This is a revenge: A foreigners guide through Romanian bureaucracy.
But why would you?
Although living in a van is a possibility and something i have done some years ago and I enjoyed a lot. For some years after backpacking around the globe I wanted to get a proper bus or truck to live in. Something with enough private space, little compromise over a actual home but the ability to move!
After first investigations into the possibility of actually owning such a large vehicle i was put off not only with the cost involved to buy, maintain and drive a it but also the price tag for just the license. So I just kept dreaming for way too long until making a first move.
While I was staying in Romania in the Summer of 2017 once again I got intrigued, this time by the fact that a category C license only costs a fraction of what I would need to shell out in Germany or elsewhere around Europe.
I wrote down this step by step guide for anybody attempting to do the same thing. I do not recommend anybody taking this route just to save money, as it will be a extra time consuming and at times a tedious task due to Balkan style bureaucracy.
I hope my account will save you quite a bit of legwork if you accept the challenge anyways. I had a EU category B driving license from Germany for vehicles up to 3.5t and wanted to take category C and CE. That would give me the ability to drive anything heavier than 3.5t plus a Trailer over 750kg as long as its registered for less than 8 passengers.
You will find the quite comprehensive walk-through below. If you are non-EU Citizen it might require some extra papers. If that is your first license, you don’t need the Romanian equivalent.
Find a driving school
I started asking at the local driving schools for instructors that i could either speak English or German since there is still a small German minority living in Transylvania. In the Covasna/Brasov area, where I was staying at the time, this was of no avail. Web searches returned results in Bucharest, even some schools that seem to have tailored courses for English speakers. I did not want to stay in Bucharest though. After all I phoned driving schools in Sibiu hoping to find German speakers and I got lucky finding a English speaking instructor in a school over there.
On Top Instructori Auto you can not only find a perfect overview of existing driving schools and their contact information, but also get success rates about every individual instructor in Romania, how cool is that? Turns out I have a 40% chance with my instructor. Let’s see if i can help to bring that up a notch…
Become a resident, asap!
I am a EU citizen with a German Passport, that makes me technically eligible to take a EU driving license in any of the member states. Even so, there is a law that requires any foreigner to prove residence in that state for at least 6 months by the time you take your exam. So even if you have legally been staying in Romania some time: If you are not a registered resident already, this will be the first thing to do before you continue.
You will receive your prove of residence Certificate de Inregegistrare from the local immigration office. This will probably be one of the few offices where you have a good chance of being understood in English, so you might need to get some help for the next office visit. Keep in mind that the county namely Județul on your certificate will have to match the one where your about to take your school/exam. Otherwise, like in my case: I had to get a new certificate in Sibiu and separate letter to prove the original date of the old certificate (both provided by the same office).
Once you bring those 4 papers you will get your certificate within a day or two, maybe even later the same day:
- Proove of a Health Insurance. Can be from your home country, no private insurances. I got a 1 year policy from Grupama for just 68 Lei, it won’t cover much at all, but will serve its purpose.
- Bank Statement showing some 300 Lei. This Extrasul de cont has to come from a Romanian Bank. It is straight forward for anyone holding an passport to open a bank account. Just keep in mind that only a day after you deposit the money you can get a statement showing that amount.
- Romanian Address, from my experience there is no special proof needed besides the fact that you can spell it out on the form.
- Photocopy from your Passport. ask for an extra or two while your at the Bank or Insurance Office, as they will make one for themselves anyway.
Sign up at the Driving School
Your new prove of residence with your vital CNP: Codul numeric personal and a ID is pretty much what you need to get to signed up. You will have to pay something between 1500 and 3000 Lei for both C and CE license if you do it in one go. At your school you will be able to attend the theory classes and buy the theory book Codul Rutier. Yes, there is a English written version by Thocora: The New Traffic Code for everyone for 50 Lei and yes it is rather crude translation and yes its cheaper to buy online.
Do the medical checkups
There is a myriad of physical and psychological checkups you get to go through. Major schools will provide this as an in-house service, so you don’t need to go find a bunch of doctors and get appointments. It costed me 165 Lei for all of them. There is a tricky one though: Your house doctor (the Romanian state appointed neighborhood physician) has to fill and sign a form of preexisting illnesses and such. If you don’t have a house doctor in Romania, ask for some help from a local friend to sort that out with you.
Every doc will have to put a stamp and sign on a single sheet called fișă medicală. I needed to get 3 originals: One for each License (C+E) and the the Romanian B license (see below)! Make sure you get as much as you need, since you cannot just copy them later.
Get your Romanian Drivers License Equivalent
If you already have a driving license and you want to add a new category, like I did, you will eventually need a Romanian equivalent of your existing license, even if you already have a valid EU license. This is called preschimbarea permisului de cinducere strain cu document similar romanesc.
You get this at the local office that handles vehicle registration and such Serviciul Public Comunitar Regim Permise de Conducere și Înmatriculare a Vehiculelor. You will need to submit a cardboard folder called Dosar with the following paperwork:
- Original Medical Checkup Form fișă medicală
- Photocopy from your Passport
- Photocopy from your existing license (both sides)
- Copy Residence Registration certificat de înregistrare
- Filled in application form called “TIP” which they provide you at the office.
- Passport Photo used to be required, but i think they just take a picture on the spot
- 68 Lei fee for your new license
- original passport
- original driving license
which they subsequently take away from you for ever. They will give you piece of paper in return as a substitute, until one or two weeks later you will receive you brand new Romanian EU license in the mail.
While you wait for your Romanian license to arrive you can probably start taking theory classes. You are supposed to take some 30 hours or so. That was a great opportunity to learn some Romanian language for me as well. Most of the actual knowledge I got from the translated traffic code book and nobody really checks how many times you actually show up for class in the end. Once you have acquainted yourself with the Romanian traffic laws, you definitely should also study the actual questionnaires provided by the ministry with the ominous 6-letter acronym DRPCIV.
There is a few websites that utilize those questionnaires and let you repeat them until you think you got your knowledge up to snuff. Here is two websites I found particularly useful: e-DRPCIV which has a nice training mode and a list of most difficult questions. I also used Auto15 which nicely translates using Google Chrome and you can use the site for free w ithout limits. English Quizzes are hard to come by, and if you do there probably paid and of equally bad quality as any Google Translation…
Eventually you got to take the computerized multiple choice test at your driving school. The test at the school will contain the same theory questions, but probably in Romanian language unless you found one of the few schools specialized in training international students. Once you completed the test with at least 22 out of 26 correct answers you can proceed to take your driving classes.
Finally comes the fun part. Not much to explain here. Once your finished with them the authority of your school might give you a trail practical exam. If he thinks you can do it you are ready to take your first exam, otherwise you might need to take some extra hours for which you have to shell out some more cash. Otherwise you can now take your:
By now you have a nice collection of papers with a myriad of stamps and signatures on it that in my experience your driving school conveniently bundles up for you in a folder. Let’s check its awesome contents:
- Police Record Its called Cazier judiciar or simply Cazier, and it is handed out free of charge from some I.P.J. office in your area. Ask at your school where that is exactly. Bring your residence certificate and your passport. The Cazier has to be less that 6 months old by the time you take you practical exam, so get a new one before the theory exam just in case.
- Passport Photo used to be required, but i think they just take a picture on the spot
- Original Medical Checkup Form called Fisa Medicala
- Passport Photocopy
- Photocopy from your Romanian license (both sides)
- Photocopy from Residence Registration aka Certificate de Inregegistrare
- Contract with your Driving School
- Filled Course Book, with lots of signatures form the theoretical and practical classes
but also bring your
- Romanian Driving license
- Exam Tax of 26 Lei
- Permit Tax of 68 Lei
Once you submit this at the Serviciul Public Comunitar Regim Permise de Conducere și Înmatriculare a Vehiculelor, the office for vehicles and stuff you will get a little bar code. With this bar code you go to the room with the test computers where you scan the code and take the exam touching a screen with our finger.
On screen you can choose from quite a few languages: There are Romanian, Hungarian, English, German, French and Spanish. I opted for English as I was studying in that language. Be aware that the translation in the exam won’t be stellar either. For example: I got one question with the first possible answer repeating the same words of the question then 2 other answers. Fortunately the correct answer was one of the latter. If you feel somewhat confident understanding Romanian, i would strongly suggest to study the quiz and taking the exam in that language.
If you passed by correctly answering 22 out 26 questions, you will read the auspicious word ADMIS and be asked to pick a possible date for the practical exam right there on screen.
You have to drive 45min with a police officer sitting next to you without causing to much harm and public disturbance. Drive overly careful but also not unnecessarily slow: The longer you spend waiting on a traffic light or roundabout the better. Be aware of all the pesky pedestrians… wait, wait and wait some more. Indicate when entering any roundabout, while driving in them and when exiting again.
If you passed and you go for the E license or any other one you picked go back to point Study and repeat. Otherwise:
Congratulations, you’ve done it!