Feature

Bulgaria: A Kafkaesque encounter with Customs

We may have shed communism, but we still have a byzantine bureaucracy reminiscent of that era, said Elenko Elenkov in <em>Dnevnik.</em>

Elenko Elenkov Dnevnik

We may have shed communism, said Elenko Elenkov, but we still have a byzantine bureaucracy reminiscent of that era. When I bought a few T-shirts from an American online store, for example, they weren’t sent to my home; instead, they were sent to the customs office in Sofia, and I was instructed to pick them up there.

“In an ideal world, you would simply pay the import tax and leave with your parcel.” But remember, this is Bulgaria. First, my package was ripped open for inspection. Then I was sent to counter No. 17, where I filled in a form and was ordered to hand over a photocopy of my ID card. The copier, “a remarkably pricey one at that,” was located at counter No. 21. Once I had my copy, I was sent to counter No. 13, where I got a certificate “with my own special online shopper’s provisional number, which differed only slightly from my social security number.” Then it was back to counter 17 for my certificate to be stamped, and then to counter 28 to fill in the customs declaration. There I was given a floppy disk, which I was instructed to take to counter No. 9, since “apparently the Bulgarian customs service has yet to discover the joys of local area networks.”

Four more counter visits later, I had finally paid my tax—just under $6—and collected my shirts. “It was the end of an unforgettable four hours.”

Recommended

Jamal Khashoggi's Saudi killers got paramilitary training in U.S.
Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi Murder

Jamal Khashoggi's Saudi killers got paramilitary training in U.S.

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2021
Ebrahim Raisi
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2021

Philippines' Duterte warns he'll jail people who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on a visit to China.
that's one idea

Philippines' Duterte warns he'll jail people who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine

Iran's president-elect says he won't meet with Biden
Ebrahim Raisi.
all eyes on iran

Iran's president-elect says he won't meet with Biden

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now

Covering for Trump?
Merrick Garland and Donald Trump.
Picture of Ryan CooperRyan Cooper

Covering for Trump?