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Shipowner Eligibility 

Vessels should be owned by Bulgarian citizens, corporations, or partnerships. Foreign legal entities may own a Bulgarian vessel only if they have a Bulgarian participation or shareholder and if the foreign jurisdiction where the entity is registered as well as the Articles of Association allow for such registration of a vessel.

Any of the following vessels shall be authorized to fly the Bulgarian flag:
Owned by the Bulgarian state;
Owned by Bulgarian natural or legal persons;
More than one-half of which is owned by Bulgarian natural or legal persons;
Owned by nationals or legal persons from an EU Member State, provided that for fulfillment of technical, administrative and other requirements of Bulgarian legislation in relation to vessels, Bulgarian nationals or legal persons or nationals or legal persons from an EU Member State, established in Bulgaria, were authorized.
Nationals or legal persons from EU Member States shall enjoy treatment, not less favorable than that, accorded to Bulgarian natural or legal persons in relation to registration of vessels.

About the Flag

The Republic of Bulgaria is situated in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. It has a coast on the Black Sea, and to the north a large part of the Danube River forms the border line between Bulgaria and Romania. With these two water basins, Bulgaria has a strong shipping industry with a large fleet and well developed shipbuilding and ship repair industries. The country was part of the Eastern Communist Block until 1989 when a peaceful turn to a democratic rule took place. It is a full member of the United Nations including the IMO and a member of the European Union. The capital city is Sofia, and the language spoken is Bulgarian. The country has a civil law system and is governed by a unicameral National Assembly with a President as the Chief of State and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers as the Head of Government.

The Bulgarian economy continues its difficult adjustment from four decades of Communist rule with extremely high inflation. Many aspects of a market economy are already in place and functioning, but much of the industrial sector has yet to reestablish itself. Its chief exports are machinery and agricultural products, and its principal trading partners are the CIS countries. The unit of currency is the Bulgarian lev.

The law governing ship registration in Bulgaria is the Shipping Merchant Code (1970), Articles 27-62. More details are provided in the Special Regulations (1992) for the entering of ships in the ship registers at the Bulgarian ports. The authority entitled to register vessels under the Bulgarian flag is the Marine Administration.

Company Formation

The formation of all kinds of companies in Bulgaria is governed by the Trade Act (1992). After the devaluation of the Bulgarian currency, the minimum registered share capital is now Bulgarian leva 5,000 (approximately US $3,100) is required for companies with limited liability. A specific corporate purpose need not be stated, but a generally formulated one is to be inserted in the Articles of Association. The corporate names may only be in the Bulgarian language, but a Bulgarian transcription of foreign names is fully allowed. Incorporation of a company is usually completed in 30 days, but in urgent cases the process may be expedited. The Trade Act allows the formation of the following types of entities: sole traders, unlimited partnerships, companies with a limited liability, and shareholding companies.

Foreign physical persons and/or legal entities are fully entitled to register companies with limited liability or shareholding companies in Bulgaria. Shares in the shareholding companies may be registered or bearer or provision may be made for both. There is no requirement for annual reporting to the Trade Registrar, but an annual audit report is to be provided to the tax authorities. A newly enacted amendment to the Foreign Investment Act requires a minimum capital of US $50,000 in order for companies with entirely foreign ownership to be considered as an investment on behalf of the participants or shareholders. Without such a minimum capital, the owners will not be able to repatriate their after-tax profit. At the same time the new amendment allows investments in the form of vessels, machinery etc. of more than US $100,000 to be imported without duty and value added tax ("VAT"). The directors of the companies with limited liability and the shareholding companies may be either Bulgarian or foreign nationals, and they must provide the relevant District Court with a notarized specimen of their signature.


Shipowners creating companies in Bulgaria and acquiring vessels under the Bulgarian flag are subject to taxation according to the general tax regulations. The rate of profit tax is 36%, while VAT is 20%. The taxation is effected on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the type of company. Bulgaria has ratified agreements for the avoidance of double taxation with all the countries of the European Union and the United States as well as with most of the countries from the former Eastern block and the Middle East.

Registration and Documentation

Vessels are registered on a permanent basis by the State Shipping Inspectorate at the Bulgarian port of the owner's choosing (located at the two major seaports of Bourgas and Varna and the two Danube ports of Rousse and Lom). This does not have to be the place where the registered office of the company is. Each port office of the Inspectorate is entitled to accept registration applications and insert the vessel in the register. However, the "Act of Nationality" which evidences the title on the vessel is issued by the Minister of Transport. Bulgarian Consuls are authorized to issue temporary certificates if the vessel is located in a foreign country at the time of her purchase or if the vessel was previously registered in a foreign jurisdiction. Such certificates are only valid until the vessel reaches a port in Bulgaria or for twelve months, whichever is shorter. There are two registers: one for smaller vessels up to 40 GRT and the other for larger vessels above that tonnage. The standard application form for registration is to be accompanied by the following documents:
- Evidence of title on the vessel (usually both an original Bill of Sale and original Sales Agreement are required by the Inspectorate. Both must be notarized. Fax copies are not acceptable.)
- Document describing the hull, machinery, and equipment belonging to the vessel (often this is specified in the Sales Agreement)
- Class Certificate
- Proof of payment of the registration fee

Bareboat Charter Registration

Bareboat Charter In
For entry of a vessel, hired under a bareboat charter contract, the following shall be attached to the application:
1. The bareboat charter contract;
2. Document of registration in the principal register, required for verification of compliance with the requirement for compatibility with the Bulgarian register;
3. Documentary excerpt from the principal register, containing a description of the vessel, data regarding the shipowner and all registered mortgages and other restrictions on disposal with the vessel, if any;
4. document from the principal register stating that the vessel has been temporarily struck off the principal register for the duration of the validity of the bareboat charter contract and has not been entered in any other register under such a contract;
5. Written agreement (in original) for the vessel to fly the Bulgarian flag, expressed by:
The competent authorities of the principal register;
The shipowner;
The mortgage creditor and any persons, in favor of which material encumbrances have been instituted in relation to the vessel;
6. Document evidencing the class of the vessel, if any;
7. Completed BK standard form;
8. declaration by the bareboat charterer regarding compliance with the requirements of the International Safe Management of Operation of Vessels and Prevention of Pollution Code (ISM Сode), the International Convention on Protection of Human Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention on Prevention of Pollution by Ships (MARPOL), the International Convention on Watch Duty, the Norms on Seafarers Training and Certification (STCW), the International Convention on Measurement of the Tonnage of Vessels (Tonnage Convention), the International Convention on Water Loadlines (Loadline Convention) and other international treaties, to which the Republic of Bulgaria is party.

The documents referred to in items 1 - 4 and 6 may be in original or notarized copies.

Bareboat Charter Out
Any vessel, entered into the Bulgarian register books may be temporarily entered into the bareboat register of another country with right to fly its flag for the term of the contract, following written consent of the MAEA Executive Director, provided that:
1. The vessel shall be entered in a compatible register;
2. The following documents shall have been submitted to the MAEA:
Written application by the shipowner for registration of the vessel in a foreign register under the terms of a bareboat charter contract;
Written consent with notary certification of the signatures for such registration on the part of all mortgage creditors or persons, in favor of which other real encumbrances and restrictions were registered, if any;
Written commitment by the shipowner for submission to the Maritime Administration Executive Agency of all documents of the vessel within 14 days of entry of the vessel on the respective bareboat register;
Written declaration on the part of the bareboat charterer to the effect that the vessel shall not sail under Bulgarian flag for the duration of registration;
Bareboat charter.

Vessel and Yacht Eligibility & Survey Requirements

There is no limitation for the age of the vessels for registration provided they have a valid Class Certificate by one of the following Classification Societies:
American Bureau of Shipping
Bulgarian Register of Shipping
Bureau Veritas
Det Norske Veritas
Lloyd's Register of Shipping
Maritime (Russian) Register of Shipping
Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)

In certain circumstances, certificates will be accepted from other classification societies if they are recognized by the Bulgarian Register of Shipping and if such certificates are accompanied by a certificate from the Bulgarian Register of Shipping proving that the relevant register is indeed recognized.


Members of the crew should have valid certificates issued by the State Shipping Inspectorate. Practically, this means that they should be of Bulgarian nationality as far as such certificates are issued after a special examination conducted in Bulgaria. As for bareboat charter registered vessels, such certificates are not required so the crew may be of any nationality.


Ship mortgages may be recorded after a vessel has been registered upon presentation of an original mortgage document with notarized signatures to the State Shipping Inspectorate at the port where the vessel is registered. Mortgages are recorded in the Ships Registry. Mortgages effected under a foreign jurisdiction are only registered if this other jurisdiction is the jurisdiction of the previous country of the flag of the vessel and the application for the registration of the mortgage is submitted simultaneously with the application for the registration of the vessel. Subsequent mortgages are fully allowed, but those previously recorded mortgages, whether foreign or attached under Bulgarian jurisdiction, have priority based on the chronology of recording.


For more information, contact the registry


3 Knyaz A. Batenberg Street,
+359 700 10 145


Stockholm Agreement 96
IMO Convention 48
* IMO amendments 91 
* IMO amendments 93
SOLAS Convention 74
SOLAS Protocol 78
SOLAS Protocol 88
LOAD LINES Convention 66
LOAD LINES Protocol 88
TONNAGE Convention 69
COLREG  Convention 72
CSC Convention 72
CSC amendments 93
SFV Protocol 93
STCW  Convention 78
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR  Convention 79
STP Agreement 71
STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76
INMARSAT amendments 94
INMARSAT amendments 98
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008
FACILITATION Convention 65
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV)
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V)
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI)
London Convention 72
London Convention Protocol 96
INTERVENTION Convention 69
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92
FUND Convention 71
FUND Protocol 92
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III)
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02
LLMC Convention 76
LLMC Protocol 96
SUA Convention 2005
SUA Protocol 2005
SALVAGE Convention 89
OPRC  Convention 90
HNS Convention 96
Cape Town Agreement 2012
SUA Convention 88
SUA Protocol 88

IMO Conventions

Status of Conventions Bulgaria

IMO Convention 48 x
SOLAS Convention 74 x
SOLAS Protocol 78 x
SOLAS Protocol 88 x
SOLAS Agreement 96
LOAD LINES Convention 66 x
LOAD LINES Protocol 88 x
TONNAGE Convention 69 x
COLREG Convention 72 x
CSC Convention 72 x
CSC amendments 93 x
SFV Protocol 93 x
Cape Town Agreement 2012
STCW Convention 78 x
STCW-F Convention 95
SAR Convention 79 x
STP Agreement 71
Space STP Protocol 73
IMSO Convention 76 x
IMSO amendments 2006
IMSO amendments 2008 x
FACILITATION Convention 65 x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex I/II) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex III) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex IV) x
MARPOL 73/78 (Annex V) x
MARPOL Protocol 97 (Annex VI) x
London Convention 72 x
London Convention Protocol 96 x
INTERVENTION Convention 69 x
INTERVENTION Protocol 73 x
CLC Convention 69
CLC Protocol 76
CLC Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 76
FUND Protocol 92 x
FUND Protocol 2003
NUCLEAR Convention 71 x
PAL Convention 74
PAL Protocol 76
PAL Protocol 90
PAL Protocol 02 x
LLMC Convention 76 x
LLMC Protocol 96 x
SUA Convention 88 x
SUA Protocol 88 x
SUA Convention 2005 x
SUA Protocol 2005 x
SALVAGE Convention 89 x
OPRC Convention 90 x
HNS Convention 96

x: Accession/ratification
d: Denunciation

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