Bulgaria: Customs Agency steps up border control because of commitments made to Austria for Schengen entry

Since the beginning of 2024, Bulgaria’s Customs Agency has been carrying out increased checks at all customs and border points, as well as throughout the country, of goods and cargo travelling from and to Austria, the agency said on January 7.

The inspections are in fulfillment of the commitment for enhanced control at the land borders, undertaken by Bulgaria and Romania to Austria in the signed annex to the decision on the accession of the two countries to Schengen, the agency said.

Bulgaria’s air and sea ports are to be included in Schengen from March 31 2024, while a date for the inclusion of Bulgaria’s land borders is yet to be negotiated.

On January 7, the Chamber of Bulgarian Road Hauliers complained of long queues of lorries being formed at border checkpoints, especially at Danube Bridge 2.

The Customs Agency said that in the first six days of the year, more than 7200 checks were carried out on various types of vehicles, including those transiting through Bulgaria.

All methods of customs control are being used – physical inspection, scanning with X-ray systems, checks on documents, the statement said.

Both transported goods and the cabins of trucks, cars, light trucks and buses are being checked, it said.

The agency said that items found in violation of customs and excise legislation in inspections in the first six days of the year included close to 120 000 cigarettes and 5.5 kg of tobacco, more than 340 litres of alcohol, 800 litres of motor oils, 1500 kg of washing powder, 5429 power tools, 10 500 children’s toys and 110 perfume products.

All the goods listed were found as people tried to import them into Bulgaria or take them in transit to Western Europe.

Enhanced checks are also carried out on vehicles leaving the country, the agency said.

More than 61 000 items – electronic hookahs, fillers for electronic hookahs, veterinary drugs and spectacles – were found during the control actions. The goods were being transported from Austria to Turkey but had not been properly declared.

During a joint inspection with the Border Police near the Vidin ferry border crossing, six people were found in a Bulgarian-registered minibus, Syrian citizens travelling in a specially built hideout. According to preliminary data, they were being transported towards Austria, the agency said.

Enhanced checks on the country’s road network were continuing, together with the Interior Ministry and other relevant authorities.

“Border checks will continue at all border crossings until our country’s land accession to Schengen, after which control will remain only at the EU’s external borders with Türkiye and Serbia,” the Customs Agency said.

(Archive photo: Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry)

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