Bulgaria: What to do if your Package is Stuck in Customs
Bulgarian Customs and BGPost do not exactly have a good reputation in Bulgaria. It is a hassle for Bulgarians to get their packages, usually the ones from non-EU countries such as China, the US, and most recently the United Kingdom. However, it is far more difficult for foreigners in Bulgaria to try and deal with their packages as the employees of Bulgarian Post rarely, if ever, speak English. While the information in Bulgarian is confusing enough for the natives, one can only imagine what a non-Bulgarian speaker has to go through in order to get their package.
Novinite.com received some comments on our Facebook page regarding these issues. One of our readers says: “Can I suggest an investigation into why mail from the UK is being held for months at ‘Sofia Letters’ (Customs) and even packages marked gift and below the value of 45 euro are being levied a charge,” and another commented: “I have stopped sending second-hand children’s clothes to my granddaughter in Sofia as l paid handsomely at this end (London) and she was asked for more to retrieve it from customs on Sofia. It was fine before Brexit!! She left it there! How sad!”
We contacted BGPost for more information about packages from non-EU countries, specifically the United Kingdom. They got back to us with some (hopefully) useful information for our readers. In connection with the introduced changes in the import of postal items, as of 01.07.2021, VAT (Value Added Tax) is levied on all goods originating from third countries (non-EU) or territories (subject to distance/online selling) imported into the European Union (EU) regardless of their value.
If you expect to receive an international postal package or item with content or goods originated from a country outside the EU, whether it is an order from an online store or a gift from an individual (when the declared value of the gift in customs declaration form CN22 exceeds the BGN equivalent of 45 EUR), it might be necessary for you to follow a customs clearance procedure. It is possible to submit the necessary declarations and documents to Bulgarian Posts (BGPost) and to pay the relevant fees for using their services.
It is the responsibility and obligation of the foreign postal administration (in this case of the United Kingdom) to enter and send as an electronic message the preliminary data for the shipments (the so-called ITMATT messages). When such a message is missing or entered incorrectly for a shipment (for example, it is not marked as a gift or the value of the gift is higher than 45 EUR), Bulgarian Posts is obliged to present it to customs.
BGPost is not responsible for incorrectly submitted preliminary electronic data (ITMATT messages) by foreign postal administrators.
There is no change regarding the receiving of small packages containing goods of a non-commercial nature originating in a third country or territory from a person to another person, of a total value up to the BGN equivalent of EUR 45. It is only necessary to receive a correctly entered ITMATT message from the postal administration of the origin of the shipment.
Information on the release of packages subject to customs control can be found on the website of Bulgarian Posts - www.bgpost.bg in the section "Customs service".
We also talked to a Bulgarian who had received a box full of snacks and goodies for Christmas from Canada. The package was held at customs and he was expected to pay a hefty although the box was declared as a gift. In addition, the sender from Canada did not specify the value or content of the gifts. Fortunately, the Bulgarian filled up a customs declaration in which he specified that the package was a gift, what was its amount (41.75 Canadian dollars or 28.76 EUR), described all of the contents including milligrams and quantities, and sent all of this information via email to BGPost. As a result, his package was sent to his local post office at no charge.
You need to fill up two forms to emulate this result. First is the Declaration of Consent which you can find HERE in English. Second is the Declaration of Value which you can find HERE but only in Bulgarian. Filling up these two forms and emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org should technically work out for you as it did for the Bulgarian we spoke to. However, as stated above, there are a number of factors to have in mind: country of origin (non-EU, etc); package marked as ‘gift’; value exceeding or below 45 EUR; correctly entered ITMATT message from the postal administration of origin of the shipment.
Declaration of Consent
Declaration of Value
According to BGPost if you are about to receive an international postal item containing goods from non-EU countries, regardless of whether it was ordered online or is a gift from a friend, you may have to follow a customs clearance procedure. Bulgarian Post offers their help to do this, i.e. to submit the required declarations and documents and to pay the relevant fees, with their service. As we explained above this procedure is still confusing even for Bulgarians. In addition, with effect from 1 July 2021 VAT is charged on all goods imported from third countries or territories (subject to distance selling) imported into the EU, regardless of their value. However, with the example we gave of the Bulgarian who get his package from Canada without paying anything, this VAT fee might differ case by case.
Finally, these are the steps detailed by BGPost in order to complete a successful customs declaration and also be represented by BGPost:
- Download and fill in the "Declaration-Consent" and "Declaration of Value" (listed above)
- Attach: an order from the e-merchant's website, comparable to the shipment tracking number and a document proving your payment (bank account statement, Pay Pal, etc.); - even if you are receiving a gift from a relative, instruct them to send it with a tracking number that you can in turn show to customs.
- Send the completed documents by e-mail, as a postal item or by fax
Write to us at email@example.com
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