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Driving in Romania – basic rules you have to know in advance

If you’re an expat who just settled in Romania, and if you will be driving in this country, then you surely will want to know the basic car driving and traffic rules. For example, did you know that you are not allowed to drive a car on Romanian roads until you have reached the age of 18? Only after you reach the age of 18 you can take the driving license exam. And taking the license exam is not an easy task to do.

Also, a very important aspect you have to know is that, according to the Romanian driving laws, foreigners are allowed to drive in Romania with their national driving license (issued by their home country) only for the first 90 days of living in the country.

If afterwards you still need to drive a car beyond this period of time, you will either have to exchange your national driving permit into a Romanian one, get an international driving license, or apply for a new Romanian driving license, by attending a driving school and taking the driving license exam.

We further explain below the basic rules you have to know about driving in Romania.

Main Romanian traffic rules

The basic traffic rules in Romania are not very different from those in other neighboring European countries. So, when it comes to traffic safety, you have to know that the Romanian traffic law is very strict. For example, the traffic police can take away your driving license right on the spot if you break any of the following traffic rules:

Your driving license will be suspended for 30 days if you:

  • don’t allow priority to pedestrians for crossing the street at crosswalks, if pedestrian is on your side of the road;
  • don’t allow priority to other vehicles in traffic, that have this right at crossroads;
  • trespassing the red color of the traffic light;
  • irregular overtaking of other cars in traffic (e.g., on continuous white line);
  • overtaking other vehicles while waiting at the red light or at railway crossings;
  • non-compliance with the orders of the traffic policeman;

Your driving license will be suspended for 60 days if you:

  • drive on a one-way street in the forbidden direction;
  • don’t comply with the temporary traffic ban on a public road;
  • don’t allow priority to other vehicles in traffic, irregular overtake or trespass the red color of the traffic light, and this results in a traffic accident with substantial damage;
  • don’t comply with the traffic rules regarding official columns or interleaving in such a column;

Your driving license will be suspended for 90 days if you:

  • drink and drive, in cases when your deed does not constitute a crime;
  • exceed by more than 50 km/h the maximum speed allowed on a road, and for the vehicle category;
  • driving a vehicle that has technical problems with the braking system or the steering mechanism;
  • don’t stop at the railway level crossing, if the barriers or semi-barriers are lowered, or being lowered, or if the red light and/or audible signals are active;

Romanian road tax

There are other important things you need to know before driving in Romania. For example, you will always need a ‘’Rovinieta’’ when using the roads in the country. This is the Romanian road tax that must be paid by every driver who wants to drive on public roads, and out of their locality of residence.

The road tax (or the vignette, as it is also called) can be paid in most Romanian petrol stations (look for Petrom stations), or you can pay it via SMS or online, on the official website of the Romanian Road Infrastructure Agency (CNAIR). For more details and the steps you need to follow for paying the Romanian road toll via SMS or online, you can read our article: Pay Romanian road tax online – all steps explained.

Price for a Romanian vignette

The price for a Romanian vignette differs, depending on the vehicle type and the validity period. For a normal car, the vignette cannot be valid for less than 7 days. Here are the validity periods and the prices applicable to normal cars (category A vehicles):

  • 7 days – 3 euros;
  • 30 days – 7 euros;
  • 90 days – 13 euros;
  • 12 months – 28 euros;

Applicable fines for not paying the Romanian vignette

If you are caught driving on Romanian public roads without a valid vignette, you will be imposed a fine that can range between 250 and 4,500 lei, depending on the type of vehicle you drive. The fines are established as follows:

  • Regular cars: 250 – 500 lei;
  • Freight vehicles under 3.5 tons: 750 – 1,250 lei;
  • Freight vehicles of between 3.5 – 7.5 tons, and passenger transportation vehicles with 9 – 23 seats (including the driver): 1,250 – 1,750 lei;
  • Freight vehicles of between 7.5 – 12 tons, and passenger transportation vehicles with more than 23 seats (including the driver): 1,750 – 2,250 lei;
  • Freight vehicles of over 12 tons, with maximum three axles: 2,750 – 3,000 lei;
  • Freight vehicles of over 12 tons, with at least four axles: 3,000 – 4,500 lei.

Speed limits in Romania

The speed limits in Romania are generally aligned to those in other EU countries, and the limit depends on the road types. The speed limits applicable to normal cars are as follows:

  • In localities – 50 km/h;
  • Outside localities, on national or regional roads – 90 km/h;
  • On highways – 130 km/h;

Please keep in mind that these are general speed limits. So, you must pay attention to traffic signs, because on certain road sections, especially inside the localities, the speed limit can be much lower.

Exchange of a foreign driving license

As per the Romanian driving law provisions, if foreign citizens want to stay in Romania for more than 90 days and drive a car during this period, they must either exchange their national driver’s license for a Romanian one (if the law permits), or get an international driving license.

For the exchange of driver’s license to a Romanian one, expats must go to the closest police station to their place of residence. Getting another license will last one or two weeks. There is also a list of documents that you must submit to the police station for this purpose. The list of documents includes:

  • your original driving license together with a copy, and an authorized translation
  • your Romanian residence card
  • An authentication certificate that has been sworn before a public notary
  • A medical certificate that shows your ability to drive
  • your criminal record
  • Two passport-size photos

For full details, and the mandatory steps you must follow to exchange your driving license in Romania, you can use our step-by-step guide: How to exchange driving license to Romanian one – full procedure explained.

Applying for a local driving license in Romania

You cannot apply for a Romanian driver’s license if you are younger than 18. Also, you cannot apply for it if you are not a legal resident of this country, or a student that has been living in this country for at least six months. The process of obtaining the driver’s license includes theoretical as well as practical courses and exams. You have to enroll into a driving school and attend driving lessons to be able to take the final exam.

The exams are available in English as well, not only in Romanian. Yet, it is essential that you select this option before the exam.

About the driving license exam

As we previously mentioned, there is a two-stage test that you need to pass to get a Romanian driving license. There is the theory test and the road test.

The theory test consists of 26 questions. It is a computerized test, and in order to pass it, you must score a minimum of 22 correct answers. You will be automatically eliminated if you give 5 wrong answers.

During the exam the candidate will be photographed three times for authenticity. These pictures will be later used as evidence that the candidate taking the road test is the same person as the one who took the theory test.

The road test represents the practical hands-on driving test. This test lasts 25 minutes. During this period of time the candidate must prove that he is able to handle the vehicle properly and safely at the same time. The candidate must do all sorts of maneuvers while respecting the laws. These may include various turns and parking as well.

At the end of the test, the candidate will be informed if he has passed the test or not. If he gets up to 20 penalty points, then he will be passing the exam. On the other hand, if he makes several mistakes that sum at least 21 points, then he will get the result “failed”. If the candidate fails, he can reschedule another examination after at least 15 days.

Preparation for the theory exam is not hard. For most foreigners the hardest part will be understanding the translated questions. Yet, the best bet in passing the theory exam in English is to learn very well the laws and regulations for driving in Romania.

The best resource in learning the Romanian traffic law and regulations is a book called The New Traffic Code for Everyone. This book also comes in English and other languages.

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