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Bulgaria: Port of Entry Experience May 2007

By doina — last modified Jun 13, 2007 10:11 AM

Published: 2007-06-13 10:11:53
Countries: Bulgaria

After an early Spring uphill cruise from Marmaris, Turkey, I entered Varna in Bulgaria on 5th May 2007. I suspect that this might make me the first foreign private vessel to enter Bulgaria since the country joined the EU in January of this year. It may be for this reason that my experience with officialdom was somewhat different from that previously reported or maybe I was just lucky. Either way, this is the catalogue of the procedures I went through. The boat is USA flagged and the crew hold UK passports.

Clearing in to Bulgaria; Entry into Varna

Called Port Control on VHF on approach. Arrived at the Yacht Harbour at 0830 and was waved to a berth alongside. Within ten minutes the Harbour Master arrives at the boat. Given form to fill in with very basic information about the vessel and crew. Half an hour later 6 or 7 officials arrive representing, Border Police, Customs and Health. One lady acts as translator. Asked for Crew List and to declare in writing on the back that I had no stowaways, no guns and no narcotics.While this was being written the customs officer came into the cockpit and looked around. When completed and returned I was welcomed to Bulgaria and requested to advise the Harbour Master when I was leaving. It could not have been easier or less bureaucratic and no charges or fees were demanded.

Departure from Varna for Burgas

Called Port Control to advise of intentions. Paid Yacht Club US$40 for 3 nights and was given hand written receipt. Took on diesel at Leva 1.82 / litre.

Arrival at Burgas

Called Port Authority in VHF Ch 11 on approach. Directed to “marina” which is immediately to starboard after passing lighthouse at the entrance to the commercial harbour. Note that the laid moorings are in a very poor state and should not be trusted until replaced. The marina is a long walk from the dockyard gates. There is a 24 hour security person who will take lines and direct to authorities. Passport Police and Customs at dockyard gates required copies of crew list and after passports were inspected we were free to go.

Clearing out of Bulgaria; departure from Burgas

Made decision late at night to leave early the next morning. Contacted Harbour Master via the Passport Police and he came out at 2300 and took us up to his office on the 8th floor of the building near the dock gates. Still no lift after the 3rd floor! Filled in forms and were given stamped copy of clearance papers. Paid Euro 10 for Temporary Permit for cruising Bulgarian waters. Believe that this should have been requested in Varna. Went to Customs and made declaration on form provided. 0600 next morning the Passport Police arrive at the boat as scheduled. Passports checked and further declaration made that there were no stowaways and all the crew were aboard. Called Harbour Master on Channel 11 to advise intentions and request permission to depart.


It is well worth investing in an official looking ship’s stamp. This was requested at several stages and seemed to significantly ease the processes.

Geoff Cluett

s/v Concerto