Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Bucharest does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED BUCHAREST AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Romania-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Most crimes against visitors are limited to crimes of opportunity or scams. Violent crime is rare. Travelers should be aware of scams involving individuals posing as plainclothes police officers; approaches of “quick friendship” at train/subway stations; and pick-pocketing in crowded areas. Panhandlers -- often groups of teenagers -- can be aggressive and have resorted to grabbing/tearing clothing to distract and steal from their target. When dining in restaurants, visitors should not hang handbags or suit coats on the backs of chairs. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets (including very young children and well-dressed young adults) operate in train stations and on public transportation.
Extreme care should be taken when patronizing night clubs, which can charge exorbitant prices and are relentless in pursuing payment. Simple assaults directed against Americans outside of clubs are possible, usually late at night, after alcohol has been consumed and the victim is alone.
Visitors should be aware that money exchange schemes are common, and some of these scams have become rather sophisticated, involving individuals posing as plain clothes policemen who approach the potential victim, flash a badge or other official-looking document, and accuse the victim of changing money illegally. Once approached, the victim is normally asked to prove that s/he did not change money illegally and is demanded to show the policemen his/her money or wallet. The thieves often succeed in obtaining money, passports, and cell phones. If approached by someone who offers to change money on the street or by someone who accuses you of changing money illegally, continue walking. There are other variations to this scam; sometimes the individuals pose as militia and request passports for an immigration inspection. The bottom line is that legitimate plainclothes police officers do not ask travelers to present identification. If presented with a situation like this, the visitor should insist on the presence of a uniformed police officer.
Crimes against train passengers are not uncommon, particularly in the rural areas and on overnight trains. A number of thefts and assaults have occurred on trains, including thefts from closed compartments. If you are considering a trip via train, please consider the following:
Do not travel alone if you can avoid it, especially if you are contemplating taking an overnight train. Without exception, every incident reported to the Embassy has involved a lone traveler. If you are traveling with a small group on the overnight train, RSO suggests that you sleep in shifts. This will allow you to protect your belongings.
Do not leave your personal property unattended. Laptops, cell phones, iPods, wallets, and purses are the favorites. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Organized crime threats include drug smuggling, cybercrime, human trafficking, financial crime, and counterfeiting. Romania is actively fighting Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and illegal migration as part of its role as a guardian to one of the EU’s external borders.
Cybercrime is a major threat and a constant challenge for local law enforcement, as it grows constantly and spreads across the borders, despite international cooperation efforts. Romania is known as a hub for phishing, credit card fraud, fraudulent electronic bids, and hacking. Credit card, ATM skimming, and Internet fraud are among the most common crimes affecting foreigners in Romania. If withdrawing money from an ATM, it is recommended to utilize only ATMs at banks that offer more security against skimming attempts and are monitored by cameras. Exercise caution when traveling to Romania to meet individuals known only through contact over the Internet.
Other Areas of Concern
U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid neighborhoods with a higher frequency of crime in southwest Bucharest such as the Ferentari area.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Driving is hazardous and is perhaps the biggest safety concern that visitors will encounter. There is little regard for commonly accepted rules of the road, speed limits, or consideration of other drivers. Road rage incidents are also possible. While traffic codes have been improved legislatively, the government has eased enforcement. Visitors who plan to self-drive must familiarize themselves with traffic laws and should be aware that there is a zero-tolerance policy with regards the consumption of alcohol prior to driving. Breathalyzer tests are routinely conducted on all parties after an accident.
Romania experiences severe winters, and roads are not maintained to the same standard as those in the U.S. Travelers must be prepared for these conditions and expect lengthy delays if traveling by vehicle, train, or air during the winter.
Travelers should drive between cities only during the day, as there is little lighting on roads outside of major cities. Drivers should also be aware of pedestrians, farm animals, and a lack of shoulders when driving in the countryside. If an accident takes place in a rural location, emergency medical response may be severely delayed and will not meet U.S. standards.
In the event of a two car accident with no injuries and if both parties agree to the circumstances of the accident, they may complete a Romanian Mutual Agreement form. Once the form is completed, the at-fault party must provide a copy of the form and a copy of their insurance to the other party involved. If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, both parties are required to drive to the nearest police station to report the accident. If unable to do so immediately, both parties are legally required to report the accident to the police within 24 hours. In the event of an accident under any other circumstances, the drivers should contact police at the emergency number (x112) and await response.
Public Transportation Conditions
Train travel is inexpensive, convenient, and can be enjoyable if you are careful. Your accommodation and class of service can make a difference. RSO strongly urge you to pay a little extra for the roomier first-class seating option, which affords more privacy. Comfort and privacy decrease with lower classes of service.
Visitors should exercise care and rely on the recommendations of hotels and dining establishments when selecting taxis. Dishonest cab drivers have been known to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors. Always check to ensure that the metered price rate is clearly listed on the side of the cab. Companies such as Black Cab and Uber are reputable and reliable.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED BUCHAREST AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
While Europe in general has experienced a significant uptick in terrorist threats and Romania is not immune to these threats as an active NATO member, several factors mitigate the terrorist threat in Romania, namely: there is no significant refugee flow in Romania from the Middle East; Romania has a very small, well integrated Muslim populace; Romania has robust, effective security services; Romania is not a member of the Schengen agreement.
There have been no significant reports of locally or regionally motivated terrorism incidents in Romania in several years.
While the possibility of an international or transnational terrorism incident targeting Americans is unlikely, you should still remain situationally aware and prepared to react, particularly in crowded tourist areas or at major public events.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED BUCHAREST AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Since the collapse of the former communist regime in 1989, Romania has had no major instances of civil unrest. Large peaceful protests occurred in 2015 against government corruption following a disco fire that resulted in the deaths and injuries of several hundred patrons. Peaceful protests also occurred in January 2017 in reaction to government initiatives to attempt to grant large-scale pardons that allegedly would have included prominent political and business figures accused of major corruption.
The government of Romania grants permission to groups who wish to assemble for demonstration purposes, and a permit is required by these groups in accordance with Romanian law. Demonstrations are normally well-contained, and the police and gendarmes are close at hand. No major anti-American protests have occurred. Nevertheless, it is wise to stay away from these gatherings and be alert to the fact that normal traffic patterns can be disrupted during and just after the event.
No major instances of religious or ethnic violence have occurred in Romania in the last several years. A sizeable ethnic Hungarian populace resides in the Transylvania region, and some ethnic Hungarian groups advocate for separation from Romania. This desire has not manifested into any significant civil unrest or violence.
Several cities, including Bucharest, are located in active seismic zones.
- The last major earthquake in Bucharest took place in 1977, with a loss of over 1,000 lives, and smaller quakes continue to take place on a frequent basis.
Civil authorities have plans in place for major disasters, but financial resources to prepare for natural disasters are not available, and local authorities would be overwhelmed quickly. Travelers should assume that in the event of a natural disaster authorities will determine priorities - with no guaranteed support for visitors.
Heavy snowfall in winter and spring flooding have made parts of the country inaccessible at times.
Economic and financial crimes continue to be a concern, and the authorities expect an increase of illegitimate activities (cigarette/alcohol smuggling, sales of counterfeit products) due to global economic conditions.
Romania has capable, effective intelligence services. While there is no known intent to monitor U.S. business travelers, the capabilities exist to do so.
Personal Identity Concerns
While Romanians can generally be considered more conservative and religiously observant than their Western European counterparts, hate crimes related to gender, sexual orientation, race, or nationality are rare.
Romania is a major transit point for various drugs (heroin from the east, cocaine from South America).
Kidnappings are uncommon in Romania, though there continue to be “child custody” cases reported to the Embassy.
Police are easily identified by their distinct blue uniform. The level of assistance that can be expected from police varies. Authorities are often ineffective at deterring crime, and response to emergency calls can be too slow to disrupt incidents in progress. Romanian police do have the capability to conduct complex criminal investigations but are heavily burdened with petty crimes. If a victim desires a serious response by local authorities, s/he must be prepared to devote time and effort to wade through local bureaucracy. If a visitor is on a schedule that precludes this, it should be assumed that there will be no legal or law enforcement resolution of the incident.
Police often utilize checkpoints for ticketing or DUI checks, in particular in areas where speed limits change abruptly due to entry into municipal zones. In instances where a driver is exceeding the speed limit by more than 50km per hour or is determined to be under the influence of alcohol or is deemed unsafe to drive, police may confiscate the driver’s license and provide further directions as to the next steps.
If pulled over, comply with all police orders and remain respectful. If ticketed, it is legally permissible, but not required, to pay the fine directly to the police officer for which you will receive a receipt. It is also permissible to pay the fine via a local bank and send the receipt and a copy of the ticket to the police.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
While uncommon, police have been known to ask for bribes. Under no circumstances should you offer a bribe or agree to pay one.
Call the U.S. Embassy at 021-200-3300 (normal working hours) or 21-200-3433 (after hours and weekends).
Crime Victim Assistance
Call the U.S. Embassy at 021-200-3300 (normal working hours) or 21-200-3433 (after hours and weekends).
Local police phone numbers are:
Auto Accidents: 021-9545
Traffic Police: 021- 9544 / 021-323-3030
Any emergency: 112
*English speakers are assigned to answer police emergency and emergency response numbers
Medical care, capabilities, and quality of service are generally not at the same standard as compared to the West.
Ambulances include: State Ambulance (112); Sanador Ambulance (Call Center 021-9699); and Bio-Medica Ambulance (0788-246-004).
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Floreasca Emergency Hospital
8 Calea Floreasca Street, sector 1
Emergency Hospital for Children
30-32 Iancu de Hunedoara Street, sector 1
9 Sevastopol Street, sector 1
Call Center 021-9699
Reteaua Privata de Sanatate “Regina Maria”
Many locations (clinics and hospitals)
Call Center 021-9268
111-113 Floreasca street, sector 1
Available Air Ambulance Services
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Tap water is not recommended for consumption, as heavy metals from industrial run-off can be present. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “I’m Drinking What in My Water?.”
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Romania.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Bucharest Country Council currently meets four times a year and has approximately 50 members. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team with any questions or to join.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Embassy Bucharest
Bulevardul Dr. Liviu Librescu 4-6
București, Romania 015118
Embassy working hours are 0800-1700, Mon-Fri. The Embassy is closed on American and Romanian holidays.
Embassy Contact Numbers
Regional Security Officer: 021 200 3450 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Embassy operator: X 3300
Medical Unit: X 3445
Consular Affairs (American Citizen Services): X 3535
Political/Economic Section: X 3325 / 3424
Post One (during and after business hours): X 3433
U.S. citizens traveling in Romania are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.
Romania Country Information Sheet