Bulgarian Customs Explain Everything with EU Regulation

There was a ripple of discontent in Bulgaria over a recent change in customs rules that requires to pay VAT for import of goods over 15 EUR. A Bulgarian journalist, Elenko Elenkov, described in an article how he had to wait for 4 hours at the Bulgarian Custom’s Office in order to get two T-shirts.

The Customs responded that everything was due to relevant EU regulations. That, however, is NOT true.

First of all, art. 23 of Regulation(EC) No 1186/2009 setting up a Community system of reliefs from customs duty stipulates that “any consignments made up of goods of negligible value dispatched direct from a third country to a consignee in the Community shall be admitted free of import duties”. In para. 2 it is said that “‘goods of negligible value’ means goods the intrinsic value of which does not exceed a total of EUR 150 per consignment”.

Second, as for the EORI registration I would like to remind the Bulgarian customs officials that the EORI guidelines specifically say that the Member States should take measures to reduce the burdens placed on economic operators as a result of introduction of the EORI system.

One problem is missing in Mr. Elenkov article, and that is the rampant corruption of Bulgarian customs officials. But then, in order to sell corruption, you need to complicate procedures first, right?

Correction: the exemptions from VAT for imports are regulated in Directive 2009/132/EC determining the scope of Article 143(b) and (c) of Directive 2006/112/EC as regards exemption from value added tax on the final importation of certain goods.

Art. 23 says:

“Goods of a total value not exceeding EUR 10 shall be exempt on admission. Member States may grant exemption for imported goods of a total value of more than EUR 10, but not exceeding EUR 22.

However, Member States may exclude goods which have been imported on mail order from the exemption provided for in the first sentence of the first subparagraph.”

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