Since 1 January 2007, the Republic of Bulgaria has been a member of the EU and so enforces the General Visa Policy of the European Union, in keeping with the conditions of the Accession Treaty.
At present, Bulgaria issues only national visas, which do not give visitors the right to enter the Schengen area.
Visas are issued by the diplomatic and consular representatives of the Republic of Bulgaria, or by representatives of another member state of the European Union with which Bulgaria has an agreement for the presentation and acceptance of applications for visas and the issuance of visas.
Available visa types are as follows:
- Airport transit (visa Type A);
- Short-term stay (visa Type C);
- Long-term stay (visa Type D).
A fee is charged for the issuance of visas, according to the Fee Tariff No 3.
Visitors can find further information on the application procedures and required documents for the issuance of visas, as well as the address of consular offices, on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Border control is implemented upon entering or exiting Bulgaria. Verification of documents and inspection of motor vehicles, freight, and personal effects is performed at all checkpoints, and complete documentation is conducted for persons who enter or exit the country, including verification of names, passport data, final destination of the trip, and the purpose of the visit. Depending on the location of the checkpoint, people and luggage may be examined with an X-ray scanner or metal detector, and video recording equipment may be employed.
For EU citizens:
If you are a citizen of an EU member state or of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and you plan to stay temporarily (usually up to 90 days) in Bulgaria, you might consider obtaining the European Health Insurance Card. Presentation of the European Health Insurance Card guarantees you reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after your return home.
For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=509&langId=en.
For Non – EU citizens:
If you are not a citizen of any of these countries, you should check with your national authorities if you are entitled to free or subsidized health treatment in Bulgaria as part of a reciprocal health agreement between your home country and Bulgaria. If you are not, it might be a good idea to obtain health insurance for the period of your stay in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria has compulsory common healthcare insurance. All insured persons in Bulgaria select their family doctor (general practitioner), whom they visit when necessary. If the general practitioner is not competent to treat the illness, he or she provides written permission for the patient to visit a specialist also working with the National Health Insurance Fund. When visiting the general practitioner or the specialist recommended by the general practitioner, a small fee is paid. As of 1 August 2011, the fee was 1% of the minimum salary in the country, or 2.70 BGN (1.40 Euro). For each day of a hospital stay, the patient pays a fee amounting to 2% of the minimum monthly salary in Bulgaria, roughly two Euro. Children up to 18-years old, pregnant women, minors and unemployed members of the family, military personnel, and a few other groups are treated free of charge. Uninsured persons pay the full cost for provided medical care in addition to these fees.
There are a large number of specialized private offices and medical facilities in Bulgaria. On receiving consultation and/or treatment at these facilities, patients pay the entire amount for the examination and/or treatment, regardless of whether they have health insurance.
Interested parties may obtain more information about healthcare and the conditions for using healthcare services paid by public funds in Bulgaria by visiting the site of the Ministry of Health and the site of the National Health Insurance Fund.
Medical care for foreigners who are residents of the EU, EEA and Switzerland (Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland).
Citizens of any of the above member states who are visiting or residing in Bulgaria have the right to avail themselves of their health insurance. When obtaining medical care, they need only visit a medical facility or diagnostic laboratories that has concluded a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), or any of the state or municipal medical institutions (see the file entitled Healthcare Establishments Register) that are supported by the Ministry of Health. Tourists in Bulgaria can inquire with staff at hotels to gain information about medical care and treatment, and it is the obligation of hotels to provide a list of the addresses of medical facilities and doctors who contracts with the NHIF. (Please note that he healthcare specialists working at hotels often do NOT work with the NHIF, and their services are generally expensive.)
By relying on their own insurance plans, European Union visitors and residents do not have to pay insurance installments to the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund. Instead, they need only present their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Under exceptional circumstances, this right can also be proven by providing a Certificate for Temporary Replacement of the EHIC issued by the same institution that issued the individual’s health insurance card, along with valid identification. It is also necessary to provide the medical practitioner with copies of these two documents. Likewise, by presenting the required documents non-Bulgarians only pay the consumer fee required of Bulgarian insured citizens for the following medical and dental care:
Examination and diagnosis
- Issuance of a recommendation for consultation or for medical tests after the examination;
- Determination of medical treatment, including prescriptions, after the examination;
- Rehabilitation procedures;
- Medical tests;
- Non-Bulgarian patients are also required to sign a declaration (Annex 2), by which they certify that they are not in Bulgaria solely for medical treatment.
In the event of a medical emergency, call the toll-free telephone number 112. This is also the number to call for any other emergency. The number can also be reached outside the range of your mobile network. The 112 operators also speak languages other than Bulgarian.