The Bulgarian Parliament adopted changes to the Roads Act, introducing the toll system

After changes in the text of the draft between first and second reading, the Bulgarian National Assembly finally accepted the Act on amendment and supplement of the Roads Act. With this act in Bulgaria for the first time was introduced a Mixed system for charging the road vehicles from different categories – on basis of time expired (vignette fee) and on basis of distance traveled (toll). From January 1st 2019 road vehicles with total maximum authorized mass of less than or equal to 3,5 tonnes, shall pay a vignette fee for the use of the paid road network, whereas for the payment of the fee the respective road user shall be issued with a so called “e-vignette”. The latter is an electronic document automatically generated by the Electronic system for the issued e-vignettes, whereas the respective control authorities shall carry out official checks for its availability, without having the right to require any document whatsoever from the road user.

Meanwhile, from August 16th 2019 all road vehicles with total maximum authorized mass over 3,5 tonnes shall pay toll – fee for the distance traveled. The user of the paid road network has several options provided by the law to supply the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) with data for the purposes of toll charging – the so called ‘declared toll data’. One of those options is to conclude a contract with an electronic toll service provider, who under the contract with the road user shall provide the latter with an on-board unit and shall gather and send data to RIA on his behalf and shall pay the due toll at his expense, whereas based on the contractual relations between them, this service provider shall receive the sums paid to RIA from the road user in a term, set with the contract. These electronic toll service providers is provided to be registries in one of two registers by RIA – registry of the European electronic toll service providers (EETS) providers and a registry of the national ones, who as a difference from the EETS providers shall be required to operate only within the territory of the country. With regard to both types of service providers there are requirements to be entered at the respective registry and to conclude a contract with RIA, whereas for EETS providers strictly are introduced  the provisions of Directive 2004/52/EC of the European Parliament and the Council from April 29 2004 on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the Community and of Decision 2009/750/EC of the Commission from October 6th, 2009 for setting an European electronic toll service and its technical elements.

The next option for road users to provide data to RIA for the purposes of toll charging, is to conclude a contract with a declared data provider. This is a person, which provides on behalf of the road users data for the geographic positioning of the road vehicle, whereas it is expected for vendors providing fleet management services (so called “fleet management providers”) to perform such services.

Road users, who expect to use the paid road network more inconsistently, shall have the opportunity to buy a route pass, which shall give the right for the road vehicle to traverse the paid road network via a previously declared route.

Finally, road users, who do not want to use those options, shall be able to obtain (buy or lease) an on-board unit also from RIA, which will calculate the due toll and shall collect it from a sum provided by the road user in advance.

After promulgation of the Act on amendment and supplement of the Roads Act, the Council of Ministers shall have to adopt respective ordinances and procedures for application of the new rules, so the electronic system for collection of road fees under art. 10, para. 1 of the Roads Act would be able to effectively function in the terms, provided by the law.

Dobrev & Lyutskanov Law Firm is working as a consultant to the Road Infrastructure Agency in the process of preparing of the draft of Act on amendment and supplement of the Roads Act and is continuing to work on preparing of laws and other normative acts, related to the application of the new regime for payment of the fees for use of the paid road network.