Living 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.
General assessment of road and transportation safety:
- Safety of public transportation: Good
- Urban road conditions/maintenance: Fair
- Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor
- Availability of roadside/ambulance assistance: Fair
Road conditions vary widely throughout Romania. While major streets in larger cities and major inter-city roads are in fair to good condition, most other roads are in poor repair, badly lit, narrow, and often do not have marked lanes. Many roads, particularly in rural areas, are also used by pedestrians, animals, people on bicycles, and horse drawn carts that are extremely difficult to see, especially at night. Road travel can be particularly dangerous when roads are wet or covered with snow or ice. This is especially the case concerning mountain roads.
Romanian traffic laws are very strict. Any form of driver's license or permit can be confiscated by the Traffic Police for 1-3 months and payment of fines may be requested at the time of many infractions. Some examples are: failure to yield the right of way, failure to yield to pedestrians at crossroads, or not stopping at a red light or stop sign. Romanian traffic law provides for retention of licenses and possible imprisonment from 1 to 5 years for driving under the influence (alcohol level over 0.1% limit) or for causing an accident resulting in injury or death. In spite of these strict rules, however, many drivers in Romania often do not follow traffic laws or yield the right of way. Therefore it is strongly recommended that defensive driving be the rule of thumb while driving throughout Romania.
Inter-city travel is generally done via trains and buses, which are relatively safe, inexpensive, and reliable. However, beware of pickpockets while on night trains or in train stations. Inter-city travel by taxi is much more expensive and safety depends on the quality of the driver. Many older taxis are not equipped with seat belts.
The host country authority responsible for road safety is the Traffic Police of the Romanian Ministry of Interior. The Traffic Police maintain a web site at http://bpr.b.politiaromana.ro/. Emergency roadside help and information may be reached by dialing 9271 for vehicle assistance and towing services, 961 for ambulance services, 981 for fire brigade, and 955 for police.
For additional information about road safety overseas, tips on driving abroad and links to international road safety resources, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html. For specific information concerning Romanian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Romania National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at http://www.towd.com/.
State Department travel advisories
To view State Department travel advisories for Romania and other countries around the world, visit http://travel.state.gov.
U.S. driver's licenses may be used to drive in Romania if they are valid and accompanied by an international driving permit.
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 has designated the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance as the only authorized distributors 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.
- National Automobile Club (NAC), 1151 E. Hillsdale Blvd. Foster City, CA 94404, Phone: 650-294-7000, (M-F 8:30 – 5:00 Pacific Time), Fax: 650-294-7040.
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.
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 web site at http://www.faa.gov. 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:
British Airlines: http://www.ba.com
Austrian Airlines: http://www.aua.com/
KLM-Royal Dutch airlines: http://www.klm.com
Air France – Delta: http://www.airfrance.ro
Rail Travel in Romania
Information on schedules and ticketing can be found on the CFR (Romanian Railroad Company) website: http://www.cfr.ro.