BTA News

Customs Agency Boosts Border Controls in Line with Schengen Entry Commitments to Austria

As of 2024, the Customs Agency has tightened control on all goods and cargo travelling to and from Austria at all customs and border checkpoints and throughout Bulgaria’s territory. The checks are in line with Bulgaria and Romania’s commitment to Austria to boost controls at their land borders. The commitment was laid down in an annex to the EU Council decision on Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area, the Customs Agency said.

In the first six days of 2024, the Customs Agency conducted more than 7,200 checks on various vehicles, including some transiting Bulgaria. Physical inspections, X-ray scanning and documentary control were applied to both the goods and the cabins of trucks, cars, light trucks and buses.

The checks found violations of customs and excise legislation leading to the seizure of nearly 120,000 cigarettes, 5.5 kg of tobacco, over 340 litres of alcohol, 800 litres of motor oils, 1,500 kg of detergent, 5,429 electrical instruments, 10,500 toys and 110 perfumery products. All of them were seized as attempted imports in Bulgaria or in transit to Western Europe, the Agency said.

Outbound vehicles were also subject to tighter controls. More than 61,000 items which were not duly declared – electronic hookahs, e-hookah refills, veterinary medicines and eyeglasses – were seized en route from Austria to Turkiye.

During a joint check with the Border Police in the area of the Vidin Ferry border checkpoint, six Syrian citizens were found in a specially fitted compartment in a Bulgarian-registered minivan. According to preliminary data, the persons were bound for Austria.

Enhanced control is also continuing on Bulgaria’s roads in cooperation with the Interior Ministry and other competent authorities. Border checks will continue at all checkpoints until this country’s accession to Schengen by land, after which controls will remain in place only at the EU’s external borders with Turkey and Serbia, the Customs Agency said.

On December 30, 2023, the EU Council announced Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area, starting with lifting controls at air and sea borders as of March 2024. Discussions on a further decision to lift controls at land borders will continue in 2024.