Driving in Romania

Traffic safety and road conditions

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Romania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driver’s license information

U.S. citizens who wish to drive in Romania must have an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to the valid U.S. state drivers’ license (DL). If you reside in Romania you may exchange your U.S. driver’s license with a Romanian driver’s license. The Romanian driver’s license is valid for driving in Romania and other EU countries. The requirements for exchanging  a U.S. driver’s license for a Romanian driver’s license are set forth in Ordinance 163 of 08/10/2011 which applies to all foreigners with temporary or permanent Romanian residency permits.  U.S. citizens wishing to exchange their driver’s license may apply for a Romanian driver’s license at the local Department of Motor Vehicles “Directia Regim Permise de Conducere si Inmatriculare a Vehiculelor” (DRPCIV).  For a list of the most up to date documents required you may visit the website of the Romanian DMV: DRPCIV. Some documents they may request include your valid U.S. driver’s license, your U.S. passport, your Romanian resident permit and a medical certificate issued by an authorized medical facility.

Obtaining an International Driver’s Permit:

Although many countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses, most countries accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP functions as a legal identification document that translates U.S. driver’s license information into 10 foreign languages. These licenses are not intended to replace valid U.S. state licenses and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. IDPs are not valid in an individual’s country of residence.

You can obtain an IDP from an automobile association authorized by the U.S. Department of State. Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (1949) authorizes the U.S. Department of State to empower certain organizations to issue IDPs to those who hold valid U.S. driver’s licenses. The Department of State has designated the American Automobile Association (AAA) as an authorized distributor of IDPs. Many foreign countries require deposit of a customs duty or an equivalent bond for each tourist automobile entering its territory, and the motoring associations are equipped with the necessary facilities for providing expeditiously a standard bond document (Article 3 of the Convention). The Convention is not applicable to United States motorists using their cars in the United States.

How to apply for an international driving permit:

Before departure, you can obtain an IDP at a local office of one of the two automobile associations authorized by the U.S. Department of State:

  • AAA (American Automobile Association), 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, FL 32745-5063. The application is available on-line. Applications may also be made by mail from overseas.
  • AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance), PO Box 24980,  San Jose, CA 95154, Email: contact@AATAIDP.com, Phone: 1-408-930- 8009. The application is available online. Applications may also be made from overseas as long as your U.S. driver’s license is valid for at least 6 months beyond the issuance date of the International Driving Permit.

To apply for an international driving permit, you must be at least age 18, and you will need to present two passport-size photographs and your valid U.S. license. The cost of an international driving permit from these U.S. State Department authorized organizations is under $20.00.

International driving permits issued by unauthorized persons:

The Department of State is aware that IDPs are being sold over the Internet and in person by persons not authorized by the Department of State pursuant to the requirements of the U.N. Convention of 1949. Moreover, many of these IDPs are being sold for large sums of money, far greater than the sum charged by entities authorized by the Department of State. Consumers experiencing problems should report problems to their local office of the U.S. Postal Inspector, the Better Business Bureau, or their state or local Attorney General’s Office.

Road Conditions and Safety: Though Romanian traffic laws are very strict, road accidents are a real and dangerous threat for U.S. citizens visiting Romania.  According to the European Union Road Federation, Romania has the highest per-vehicle rate of road fatalities of any country in the European Union.

If you chose to drive in Romania, practice defensive driving techniques.

While major streets in larger cities and major inter-city roads are generally in fair to good condition, many secondary roads are in poor repair, unpaved, poorly lit, narrow, and lacking marked lanes.

  • Mountain roads are particularly dangerous when wet or covered with snow or ice. Winter snow removal is intermittent.
  • It is common for pedestrians, animals, cyclists, and horse-drawn carts to share a road with motor vehicles, especially in rural areas.
  • Parked vehicles often block sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the streets.
  • Cross only at crosswalks and exercise vigilance as crosswalks are generally poorly marked.
  • Local drivers often ignore traffic lights and crosswalk signs.

Maintain vigilance when driving to avoid hitting those who are walking in the streets.

Traffic Laws: Romanian traffic laws are very strict.

  • The traffic police can confiscate any form of a driver’s license or permit for 1-3 months and request payment of fines at the time of the infraction.
  • Police are required to give all drivers involved in an accident a breathalyzer test on the scene.
  • Refusal to take a breathalyzer test may result in criminal penalties regardless of whether or not alcohol was involved.
  • Romania has strict laws for the punishment of drunk driving. Any blood alcohol level above 0.0 is considered a crime. Driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.08 is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • Wearing a seat belt is mandatory.
  • Children under 12 years of age may not be transported in the front seat.
  • Use of mobile phones while driving is banned, with exception of hands free systems.

For current traffic regulations and speed limits in Romania please visit the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If entering Romania by vehicle you need to purchase a road tax badge known as “rovinieta” at the border crossing point.  Proof of insurance and a car registration document is required when purchasing the “rovinieta.”  Drivers of vehicles registered abroad who are not in possession of a valid international insurance document must buy short-term insurance at the border.

For more information about road safety see the State Department’s Road Safety page or visit the websites of the Bucharest Metropolitan Police Department website and Romania’s National Tourist Office.

Public Transportation:  Public transportation in Romania is inexpensive and reliable.  Inter-city travel options include a variety of buses, trams, trolleybuses, and “maxitaxi” (shared taxis).

  • You can purchase bus or tram cards at newsstands or street kiosks before boarding and validate the ticket once aboard.
  • For “maxitaxi” you may buy a ticket directly from the driver.
  • Bucharest is the only Romania city with an underground metro.
  • Organized groups of criminals, sometimes including minors, operate in train stations, trains, subways, and busses.
  • If traveling on an overnight train, travel with a companion and in the highest class available.
  • Do not leave your personal belongings unattended; stow them securely out of sight.

For specific information concerning travel in Romania by car, train, bus or plane, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Romania National Tourist Office in the United States, or visit their page on Travel and Transportation.

Romania National Tourism Office
600 Third Avenue, suite 224
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: 1 212.545.8484
E-mail: Info@RomaniaTourism.com

State Department travel advisories
To view State Department travel advisories for Romania and other countries around the world, click here.

Air Travel in Romania

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Romania’s civil aviation authority as Category 1 – in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Romania’s air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA’s Internet website here. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Some major airlines in Bucharest:

Rail Travel in Romania

Information on schedules and ticketing can be found on the CFR (Romanian Railroad Company) website.