Important COVID-19 travel guidance
Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not leave home or travel, including internationally, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. Check the rules that apply to you in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you intend to travel to England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland 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.
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 information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Bulgaria
UK and other non-Bulgarian nationals arriving to Bulgaria from a journey starting in the UK (travelling either by direct or indirect means) are currently not permitted entry to Bulgaria for non-essential purposes due to an ongoing travel ban on arrivals from the UK imposed by an Ordinance from the Bulgarian Ministry of Health and EU-wide COVID-19 restrictions. Some forms of essential travel are still permitted.
Those permitted to travel include UK and other third-country nationals who are legally resident in Bulgaria and their immediate family members who ordinarily reside with them. Travel from the UK by Bulgarian citizens and their non-Bulgarian immediate family members is also permitted, but you will be required to carry with you documentation to demonstrate how you qualify for an exemption from the travel ban.
If you are exempt from the ongoing travel ban (which only covers those starting their journey in the UK), you may be eligible to enter the country, but will need to show proof of residence, with a valid visa or residence permit or equivalent document and documentary proof of relationship status (if you are travelling as an immediate family member of a Bulgarian Citizen or resident). Even if you are permitted to board a flight or other form of transport to Bulgaria, failure to satisfactorily demonstrate to the Frontier Police how you qualify for an exemption from the travel ban could result in denial of entry and a requirement to return to the UK at your own expense.
If you are travelling on a British passport and are arriving from a third country where you reside, you may not be subject to the travel ban on arrivals from the UK. Be prepared to demonstrate - using documentary evidence (proof of residence in a third-country, boarding passes, journey details) - that you started your journey in a third-country. The Frontier Police set a high evidential threshold, and you may encounter difficulties in entering the country if you are unable to satisfactorily demonstrate that your journey did not originate in the UK.
Immediate family members are restricted to the following categories: wife, husband, or a person you live with in a relationship akin to marriage; and dependent children under the age of 18 years of age. You will be expected to show documentation to prove relationship status (eg birth or marriage certificate) if you are not in possession of a Bulgarian residence permit.
The temporary ban on entry is in force at all air, road, rail and sea border crossings into Bulgaria on travellers arriving from the UK, both by direct and indirect routes of travel.
In addition to those exemptions set out above, a small number of other categories of travellers deemed to be travelling for essential purposes are also exempt from the travel ban. These include medical professionals; those travelling for humanitarian purposes; some seasonal workers; and some travellers undertaking trade and investment activities. Staff engaged in international passenger transport and haulage are also exempt from the travel ban. The travel ban on arrivals from the UK is currently anticipated to remain in place until 31 January 2021.
Further information on the full range of exemptions is available on the following Bulgarian Government web site (in Bulgarian). If you fall into one of the exempted categories, you should contact your travel operator in advance of travel for further information on how to demonstrate your exemption from the travel ban.
Many land borders crossings in the region are restricted or closed for passenger traffic. Furthermore, neighbouring countries are implementing additional health requirements for entry to or departure from Bulgaria including declarations and COVID-19 tests. You should check the relevant FCDO Travel Advice.
If you need to travel, plan ahead and before you travel check border information published by the Ministry of Interior (English and Bulgarian) before you travel.
All arrivals to Bulgaria from the UK, with some exceptions (see below), are required to provide evidence of a PCR test with a negative result undertaken up-to 72 hours before arrival. You should carry a hard-copy certificate showing your negative PCR test result when you travel. You will be required to show it upon entry to Bulgaria, and may need to surrender it to officials upon arrival. You should bring a spare copy for your own records. Check the list of UK private providers of Coronavirus testing and make arrangements for your test in good time. It may not be possible to secure a test at short notice. There is no exemption set out in the Bulgarian Ministry of Health Ordinance for children or infants.
Bulgarian citizens, residents, and their immediate family members may opt to undertake a mandatory 10-day quarantine period upon arrival to Bulgaria in lieu of providing evidence of a negative PCR test result. This quarantine will be overseen by the Regional Health Authority for the region where you reside. You will be required to provide an address where you will stay for the full 10-day period and should expect checks to be made to ensure that you are complying with the terms of the quarantine in full. Fines and even a prison sentence can be imposed on those found to have broken the quarantine requirement.
A very small number of travellers are exempted from both the quarantine requirement, and the need to provide evidence of a negative PCR test. These include people transiting through Bulgaria and hauliers and transport crew members of vessels or aircraft who do not remain in Bulgaria following their work-related duties.
If you’re travelling to Bulgaria from or via another country, you may still be subject to quarantine measures and/or may need to provide evidence of a negative PCR test undertaken no-longer than 72 hours before arrival. Check the latest information on the Ministry of Interior website (English and Bulgarian).
Regular entry requirements
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed from 1 January 2021:
you can travel to Bulgaria for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit for family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
visits to other EU or Schengen countries do not count towards your 90-day limit in Bulgaria as it is not in the Schengen area. Visits to Bulgaria do not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit in the Schengen area
to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Bulgarian government’s entry requirements. Check with the Bulgarian Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need
if you stay in Bulgaria with a visa or permit, your stay does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Bulgaria before 1 January 2021 does not count towards the 90-day visa-free limit.
At Bulgarian border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.
You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Bulgaria. If you are resident in Bulgaria, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see our Living in Bulgaria guide.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Bulgaria.