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Culture Shock in Romania

The culture of Romania has been shaped by a difficult history. Locals value privacy and don't tend to trust strangers readily. As a result, Romanians may initially seem distant and formal when it comes to dealing with foreigners. It's not always easy to progress to a friendship, but expats who manage to do so will find that Romanians are warm, friendly and welcoming to those they trust.

The country has opened up to the world at large, meaning that the challenges expats face when adjusting to life in Romania are diminishing as it becomes increasingly Westernised. Despite this, there is much that makes Romania unique and that might inspire some degree of culture shock. Preparation, and learning about the local culture beforehand, is vital to navigating some of these stresses.

Language barrier in Romania

The country's official language is Romanian, which is spoken by nearly 90 percent of the population. The second most common language is Hungarian, which is spoken by just under 7 percent and is most prominent in the Transylvania region.

Expats will be relieved to find that the major cities have a lot of English speakers who are generally extremely helpful when a foreigner gets lost. English-speaking expats sometimes find they can shop and complete basic transactions by saying no more than "hello" (bună ziua) and "thank you" (mulţumesc) in Romanian.

Finding a job, on the other hand, will likely require a few months of language training. The good news is that there are several language schools in Romania.

Dining in Romania

Romanians are proud of their local cuisine and enjoy hosting. It's a treat to be invited for dinner at a Romanian's house, and guests can expect to be fully catered to.

It's polite to take one's shoes off at the front door. Expats should look to see if their host or fellow guests are wearing shoes and follow suit. Bringing a small gift for the host, such as flowers, a box of chocolate or liquor, is a nice touch and shows appreciation for the invitation.

When eating, be sure to finish the entire plate. Leaving anything behind implies that the food wasn't good enough. Expect to be offered a second or even third helping. Diners may wish to politely decline at first – the host will then offer again, at which point they should accept the offer. Once full, it's okay to say no to additional helpings, but guests should emphasise their enjoyment of the meal in order to reassure hosts that the refusal is not due to dissatisfaction with the food.

Bureaucracy and corruption in Romania

The most significant cause of culture shock for expats often comes from the country's inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure and high levels of corruption. Corruption exists on a spectrum and can be as innocuous as offering a bouquet of flowers to a nurse in the hospital or as blatant as delivering an envelope full of cash to a doctor to prevent negligence.

Expats navigating the channels of government and the business world often struggle to adapt to this. It's recommended that expats who regularly negotiate business deals or interact with the government receive cross-cultural training to become more adept at navigating Romania's bureaucracy and incidences of corruption.

Time in Romania

In Romania, sticking to precise timing for dinner and business appointments is essential. However, for more casual social gatherings or parties, expats should aim to arrive about 15 minutes after the starting time. Showing up right on time for social gatherings, especially those hosted at someone's home, can be awkward and will likely inconvenience the host.

Roma people in Romania

While expats from Western Europe or North America may have a romanticised view of the Roma people, most locals don't share this idea. Expressing positive or even neutral attitudes toward them will often garner stern looks or even flat-out hostility. Many Romanians attribute their distaste towards the Roma to the perceived high levels of criminality in this group. That said, it is important to remember that crime exists in all communities, and attributing a higher likelihood of criminal behaviour to one specific group may not accurately reflect the broader context of social conditions and inequalities.

Education and Schools in Romania

The Romanian educational system faces challenges such as student underachievement and low state expenditure. As public education is taught in Romanian, most expats choose to send their children to international or private schools, especially as the quality of education is higher in these schools.

All children in Romania must attend school from the age of five, but many children also attend kindergarten at three or four years old.

Public schools in Romania

Public education in Romania is free for residents. There aren't many first-class schools in the country, and those schools with a good reputation often have long waiting lists. As a result, overcrowding at these schools is common.

Schools in Bucharest and other large cities are often better than those in rural areas since they are better equipped and adequately staffed. Rural schools might only offer certain years of schooling and have a limited number of teachers.

Given that students are taught in Romanian, public schools might not be the best option for expats unless their children are young and the family intends to stay in the country for the long term.

Private schools in Romania

The number of private schools in Romania has increased since the1990s. Private education is available from kindergarten to high school and does not usually follow the national curriculum. Romanian private schools can be expensive.

International schools in Romania

For expats in Romania, international schools are the most popular choice, most of which are situated in Bucharest. Although there isn't an extensive selection, there are a few to choose from. Tuition is expensive, but these schools all offer quality education for the expat community. International schools in Romania can benefit parents too, as they can help them make new acquaintances and form social connections.

Some of the most commonly found curricula in international schools are the International Baccalaureate and the British programme (including Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels). In order to enrol in a Romanian international school, expats will have to provide a selection of documents, including application forms, prior school records, references and the child's birth certificate.

Special-needs education in Romania 

The Romanian government has implemented a policy of inclusion with the aim of integrating special-needs children into mainstream schools and therefore providing all children with the same educational opportunities. Dedicated special-needs schools also exist for those whose needs can't be accommodated in a mainstream school.

The majority of the schools in Bucharest, including international schools, have facilities and teachers that can assist children with a variety of special needs. Many schools also have specialised occupational therapists and other special needs professionals in place to help these children. Only if a child cannot adapt to mainstream schooling will they be transferred to a special-needs school. 

Tutors in Romania

Private home or online tutors are available in Romania to assist children with particular subjects and additional school support. Expats moving to rural areas will most likely struggle to find an in-person tutor and should opt for online tutoring instead.

Those living in Romanian cities may find it helpful to hire a tutor to help their child adapt to their new school curriculum, if different from their schooling at home, as well as the language of instruction. Romanian can be a challenging language to learn, and it may be helpful to have extra Romanian lessons with a tutor. 

There are many websites and companies that advertise private online or home tutors in Romania. These companies include Verbling, Tutoroo and TeachMe2.

Healthcare in Romania

Healthcare in Romania is universally free for those working there, but it may not be up to the standards that expats have come to expect in their home countries.

Some hospitals are better equipped than others. These are usually found in the larger cities. Hospitals in Bucharest, for example, tend to offer a decent standard of care, but supplies in small-town hospitals are limited.

Stressful conditions and low salaries mean that bribery is common among medical staff. It's not uncommon for patients to give them gifts or money in exchange for better service. That said, this is less likely to occur in the private sector.

Health insurance in Romania

In order to be issued a visa, expats moving to Romania need to have private medical insurance. This should provide comprehensive coverage and allow patients to use private facilities.

As public facilities aren't up to the standards of most Western countries, it is recommended that expats ensure that they are covered by a comprehensive private health insurance policy when moving to Romania. International health insurance companies are recommended, as they are experienced in expat healthcare matters and often offer the most appropriate coverage.

Public healthcare in Romania

Public medical care in the country is managed by the National Health Insurance House (NHIH), which provides free or subsidised care to all Romanian residents, including expats. Those working in Romania will have their public healthcare contributions automatically deducted from their salaries.

Many expats find that the standard of public healthcare in Romania is inadequate. Public medical facilities tend to be understaffed and have outdated equipment. Long waiting times to receive treatment are another common complaint. 

During short visits, EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access public healthcare in Romania, provided it was issued in another EU country. UK citizens can use their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Private healthcare in Romania

Private healthcare is an ever-expanding industry in Romania. Private hospitals are the best option for expats looking for world-class healthcare in Romania, while private clinics are a good option for less serious conditions. Private medical facilities are usually restricted to urban areas, and staff are typically well-trained and can generally speak English.

Patients at private hospitals are usually expected to pay for medical services in cash and then claim back from their health insurance company afterwards.

For a list of private hospitals in the capital, see Healthcare in Bucharest.

Pharmacies in Romania

Pharmacies are available throughout Romania. They can be found attached to some hospitals and should stock most medicines.

Most common over-the-counter and prescription medications are available in Romania, but expats who prefer a specific brand should bring a supply with them, as generics may be the only option in Romania. It's also important to be aware that certain medications available over-the-counter in some countries may be prescription-only in Romania, and vice versa.

Health hazards in Romania

There aren't any major health hazards in Romania, though it's best to drink only bottled water and avoid bites from sandflies, which can carry illness. The country has a high rate of tuberculosis, and expats should make an effort to stay away from infected individuals.

Vaccinations in Romania

All standard vaccinations, including those for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, shingles and tetanus, should be up to date before travelling to Romania. Additional recommended vaccinations include Covid-19 and hepatitis A and B.

Emergency services in Romania

In an emergency, expats use the EU emergency line (112). The line offers assistance in numerous languages.

Emergency response times can vary depending on the area in Romania. In some cases, and if possible, it might be faster for patients to make their own way to medical treatment facilities.

Keeping in Touch in Romania

Although far from home, expats will soon find that keeping in touch in Romania and staying connected with loved ones abroad is relatively hassle free.

Expats living in Romania can expect access to all the amenities of modern communication. Signing up for cellular subscriptions is easy, and a range of service providers offer internet packages. Those who prefer more traditional forms of communication will find that the Romanian postal service, although slow-moving, is highly dependable. 

Mobile phones in Romania

The largest mobile providers in the country are Telekom Romania, Orange, Vodafone and Digi. In terms of internet access, 4G has comprehensive coverage, but 5G is also becoming available in some areas as it is gradually rolled out.

Stores are widely distributed, and there are plenty of deals on offer, with both prepaid and contract options. Customers may be asked to provide documentation proving their identity, place of residence and financial status.

Internet in Romania

The four major mobile providers in Romania (Telekom Romania, Orange, Vodafone and Digi) also dominate the internet market.

The industry is highly competitive; accessing the internet and connecting to a broadband service provider in Romania is cheap and easy. Expats can enjoy some of the highest connection speeds in the world, and subscribers are sure to find a connection package that suits their budget and needs.

Postal services in Romania

The Romanian postal service (Poșta Română) is not especially reliable and doesn't have a good reputation, particularly when it comes to international deliveries. Expats have reported letters and packages taking months to arrive at their intended destination, and in some cases not arriving at all. Sending and receiving postage within Romania is slightly better, though still slow. Tracking numbers are highly recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions about Romania

Expats considering a move to Romania will naturally have many concerns about life in their new home. Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Romania.

Is there a sizable expat community in Romania?

Romania is somewhat off the beaten path as an expat destination, but there are pockets of expats in the larger cities, particularly in Bucharest and Brașov. There are even some expat clubs in Bucharest. The Diplomat Bucharest and Nine o'Clock are great English news and media sources within the country.

Is Bucharest the only large 'expat city' in Romania?

Bucharest is not the only expat city in Romania, but it is the most popular. Many jobs available for expats are situated in Bucharest. Brașov is also a large city with some expats living there, though Bucharest's expat community is significantly larger.

Will I need to buy a car to get around Romania?

The public transport network in Romania is extensive and generally works well. The road network also extends across the country and is easy to use, but some roads aren't paved, and many of the roads fell into disrepair during the communist era. Owning a car in Romania is tricky, as the state of the roads in many parts of the country escalates the maintenance costs. We recommend public transport for most situations.

Is it necessary to have both a work permit and a visa to work in Romania?

To live and work in Romania, expats need both a long-term stay visa and a work permit. These are valid for a year and must be renewed at least 30 days before they expire. After living in the country for five years, expats can apply for permanent residency.

Embassy Contacts for Romania

Romanian embassies abroad

  • Embassy of Romania, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 332 2392

  • Embassy of Romania, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7937 8069

  • Embassy of Romania, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 3709

  • Embassy of Romania, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6286 2343

  • Embassy of Romania, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 460 0060

  • Embassy of Romania, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 668 1150

Foreign embassies in Romania

  • United States Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 200 3300

  • British Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 201 7351

  • Canadian Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 307 5000

  • Australian Consulate, Bucharest: +40 21 206 2200

  • South African Embassy, Budapest, Hungary (also responsible for Romania): +36 13 920 999

  • Irish Embassy, Bucharest: +40 21 408 8000

Public Holidays in Romania




New Year's Day

1–2 January

1–2 January

Union Day

24 January

24 January

Orthodox Good Friday

14 April

3 May

Orthodox Easter Sunday

16 April

5 May

Orthodox Easter Monday

17 April

6 May

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Children's Day

1 June

1 June

Orthodox Whit Sunday

4 June

23 June

Orthodox Whit Monday

5 June

24 June

Assumption Day

15 August

15 August

Feast of Saint Andrew

30 November

30 November

National Day

1 December

1 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Second Day of Christmas

26 December

26 December


Cost of Living in Romania

The cost of living in Romania is a relative bargain for expats. Ranking 158th out of 227 cities in the 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Bucharest is slightly more expensive than neighbouring capitals, such as Sofia, Bulgaria (170th) and Budapest, Hungary (180th). It's still well below the cost of Western European giants such as London, UK (15th) and Vienna, Austria (21st)

Rural areas and smaller cities such as Pitești, Cluj-Napoca and Iași are cheaper than the larger urban areas that are more popular with expats, including the likes of Timișoara, Sibiu and Brașov. Bucharest is significantly more expensive than any of these, but as it's also where most opportunities and infrastructure are centred, most expats settle here.

Cost of accommodation in Romania

The cost of accommodation in Romania is not as low as expats may expect. Many of the apartment blocks in cities such as Bucharest are old and in need of repair, so expat families with children often prefer to live in more expensive gated communities comprising newly built houses.

In addition to rent, expats will need to include the cost of utility bills in their budget. On the upside, most foreigners can afford a cleaner and/or babysitter, as domestic help is affordable and easy to find. 

Cost of groceries in Romania

Locally sourced food, such as fruit, vegetables, and dairy is cheap, but the availability of produce is based on the season. Conversely, branded Western goods, which are often stocked in supermarkets, tend to be expensive.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Romania

The cost of eating out and entertainment in Romania can vary depending on the type of establishment and location, but generally speaking, it is relatively cheaper compared to most Western European countries. Alcohol is also reasonably affordable in the country, but drinks in tourist areas can be pricier.

As for entertainment, Romania has a vibrant cultural scene with a rich history, and expats can expect to find a variety of activities and events. Bucharest is known for its thriving nightlife, with many bars, clubs and music venues to choose from. Additionally, there are also cinemas, theatres and museums to visit, as well as parks and outdoor spaces for relaxing and enjoying the city's scenery.

Cost of transport in Romania

Expats who choose to live outside of the city and commute to town to save on accommodation costs may find that the transport costs of such a choice can be higher than anticipated. The state of Romanian roads is subpar, and petrol is only slightly cheaper than in most of Europe.

On the other hand, Romanian public transport is inexpensive, routes are fairly extensive, and there are many options in the form of buses, trains and taxis, particularly in Bucharest, where the metro is widely praised.

Cost of healthcare in Romania

Expats working in Romania have free access to public healthcare services. Despite this, expats are also required to have private medical insurance to secure their residency status. Although private care incurs a variety of small and possibly trivial costs, it's still cheaper than in many other European countries, as well as the US. 

Cost of education in Romania

New arrivals with children who speak Romanian or who intend to remain in the country for the long term may benefit from sending them to a Romanian public school, which is free for all residents. 

As the language of instruction in these schools is Romanian, most expats send their children to international schools. Tuition for these schools is typically expensive and often doesn't cover extra expenses such as uniforms and books. Education may form the highest expenditure for expats in Romania.

Cost of living in Romania chart

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider, and the table below is based on average prices for Bucharest in April 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

RON 4,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

RON 2,800

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

RON 2,300

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

RON 1,630

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

RON 15

Milk (1 litre)


Rice (1kg)


Loaf of white bread


Chicken breasts (1kg)

RON 29

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

RON 23

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

RON 220

Big Mac Meal

RON 27

Coca-Cola (330ml)

RON 8.40


RON 12.80

Bottle of beer (local)

RON 11


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

RON 0.38

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

RON 40

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

RON 600


Taxi rate/km


City-centre public transport fare


Gasoline (per litre)

RON 7.20

Visas for Romania

Although Romania is an EU member, it has yet to adopt the Schengen visa. Until this situation changes, expats may need to apply for a separate visa for Romania.

Expats have various options for getting a visa to suit their specific needs. Whether planning a business trip or moving to Romania to join family or to work, there is a process that applicants have to go through to get their Romanian visa. This can be time-consuming, but organised expats with the right supporting documents should get through the process quite smoothly.

Holders of a multiple-entry visa for, and legal residents of, Schengen area countries are allowed to enter Romania without a visa and stay for 90 days in a 180-day period.

Short-stay tourist visas for Romania

To apply for a short-stay tourist visa for Romania, expats must have a valid passport with at least two blank pages. EU citizens and nationals of selected countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, do not need a visa to enter Romania as a visitor.

Though Romania isn't a Schengen visa country, expats with a multiple-entry Schengen visa don't need to have a separate visa for Romania for stays of less than 90 days.

Nationals of non-exempt countries will need to apply for a Romanian tourist visa. There are different categories of short-stay visas which cater to different travel purposes, most of which limit visits to a maximum period of 90 days.

Expats should apply for a visa at their closest Romanian embassy or consulate. A variety of supporting documents need to be provided. This includes application forms, passport photos, bank statements, proof of health insurance and proof of onward travel. The embassy will return the original documents to the applicant, in case they are requested by Romanian border police upon entry.

The process can take up to 30 days and application fees can vary for certain countries. More detailed information can be found on the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Long-stay visas for Romania

There are several long-stay visas for Romania which fall into different categories based on the purpose of the stay, including economic activities, employment, studies and family reunification. The validity of a visa varies depending on the category. Expats will have to pay an application fee.

Employment visas for Romania

Applying for a work permit in Romania requires that an expat's prospective employer prove to the Romanian government that they have been unable to fill the position with a Romanian national. Once the government has approved this and granted a work permit, expats will need to apply for a long-stay visa for employment purposes.

Residence visas for Romania

Expats moving to Romania with the intention of staying permanently will need to apply for a temporary residence permit. This allows individuals to stay in Romania for longer than 90 days and can be obtained from the Romanian Embassy. It's also advisable for expats to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the area in which they plan to live before moving to Romania. 

Expats who aren't married to a Romanian citizen can apply for permanent residence after living in the country for five years. Applicants for permanent residence permits for Romania will need to undergo health checks, criminal clearance and provide documents relating to their civil status, financial situation and medical insurance.

Family-joining visas for Romania

Family members wishing to join an expat living in Romania need to apply for a long-stay visa for family rejoining. To do this, they'll need to fill out an application for each person wanting to travel to Romania. Documents such as passports, photos, police clearance and medical checks will be required. The expat living in Romania will also need to get approval from immigration authorities.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Moving to Romania

Situated along the western edge of the Black Sea, Romania encompasses the beaches on its eastern shores and the Carpathian Mountains, which give way to rolling hills, forests, farmlands and rustic villages. Romania's capital, Bucharest, stands on the banks of the Dambovita River and is the most popular destination for expats moving to the country. 

Expats are sure to find the move to Romania both challenging and rewarding. A relatively safe country, new arrivals soon learn that Romania has much to offer, especially as the country grows as an international tourist destination and a gateway to business in Eastern Europe.

Living in Romania as an expat

While expats moving to Romania are treading somewhat off the beaten track when it comes to worldwide expat destinations, the country is an EU-member state, welcoming business and trade, eager to make its mark on the business world. Despite this, there are some adjustments that new arrivals will have to make, as most expats experience elements of culture shock.

The official language in the country is Romanian, while a small proportion of the population speaks German and Hungarian. English-speaking expats will need to get used to how scarcely spoken their language is. That said, it is spoken more often in larger cities such as Bucharest, Constanta and Brasov, as well as tourist destinations.

Expats looking to work in Romania often move to its capital. They generally find employment in construction, engineering, IT, communications, software development or teaching English.

Accommodation in Romania is varied enough to suit any expat's needs and budget. Options range from new and modern apartments to Soviet-era blocks to beautiful villas outside city centres.

Cost of living in Romania

Although salaries in Romania are some of the lowest in Europe, this is offset by the country's low cost of living. Local produce and public transport are relatively cheap throughout the country, although big urban centres are generally more expensive than the smaller towns and cities.

Expat families and children 

Although public education is free in Romania, the majority of expats send their children to international schools. Mostly located in Bucharest, these schools are expensive, and expats should therefore make provisions in their budget for this or negotiate a school allowance into their salary.

There is much to be said about the lifestyle offered by Romania. A treasure trove of cultural and historical attractions awaits, while cheap and easy travel throughout Romania and to neighbouring countries makes for plenty of chances for the perfect weekend getaway.

Climate in Romania

Romania has a continental climate with four distinct seasons, including mild springs and autumns, sunny summers and chilly winters. Expats will be able to practise their skiing in winter, with snow typically falling from December through to March throughout the country. Generally, expats can look forward to summers spent in the sun, enjoying the Romanian countryside, although they may experience some rain. 

A fascinating meeting point between Eastern and Western cultures, Romania offers expats a range of outdoor destinations, interesting cuisine and fantastic cultural sights to explore.

Fast facts

Population: Nearly 19 million

Capital city: Bucharest (also largest city)

Neighbouring countries: Romania is bordered by Moldova and Ukraine to the east, Bulgaria to the south and Serbia and Hungary to the west.

Geography: This Eastern European country sits on the Black Sea and is characterised by mountainous terrain, with the Carpathian Mountains dominating the country's interior. The Danube River, which forms part of the border with Serbia and Bulgaria, flows into Romania, ending with the Danube Delta (the second largest river delta in Europe) in southeastern Romania. 

Political system: Semi-presidential republic

Main languages: Romanian is the official language. English is sometimes spoken in tourist centres and major cities.

Major religions: Christianity is the largest religion in Romania, with Eastern Orthodox being the largest denomination.

Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 for daylight savings, from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. 'Type-F', round two-pin plugs, are used

Money: The Romanian Leu (RON) is divided into 100 baniATMs are widely available in the country's urban areas, and credit cards are accepted at most establishments. 

International dialling code: +40

Emergency numbers: 112

Internet domain: .ro

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right side of the road. Getting around Romania is relatively easy thanks to its developed public transport system, particularly in Bucharest.

Transport and Driving in Romania

There are several options when it comes to transport and driving in Romania. Buses and trains can be used for cross-country travel as well as within cities. Although some expats drive in Romania, many prefer not to due to poor-quality roads, especially outside of large cities.

Public transport in Romania

Public transport in Romania is well developed, especially in Bucharest. Tickets are affordable, and a combination of bus and rail travel means that most of the country is accessible via public transport. 


Bus services in Romania are widely available. Passengers should buy tickets before boarding, and they can usually be purchased at bus stations. Buses can be crowded during peak hours, and petty theft is common. Expats should guard their valuables at all times.

Privately run express buses are a good option for inter-city travel. Terminals are often located close to city train stations. Euroline buses can be faster than trains when travelling to other parts of Europe. 


Trains are an inexpensive way to travel in Romania. The rail network is dense and covers most of the country, but the infrastructure is old in many places, so trains may be slow at times or experience delays.

The country's train network was once run entirely by CFR (Căile Ferate Române), but today numerous private companies operate rail services throughout Romania, including commuter trains, intercity trains and international trains. 

Trains are an efficient means of travelling to Romania's neighbouring countries, including Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria. Tickets can be bought online or at stations before boarding.


Bucharest is home to Romania's only metro system, though similar systems have been proposed in other large cities. The Romania metro is reliable and is a commonly used form of transport within the city, consisting of more than 60 stations.

Taxis in Romania

Taxis in Romania are affordable. Expats should be careful not to use unauthorised taxis, however, because they are known to inflate their fares. Authorised taxis usually have their company's name and phone number on the car. It's best to use metered taxis and to insist that the driver switches it on at the beginning of the journey.

Some ride-hailing and taxi-service apps operate in Romania's main cities, including Uber and Bolt.

Driving in Romania

Some expats, especially those living in rural areas, buy cars to get around Romania. The driving laws in Romania are strict. Expats should stick to the speed limit and follow road rules. This includes having the correct documents in the car at all times.

Driving in Romania can be hazardous as the driving culture can be reckless, and roads in some areas may not be well maintained. Parking is also a problem in Romanian cities, and reserved parking is usually expensive.

Winters in Romania can be especially treacherous for drivers. Ice on the roads is not always cleared away regularly, so expats should ensure they have fitted winter tyres or snow chains when necessary. Romanian law also requires cars to have their lights on at all times.

Most expats from outside the EU will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP), although those from the UK can drive on their licence from home. This can be used for up to 90 days, by which point the driver must have obtained a Romanian licence to continue driving. Drivers with a licence from any EU or EEA country can continue to use this licence until its expiry.

Weather in Romania

Romania has a continental climate with four distinct seasons, including mild springs and autumns, sunny summers, and chilly winters. Expats moving to Romania will be able to practice their skiing in winter, with snow typically falling from December through to March throughout the country. Winter temperatures average 84ºF (-3ºC), with the potential for heavy winds that can make the cold rather unpleasant.

Spring, from the end of March to June, has cool mornings and nights. This gives way to warm summers, during which expats may experience some rain. Generally, they can look forward to summers spent in the sun, enjoying the Romanian countryside, especially as daily temperatures range between 77°F (25°C) and 86°F (30°C). Autumn begins at the end of September, bringing both cool and dry weather.


Doing Business in Romania

Expats doing business in Romania are often attracted by its large domestic market, its young and educated workforce, and its prominent position in Eastern Europe. Functioning for many businesses as a gateway to the Balkans, the country is expected to continue growing at a steady pace.

The attractiveness of Romania's business environment is reflected in its positive rankings in international business surveys. Most notably, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020 ranked Romania at 55th out of 190 economies. The country ranked first for trading across borders and also scored well for enforcing contracts (19th). That said, there is room for improvement when it comes to dealing with construction permits and getting electricity, where the country ranked 147th and 157th respectively. 

Fast facts

Business hours

The Romanian working week is from Monday to Friday, with business hours typically being from 9am to 5pm.

Language of business

The language of business is generally Romanian, although many people also speak other major European languages such as English, French or German.


Shaking hands when meeting business partners is customary. Neglecting to do so would be seen as an insult.

Business dress

Dress code varies according to the situation. In formal business settings, dressing conservatively is recommended – suits for men and a skirt that falls below the knee for women. Business casual is acceptable for more relaxed settings.

Gift giving

Giving small gifts to business partners is considered polite and is fairly common. A traditional gift from the expat’s home country is usually a safe bet in a business context. Being invited to a colleague’s home is a special honour, and a gift of chocolates or wine is customary. Gifts are often opened in the presence of the giver.

Gender equality

While gender equality is guaranteed by Romanian law, most executive and management positions are still held by men.

Business culture in Romania

Romanian business culture is formal and hierarchical, with an emphasis on respect for seniors and elders. Decisions are made from the top down and are rarely questioned by junior associates.


Interactions in business are usually formal and associates address each other using formal titles. Should an expat develop a more informal relationship with a Romanian associate, it's still expected that they would address them appropriately in formal situations. The most common formal titles in Romania are domnul (Mr), doamnă (Mrs) and domnişoară (Miss).


This extends to meetings in Romania, which often follow a strict protocol. Expats should wait to be seated and only take off their jackets after the most senior person in the room does so. Small talk should be avoided unless initiated by local associates. Punctuality is important, especially in the private sector, although expats should be prepared to wait.

Direct communication is valued but expats should also be sensitive and patient, especially when providing an opposing viewpoint. Part of this is maintaining eye contact, which is a sign of respect and interest.

Formality tends to soften as individual relationships form, but this isn't a process that can be forced or rushed. Expats should allow their Romanian associates to set the tone of discussions.


Despite the layers of formality, relationships are central to success in the Romanian workplace. Partially as a result of its communist heritage, the collective is valued above the individual.

Attitude to foreigners

Romanians have a reputation for being hospitable and are generally known to be friendly towards foreigners. Locals who live in urban areas are often able to speak foreign languages such as English, French or German, making communication a lot easier for many expats. At the same time, many Romanian businesspeople are wary of being taken advantage of by foreign companies, meaning that expats will have to work hard to build trust.

Dos and don’ts of doing business in Romania

  • Do be direct but sensitive, and focus on business, unless otherwise prompted

  • Don’t talk or make jokes about the communist regime or Roma people

  • Don’t be late for meetings, or call ahead and apologise if it is unavoidable

  • Don’t boast about achievements or make exaggerated claims

  • Do display courtesy at all times

Accommodation in Romania

There is a good supply of accommodation in Romania with enough variety to suit almost any expat's budget. Certain factors will have to be taken into consideration, including size, cost, transport options and distance from work or school.

Bucharest is home to the largest enclave of expats in Romania, and although it has the country's priciest accommodation, it's still fairly cheap compared to the US and Western European capitals. No matter where in Romania they end up, expats can save a few pennies by living in outlying suburban areas rather than city centres.

Types of accommodation in Romania

Accommodation within cities is usually limited to either modern or old Soviet-style apartment blocks, while housing beyond the city limits varies but tends to be more spacious. Accommodation for expats moving to Romania includes bachelor and multi-bedroom apartments, as well as small cottages and larger villas.

When looking to rent property in Romania, it is important to note that phrases such as 'three-roomed apartment' in property advertisements usually refer to the total number of rooms in the entire apartment, not the number of bedrooms (this applies to houses too).

Furnished or unfurnished

Expats can find both furnished and unfurnished accommodation in Romania. Short-term accommodation is typically fully furnished and serviced, while it's somewhat rarer, but not impossible, to find fully furnished homes in long-term accommodation. The extent of furnishing available can vary widely – sometimes everything down to bedsheets and cutlery is included, while other times, furnishing is limited to basic appliances and large pieces of furniture such as couches and beds.

In some cases, the tenant may be able to choose whether to rent a particular house or apartment with furniture, without furniture or partially furnished. Including furnishings does push up the rent, but if an expat is staying for a limited period of time, it's more cost-effective to rent rather than buy furniture or ship goods from home.

Short lets

When first arriving in Romania, it's a good idea to first rent short-term accommodation. In doing so, expats will have time to explore the city's various neighbourhoods and will be able to arrange everything in person. Short lets can last from a few days to a few months, allowing expats flexibility and convenience. Airbnb is a popular option for short lets, or expats could use a property management company.

Finding accommodation in Romania

Online property portals provide a good starting point for finding accommodation in Romania. They can give a broad idea of cost and availability in various areas. Real estate scams can occur on these portals, however, so expats should always view the property in person before handing over any money.

Another option is to use the services of reputable English-speaking real estate agents who are familiar with the local market. They can assist with paperwork and lease negotiations and are also useful in negotiating with prospective landlords who don't speak English.


Property portals

Renting accommodation in Romania

The cost of renting in Romania will make up the bulk of most expats' living expenses. This cost is on par with, or sometimes cheaper than, accommodation in other Eastern European countries. Renting accommodation in a city centre will generally cost more than in smaller towns and outlying areas, and the rent will obviously be much higher in a modern apartment block than in a 1950s communist building.


Lease agreements in Romania tend to last for at least 12 months or can have an indefinite length, but expats may be able to negotiate shorter leases. Rent is paid monthly and may include basic utilities. Furnished accommodation is also available at a higher price.


Expats may need to undergo a background check or supply references as part of the application process. This can be tricky when one is new to the country with no rental history. If an expat can convince their employer to act as a reference, this will be to their advantage.


In order to secure a lease, expats typically pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent – the legal maximum is three months' rent. The deposit must be held at the landlord's bank. At the end of the contract, the landlord may deduct expenses from the deposit for repairs to the property and unpaid bills. Unless otherwise stipulated, there may be a penalty for terminating the lease with less than 1–2 months' notice.

Costs and fees

Expats who secure their lease through estate agents will have to pay agency fees based on the monthly rent cost.

Those with a car should make sure where they can park and what the fees involved will be. Not all accommodation automatically includes a parking space.

Termination of the lease

If the contract has a defined period, such as 12 months, then the tenant can terminate the lease for any reason as long as they give notice. Landlords can only terminate a defined lease early to meet their or their family's personal housing needs. Contracts without defined periods can be cancelled by either party. In all cases, each party must give at least 60 days' notice to the other party.

Utilities in Romania

Utility fees may or may not be included in the monthly rental fee. This usually depends on the landlord. Expats should ask which items (for example, gas, water or electricity) they would have to pay themselves before signing the lease agreement.

The electricity in Romania is managed by the mostly state-owned company, Transelectrica. Romania's water services and garbage removal are both managed by various private companies, so expats should ask their landlords for a recommendation.

Relocation companies in Romania

Relocation firms are a one-stop solution to the moving needs of individuals, families and companies. When moving to Romania, expats may find that the process is not as straightforward as they had hoped, but relocation businesses offer a full suite of services to help ease the burden. They can help with everything from removals, visas and pre-departure briefing to neighbourhood orientation, home-finding services and school selection. 

Below are two excellent international relocation firms we highly recommend. 

International relocation companies



Sanelo specialises in providing customised end-to-end moving services to Romania. Their experts are available 24/7 to make sure things go to plan and to ensure that their clients are fully supported throughout the process. Clients get five-star protection and coverage, first-rate packing, and expert guidance on immigration and custom clearance all through a single point of contact. 


santa fe

Santa Fe Relocation

With more than 50 years experience, Santa Fe Relocation offers a full spectrum of relocation services. They are a global firm that can manage any move to Romania for both corporate relocations and individual expats. Their services include everything from home search, school search and moving services, to arrival orientation, pet relocation and more. 


Working in Romania

Expats planning to work in Romania may find the job market difficult to enter. Competition for jobs is high and salaries in Romania are relatively low.

Foreigners wishing to work in Romania need to have a relevant work permit. Although EU and EEA nationals are exempt from this, they will still need to apply for a residence permit.

Work permits are related to a specific job and the employer will usually take care of all the details for the application. To employ a foreigner, the hiring company needs to demonstrate that there are no EU or EEA candidates able to fill the role.

Job market in Romania

Romania has a wealth of relatively untapped economic potential. Large areas of the country are undeveloped or dedicated to agriculture. Paired with its natural beauty, a wide selection of cultural attractions underscores a tourism industry that is open for development and investment. 

Other areas in which expats may find opportunities in Romania include the resource and energy sectors, the industrial sector and the manufacturing industry. The country also has a formidable services sector with potential for growth and a demand for qualified expats with experience in finance, business services and retail. There has been growth in the area of human resources too. Many HR agencies look to hire expats in executive positions at some of the larger companies and multinationals. 

Expats looking to work outside a corporate environment should consider working in the NGO sector or teaching in Romania. The ESL industry has also been growing in recent years. Regardless of industry, however, most expats in the country work in the capital, Bucharest. 

Finding work in Romania

Romanian companies are often quite insular and would rather hire locally than deal with the process of trying to obtain a work permit for a foreign employee. At the same time, the Romanian government is keen to attract foreign business and establish the country as a strategic base for businesses trying to invest in the Eastern European market.

Expats can search for employment via online job portals. As the state requires that Romanian companies announce their vacancies, many jobs are also listed on the Romanian National Employment Agency. Otherwise, expats should consider approaching a recruitment agency, as many focus on placing expat workers. 

Work culture in Romania

Romanian business culture is formal and hierarchical, with an emphasis on respect for seniors and elders. Decisions are made from the top down and are rarely questioned by junior associates.

Despite the layers of formality, relationships are central to success in the Romanian workplace. Partially as a result of its communist heritage, the collective is valued above the individual.

Direct communication is valued but expats should also be sensitive and patient, especially when providing an opposing viewpoint. Part of this is maintaining eye contact, which is a sign of respect and interest. Formality tends to soften as individual relationships form, but this isn't a process that can be forced or rushed. Expats should allow their Romanian associates to set the tone of discussions.

Diversity and inclusion in Romania

Work Permits for Romania

The laws governing work permits for Romania are similar to most European Union member states. After securing a work permit, non-EU citizens need to obtain a long-stay visa for employment purposes, which is also known as the D/AM employment visa. To start this process an applicant first needs to have been offered a job in Romania.

The Romanian government has a quota system in place that regulates the number of work permits granted to foreign employees each year, which may limit an expat's opportunities. 

Applying for a Romanian work permit

In most cases, a work permit has to be applied for by a business in Romania on behalf of its prospective employee. It is the employer’s responsibility to prove that the position could not be filled by a Romanian or a candidate from another EU/EEA country.

The employer must also prove that the candidate has the qualifications and experience for the position, and these documents must be provided by the expat. The process for obtaining a Romanian work permit can take several weeks.

Once an expat receives their work permit from their employer, they need to apply for a long-stay visa for work purposes at the Romanian embassy in their home country. To get the visa, a number of documents will have to be submitted.

After arriving in Romania, a non-EU expat will need to register with the Romanian Ministry of Finance and get their Cod de Identificare Fiscala (CIF), a tax registration certificate with similar functions to a personal identification number. Again, this will require several documents.

An expat’s long-stay visa is tied to their work permit, which is valid for a maximum of one year. Provided that they still work for the same employer, an expat would need to renew their long-stay visa at least 30 days before it expires, and the work permit would be renewed at the same time.

Expats travelling with their families will have to apply for a separate visa for each family member. Family members are not allowed to work in Romania unless they also have their own work permit. Those already in the country on a temporary residence permit would have to apply for a work permit if they want to take up employment in the country.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Romania

Managing banking, money and taxes in Romania is a relatively straightforward process. There are a number of options when it comes to managing expat finances in Romania, with both local and international banks operating in the country.

Currency in Romania

The Romanian Leu (RON) is the national currency, subdivided into 100 bani. The country will switch to the euro sometime within the next few years, though the exact timeframe is unclear.

The Romanian currency is available in the following denominations:

  • Banknotes: 1 RON, 5 RON, 10 RON, 20 RON, 50 RON, 100 RON, 200 RON and 500 RON

  • Coins: 1 ban, 5 bani, 10 bani and 50 bani

Banking in Romania

Banking in Romania is relatively easy. Expats will find all the services they are familiar with, such as internet banking. 

To open a bank account, expats will need their passport, proof of residency, previous bank statements and an initial deposit. Sometimes copies of an employment contract or salary slip are also needed. Requirements may differ between banks.

Some of the more popular banks in Romania include Banca Transilvania, Alpha Bank, BRD and Citibank.

Banking hours are usually from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs (bancomat) are widely available in larger cities, especially at bank branches and shopping centres. They are scarcer in rural areas and villages, though.

Stores in larger cities accept major international credit cards. Romania is largely a cash-based society, and some shops in smaller towns and villages are unlikely to accept cards, as credit fraud in Romania is an unfortunate reality. Expats should take appropriate precautions to avoid being scammed.

Taxes in Romania

The tax system in Romania is a great incentive for expats wanting to move to Eastern Europe. Romania has a flat personal income tax rate of 10 percent.

For tax purposes, an individual is considered a resident if they reside in Romania for at least 183 days within a 12-month period. Romanian residents and companies are required to pay taxes on their global income as well as their income within Romania. On the other hand, non-residents are taxed only on their income derived from within Romania.

Romania has double-tax avoidance agreements in place with several countries, so it's worthwhile for expats to check with a local tax office to see whether their home country has such an agreement in place with Romania.

Safety in Romania

On the whole, Romania is a safe country. Expats will rarely come into contact with crime, and if they do, it will likely be of the petty and non-violent variety. Corruption remains an ongoing concern, however, and is an unfortunate reality across many aspects of life in Romania. Despite this, expats who familiarise themselves with the country will feel secure in their new home.

Crime in Romania

Like in most countries, crime does occur in Romania, but it's generally opportunistic in nature and is therefore often avoidable. The most common forms of crime in Romania are petty theft and pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas and on public transport in the larger cities.

Sometimes organised groups of criminals work together, one person distracting the target while another lifts their purse, wallet or jewellery. To avoid becoming a target, don't wear flashy valuables, always stay aware and don't engage with strangers in known target areas.

Credit card fraud is an ongoing problem in Romania, with foreigners being specifically targeted, and ATM fraud can also occur. Although most shops and services in urban centres accept card payments, many expats prefer to use cash when making purchases in the countryside. If paying by card, don't let it out of sight, and when entering the PIN, be sure to cover the PIN pad. When drawing cash, use ATMs in well-lit public areas.

Corruption in Romania

Institutional crime, such as corruption, continues to be a problem, and new arrivals are advised to be wary of officials demanding bribes or issuing fines.

The Romanian government has tried to crack down on all forms of crime, including corruption and institutional crimes. Although the anti-corruption measures have not always been effective, there is evidence of some high-profile arrests in recent years.