As an EU member state, Bulgaria has continued to be an important export market for British firms since the UK left the European Union. Even before then, there were some logistical hurdles to overcome when shipping a pallet to Bulgaria cost-effectively. Today, the same challenges remain while a few extra ones are in existence, too. Read on to find out everything a small British exportation firm needs to know about sending palletised goods to Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, as well as many of its other commercial centres, such as Varna, Plovdiv, Burgas or Pleven, for example.
Because Bulgaria is well over 24 hours by road from northern France even without factoring in stops, many British firms assume that they can only turn to air freight operators when shipping a pallet to Bulgaria. This can be a mistake, however, because there are only regular flight services to Bulgaria’s major urban centres. This means that once ground handling crews have unloaded your palletised goods, you will still often need to arrange onward transportation, sometimes for several hours within the country itself.
Additionally, air freight is often prohibitively expensive for all but the lightest of shipments. Instead, it is better to organise your pallet to Bulgaria with an experienced freight forwarding firm that manages shipments by road throughout Eastern Europe all the time.
Many road shipments to Bulgaria from the UK enter the EU at a French port although, for exporters in northern England and Scotland, Dutch ports of entry may be used, too. Either way, your shipment will need to pass EU customs checks before its onward journey across the continent is allowed.
Make sure you’ve filled out your declarations beforehand or hire an agent who can do this sort of work on your behalf if you are unsure how to proceed. This is a quite common practice, especially among SMEs or companies that are new to international shipping. Remember that Serbia borders Bulgaria. If your pallet to Bulgaria passes through Serbia en route, then further customs checks will be required since Serbia is not yet an EU member state.
According to Barrington Freight, an Essex-based logistical firm that sends pallets to Bulgaria on behalf of numerous UK exporters, there are two main options to consider when road freight transit is preferred. For the least expensive option, choose groupage. This will mean a lorry is loaded in the UK with deliveries to Bulgaria and – sometimes – neighbouring countries, such as Romania and northern Greece. The driver will deliver each pallet in turn, thereby keeping down the cost per delivery.
Alternatively, you can pay for an express courier service to Bulgaria. This will typically involve a door-to-door shipment with just one or two pallets using a van. For the fastest delivery lead times, opt for a two-driver service. This way, one driver can take over from the other, allowing each to get their mandatory breaks from working behind the wheel.