What makes Romania a unique country to travel to?
Romania is a republic and a member of both NATO and the European Union. The country has a market-oriented economy with developed tourist facilities in the capital, Bucharest, and facilities of varying quality throughout the rest of the country.
While most crimes in Romania are nonviolent, crimes do occur in which people do get hurt and even severely injured, especially at nightclubs and bars. Reports of sexual assault are uncommon; however, to be safe, be vigilant, especially at night and in situations involving alcohol. Although racial prejudice exists in Romania, especially toward those who look like Roma (“gypsies”), hate crimes are rare.
Crimes against tourists, such as robbery, pick pocketing, and confidence schemes remain problematic. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets, sometimes including minors, operate in train stations and on trains, subways, and buses in major cities. A number of thefts and assaults have occurred on overnight trains, including thefts from passengers in closed compartments. The U.S. Embassy recommends using the highest class available for train travel, and traveling with at least one other person. Avoid leaving your personal belongings unattended; stow them securely out of sight if leaving them in a parked car.
Credit card and internet fraud remain among the most common crimes affecting foreigners in Romania. Romania is largely a "cash-only" economy. While an increasing number of businesses accept credit cards, you may wish to use cash for goods and services rendered due to the risk of credit card fraud. Vendors, including restaurant staff, have been known to misuse credit card information by making illegal purchases on a customer's account. There are an increasing number of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) located throughout major cities, and sophisticated identity theft rings target them. Try to use ATMs located inside banks and check for any evidence of tampering before use. Be cautious when using publicly available internet terminals, such as in internet cafes, as sensitive personal information, account passwords, etc. may be compromised.
You should be alert to money exchange schemes targeting travelers. Some of these ploys have become sophisticated, involving individuals posing as plainclothes policemen who approach you, flashing a badge, and asking for your passport and wallet. If presented with a situation like this, you should insist on the presence of a uniformed police officer and request that any problem be resolved at a police station.
You should be cautious about entering into contracts with Romanian groups and/or organizations. There have been a number of incidents in which such contracts have not been honored. As a result, the U.S. Embassy recommends that all contracts entered into by foreigners are reviewed by a Romanian attorney. The Romanian legal system is difficult for foreigners to navigate, making the assistance of a local attorney nearly essential.
You should be very careful about developing relationships with individuals known only through contact over the Internet. Professional thieves in Romania commonly target U.S. citizens by contacting them through chat rooms or personal advertisements. They generally identify themselves as young Romanian women and develop a "relationship" with their victims over time. Requests for money may not begin for six months or longer when a fictional child becomes ill, a job is lost; a business needs start-up cash, etc. While numerous variations of this scam exist, money extortion remains the ultimate goal. If you believe you may have fallen victim to this kind of scam, contact American Citizens Services at the U.S. Embassy. Romanian authorities may be reluctant to prosecute these crimes unless you can show that coercion was used or a significant amount of your money was stolen.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but by buying them you may be breaking local law too.
While traveling or living in Romania, you are subject to Romanian laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Romanian laws and legal systems can be vastly differentthan our own. Criminal penalties may vary as well. Please see the Embassy’s legal information for more details about Romanian law and penalties. Please also note the Embassy’s judicial assistance information for more information about the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in force between Romania and the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you engage in sexual conduct with children or use or disseminate child pornography. Under Romanian law, engaging in sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15, or a minor between the ages of 15 and 18 where the adult has abused the minor's trust or had influence/authority over the minor, is a crime punishable with a 3-10 year prison sentence. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with someone who has a physical or psychological disability is punishable with a 3-12 year prison sentence. Distribution of obscene materials depicting minors is a crime punishable with a 1-5 year prison sentence. Prostitution is illegal in Romania, regardless of the age of the participants.
Penalties for the possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Romania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
If Arrested: If you are arrested in Romania, Romanian authorities are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the embassy. A consular officer from the embassy will visit you, but will not be able to get you out of jail; you will need to consult an attorney. A list of English speaking attorneys can be found on the embassy’s website The Romanian authorities will provide you with an attorney and translator if you cannot afford one.
The Germans and Hungarians speak their native ethnic tongues. The Roma speak Romany.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical care in Romania is generally not up to Western standards and basic medical supplies are limited, especially outside major cities. Some medical providers that meet Western quality standards are available in Bucharest and other cities but can be difficult to locate. Sanitary conditions in hospitals are variable. Nursing care and assistance from orderlies is often lacking in hospitals. Families often provide basic assistance to hospitalized relatives that U.S. citizens generally expect the hospital to provide. Travelers seeking medical treatment should choose their provider carefully.
Most prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication are available in Romania but may be sold under different brand names. Specific individual drugs may not be available due to differences in laws and regulations. Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Romania.
Response times for emergency services vary widely depending on the region of the country and the nature of the emergency. Romania has helicopter services available for the most critical medical evacuation situations.
Safety and Security
Romania remains largely free of terrorist incidents. The Romanian equivalent to the “911” emergency line is 112. English-speaking operators are available.
Prior police notice is required for public demonstrations, and police oversight is routinely provided. The ongoing financial crisis and resulting austerity measures have increased the occurrences of strikes and public demonstrations in Romania, especially in Bucharest. To date, protests have remained peaceful. However, even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable; you should avoid them if at all possible. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what the local news media has to say. Information on specific demonstrations can be found on the Embassy website’s Demonstration Notices page.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Romania, you will encounter road conditions that significantly differ from those in the United States. Traffic accidents are arguably the single most dangerous threat for U.S. citizens visiting Romania. The World Economic Forum ranks Romania 142 out of 144 states for road quality, with a limited number of freeways and infrequent passing lanes. 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, badly lighted, narrow, and lacking marked lanes. According to the European Union Road Federation, Romania has the highest per vehicle rate of traffic fatalities of any country in the EU. It is essential to practice defensive driving techniques if you choose to drive in Romania.
Roads, especially in the mountains, can be particularly dangerous when wet or covered with snow or ice. Winter snow removal, even in cities and on major highways, can be intermittent. Pedestrians, animals, cyclists, and horse-drawn carts share many roads with motor vehicles and it can be extremely difficult to see, particularly at night in rural areas. Parked vehicles often block sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the streets. Maintain vigilance when driving to avoid hitting those who are walking in the streets. Cross the street only at crosswalks, and always look both ways before crossing. Crosswalks are generally poorly marked and may be ignored by drivers even if there is a traffic light.
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; this includes minor infractions such as failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Police are required to give all drivers involved in an accident breathalyzer tests on the scene. Refusal to take a breathalyzer test will result in criminal penalties regardless of whether or not alcohol was involved. Driving under the influence of alcohol or causing an accident resulting in injury or death may result in imprisonment.
U.S. driver's licenses are only valid in Romania for up to 90 days. Before the 90-day period has expired, U.S. citizens must either obtain an international driving permit in addition to their U.S. driver's license or a Romanian driver's license. Wearing a seat belt is mandatory. Children under 12 years of age may not be transported in the front seat.
Unless otherwise marked with road signs, speed limits are as follows:
Intercity traffic on highways
130 km/hr for cars and motorcycles (80 miles/hr)
110 km/hr for vans (65 miles/hr)
Urban traffic - 50 km/hr (30 miles/hr)
Express and European roads
100 km/hour for cars and motorcycles (60 miles/hr)
90 km/hour for vans (55 miles/hr)
All other roads
90 km/hr for cars and motorcycles (55 miles/hr)
80 km/hr for vans (50 miles/hr)
Motor vehicles with trailers, and drivers with less than one year of driving experience have speed limits 20 km/hr (or 12 miles/hr) slower than those listed above.The host country authority responsible for road safety is the Traffic Police of the Romanian Ministry of Interior. You can reach emergency roadside help and information for vehicle assistance and towing services by dialing 9271. For ambulance services, fire brigade, or police dial 112.