Crossing the Bulgarian border when travelling to/from another EU country with more than 10 000 EUR in cash
Which corridor (green or red) do we go through after the changes in the Bulgarian Currency Law of 2023?
Today, we will discuss a case that is likely to create serious problems for individuals carrying money across the Bulgarian border. Following the latest revision of the Currency law (SG No. 82 of 29 September 2023), in particular the provisions on the movement of funds across the border to or from a Member State of the European Union, the following case arises:
When moving funds across the Bulgarian border to or from an EU Member State, which corridor, green or red, should the bearer of funds of more than EUR 10 000 pass through?
The answer to this question, probably for many, is quite clear from the provisions of the Currency Act. For us, however, it is not quite so. Let us see why.
Is cash of more than EUR 10 000 subject to declaration when being carried across the Bulgarian border to or from another EU country?
The answer to this question is clearly defined in the provisions of the Currency Law:
The transfer of cash in the amount of EUR 10 000 or more or its equivalent in BGN or another currency across the border of the country to or from a Member State of the European Union shall be declared at the request of the customs authorities.Article 10b, par. 2 of the Bulgarian Currency Law
In other words, cash (> €10,000) carried across the Bulgarian border to or from another EU country is declared, but only if specifically requested by the customs authorities.
Very clear – the bearer of the cash should NOT complete a declaration unless specifically asked to do so by a customs officer!
If the bearer is nevertheless asked to declare the amount of the funds carried, he should do so. Pursuant to Article 10b par. 3 of the Currency Law, he will not fulfil his obligation to declare if he refuses to complete a declaration (after being expressly requested to do so), if he gives false or incomplete information or if he cannot show the amount carried.
Now that we have clarified how to declare cash of more than EUR 10 000, let’s see which corridor the bearer should go through.
Going through the green corridor?
The currency law clearly defines who can cross through the green corridor:
In cases where the cash being carried across the border is not declarable, the bearer shall pass through the green corridor (“nothing to declare”) or verbally declare this when passing through a customs office where two corridors are not used.Article 10d, par. 1 of the Bulgarian Currency Law
In other words, the green corridor (“nothing to declare”) is used by passengers carrying cash that is not subject to declaration.
But is cash (>€10,000) carried within the EU declarable?
This is the question to which the Currency Law does not give a clear answer!
Subject to declaration?
On the one hand, the cash is declarable upon request by the customs authorities. That is to say, it is still declarable, albeit conditionally, subject to a future uncertain event.
Not subject to declaration?
But on the other hand, cash is not declarable before the declaration is requested by the customs officer. That is, if the bearer has reached the green corridor and is not asked to declare the cash at that point, it is NOT declarable at that particular point.
Green or red corridor after all?
It is clear from all of the above that it is extremely important whether the cash is declarable or not. Because from this it follows through which corridor the bearer has to pass. If the funds are not declarable they go through the green corridor, if they are declarable they go through the red corridor.
Our opinion is that if the bearer is not requested to declare the cash at the time of passing through the green corridor, then it is not declarable and passing through the green corridor is justified under Art. 10d, par. 1 of the Currency Law.
The case is extremely important, because in addition to the hefty administrative penalties, it is even possible to incur criminal liability. According to Art. 10d, par. 3 of the Currency Law:
In cases where the cash being carried across the border is declarable but the bearer has passed through a green corridor (“nothing to declare”) or has verbally declared this when passing through a customs office where two corridors are not used, this shall be considered as misdeclaration.
In our view, it is questionable whether criminal liability for false declaration under Article 313 of the Bulgarian Penal Code could be incurred in this situation. However, bearers of cash should be extremely careful.
Bulgarian Ministry of Finance
In any case, the texts of the Currency Law are not sufficiently clear. We will send a formal inquiry on the case to the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance, and will notify our clients of the response of the Ministry.