How to Get a Romanian Passport


This is probably the single most urgent question that I regularly get asked, so I felt it deserved a detailed answer.

There are four ways to become a citizen of Romania and thus get a Romanian passport:

  1. You’ve legally resided in Romania for 8 (or more) years; OR
  2. You’ve been married to a Romanian AND legally resided in Romania for 5 (or more) years; OR
  3. You’ve been granted asylum in Romania and meet certain criteria; OR
  4. One or more of your parents OR grandparents is/was Romanian.

Note: You can halve the time requirements for #1 and #2 above if you invest a large amount of money in Romania (I believe it’s 100 thousand Euros).

#1 above is pretty self-explanatory. You’ve got to be familiar with Romania and Romanian culture after living in the country so long, so contact a local lawyer and follow the steps to become a citizen.

For #2, it’s important to understand that you must BOTH be married to a Romanian person AND have lived in Romania (legally) for five years. You can be married to a Romanian person for 20 years, but if that was outside the country, it won’t count. If you qualify, ask your spouse to help you find a lawyer and then follow the steps to become a citizen.

Note: If your spouse is Romanian, it’s a pretty simple procedure to get legal residence in Romania, but you’ll have to spend 5 years in country before being able to get citizenship.

For #3, this is a very rare occurrence and you need to speak to whoever handled your asylum case for more information.

It’s #4 that I get asked the most about, and that’s what I’ll be discussing in the rest of this article.

Redobandirea

Much like Ireland, Romania has a belief that your “Romanian-ness” can be passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, if your grandfather/grandmother was born in Romanian territory 80 years ago but immediately fled/left and no one in your family has been back since, you’re still “Romanian” in the eyes of the Romanian government.

Furthermore, Romanian territory includes parts of the world that are not part of the modern state of Romania today. This means if your parent/grandparent was born in the Republic of Moldova, parts of Ukraine, or other areas once under Romanian control (from 1920-1940), you can still qualify.

The way the government of Romania views giving citizenship to grand/children of Romanian citizens is that your Romanian citizenship will be “restored” rather than awarded/granted. The term for this in Romanian is redobândirea.

Contact the Romanian Embassy

So… you know you have a parent or grandparent who was born in Romanian territory once upon a time. What’s your next step?

First, contact the Romanian embassy in your home country. The embassy is where you’ll (eventually) get your passport and citizenship papers. The embassy will both a) tell you what papers you’ll need and b) tell you what the rules are about becoming a citizen.

They’ll likely tell you that you need some basic documentation about yourself, including proof that you’re not a convicted criminal and a few other things. I can’t say what these are, as the Romanian government isn’t very well organized so each embassy/office tends to do things a bit differently. But I can tell you that you do not need to speak Romanian in order to get Romanian citizenship.

One thing that you definitely WILL need, however, is proof of your grand/parents’ Romanian identity. In most cases, this means their birth certificate. And this is the issue that most people contact me about.

Getting a Birth Certificate

In Romania, the concept of “public” records is not well understood. Birth certificates are supposed to be public, but you cannot get access to them. The only birth certificate you’re allowed to view or obtain is your own.

So how do you get your grand/parent’s birth certificate? Well, you’ll need something akin to a “power of attorney” letter (called împuternicire in Romanian) that authorizes you to get it. In Romania, these documents are used for many, many things, and any notary in the country will be happy to draw one up for you (for a hefty fee, of course).

But if you don’t live in Romania, it’s a bit trickier. What you’ll have to do is find someone who lives in Romania to get the birth certificate for you. To give them permission, you need to get the “power of attorney” document notarized at the Romanian embassy in your country.

Who to Trust?

For years, I’ve been telling people to contact a reputable law firm in Romania (or Moldova/Ukraine as the case may be) and let them handle everything. That’s certainly worked for people in the past, but it can be expensive. I’d budget anywhere from 500 to 1,000 euros for the law firm to handle all the paperwork AND physically retrieve the birth certificate.

I do, however, have a good friend who has done this kind of work in the past. She doesn’t do it full-time, however, but she told me that she’d be happy to help people if she can and refer them to someone trustworthy if she can’t. I do know she’s retrieved birth certificates in both Romania and the Republic of Moldova, so she’s better positioned to answer detailed questions about the procedure than I am.

Her name is Georgiana and she can be reached by email at getitdone.ro@gmail.com. She also has a Facebook page which you can find here. Her company also helps foreigners do things in Romania like set up businesses, find translators, hire interpreters and the like.

I’ve known Georgiana for more than six years, so I can definitely vouch for her. I have no idea what she charges for her services, and I’m not a business partner with her. She’s really busy, but she’ll definitely help you in some way, even if it’s referring you to someone else.

Next Steps

Once you’ve got your documents in order, you’ll present them to the Romanian embassy in your home country. They’ll then review them and, if you pass muster, you’ll be given Romanian citizenship. It’s important to understand that this review period can last a year or more. It’s definitely not going to be quick!

Once you’ve got your citizenship papers, you can then get your Romanian passport. You’ll do this at the embassy as well. Thankfully, this won’t take nearly as long. Officially, it’ll take 90 days or less. After that, you’re set!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to speak Romanian to get citizenship?

Not necessarily. If you’ve never lived in Romania, you do NOT have to speak Romanian. If you’ve lived in Romania for 5 or 8 years, you DO need to pass a language test as well as a test about the Constitution and government. Don’t worry though as it’s a pretty easy test.

Can I live in Romania after I get my citizenship?

Strangely enough, no. For that, you need to establish “domicile” in Romania which means that you either need to own property or have a property owner declare that you permanently reside there. This means you can’t just rent a place.

You can enter Romania with your Romanian passport, of course, but you won’t be able to get a job or attend university (as a Romanian) until you get your ID card (called buletin). And you can’t get the ID card until you’ve established domicile in Romania.

Can my child get Romanian citizenship if born abroad to a Romanian parent?

Sure. You’ll just need to follow all the steps above.

Our child was born in Romania, but neither parent is Romanian. Can my child get Romanian citizenship?

Nope. You have to be Romanian by “blood”, not just born on Romanian territory. The only way for your child to get Romanian citizenship is if s/he has lived in Romania for eight years or more.

What if my grand/parent was born in Ukraine or Moldova?

As long as it was part of Romania from 1920-1940, that still qualifies.

What if there is no birth certificate for my grand/parent?

This is a tough one. If the birth records were destroyed or lost or something else has happened, you’ll need to find a way to convince the Romanian embassy that your grand/parent was Romanian. Ask the embassy for guidance on this.

Can I (also) get Moldovan citizenship if my grand/parent was born in Moldova?

Nope. Moldova doesn’t have this “restoration” of citizenship concept like Ireland and Romania do.

What if my grand/parent was/is Romanian but wasn’t born in Romanian territory?

It’s still possible for you to get Romanian citizenship, but it’ll be more difficult. You’ll need to prove that your grand/parent was a Romanian citizen, not just an ethnic Romanian.

What if my grand/parent was born in Romanian territory but wasn’t an ethnic Romanian?

Again, it’ll be more difficult, but you can still qualify. It doesn’t matter if your grand/parent was/is a Turk, Tatar, Greek, Russian, Macedonian, Hungarian, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Armenian or any other minority, only that they were a Romanian citizen at one point in their life.

What if my Romanian grand/parent is deceased?

You’ll need to prove your family relation through documents, but you can still get your deceased family member’s birth certificate and thus your Romanian citizenship and passport. Ask the Romanian embassy for more details on this.

What if my uncle/cousin/etc is/was Romanian?

Nope, this won’t work. It has to be either your father, mother, grandmother, or grandfather.

If only one grand/parent was Romanian, can I still get citizenship?

Yep. It only takes one!

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Shpetim leka says:

    Hi my name is shpetim leka l wan to make passport romania

    Like

  2. Angie Bragg says:

    The Embassy are supposed to be getting my son in law’s passport renewed ( went out of date while at the DVLA). You can’t comminicate with them til you have all the docs. But they are asking for a doc which doesn’t exist! Help!

    Like

  3. Ato says:

    My grand mom and her whole family were Romanian citizen, can I apply for it as well?

    Like

  4. Geoff Joab says:

    My wife was born in England, her father was romainian, can I as a spouse get romainian citizenship.

    Like

  5. vicky says:

    i want to know how to get tourist visa or want to do bussiness in romania what are the requirments

    Like

    1. james says:

      Hello. Does your wife carry a Romanian passport?. If not. Then i would recommend your wife to immediately apply for Romanian citizenship by birth right. This will make both your sitlutation much easier for freedom of movement. We should able to resolve your situation. Please get in touch http://www.citizenship-romania.com. Many thanks James

      Like

  6. Jullie Sette says:

    Hello,

    About what you said that I DO NOT need to speak Romanian to get my citizenship, could you point the article of the law that says so?
    I’m from Brazil, living in Poland and the Romania’s embassy (located in Brazil) told me that I MUST TO SPEAK Romanian if I would like to apply for the citizenship.

    Like

  7. Nikita says:

    Can I apply for Romanian passport?
    With some problems I am overstay in cyprus till now . Basically, I am from moldova . Can you please suggest me how I can get Romanian passport here without go in Romanian ?

    Like

    1. So, each Embassy or Consulate has power to demand any suplementar documents or informations to make the process as clear as possible, for example, if a Moldovian citizen apply for Romanian citizenship it is not necessary to prove Romanian language knowledge because they speak Romanian as mother language, but if a Brazilian apply for, it turn necessary as garantee that the new citizen will join the Romanian society with no hassle about language, in my oppinion it is a bullshit because no one who get Romanian citizen has any will to move in to Romania, but UK, Ireland, even Portugal. I’m Brazilian as well and I’ve got the same answer when inquired them, but relax because the knowledge necessary at the moment for take the oath its the minimum possible, just answer simple questions and also read and understand correctly the oath written in front of you. Join us in our Facebook group “Cidadania Romena” on Facebook, there are further informations about the subject!

      Like

    2. Ira says:

      I had the same feedback from the South African Consulat

      Like

    3. james says:

      You will be required to speak basic Romanian. If your interested to look into the Romanain citizenship program then get in touch. http://www.citizenship-romania.com

      Like

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