Maritime Law in Bulgaria

Maritime Law in Bulgaria

Updated on Thursday 13th August 2015

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The Law on the Maritime Spaces, Inland Waterways and Ports of the Republic of Bulgaria governs the legal regime concerning Bulgaria’s sea spaces. Business owners who operate import and export activities in Bulgaria or who have companies in Bulgaria that need to perform maritime transport activities are advised to seek legal counselling regarding the special legislation.
The Bulgarian Maritime Law regulates the use of the Black Sea and the Danube, it ensures the cooperation between countries and facilitates the sea and river connections. The safety of navigation and the protection of the maritime and river environment are important aspects of the Maritime Law.
Legislation concerning the internal waters in Bulgaria
The internal waters of Bulgaria include the waters between the coastal line and the baselines, the waters of the ports and the waters of certain bays in Bulgaria. Foreign vessels may enter the internal sea waters and visit the ports with peaceful purposes.
Foreign naval ships or submarines that enter the Bulgaria internal sea waters need an authorization from the Council of Ministers, unless otherwise applicable. The authorization must be requested with at least 30 days in advance for vessels of the Black Sea Coastal States and 45 days in advance for other states.
The Bulgarian Council of Ministers determines the visiting order for foreign naval ships or submarines and also the amount of time they are allowed to stay within the internal sea waters. Prior authorization to enter the internal sea waters or ports is not required if:
- the visit is an official one and a head of state or governmental authority is on the board of the vessel;
- the vessel is damaged after a storm,
- in case of other force majeure.
Our Bulgarian lawyers can help you with more information if you want to perform commercial or touristic activities on the internal sea waters in Bulgaria. 
Legislation concerning Bulgaria’s territorial sea
The territorial sea of Bulgaria is delimited from the territorial sea of the bordering states. The outer and lateral limits of the territorial sea are the state frontier of the Republic of Bulgaria. Foreign vessels are allowed to pass through the Bulgarian territorial sea, in accordance with the provisions of the Bulgarian Maritime Law and other provisions stipulated in international law. 
Vessels must sail through the zones open for navigation at their normal speed, according to the type of vessel. Foreign naval ships passing through the Bulgarian territorial sea must not disturb the peace of the country or breach its security. Vessels must use the established sea lanes, traffic separation schemes and fairways. Vessels must observe the traffic control system.
Special conditions apply to foreign vessels that carry nuclear equipment and toxic or dangerous substances. Our lawyers in Bulgaria can provide you more details about the specific documentation that needs to be provided by such ships when passing through the Bulgarian territorial sea.
If you need more information about starting a business in Bulgaria or the specific legislation for foreign investments, please contact our law firm in Bulgaria.