Finding A Job In Romania
Romania is an intriguing option for expats seeking work in Eastern Europe: it might not be your first choice but it is definitely worth considering, as the country is the new home to some big multinationals, has a relatively low cost of living, and a currently low rate of unemployment which suggests that the economy is reasonably healthy. It is particularly worth exploring the option of Romania if you have a career in IT and like the idea of relocation, either as secondment from your existing company or with a new employer. If you are a citizen of a EU/EEA state, you will be at an especial advantage due to reciprocal employment agreements.
The legal requirements for working in Romania will depend on whether you are a citizen of an EU/EEA state or from outside the region. If the former, you will have an advantage in being able to reside in the country and the process of applying for work will be smoother. Citizens of Romania itself and the EU are prioritized by the Romanian government, so if you are a third party national, you/your employer will have to prove that there is no Romanian or EU citizen who is capable of doing the job.
Whether you are an EU member or a third party national, however, you will still need to apply for a work permit.
There are a number of categories into which the Romanian administration can put you:
• permanent worker
• probationer worker
• seasonal worker
• cross-border worker
• skilled worker
• detached worker
• ICT (inter company transfer) worker; if you are being transferred to your existing company’s base in Romania
The General Inspectorate for Immigration will require some documents from you which may differ slightly depending on which category you fall into. As a foreign national you may be employed in a full-time 8 hour day in Romania only by a single employer, whether an individual or a legal entity. Foreign personnel who hold a work permit may be employed by another employer with a part-time contract of up to 4 hours per day.
For a permanent worker, who is a third party national, you will need to apply for a work authorization first, then a visa, known as a Romanian Employment Visa (D/AM). The General Inspectorate for Immigration will require from you/your employer:
• application form
• proof that your employer is legally permitted to hire you
• company’s Certificate of Registration
• company’s Certificate of Attestation
• tax attestation
• employment agency’s certificate
• job description
• job offer
• proof that the company has advertised the vacancy
• copy of the minutes of the selection process (this is also to prove that you are a better choice of candidate than a EU national)
• declaration that you are medically fit to work and that you have minimal knowledge of Romanian
• proof of accommodation
• proof of financial support
• 2 x photos (3cm x 4cm and in which 70% – 80% of the photo features your face and taken on a white background)
• police clearance documentation for both yourself and your employer
The issuance of your work permit can take up to a month.
If you are an EU citizen, the process is somewhat more streamlined. You/your employer will need to contact the General Inspectorate for Immigration with:
• work contract in original/copy or a certificate issued by the employer (original)
• an application form
• a printed screen from the general registry of employment records (REVISAL), in particular the section concerning information regarding the work contract, stamped and signed by the employer in order to authenticate it
• tax receipts
Whether you are an EU citizen or not, you must also sign up with a doctor: this is mandatory.
If you have skills in the IT and digital sectors you will find plenty of opportunities in Romania: many of the big international operators such as Adobe, Amazon and Microsoft have a base here.
A background in telecommunications will also prove to be an advantage: Orange and Vodafone are here, too, and the telecom sector is booming.
The banking sector is also extensive, so if you work in finance, you might want to consider one of the international banks based in the country.
Romania has a 40 hour working week, consisting of 5 8-hour weekdays. Most businesses work from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
You will be entitled to a minimum 20 days of paid leave per year. This may be taken in increments if you wish, but some of it must be taken as one unbroken period of at least 15 working days.
If you are pregnant, you will be eligible for 126 days of maternity leave at 85% of your salary during the previous 6 months. Fathers will be entitled to 5 days of paternity leave within the first 8 weeks of the birth.
The minimum wage is currently €446 per month/€5352 per 12 calendar months.
Your spouse will be entitled to work if they are a citizen of a EU member state but if they are a third party national, they will need to apply separately.
You should have no problems approaching a company directly.
There are also two main recruitment agencies which cover Romania. Otherwise, you can check online jobs boards or the local press, if you are already on the ground.
A one page CV/resume should be fine. You will not need to translate this if you are applying to an international company but it is recommended that you learn some basic Romanian.
Romania has anti-discrimination legislation protecting you from discrimination on account of race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinion, political adherence, property or social origin.
You may need to get copies of any qualifications apostilled, but check with your recruitment agency or prospective employer.
Romania is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and it is also home to a number of working expats. Whether or not you will need a visa to travel there will depend on your nationality, as well as your reason for visiting. We will look at some of your options below.
If you hold a British passport, you do not need a visa to enter Romania. If you are planning a stay of longer than three months, however, you will need to register as a Romanian resident. You will need to obtain a certificate from the General Inspectorate for Immigration.
If you are from an EU/EEA member state, you will not need a visa to enter the country, but you will need to register with immigration if you wish to work.
If you are a US citizen, you must have a US passport that is valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date from Romania. If you are a US citizen and want to stay for longer than 90 days, you must obtain an extension from the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
There are various types of long-stay visa, and which one you will need to apply for depends on the purpose of your trip. For example, there are visas for family reunification, study and more.
If you are a third country national, for example an American citizen, you will be able to enter and remain in Romania without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, the authorities warn that departing from Romania and attempting to re-enter the country does not “restart the clock.” US citizens who depart Romania and return will be admitted for the remainder of their 90-day allowance. If you attempt to re-enter Romania after having already spent 90 days there in the 180-day period, you may be denied re-entry.
If you are from the EU or the UK, you must register with the authorities if you intend to stay in the country beyond a certain period, or if you wish to work.
You can apply for a Romanian visa (an eVisa) online.
The Romania eVisa costs US$68. Additionally, there is a service fee of US$30 for standard processing. For rush processing and super rush processing, the service fees are US$55 and US$85 respectively.
Visa processing takes anywhere from two days to 15 days, depending on the consulate and whether you choose to expedite your application.
Your ability to work in Romania will depend on whether you are a citizen of an EU/EEA state. If so, you will have an advantage, in that you will be able to reside in the country and the process of applying for work will be smoother. Citizens of Romania and the EU are prioritised by the Romanian government, so if you are a third party national, you / your employer will have to prove that there is no Romanian or EU citizen who is capable of doing the job.
Whether you are an EU member or a third party national, however, you will still need to apply for a work permit.
There are a number of categories, into which the Romanian administration will put you:
• Permanent worker
• Probation worker
• Seasonal worker
• Cross-border worker
• Skilled worker
• Detached worker
• ICT (inter company transfer) worker – if you are being transferred to your existing company’s base in Romania
The General Inspectorate for Immigration will require some documents from you, which may differ slightly depending on which category you fall into. As a foreign national, you may be employed in a full-time role in Romania only by a single employer, whether an individual or a legal entity. Foreign personnel who hold a work permit may be employed by another employer in a part-time contract of up to four hours per day.
If you are a permanent worker, who is a third party national, you will need to apply first for a work authorisation, then a visa, known as a Romanian employment visa (D/AM). The General Inspectorate for Immigration will require from you / your employer:
• An application form
• Proof that your employer is legally permitted to hire you
• Company’s Certificate of Registration
• Company’s Certificate of Attestation
• Tax attestation
• Employment agency’s certificate
• Job description
• Job offer
• Proof that the company has advertised the vacancy
• A copy of the minutes of the selection process (this is also to prove that you are a better choice of candidate than an EU national)
• A declaration that you are medically fit to work and that you have at least a minimal knowledge of Romanian
• Proof of accommodation
• Proof of financial support
• Your CV
• Two photos (3cm x 4cm), in which 70% – 80% of the photo features your face, taken on a white background
• Police clearance documentation for both yourself and your employer
• Your passport
The issuance of your work permit can take up to a month.
If you are an EU citizen, the process is more streamlined. You / your employer will need to contact the General Inspectorate for Immigration with:
• Your work contract (either the original or a copy), or an original certificate issued by your employer
• An application form
• A printed screen from the general registry of employment records (REVISAL), in particular the section concerning information regarding the work contract, stamped and signed by the employer in order to authenticate it
• Tax receipts
Whether you are an EU citizen or not, you must also sign up with a doctor; this is mandatory.
EU blue card
If you have been issued a residence permit for work that requires advanced skills by an EU member country, you will be eligible for an EU blue card. This is an approved EU-wide work permit that allows highly skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country within the European Union (excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom).
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
Compare quotes from leading international health insurance providers
Lease agreements in Romania tend to last for 12 months, but shorter leases can be negotiated. To secure a lease, a deposit will be required, which will typically be equivalent to three months’ worth of rent. Rent is paid on a monthly basis and usually includes basic utilities (gas, water and electricity), but this is not guaranteed. Most rentals will usually be unfurnished, but furnished apartments can still be found for a higher price.
You may be surprised to learn that most Romanians do not like to use estate agents. The general consensus seems to be that they earn too much for doing too little. Most of the time, many people find a place through word of mouth, but you can also keep an eye out for local advertisements and see what pops up. It is also worth having a quick search on Facebook for expats in Romania groups, as there may be expats who are advertising rentals or who can offer you advice.
There are also a few websites that you can use to look for a place, such as:
According to data statistic website Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in a central city location costs an average of 1,473.22 lei (Romanian leu), which is equivalent to around £266.26 (GDP) or $329.37 (USD). An apartment of a similar size in a more suburban area would cost around 1,048.33 lei (£189.47 or $234.37). A larger apartment in a city centre location with three bedrooms costs an average of 2,520.27 lei per month in rent (£455.50 or $563.45), while its suburban counterpart would cost approximately 1,803.93 lei (£326.03 or $403.30) in rent per month.
The general advice to expatriates is to take all due diligence and to perform any necessary background checks to ensure that they are not being scammed. If you have reason to doubt someone, you should always ask to see their ID card.
Non Romanian citizens may freely buy and sell any property. Some foreigners who are not not EU citizens may purchase a home or apartment in Romania as well, but they are not entitled to own the land itself. The real estate landscape in Romania is always changing when it comes to foreigners, so if you are unsure about something, you should check with a lawyer.
You should always use a local registered lawyer to “verify” the property. This is essentially the same as a title search in the United States. A local Romanian lawyer will verify the owner’s title deed and land survey documents, and will obtain a report from the Land Registry. Once checks have been conducted, an offer made, and a price negotiated, a contract can be drafted. This can be prepared by a notary or an attorney. You will also need to pay the deposit.
Both parties should attend the closing of the sale, where the notary will collect the necessary fees, the contract will be signed, and the new deed will be registered with the Land Registry. The sale will be finalised and processed.
Additional fees to take into consideration include local tax (typically between 2% and 4% of the purchase price), notary fees (0.5% to 1% of the purchase price), registration fees (approximately 0.5% to 2%), and transfer tax (1% to 3%).
If applicable, you will also need to factor in the agent’s commission, which will range from 2% to 4% of the price of the property, and translator fees, which will be a fixed price. If you get the property surveyed, the surveyor will also charge a fixed price. Also, unless you are a private buyer purchasing the property from a private owner, you will need to pay value added tax (VAT).
Unless you are already familiar with the country and the language, or you have local contacts, you will probably benefit from working with an estate agent. The websites listed in the rental section also show properties up for sale.
Whilst it is often beneficial to use a real estate agent, you will need to be careful which one you choose. In Romania, real estate agents are not required by law to be licensed or covered by any governmental agency. When looking at real estate agents in Romania, always look at their credentials, references, and experience. If possible, conduct research online and read reviews. Alternatively, ask for recommendations from trusted friends or colleagues.
Non-Romanian citizens who are legally working and living in Romania are eligible to take out a mortgage loan to purchase a property in the country. It is worth comparing the lending rates and contract terms of several banks. Some popular lenders include OTP Bank and the National Bank of Romania, as well as international banks, such as HSBC. It may even be possible to secure a mortgage with a bank from your home country.
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
Compare quotes from leading international moving companies
QUICK LINK: Romania health insurance
Romanian healthcare is ranked as the weakest in Europe according to the European Health Consumer Index. Facilities are poor, infant mortality is very high for Europe, and disease prevention is low. You will find particular issues with hospitals outside the major cities.
As an expat in Romania, if you are making contributions, you are entitled to state health insurance under the national health (CNAS or Casa Nationala de Asigurari de Sanatate – National Health Insurance House or NHIS). Your contributions will be deducted out of your salary. You may also be entitled to free healthcare if you are a widow or a war veteran, or if you are disabled and on a low income.
Your employer will sort out healthcare if you are working in the country once you have been given your tax ID number, but double check to make sure that your deductions are actually being made (expats have reported difficulties in this regard). Your workplace may also have a contract with a local health clinic.
The official currency of Romania is the leu, which is usually denoted by the currency code RON. One Romanian leu consists of 100 bani. Romania is mostly a cash economy, meaning it’s advisable to carry plenty of cash when in the country to cover expenses. Romanian’s banking system meets EU standards. Its stability is based on the fact that most banks are branches of foreign banking groups. Banking services are high quality, and online banking is popular. Exchange rates with other currencies are rapidly fluctuating, but tend to range between four and four and a half for euros or dollars.
ATM And Credit Cards In Romania
ATMs, or Bancomate, as they are known in Romania, are easy to find in Romania. They are often outside banks, post offices and shopping malls, especially in bigger cities such as Bucharest. Accepted cards include Visa, Maestro, Amex, and CirrusPlus. You will be charged for withdrawals if the issuer of your card is different from the ATM vendor. The amount charged varies depending on the vendor. However, you will be informed of the charges beforehand. Be cautious when withdrawing money from an ATM on the street.
Currency Exchange In Romania
Currency exchange rates are posted in various locations throughout cities, including currency exchange centers. You can get the best currency exchange rates by withdrawing cash from ATMs, which is considered the safest and most convenient way to exchange currencies. You could also exchange currencies in banks and currency exchange agencies, which are open during business hours. You will be required to provide ID when exchanging currencies in this way. Be cautious when dealing with currency exchange offices, as some are unauthorised and may be unscrupulous. Consider asking a local friend or an expat who knows how the system works for reputable exchanges. This is particularly important when exchanging large amounts of money. In addition, be sure to verify the banknotes you receive from a currency exchange office. Avoid exchanging currencies with people on the streets; it’s not only illegal, but is likely to be a fraud.
Most banking facilities in Romania do not charge for electronic funds transfer. However, they may charge for international money transfers. You may be charged a small fee for transferring between EU bank accounts, while fees for transferring with non-EU countries may be higher. Consider the currency exchange rate when transferring money abroad. Details that may be required by a bank when making international money transfers include:
• The name of your bank
• The name, number and address of the branch
• Your bank SWIFT number
• The full name and address of recipient.
Opening A Bank Account In Romania
It is easy for expats from EU countries to open bank accounts in Romania. However, those from non-EU countries may find this more difficult. All expats will be required to provide proof of residence in Romania to open an account. Some banks may also require you to provide proof of employment or a letter of recommendation from an employer. It is advisable to shop around for a bank that provides the best services based on your needs. Setting up a bank account takes a few working days provided you have all the required documentation.
Bank Accounts And Cards In Romania
One of the most basic bank accounts for expats in Romania is a checking account. This usually comes with a debit card, which allows you to access money from your account and make payments in stores. You can use a PIN to utilise your debit card. However, some stores might also request signatures.
Most checking accounts do not come with credit cards. However, such cards are recommended for online payments and transferring funds abroad, as debit cards may not always be accepted. Mastercard and Visa are the two most common credit cards in Romania. Conditions and fees associated with credit cards vary depending on the issuing bank.
Some credit cards come with an overdraft limit. However, the holder may have to provide proof of stable income to have an overdraft approved. You may also open a savings account, which usually earns a modest but guaranteed interest. However, savings accounts are less flexible as they do not give you access to your funds any time you want. In addition, savings accounts do not come with either credit or debit cards.
Banks In Romania
Most banks in the country remain open during between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. However, some banks have longer operating hours and open on weekends. Romania has many local and international banks including:
• Banca Comercială Română
• BRD – Groupe Société Generale
• ING Bank
• Banca Transilvania
• Raiffeisen Bank
• UniCredit Bank
• CEC Bank
• Alpha Bank
Bank Services In Romania
Most banks in Romania provide free online banking services. Banks must abide by EU standards for online security. In addition, banks also provide direct debit services to allow clients to pay bills without hassle. Cheques are not readily accepted as a valid means of payment in Romania. However, they tend to be accepted for making business-to-business payments.
Most up-market establishments in Romania accept credit cards. However, few stores and business establishments accept traveler’s cheques for payments. Some banks provide cash advances on credit cards for a fee.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers
If you are intending to relocate to Romania, you may be wondering how fluent you will need to be in the official language, or others spoken in the country. Will you be able to get by in English? We will answer some of your questions below.
The official language in Romania is Romanian, spoken by the majority of the population. However, there are other ethnic nationalities in the country including Hungarians (6.5%), Roma (3.2%) and also Ukrainians, Germans, Turks, Russians and Lipovani Tartars. Thus many other languages are spoken in this European crossroads, too, including:
Romanian itself is spoken by over 90% of the Romanian population. Minority languages have legal rights, if they are spoken by a certain percentage of the population in a particular region. The largest minority language is Hungarian, mainly spoken in Transylvania (once part of the Hungarian empire), followed by Romani and its various dialects. Ukrainian and German are other widely spoken languages.
Romanian is a Balkan-Romance language, descended from Vulgar Latin and dating back to the 5th century AD. Because of Romania’s location, people tend to assume that it must be a Slavic tongue but in fact this is not the case, although the language does have some Slavic roots. It is similar to French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and if you have had some Latin training in school, you will find that some of the language is familiar to you; it most closely resembles Italian. However, the country’s geographical location has meant that many different peoples have come through it or to it, and the language has thus been influenced by Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian and others.
As a result of the Roman occupation, south of the Danube, several dialects have evolved as a mixture of Latin and Balkan languages, such as Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian.
Around 29 – 40% of the Romanian population are estimated to speak English and the language is the primary second language taught in schools. Many of the big international operators in IT such as Adobe, Amazon and Microsoft have a base here, as well as Orange and Vodafone. If you are working for one of these companies the in-house language will be English. Language organisation Education First estimates that Romanians are some of the best English speakers in Europe, ranking 20th in the world for their spoken English. You are unlikely to have issues with communication in the cities, or in tourist areas.
Romanian is easier to learn if you already know some Latin or speak Italian. However, it is said to be a relatively easy language to learn in general. It uses the Latin alphabet, with some additional accented letters, but is phonetic: it is pronounced as it looks.
It is always advisable when in a foreign country to try to learn a little of the language, not only for the sake of courtesy but also because there are many Romanians, particularly the older generation and those in rural areas, who do not speak English at all or who are not fluent.
If you decide to take things further and learn the language properly, you will find plenty of assistance with your language learning once you are on the ground. Language schools such as International Language Homestays in Iași, for instance, cater to all levels from beginners to advanced speakers, and can arrange for different lengths of courses. Rolang in Bucharest, a member of the European Language Council, offers courses for various purposes, including conversational Romanian and business Romanian.
You may also be able to arrange a language exchange with a ‘study buddy’ who wants to learn English, and you can check the net for meetup groups with a linguistic basis, for instance in Bucharest. You may also prefer private one-to-one tuition.
You may be going to Romania in order to teach English. The English language market here is small but it is growing. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, business and finance, or in summer schools.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work. Salaries are in the region of US$300 – 1000 per month, but the cost of living is relatively low. Hiring for language schools usually takes place in September/October and January. The legal requirements for working in Romania will depend on whether you are a citizen of an EU/EEA state or from outside the region. Some teachers work without proper documentation but this is not recommended.
If you are seeking work in translation or interpreting, you will obviously need to be highly proficient in Romanian, and you will also need the relevant qualifications.
The current Romanian public education system is relatively recently established now that the country has come out from communism. It is free, compulsory for a period, and structured into stages:
• pre-school education
• primary education
• lower secondary education
• upper secondary education
• vocational education
• tertiary education
Students can begin kindergarten at the age of three and can remain in kindergarten until they are 6/7. However, they will need to complete at least one year of kindergarten to be eligible for enrolment in elementary school. This stage of education is divided into three groups:
• small group: (grupa mică, ages 3–4)
• middle group: (grupa mijlocie, ages 4–5)
• big group: (grupa mare, ages 5–6)
Kindergartens can run on either a short or a long day.
Primary education in Romania lasts for four years for children aged 7-11.
Lower secondary school lasts for four years for children aged 11-15.
Upper secondary education is not compulsory and lasts for four years. This has a number of pathways: theoretical, aptitude-based (vocational), and technological.
The secondary school year runs from September – June and is divided into two semesters (Sept-Feb/Feb-June). National exams are administered by the Ministry of Romanian Education and Research, and these determine where each child will attend high school.
Students at 8th grade level can decide between attending an arts or science high school, military college, economic college or professional school.
The standard of education in Romania sees some challenges in the public sector. The country scores below the OECD average in recent PISA tests across the board, including literacy and mathematics. State expenditure on education is not high. Rural schools in particular are underfunded, and overcrowding in the state sector results in split shifts for some pupils, meaning either a very early start or a very late finish to the school day. The language of instruction is Romanian, so unless your child is already bilingual, you may wish to consider private education for your child during your stay in the country.
Private provision here is not extensive, but you will find that you have some choice. There are 77 accredited private high schools and 115 accredited private post-secondary schools in Romania. Efforts are currently under way to significantly expand the private sector.
You will find international schools in Bucharest but not beyond. These teach a variety of curricula, including the International Baccalaureate and the British national curriculum leading to IGCSEs and A Level.
For example, the Acton Academy Bucharest teaches an American curriculum. Fees range annually from US$6K upwards.
The American International School Bucharest is also an option if you are looking at a US-based educational model for your child. It offers the IB Diploma programme and fees range from US$11K – 23K per year.
The International School of Bucharest is a non-sectarian, coeducational institution which teaches an English curriculum. At secondary level it offers the Cambridge Secondary 1 programme in English, Maths and Science leading to Cambridge IGCSE examinations at age 16, but it also offers the IB. It is accredited by COBIS (the Council of British International Schools). Fees range from US$7K – 14K per annum. It accepts registrations throughout the year.
Similarly, the British School Bucharest offers a British curriculum. It teaches 600 students each year from the ages of 2-18 and its staff are all native English speakers. Fees range from US$11K – 25K per year.
These are just some examples. You will find a number of other schools, mainly following the British or US systems of international schooling, but also some catering to other languages or nationalities: there are two French schools, for example.
You will need to contact your selected school directly for a full range of fees but check not only for tuition costs, but also for one-off maintenance/capitalisation payments, registration and admission fees. Check whether you are entitled to a discount for sending siblings to the same school.
Enrolment policies will vary between establishments but you may need to provide previous school reports, as well as supporting documentation relating to your residency. Your child may also be assessed, for instance in English language proficiency.
Homeschooling in Romania is not common but it is not illegal, and the practice has undergone a raised profile recently through the decision of Romanian actor Dragos Bucur and his wife to homeschool their daughter. It is advisable to notify your local educational authorities if you intend to go down this educational route, although expats are often allowed more leeway in this area than locals.