Bulgarian Customs – Ignorance, Incompetence or Both?

Doing Business in Bulgaria sometimes is not fun!

I got really pissed off today like I do every time I encounter these small injustices which surround our life.
According to the Bulgarian Customs Administration this LED 8×8 Matrix is back-light for LCD Televisions!

Why? Because LED Matrix indicators as components have no import taxes, but the LCD TV back-light have 4.5% import tax.

Searching TARIC for tariff code of LED panels return this code 8531202090:

but the problem is that it have … 0% import tax which doesn’t satisfy the customs.

The local customs TARIC “specialist” decided that this is in the LAMP chapter of TARIC as there are import taxes 9405403990:


I argued for 15 minutes trying to explain that LED matrix functionality is to present INFORMATION not just to emit light, then she called her supervisors in Sofia and they confirm, the LED matrix indicators are LCD TV back-light parts and nothing else.
At this point I just gave up any arguments, as I know from past experience, the poor woman can’t put any other tariff code than what told her from Sofia, if she does they will cut her bonus, or worse decide that she took bribe to put tariff code with less import taxes.
The tariff specialists have economic education they are not technical people they make no difference between LAMP and LED indicator, but at least in Sofia central customs office I expected to have SOMEONE who at least have glue for this stuff.

To my question why special TARIC number 853120 where is expressly written LED panels exist in the tariff book, the answer was: this number is just for these large complete panels used at the railways, public places etc, the LED matrix is not there as have no controller inside! Period 🙂

So if there is LED it’s LAMP and nothing else, and not any LAMP but one of these used for TV backlight because they have highest import tax, that’s it!

I know we live in hard times of financial crisis and the government needs more money.

I understand this and I do everything I can to help Bulgarian economy. Believe me our company does export business 99% of our sales are for export, we bring money into the economy selling high tech products like Linux computers all around the world, but I can’t accept to tariff LED matrix indicator as TV backlight just to take 4.5% to the budged, this is not right!

This way producing in Bulgaria becomes inefficient immediately with 4.5% as other competitors pay nothing when import components.

Bulgarian Customs do not play fair, in fact they cheat. I still can’t figure out if this is ignorance, incompetence or just they have targets which they try to meet by any possible means, even by smashing down the Bulgarian manufacturers.

If you read the government press releases you will get impression that Bulgaria is something like heaven in Europe, we have 10% income tax, 10% corporate profit tax, everything looks so bright and cool on paper that you do not understand how come all European companies didn’t closed their factories on the spot and moved over-here.

The truth however which we all, who try to do business in Bulgaria see every day is that: Bulgaria have most ignorant and incompetent administration in Europe, sure it’s improving with the years specially since Bulgaria joined EU in 2007 and now we are lighting years ahead from the dark ages before, but this do not change the facts that every Bulgarian businessman banging his head into the administration wall several times each year in situations like this.

You probably thinking I’m affected and overreacting, this is for sure, you may bet I’m affected, but what I saw today is not isolated case.

Have look at my friend Radoslav Kolev Odyssey here original text in Bulgarian http://kolev.info/bg/evala_be_elektronna_mitnica  for those who do not read Bulgarian here is the Google’s  funny attempt for translation. I’m sure you will still get it what is all about:  http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=bg&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fkolev.info%2Fbg%2Fevala_be_elektronna_mitnica