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Preface Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:45 AM

Romania is a country of contradictions. Horse-drawn carts jostle for space with speeding cars whose drivers are talking money on mobile phones, and farmers watch television via satellite dishes standing in the back yard of their 19th century farmhouses.

Romania has majestic castles, medieval towns, wildlife, and the inexpensive ski resorts common in much of the "undiscovered" former Eastern bloc. You will be astonished to discover how different from the rest of Europe Romania is, but you will almost certainly see signs that it is determinedly pursuing the Western ideal.

The Dacian and Getae tribes first settled the Carpathian-Balkan region more than two thousand years ago. Until the final Roman conquest of the area in 105-106 A.D., the Dacians lived mostly in the mountains and the Transylvanian plateau, while the Getae lived in the Danube Plain. Rome then created the province of Dacia and Latinized the region. The inhabitants continued their existence as farmers and shepherds even after the withdrawal of the Roman army and administration around 271 A.D.

By the 10th century, small Romanian states had emerged and evolved into the principalities of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania. The Magyars spread into Transylvania and, by the 13th century, it had become an autonomous principality under the Hungarian Crown.

Before Transylvania fell to Ottoman control in 1541, Walachia and Moldavia offered strong resistance to Turkish expansionism. The Hapsburg Empire annexed Transylvania from the Ottoman Empire in 1699, and it remained under Austro-Hungarian control until Romania was proclaimed a kingdom in 1881, under King Carol I.

In 1918, during the reign of Ferdinand I, who had succeeded King Carol I, Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bucovina were united with the rest of Romania.

Carol II, who had succeeded his father Ferdinand I to the throne, declared a royal dictatorship in 1938. In 1940, Romania was forced to cede northwestern Transylvania to Hungary by order of Germany and Italy. For much of World War II, the country was governed by Marshal Ion Antonescu and allied with the Axis powers. In August 1944, King Michael had Antonescu arrested and declared war on Germany. In September 1944, Romania surrendered unconditionally to the Allied Powers’ representative, the Soviet Union, and officially entered the war on the Allied side.

After the war, the Soviets engineered the return of Transylvania to Romania. King Michael was then forced to abdicate and the People's Republic of Romania was proclaimed in December 1947. Romania’s brand of communism was among the most brutal of Eastern Europe, incorporating the ruthless use of forced labor, forced relocation and internment in prison camps. Many dissidents died as a result of harsh treatment.

In the late 1960s, Romania began to distance itself from Moscow, pursuing an independent foreign policy under Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (1965-89). If his foreign policy was skillful, his domestic policy was inept and megalomaniacal. His Securitate (secret police) kept the populace in check, recruiting a vast network of informers, and creating a pervasive climate of fear and distrust.

Romanians, especially urban residents, suffered from severe hardships in the late 1980's, including regular power blackouts, shortages of food and basic amenities, and lack of adequate heat during the coldest months of the year. Indeed, a popular Bucharest joke in the 1980's ran: "What do you do in the winter when your apartment is cold?" Answer: "Open the window."

After the collapse of communism in the rest of Eastern Europe in the late summer and fall of 1989, a country-wide series of protests against the communist regime of brutal dictator Nicolae Ceausescu swept the dictator from power in December 1989. About 1,500 people were killed in confused street fighting and Ceausescu and his wife were executed on December 25, 1989 for “crimes against the state,” after a hasty “trial,” which many analysts believe was engineered to prevent the dictator and his wife from implicating prominent individuals. The Communist Party was dissolved and its assets transferred to the state. Ceausescu's most unpopular measures, such as bans on private commercial entities and independent political activity, were repealed.

Over 200 new political parties sprang up after 1989, gravitating around personalities rather than programs. Unhappy with the continued political and economic influence of members of the Ceausescu-era elite, anti-communist protesters camped in University Square in April 1990. Members of the government associated with the old communist administration appear to have encouraged the descent of thousands of coal miners on Bucharest. Once there, they rioted and indulged in other acts of violence against the demonstrating students and protestors, causing the collapse of the government. Parliament drafted a new democratic constitution, approved by popular referendum in December 1991.

Romania then began looking west to establish new relationships and allies. Romania was the first country to enroll in the NATO Partnership for Peace program. Romania supported the NATO bombing of Serbia in the late 1990s. NATO member states invited Romania to join the Alliance in 2002, based on Romania's rapid progress in modernizing its armed forces and its contributions to allied peacekeeping and other military operations. Romania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC.

Today, Romania has established itself as a democratic, westward focused country which aims to integrate into the European Union while maintaining close ties with the United States. After concluding pre-accession negotiations with the European Union in December 2004, Romania signed the accession treaty in April 2005. This treaty promises membership on January 1, 2007, although in contains a clause that allows for a one year postponement if Romania does not make sufficient progress on corruption, competition, and judiciary issues.

These changes have given the Romanian people cause for hope, as they cautiously place their faith in promised future opportunities in their own country.

As a people, the Romanians are extremely hospitable. They will welcome you warmly into their homes, and may serve you a feast that might otherwise have kept their family for many days, expecting nothing in return other than friendship.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:48 AM

The Republic of Romania is the 12th largest country in Europe. It occupies the greater part of the lower basin of the Danube River system and the hilly eastern regions of the middle Danube Basin. Its 91,700 square miles make it similar in size to the United Kingdom and the State of Oregon. Some consider Romania to be a “Latin Island,” because it is bordered by two seas: the Black Sea which provides Romania with its 150 miles of coastline, and the metaphorical “sea” of non-Latin countries by which it is otherwise surrounded, comprised of Bulgaria to the south, Yugoslavia to the west, Hungary to the northwest, and Moldova and the Ukraine to the east and north.

Romania’s topography consists of nearly equal parts mountains, plains, hills, and plateaus. Romania is situated in and around part of the rugged Carpathian mountain chain.

Romania has a continental climate, particularly in the Old Kingdom (east and south of the Carpathians). A long and occasionally harsh winter (December-March), a hot summer (May-August), and a prolonged autumn (September-November) are the principal seasons. The average daily minimum temperature for Bucharest during the winter (February) is 28.6ºF, and the average daily maximum in the summer (August) is 95ºF. Rainfall, which is heaviest from April through July, averages 5 inches in June. Bucharest’s climate is similar to that of New York City.

Population Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:48 AM

Romanians consider themselves descendants of ancient Dacians and their conquerors, the Romans. After the Roman occupation and colonization (A.D. 106-271), the Goths, Huns, Slavs, Magyars, Turks, and other invaders each influenced the population. The ethnic Romanians consider themselves to be descendants of the ancient Dacian people and their conquerors, the Romans. The ethnic Romanian population (about 89%) prides itself on roots traced back to their Thracian, Celtic and Latin-speaking Roman ancestors. Their Roman origin and Latin culture distinguishes Romanians from their Slavic and Hungarian neighbors. The remaining percentage of the population consists of Hungarians, Germans, Slavs, Jews, Roma, Tartars, and Turks. Emigration has drastically reduced the Jewish and ethnic German populations. As of March 2004, the total population of Romania was roughly 21.7 million.

Romanian law is nondiscriminatory toward minorities, and the government allows them cultural and linguistic freedom. The concept of Romania as a unitary national state, however, runs deep among ethnic Romanians and occasionally manifests as tension with minority groups.

Religious affiliations follow ethnic lines, with about 87% of all Romanians belonging, at least nominally, to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Many who were Greek Catholics (Uniates) are returning to that church. Roman Catholics constitute about 6% of the population, and the remaining population includes Calvinists, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jews.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:48 AM

Romania ceased being a Socialist Republic in 1990, following the December 1989 overthrow and execution of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Since then, the country’s institutions have been in a continual process of reorganization. This includes the new constitution, which was ratified on December 8, 1991 and most recently amended in 2004.

The transitional government, which replaced the Communist dictatorship that had controlled Romania since the end of World War II, renamed the country Romania (it had previously been the People’s Republic of Romania). It also proclaimed its support for multiparty democracy, a republican form of government, a tripartite separation of powers, a free market, and the observance of fundamental human rights.

Romania has subsequently held four national elections, changing the governing bloc three times.

The bicameral parliament consists of a 119-member Senate and a 397-member Chamber of Deputies. The national legislature is elected on a proportional representation, party-list system through a universal, secret ballot. The Chamber of Deputies also includes 12 appointed members to represent the national minorities who do not win an elective seat in Parliament.

Romania's chief of state is the President, who is elected by universal, direct, and secret voting by all citizens over the age of 18. Once elected, he must sever ties with any party or political organization. Decrees issued by the President, including ratification of treaties, promulgation of laws, and declarations of war and states of emergency, must be countersigned by the Prime Minister.

The President, with the approval of both houses of Parliament, currently appoints the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister may appoint and dismiss the members of his cabinet. Appointments are subject to approval by both houses of Parliament. The central government appoints prefects who serve as the executive branch representatives in each of the country’s 40 counties and in Bucharest. Cities, towns, and other municipalities have elected mayors and councils.

The President appoints the members of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General, with Senate approval. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal, while the Constitutional Court has the authority to rule on the constitutionality of the legislation. The Prosecutor General is the chief public prosecutor. The Prosecutor General's office is divided into civil and military jurisdictions, and each of the country’s counties has its own prosecutor, subject to the Prosecutor General. In 2002, the Government also established a National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s office to prosecute major corruption cases.

Primary law enforcement rests in the hands of the national police force, which investigates common crimes, patrols populated areas, and controls traffic. Each county has its own police precinct, located in the county capital, which supervises the activities of police constables stationed in every sizable town. There are eight precincts in Bucharest, with a chief of police maintaining overall supervision. The national gendarmerie, under the control of the Ministry of Interior, is a uniformed, paramilitary force that is deployed in situations beyond the control of local police, such as riot control. The gendarmerie also provides security for diplomatic embassies and facilities, as well as for economically significant industrial installations. The Ministry of Interior delegates counter-narcotics responsibilities to several different agencies, including local police and customs agents. Internal security and the protection of state secrets are the responsibilities of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), which includes uniformed troops among its personnel. The SRI also is responsible for counterterrorism; an anti-terrorism brigade is assigned to each of Bucharest’s six sectors.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:49 AM

The impact of folklore and tradition has had a strong influence on the evolution of Romanian culture. “Miorita” (“The Ewe Lamb”), an ancient legend about the relationship between man and nature, is considered one of the masterpieces of Romanian literature. The richly embroidered cultural tradition of Romania has been nurtured by many factors, and much of it predates the Roman occupation. Although somewhat diminished by modern tastes that tend to eschew “peasant culture,” traditional folk arts, dance, woodcarving, weaving, and decoration of costumes, as well as an enthralling body of folk music, still flourish in many parts of the country.

Modern Romanian literature was born in the mid-19th century through the work of writers such as Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889), Ion Creanga (1837-1889), Ion Luca Caragiale (1842-1912), and poet Tudor Arghezi (1880-1967). Romania has about 2,100 public libraries. In 2003, 11,571 new book titles were published, according to the National Library (the National Library receives one copy of each published book or booklet for archival purposes).

Despite strong Austrian and German influence, the modern movement in painting and sculpture is rooted in the revolutionary period, 1830-1848, when the sons of wealthy Romanian boyars traveled abroad to study in Western schools of art, particularly in Paris and Rome. Among the most influential of these artists are Nicolae Grigorescu (1838-1907), a painter of mildly impressionistic peasant scenes, and Theodor Aman (1831-1891) who was more influenced by the Barbizon School. Notable modern painters include Nicolae Tonitsa (1886-1940), Gheorghe Popescu (1903-1975), Ion Tuculescu (1910-1961), and Marin Gherasim (born 1937). Graphic art, book illustration, and poster design are respected art forms in Romania. Romanian artists, from the ancient to the modern, are distinguished by their fondness for bold, bright colors.

In music, George Enescu and Dinu Lipatti are well known, the former being widely recognized by Romanians as their national composer. Bucharest has been a home to opera since 1864, and soprano Elena Teodorini (1857-1926) received wide public acclaim in her day. Most Romanians still cherish their folk music and Christmas carols. These are often performed in programs featured on the national cultural television station by artists in traditional dress.

Although serious literature in several languages is widely read, and many Romanians read and write poetry, books are expensive, and book stores are relatively scarce in comparison to other developed countries. Print runs for books tend to be small, and many books go out of print quickly because Romanians still do not have enough disposable income to make book purchases more than an occasional luxury.

Bucharest abounds with temporary and permanent art exhibitions and installations by Romanian and foreign artists. In addition to the state-owned museums, there are numerous private galleries both large and small.

Several concerts and recitals are held weekly, in season. There are also regular ballet and opera schedules at the Opera House. Bucharest’s numerous active theaters produce a variety of comedies, dramas and musicals. Tickets remain astoundingly inexpensive by American standards.

Science and technology in Romania are closely connected with contemporary efforts to modernize the nation and create an industrial state. The most prestigious of scientific societies founded in the 19th century is the Romanian Academy, established in 1866. Today, applied science and technology are officially emphasized, particularly in educational and research institutions. The National Council for Science and Technology and the Academy of Social and Political Sciences direct scientific research.

The state supports education in Romania at all levels. Entry exams are required for high school, with top-scoring teens entering the equivalent of “magnet schools.” Confusingly for Americans, these top level Romanian high schools are called National Colleges. State-supported universities tend to attract better students, the majority of whom receive scholarships for most education costs. However, state-funded universities also accept tuition-paying students and there exist a relatively large number of private universities of which only a portion are accredited. Romanian universities are currently in transition to meet requirements set by the EU’s university structural reforms, where undergraduate study is reduced to three years and masters study programs are set at two years throughout Europe. This is creating some ferment in educational policy as it forces Romania to consider wide-ranging reforms beyond simply the number of years of study. Competition for entrance into the universities and for postgraduate study is fierce. Major university centers include Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Sibiu, Timisoara, and Craiova.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:50 AM

Romania’s economy, which was centrally controlled, is in the process of moving towards a free market system. A large number of formerly state-owned enterprises have been turned into limited liability or joint-stock companies, and thousands of privately owned businesses, mostly small service-oriented operations, have appeared. In spite of this positive trend, the country still suffers from the crippling legacy of the Communist regime, and faces enormous difficulties in the process of changing old economic structures and mentalities. Industrial production has decreased, foreign trade has recorded unprecedented deficits, unemployment remains at approximately 6.2% and inflation, while declining over the past several years, remains high at 9.3%.

Romania's natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron, copper, bauxite, uranium ore, salt, and timber. The country’s industrial structure is dominated by the chemical and petrochemical, iron-and-steel, and machine building sectors. Textile, leather, and glassware manufacturing, as well as wood processing, are also significant.

Romania has a total of some 15 million hectares of agricultural land, of which 9.3 million are arable. Until early 1991, cooperatives accounted for about 67% of this total, state farms 21%, and private holdings 12%. The land reform law returned over 90% of all land to private farmers, but the average farm size remains at just 2.5 ha, with a large portion of the rural population living on subsistence agriculture. Crop production typically represents about 55% of the value of agricultural output. Grains (corn, wheat, barley) and oilseeds (sunflower) are the most important crops. Romania also has extensive orchards, vineyards, and truck farms. Animal husbandry (mostly cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry) has good potential for producing significant quantities of meat and dairy products. Modernization of agriculture and of food processing tops the country's priority list and there is real potential for major growth in all sectors. In mid-2004, Romania closed the EU negotiation chapter on agriculture, and the country’s EU accession is expected to promote modernization of the farm sector. While extremely favorable crop conditions resulted in a 22% growth in the agricultural sector in 2004, it still struggles to meet the new regulatory requirements of the EU, and the ongoing problem of land consolidation remains.

Romania’s trade policies are primarily shaped by its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and by its efforts to join the European Union (EU). Romanian exports reached record levels in 2004, exceeding $20 billion for the first time. Textiles and apparel topped the list of Romanian exports. On the other hand, Romanian imports broke the $30 billion record, resulting in a sizeable trade deficit. Imports were driven mainly by a relative absence of domestic supply along with favorable financing terms. Imports were assisted by the appreciation of the Romanian Lei in comparison to the U.S. dollar and euro, which in turn hindered exports. Machinery and equipment topped the import list, with textiles, minerals, and chemicals also ranking high. Countries from the enlarged EU are Romania’s principal trading partners, although bilateral trade with the U.S. continues to grow.


Automobiles Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:51 AM

Left-hand-drive automobiles are used in Romania. Most employees ship American or Western European cars to post. Availability of car parts varies widely depending on the make and model. If you plan to ship a vehicle, you should ask GSO whether your vehicle make and model can be serviced locally. Parts and service are only available for some vehicles, and cost for parts purchased in Romania can be very high. Consequently, based on the age and make of your vehicle, you may want to plan on including some parts in your shipment such as: fan belts; fuses; spark plugs; points and condensers (if your car uses them); windshield wiper blades; touch-up paint; air, oil, and fuel filters; spare headlights and other bulbs; any other parts such as brake pads, shock absorbers, gaskets, and hoses that your local dealer’s service department recommends. If possible, bring your car’s service manual. It is possible to purchase some auto parts through Internet companies.

Vehicles older than eight years can only be sold within the diplomatic community. If you plan to ship an older car, be sure that it is in good running condition, including the battery and tires. Tire failure on rough roads is common. While most people use their cars daily, the actual mileage driven during a tour in Romania is much lower than in the U.S..

Unleaded gas is available in Romania. Romanian premium gasoline currently costs $1.3 a liter (about $5.20 a gallon); diesel fuel is less expensive. Gas stations are located in most cities and are often open 24x7.

Winters in Bucharest can be very hard on your car, as snow and ice removal programs for city streets are unreliable. A good auto jack, a lug wrench, a set of jumper cables, tire chains, and a flashlight are important, as is an emergency tire-inflator/sealer bottle. Have a car first-aid kit.

Each family may import duty free, register, and sell upon departure only two vehicles during a normal tour of duty. This limitation includes vehicles purchased from other diplomatic personnel in Romania. Vehicle sellers may have to sell vehicles at a lower price than anticipated. Hence, do not expect to realize a profit from selling your car at the end of your tour of duty. Generally, the higher the cost of the car, the harder it is to sell at a price the seller expects.

Third-party liability insurance is mandatory. It must be bought locally and is relatively inexpensive. GSO completes registration upon possession of the vehicle and of third-party liability insurance. Collision insurance is available from U.S. companies or various local insurance groups.

Current State Department regulations prohibit shipment of foreign vehicles to the U.S., but make an exception for privately owned automobiles of Foreign Service personnel in Romania. This exception has been granted under the provisions of 6 FAM 165.9-1(E) (2) and remains valid for shipment of foreign vehicles to the U.S., regardless of where the car may go after Romania. Department of Defense regulations are similar.

Foreign-made vehicles often do not meet EPA emission control standards. Before importing such vehicles to the U.S., approval and emission control adaptation must be arranged. The importation procedure is more complicated than that for an EPA-approved vehicle, and includes potential out-of-pocket expenses for the employee. Importation of a vehicle with EU specifications into the United States may present significant complications and expenses.

Police cars are blue and white, with a blue light on top, and are labeled “Politia.” Fire trucks are red. Many ambulances are not white and do not always use their sirens, while some have a red cross painted on the door and use only a flashing light.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:51 AM

Some Embassy personnel use local and/or public transportation in Bucharest. Bucharest is the only Romanian city to have a subway system, which is generally safe, convenient and reliable. Security guards patrol the train cars and the stations. The old trains are in the process of being replaced with new ones, which are clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the public surface transportation. Much of the bus and trolley fleets have also been replaced in recent years, but they are often slow and crowded and pickpockets and muggers are commonly found aboard. Thus, the RSO recommends against their use. Metered taxis are available throughout Romania. Vehicles are of varying age and condition, and drivers do not have special licenses. Fares established by taxi companies range from inexpensive to reasonable, but unaffiliated taxi drivers establish their own, often exorbitant, tariffs.

Streets in Bucharest are hard surfaced, but quality varies on the bumpy and cobblestoned streets. Potholes are common. Streets are slippery when wet, particularly those paved with cobblestones. Inefficient to nonexistent snow removal makes ice buildup a serious problem in the winter.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 6/16/2005 6:52 AM

Bucharest’s Baneasa Airport provides some domestic and regional air service on TAROM, the State airline, and on charter flights. Henri Coanda (Otopeni) Airport, about 10 miles outside of Bucharest, has both domestic and foreign air service. Many Embassy personnel have used TAROM for trips to Greece, Turkey and Western Europe and opinions on the service have often been conflicting. It is somewhat cheaper to fly with TAROM than with a Western carrier.

When traveling around Romania, most people prefer to drive, but some personnel have used the railway system for either official or personal trips. Foreigners rarely use intercity buses.

The national road system is generally fair. Most roads are two-lane with an asphalt surface, but some less traveled roads are gravel and dirt. A four-lane highway runs from the northern city limits of Bucharest to Ploiesti, a second four-lane limited-access highway stretches from Bucharest to Pitesti, and the “Sun Highway,” which is only partially completed, runs from the capital to Romania’s Black Sea coast. Frequent encounters with heavy truck traffic and horse-drawn carts or farm machinery can hinder progress on Romanian roads. Rest stops for fuel and food are available on major routes. For further information, see Notes for Travelers.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:00 AM

Romania’s telephone service is improving. Embassy residences and offices have touch-tone systems. Long-distance domestic and international calls can be direct-dialed from USG quarters or from the Embassy.

Calls from Romania to the U.S. are approximately the same price as calls made from the U.S. to Romania. All Embassy homes have telephones for which employees pay a monthly fee. Employees will also be billed for personal phone calls made from the office. Phone cards and Internet telephone services are available and offer a cheaper alternative to the traditional phone system.

Three companies operate Romania’s excellent cellular phone network. U.S. direct-hires are issued a cell phone in accordance with post policy. Roaming service throughout Europe and to the U.S. for cell phones is available but can be expensive. Employees will be billed for personal phone calls made on official cellular phones.


Internet Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:01 AM

There are many reliable Internet Service Providers in Bucharest. Dial-up service is still prevalent. Cable and wireless Internet are available, but generally more expensive than in the U.S..

If you have school-age children, a computer with Internet access may be necessary, as many assignments involve using the Internet as a tool for research. In addition, children attending the American International School of Bucharest (AISB) are expected to type their major school reports as early as the 5th grade.

There are numerous computer stores in Bucharest, and it is possible to purchase your computer products here. Blank CD-ROMs and DVDs, toner/print cartridges and other computer supplies are available. Prices can be higher than in the U.S., but you can usually find what you need. Competent PC repair is available and some U.S. warrantees can be honored, but service may be slower than in the U.S..


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:01 AM

Mail and parcels from the U.S. are shipped via the Department of State diplomatic air pouch. The official address is:

John Doe Department of State 5260 Bucharest Place Washington, D.C. 20521-5260

The address for personal mail and parcels is:

John Doe 5260 Bucharest Place Dulles, Va. 20189-5260

Regular U.S. postage is required for all mail. Incoming personal pouch mail is limited to parcels that do not exceed 17x18x32 and must not weigh more than 50 pounds (reference 2005 State 318871). Parcels over these limits will be rejected by the pouch service in the State Department. It is illegal to send any packages containing aerosols or liquids of any kind and any packages containing these items will be returned to the sender. The incoming U.S. mail pouch is scheduled to arrive four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday). Outgoing pouches are dispatched once a week on Thursdays. Average delivery time from the U.S. east coast to Bucharest is 10-12 days (allow more time at Christmas). Mail from Bucharest to the U.S. is the same, so keep this in mind when making monthly bill or mortgage payments. Many employees now pay bills electronically. You are not allowed to ship packages out of Romania using the pouch system. Large envelopes are accepted but cannot exceed two pounds. The Bucharest Embassy Recreation Association runs the Homeward Bound Mail (HBM) Program. This program was developed for posts without APO/FPO facilities, and must be operated by an employee association. HBM is a fee-for-service program that allows employee association members to send packages to the U.S. or other posts via the pouch. Full establishment guidelines are at along with the applicable regulations (5 FAH-10, H-525).

Bring a supply of U.S. postage stamps for letters, since the Employee Association only sells a limited supply. Once at post, you can also order stamps on-line from the USPS website.


Radio and TV Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:02 AM

There are several major television stations in Romania: PRO TV, Romanian State Television (RTV 1 and RTV 2), Antenna 1, Prima TV, National, Acasa, PRO Cinema, Realitatea, and B1 TV. A large number of television stations outside of the capital are affiliated with one of these broadcasters. The others are local television stations that cover only the immediate urban area. All these stations broadcast via satellite. While the news programs are in Romanian, the TV stations carry a large assortment of American TV programs and movies in English with Romanian subtitles. Cable systems carry satellite programming from the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other countries. They include news channels such as CNN, BBC, TV 5 and Euro News, as well as entertainment channels like HBO, Hallmark, Cartoon Network, and TNT (certain hours), Fox Kids, MTV, VH-1, Reality Television, National Geographic, Euro-Sport and the Discovery Channel. HBO is available at a modest additional charge each month.

Many American Embassy employees have purchased AFN decoders from military bases and are satisfied with the service.

The color system in Romania is European PAL, 220v. If you have plans to use or to buy a television set and DVD or videotape player, it is recommended that you purchase multi-system sets and machines that can accept both PAL and NTSC signals. A multi-system/dual-voltage music system is also advisable. Such multi-system sets are available from military exchange facilities and tax-free companies such as Peter Justesen. Satellite dishes can also be acquired locally.

The Embassy’s Bucharest Employee Recreation Association (BERA) rents NTSC VHS videos as well as some of the latest DVD releases to its members. There are also local video-rental stores (PAL system) that offer American movies with Romanian subtitles. Some personnel use on-line video/DVD rental websites such as NetFlix.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:02 AM

Almost 600 newspapers and periodicals are published regularly in Romania. Feisty, politically committed, usually unrestrained, often irresponsible and leaning toward the sensational as they compete for readership in a crowded market, the print media offers the Romanian public a great variety of information cutting across the political spectrum.

There are local English-language publications including two weeklies, two daily newspapers (9 o’clock and the Bucharest Daily News), and one monthly (In Review). Some Romanian-language dailies, e.g., Evenimentul Zilei, have an Internet edition that can be read in English.

Many international newspapers and magazines (Time, Newsweek, The Economist, and the International Herald Tribune) can be found in certain kiosks in the central part of the city, in hotels, and at the airport. A personal subscription to the International Herald Tribune is available but expensive, and arrives one day late or more. U.S. publications on the Internet can be accessed from Romania.

The Embassy Public Diplomacy section’s daily Washington File contains an excellent collection of official U.S. Government statements on a variety of issues. The European Staff File is a compilation of news articles from major American newspapers. Both are available on the Embassy web site and in the Information Resource Center along with other papers, magazines and reference materials.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:03 AM

Romanian medical care is below U.S. standards. The Embassy maintains a Health Unit staffed by a Foreign Service Health Practitioner (FSHP) or medical officer and two part-time Romanian nurses. Post is also served by a regional medical officer (RMO), who is resident in Vienna and makes visits to post about 2 times per year, and by a regional psychiatric officer (RMO/P), who is also stationed in Vienna and visits post annually. These doctors are available for telephone or cable consultation.

The Health Unit can provide: (1) primary health care; (2) most immunizations; (3) health-care advice to those personnel participating in the Department of State’s Medical Program through ICASS. There are several private clinics with Western trained physicians who are sometimes utilized as consultants.

The FSHP handles most general emergencies and treatment. One of the local nurses or FSHP, if available, accompanies personnel to the hospital. American diplomats and their families use the Emergency Hospital only for emergencies. Due to limited medical resources at the few approved clinics and hospitals, patients are stabilized and transferred to Medevac facilities. When necessary, the FSHP consults with the Regional Medical Officer (RMO) if medical evacuation to Western Europe or the U.S. is recommended. Personnel who need medical attention in Western Europe are sent by medical evacuation to either London or Vienna. Ongoing conditions of a chronic nature are also recommended for Medevac.

While most doctors appear to be adequately educated, the medical system continues to remain somewhat corrupt and inconsistent. Training for nurses in Romania, like so many countries in the region, is not standardized and sometimes results in inappropriate patient treatment. The Embassy’s local nurses are both well trained and closely monitored by the FSHP.

Obstetrical care in Romania is risky, as there are no perinatology facilities for adequate newborn treatment in the event of an emergency. The maternity hospitals do not provide state-of-the-art care for either mother or baby, and complications are not always obvious during the course of a pregnancy. Uncomplicated pregnancies are followed by the FSHP during the first 34 weeks of pregnancy, and then transferred to a U.S. obstetrician of the patient’s choice for further care and delivery.

There are several Western standard private dental clinics that Americans use for routine, and sometimes for emergency, care. Emergency dental problems that cannot safely be handled in Bucharest are referred to London. All treatment received is at the patient's expense. Foreign Service medical regulations allow one evacuation trip, plus one day per diem per year for certain kinds of emergency dental care (see 3 FAM 680 for details). Limited orthodontic care and treatment is available in Romania.

Local pharmacies stock some Western supplies, although routine American over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl, Dimetapp, Pepto-Bismol, etc., are not available. The commissary stocks a few patient medicines and health aids. Personnel should not rely on the Health Unit for day-to-day basic medical supplies. Bring at least a 6-month supply of Band-Aids, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, acetaminophen or aspirin, cold remedies, vitamins, as well as the makings of a solid first aid kit. Many insurance companies will permit individuals going overseas to obtain a one-year supply of some necessary prescriptions, including contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. These medications are not available in Romania on a reliable basis. The FSHP can write prescriptions that can be filled by U.S. pharmacies that send medications and health supplies overseas. There are also mechanisms to obtain medications online from certain Internet-based pharmacies. There are, however, pouch restrictions regarding the shipment of liquids, which include medications.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:04 AM

Weather and poor local sanitation can be a problem and can aggravate certain health conditions. Garbage pickup and street sweeping and washing in Bucharest are sporadic, but sewage disposal is adequate. Winter weather is hard because streets are not cleared of snow and ice, and apartments and work sites are irregularly heated. In winter particulate, soot from burning wood and soft coal will aggravate sinus problems, asthma, and allergies; dust from the extensive construction in Bucharest will do the same for some people year round. Water supply can be a health problem, but all Embassy homes have water distillers and bottled water is readily available. Lead and heavy metal content in water is high, but allowing the tap to run a few minutes before use will bring lead levels to an acceptable range for bathing. A few cases of cholera have been diagnosed in the Danube Delta area in summer months, primarily from contaminated water, preventable by treating water. Legionella was identified in several mission houses that are now vacated. Testing for these and other organisms remains an ongoing task. Giardia is endemic in the water supply throughout Romania, adding additional risk to consuming local water sources. Personnel are advised not to drink, clean raw fruits and vegetables, or brush teeth with any water except distilled or reliable bottled water. All meats and eggs should be thoroughly cooked to avoid contamination from shigella, salmonella, yersinia, cryptospiridium or campylobacter organisms. Diarrhea frequently occurs as a result of the presence of these organisms in local food sources.

AIDS and sero-positive HIV remain public health problems, particularly among Romanian children. The primary cause is vertical transmission from HIV-positive mothers and the reuse of contaminated syringes. Numbers are increasing among the adult population due to prostitution and intravenous drug abuse. AIDS surveillance programs have begun in Romania, as well as programs for blood donor screening for HIV and Hepatitis A, B, and C. The Regional Medical Technologist (RMT) assessed the Emergency Hospital and determined their blood bank to be adequate by European standards. In the event of a major traumatic injury requiring transfusion, they will provide necessary blood supply. All new arrivals to the embassy receive a health briefing and booklet covering these issues at post.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:04 AM

All immunizations should be current upon arrival. Hepatitis A and B vaccination is recommended. Children should have up-to-date DPT, MMNR, HIB vaccines, polio, and Hepatitis B. Any needed immunizations for children are available at the health unit. Bring blood type records, as well as a copy of the last medical clearance and physical exam for all family members.

Stray dogs are a very common problem, although no rabid dogs have been reported in Bucharest in over a year. Because of the overpopulation of dogs in Bucharest and surrounding areas, we recommend rabies pre-exposure immunization for everyone over the age of 2. This is a series of three vaccines and should be done prior to arriving at post. In the event of a dog bite, two additional doses will be administered for adequate protection against rabies. If a person has not obtained pre-exposure immunization prior to arriving at post, they will need five doses of rabies vaccine in addition to an injection of rabies immune globulin at the wound site. The health unit keeps an emergency supply of rabies vaccine and immune globulin for use only after an animal bite.

Local water does not contain fluoride. The Health Unit has limited supplies of fluoride drops/tablets for children so bring a supply with you. Bring vitamins with fluoride for small children. All children over the age of 6 months should receive fluoride supplementation while living in Romania. There are specific guidelines for safely administering fluoride to children, which the health unit can provide.

Employees or family members with respiratory, orthopedic, or other ailments that prohibit climbing stairs should be aware that usually one flight of stairs is required to enter a building. Once inside the building, stairs abound, with either no elevator or an occasionally nonfunctioning one. Within the Embassy itself are there five buildings, all with one or two flights of stairs. As a general rule, buildings in Bucharest are NOT wheelchair accessible.

Replacements for prescription glasses can be obtained locally so bring a copy of your prescription. They are reasonably priced, although imported frames can be quite expensive. It is very difficult to find “lineless bifocals” or “progressive” lenses in Bucharest, though there are one or two vendors that deal with these types of prescriptions.

Additional Information: Open positions are posted both within the Embassy and on the Embassy's Internet Web Site. Go to then select Job Opportunities. The Human Resources Officer and the Community Liaison Officer are always glad to discuss employment possibilities with eligible family members.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:05 AM

Eligible Family Members: The Embassy makes a strong effort to provide employment opportunities for Eligible Family Members (EFMs). The EFM Hiring Policy provides that priority will be given to EFMs who are as qualified for a position as other American applicants. The nature and number of EFM positions varies with program requirements and funding availability. At present, EFMs are working in the following positions: Community Liaison Officer, Consular Associate, Economics Section Secretary, Supervisory General Services Assistant, Budget & Finance Assistant, Human Resources Assistant and Cleared American Escort. Other agencies at post also have EFM positions available from time to time. Part-time positions, such as our Roving Secretary positions, occasionally become available on a “when actually employed” and intermittent basis. When possible, post prefers to employ EFMs through the Family Member Appointment (FMA) program, which allows EFMs to gain service credit and participate in the retirement and Thrift Savings Plans. Additional information on the FMA program is available at post from the Human Resources Officer or in Washington from the Family Liaison Office. Positions are also sometimes available with the Bucharest Employee Recreation Association (BERA), The American International School of Bucharest (AISB) or as English tutors.

Members of Household: As outlined in 3 FAM 4181, "Post will consider Members of Household (MOHs), who can legally work in Romania and have obtained the necessary work permits, for positions at post that are appropriate for their citizenship. Such consideration is subject to applicable law, including nepotism regulations, priority considerations for EFMs and Veterans preference."

Private Sector Employment: There are few employment opportunities available on the Romanian economy. When positions are available, salaries are much lower than in the U.S.

Summer Hire Program: Provided that funding is available, the post offers minimum-wage summer-hire jobs for EFM dependents. Eligible dependents must be between the ages of 16 and 24, enrolled in a course of study at an educational institution, and registered to reenroll. Whenever possible, a winter vacation or semester break program is also provided.

Additional Information: Open positions are posted both within the Embassy and on the Embassy's Internet Web Site. Go to then select Job Opportunities. The Human Resources Officer and the Community Liaison Officer are always glad to discuss employment possibilities with eligible family members.

American Embassy - Bucharest

Post City Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:06 AM

With a population of over 2 million, Romania’s capital, Bucharest, is the largest city in the country, as well as its political, economic, and administrative center. Once a settlement on an ancient trading route, Bucharest is located on a wide agricultural plain in the southeastern part of the country, 40 miles north of the Danube and 156 miles west of the Black Sea.

Located at an altitude of 265 feet, Bucharest enjoys a temperate climate. Except for the 22-story Intercontinental Hotel, the city has a low skyline. It was once called “the Paris of the Balkans” thanks in part to its broad boulevards, its many terrace restaurants and cafes, and its Triumphal Arch. Tree-lined drives and 19th-century neoclassical architecture add to the city's charm. Bucharest has numerous parks and gardens, many with lakes and splendid fountains, though they can be quite crowded on weekends. The largest of these parks is Herastrau, which also encompasses the Village Museum (see Entertainment section below). In central Bucharest, an abundance of architecturally fascinating churches, large and small, abound. Many former aristocratic residences have been converted into offices for State enterprises or diplomatic missions and residences. These buildings were left to deteriorate and many were demolished under communism, when a rash of Soviet-style monolithic constructions spread over the face of the city, but work to preserve and restore earlier architecture is ongoing.

French was formerly the most commonly used foreign language in Bucharest but, in recent years, English has almost completely supplanted it. Knowledge of Romanian is still an important asset, even for non-officers and dependents. While you will encounter some English-speaking shopkeepers, most of the people working in the “piata” markets, the taxi drivers, subway attendants, housekeepers, and other people with whom you have daily interactions prefer to speak in Romanian. There is ample opportunity to practice and improve your Romanian language skills. Free language courses are provided to embassy employees and dependents with diplomatic status. Private tutors are also available and charge approximately $10 per hour, and the International Women's Association offers language groups for Romanian and many other languages. Contact the CLO for more information on Romanian language course offerings.

Traffic in Bucharest is always hectic due to the increasing number of vehicles on the road and minimal enforcement of safety laws. Parking garages are virtually nonexistent, so people will often park (and double or triple park) on the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. Foot traffic is therefore always heavy. Drive with caution and keep in mind that pedestrians have the right-of-way. Strolling in the late evening is a popular pastime when the weather is good. Although most of the city streets are better lit than before the revolution, they are still dark by American standards.

Problems of pick-pocketing and scams directed at tourists are common. Violent crime, however, is extremely uncommon. The Regional Security Officer briefs new arrivals at post on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime while in Romania.

Social life in Bucharest is diverse. See the sections on Recreation and Social Life and Entertainment below for more information.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:06 AM

The Chancery compound is located near the city center at Strada Tudor Arghezi 7-9. The main Chancery building is an ornate, rococo mansion built in 1888. The compound houses the Executive, Political, and Economic Sections, the Defense Attaché’s Office, the Regional Security Office, the Management Section, the FBI offices, and the Consulate. The Embassy snack bar and commissary, managed by the Bucharest Employee Recreation Association (BERA) are also located on the compound.

The General Services Office and Public Diplomacy are both housed on compounds in converted residences, within several blocks of the Chancery. A separate building, one block from the Chancery, houses the Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and some of the Security Offices.

Embassy business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour for lunch. All U.S. Government career employees with the exception of the Ambassador, DCM, USAID Mission Director, Peace Corps Director, RSO, and IM personnel, serve on the Embassy duty roster; the duty period is one week once or twice annually. A Marine Security Guard is on duty 24 hours a day at the Chancery.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:07 AM

GSO will make every attempt to move you directly into your permanent quarters immediately upon your arrival in Bucharest. However, sometimes necessary renovations and repainting requirements between occupants make this impossible. If you are unable to move directly into your assigned quarters, you will be placed in temporary housing or, more rarely, in a hotel, until renovations on your assigned housing have been completed. Anticipate a 2-week or longer waiting period for the move from temporary to permanent housing if you arrive during a time of heavy post turnover.

Welcome Kits are provided until your airfreight arrives (usually about 3 weeks). The welcome kit includes such items as chinaware, glassware, flatware, cooking and baking needs, utensils, bed and bath linens, hangers, toaster, shower curtain, ironing board (with pad) and iron, vacuum cleaner and TV/VCR. A crib, if necessary, with appropriate linen is also available.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:07 AM

The Embassy maintains approximately 80 residences with 2-4 bedrooms. These residences are a mixture of leased and U.S. Government owned apartments and single family dwellings that are scattered throughout north central Bucharest and the northern suburbs of Baneasa and Pipera. Most have a Western European standard of construction and finishing, with smaller kitchens and less storage space than American standards. About 30% of leased housing is in older Eastern-Bloc style buildings, but many of these units are larger in area than the more modern ones. All Embassy quarters are fully furnished. Every consideration is made to ensure personnel the best possible housing for their needs and comfort. Housing layouts are also sometimes very different from U.S. standards and there will be advantages and disadvantages to each type of building or compound.

Houses and apartments for families are three or four bedrooms. Many of the apartments in Bucharest have balconies. Most family residences have small yards. Small, separate but adequately appointed kitchens are the norm. Most of the single-family houses have finished attics. Most housing is within 10-30 minutes of the Embassy.

New housing development is a booming business on the outskirts of Bucharest, and the Embassy continues to buy and lease modern duplexes outside the city center near the new campus of the American International School of Bucharest. Families with children attending AISB may be housed near the school.

The Post Housing Board assigns housing on the basis of family size and employee position in accordance with A-171 Housing Policy Space Standards (6 FAM 720 & 92 State 209682). You will not necessarily occupy the quarters of your predecessor. Except for the Ambassador, DCM, the DAO, USAID Director and Marine Security Guards, all housing is pooled and usually rotates.

The Embassy pays all rent and utilities (except telephone and cable). Employees pay for gardening service, if applicable, and maid services. Most routine residential repair and maintenance is the responsibility of private landlords and housing companies or in the case of USG-owned properties, GSO/Facilities Maintenance. GSO will process all work requests for approval by a GSO Officer or by private landlords. Occupants are expected to maintain and keep their premises in good order.

The Ambassador’s residence is a three-story house with a one-car garage. The ground floor has two salons, a small library, and a large dining room. A terrace runs the length of the building along the dining room. On the same side of the house is a 28,000-square foot garden with a tennis court. Ample room is available for indoor receptions. On the ground floor, extending back from the dining room, is an indoor swimming pool, measuring 33´x 16´with a minimum depth of 3´. The swimming pool looks out onto the garden with the roof terrace/garden directly above. The master bedroom, dining room, and cloakroom, plus three more bedrooms, are on the second floor, and two bedrooms are on the third floor.

The DCM’s three story house has a garage and an attractive yard close to the Ambassador’s residence. It has a large kitchen, large dining room and living room, library, four bedrooms, four bathrooms and servants’ quarters.

Many employees live near the Embassy. Some of the apartments have terraces or balconies; a few have gardens or courtyards. Most apartments are in buildings with small elevators. A few units are duplexes. Some apartments in Bucharest have high ceilings, many windows, and are roomy with some storage space. A few have garages, but many personnel park their cars on the street.


Furnishings Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:08 AM

This is a “furnished post” for State Department employees. Furnishings include a standard set of living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture, including lamps. Carpets, either wall-to-wall or area rugs in the living room and dining room, curtains, and draperies, at least one refrigerator and freezer, range, microwave, washer, dryer, water distiller, and air-conditioners are also supplied. Three transformers are provided for incidental use. Upon request, State also provides its employees with a vacuum cleaner and if available, a dishwasher, a humidifier or dehumidifier.

Bedroom furniture includes a queen-sized bed for the master bedroom and twin size for all other bedrooms. Some bunk beds are available but baby and juvenile-type furniture is not available. In addition to these furnishings, the Ambassador’s residence and DCM’s home are furnished with china, glassware, silver, and serving pieces. Other agency personnel should contact their office in Bucharest about furnishings provided.

Bring dishes, glasses, flatware, kitchen utensils, and pots and pans, as well as bathroom rugs, shower curtains and hooks, a good supply of coat hangers, ironing board, iron, and accessories. Bring a complete set of linens: sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads, pads, towels, tablecloths, napkins, and dishtowels. Electric blankets and flannel sheets are welcome in winter, especially for apartment dwellers; U.S. model electric blankets generally work well with a transformer. Bring wall hangings and art, small occasional furniture pieces, several throw rugs, extra lamps, and items to help individualize your home.

No unusual climatic factors adversely affect household furnishings here, but dust and grime are year-round challenges.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:08 AM

Electricity in Bucharest is 220-volt/50-cycle, AC. The Embassy provides three, 1500-2000 watt transformers for use with furnished appliances. If you already have transformers, or can obtain them in Western Europe, bring them. Motors for many vacuum cleaners can operate on both 50/60-cycle systems. Vacuum cleaners are provided but if you choose to bring a vacuum cleaner, irons, or other small appliances, 220-volt/50-cycle is recommended.

Electric current can be variable. Frequent low-voltage conditions, occasional high-voltage spikes, and below normal cycles are common. Bring 220-voltage stabilizers or surge protectors to protect sensitive high fidelity computers, or similar equipment. Computers operating at 110volts will work through a transformer. Do not bring plug-in electric clocks, even those made for 50-cycle current, because low cycles cause them to lose time. Please do not bring 110 volt hair dryers, electric frying pans or other appliances that have heat elements. These items draw high amperages from transformers and increase the likelihood of blown fuses or breakers. Transformers are dangerous to operate near water and should not be used in bathrooms. Bring a supply of European electrical adapters and multiple wall plugs. If you already have 220-volt, 50-cycle small appliances, bring them. If you need something after arrival, you can buy it locally, from military commissaries in Germany, Danish mail order houses, or the Army-Air Force Exchange System (AAFES) catalog.

Food Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:09 AM

Embassy families have many alternatives for food and supplies. The commissary, managed by the Bucharest Employee Recreation Association (BERA) has an assortment of popular American products. American employees and their families may use the commissary (and other BERA facilities) upon payment of dues and a refundable deposit. The selection includes many American favorites such as bacon, hot dogs, cheddar and cream cheeses, butter and a small selection of frozen convenience foods. Liquor, soft drinks, juice, flour, brown sugar (which is not available on the local market), vanilla, a large variety of canned goods, chips, snacks, cookies, detergent, pet food and paper products are also available in limited quantities. Prices are generally at least 30% over U.S. retail prices due to shipping costs and commissary overhead. BERA sponsors community-wide special orders from Ramstein (although they are currently negotiating to substitute these quarterly orders from Ramstein for orders from AAFES), and individual orders from Peter Justesen on demand.

Over the past couple of years, several Western-type supermarkets have opened locally. All of these carry German, Danish, French, Italian or Spanish meats, cheeses and canned goods as well as fresh produce, meat and some specialty items and household supplies. Local outdoor markets carry a wide selection of local and imported fruits and vegetables, some of which are available year round. Lettuce is hard to find during the winter months, although usually available in more upscale markets at a high price. METRO and SELGROS, both bulk purchase membership stores on the order of Price Club, offer a wide variety of typical foods and products found in supermarkets, including some U.S. products. New arrivals are provided with membership cards for both of these stores in their CLO Welcome Kit. Baby food and baby products by Hippo, Nestle and Danone can be found in most grocery stores, but choices are basic. The commissary does not sell baby food or formula, and employees with infants and young children often get their baby supplies from on-line companies such as Diapers and other baby-related products can be purchased at pharmacies and larger supermarkets, but are not of U.S. quality. An extensive list of supermarkets, markets, shopping centers and other local food sources is available from the CLO.

Pork is the most widely available meat in Romania and can be purchased in all forms. “Ceafa” is the name of the popular sliced pork cuts that are grilled, fried or baked. Beef is also available, although it is difficult, if not impossible, to find quality steak cuts. Cuts are different than the ones familiar to Americans and quality and selection vary from location to location. Ground beef is generally good. Lamb is only available around Easter time. Frozen chicken and chicken parts are widely available, although local chicken tends to be tougher and smaller than the American type. Fresh milk that is safe to drink is not available. Long-life full fat and reduced fat milk are available almost everywhere.

Clothing Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:09 AM

Dress here is simple and informal, but conservative at official Romanian and European diplomatic functions. "Informal" is the most widely used term for social functions: sometimes it means a casual suit or sport coat for men and dress for women; at other times a dark suit for men and cocktail-length dress for women is preferred. Wardrobes should resemble those needed in Washington, D.C.

Include winter clothing in your shipment or your suitcases if you plan to arrive between October and March. Make sure to bring a warm coat, scarves, hats, gloves, and boots. Silk or thermal underwear will protect against chilly under-heated buildings in winter. Bring or plan to order all footwear.

The quality and availability of clothing and footwear is inconsistent. All clothing, including children’s, differs noticeably in fit from items purchased in the U.S., and is often more expensive. Selection is limited and medium-to-large women’s sizes are difficult to find. The stores tend to sell out of the more popular sizes quickly and to stock fewer of the other sizes. Some clothing can be custom-made locally by a seamstress or a tailor, but you must supply zippers, buttons, threads, needles, linings, and in some cases, fabric. Although all of these things are available locally, synthetic fabric is popular in Romania and natural fiber fabrics can be expensive and difficult to find. Bring a sewing machine if you sew.

Bring rubber boots for the entire family; soot and coal burning in winter make ice and snow very acidic and damaging to leather. Snow boots with good tread are a necessity, as streets and sidewalks remain extremely icy for most of the winter. If you plan to walk in the city during winter time, consider buying ice traction devices that can be attached to your boots. Ice remains on the sidewalks for days or weeks at a time and makes walking in the city treacherous. Shoes for women who wear sizes above a U.S. size 8 or for women with wider feet can be difficult to find.

The post currently uses the following designations for dress on invitations:

Black Tie: Black tuxedo (or summer white dinner jacket) for men; long or short formal dress for women.

Business attire: Dark business suit for men; long or short formal dress for women.

Informal (casual): Business suit for men; long or short dress for women. Sport shirt and slacks for men; long or short casual dress, hostess gown or slacks and top for women.

Military: Officers assigned duty here should have both service and dress uniforms.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:10 AM

Shops in Bucharest carry a variety of both locally made and imported items. American brand goods are scarce and expensive, so if you have preferences, bring them with you (i.e., toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, first-aid items, tobacco, and other household, recreational and entertainment supplies). Bucharest has a large variety of locally made china, glassware, and crystal at reasonable prices.

Bring garment bags, hot-water bottles, heating pads, hangers, tools such as hammers and screwdrivers, assorted screws and nails, glue, masking tape, scotch-tape, European-type converter plugs (not British), picture-hanging hooks and wire, multiple wall plugs, flashlights, lighter fluid, and a small step ladder. If your child uses disposable diapers, send a supply in your household effects. Also be prepared to bring toys, as the quality of educational toys offered in Romania is far below Americans' expectations, the availability is limited and they are always extremely expensive.

Wrapping paper, ribbons, and cards are available on the local market. The selection includes gift wrapping paper and accessories, birthday candles, stationery items, greeting cards (including a supply of Christmas/holiday cards in Romanian), party decorations, party games for children and adults, and party favors. Children's toys are sold locally, but they may not be as durable as those you bring or order. If you have small children, include small toys and games for exchanging at birthday parties.

Due to lack of storage space, the commissary has a very limited and inconsistent supply of pet food. Pet foods and other supplies are widely available on the local market, although the brands may not all be familiar to Americans. Some personnel order pet food and supplies on-line through web sites such as

Plants, pots, potting soil, and gardening tools are widely available for reasonable prices.

Sporting equipment such as roller blades, bicycles, and soccer balls are available locally, but they are either expensive (imported) or of inferior quality (locally made). Therefore, you may want to consider bringing your favorite sporting equipment, clothing, and sports accessories with you. Some smaller sporting goods items can be ordered and received through the diplomatic pouch, such as ice skates and roller blades, but size limitation is restrictive (see Mail and Pouch services). Sleds, skis, and bicycles are best shipped with household effects.

Film and developing services are available locally and through BERA, and are on par with international standards. Kodak is one of the main suppliers.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:10 AM

The supply of basic services has increased greatly in Bucharest over the last few years, but they can still be very expensive, especially automobile services. Many European and Japanese dealerships exist in Romania. Some spare parts and maintenance and repairs from these facilities are available. For ease and efficiency, it is a good idea to pack extra maintenance parts (i.e., air and oil filters, spark plugs, etc.), in your household goods. Smaller devices, such as air compressors and extra gas caps, are good to have if you intend to travel by car throughout the country.

Many salons and barbershops exist for hair care and beauty services, but services are not consistent, and price does not necessarily determine the quality. Individuals can also provide these services in your home. Hair color tends to be extreme in Romania, but you can provide your own hair-coloring supplies to be used by a hairdresser.

The majority of Embassy personnel use one of two dry-cleaning services that make weekly deliveries to the Embassy, Consulate, and USAID. Tailors and seamstresses will either make or alter clothing (see Clothing). Shoe repair services are available at reasonable prices.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:11 AM

Most Embassy personnel employ Romanians to help with the housework and/or to care for their children. Individuals rely greatly upon their household help not only for their responsibilities in the home, but also as sources of local information. Even single personnel usually hire a part-time maid. It is important to consider this when planning representational events. The Ambassador and DCM have larger household staffs.

It is possible to find English speakers to work in the home. However, it is easier to employ an English speaker for childcare than it is for housework. Household help does not live with the family. Referrals are the main source for hiring domestic employees. The CLO has résumés on file, and the RSO provides newcomers with hiring guidelines.

Salaries depend upon the size of the family and the quarters. The length of time the employee works daily and the amount of responsibility you assign to your household helper are also determining factors for salary levels. The average minimum monthly salary for full-time help is $200 per month. Romanians prefer to be paid in dollars and most personnel comply due to the fluctuating Romanian lei rates.

If you plan to bring a governess or nanny with you, notify the Administrative Section early to initiate arrangements for the required documentation and registration with the Romanian Government.

If you plan to bring a governess with you, notify the Administrative Section early to initiate arrangements for the required documentation and registration with the Romanian Government.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:11 AM

Romanian Orthodox is the dominant religion in Romania, but churches of many other denominations exist. Baptist and Roman Catholic churches in Bucharest hold services in Romanian; Lutheran churches have services in German. A Jewish synagogue has services in Hebrew. Services in English are also available at the Catholic, Anglican and Baptist churches.

Romanian Orthodox Christmas and Easter celebrations are quite beautiful and an interesting and enjoyable experience for those interested in traditions of the Orthodox Church. Easter is a significant event in Romania, far more so than in the United States. The city is, in effect, closed for the entire weekend. Midnight masses are offered in every church, and priests, choirs, and congregations with holy candles sing and chant Easter services in streets and squares that have been closed to traffic. Note that those who enjoy lamb can indulge themselves at Easter: it is the one time of the year when the meat can be found anywhere in the country.

For more information concerning places of worship, contact the CLO upon arrival at post.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:12 AM The American International School of Bucharest (AISB) is an independent, international, coeducational day school which offers an educational program from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The school was founded in 1962 under the sponsorship of the American Embassy and is attended by many English-speaking expatriate children. The school year consists of 3 trimesters extended from late August through mid-June.

Organization: The school is governed by a 9-member Board of Directors. The Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy serves as chairperson. Embassy personnel with children enrolled at the school are encouraged to seek seats on the board when they come available.

Curriculum: The school provides a U.S. and International curriculum in English, suited to meet the needs of the International student community in Bucharest. The School offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, IB Middle Years Program (MYP) in grades 6-10, and the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) in grades K-5. Specialists in art, drama, physical educational, music, computers, Spanish and French serve students at various grade levels. The School is unable to assist students with major learning disabilities or the physically challenged. The School is accredited by the New England association of Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools.

Faculty: In the 2004-2005 school year, there are 64 full-time and part-time faculty members including 19 U.S. citizens, 16 host-country nationals, and 37 third-country nationals.

Enrollment: At the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year, enrollment was 485 (rising 3-grade 12). Of the total, 106 were U.S. citizens, 146 were host-country nationals, and 243 were third-country nationals. Of the U.S. enrollment, 50 were dependents of U.S. government direct-hire or contract employees and 56 were children of parents in the private sector.

Facilities: The School’s new campus, which opened its doors in the 2001-2002 school year to children in preschool through grade 12, is located on a 10-hectare site north of the city center and near the residential area called Baneasa, where the Embassy houses many of its employees who have children. The new facility is equipped with class rooms, a media center, a sports center/gymnasium for the Secondary School and a gymnasium for the Elementary School, music and art rooms, science and computer labs, a theatre, a cafeteria and many outdoor sports facilities including areas for tennis, basketball and soccer.

Finance: In the 2004-2005 school year, the School’s income derives from regular day school tuition. Annual tuition rates are as follows: Rising 3: $4,080, EC-3 (half-day): $6,500; EC-4 (full-day): $9,000; kdg.-grade 8: $16,300; and grade 9-12: $17,350. The total includes a non-refundable capital fee for new campus projects. There is also a one-time application fee of $1,000 which must be submitted with the application. The School offers no fee discounts. These fees are payable in U.S. dollars. (All fees are quoted in U.S. dollars). Tuition is fully covered by the Foreign Service educational allowance grant from kindergarten through grade 12.

The School recommends that parents contact the Admissions Office as far in advance of arrival at post as possible. Records and grades from previous schools, a birth certificate and passport (photocopy of front page) or proof of age are also required. The school term consists of 180 teaching days. The calendar does not observe all U.S. holidays, but includes a 3-week Christmas/New Year holiday and a 1-week spring vacation. It also observes some host-country holidays. AISB curriculum and admissions application are accessible through their website at

Contact information for the American International School of Bucharest is:

American International School of Bucharest 5260 Bucharest Place Department of State Washington, D.C. 20521 Telephone: 011 40 21 204 43 00 (Dialing from the U.S.) Fax: 011 40 21 204 43 06 (Dialing from the U.S.)

AISB (local Address) Sos. Pipera-Tunari #196 Comuna Voluntari-Pipera Jud. Ilfov, Romania Director: Arnold Bieber E-mail:

The British School of Bucharest (BSB) is located in a newly renovated property in central Bucharest. As the first British school in Bucharest, it opened to pupils on 30th August, 2000 with 21 pupils. Since then the school has grown both in terms of the number of children and classes. In the 2004-2005 academic year, BSB has over 140 pupils from 30 nations and offers classes from Foundation Stage to year 8 (7th year in the U.S. system). Current enrollment is approximately 40 students. Class size is limited to 12 students, so it is important to register your child as early as possible.

BSB offers a curriculum which is in line with the UK National Curriculum. It is structured and balanced to ensure that children cover a range of subjects, with a strong emphasis on Literacy and Numeracy.

The Director of the school is Mrs. Jo Wells. She can be reached at: 011-40-21-232-5657, or e-mail: The school also has a Web site:

Some Embassy children have also attended the Fundatia International British School of Bucharest, which is located in the heart of the city. Current enrollment is approximately 50 students. The school accepts students from kindergarten through 6th grade (years 1-7 in the British system). The facility is brand new with large, sunny classrooms. Class sizes vary between 14-18 students.

The curriculum is based on the British National Curriculum, and is statutory for all schools in England. The curriculum covers the core subjects such as English, Math and Science.

The school principal is Mr. Jonathan Merritt and he can be reached at: 011-40-21-252-3704 03 011-40-21-253-1698, or email: The school Web site is:

The Bucharest Christian Academy (BCA) is a school committed to a Christian English-language education for the children of missionaries and Christian expatriates serving in Romania. Children from diplomatic or business families are also welcome to apply to BCA. BCA is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). BCA follows an American curriculum and is an official testing site for the ACT college entrance exam. The school accepts students from grades 1-12, and currently has approximately 100 students.

The Director is Ms. Jennifer Lipp. She can be reached at: 011-40-21-323-5887 or email: The school website:

Several other countries support schools in Bucharest, including French, German, and Japanese schools. There are also a number of nursery schools, such as a Montessori Educational Center, the preschool at the Mark Twain International School, and Cherry Tree Kindergarten. These schools offer half-day and full-day programs for children ages 3-7. Contact CLO for more information.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:13 AM Some Embassy parents of secondary school children choose to school them away from post. A higher, away-from-post allowance is currently authorized for grades 9-12. One of the best sources for information about boarding schools is The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) at HYPERLINK The Web site lists the boarding schools that belong to TABS and provides links to the websites of the individual schools. For more information on U.S. boarding schools, contact the Office of Overseas Schools. Carol Sutherland is the Director of the Resource Center. Her e-mail address is:

Contact information for the Office of Overseas Schools is 202-261-8200 by telephone and 202-261-8224 by fax.


Special Needs Education Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:13 AM

Anyone with a skill to teach, especially in the area of special education, will find that the local community is receptive, as opportunities such as speech therapy are not available in English. Bucharest does not have adequate teaching facilities for children with physical or emotional handicaps or with learning disabilities.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:13 AM

Exceptional private instruction is available in Bucharest for the arts, dance, music, and languages. Check with CLO or your colleagues.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:14 AM

Physical training is becoming increasingly common in Bucharest. However, the costs for modern facilities that meet standards to which we are accustomed are high. Four major hotels in Bucharest have sports clubs that admit local memberships, and more fitness clubs are opening in and around the city every year. Many of these fitness clubs are the best places in Bucharest to find a good swimming pool, Jacuzzi, or spa facilities from wet and dry saunas to solariums, and massage treatments to facials. Many have classes such as aerobics and yoga. AISB also offers aerobics and weight training at a fraction of the price paid at the fitness clubs.

The Embassy also has a small workout room with a treadmill, stair-step machine, Nordic Track, and stationary bicycle. A Universal workout center and free weights are also available. There is one shower room available for use by Embassy personnel.

Jogging, biking and outdoors sports within the city or its parks can be complicated due to the heavy traffic and the stray dog population. However, the Marines have arrangements with AISB during the summer months to play softball with the post community. There are also local options to play sports such as rugby or soccer. Bowling, swimming, horseback riding, tennis, ice-skating, and skeet shooting are available. There are areas outside of the city where you can fish, camp, mountain bike, hike, and ski.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:14 AM

Romania has many natural and historical points of interest and beauty. Travel restrictions do not exist in Romania. There are certain designated areas with a crossed-out camera sign where photography is off limits, but in general unlimited and wonderful photo opportunities abound.

The Carpathian Mountains offer spectacular views and hiking and camping possibilities. There are many small bed-and-breakfasts as well as larger hotels with more modern amenities. The Black Sea coast offers summer recreation at the beach, including jet skiing and boating. The northeastern area is beautiful with its rolling countryside and its famous painted monasteries. On the exteriors of these monasteries, built in the 15th and 16th centuries, paintings were used to illustrate religious messages and folklore for the illiterate population. These paintings have survived hundreds of years of exposure and the formula used to create this masterful artwork is still a mystery.

Sinaia, located in the mountains 130 kilometers from Bucharest, is a popular weekend getaway. Sites include Sinaia Monastery, founded in 1695, and Peles Castle, built in the 1880s by King Carol I. Bran Castle, often presented as “Dracula's Castle,” is nearby. Bran’s most famous resident was actually Queen Marie of Romania, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who married Prince Ferdinand in 1892. She often referred to Bran as a “pugnacious little fortress.”

Approximately 10 kilometers from Bucharest is Mogosaia Palace, built by the Brincoveanu family in 1702. Here, you can walk through the gardens, have a meal at the restaurant or enjoy the view from the banks of the river. Snagov Lake is also a popular destination. Located only 40 kilometers from the city, the lake offers water sports in summer and picnicking year round. A monastery built in 1519 occupies an island in the lake where the tomb of Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula, is said to be located.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:49 AM

Social life in Bucharest is relatively limited, but new opportunities continue to emerge. Some of the more recent ones include a wine club, a cigar club, a new yoga fitness center, and ballroom dance lessons. Family members can take their children to the circus or to the zoo. The Marines also take an active role in offering monthly social opportunities such as a Diplomatic Happy Hour and fun theme parties.

Bucharest is host to a variety of nighttime entertainment options such as discotheques, restaurants, opera, ballet, movies, theater and symphony. Going to the cinema is a popular past-time at post since films are shown in original language with Romanian subtitles. Tickets are quite inexpensive by Western standards.

There are many good restaurants in Bucharest, although quality can often vary. New ones are opening all the time. One can choose from the many traditional Romanian restaurants, a few Chinese food restaurants, numerous Italian restaurants and pizzerias, German, French, Indian and Japanese restaurants, to name only a few. American style restaurants and fast food outlets have also become easier to find. Check out the web site for the local guide Bucharest in Your Pocket at for a listing of popular dining places, pubs and nightclubs.

One can spend days exploring the wealth of museums that Bucharest has to offer. Three museums of particular interest are the Village Museum, the Peasant Museum and the Palace of Parliament.

The Village Museum is an outdoor museum on the edge of Bucharest approximately 10 minutes from the Hilton Hotel and approximately 20 minutes from the Marriott Hotel, near the Ambassador’s Residence. This 15-hectare open-air museum is located on one of Bucharest’s largest and most beautiful parks, Herastrau. Established in 1936, the museum boasts over 200 displays of 18th and 19th century cottages (replicas and relocated originals), farmsteads, churches, workshops, water mills and roadside crosses from all over Romania. A small note of interest about the Museum, it was once visited by President Nixon. If you enter the Gift shop you can see the picture of him taken during this visit.

The Peasant Museum, a favorite among Americans, displays 18th and 19th century exhibits, which range from painted eggs to wooden churches, and provides a wealth of information about the diverse and fascinating history of traditional life around the country over the past few centuries. Housed in the basement of the museum are the very fine textile and embroidery exhibits and the Communist Iconography museum.

The Palace of Parliament (formerly known as the People’s Palace), was built by communist dictator Ceausescu during the later years of his rule. This is the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon. It is palatial, with immense marble rooms and extravagant displays of architectural wealth and Romanian craftsmanship. The Palace is near the center of the city, only 5 minutes from the Marriott and 15 minutes from the Hilton Hotel by car.

One can easily spend weekends in Bucharest shopping for various types of artwork and antiques. Many shops sell traditional crafts like linens, carpets, icons and woodcrafts. Glass and crystal are a major attraction for most foreigners. Artisans display and sell their works either in their own galleries or through shows and shops. There are also large shopping centers and malls that house modern movie theaters and a variety of stores and fast food restaurants.

While there are many bookshops scattered around Bucharest, few of these sell English books with any consistency, and selection is limited. However, some English-language magazines, newspapers and newsletters are available for purchase at virtually all bookstores or magazine stands. Salinger’s English bookshop in the Marriott Hotel hosts a weekly literature club. As an alternative, most foreigners either bring reading materials with them and participate in book exchanges or order books by mail. The Bucharest Employee Recreation Association (BERA) runs a small exchange library in the Embassy that works on the honor system. Upon arrival, the CLO provides newcomers with a Culture Guide containing a list of Bucharest bookstores which have English language sections.

BERA and CLO offices hold monthly events such as Artisan nights, featuring artwork ranging from ceramics, icons, and glass work from local artisans to wine tasting tours, and other community-oriented events. CLO also coordinates with BERA to provide kid-friendly events such as a summer ice-cream social and trips to the circus and zoo. The CLO also organizes holiday events such as the annual Easter Egg Hunt. In addition to the CLO/BERA events, the Marine House hosts Diplomatic Happy Hour, theme parties, BBQs in spring and fall, kids’ nights, and Toys for Tots. These events are open to Embassy personnel, American citizens living in Bucharest, individuals from other Embassies, particularly British and Canadian, and foreign national employees.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:15 AM The Marine Corps Ball is the major formal event of the year. The American community in particular looks forward to this event and formal dress is strongly encouraged.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:49 AM Organized groups, such as the International Women’s Association (IWA), also provide an outlet for social activities. This group offers tours, language classes, aerobics, children’s activities and other forums in which to meet people. The IWA fees are low. Inquire at the CLO upon arrival about IWA membership, and other inter-Embassy sponsored activities, such as HASH, softball, and the British-sponsored darts evenings.

There are no restrictions on socialization with the local population and many people develop lasting relationships with their Romanian friends. In general, Romanians are a very generous, friendly and gracious people. In fact, one may find their hospitality and sense of humor difficult to resist.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:16 AM

High-ranking Embassy officers and their spouses (Ambassador, DCM, military attachés, and first secretaries) can expect a busy official social life here. It is not unusual to participate in official functions several nights a week and, on occasion, to have more than one function a night. Due to the Embassy's relatively small size, lower ranking officers are also often invited to more official functions than might otherwise be expected.

Only high-ranking Embassy officers are usually invited to functions hosted by Romanian Government officials. If invited to an event hosted by the Ambassador, DCM, your section chief, or a prominent diplomatic or Romanian contact, your presence is expected, unless you have a valid reason to decline. In general, Embassy officers are expected to take an appropriately active role in hosting representational functions.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:16 AM

Calling cards are widely used. Officers of third secretary rank and above, including the Defense and Air Attachés, should have a supply of calling cards. Normally, 200 cards a tour are sufficient, except for the Ambassador and the DCM, who should both have a minimum of 400. Officers below third secretary rank have no formal calling card requirements, but you may wish to bring some or obtain them at post. You may wish to bring a stock of high-quality blank note cards and envelopes.

Special Information Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:31 AM

U.S. Government employees traveling to Romania on official business should notify the Embassy in advance of their proposed trip. Persons visiting Romania for less than 90 days, traveling on any type of passport, do not require a visa. Visitors who will be in Romania for any period of time should register with the Consular Section. New employees on diplomatic passports are announced to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by diplomatic note along with an application form for issuance of a diplomatic identity card (legitimatia).

Post Orientation Program Last Updated: 05/23/2005

Post orientation operates through the Sponsor program. The Sponsorship Program is intended to help newcomers to our community settle into their life in Bucharest and ease their transition to their new assignment. In an effort to accomplish this, the Embassy assigns two sponsors to each newcomer – an official sponsor (designated by the employee’s new office) and a community sponsor (assigned by the CLO).

The community sponsor serves as a point of contact for the newcomer before the assignment. They ensure that assigned housing is ready, open a commissary account, purchase basic food and household items, and coordinate meeting the new employee and their family at the airport. They will introduce the newcomer to other members of the community through invitations to social gatherings and other events. Additionally, they will familiarize the employee and their family with the city by introducing them to the public transportation system, and showing them places to shop, exchange money, and eat.

Official sponsors are responsible for settling the newcomer into the workplace. The official sponsor is someone from the newcomer’s agency/office. This person is responsible for showing them around the facilities, making the necessary professional introductions, and arranging meetings with the Ambassador and DCM, as well as scheduling appointments with other key sections – MGT, HR, GSO, B&F, CLO, MED and RSO.

The Welcome Package, which the CLO prepares, contains useful tools and information intended to familiarize the newcomer with the post environment. Included in the packet are: an Orientation Booklet that contains information such as embassy telephone numbers, medical and security briefs and histories of the embassy buildings; and a Shopping, Dining, Entertainment, Culture and Tourist Guide to start you on your way around town, with information on restaurants, hair dressers, supermarkets, cinemas, places of interest and much more. Also included in the Welcome Package are a few local guides What, Where, When Bucharest and Bucharest In Your Pocket, which serves as a practical guide for newcomers, providing information about movies, restaurants, theaters, opera, shopping and more.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:21 AM

Employees arriving by air are met by their sponsors. Inform the Embassy of your travel plans in advance. If driving to post, provide your itinerary in advance and go directly to the Chancery upon arrival. Several Western airlines including Air France/Delta, KLM/Northwest, Lufthansa/United, Swiss Air, Austrian Air, and all Eastern European airlines service Bucharest through Henri Coanda (Otopeni) International Airport, 20 to 30 minutes north of the city center. Planes arrive daily from Frankfurt, Vienna, London, Paris, and Rome. There are daily connections to all major cities in the U.S. through different European points of connection. TAROM is the Romanian National Airline and it serves most Western European cities. Travelers must comply with the "Fly America Act" for official transatlantic journeys.

All official shipments must be consigned to ELSO (contacted through the State Department’s Transportation Division). Although international shipping arrives at the Black Sea ports of Constanta and Galati, the Embassy does not use these ports for any official shipments. In addition, these ports receive little passenger traffic.

Bucharest can be reached by land from the surrounding countries. The drive can be made comfortably from Budapest in 2 days (12 hours’ driving time) or from Vienna in 2 days (16 hours’ driving time). Bucharest can be reached in 10-12 hours after crossing the Greek border at Sere or the Turkish border at Erdinne. Employees traveling with small children may need to add an extra day. Roads in Eastern Europe are two-lane, and traffic is moderate to heavy by Western standards. Motorists will encounter heavy truck traffic in the Bucharest vicinity. Encounters with slow-moving trucks, tractors, bicycles, motorcycles, and even horse-drawn carts are not unusual. Allow ample time for these inconveniences. If traveling on a diplomatic passport, a visa is required for transiting Bulgaria. Be sure to have your papers in order before arriving at the border.

Americans coming to Romania do not need a visa for a stay of less than 90 days, regardless of passport type. If a visa is required once you are in Romania, the Embassy will assist you in getting one. People traveling with diplomatic or official passports must obtain visas in advance to travel to Bulgaria, former members of the Yugoslavian Federation, and Yugoslavia. Persons traveling on diplomatic passports also need to obtain visas for Greece in advance, but they are not required to indicate the border crossing they will use. These regulations are subject to change, so be sure to check current regulations. After your arrival, the GSO will register your POV locally, arrange for your vehicle's technical inspection, and will assist you to obtain third-party liability insurance and license plates.

You are required to obtain an international driver’s license before driving in Romania. International licenses are available in the U.S. from AAA; applications are available at post as well. In addition, you must have a valid U.S. or foreign license and maintain its validity. You must have your car’s registration papers and the internationally recognized “green card” third-party liability insurance (“blue card” for transiting Bulgaria) in order to drive to Post.

Gas stations are available en route, with lead-free (“fara plumb”) gasoline available at most stations. There are not many full-service stations (with windshield washing and oil checks). Carry spare belts, etc., for small emergency repairs on the road. Some gas stations are closed in the evening. Winter driving on the Romanian roads is very hazardous and finding safe places to stop can be difficult. Therefore do not plan to drive to Bucharest in winter. Avoid driving in threatening or treacherous weather, no matter how sturdy or well-equipped your car may be.

Take extra caution when driving after dark. The roads and most vehicles are poorly lit. People, horse carts, and livestock are often unexpectedly found in the middle of the road. Fog is a problem in fall and winter. Highways can be slippery when wet; beware of dirt and mud left by farm vehicles.

International rail connections are available to Bucharest from Western Europe via Budapest and Belgrade, as well as from other Eastern European countries, including Russia. First-class sleepers are available on the Western European runs. Carefully check routes and train changes (if any) before boarding. Holders of diplomatic and official passports might be detained at border crossings if visas are not in order. Bring plenty of food and snacks when traveling by car or train. Travelers should be cautious of their personal safety on trains, particularly in the main Bucharest train station, Gara de Nord.

Personal airfreight is sometimes slow in arriving, even from points in Western Europe or on the U.S. East Coast (allow at least 3 weeks). Bring as much as you can in your accompanied baggage, especially seasonal clothing, toiletries, and any special medications. Address airfreight to:

Name American Embassy Bucharest, Romania

Please advise the GSO of the planned routing and if your airfreight will contain any special items other than clothing (e.g., electrical items, cameras, jewelry, etc.). Do not ship firearms or ammunition in your accompanied baggage or airfreight.

Normal Unaccompanied Air Freight Baggage (UAB) allowances apply, however, there are no special weight limitations on cases or crates. Cases or crates should be no larger than 28.3” high by 39” long by 29” wide. Larger cases will not fit into the doors of the cargo holds of the aircraft landing at Otopeni Airport. Cases or crates that exceed the above dimensions will be transported by truck from other European airports.

Contact GSO regarding routing, addressing, and consignments of surface shipments and automobiles sent to Bucharest. To expedite and complete customs clearance procedures, send copies of the inventory to post at least 2 weeks before the goods arrive. The inventory list is used to prepare the import documents, which are essential to clearing and releasing your shipment from customs. Also bring a copy of the airway bill to post. The airway bill will help GSO in tracking your shipment. Request that packers provide you with notification of shipment when goods are shipped, including proposed arrival date in Bucharest and airway bill number. Inventories of both UAB and House Hold Goods (HHG) must specifically list special items such as art objects, coin and stamp collections, photographic, video, audio and electrical equipment, jewelry, and other unusual or valuable objects.

Route and mark household effects, airfreight, and automobile shipments for DOD personnel according to Vol. II of the Personal Property Consignment Instruction Guide Worldwide.

No special restrictions exist on the size of cases or lift vans brought into Romania via surface shipment. Shipments and automobiles usually arrive in good condition and theft has not been a problem. Nonetheless, it is still advisable to insure your shipments and your automobile with the proper amount of transit insurance. To avoid personal expense, Department of Defense personnel should ship their automobiles via Gosseline, Belgium.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:22 AM

Personnel may import household effects, foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco products, automobiles, and other items duty free for personal use during their tour of duty. Post regulations do not permit importing arms and ammunition without prior post approval by RSO (see Firearms and Ammunition). Also prohibited are explosives and drugs. Official shipments of personal effects for all official personnel are exempt from customs inspections. However, from time to time, customs will spot check a shipment for forbidden items or goods subject to quarantine.

All personal shipments for diplomatic and non-diplomatic personnel must be cleared through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and customs. Once the import documents are prepared using the UAB and HHG inventory lists, it takes approximately 7-10 days for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clear the shipment. The permit is then taken to customs, and goods are cleared within a day. The clearance and customs process is expedited when GSO has the inventory list in advance of receipt of the shipment. Airfreight can be cleared most expeditiously if GSO has the inventory list to prepare the import documents.

Advance copies of an inventory and a copy of your orders will allow the GSO to process your import permit and have it ready when goods arrive. A detailed inventory is required, as well as weight information. Official travelers may fax this information to the General Services Office at 011-40-21-211-3114 (dialing from the U.S.).

The Embassy has minimal storage facilities. GSO can store UAB shipments in the warehouse but HHG shipments should not arrive prior to the employee’s arrival. Shipments are normally held in ELSO, Antwerp until the employee has arrived and is occupying permanent quarters. Since you may spend some time in temporary quarters after arrival, pack airfreight accordingly.

Embassy personnel order personal items in packages through the State Department pouch address in Washington D.C.. These packages arrive in diplomatic pouches and are not subject to inspection. However, this should not be used to circumvent Romanian laws and/or Embassy regulations regarding prohibited items. Diplomatic personnel must save all receipts for all items bought during their stay in Romania (especially items of art), whether purchased in Romania or abroad. Submit the receipts to the GSO Shipping and Customs Unit before departure. These receipts are attached to the export inventory presented to Customs. Special formalities are necessary when musical instruments are bought (e.g., pianos and violins). Request a special export approval from the National Patrimony Office several months in advance of shipping, as all such instruments or objects of art must be approved for export by the National Patrimony Office.

Personal belongings and household effects for personnel can be exported duty free.

Automobiles for diplomatic personnel can be imported duty free. Approximate cost to register your car upon arrival is $200 to $300.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:22 AM

Entering Romania involves minimum formalities for holders of diplomatic passports, and treatment is courteous. Inspections at Otopeni Airport have not been rigorous, but longer and more detailed inspections occur at frontier crossings, especially for holders of official and diplomatic passports.

Bearers of diplomatic and official passports do not need to obtain visas before arriving at the border. Diplomats receive the courtesy of driving to the front of the line at the border. Immunization records are not checked unless an epidemic or other reason warrants it. Occasionally, when hoof-and-mouth disease is in the region, the border may be closed or traffic restricted, or vehicles are subject to washing/tire bath. Have an international license plate, issued by the country of sale, for new cars purchased in Europe.

No special regulations restrict incoming baggage. Have a sufficient supply of U.S. dollars or euros with you for exchange purposes when entering the country.

Bring 20 extra passport-size photos for use in obtaining visas if you plan to travel outside Romania.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:22 AM

No regulations restrict importing cats and dogs. However, new EU regulations require pets to have a microchip implant – this could be problematic if transiting EU countries. Always confirm requirements with your airline. Before departure, pet owners should have their veterinarian check their pet to ensure that it is healthy enough to make the trip. Airlines and State health officials generally require health certificates for all animals transported by air. In most cases, international health certificates must be issued by a licensed veterinarian who examined the animal within 20-30 days of transport. Ask your veterinarian to provide proof of any required vaccinations or treatments. Administer tranquilizers only if specifically prescribed by your veterinarian and only in the prescribed dosage. Properly documented animals are cleared through customs quickly. Be sure all pet records are completely up to date before your departure.

Please inform the Management Office early if you plan to bring a pet. Do not ship your pet in advance of your own arrival since the post has no boarding facilities. Since local veterinarians do not always have vaccines, make sure your pet has all needed shots before you come. If you anticipate a need for particular medicines or have special requirements like heart-worm medicine or special foods, ship a supply or make arrangements with a veterinarian to send additional supplies in the future. Employees are financially responsible for any damage to Embassy housing and furniture caused by pets.

Veterinary clinics are plentiful, although quality of care may vary. One popular veterinary clinic is open 7 days a week, but it has no emergency service. However, some pet owners have made arrangements with local veterinarians to make house calls. Immunizations for distemper and rabies differ from those used in the West but can be administered at local veterinary clinics. You can receive a list of veterinarians and pet-care providers “Tried and True” from the CLO office.

According to local veterinarians, the greatest danger to domestic animals is the active rodent control program instituted by the Romanian Government. Poison is set out regularly and without notice, especially around garbage, resulting in reports of accidental poisonings.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:24 AM

The Embassy will give consideration to the importation of firearms and ammunition on a case-by-case basis; you must receive approval from both the RSO and the Ambassador prior to shipment. The forms used to obtain this approval can be found on the Embassy Bucharest website under the RSO section. If you plan to import firearms and ammunition, carefully check current Department of State regulations before doing so. Firearms can be purchased locally for hunting, and the rules governing such a purchase are set by the Hunters and Fishermen Association (AGVPS). A foreign diplomat who wishes to buy/borrow a hunting rifle should submit a written request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol (UFA), specifying the desired rifle and the kind of ammunition used. After the MFA grants written permission, ammunition may be purchased in Bucharest. Hunting trips are possible through the National Tourist Office (ONT), which organizes hunts and provides guides for a daily fee plus a daily charge for room and board. Hunting is expensive in Romania. Fees are charged per bird or animal killed. If you want the meat, an extra charge is levied per kilo of weight. ONT also arranges fishing permits for a hard currency fee.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:25 AM

The New Romanian leu (plural lei) will be the official Romanian currency as of July 1, 2005. The tourist and diplomatic exchange rate is fixed by the National Bank (U.S. $1=28,000 lei [March 2005]) and fluctuates daily; other banks and exchange offices often use different rates. The previous currency, also known as the lei, will continue to remain in circulation until December 2006. The new lei will eliminate four zeros in the amounts cited; for example: 28,000 is equal to 2.8 new lei.

Notes and coins are both used regularly and come in a variety of denominations.

Embassy personnel and dependents buy local currency from the Embassy cashier or at authorized outlets. Do not buy lei from private sources. Many services, including in-country tours, international air and train tickets, and resort hotels often prefer hard currency. Major hotels and restaurants accept international credit cards, but credit card fraud is common and their use is not recommended. Currently, the Euro is the most commonly accepted foreign currency in Romania, with the U.S. dollar not far behind. The Bucharest Employee Recreation Association accepts U.S. personal checks for all expenses, including commissary purchases.

The metric system is used for both weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:25 AM

Embassy personnel are exempt from customs duties on their personal effects and POV. Diplomatic personnel may be reimbursed for the value-added tax (up to 19%) paid for all goods and services purchased in Romania. Reimbursement requests are made through the Financial Management Office on a quarterly basis.

Personal property can only be imported for personal use. Official permission is required in advance for selling items worth $200 or more. The Mission follows Department regulations regarding the sale of personal property.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:26 AM

You will be better able to appreciate Romanian politics, history, culture, and geography if you do some reading on the subject before your arrival. In addition to the publications listed below, see any available films about Romania, buy recorded Romanian music or look for a recently published guidebook. If possible, buy a good Romanian-English, English-Romanian dictionary.

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Behr, Edward, Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite: The Rise and Fall of the Ceausescus, Villard (May 21, 1991)

Boia, Lucian, Romania, Reaktion Books (January 2, 2004)

Burford, Tim and Longley, Norm, The Rough Guide to Romania, Rough Guides Limited, 4th edition (November 29, 2004)

Codrescu, Andrei, The Hole in the Flag: A Romanian Exile's Story of Return and Revolution, William Morrow & Co (May 1, 1991)

Georgescu, Vlad, Ed., Romania : 40 Years (1944-1984), Praeger Paperback (August 15, 1985)

Georgescu, Vlad and Calinescu, Matei, Ed., The Romanians: A History (Romanian Literature and Thought in Translation Series) Ohio State Univ Pr (Txt) (June 1, 1991) Ioanid, Radu, (Foreword by Elie Wiesel), The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under the Antonescu Regime, 1940-1944, Ivan R. Dee, Publisher (January, 2000)

Ioanid, Radu, The Ransom of the Jews : The Story of the Extraordinary Secret Bargain Between Romania and Israel Ivan R. Dee, Publisher (February, 2005) Jule, Caroline, Blue Guide Romania, W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (September 2000)

Klepper, Nicolae, Taste of Romania: Its Cookery and Glimpses of Its History, Folklore, Art, Literature, and Poetry Hippocrene Books; Expanded edition September 1, 1999

Kokker, Steve and Kemp, Cathryn, Lonely Planet Romania & Moldova, Lonely Planet Publications; 3rd edition (July 1, 2004)

Latham, Ernest H., Ed., Husar, Al (Photographer), Skagen, Kiki, Ed., Miorita: An Icon of Romanian Culture, Center for Romanian Studies (June 1, 1999)

Light, Duncan, Ed., and Phinnemore, David, Ed., Post-Communist Romania: Coming to Terms with Transition, Palgrave Macmillan (April 14, 2001) Pacepa, Ion Mihai, Red Horizons : The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption, by Regnery Publishing, Inc., Reprint edition (April 25, 1990)

Shen, Raphael, The Restructuring of Romania's Economy: A Paradigm of Flexibility and Adaptability, Praeger Publishers (November 30, 1997)

Stefan, Laurentiu, Patterns of Political Elite Recruitment in Post-Communist Romania, Editura Ziua, 2004

Watts, Larry, Ed., Romanian Military Reform and NATO Integration, The Center for Romanian Studies, 2002

Williams, Joyce Hall, A Volunteer in Romania, Buy Books on the (1999) Regional:

Fonseca, Isabel, Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey, Vintage; Reprint edition (October 29, 1996)

Kaplan, Robert D., Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History Vintage Departures, Reprint edition (March 15, 1994)

Ware, Kallistos, The Orthodox Way, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press; Revised edition (September 1, 1995)

Local Holidays Last Updated: 6/16/2005 7:27 AM

Romania observes only five regularly scheduled holidays:

New Year’s Day - January 1 and 2 Easter Monday - varies Labor Day - May 1 National Day - December 1 Christmas - December 25, 26

The Embassy is closed on these holidays and on official American holidays.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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