Vehicles imported from Italy or another EU member state

13 February, 2023
The business with vehicles, mostly “second hand”, is particularly popular in Bulgaria. One of the countries from which are most often imported the cars is Italy.

This current article is dedicated and focused not so much on the necessary documents and the procedure for registering used vehicles imported into Bulgaria, as on cases from the practice concerning the possible and unexpected problems that could obstacle the free use of a legally purchased vehicle.

The registration of vehicles imported in Bulgaria from another EU country is carried out by the Traffic Police units at the Central Directorate and the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Internal Affairs according to Art. 140 of the Road Traffic Act and the Decree No. I-45/2000.

According the law the new owner has to register the vehicle within 14 days from the signing of the car purchase agreement. Competent is the Traffic Police unit where is the owner’s address or where is the address of the registered office of the business entity . This term does not apply to vehicles not registered in the country which are purchased for subsequent sale.

I. Documents required for the registration in Bulgaria of a used vehicle imported from an European Union member state, the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation:
1. application form (generated by the information system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs);
2. an identity document, for the business entities – a constitutive act and identification BULSTAT code;
3. the vehicle – for identification;
4. ownership documents with vehicle identification data (purchase agreement, invoice, etc.);
5. original of the previous registration certificate;
6. a document for a passed revision in case it is still valid. If not the revision is done on-site;
7. a document for civil liability coverage together with a bilateral form in case of a traffic accident;
8. customs attestation for the formal import on the European Union territory if the vehicle is imported from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or the Swiss Confederation;
9. registration number plates if such were used to present the car to the registration point;
10. document for paid ECO tax for vehicles of category L2, L4, L5, L5e, M1 I N1;
11. declaration of ownership;
12. document for paid state fee;
13. notarized power of attorney – when the registration is requested by another person.

II. Possible problems and how to avoid or solve them
Apart from the purely technical parameters of the chosen vehicle which must be checked, from a legal point of view, before the signing of a purchase agreement we recommend to our clients to check the the car’s serial number, to obtain a copy of the registration certificate and the original purchase invoice.
According the Italian legislation it is not required a special form for the vehicle purchase agreement. The same applies to Bulgaria when it comes to new vehicles or old vehicles imported from an EU member state that do not have an existing registration in the country.

For this reason the vehicle purchase agreements are often stipulated in the simplest written form. Therefore, before concluding the contract, it is very important to make a detailed verification of the vehicle as far as possible.

In case the previous owner-seller is from Italy, together with the purchase agreement, the new owner should receive the documents proving the cancellation of the vehicle registration in Italy and so the export approval (radiazione – ACI).

There are not few cases in which a vehicle imported from Italy and legally purchased become subject to police seizure after presenting it for registration at the traffic police unit due to a signal in the Schengen Information System (SIS) or the Information System of Interpol. The reasons could be various – theft, a complaint to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for some reason which has not been formally withdrawn, problems related to the previous use or payment problems, etc.

That is why one of the recommended verifications that any buyer of an used vehicle in Italy can make is on the website of the Ministry of the Interior ( telai-rubati-smarriti), where is provided a free online service which aims to check the vehicle by its registration number. Although this information has no legal value, it is one useful first step.
If, despite the positive result of the check in the free online system of the Ministry of the Interior in Italy, the vehicle is being seizured during its registration in Bulgaria it is necessary more detailed examination. This examination could include an establishing a contact with the previous owner in case of collaboration from his side, a direct request for updated information in each of the online systems through the competent authority in Italy – the Police or the Carabinieri unit.

The experience of our law firm shows that the official direct communication between the competent authorities within the EU member states could be difficult due to missing elements concerning the period of the previous ownership and despite this possibility of direct communication between the authorities it requires a lot of time for solving the problems and not always with success.

For that reason the assistance of a lawyer in Italy could be helpful in order to find a quick solution because of the possibility of direct communication and clarification of the problem that obstacles the free use of the legally purchased vehicle.