The Bulgarian Road Infrastructure Agency said on January 3 that it was suspending with immediate effect the conversion of hard-copy road tax stickers – known as “vignettes” – to electronic ones because of a large number of attempts to defraud the system.
At a special news conference, the agency announced that up to January 15, motorists would not be fined for being without a vignette on roads where one is required.
The announcements came amid media reports of problems with the introduction of the system, including no means of buying an electronic vignettes at some border checkpoints and at several fuel stations where they are meant to be on sale.
Previously, the agency had downplayed reports of complaints about the inauguration of the system, which took effect on January 1 2019.
Professor Oleg Assenov of the Road Infrastructure Agency said that the conversion of hard-copy vignettes into electronic ones was being suspended because users were not using the functionality of the bgtoll.bg website in good faith.
In one case, there had been attempts to convert a single registration number 160 times.
Police, including those specifically deployed to check the validity of vignettes, will continue to do so, but no fines will be issued until January 15, while an information campaign about the e-vignettes is still continuing.
Currently, e-vignettes can be bought only in cash at the regional departmental offices of the Road Infrastructure and at mobile phone provider A1 shops.
The agency said that it had made a commitment that by January 7 e-vignettes would be on sale at all major commercial outlets where hard-copy ones had been sold.
The head of the road toll department at the agency, Anton Antonov, said that this should not be a problem because most motorists had hard-copy vignettes the validity of which expires at the end of January.
The Road Infrastructure Agency said that all border checkpoints would be equipped with self-service terminals selling e-vignettes by the end of January.
Reports on January 3 said that there were functioning self-service terminals at the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint and four machines were being delivered to the checkpoints at the Danube Bridge and near Durankulak.
The agency said that it was committed to resolving, by the end of the month, the issue of the functionality of the self-service terminals in foreign languages. As The Sofia Globe reported on January 2, when clicking on “buy an e-vignette” in English and all the other foreign languages, the user was taken through to the version in the Bulgarian language.
As of January 2, applications opened for people with permanent disabilities to apply for free-of-charge electronic vignettes. Bulgarian National Radio reported Miglena Miteva of the Agency for Social Assistance as saying on January 3 that about 500 applications already had been accepted. There was no deadline and applications could be accepted year-round, she said.