Romania Photo by dnovac

Romania Driving Guide

Romania is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-08-09 · 9 min

Romania is a unique, beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

Have you ever envisioned yourself exploring Romania's rich landscapes at your leisure? Navigating by car in Romania brings you closer to the essence of this diverse country, going beyond conventional tourist trails right into the cradle of its natural splendor.

Picture yourself winding through verdant forests, over rugged mountain ranges, along sweeping rivers, and towards the sparkling Black Sea coastline while enjoying the freedom to explore hidden treasures at your own pace.

If you're a newcomer, don't let the unfamiliarity of driving in a foreign country deter you. Before embarking on your Romanian adventure, securing an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) could prove instrumental. This guide will simplify everything you need to know about driving in Romania.

How Can This Guide Help You?

Preparation is integral for a fulfilling journey. This guide offers crucial insights to enrich your driving experience in Romania. It comprises information on exploring Romania by car, tips for safe driving, navigating tourist attractions, and essential tourist etiquette.

Also, it will enhance your understanding of driving laws and licensing in Romania. To make the most of your Romanian journey, take note of the valuable information this guide offers.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Romania

Like many European countries, Romania is best explored on an ultimate road trip. Tall mountains with breathtaking views, medieval sites, castles, stunning architecture, beautiful nature, secluded villages, and 250 kilometers of serene beaches are just some of the fantastic things Romania could offer its visitors.

Here's everything you need to learn about Romania to guide you in your desire for a marvelous travel experience. So, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the Romanian ride.

Geographic Location

Perched between Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary with the Black Sea to its southeast, Romania's complex geography centers around the Transylvanian Basin, encircled by the towering Carpathian Mountains. Its diverse geography, topography, climate, flora, and fauna make Romania a traveler's delight.

Romanians consider themselves descendants of ancient Romans who conquered southern Transylvania and the Dacians who lived in the mountains north of the Transylvanian Basin and the Danubian Plain.

Languages Spoken

Romanian is the official language, spoken by nine-tenths of the population in various regional dialects. Hungarian is also prominent, spoken by over a million people, with smaller groups speaking Roma, German, Turkish, Serbian, and others.

English is less common among locals, creating potential communication challenges for English-speaking travelers. However, learning basic Romanian phrases online before your journey can enhance your trip and make navigating Romania easier and more enjoyable.

Land Area

Romania is recognized as the 12th largest nation in Europe in terms of land area. The country has a total area of 238,397 square kilometers. It also has a total population of approximately 19.3 million inhabitants, which is reported to be the 6th highest in the European countries and continent.


Romania, a European nation known for its history of invasions, notably resisted the Ottoman Turks in the previous century. During World War I, neutral Romania declared war on the Central Powers, subsequently claiming territories from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia, effectively doubling its size.

From 1967-1989, Nicolae Ceaușescu's neo-Stalinist regime led Romania into an economic crisis, draining resources through export to repay debts. Ceaușescu's overthrow and execution in 1989 by a military rebellion marked the start of a new era of growth for the country.


Romania, a unitary, sovereign state, operates as a Parliamentary Republic. The President, directly elected for a maximum of two five-year terms, leads the semi-presidential regime. The Romanian Parliament is formed by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

As per the Romanian Constitution, the country's territory is divided into towns, communes, large towns, and counties. The population predominantly resides in towns, forming the local administrative structure, while counties represent intermediate administrative-territorial units.


Romania takes pride in fostering responsible tourism, preserving assets from over-commercialization, and safeguarding traditions. Rural tourism supports local crafts, environmental protection, and unique accommodations over generic hotels.

The country is committed to promoting animal welfare, discouraging cruelty, and protecting endangered wildlife. Its geographical position between temperate climates and continental extremes results in a unique blend of Atlantic climatic features in the central and western regions, continental temperatures in the southeast, and mild sub-Mediterranean climates in the extreme southeast.

International Driving Permit FAQs

Exploring a foreign country on your own schedule can make your trip more enjoyable. Renting a car lets you do just that. But before you drive, it's crucial to know if you need an International Driver's License in Romania. In Romania, tourists planning to drive must have this permit.

Who Needs an IDP?

An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is essential for frequent international travelers. It facilitates driving in foreign countries without potential legal issues. Essentially a translation of your standard driver's license, an IDP helps local authorities verify your driving qualifications. However, driving in Romania with a UK license is sufficient and doesn't require an IDP.

Whether traveling for a holiday or business, an IDP provides you the convenience and comfort of self-paced travel. It's particularly beneficial for long-term stays or permanent relocation, as it eliminates the need for public transport.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Romania?

A foreign license alone doesn't suffice for driving in Romania. Along with your native driver's license, an International Driver's Permit (IDP) is mandatory. This rule applies whether you're driving with a US or Indian license.

However, UK license holders are exempt from this requirement and can drive in the country without an IDP. Minors with a provisional Romanian license are ineligible for an IDP, which is only available to those with a full driver's license.

Do I Need an IDP in Cities and Districts of Romania?

Whether you're a tourist exploring Romania during the holiday season or visiting for business, the International Driving Permit (IDP) is a crucial document for you to have. It grants you the privilege of driving as a tourist, allowing you to navigate various regions and cities within Romania.

Remember that this permit isn't a substitution for your local driver's license. Thus, when traveling by car as a tourist in Romania, it is essential to carry your International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your regular license.

Who Can Apply for an IDP?

An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is available to those with a valid driver's license, enabling them to drive in foreign countries. This excludes those with a provisional Romanian license.

Essentially a translation of your native license, it assists non-English speaking traffic officers in assessing your competence for driving in their country.

To apply, visit the International Drivers Association's application page, choose an IDP package as per your validity preference, and prepare the following requirements:

  • Passport Copy (if needed)
  • Valid Government Issued Driver’s License
  • Passport size photo

Does an IDP Replace Your Native Driver’s License?

No, an IDP doesn't replace your local license but is a supplementary document aiding local authorities in assessing your driving competency. While an IDP isn't necessary for those driving in Romania with a UK license, others must accompany it with a valid local license.

An IDP from the International Drivers’ Association permits driving in 200 countries, extends travel opportunities, and translates your local license into 12 languages, facilitating communication with foreign traffic officers.

What are the Speed Units in Romania?

In Romania, the standard unit for measuring speed is kilometers per hour (kph). Speed limits vary across different regions of the country. Specifically, within towns and cities, a speed limit of 50 kph is enforced, while on open roads, the limit is 90 kph. Motorways, on the other hand, have a higher speed limit of 120 kph.

It's important to note that fines for exceeding these speed limits are determined by the extent to which you surpass them.

How Do I Convert My License in Romania?

To still be able to drive in Romania as a new permanent resident, you must acquire the country’s driver’s license. Getting a license in this country has similar procedures to other nations.

Some of the prerequisites for its application include your native driver's license, visa, passport, and International Driver's License. Passing the country’s practical and theoretical tests to get their license is also imperative.

Renting a Car in Romania

Renting a car in Romania and cruising in a vehicle is an option every traveler should consider. Beyond enhancing your entire journey, it's a time-saving measure that spares you the hassle of adhering to a tight schedule.

Fret not, as this guide on Romania will provide you with valuable insights into car rentals, ensuring you can seamlessly adhere to your planned driving itinerary in the country.

Car Rental Companies

The best car rentals in Romania are accessible through online booking or at local service providers, with the former being more popular. Auto Europe, a renowned company with over 60 years of experience in the European car rental market, simplifies this process. Its website provides competitive rates and detailed information about local insurance requirements, driving age limits, and traffic laws.

Documents Required

While rental companies may not always look for an IDP, it's crucial during traffic enforcement or accidents. Ensure you meet the rental provider's requirements before traveling. Generally, a regular driver's license and an IDP are required.

Not everyone qualifies for vehicle rental in Romania; you must fulfill certain criteria. Typically, you'll need:

  • A valid passport or ID Card (for EU citizens)
  • Payment via a valid credit card
  • A valid driver's license, accompanied by an IDP for tourists
  • Age limit compliance: drivers should be at least 21 years old, with an upper limit typically set between 70 and 75 years.

Vehicle Types

Romania offers a variety of vehicle rental options. It's vital to select a car you're comfortable driving. If you're used to a compact car, avoid renting an SUV. Similarly, stick to automatic if you're not familiar with manual transmission.

While a range of Economy, Mini, Luxury, Compact, Full-Size SUV, or Full-Size Automatic cars are available, the most popular rental is the Dacia Logan. Local Romanian rental companies also provide premium vehicle rental services.

Car Rental Cost

Cost is a significant factor for many travelers renting a vehicle in Romania. Strive for the best deal without compromising your experience. Early rentals are generally cheaper, with a week's rental for an economy car around 160 Euros.

Renting a car lets you explore Romania's famous sites and natural beauty. To save money, go for a car that uses Euro diesel for its great fuel efficiency, allowing you to travel longer distances with less fuel consumption.

Age Requirements

The minimum age for car rental in Romania varies between companies, typically ranging from 21 to 28 years, especially for pricier models. The maximum age limit often falls between 70 to 75 years. Additionally, most companies require a minimum of one year's driving experience for regular vehicles and two years for luxury models. Some rental companies also provide chauffeur services.

Car Insurance Cost

If it’s your first time driving in a foreign nation, then the activity can be quite intimidating if you are unprepared. Achieve security when driving on foreign country roads by getting the best car insurance in Romania before driving. Many rental organizations, fortunately, include insurance in their services. If your rental company doesn’t, you should get one for your security.

Car Insurance Policy

Your travel insurance doesn't typically cover damage or theft of your rental car in Romania, making comprehensive insurance crucial. Standard car rentals include third-party liability and fire insurance, with a $5,000 coverage limit for third-party liabilities.

You can also get optional insurance, such as a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and theft protection. CDW costs approximately $8-$30 per day, and theft insurance costs around $7-$36 per day.

Road Rules in Romania

As a traveler in any foreign country, it's crucial to be familiar with the basic driving guidelines and regulations. This knowledge helps you avoid potential encounters with local law enforcement, preventing motoring offenses and penalties. Fortunately, many countries share similar road rules and regulations.

Important Regulations

Driving in Romania requires adherence to several regulations. Your license determines your driving rights; for instance, a US license is accepted, but a Filipino license isn't and must be supplemented with an IDP.

Romania restricts driving under 18 years of age and imposes an upper age limit of 70-75. The country also enforces strict drunk driving laws to prevent accidents. As a visitor, ensure you follow these rules to avoid traffic-related complications.

Drunk Driving

Romania enforces stringent laws against drunk driving, with the blood alcohol limit set at 0.20 grams per liter for solo drivers. A zero-alcohol level is mandatory when driving with passengers. Exceeding this limit results in license suspension and fines.

Severe penalties, including criminal charges, prosecution, and sentencing, can be imposed for high blood alcohol levels or DUI-caused accidents.

Turning Signals at an Intersection

In various cities and highway intersections, you'll encounter numerous traffic circles, some controlled by traffic signals and others not. Drivers entering traffic circles have the choice to proceed.

For left turns, position yourself in the left or center lane before your turn. If you're going straight or turning right, stick to the right side of the road. Pedestrians and cyclists on cycle tracks or sidewalks in Romania have the right of way.


When you reach your destination, park your vehicle only in designated spots. If the area is poorly lit, opt for well-lit parking spaces. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the country's parking fees to avoid unexpected costs. Always remember to lock your car doors and never leave valuables inside.

Ensure Good Condition

As a responsible driver, it's crucial to stay vigilant and avoid alcohol consumption before getting behind the wheel. Those with vision impairments should refrain from driving unless equipped with the necessary aids.

Regularly check your vehicle's battery, brakes, tires, and engine to ensure it's in good condition. Finally, make sure to have enough fuel for your entire trip to prevent the inconvenience of searching for a gas station.

Seatbelt Laws

In Romania, wearing seatbelts is a legal requirement for all occupants, and every vehicle seat must be equipped with one. If a medical condition hinders you from wearing a seatbelt, a doctor's certificate is necessary. Additionally, vehicles must always carry a fire extinguisher, two warning triangles, and a first-aid kit.

Special regulations pertain to child passengers. Children aged 3-11 years or under 1.35 meters in height must use suitable child restraints. It is prohibited for children under 13 to sit in the front seat, and infants weighing up to 9 kg must be secured in a safety seat.

General Standards

When driving in Romania, prioritize caution and stay attentive to the roads and traffic signs. Avoid distractions, such as mobile phone sounds, that may take your focus away. Refrain from reading messages or answering calls while driving; if unavoidable, park in a designated space before using your phone.

Remember to fasten your seatbelt, adhere to posted speed limits, and be mindful of potential fees along your route, such as tolls.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Romania are measured in kilometers per hour and vary by location. They are set at 50 km/hr in towns and cities, 90 km/hr on open country roads, and 120 km/hr on motorways.

Adhering to these limits not only helps prevent penalties but also ensures safety, especially in busy city areas, allowing you to savor the scenic views during your drive.

Driving Directions

Navigating a foreign country like Romania may pose challenges, but the locals are generally helpful to tourists seeking directions. However, language barriers may exist, as not all Romanians are fluent in English.

In traffic circles, priority is granted to vehicles entering first, extending to pedestrians and most road intersections. When merging, drivers in the ending lane yield to those in the continuing lane, merging only when safe and space permits.

Traffic Road Signs

Road signs in Romania may not always align with International and European standards, and some are unique to the country. Familiarity with these signs can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Here are the primary categories:

  • Mandatory Road Signs: Not suggestions but directives that must be strictly followed.
  • Prohibitory Road Signs: Used to restrict certain vehicles or maneuvers, like speed limits or U-turn prohibitions.
  • Warning Signs: Often red or yellow, these signs alert drivers about potential hazards.
  • Information Signs: Provide general details about the road infrastructure.
  • Priority Road Signs: Clarify priority at road junctions or infrastructure.

Right of Way

When driving in Romania, understanding the correct roadside to follow is essential for travelers. Similar to many European countries, the right-hand side is the preferred lane on Romanian streets. Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing, and in the absence of traffic signals, priority is granted to them.

In Romania, the legal driving age is 18 years, but car rental companies usually require drivers to be at least 21 and have held their driver's license for a minimum of one year. For luxury cars, the age requirement may be higher.

Residents must pass a theoretical and practical driving test in Romanian to qualify for a driver's license. Non-residents also need to pass this test in Romanian. Non-residents are advised to find a driving school offering classes in a language they understand.

Laws on Overtaking

In addition to the previously mentioned driving laws in Romania, overtaking on the nation's roads comes with specific rules for both local and foreign drivers. To familiarize yourself with these regulations, consider the following guidelines on overtaking in the country:

  • Overtaking is prohibited at street humps, bends, bottlenecks, intersections, and pedestrian crossings.
  • Before overtaking, drivers in Romania must check both the left and right sides of the road.
  • Overtaking in areas with poor visibility, such as dimly lit zones, is strongly discouraged.
  • Moving to another lane and overtaking at a bus stop is also restricted in the country.
  • Exercise caution when overtaking in interurban and metropolitan areas. Only proceed when expressways are accessible.

Driving Side

Similar to many countries around the world, driving in Romania entails staying on the right side of the road. The driver's seat in Romanian vehicles is positioned on the left side.

If you're accustomed to left-hand traffic, as in Australia, adapting to a Romanian vehicle might pose a challenge. It's advisable to familiarize yourself with driving on the right side by practicing with various vehicles before hitting the roads in Romania.

Driving Etiquette in Romania

When visiting Romania for any reason, it's essential to adhere to the country's driving principles and consistently exhibit exemplary behavior on its roads. This not only avoids potential issues with local authorities but also ensures a fantastic and trouble-free stay.

Car Breakdown

Car breakdowns can happen unexpectedly. Here's what you should do in such situations:

  • Make your vehicle noticeable by turning on emergency lights and using warning signals like lights, flares, or a caution triangle, positioned a distance behind your car.
  • Safely move your vehicle off the road. If stuck in traffic, leave your vehicle and walk to safety. Leave a note with your contact number on the windshield if needed.
  • Keep the doors locked. If in a visible, safe location, wait inside your vehicle. Keep your seatbelt fastened and reach out to someone, preferably your car rental provider.
  • Be cautious when receiving help from strangers. If unsure, stay inside the vehicle, lower your window enough to speak to them, and politely decline help if help is already on the way.

Police Stops

Being prepared for police stops is crucial for drivers, especially tourists in foreign countries. Stay calm and be aware of your driver's rights.

When stopped, slow down, turn on your hazard lights, and have your documents ready. Typically, police conduct routine checks or address a traffic violation. Greet the officer, promptly present your passport, driver's license, and International Driving Permit (IDP), and follow their instructions.

Asking Directions

As a traveler, you must realize that exploring a foreign country can be challenging. Luckily for you, residents of the nation are known to be exceptionally kind-hearted and inviting to tourists.

For English speakers, exploring Romania can be challenging as most of the nation's populace can't communicate in English at a conversational level.


When driving in Romania, you may encounter checkpoints, especially at borders. These checkpoints are typically manned by traffic officers who will request your driving records.

When approaching such checkpoints, show respect by greeting the officers and promptly presenting your ID, driver's license, and IDP. Answer any questions about your intentions respectfully. If language is a barrier, speak slowly or use a translation app on your mobile phone.

Additional Tips

When driving in Romania, having a map can keep you on the right path. It's crucial to know how to access the best routes while exploring the country. You can achieve this by seeking guidance from locals, especially public transport drivers, who are reliable sources for such information.

Another effective method is utilizing online maps to navigate the area, ensuring you stay on the highway and other designated roads.

Driving Conditions in Romania

As a traveler, it's crucial to consider the question, "Is driving safe in Romania?" When navigating the roads in this country, be prepared for different conditions compared to those in your country. The World Economic Forum ranks Romania 142 out of 144 states for road quality.

Accident Statistics

Road traffic fatalities peaked in Romania in 2008 with 3,065 deaths, predominantly in winter due to poor road conditions. However, fatalities have consistently decreased since then.

By 2019, road traffic deaths fell to 1,864, a decline of nearly 40% from 2008. However, non-fatal road traffic injuries increased to approximately 40,000 by 2019.

Common Vehicles

Cars dominate the vehicle landscape in Romania, primarily serving personal use but also finding utility in professions like taxi services. Public transportation in the country encompasses various vehicles that Romanians utilize to commute.

Notably, Romania boasts efficient train, light rail, and bus networks, offering residents the most economical and potentially safest means of transportation across the country.

Road Situation

While major urban roads are generally in decent condition, many other streets leave much to be desired: they're unpaved, inadequately lit, narrow, and lack properly marked lanes. Snow removal on the city's main roads can be inconsistent, making winter driving in Romania particularly hazardous. Additionally, during the rainy season, street roads can pose a significant danger when driving on Romanian roads.

Driving Culture

Romanian drivers frequently disregard traffic rules, such as running stop signs, going through red lights, and making left turns from the far-right lane. These habits often contribute to road accidents. Similar driving practices are commonly observed on Romanian roads, so it's essential to adopt a defensive driving approach as a tourist with your vehicle.

In the event of an accident, drivers typically pull over to the side of the road and activate their hazard lights to alert other drivers.

The Top Destinations in Romania

Romania is often regarded as a paradise by those fortunate enough to visit the country. Its breathtaking landscapes, ranging from majestic mountains to enchanting seas, make Romania a truly remarkable sight to behold. Here are the best places to visit in Romania.


An excursion to Transylvania would never be complete without visiting the excellent city of Brasov. Its streets are lined with an endless array of splendid houses, and it's in close proximity to one of Romania's most iconic attractions—the Bran Castle, famously known as Dracula's Castle.

Opting for a two-day tour in and around Brasov is highly recommended. The area is renowned for its vibrant trade fairs, historic churches, picturesque hiking spots, and delightful restaurants. restaurants.


Sighisoara, a fairytale-like city, is known for its bright, picturesque houses and smooth, cobblestoned streets. Key attractions include the clock tower, Turnul Cu Ceas, which offers an excellent city view, and surrounding historical museums and souvenir shops.

Corvin Castle

Corvin Castle is a major tourist attraction in Romania. Its grandeur and resemblance to Hogwarts Castle make it a must-visit destination. One of the best things to do in Romania, particularly around this area, is visit cafés, restaurants, and shops around the castle that offer great leisure options.


Bucharest, a city brimming with attractions, greets many travelers who often rent cars to explore. Areas of interest include the vibrant old towns, the Palace of the Parliament (the world's heaviest building), and the city's beautiful parks. The best time to visit Romania, especially in Bucarest, is summer when the weather is warm and friendly.


Sibiu, a worthy addition to your travel itinerary, is a city in Romania known for its beautiful market square filled with shops and authentic Romanian cuisine restaurants. The city's charming cobblestoned streets and panoramic city views from its towers are a must-see.

Maximize Your Romanian Adventure with an IDP

Are you excited to embark on your Romanian road trip? Ensure a confident and hassle-free driving experience by equipping yourself with an International Driver's Permit from the International Driver's Association.

Don't delay; initiate your application today! Get your International Driving Permit here.

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