gyms, spas, and shopping malls and are advised to apply social distancing.
âShopping centers and retail stores are open. Visitors are advised to keep a distance and follow the safety rules. Users and staff are advised to use protective masks and disinfectants. When using elevators, if there is no other alternative, the elevator is used with reduced capacity â, the authorities explain by also recalling that a distance of 1.5 meters must be maintained in such installations.
Travel insurance is essential for traveling to Bulgaria
Before leaving for Bulgaria, it is essential to take out travel insurance, as this country of seven million inhabitants has one of the slowest vaccination deployments in Europe, with only 1.8 million people vaccinated up to in July 2021. Travel insurance offers full or partial reimbursement of money. in the event of a flight cancellation or other inconvenience that may arise.
However, it is strongly 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 traveling to Bulgaria can be purchased cheaply from AXA Assistance, MondialCare or Europ Assistance.
Current situation of COVID-19 infections in Bulgaria
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Bulgaria has reported 38 deaths linked to the implications of COVID-19 and 828 positive cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
As of January 3, 2020, WHO data shows 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% of the Bulgarian population are vaccinated on the first shot, while 23.4% are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which means that Bulgaria has the lowest vaccination rate. in the EU.
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:
REMARK: This article was originally published on July 26. Since then it has been continuously updated with the most recent changes. The last changes to the article were made on November 17, in line with the latest updates from the Bulgarian authorities.