You probably heard it already – and if you didn’t, it’s time to: bureaucracy will slowly drive you crazy in Romania and most of the times things work exactly opposite as common sense would advise them to work. It is true that they’re starting to make changes and right some of the wrongs, but things are generally pretty chaotic here and getting some official papers done is sometimes close to going through a maze.
I realized that thinking about the process of how I pay my taxes, since I just did that: you have to go to the office and wait in line (there’s usually 3-4 people in front of you and things work relatively fast, though). Nothing too strange here, until the race begins: the first worker gives you a paper with a QR code on it (or sometimes they just write some codes down) which represents the amount you have to pay. Then, you move on to another counter, where you wait in line again so that the lady there processes the paper. Finally, you move to the counter next to it, where you actually pay the money. This is obviously stuff that one person could easily do – but, hey, Romanians like to over-complicate things!
When I bought my car, the fun was even greater: I first went to the registration office to see exactly what I need (Romania is notorious for state offices asking for a million papers then, after you get them all and spend tens of minutes waiting in line, they tell you that you’re missing a stamp or something like that – and you have to start over). I made sure I had all the papers and returned to the guy in charge: I had to fill up some forms there and get my papers checked. Of course, something was missing: on the official report based on the official tests made by RAR (Romanian Auto Register) they didn’t write the only thing the office actually needed: the CO2 emissions, even though they knew what I needed. So I had to get back and have that written on my paper – fortunately, not go through all the stages again.
I got back and finally all my papers were ready. Now all I had to do was to go to an office upstairs and get the papers stamped. Which I did, after waiting in line, of course. After getting the stamp, I was told that I need to go to a different office downstairs where a lady would SIGN over the stamp. Why on earth weren’t they in the same room – why on earth wasn’t it the same person – that is still a mystery. But I did that too, after waiting in line – and I was told to go back to the initial office, where the entire loop ended and the papers were officially ready. Nope, it makes no sense, but this is how things happen in Romania.
And the latest thing that managed to drive me crazy was related to my health insurance. A couple of years ago, a change was made to ease things up: you would pay state health insurance and tax at the tax office (you used to pay the health insurance at the health department). I was happy about that, because that meant one less line to wait at and less trips around the city. Until earlier this year, when I needed some blood samples taken and the lady checking out my status said that I had no health insurance. So I had to go to the state department and find out that in my particular case (as I am self employed), I have to get to them EVERY month with the proof of payment, so they keep me active on the health insurance list. Which makes absolutely no sense, because it doesn’t make things easier: why did they make the change for you to pay somewhere else if they are not in contact with that institution and you still have to get to them after making the payment so it’s actually recorded? It’s absolutely crazy and completely stupid. But that’s how things are.
Fortunately, things might smarten up a bit in the future: they’re already working on offering ways to pay these taxes online (you can already do it in Bucharest) and hopefully in a few years these will be nothing but bad memories. But until then, if you plan to come to Romania and you’ll need to get some official papers done, make sure you start your quest when you’re relaxed and well rested. It might get tough!