Despite Bulgaria handling the initial pandemic situation well, according to the EU and other international institutions and organisations, Bulgaria remains one of the riskiest countries in Europe right now and as such many countries currently require visitors from Bulgaria to provide a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to travelling.
Why do I need to get tested?
First of all it is important to note that if you actually experience any of the symptoms of the Coronavirus it is actually recommended not to get PCR tested (because there is a risk of infecting others, 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)
Countries that currently require PCR test when entering; Serbia (not for transit), Greece, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria (if you don’t want to quarantine yourself), Germany (only if coming from risk zones, details can be found here), Belgium.
Apart from these countries and Finland, Hungary and Ukraine, who have currently closed their borders, you can travel within Europe without being PCR tested. That does not mean that there aren’t other specific measures like self isolation and quarantine. We recommend informing yourself about current measures, if you are planning on travelling, bearing in mind that the situation is in a constant state of flux.
How much does a PCR test 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€)
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/