Archive for Documents

How to Sell a Car

Instead of the ‘normal’ Bulgaria is better than the UK drivel that comes from these blogs, I thought I should put some perspective on what here in Bulgaria is a problem akin to the public sector pension deficit in the UK.

Documents.  Bulgarians just can’t get enough of them.  I have just sold my car here to one of my neighbours.  This does not just involve the handing over of a V5 and sending it to Swansea – Oh no.  I and the purchaser “Sali’ had to drive 35km to the nearest ‘Notary’ office where Sali as the purchaser had to pay for three documents in order that he could buy my car.  The first document confirmed that I was selling my car (signed by me), the second that I had paid all fines, and taxes on the car (again signed by me).  The third which still makes me smile at the thought of it, was a document that I had to sign to say that I am not married, or have any children.

This one caught me by surprise also.  I enquired as to why my marital status need confirming by a notary, to be informed that if I had been married and had children, my signature only, would not have been enough to sell my car.  It would have required the signature of spouse & children over the age of 16.  Can you imagine DVLA in Swansea requiring the permission of your wife to sell your car?  They would be fire bombed within days!

Two Pints & Planning Permission

Two pints of beer a packet of fags, and a grilled salami sausage – change from a fiver(£4-03). Whats not to like. Before moving to Bulgaria, a quiet beer after work (playing with computers), this would have set me back nearer £15 and I would have to stand out in the rain in case I killed anyone else in the pub with my dirty smelly habit!

Bulgaria has just started to intergrate no-smoking policies (so they qualify for EU money), they are just doing it with a bit of common sense. For example if you own a bar/cafe and it has over 100sqm of floor space you can have smoking/no-smoking sections. If you have less than 100sqm then it has to all smoking or all non-smoking. I have yet to find a non smoking bar. They would be bankrupt within weeks. Most buses are now non-smoking, well almost.
Every bus that I have been on the driver is normally getting through 20 smokes, as the ban does not affect him. No-one complains, no-one screams that they are being killed by his sencond hand smoke in fact the seats directly behind the driver are much coveted so you don’t get the DT’s before the 2 hourly ‘fag-brak’ that is compulsory on all long distance bus trips. All taxis have no-smoking signs that are ritually ignored.

Which brings me nicely to planning permission. In Bulgaria you need planning permission, and as in the UK it is virually impossible to get, works out very expensive, for example if you wanted permission to build a new house, all the documents would set you back about 10,000€, whereas building the actual house would cost you less. So the Bulgarian people who have become accoustomed to ignoring legislastion that serves no purpose other than to line the pockets of politicians and civil servants do what anyone with any common sense, and total disregaurd for legislation should do. They just don’t bother with it. One of my neighbours has converted a one storey building and stuck another storey on top. So being a bit naive I asked about getting the documents etc for this to which he said the documents would cost him €8,000 whereas the fine, if he ever gets caught would be €300, or more likley just €50 as a back hander to the planning man. The last government was only over thrown in 1989/90 so the current politicians are still wary of upsetting the masses as they should be! A victory for the people!

This is Bulgaria – That is Normal!

I have been accused of having rosy tinted glasses on when I eulogize about my life in Bulgaria. So I thought for balance I should point out some
of the things that have infuriated me (albeit only mildly) in the last two years. Without exception (maybe pot holes) obsessive documentation is the all
time winner. Today I have been taxiing a neighbor who wanted to renew his ‘red’ (EU) passport.


To call Bulgaria a functioning bureaucracy would be a complete understatement, without reams of documents and official stamps the whole country would
cease to function. I have been trying to work out why this is. Even the simplest of tasks cannot be done without an official document of sorts. For
example, when I purchased my house here it was necessary to form a shell company to purchase the house. In order for the company to function you would
need an official stamp. This is where the problems start. In order to be able to purchase a stamp you need a document stating that the business has
already been created, and to create the business you need an official stamp!

Obviously there are ways around this otherwise I would have been unable to purchase my house, I am left to wonder why the situation actually exists though.
Whenever I point out how bizarre this is I am given the default answer. ‘This is Bulgaria, that is normal’.

This is the first and only ex-communist country that I have visited/lived in, so apologies if my conclusion is off the mark. The need for official
documents, and stamps as far as I can see removes any responsibility from the individual. Decisions are not made by common sense or by individuals;
workers here follow strict guidelines and can never deviate from them. For example since I have been here I have been offered employment at a foreign
language school. I can only take up this employment if I can get my degree legalized in Bulgaria. No problem there.
Only to get my degree certificate legalized here I have to submit my completion of secondary education certificate. Being from the UK there is no
such document. I explain this to the bureaucrats. It appears that this does not matter. Just because something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that I
can’t produce it. It is on the list of documents to be submitted and therefore I cannot proceed.

There is no room for change. When you question these things with the officials you are normally given shrugging shoulders, and looks of realization
that they know the system is wrong, but they have no intention of changing it. The normal man on the street is so used to having every part of life
dictated to them that it is just normal!

When submitting some kind of documentation you will also have to provide photocopies of the said documents. Do the offices have
photocopies – definitely not. Or at least they do but they are for official use only.

So back to todays renewal of passport. Salim enters the passport office and joins the queue to collect the documents that need to completed.
Completes them then joins another queue to submit them. Gets turned away as he has not made the photocopies required, has to leave the passport
office to get his photocopies. Returns, rejoins the queue for submission of documents. Oh no, it’s lunch time the office closes all queues are
cancelled, come back in an hour and try again.

I ask why this can’t be done by post? Don’t be daft he says, they would lose all the documents.

I suppose now that I have been here a while I have become desensitized to these kind of situations that would have me screaming at bureaucrats in the
UK, as they say.

‘This is Bulgaria, it is normal’

A Day out in Sofia

Sorry for not updating as frequently as normal only I have been quite busy and have Annie over visiting as well. On Monday (10 Oct) I had to go to Sofia for the day to get my Degree Certificate (Maths & Physics from Swansea) legalized so that I can be employed to teach computers at the foreign language school here in Kardjali.

The cheapest quickest and most convienient way to travel around Bulgaria is by bus. These are mainly coach type vehicles and you can get from just about anywhere in Bulgaria for 20 Lev (10Euros). So for my day in Sofia I caught the 5 am bus to Sofia. The bus was completely full as I think Monday morning buses to Sofia may be full of commuters who work in the city for the week and go home at weekends. I was lucky enough to get a window seat, and unlucky enough to have a man sit next me who fell asleep in 3 seconds flat and snored the whole trip, and passed wind alarming frequency the whole trip!

On arrival in Sofia, I caught a Taxi to my destination (Giorgi Dimitrov Boulevard), but as I was a bit sleepy fell for a rogue taxi driver that a special meter rate for foreigners. At my arrival some 7 kms from the bus station he asked for 55 Lev! I told him what I thought of his mother and father, gave him 10 and told him to go and get the police if thought it was problem. I am not sure if it was the shock of my answer, or that it was in Bulgarian that made him look more astounded. Needless to say no Police have been chasing me since. Top tip if you are getting a taxi (especially in Sofia) check the rates displayed on the window these should be 59 – 79 stotinki a km and not 3.6 lev a km!

On arrival at NACID I handed over my documents, degree certificate, apostille certificate, translation, application form, letter from the Kimet to say I lived in the village, letter from the works office to say I had registered. Not enough! The nice peeps at NACID insisted that to have my degree ratified I would need a secondary education completion certificate. I told them there was no such thing, this was treated as inconsequential. Just because a document doesn’t exist doesn’t mean you can’t get one! I came very close to telling them what I thought of their mother also, but bit my tongue took the name and address of the director of NACID and told them I would write to her for clarification.

I have been in Bulgaria for over two years and really should have learnt by now that documents aren’t dealt with lightly. I caught a taxi back to the bus station, only 6 kms, and 6 Lev! Me and the taxi driver Dimitar, discussed Mr Berbabtovs retirement from International football at the age 29!

Back on the 12:00 bus to Kardjali, only three other people, no snoring much less wind!

On the way back a smile came to my face I remembered the school I had been offered employment at advertises with much gusto that their qualifications are recognised by Cambridge University in the UK, and yet my degree from the UK is worthless here! Oh the irony of it!

My New Name is Dotchka

I have recently being doing documents. Now this in Bulgaria can be quite
a convaluted process. But unless you have documents you cannot get anything done. At least officially. My latest document, was to get the
ability to work in Bulgaria, which requires an EGN (their equivalent of NI No). I automatically qualify for one of these after 5 years residence, but thought
I would try and get one early as they are quite useful things to have when getting other things done.

The lady in the local document office when I visted there told me there would be no problem, as I had all the other documents, they were having a
problem with the computer though. The program that registers people requires three names, first, middle and family. The problem being that I only have two!
This may seem trivial but if I can’t get a record on the computer then I can’t get my EGN! After much telephoning around, and checking with others in the office
(about two hours of shrugging shoulder!) they decided to insert my middle name as a full stop! = dotchka!

So in Bulgaria my middle name is officially “.” and has to be used whenever I write my name, I am at the moment relearning my signature to incorparate the full stop.

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