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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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Abdul says:

    Hi
    I want to get Romanian citizenship
    I want investment
    But tell me how much need investment for get citizenship and how long time get
    Pls give full information
    Regarding

    Like

  2. Alex says:

    My grandfather was romanian citizen before ww2.He is not alive anymore.Can i aply for citizenship or my father need to get it first?

    Like

  3. My grandfather was vladtepes

    Like

  4. Agishi Ife George says:

    I am born of a Nigerian father and a Romanian mother but unfortunately lost my father and lost touch with my mother.although I have no passport because I was a minor but have what is called child particular and permit. I have gone to the embassy but they will not give me any attention. How do I go about it?

    Like

    1. Alex says:

      If you dont speak romanian,take somebody with you.I think you have right to get citizenship by law of return.

      Like

  5. patric says:

    “This means you can’t just rent a place” – Are you sure about this? I know that a *registered* rental contract for at least one year (unlimited duration is better) is proof of domicile and you can get an ID with it. Trick is to have it registered with the tax office.

    Like

    1. Michael Dediu says:

      A “contract de comodat” is needed. It just has to say that a friend who owns property is letting you stay for free, for the next 10 years (the validity of the ID card). No money needs to be exchanged or declared. Thousands “living” in one apartment is common for Basarabians to get buletine. However nobody lives there. It is just for the Romanian bureaucracy.

      The apartments “full” of Basarabians even have their own voting section, though nobody comes since they are abroad.

      Like

  6. unu says:

    You don’t allways need to go to the consulate to get a POA. There is a shortcut that works for simple issues, like requiring more information and obtaining documents from various government departments. It won’t work for inheritance or other more serious issues, when you have to go to the consulate. It is pretty easy: you draft your POA in english, with your name, address, the other person, their romanian address, CNP and serial # on their “buletin”. You take that to a bank (in the US) or to any place they have a public notary. You get it stamped (notarized) for free or for a few bucks. Then you send it to your department of state to get an apostille. You have to include a personal check for a small ammount of money. I paid 10$ but this will most likely vary from state to state. Then you send both documents to your friend in Romania, who will have them translated for you. This is supposed to be the simple way of doing legal bussiness between two states that are members of the Hague convention.

    Like

  7. Michael Dediu says:

    Romanian citizenship law goes farther back than grandparents: great-grandparents also qualify.

    Like

  8. Craig Turp says:

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

    Worth noting that Romanian citizenship is not, in fact, optional in this case: all children born abroad to at least one Romanian parent are automatically considered Romanians whether they or their parents like it or not, complete with all the legal headaches that entails. I have friends who moved to the UK in the early 1990s who later became UK citizens. They had a daughter. The daughter travelled to Romania with her mother (both on UK passports). When trying to leave Romania they were prevented from doing so: the daughter was considered to be Romanian (it was probably the surname that gave them away) and therefore her mother needed the procura from the second parent stating that she had his permission to leave the country on her own with the child (even though he was in the UK!). This law is itself totally fucked up of course, even more so when you do not even consider yourself Romanian anymore.

    Like

    1. Oooh, good point! Thanks for this.

      Like

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