Registering a car in Romania

Much has been made these past few months about the current Romanian government’s crusade against the country’s often insane and Kafkaesque levels of bureaucracy.

As almost any visitor to these pages will know, carrying out even the most simple and rudimentary task in Romania often involves an amount of paperwork that would make a Byzantine functionary blush.

As we have unfortunately had cause to discover on more than one occasion this summer, the government’s crusade – while welcome and commendable – has so far not made any significant progress. The dreaded timbru fiscal (a pre-paid stamp which was a must when acquiring almost all official documents) has been done way with – thereby cutting out a visit to the post office – and the removal of the requirement to notarise photocopies of official documents (often at great expense) is another small step forward.

In the grand scheme of things however, these are mere bagatelles.

Any crusade against bureaucracy requires more than the scrapping of a stamp or a piece of paper: it requires a profound change in the way the state views ordinary people. In short: the Romanian state needs to learn how to trust its own citizens. That is not going to happen overnight.

So, how do you register a car in Romania?

On August 4th we purchased a second-hand Toyota from a well-known car dealer in Bucharest.

Now, we would just like to point out that at this stage in the UK, the last page of the car’s log book (what would be called the certificatul de identificare in Romania) is filled out with the buyer’s details, signed by the seller and then sent to the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). A new log book arrives in the post a couple of weeks later.

That’s it. One step. In Romania there are six (and in certain cases even more). We have a guide to them all…

Before we start with our handy guide to registering a car in Romania however, we thought it might be a good idea to share with you the Romanian Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority’s own guide to doing it, as published on its website:

drpciv

How very helpful.

Step 1: The Sale

If buying a car from a dealer or from a company (as we did) you will receive an invoice. If you are buying from a private individual, you will need a sale contract signed by both parties (it does not need to be notarised). You also need – and this is crucial – a certificate from the former owner’s tax office, stating that he or she does not have any debts to the state. You also at this stage need to fill out a fisa de inmatriculare, which must be completed by both buyer and seller and then stamped by the seller’s local tax office. The seller’s local tax office also needs to stamp the sale contract or invoice.

Step 2: The Local Tax Office (DGITL)

Here you need to pay a 60 lei fee (ensuring you keep the receipt: you will see why later), as well as registering the car in your name for tax. You also need to have the fisa de inmatriculare stamped. As these three complex procedures can’t possibly be done by the same person, you will need to stand in at least two different queues. You also need to be in possession of the following:

Sale contract (or invoice if you bought the car from a company; Original and copy)
Log book (certificatul de identificare; Original and copy)
Registration certificate (talonul; Original and copy)
Fisa de inmatriculare (Original)
Your ID (original and copy)
Company stamp (if you are registering the car in the name of a company)
Company certificate (if you are registering the car in the name of a company; original and copy)

Additionally, if you are registering the car in the name of a company, you will also need a piece of paper authorising you to do so on behalf of said company. Inexplicably, you need this piece of paper even if you are the administrator of that company. So yes, you comically need to sit there and write out a statement which reads:

‘I, Craig Turp, the Administrator of Bucharest Life, authorise myself, Craig Turp, to carry out all paperwork pertaining to the registration of the company’s new car.’

Brilliant.

Step 3: The Local National Tax Office (ANAF)

Hang on, haven’t we just been here?

No. Step 2 took place at the local tax office. This time you need to go to the local national tax office: ANAF. Here, at your friendly local ANAF rammed to the rafters with helpful staff you need to do one of two things. You will either have to pay what’s known as the taxa de poluare (pollution tax) OR apply for an adeverinta stating that the tax has been paid and not returned. In our case it was the simpler of these procedures: applying for an adeverinta stating that the pollution tax has been paid and not returned.

In order to get your hands on this particular piece of paper you need the following:

Application form (more on this in a moment*)
Sale contract (or invoice if you bought the car from a company; original and copy)
Log book (certificatul de identificare; original and copy)
Registration certificate (talonuloriginal and copy)
Your ID (original and copy)
Company stamp (if you are registering the car in the name of a company)
Company certificate (if you are registering the car in the name of a company; original and copy; original and copy)

Again, if you are registering the car in the name of your company, you will also need a piece of paper authorising yourself to do so.

*Cunningly, our particular branch of ANAF does not hand out application forms. Instead, you are sent next door to a conveniently located Xerox where they make a copy of the application form (there appears to be only one) and hand you the copy, in exchange for one leu.

You then hand in all this paperwork and hope you have everything you need. If you are lucky enough to catch the person behind the counter on a good day, you will be given a tiny piece of paper with a number and a date on it stating when you can return for your adeverinta (usually one week later). Hang on to that piece of paper with your life.

Step 4: The Local National Tax Office (again)

On the day specified on your little piece of paper (and it is little) you need to go back to ANAF to pick up your adeverinta which tells you what you already knew: that you have not been repaid a tax that you never paid in the first place. Note, however, that you do not return to the same counter at which you submitted your application. Oh no, that would just be too easy. No, to add a new challenge and dimension of excitement to your task you need to go to a completely different counter on a completely different floor of the building. But you will only be told that after you have queued for quite some time at the original counter.

Step 5: The Driving & Vehicle Licensing Authority (SRPCIV)

If by some deus ex machina you have completed steps 1-4 and are still in possession of your mental health, and have managed to accumulate the following pieces of paper, you may present yourself at SRPCIV (the big ugly building at Aurel Vlaicu which also issues driving licenses and passports. It’s where former prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu infamously jumped the queue last month):

Application form
Sale contract (or invoice if you bought the car from a company; original and copy, stamped by the seller’s local tax office)
Log book (certificatul de identificare; original and copy)
Registration certificate (talonul; original and copy)
Fisa de inmatriculare stamped by both buyer’s and seller’s local tax office (original)
Certificate stating that the car has been registered as your property at the local tax office (original and copy)
Insurance valid for the next six months (original and copy)
Adeverinta stating that the pollution tax has been paid and not returned (original)
Receipt for the 60 lei registration fee (original)
Your ID (original and copy)
Company stamp (if you are registering the car in the name of a company)
Company certificate (if you are registering the car in the name of a company; original and copy)

And, once again, if you are registering the car in the name of your company, you will also need a piece of paper authorising yourself to do so.

Now, once you get to SRPCIV there are a couple of other things you need to do before you can finally register your car: you must remove the old number plates and bring them with you, and fill out an application form before you get to the front of the queue. The good news is that unlike ANAF, SRPCIV provide application forms for free. There is even a counter where you can have someone check the paperwork before you stand in line, so as not to waste your time.

Not that we had a particularly long wait. There were at least ten counters open, and no more than four or five people queuing at each. We also liked the fact that the fees for a new talon (37 lei) and number plates (85 lei) can both be paid direct at the counter. How revolutionary! We were in and out in around 40 minutes.

Step 6: SRPCIV (Again)

You do not get your new talon and number plates on the spot. Not even the same day. You need to go back and collect them three or four days later, during which time you will of course not be able to drive your car as it has no number plates. Fortunately, if you drove the car to SRPCIV, you can just leave it in the car park.

A couple of things:

1. Of all the steps you need to undertake in order to register a car in Romania, three and four are the most pointless. There is without doubt a database somewhere at ANAF that can be accessed in seconds, and which clearly states if the pollution tax has been paid/repaid for car B123 ABC (or whatever). If the staff who deal with the registration papers at SRPCIV were given access to ANAF’s database, two trips to ANAF (and one week waiting for the adeverinta to be issued) could be removed from the process.

2. Taking that idea a step further, by incorporating the annual car tax into the price of the road tax (rovinieta, which can be paid online, and which – as we have said before – should be made obligatory for all drivers), steps 1 and 2 could also be eradicated. That would leave just steps 5 and 6 which – given that SRPCIV is probably the most efficient of the government departments you need to deal with to get this process done, would not be the end of the world. It would in fact be a huge improvement on the current situation.

3. It is difficult enough taking the six steps we describe above even if you are lucky enough to live in the city where all the paperwork has to be done. Imagine how utterly tortuous the process must be for people who live in smaller towns and remote villages, and who need to travel to the county capital in order to register their cars. Then imagine if only one trip had to be made. Then imagine if it could all be done by post and/or online. Imagine if renewing a driving license or passport or buletin could also all be done by post and/or online. We imagine such measures would be huge vote winners for whoever proposed them.

If only there were an election coming up.

Note: The above guide only applies to the re-registration of second-hand cars first registered in Romania after 2007, and for which the pollution tax has been paid and not recovered. If you are buying a new car, or if you are importing a car from abroad, or simply buying a car registered in Romania before 2007 then the process will be slightly different. You will have to first visit the Romanian Automobile Registry (RAR) for example, a step which used to apply to all registrations. Fortunately it was removed for cases such as ours as of July 1st this year.

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12 thoughts on “Registering a car in Romania

  1. I’ve been very much looking forward to this post since you mentioned it a few days back.

    I went through this process (similar) last year with the import of 2 motorcycles from the US. It only took from April until the end of July to get number plates.

    When we bought our ’12 Mondeo last February, the dealer offered to take care of all the hassle in registration for 100 Euro. All I had to do (after waiting a month for the dealer to get their act together, which only happened when I called them) was accompany the guy to the RAR and live without number plates for 2 days. After reading your post, I’m really happy that I did that.

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      1. My sister offered me her meaty Nissan Pathfinder for a very modest price, the one with the monster desert wheels and all that game. She even offered to pay and arrange to having it shipped all the way over from Dubai. Sounded great until I remembered that I live in Romania. So I told her to poke it!

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      2. Thank you for this article. Just as I was reading your post we were buying a 4-year old Peugeot… so I will take notes soon, my husband asked me to create a task list from your article 🙂 (we only got the invoice so far…aaa not yet , tomorrow). All the best, Anca

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  2. Registering a vehicle is the quintessence of Romania bureaucracy. It’s easier to change your name than to register a vehicle in Romania.

    Buying / selling real estate requires more or less similar efforts.

    Putting your child into school is also an abnormally bureaucratic process. Renting your property is another process that would take you through an awkward procedure. Having your diplomas legalized for working abroad puts you through another bureaucratic process with trips to various institutions.

    The personal insolvency law (enacted, but still not functional) puts plaintiffs through a similar, maybe even more complicated procedure.

    Obtaining social benefits for yourself or for your business is another process that you would prefer not to go through.

    Etc…

    They use bureaucracy as a means to discourage people from obtaining what they need.

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  3. If you buy a motor in Romania then jolly well look after it. I do because I don’t want to go through the bullshit hassle of buying a new motor. And when my car is finally clapped out I won’t be selling it either. I’ll probably bury it somewhere in my garden?

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  4. Administration I expected to be hell. But my only concern is that is it possible as a foreigner. By your post it is, and I hope I am right. I am Croatian so I am used to hell of an administration

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