Vaccination in Bulgaria is recommended but not compulsory.
On the weekend of 20th February, Bulgaria opened a 'green corridor' (anyone resident in Bulgaria, over 18 who wants to) for vaccination. Initially it was only at the main hospitals and outside of weekday working hours, but it is expected to extend to certain times during the weekday and eventually also cover GP practices where people can register online for their vaccines. At the moment there is no choice of vaccine within the green corridor. Health authorities in Bulgaria are considering setting up round-the-clock offices in major cities, as well as deploying mobile teams for people with limited mobility, for administering vaccinations against Covid-19 given the huge interest.
If you have had the virus it is advisable to test for antibodies before vaccination.
It is important to note that if you experience any of the symptoms of the Coronavirus it is actually recommended not to get tested (because there is a risk of infecting others, therefore it is more reasonable to put yourself in self isolation from 10 to 14 days and wait until the symptoms are gone) However, if you are experiencing severe symptoms, we recommend you contact your GP by telephone (if you are registered in Bulgaria) or the regional health inspectorate of the area you are staying in. They will give you further instructions.
The idea of the PCR test is to be aware whether you are infected or not, should you wish to leave the country and travel elsewhere. In this case the test must be conducted 48-72 hours before entering the other country (varies according to which country you are travelling to)
Additionally antigen rapid tests are now also being used for diagnosis purposes either through a lab or from a pharmacy for home testing.
PCR tests are required by many countries for travellers wishing to enter, regardless of vaccinnation status. That does not mean that there might not be other specific measures like self isolation or quarantine. We recommend informing yourself about current measures in advance, if you are planning on travelling, bearing in mind that the situation is in a constant state of flux.
How much do the tests cost?
One of the most important questions regarding being tested for Covid remains what is the price of the test? In Bulgaria the cost of a single PCR test varies between 100-190 Leva. In most cases the price is around 150-160 Leva (around 75€)
Rapid Antigen tests in the lab cost around 30 leva, but you can also buy home testing kits at most pharmacies 25 - 30 leva
Where can I get tested?
Currently 36 hospitals and laboratories in Bulgaria are officially accredited by the Ministry of Health. Listed here are the best recommended places in 5 of the major cities in Bulgaria. Here you can find the full list of hospitals and laboratories.
Tokuda Hospital Sofia, CibaLab, Laboratory “Ramus”, University Hospital “Sofiamed”
University Hospital “Sveta Marina”, Independent medical-diagnostic laboratory (IMDL) “City Lab”
Medical diagnostic laboratory LINA
University Hospital “Pulmed”, University Hospital “St. Georgi”
Hospital “St. Ivan Rilski”
It is preferable, to make an appointment by phone as most of the hospitals have specific time slots during which citizens can get tested. There are a few hospitals where you do not need to make an appointment, but we recommend checking in on the hospital website.
Currently there isn’t an option for group/family testing due to safety measures. While there isn’t an actual order from the Ministry of Health, hospitals have declared that they are not going to test groups and families, because of the higher risk of infection and the possibility of false results. (information from Capital a prominent Bulgarian media)
There aren’t any free tests for Coronavirus in Bulgaria, so if you find such information, most likely this is a scam.
Here are three additional links that we think would be helpful to any resident of Bulgaria who is interested in getting tested for Covid 19 or planning on traveling outside the country.
Ministry of Health - https://www.mh.government.bg/bg/
Re-open EU - https://reopen.europa.eu/en/map/BGR
Ministry of Foregin Affairs - How to travel page - https://www.mfa.bg/en/