Transportation of passengers and goods by water is regulated by Order No. 82 of 15 July 2002, Ordinance No. 4 of 9 January 2004 on Recognition of Organizations for Surveys of Ships and Ship Owners, Order No. 87 in accordance with article 362, paragraph 1, section 3 from the Merchant Sea Shipping Code. The domestic regulation of transportation services can be found in Merchant Sea Shipping Code and Maritime Spaces and Inland Waterways and Ports Act of the Republic of Bulgaria. Sea shipping transport in Bulgaria is coordinated and controlled by Executive Agency “Maritime Administration”.

The carriage of cargo on inland waterways is carried out by licensed carriers who have fulfilled the requirements for professional competence, financial stability and good reputation. The Minister of transport and information technology grants the licence to carriers that fulfil the requirements described above.

Law of the flag

The grounds and the limits of the liability of the shipowner is regulated by the law of the country flag depending on where the ship is registered (law of the flag). Bulgarian legislation is applicable in cases of damages and loss as a result of tort committed by ships (or ship crew in the course of their work) in the internal sea waters, the territorial sea or the inland waterways of the Republic of Bulgaria. A ship can be registered under the flag of the Republic of Bulgaria in case it is :

  • possessed by the state,
  • possessed by a Bulgarian natural person or Bulgarian company,
  • more than half of the shares are possessed by a Bulgarian natural person or a Bulgarian company
  • possessed by a natural person or by a company registered in a European Union member state and has fulfilled all technical, administrative and other requirements of Bulgarian legislation
  • rented in a bareboat charter contract by the state, by a Bulgarian natural person or a Bulgarian company or a natural person or company registered in a European Union member state for the term of the contract.

Each ship registered under the Bulgarian flag must be registered in the Ships Registry Books in one of the Bulgarian ports. The Registry Books are kept by the regional offices of the Executive Agency “Maritime Administration”.

Contracts in merchant sea shipping

The main types of merchant shipping contracts which the Bulgarian legislation recognises are:

  •     Contract for transportation of cargo
  •     Contract for transportation of passengers and luggage
  •     Bareboat charter contracts

Contract for transportation of cargo

According to the Contract for transportation of cargo the carrier provides paid sea cargo transportation service to a particular port (location), which has been defined by the consignor and to deliver the cargo to the consignee or a person authorized by him. Usually the terms of the Contract for transportation of cargo are provided in charters, bills of landing and other written evidence. The contractor is liable for partial or total loss of the cargo or damaging the cargo as from the moment of receipt to the moment of delivery to the consignee.

Contract for transportation of passengers and luggage

According to the Contract for transportation of passengers and luggage, the carrier provides paid sea transport services to passengers and their personal luggage to a specified location. The individual or group passenger ticket and a proof of payment validate the terms and conditions of the carriage contract. The period, during which the carrier is liable for the passengers and their luggage, starts from the moment of the passenger boarding the ship or the vehicle for carriage from the coast to the ship, if such carriage is included in the carriage price.

Bareboat charter contracts

The Bareboat Charter Contract is a contract for rental of a ship for a certain period of time. The lessee receives full rights of possession and control of the ship, including the right to appoint a captain and crew of the ship for the entire term of the charter. The bareboat charter contract contains information for the contractual parties, the name of the ship, its class, the flag, the technical and exploitation specifications of the ship, the fuel consumption, the region of sailing, the purpose for chartering the ship, the location and time of delivering and receiving the ship, the rental price and the term of chartering the ship. The bareboat charter contract can stipulate a clause for transferring the ownership of the ship from the lessor, only in case the latter is also the shipowner, the lessee has fulfilled all his obligations pursuant to the bareboat charter contract and has paid the last instalment.

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