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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Romania

Romania - Consular Information Sheet
September 20, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Romania has undergone profound political and economic changes since the 1989 revolution and is in a period of economic transition. Most tourist facilities, while being upgraded, have not yet reached Western European standards.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. Tourist visas for stays up to thirty days are not required. An exit visa must be obtained only in cases when the original passport used to enter the country was lost or stolen and a replacement passport has been issued by the American Embassy. For stays longer than thirty days, visas should be obtained from a Romanian embassy or consulate abroad. These should be extended at passport offices in Romania in the area of residence. Travelers can obtain visas and other information regarding entry requirements from the Romanian Embassy at 1607 23rd St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone number (202) 232-4747, or the Romanian consulates in Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York City. The Romanian Embassy maintains a web site at http://www.roembus.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Romanian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Romanian citizens. For additional information, please see Dual Nationality Flyer.

CRIME: While most crimes in Romania are non-violent and non-confrontational, there has been an increase in the number of crimes in which the victim suffers personal harm. Crimes against tourists (robbery, mugging, pick-pocketing and confidence scams) are a growing problem in Romania. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets operate in the 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. Money exchange schemes targeting travelers have become increasingly common in Romania. Some of these scams have become rather sophisticated, involving individuals posing as plainclothes policemen, who approach the potential victim, flash a badge and ask for his/her passport and wallet. In many of these cases, the thieves succeed in obtaining passports, credit cards, and other personal documents.

The loss or theft abroad of an U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet,A Safe Trip Abroad,for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care in Romania is not up to Western standards, and basic medical supplies are limited, especially outside major cities.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page orautofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-fyi-trip (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-cdc-faxx (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

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.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside 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 practiced while driving throughout Romania.

U.S. driver's licenses are only valid in Romania for up to 30 days. Before the 30-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 only in the front seats of a car. Children under 12 years of age cannot be transported on the front seat. Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all marked pedestrian crosswalks, but many of these are poorly marked and difficult to see. Unless otherwise marked with road signs, speed limits are as follows: inter-city traffic on highways, 120 km/hr for cars, 100 km/hr for motorcycles, 90 km/hr for vans. On all other roads: 90 km/hr for cars, 80 km/hr for motorcycles, and 70 km/hr for vans. Inner-city traffic: 50 km/hr. Speed limits for motor vehicles with trailers and for drivers with less than 1 years of driving experience are10 km/hr slower than those listed above.

Inter-city travel is generally done via trains and buses, which are relatively safe, inexpensive, and reliable. However, travelers should be aware 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. To avoid being overcharged, those using inner-city taxis should request the taxi by phone, make sure the taxi has an operational meter, or agree upon a price before entering the taxi.

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://www.politiarutiera.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 travel in Romania, please see the U.S. Embassy home page at http://www.usembassy.ro. For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government web sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Romanian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Romania National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the internet at http://www.towd.com.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: 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 United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.

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 the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Romania's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Romania of items such as firearms, antiquities, and medications. Romanian law allows foreigners to bring up to $10,000 in cash into Romania. No amount in excess of that declared upon entry may be taken out of Romania upon departure. Sums larger than $10,000 must be transferred through banks. No more than 1,000,000 Romanian lei (rol) may be brought into or taken out of the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Romania in Washington or one of Romania's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Romania customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (admission temporaire/temporary admission) carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. Law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Romanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Romania are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Romania is largely a "cash only" economy. While an increasing number of businesses do accept credit cards, travelers are advised to use cash for goods and services rendered due to an increase in credit card fraud. Venders have been known to misuse credit card information by making illegal purchases on individuals' accounts. There are an increasing number of ATM machines located throughout major cities. Travelers' checks are of limited use, but they may be used to exchange local currency at some exchange houses.

There is a significant population of stray dogs in and around Bucharest, and attacks on pedestrians and joggers are not uncommon. While there have not been any reported problems with rabies, travelers are advised to avoid all stray dogs.

Persons who participate in or photograph demonstrations risk arrest.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Romania is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Aanagement Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: There is currently a moratorium on adoptions in Romania. For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

International Adoptions: Before traveling to Romania, prospective parents may wish to obtain information about both United States visa requirements and Romanian adoption laws from the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest or from the Embassy's web site at http://www.usembassy.ro. Romanian adoption law mandates criminal penalties for offering money or goods to obtain the release of children for adoption. A guidebook detailing the adoption process can be found on the Embassy's web site or by requesting a copy from the U.S. Embassy, Consular Section, Immigrant Visas Unit, Tudor Arghezi 7-9, Bucharest, Romania or adoptions@usembassy.ro.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Romania are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Romania and obtain updated information on travel and security within Romania. The U.S. Embassy is located at Strada Tudor Arghezi 7-9, telephone (40) 1-210-4042. In life or death emergencies, an after hours duty officer may be reached by calling (40) 1-210-0149. Consular services for U.S. citizens are performed in the Consular Section located at Strada Filipescu no. 26 (formerly Strada Snagov), one block from the
U.S. Embassy at the corner of Strada Batistei. The telephone number of the Consular Section is(40) 1-210-4042, and faxes can be sent to (40) 1 211-3360. An Embassy Information Office in Cluj-Napoca is located at Universitatii 7-9, Etaj 1, telephone (40) 64-193-815. This office is able to provide only limited consular information.

* * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1999 to provide additional sections on Dual Nationality, Medical Information, Other Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions and to update information on Entry Requirements, Aviation Safety Oversight and Children's Issues.

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