This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Bulgaria set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact their embassy, high commission or consulate. You may also check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are travelling to Bulgaria for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Bulgaria
From 1 July 2021, Bulgaria introduced a new system for classifying travellers arriving in the country based on green, orange and red zones. Since 19 July 2021, the UK has been categorised as a ‘red zone’ country. Children under the age of 12 years old, are exempt from the requirement to present COVID-19 documents irrespective of which country they arrive from.
From 10 October 2021, entry restrictions for UK nationals travelling to Bulgaria have been eased. UK nationals (and their family members) travelling from the UK, a European Union member state, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are allowed to enter Bulgaria. They must provide the following COVID-19 documentation:
- a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours before entry - this should include name, date of birth, details of the medical institution and date and time of the sample in English.
- a vaccination certificate (Bulgaria will accept either certificate of completion of a two dose vaccine course (Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, 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 prior to arrival; or
- a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 (either PCR or rapid antigen test dated at least 11 days, but no more than 180 days, before arrival into Bulgaria, in English).
Children aged 12 to 18 arriving from a ‘red zone’ country must present a negative PCR test only on arrival to Bulgaria.
If on arrival you cannot show a vaccination certificate or certificate of recovery in addition to a negative PCR test, you will be required to complete a mandatory 10-day self-isolation. Bulgarian nationals and permanent and long-term residents (including UK nationals), as well as their family members, can shorten the 10-day self-isolation period if they present a negative PCR test within 24 hours of arrival. The quarantine will be revoked within 24 hours after the submission of the document showing a negative result of the PCR test.
The document showing a negative result of the PCR should be submitted to the respective Regional Health Inspectorate. See a full list with their contacts (in Bulgarian only).
From 1 September 2021, foreign students holding a type ‘D’ visa for long-term residence for study purposes are eligible to enter Bulgaria, subject to holding the COVID-19 documentation detailed above.
Family members are defined by Bulgaria’s immigration rules, and include:
- Husband, Wife or common law partner
- Children under 18. This includes stepchildren of either parent and those adopted. Can also include older children up to 21 years old who are in full time education
- There are also provisions under the rules for other family members who are normally part of the household who are reliant on the resident or Bulgarian national for care and/or accommodation
It is advisable to bring documentation to demonstrate the family relationship. Family members travelling separately may be turned away without documentary proof.
The measures are in force at all air, road, rail and sea border crossings into Bulgaria.
Exemptions, regardless of nationality, to the entry restrictions in Bulgaria for travellers from UK (and other red list countries) include medical workers, state officials and diplomats, persons traveling for humanitarian reasons, seasonal and tourist workers etc. Other categories of people who can enter Bulgaria without the need to submit documents for COVID-19 include: bus and lorry drivers, crews of vessels and aircraft, border workers, those transiting through the country, students who live in Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Romania or The Republic of North Macedonia and travel daily or at least once a week to Bulgaria for training purposes, travellers between Bulgaria and Romania and between Bulgaria and Czech Republic.
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.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 status
Bulgaria will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. 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.
If you need to self-isolate on arrival to Bulgaria and are eligible to shorten this, please check the list of places offering PCR testing in Bulgaria. It is available here in Bulgarian.
You should submit the document showing a negative result of the PCR test to the respective Regional Health Inspectorate.
Regular entry requirements
From 1 January 2021, the rules for travelling or working in European countries changed:
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 residence permit or long-stay visa, this 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.
Make sure your passport is:
- valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Bulgaria
- less than 10 years old
The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.
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 minimum 3 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.