Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Are you planning on driving in Romania? From mandatory documents to unpredictable mountain roads, our guide dives into everything you need to navigate Romanian roads safely and legally. Start your journey with confidence, armed with the latest on road conditions, traffic laws, and safety tips without the fluff.

Key takeaways

  • Romanian road conditions vary widely, with generally good-quality major highways but potentially challenging rural and secondary roads, mixed with unique hazards like animal traffic.
  • Drivers need proper documentation including a valid license, an International Driving Permit for non-EU drivers, and vehicle documents, along with a zero tolerance for drunk driving and mandated car equipment like first aid kits and warning triangles.
Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Understanding Romanian road conditions

Kicking off with the fundamentals, the exhilaration of a Romanian road trip through stunning environments is certain, yet it’s vital to comprehend what the road has in store.

Although the overall road quality might not meet your expectations, the state of Romania’s major urban streets and inter-urban roads is generally satisfactory, varying from acceptable to good. Although limited freeways and infrequent passing lanes might slow you down a bit, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak in the beautiful Romanian landscapes.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Rural areas and mountain roads

Moving on to rural areas, prepare yourself for a contrasting narrative. Rural roads in Romania are often shared by:

  • Pedestrians.
  • Cyclists.
  • Animal-drawn carts.
  • Farm animals.
  • Wildlife.

This creates potential hazards for drivers. And let’s not forget the mountain roads, like those in the Carpathians, which can get treacherous due to wet or icy conditions. But don’t let that discourage you! The stunning views and thrilling drives more than make up for it.

Secondary roads and city streets

Conversely, Romania’s road conditions can vary greatly. While the major highways are generally well-maintained and the main roads are in good condition, the secondary roads are typically:

  • Narrow.
  • Unsealed.
  • In poor condition.
  • With inadequate lighting.
  • Unmarked lanes.

If you’re planning to drive in Bucharest, be prepared for additional challenges such as inadequate street infrastructure due to the city’s rapid population growth. Don’t worry, though – navigating through these roads is all part of the fun!

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Necessary documentation for driving in Romania

Before embarking on your Romanian road journey, ensure that all your documentation is ready and organized. Rule number one: You must hold a full and valid driving license for at least one year. And if you’re from outside the EU/EEA, you’ll also need an International Driving Permit.

International Driving Permit

Romania accepts International Driving Permits (IDP), which is frequently a requirement for drivers hailing from non-EU nations. If you’re from the UK, you’re in luck – holders of UK photocard driving licenses do not require an IDP to drive in Romania. However, if your driving license is issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man, it’s best to check with the Romanian Embassy, as there may be additional stipulations or requirements that you need to be aware of. It’s always a good idea to stay informed of the latest regulations to ensure a hassle-free driving experience in this beautiful country.

For Americans and Canadians, securing an IDP is a straightforward process that can usually be completed through respective automobile associations. The IDP serves as a translation of your national driving license and is recognized in many countries around the world, Romania included. With your IDP in hand, you can confidently explore the scenic routes and historic byways that make driving in Romania such a memorable experience. Just remember to keep your original driving license on you at all times, as the IDP is only valid when accompanied by the license from your home country.

Vehicle registration and insurance

While motoring in Romania, carrying proof of insurance and your vehicle’s registration certificate is mandatory. This is a non-negotiable requirement, as Romanian traffic law stipulates that all drivers must be able to present these documents during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. Not having your insurance and registration on hand can lead to a heavy fine or even your vehicle being impounded.

So, it’s crucial to ensure that these documents are up-to-date and readily accessible in your vehicle at all times. Remember, being prepared with the correct paperwork is just as important as being aware of the road conditions and local driving laws when it comes to ensuring a smooth and stress-free driving experience in Romania.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Other important documents

In addition to your driving license, IDP, and vehicle registration, it’s necessary to keep a few more documents readily available. This includes your passport or any other proof of identity, a motor insurance certificate, and the vehicle’s V5 registration document.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Speed limit and traffic laws

Having sorted out the documentation, it’s time to discuss the traffic regulations. Romania has a set of speed limits and traffic laws that you’ll need to adhere to. Speed limits outside built-up areas are set to 50km/h, and when overtaking trams, you must do it on the right side of the road, unless on a one-way street or if there is no room on the right to do so.

And remember, Romania enforces a zero tolerance policy towards driving under the influence of alcohol, so it’s best to leave the partying for when you’re not behind the wheel.

Speed limits

The consistent speed limit in urban or built-up areas across Romania is 50 km/h. Once you’re outside urban areas, the national speed limit increases to 90 km/h on national roads, 100 km/h on European roads, and 130 km/h on highways.

To sum it up, expect speed limits of 50 km/h in urban areas, 90-100 km/h on national and European roads, and 130 km/h on highways.

Traffic lights and roundabout traffic

Romanian traffic lights adhere to standard international practices. Here are some rules to keep in mind:

  • You must stop at red lights.
  • You may turn on the right hand side if there is a green flashing right turn arrow indicating it is safe to do so.
  • At roundabouts, vehicles entering must yield to the traffic already circulating within the roundabout.

As in any other nation, adherence to road rules is vital to maintain a smooth flow of traffic on priority roads and, most importantly, to ensure safety. The traffic police play a crucial role in enforcing these rules and maintaining order on the roads.

Seat belt and child safety regulations

Buckle up, everyone! Seat belts are mandatory for all vehicle occupants in Romania. When it comes to child safety, children under 12 years old may not be transported in the front seat, and those under the minimum age of 3 years old must use an appropriate child restraint system like a car seat or booster seat.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Fueling your journey: Petrol stations and fuel prices

Okay, so you have your documents, you’re familiar with the road conditions, and you’re strapped in. But what about the fuel situation? Don’t worry, Romania has got you covered with a network of petrol stations that are as plentiful as the country’s famous castles.

Whether you’re cruising through the bustling bigger cities or venturing into the wild Carpathians, you’ll find a place to fill up and maybe grab a snack for the road too.

Locating petrol stations

Be it navigating the busy streets of Bucharest or leisurely driving along picturesque mountain roads, you won’t struggle to find petrol stations in Romania. And if you’re wondering where exactly to find these stations, there are various online maps and apps to help you out. Major petrol station brands in Romania include OMW, Petrom, and Lukoil, so at most petrol stations, you can rely on quality fuel.

Types of fuel available

Let’s discuss the variety of fuels accessible in Romania. Petrol, diesel, and LPG are the most common types of fuel available at Romanian petrol stations. The main varieties of gasoline available are Super 95 and Premium 98, which cater to different engine requirements and preferences. Additionally, for those who are environmentally conscious or looking to save on fuel costs, biofuels such as E10 (a blend of gasoline with 10% ethanol) are also available at select service stations.

Diesel options typically include standard diesel and a premium version, which promises better performance and efficiency for diesel-powered vehicles. LPG, also known as Autogas, is a popular alternative for drivers with vehicles that have been modified for LPG use, offering a cost-effective and cleaner burning option.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Staying safe on Romanian roads

Changing the topic, let’s discuss safety on Romanian roads. While driving in Romania is an adventure in itself, it’s important to be cautious and alert. Be it the narrow mountain roads or the busy city streets, safety should always be your top priority.

Dealing with wild animals and stray dogs

One of the unique challenges you might face while driving in Romania is the possibility of encountering wild animals and stray dogs on the roads. These unexpected encounters can range from a brief surprise to a serious road hazard, depending on the situation. While wild animals such as deer or bears may be a rare sight, they can pose significant risks if they suddenly cross your path, especially in forested areas or near national parks.

Stray dogs, on the other hand, are more commonly found wandering on the outskirts of urban areas or in rural regions, and can be unpredictable in their movements. It’s essential to stay vigilant, particularly during dawn and dusk when wildlife is more active, and to reduce speed accordingly to ensure both your safety and the well-being of the animals.

Understanding local driving habits

Local driving habits in Romania can vary greatly, and as a visitor, it’s important to observe and adapt to them. Some key points to keep in mind are:

  • Strict compliance with traffic regulations is enforced in Romania.
  • Maintain a clean vehicle to avoid fines.
  • Face severe penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or any other illegal substances.

Additionally, parked private vehicles often block pavements in built-up areas, leading to pedestrians walking on the streets, a situation that drivers must anticipate and navigate carefully.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Navigating toll roads and border crossings

Navigating toll roads and border crossings is another component of driving in Romania. To drive on motorways and state roads in Romania, a driver must have an e-vignette. This electronic sticker is mandatory for compliance with road usage fees. But hold on, there’s a bit more to this.

Let’s break it down in the following subsections.

Toll roads and electronic vignettes

To drive on Romanian toll roads, all motor vehicles, except motorcycles, need an electronic toll vignette known as ‘rovinieta’. These vignettes can be purchased online or at various points such as borders and petrol stations, and options cover weekly, monthly, three-month, and annual durations. And remember, failing to display a valid vignette can lead to hefty fines.

Also, Romania imposes extra road tolls and charges for the use of vehicles coming certain bridges over the Danube, which are not included in the vignette fee.

Border crossing points and procedures

If you’re planning to drive outside of Romania with your rental car, make sure to check with your rental company first. Often, driving a rented vehicle outside of Romania is not permitted without prior arrangement. So, it’s best to clarify these details before you set off on your cross-border adventure.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Essential items to carry while driving in Romania

When setting off on a Romanian road trip, there are several critical items to keep in your vehicle. Besides your driving license and other documentation, there are specific safety items that you need to carry to comply with local traffic laws.

In Romania, every vehicle is legally required to carry the following items:

  • Reflective jacket or fluorescent jacket.
  • Headlamp converters.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • First aid kit.

These items are not just legal requirements; they’re also crucial for ensuring the safety of all road users.

Winter tyres and snow chains

If you’re driving during the winter months or in snowy conditions, you’ll need to equip your vehicle with winter tires. For navigating mountain roads during winter, vehicles need to have winter tyres with deep treads for maximum traction.

So, don’t forget to check your tires before you hit the road!

Fire extinguisher and other safety equipment

Besides a first aid kit and winter tires, it’s also mandatory to have a fire extinguisher and a warning triangle in your car. The fire extinguisher can be indispensable for managing small fires, while the warning triangle is used to signal to other drivers in case your car becomes a hazard on the side of the road.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Renting a car in Romania

If you’re touring Romania and require a vehicle for your journey, renting a car is a superb choice. There are various types of rental cars available in Romania, such as a Nissan Juke, which can suit different terrains and personal preferences.

Choosing the right vehicle

When going for a hire car, it’s important to select a vehicle that aligns with your requirements. For city driving in Romania, smaller cars are recommended due to their ease of parking and better fuel economy. If you’re planning to cover long distances, larger cars with more powerful engines are recommended.

Insurance options and coverage

Carrying insurance is a requirement when renting a vehicle in Romania. The options for coverage can vary, so it’s important to assess what type of insurance you need. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) are commonly provided by Romanian rental companies, limiting or potentially absolving financial liability for car damage.

It’s also advisable to check with your credit card company if they offer such an insurance benefit to avoid redundant coverage.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Must-visit scenic drives in Romania

Driving in Romania is not merely about transportation from one point to another. It’s about the journey and the captivating landscapes you’ll traverse along the route. From the stunning Transfagarasan Highway to the captivating drives through Bicaz Gorges and Cazanele Dunarii, Romania offers some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world.

The Transfagarasan Highway

The Transfagarasan Highway is often acclaimed as one of the world’s most incredible and beautiful scenic drives. Built in the 1970s under Nicolae Ceaușescu’s rule for military purposes, the highway offers an engaging driving experience marked by sharp descents, hairpin turns, and a passage through the Poenari Fortress area, the real Dracula’s castle.

Just remember, the Transfagarasan Highway is closed annually from late October to late June due to snow and difficult weather conditions.

Other scenic routes and road trips

Beyond the Transfagarasan, Romania is home to a plethora of other scenic drives, each offering distinct historical contexts, landscapes, and attractions. Whether it’s the ‘King’s Road’ known as Transalpina, the stunning landscapes of Cheile Gradistei, or the dramatic landscapes and landmarks of Cazanele Dunarii, each drive offers an unforgettable road trip experience.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Emergency assistance and breakdown services

While we hope for a smooth Romanian road trip, it’s always wise to be prepared for potential emergencies. In the event of an accident in Romania, call 112 to seek emergency assistance. And for emergency roadside assistance, you can contact providers such as Allianz-Tiriac Asigurari, ACI Romania, and Europ Assistance Romania.

Emergency numbers and procedures

In Romania, dialing 112 connects you to emergency services such as the ambulance, fire brigade, and police. The operators can communicate in multiple languages, including English and French, so you don’t have to worry about language barriers in an emergency situation.

Breakdown services and assistance

Should your vehicle break down, a variety of roadside assistance services are available in Romania for your aid. Providers such as:

  • RAC European Breakdown Cover.
  • Allianz-Tiriac Asigurari.
  • ACI Romania.
  • Europ Assistance Romania.

offer services like vehicle towing, fuel delivery, and travel advice. These services are available 24/7 and can be contacted via dedicated emergency numbers.

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania


Navigating Romania’s roads is a journey full of surprises, from the diverse landscapes to unique road conditions and cultural encounters. Whether you’re planning to cruise along the stunning Transfagarasan Highway, navigate the bustling city streets, or explore the rural areas, being prepared with the right documentation, understanding road conditions, and adhering to traffic laws will ensure a smooth and safe journey. Remember, the adventure is not just about the destination, it’s about the journey. Happy driving!

Essential Guide To Driving In Romania

Frequently asked questions

What kind of documents do United Kingdom citizens need for driving in Romania?

For UK citizens planning to drive in Romania, it’s essential to have the proper documentation to ensure a smooth experience. UK photocard driving licenses are accepted, so there’s no need for an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you have one. However, if your license is from Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man, it’s a good idea to check in advance with the Romanian Embassy for any additional requirements or updates. Ensure that you have your driving license on you at all times, and don’t forget to carry your vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance.

These documents are essential for abiding by the local laws and for a smooth interaction with the authorities should the need arise. Additionally, a UK sticker is required to be displayed on your vehicle if it does not have EU registration plates that include the GB euro-symbol. This sticker is a legal requirement and must be clearly visible on the rear of your vehicle when driving in Romania or any other EU country. It serves as a nationality identifier and helps in avoiding potential fines or difficulties during your travels.

What are the required documents for non-EU citizens to drive in Romania?

For non European Union citizens wishing to drive in Romania, it is important to ensure you have all the necessary documentation to comply with the local laws and regulations. The primary document you will need is a valid driving license from your home country. If you are from a non-EU country, you will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a complementary document to your national driving license.

The IDP is an official translation of your national driving license and is recognized internationally. It is often required when renting a vehicle or driving a vehicle not registered in your name. It is also useful as an additional form of identification, as it includes your photograph and personal details. To obtain an IDP, you should contact the relevant authority in your home country, such as the national automobile association.

Is short term insurance available in Romania?

Romania offers various short-term insurance options that cater to the needs of travelers and temporary residents. These insurance policies can range from a few days to several months, providing flexibility and peace of mind for your journey.

Short-term car insurance in Romania can include third-party liability coverage, which is the minimum legal requirement, as well as comprehensive coverage options that protect against theft, fire, and damage to the vehicle.