If there’s one question that I get all of the time, it’s this: “I’m a US citizen – how do I get a residence permit in Romania?” I did publish a pretty generic article a few years ago with the official requirements, but first hand experience is always better.

So today I have for you an article written by Kevin @ Brasov Reviews where he’ll explain, based on his own experience, everything you need to do in order to immigrate to Romania. Kevin moved to Brasov in December 2015 and loves it there. He went the “open a company” route and there are other methods as well – but this one worked best in his case. And he’s going to share all the knowledge on this matter with us in an extremely helpful article:

Not being an EU citizen trying to immigrate to Romania is definitely a challenge. The laws are not in our favor. I believe it’s by design, because there are a lot of non-EU countries that Romania doesn’t really want immigrants from. The US, Canada, Australia, etc. just happen to be lumped in with those countries.

I’ll start with a disclaimer.  The laws will be different next year than they are now.  They’ve already changed 3 times in the year and a half that we’ve lived here.  There are national laws, county laws, and local laws that affect us in different ways.  They’re sure to change again and make it more difficult or at least different than it has been.  Each county and town has their own rules. So what’s true for Brasov may not be true for Bucharest. This adds stress to each time I reapply. Maybe there won’t be a way to remain here. Knowing that we could possibly have to pack up and leave worries us.

The key to the entire process is to have a good lawyer you can trust. I’ve seen lawyers that cost a lot that I wouldn’t trust. I’ve seen lawyers that cost little that I would. My lawyer costs more than some, but less than others. What I like is that she knows the people she has to deal with. They know her too. They trust her and work well with her. Finding a lawyer like that was dumb luck. I’ve seen others that weren’t as lucky and had a lot of problems getting their permit. I’ve also seen people denied permits.

Every step that I will outline below requires a lot of documentation. All of this documentation will be in Romanian. So you can expect a lot of trips to the translator. There are also a lot of notaries required. Those will also be in Romanian. They will likely arrange a translator there for you unless you are fluent in Romanian. The notary public in Romania is very different from the notary in the US. It’s a very high position here with a lot of rules. It’s a unique process that you have to experience before you know what to expect.

So the procedure for us, as I can best remember it, was this:

1. You have to live in Romania.  You can’t open a company from afar.  There are steps in the process that you can’t complete unless you’re there in person.

2. You have to have a rental contract registered. They can’t let you stay in the country if you don’t have a place to live. The only way they can verify that is with a registered contract.

3. You have to name your company. It should be three words for the SRL. Using your family name as one of the words is a good option since there aren’t many Smiths or Jones here. After about three days you’ll have the SRL opened with the trade register.

4. You have to have a headquarters for your business. Most landlords will not allow you to use your rental address as they believe it will raise their taxes. You may have to rent space somewhere. This is one of the trickiest steps.

5. You have to have a Romanian bank account. You must put capital into your company for each of the administrators.

6. There are tax filings that must be accomplished quarterly and annually to keep your company legal. This requires an accountant. Get a good accountant that will electronically file your documents. You have to give them power of attorney for this, which requires another trip to the notary.

So now it’s time to work on your residency permit. As above, you have to be here and you have to have the registered rental contract for at least a year.

1. You have to have insurance to apply for residency. You will have to visit a private insurance company and get a contract for the year.

2. You have to pay a lot of little taxes to a lot of little places. There is a long list of various amounts that must be paid to different agencies. They will provide either stamps or signatures and stamps on documents you’ll need to apply.

3. You must visit a doctor. There is a small form they must sign and stamp saying that you don’t have any communicable diseases and are fit to stay in Romania.

4. You have to provide passport style pictures to the immigration office. They attach this to your package requesting your permit.

5. You have to have originals and copies of all your business documentation.

6. Usually your lawyer will prepare all the documents that are required to apply for your permit, including the application itself.

7. Now it’s time to go to the immigration office at the police station. They will go through the entire application package and ask you a few minor questions. Then they will take your picture. This is the actual picture that will be on your permit.

8. After 30 days your permit will be ready for pick up, but you’re not done yet.

9. Once you have your permit, you must pay into the Romanian social insurance for each family member over 18. This takes a few visits to a few offices to accomplish.

Any children under 18 will be allowed to stay for family unification. That means as long as you’re allowed to stay, they’re allowed to stay. So the date on their permits will match yours, even though you had to wait to apply for theirs. Don’t be caught off-guard by this like we were. We had to scramble to get the paperwork submitted on time for our son. If your child turns 18 while you’re living here, that creates an interesting situation. It seems like there’s a hole in the laws. The permit will run until their 18th birthday only. There may be fines, deportation, or other issues with immigration because of this situation once they turn 18.

So the important question: how much does all this cost? The short answer is a lot. There are variables each year. The lawyer and accountant you choose will impact how much it costs. We set aside $6,000 each year to cover the expense of permits for two. We have been told that after 6 years of this cost, we can apply for long-term residency or citizenship. So $36,000 later, we may get peace of mind in the knowledge that we can stay forever.

This is just how it worked for us, in Brasov. It surely works differently in other cities as their laws are different.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Calin/Kevin:
    Thank you for a very well-written article! You’ve listed everything one needs to do to obtain a residence permit via a “business route.” Certainly, it’s quite a tortuous route! (Makes me want to find a Romanian lady to marry–ha, ha!) There are A LOT of things you need to do during your first 90 day Visa. (I assume that is the Visa you had when you first came to Romania.) You must be a whirling dervish to have accomplished so much!;-)
    Kevin, I certainly hope you will eventually obtain permanent residence or citizenship so you won’t have to “jump through all the hoops,” forever. You have a nice website which shows you want to make Romania your home.
    For “open a company” (oac) step 4, do you think you could rent a postal box like at a UPS store (Romanian =) instead of a brick and mortar address. (I mean if it’s the latter, one ought to open a real business and actually hire people.) For oac step 5, what should one budget for bank account deposit(s)? Is there a minimum? Are you comfortable with Romanian banks and their security? For me, I will have to have my retirement income deposited there, I reckon.
    Ballpark, how much do you budget for (health?) insurance listed in residency step 1? Do you consider the “taxes” in residency step 2 as valid, or more of baksheesh?
    Are you picking up the language on a day-to-day basis, or are you going to an academy? Maybe, you’ll become so fluent, you’ll save some Lei on translators and lawyers.
    Do you feel safe meandering around Brasov at night? Obviously, there’s not much chance of being shot (as is so common in the USA) but what are some of the personal safety issues which concern you?
    Now that it’s warm, do you have a/c at your home? Do you have screens in your windows to prevent the moskies from bothering you? During the cold months, is your heating bill through the roof, or is it manageable?
    Are you able to navigate through the grocery shopping w/o too many surprises? (Maybe thinking you’re buying a tin of tuna, and ending up with a tin of octopus–Aargh!?!?)
    Sorry about so many questions, but you’re the first American I’ve “met” who has the first hand experience as an ex-pat in Romania.
    Uh, oh, does this mean another article…?;-)
    Thanks again!
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hi Teil,

      I went line by line to try to answer your questions.

      For “open a company” (oac) step 4, do you think you could rent a postal box like at a UPS store (Romanian =) instead of a brick and mortar address. (I mean if it’s the latter, one ought to open a real business and actually hire people.)
      A- There’s nothing like a UPS store here. There are no short cuts, and there is no easy way. You can find places that rent desks, but they charge a ton. There are countless ways to handle this step, but it’s really on you. Your lawyer should be able to help guide you on this.

      For oac step 5, what should one budget for bank account deposit(s)? Is there a minimum?
      A- Yes, there’s a minimum, but it wasn’t much for my type of company. I’m not sure, but I think the amount is tied to the type of company you’re opening.

      Are you comfortable with Romanian banks and their security?
      A- Yeah, no issues or worries.

      Ballpark, how much do you budget for (health?) insurance listed in residency step 1?
      A- It depends on which insurance agency you go with and the level of coverage you select. It cost us about 100 euros each for what we chose.

      Do you consider the “taxes” in residency step 2 as valid, or more of baksheesh?
      A- Everything is valid. They lay it all out in front of you so you know what you’re paying to where and for what. I haven’t dealt with anyone in any office situation that has tried anything under the table.

      Are you picking up the language on a day-to-day basis, or are you going to an academy?
      A- I pick it up from friends and tv.

      Do you feel safe meandering around Brasov at night?
      A- I never feel unsafe. My wife took our dog for a walk at 10:30 last night. My son didn’t come home until almost midnight. We have felt safe at all times here, although we’re more on guard during the day when there are more people out.

      Obviously, there’s not much chance of being shot (as is so common in the USA) but what are some of the personal safety issues which concern you?
      A- Nothing concerns me. My wife worries about cars though. Often you are forced to walk in the street because everyone parks on the sidewalks. The cars driving by don’t seem to care. They don’t slow down, so it feels like it’s on you to get out of the way.

      Now that it’s warm, do you have a/c at your home?
      A- No. There are a couple of really hot weeks later in the summer though.

      Do you have screens in your windows to prevent the moskies from bothering you?
      A- There are screens on most of our windows. There aren’t many mosquitoes here in Brasov though. It’s more for flies.

      During the cold months, is your heating bill through the roof, or is it manageable?
      A- It’s a lot higher in the winter, but the most I’ve ever paid is 650 lei. On average in winter (Oct-Mar) it’s around 300-400 lei.

      Are you able to navigate through the grocery shopping w/o too many surprises? (Maybe thinking you’re buying a tin of tuna, and ending up with a tin of octopus–Aargh!?!?)
      A- There have been some surprises. We try a lot of things though. We’re not sure what something is, so we’ll pick it up. When I really try to find something I just use emag, as I detailed here: http://www.brasovreviews.com/review-of-mega-image-ordered-via-emag/

      • Kevin: Thanks so much for your detailed answers! Who knows, maybe one day Romania will offer a “retirement” Visa option for older folks who just want to “veg out” in a peaceful Romanian city.;-) ~Teil (Tacoma, WA)

    • I have a few things to add as well:

      1. Regarding banks: most of the banks here are actually branches of large Banks in Europe. For example Banca Comerciala Romana, despite its name, is part of the Erste group in Germany. Also, all accounts have the EU warranty of getting the money back if something happens with the bank, but there’s a limit of 100,000 Euros.

      2. Regarding insurance: you don’t have to use the private insurance after getting residency and go with the much cheaper state insurance (although I wouldn’t really recommend that). You could also probably find something a bit cheaper in the private sector.

      3. Regarding heating costs, ours were similar to what Kevin paid during the winter. However, his family lives in a large house, while we live in an apartment. In theory, we should pay a lot less since we’re heating less space, but the methods used for heating make the difference. We have no other option than to go with the city-provided heating (which had big problems anyway last winter), while Kevin has the best heating option available in Romania right now – gas. This shouldn’t be a big issue since most cities offer this option, but it’s worth having it in mind when looking for places to live in. And definitely stay away from electrical heating as that would be a lot more expensive.

      • We never used the private insurance that we had. We used the state insurance at a state hospital. It was a great experience for us even though we were going through something not so great.
        Once you get your permit you are required to pay into the state insurance each year. We haven’t even considered private insurance since. Other Americans here swear by the private hospital and pay that extra money each year.
        That’s good info on the banks. We didn’t know there was any guarantee.

  2. Wow, thanks Kevin for a very detailed outline of exactly what’s involved. It may be a tad more expensive ultimately than I was hoping for, but I’ve known from the beginning of my research that it wasn’t going to be easy or cheap to make Romania home. I also understand that some of these things are in flux, and will change somewhat, though this should give anyone, especially from the U.S., a pretty good idea of what to expect going forward. Teil has a good question, as I know here in the states, a lot of folks are able to use a P.O. box as a “business address” for mailing purposes, but not sure if that would fly in Romania for the purposes of showing as your “headquarters”. He had another good question as to what to expect to pay for health insurance. Regardless, this article was very helpful and a useful tool moving forward for any of us who are approaching that time to start making plans to start the process. Thanks Calin & Kevin for this article! JC

    • Indeed, Kevin managed to offer a very clear view of the entire process. I am sure it will help many people willing or wishing to make the move. The $6,000 is for two people, not per person. I have edited the text to make it clear.

  3. Right now by far Ukraine is the cheapest country to live in in Eastern Europe. They have the 90 day in, 90 day out rule like the European Union but with a twist. Many report that after overstaying past 90 days, some substantially, a year or more, they merely pay a reasonable fine at airport or border crossing and soon reenter the country. Ukraine actually wants foreigners to stay and spend money, but have the 90 day rule, amongst other laws, because they hope to join the European Union someday.

    Another country seeking foreigners to stay awhile is Georgia. They offer a free 365 day tourist visa and have two cities in particular that are very attractive to live in, Tbilisi and Batumi. My wife after seeing pictures of Batumi has decided we should live there. We’re waiting until summer tourist season ends, will be there by September. Personally I think I would prefer one of several cities in Romania, but can’t deny Batumi’s attractiveness and affordability. My wife was worried about not being able to remain long term in some countries, didn’t want to wander around every three months. There’s just no way we could come up with the kind of fees the author mentioned. And to be honest it sounds like a bit of a scam to milk everything they can from foreigners. So we’ll go where the welcome mat is out. Still very good info, best to be informed about what it takes if one is determined to live there.

    • Georgia indeed has a nice visa policy. But can you renew that visa on a yearly basis?

      From what I saw, Batumi looks mostly like a Romanian city. It’s also by the Black Sea, although you don’t get the sandy beaches – it doesn’t matter much. The only thing that I don’t like about Georgia and Ukraine is that they are too close to Russia and Ukraine is not on good terms with them. I don’t know much about Georgia, but I am sure that in the end all countries can be considered very safe if you take some measures.

      • Yes, it’s renewable by just leaving the country and coming back in. It’s actually just a tourist card, no visa required for about 80 something countries if I remember right.

        To put Ukraine’s war in perspective about 900 have been killed in the far eastern 10th of Ukraine this year so far. In Mexico so far in 2017 about 5000 have been killed in the cartel war. International flights still land in Ukraine, most of the country is business as usual. One small city I like near the Slovakian border, Uzhhorod, has an average inexpensive restaurant meal cost of USD $1.92. It’s a nice, walkable city on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains. For a bit more there’s the tourist capital of western Ukraine, Lviv. Used to belong to Poland and the Austrian-Hungarian empire, and it’s architecture reflects that. Very beautiful. Ukraine has it’s issues, but if you’re bringing in your own income you can live very well on much less. May not last forever though, the war is a big factor weighing down their currency’s value.

        If a former Soviet republic has a sizeable Russian population then it’s possible Putin could be a problem. Those are the areas he’s gone after. But he runs the risk of serious sanctions and breaking the bank with continuous wars. Not a stupid man. He made his point in Georgia, and Crimea was highly prized by Russia. The Russian supported rebellion in far eastern Ukraine will give a drivable path to Crimea. He’s already bypassing Ukraine with natural gas pipelines to Europe, so he has nothing to gain by a major war with Ukraine. Seems much more interested in the Middle East.

        • Hi Wade,
          Thank you very much for sharing all of this information! Since reading your posts, I’ve looked into the cities you mentioned in Ukraine and Georgia, and they certainly look pretty good on paper and in photos. I really hadn’t even thought of them until you planted the seed, but now after more research, they both seem to be worth spending time there, and are both offer pretty cheap cost of living as well.

          I still ultimately plan to end up eventually in Romania, (most likely Sibiu), but I’ve also been thinking seriously of trying out a few other cities (around Central & Eastern Europe) before getting too settled in Romania. I might be more concerned regarding any long term or permanent living arrangements in those countries for the reasons mentioned by others, but for maybe three to six months in each, I wouldn’t be worried. I had previously planned to already be in Eastern Europe back about this time last year, but the things I wanted to resolve and finish taking care before leaving the U.S. are taking a bit longer. I won’t be ready now until the end of this year, but figure winter is not the best time to begin a trip to Eastern Europe, so will most likely wait til next March (early spring) to begin my journey over there.

          Kevin and Calin’s info regarding the documentation and legal matters necessary for relocating to Romania has been very helpful, and I also appreciate Wade’s information about short term options in the Ukraine and Georgia.
          Best Regards, JC

        • Don’t believe the liberal propaganda coming from the western media. Putin is not the boogyman. He didn’t take Crimea. The people of Crimea democratically voted to rejoin Russia and Russia accepted them. The Russian people are lucky to have such a strong leader that clearly loves his country. Russia is a beautiful country. A Christian country. It would also make a wonderful place to retire, especially if you’re an Orthodox Christian.

    • Proximity to Russia, not being part of the EU, and not being part of NATO are the thoughts that I immediately had with the countries you named. NATO membership was a very important factor to our decision. Keeping wherever you choose from becoming the next Crimea is important too. Any former Soviet state seems to be on Putin’s radar.

      • Hi JC, Good luck with everything. Check out Batumi’s overall weather. Not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter. They don’t get much below freezing. Tbilisi sits on large hot springs and gets very little snow. Ukraine is attractive for the costs, but you really have to love serious winter weather there.

  4. Thank you for a very interesting article. It is amazing the hoops one has to jump through just to move to, as the last article here characterized Romania, a third world country. I am sure Georgia and the Ukraine are both great countries with people as equally welcoming and friendly as Romania, but Kevin is right, Vladimir Putin has these countries in his sights. Either they knuckle under to Russian hegemony or they are going to be bled slowly so that they never quite measure up to NATO or EU admission standards. Moldova also falls into this category. Does that have ramifications for foreigners who live in these countries? I think so, especially American citizens. Then again, even the USA is being “russified” by our current administration! Romania is also going through some very intense moments right now. The head of the ruling PSD party is trying to get rid of his own hand-picked prime minister because this person wasn’t decriminalizing corruption fast enough. Romania has been dragged kicking and screaming from the depths of graft and corruption ever since it joined the EU, but it looks like that accomplishment will be dealt a serious setback today. One just shakes one’s head how little people care about democracy and honest government, and I am talking here not just of Romania but the USA too. Why don’t people bother to vote?

    • Great final question, Stuart! We’ve always had very few people voting here. And they managed to remove Grindeanu as well. Very interesting times are coming and everybody is curious about what’s going to happen.

  5. Thanks for this detailed list for migration to Romania. I’m glad it’s working out for you. The costs seem to be on par with what friends paid to do the same in Portugal but l’m sure the cost of living is lower over your way. I realize how lucky l am to have an E.U spouse. It’s funny, in the early years of the marriage, we were so focused on getting him citizenship in the U.S. Now we don’t care for it and want to stay in the E.U for at least a very, very, very long time. I’ve been lazy, but l want to start working on my Italian citizenship as well. I second everyone as far as proximity to Russia with Georgia and Ukraine. I don’t trust Putin at all and think he’s just biding his time before making another move.

    • Yes, having an EU spouse does make things a lot easier around here. Hopefully things will only get better and those wanting to destroy what the EU has built will fail. Many don’t know what it means to stay in a car for 7 hours between the borders, waiting to have your passport stamped. (Of course, there are many other disadvantages, but for somebody who likes to travel, such a change would be horrible).

  6. Great info, Kevin! My immigration experience will be somewhat different, so any advice will be welcome. We’re boarding the plane for Bucharest four weeks from today. My “wife” of eleven years, a Romanian citizen, and I intend to get married shortly after we arrive and soon move to Brasov. I am now retired, officially a pensioner, and will be taking the Family Unification route in order to stay. In this situation, do you believe that an immigration attorney would required or advisable? As for the private health insurance, are the companies offering these services easy to find and comparison shop? I’m having a difficult time locating them from the States and want to make sure I choose wisely with regards to services and cost.

    • You’ve got the easiest way to stay! Immigration of any kind is a daunting task though. You won’t need an attorney, but you may want one. Immigration will tell you what to do. Then they’ll surely forget a stamp or a form and you’ll have to go across town for it. Then they won’t be open by the time you make it back. Make sure that you’ve applied by the time you’ve been here for 60 days or there could be issues once your 90 day visa is up.

      Before you leave the US make sure you have copies of all important documents with an apostle from the state they were issued in. I have needed most of these documents, but not all. It’s way easier and quicker to get them while you’re in the US.

      As for insurance, once you’re here, just turn on a tv. The first commercial break will likely have two insurance commercials. The websites for these places aren’t usually based in Romania from what I’ve seen. So the only way to figure anything out is to go to an office. They’re literally everywhere.

      • Thanks, Kevin. I know about the US documents. I’m practically on a first name basis with the Secretary of State’s office in Los Angeles. I told my wife that the bureaucratic process we faced here in the US is just practice for the bureaucratic process we face in Romania. LOL!

  7. Concerning Putin. Not an admirer, he’s a ruthless S.O.B.. But how long has he been in power and how many wars has he conducted? South Ossetia is a Russian dominated breakaway province that the Georgians tried to force back under their authority. Russia invaded to insure South Ossetia’s autonomy. They literally came up to Tbilisi’s city limits. They could have pulverized the entire country. They didn’t.

    The Crimean peninsula used to be part of Russia, but was given to Ukraine when both were republics in the Soviet Union. It’s the location of the Russian Navy’s only warm water port and most of the population is ethnic Russian, Russian speaking. When the Russians invaded few died. They treated the Ukrainian military with kid gloves.

    About the only place I can think of serious fighting actually occurring under Putin’s reign is Chechnya, a Muslim dominated province of Russia. The Chechens have committed serious terrorist acts in Russia, especially the taking of an elementary school that resulted in many children killed. Reprisals in Chechnya have been brutal, but even there things are peaceful now.

    Of course Putin might want to see Russia again regarded a a superpower. The West should be vigilant. But this guy didn’t get into power and stay in power being stupid. Ukraine is Europe’s physically largest country entirely in Europe with close to 44 million population. The logistics of fighting a war there with the idea they’d take over and force the Ukrainians to accept domination, probably drawing NATO into a confrontation, would almost certainly cause him to lose his grip on power. And that’s everything to a guy like him. Hitler’s domination of Europe required allies to support him, including Romania. Who’s going to support Russia in such an endeavor? Especially after being dominated by them for 80 years?

    • Putin might have treated the Ukrainians in Crimea with kid gloves, but he has since been waging a shooting war in the Donbas region of Ukraine which has already cost 11,000 Ukrainian lives. Who could forget how Putin shot down that Malaysian Airliner, killing all 298 innocent people on board? Yes, Putin and Russia have suffered economic sanctions ever since, but it is surprising how soon the public has forgotten that atrocity. I don’t think I would feel safe flying anywhere near Russia. Is Putin too stupid to start a war with Ukraine, Georgia or even NATO? Megalomaniacs always push the envelope as far as they think they can get away with. Trump’s disgraceful performance at the recent NATO summit in which he refused to reconfirm America’s commitment to defending all NATO countries certainly sent the wrong message.

  8. To be exact he’s giving material support to ethnic Russian separatists fighting a civil war. If the Russian military was fully involved that war would’ve been settled awhile back. One thing to take back a part of Ukraine that belonged to Russia much longer and had a major Russian naval base. Another altogether to invade what’s historically a part of Ukraine.

  9. Thanks Kevin for the great review on how to move to Romania. My husband and I are a gay couple and Romania is on our list of potential places to move to. We want to create a startup for local LGBTQ communities in Eastern Europe. Do you have any information on policies towards LGBTQ couples and if Romania recognizes our legal status as a married couple?

    • Sorry for the late reply, I was away on vacation for a bit 🙂

      Unfortunately, Romnaia will not recognize your legal tatus as a married couple. We’ve been taken back in time recently when the so-called “family coalition” managed to make it a law that a family can only be comprised of a man and a woman (and their kids). There was a lot of opposition against this from the young and/or open minded people, but in the end it didn’t matter so unfortunately that’s the state Romania is in right now.

      In other words, starting something related to the LGBTQ community would be a challenge, but also something needed in the country and area.

    • Hi Adam, or Steve.
      Our son’s godfather (sort of, we have two types of godfathers) is a Trans man and a LGBTQ+ activist. He released a short movie last year about his coming out, called Abreast. He can answer more questions about Romanian’s LQBTQ community, if you want.

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