4. NOVELTIES IN BULGARIAN REGIME
A number of significant novelties were introduced in the Bulgarian customs regime, as well as in the excise and currency control regimes during the last year, whereas we should point out the following:
Customs regimes and rules
Applicable from the beginning of 2011 are amended rules for determining the origin of goods falling under the General Tariff Preferences Scheme, introduced with Commission Regulation (EU) No 1063/2011 amending Regulation (EEC) No 2454/1993 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/1992 establishing the Community Customs Code. Thus, introduced were simplified rules for the origin of goods, defined on the specifics of the branch and not on the product itself. The amendments also concern new conditions for the appliance of cumulating of origin.
Applicable from 1 January 2012 is amended Common customs tariff nomenclature, introduced with Regulation No 1006/2011 of the European Commission from 27th of September 2011 for amendment of Appendix I to Council Regulation No 2658/87 on tariff and statistical nomenclature and the Common Customs Tariff. If these changes affect goods used in the business activity of legal entities and other traders, the amendments should result in lodgment of declarations, which contain updated codes for custom purposes and for Intrastate purposes.
Given that the tariff and statistical nomenclature are used for customs (declaring the goods for import/export), VAT (reverse charge, VAT warehouse etc), excise tax classification and levying purpose, it is advisable for the legal entities to check whether these changes impact their business. The changes feature establishment and exclusion of certain tariff codes; some amendments in tariff codes identifying excisable goods are introduced, as well. Correct tariff codes should be included in all declarations and documents filed in compliance with the Excise Duties and Tax Warehouse Act for the period commencing after 01.01.2012 and in the applications for issuance of certificates for exempt from end consumers.
By virtue of amendment to the Bulgarian Customs Act, effective as of 1 January 2012, introduced is the institute of specialized customs investigation by “customs investigators”, thus actually restoring the legal regime, which was applicable several years ago. The customs investigators will be entitled to investigate not only offences of the customs legislation, but also of the currency regime and some other business offences.
Important amendment, introduced with the same act, is the obligation of the customs authorities to motivate their decisions, when rejecting requests of applicants or when issuing unfavorable decisions for the applicants. The customs authorities are further obliged to inform the applicant, before issuance of the decision, about the grounds on which the decisions are based on and to provide the interested person with the possibility to express their opinion within a certain term. This amendment will contribute to the transparency and efficiency of the decision-making process by the customs and will in our view facilitate the business, rendering it more involved in an earlier stage, prior to enacting decisions, whereas the open discussion of all issues in preliminary order could result in decrease of appeals against customs acts.
Amendments were introduced in the currency regime (by amendments to Foreign Exchange Act and corresponding secondary legislation), effective from 1 January 2012, which define in more precise manner the terms “import” and “export”, the rules for carrying of cash, jewels and precious metals between Bulgaria and other member-states, as well as to and from third countries. Explicitly determined is that declaring is not necessary, when carrying of cash and precious metals between Bulgaria and other member-state. Declaration might be lodged only as an exception and if requested by the customs authorities (usually in cases of suspicion).
Effective since 1 January 2012 are also some changes in the excise tax regime, namely: increased stakes of excise tax on gas oil and kerosene, amended excise on natural gas, decrease of excise stake for beer introduced on the territory of Bulgaria, when produced by independent small breweries and others.