Are you allowed to drive in Romania with a foreign driving license?

According to the law, Romanian authorities are not obligated to recognize a foreign driving license, and this is why the International Driving License (IDL) exists.

It is issued by the state where you initially received your driving license, it’s written in several international languages, it proves that you have a valid driving license and can drive a certain category of vehicles.

The IDL is recognized only by countries that have signed the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic. So you should first check the signatory states before using an IDL in that country. Romania is a signatory party and recognizes IDLs.

However, the Romanian authorities have a practice of not requesting the IDL and it is enough to present the foreign driving license, as long as it has an easy to understand format and is in English. Still, no one can guarantee that you will not be asked for a legalized translation of the license, so you won’t be accused of driving a car without a driving permit.

What is the conversion of a driving license and how does it help me?

This type of conversion is, in essence, an official recognition of the foreign driving license in Romania, following which you obtain a new document – the Romanian driving license. You can use this license to legally drive vehicles in Romania or even within the European Union.

Changing the driving license is useful for foreign citizens who have Romanian residence, especially if the license from home country is about to expire and they do not want to return to that country just to renew it. Or if it is not written in an international language. 

Can I use my foreign driving license to drive vehicles in Romania, without converting it?

Romania automatically recognizes driving licenses issued in the European Union, plus several non-EU countries, even without official conversion. For example, if you have a driving license from Spain, you can use it freely on Romanian territory. But if you have a driving license from Ghana, it will not be automatically recognized and it cannot be converted, either.

When is it mandatory to change my driver’s license?

  • your license is damaged, lost or stolen
  • the license has expired (only if you are an EU citizen; you cannot transcribe an expired non-EU license)
  • if you committed a traffic offense
  • if you have a Romanian residence It is also mandatory to transcribe the license after 2 years of residence, if you have a license with an indefinite period of validity (only if this is required by the national authorities of the country where you live) or if you obtained the license in a non-EU country.

Regarding the non-EU countries, the obligation to convert a driving license into a Romanian one occurs only if you set your residence in Romania. This occurs when a person lives in Romania for at least 185 days over the course of a year or periodically returns to an address in Romania, for reasons related to personal relationships, although he lives in another country. 

Is it mandatory to pass a new driving test to  have the driving license recognized?

It is not imperative to pass the driving test to change the driving license obtained in most countries of the world, with some exceptions provided by the law.

A particularity also exists in the case of the driving license obtained in China, for which the transcription is done without taking a new examination only for the B category, common vehicles. 

What steps should I follow in order to convert my driver’s license?

To change your driving license obtained outside the EU, you must follow the following steps:

  1. Complete a medical evaluation, which shows that you are fit to drive vehicles under the categories mentioned in the license
  2. Submit the document conversion file to the Community civil service within the competent authority in the territorial area where you reside.

What are the conditions for converting my driving license? 

You can make a voluntary transcription only if you have a legal residence in Romania and before the 185-day deadline.

What criteria do I have to meet to change my license? 

You must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Romania and obtain a medical certificate proving that you are fit to drive a vehicle.

When will my Romanian driving license expire?

The validity terms for Romanian driving licenses are as follows:

  • 5 years for categories: C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D, DE, Tr, Tb and Tv
  • 10 years for categories: AM, A1, A2, A, B, Bl and BE

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