Important COVID-19 Travel
Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not travel, including abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.
If you intend to travel to the UK from abroad, including UK nationals returning home, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. If you do not comply (and you do not have a valid exemption) your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding and/or you may be fined on arrival.
When you enter England from abroad (except Ireland), you must follow the new requirements for quarantining and taking additional COVID-19 tests. For those travelling from a country on the banned travel list you will be required to quarantine in a hotel. Different rules apply for arrivals into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you are legally permitted to travel abroad, check our advice on your country of destination. Some other countries have closed borders, and may further restrict movement or bring in new rules including testing requirements with little warning.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to:
- The whole of Bulgaria based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
Travel to Bulgaria is subject to entry restrictions
From 29 January 2021, the temporary travel ban on all passengers arriving from the UK, travelling for non-essential purposes, will be lifted. This means that passengers arriving from the UK can now enter Bulgaria without needing to show evidence of residency.
Travel to Bulgaria remains subject to entry restrictions. All arrivals to Bulgaria must show evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result upon arrival in Bulgaria (undertaken up to 72 hours before arrival) although some travellers (Bulgarian residents, including foreign citizens with residency permits, and their family members) can opt for a quarantine of 10 days on arrival in lieu of a PCR test. Exemptions to the negative COVID-19 test requirement include bus and lorry drivers, aircraft or vessel crews, border workers and those transiting through Bulgaria.
From 2 February 2021, the 10 day quarantine on arrival, in lieu of a PCR test for people legally resident in Bulgaria, can be shortened if they present a negative PCR test performed within 24 hours of arriving in Bulgaria. The quarantine requirement will be revoked within 24 hours of submitting the document demonstrating the negative PCR test result. For further details on this process, see the Entry requirements page.
Many land border crossings in the region are also restricted or closed for passenger traffic.
See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel.
Preparing for your return journey to the UK
If you’re returning to the UK from overseas, you will need to:
- provide your journey and contact details before you travel
- check if you need to self-isolate on your return
If your return journey to the UK transits another country, you should check whether it is subject to a travel ban or any other additional requirements. If so, contact your travel provider.
Check our advice on foreign travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and sign up for email alerts for this travel advice.
If you’re planning travel to Bulgaria, find out what you need to know about coronavirus there in the Coronavirus section.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
For information about COVID-19 vaccines, see the Coronavirus page.
There are rules about taking food and drink into the EU. See Taking food and drink into the EU for further information.
Sporadic protests occur across Bulgaria. You should avoid all protests, keep up to date with media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities. Such protests can become violent without warning and are best avoided. There are often protests against the Government in Sofia city centre, around the National Assembly and President’s buildings, that should be avoided.
Be aware of pickpockets, bag thefts and street attacks on visitors in city centres and coastal resorts especially in crowded areas like buses, trains and busy streets. There has been an increase in thefts on the bus from Nessebar to Sunny Beach. Keep valuables in a safe. See Crime
There are regular reports of robberies and threatening behaviour by taxi drivers in Sunny Beach. There has also been an increase in the number of unlicensed taxis from Sofia airport overcharging passengers. If you’re travelling from the airport, make sure you take an official, licensed taxi. There is an official taxi rank in the arrivals hall. See Local travel
Terrorist attacks in Bulgaria can’t be ruled out. On 30 December 2016, the Bulgarian authorities announced heightened security measures in all cities, winter ski resorts, and places where large gatherings are expected. See Terrorism
There have been reports of holidaymakers being encouraged to submit a claim for personal injury if they have experienced gastric illness during their stay. You can find more information about the action you can take if you have suffered a personal injury on the Citizens Advice website. You should only consider pursuing a complaint or claim if you have genuinely suffered from injury or illness. If you make a false or fraudulent claim, you may face legal proceedings in the UK or Bulgaria.
If you’re living in or moving to Bulgaria, visit our Living in Bulgaria guide in addition to this travel advice.
If you need to contact the emergency services in Bulgaria call 112. English speaking operators are available. See Health
Carry a copy of the information pages of your passport at all times as proof of identity.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.