Second Citizenship
April 8, 2024
Reading Time: 8 min

All legal ways to obtain Romania citizenship and how not to get scammed

No vampires remain in Romania — only about 300 castles they used to live in. Mediaeval fortifications aside, Romania boasts an attractive passport that will be even stronger once the country joins the Schengen Area in April 2024. Impressive travel freedom, low cost of living, and acres of pristine nature — what’s not to like?

Beware of scam agents, though; sadly, Romania is notorious in this regard. The fraudulent documents the scammers issue could land one into trouble, like getting banned from the EU for life.

Here’s everything you need to know about the legal ways to get Romanian citizenship.

Elena Ruda
Elena Ruda

Described all ways to obtain Romania citizenship

All ways to obtain Romania citizenship

All legal ways to obtain Romania citizenship and how not to get scammed

Romania citizenship: an overview

There aren't many ways to obtain Romanian citizenship, but many people could be surprised to find out they are eligible for one. That's because the country has a repatriation program, making citizenship by descent an appealing option for everyone whose ancestry lived in Romania's former territories.

Romanian citizenship by descent is available to everyone who will prove their ancestors lived on the territory of the Kingdom of Romania from 1918 to 1940. Nowadays, this includes parts of Ukraine and the entirety of Moldova. 

Be careful because this way of obtaining Romanian citizenship has attracted plenty of fraudsters claiming to act in the name of legal authorities. From 2013 to 2022, the National Agency for Citizenship received 64 applications for revocation of Romanian citizenship. Of these, 11 applications were approved.

Minors born in Romania or adopted by at least one Romanian parent get citizenship automatically.

Naturalisation as a Romanian citizen is possible if one has legally lived in Romania for more than 8 years or 5 years if married to a Romanian citizen. If that would be too long for you to wait, other European countries like Portugal offer a faster path to citizenship by naturalisation.

Romania citizenship by investment is not available. If you need a second passport, consider citizenship by investment programs in other countries.

7 benefits of a Romanian passport: why get citizenship in Romania?

Romania is surrounded by natural beauty and fascinating architecture. If you love outdoor activities, Romania is a place to go. There are lots of ski resorts for winter periods and also access to the sea.

In addition to the beautiful side of Romania, a new status as an EU citizen grants one a number of privileges. Let’s have a detailed look at them.

1. Visa-free travel across the European Union. Romania is set to join the Schengen Area by April 2024, so Romanian citizens will no longer have to pass through a border check when travelling by air and sea. Romanians will no longer need visas to visit 5 countries: Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

2. Access to European high-standard healthcare. As EU citizens, Romanians are eligible for a European Health Insurance Card that covers medical care all over Europe.

3. Оpportunity to work and study in the European Union. A Romanian citizen may work and study in any country of the Schengen agreement. They may also run a business all around the EU.

4. Unique nature and cultural heritage. Castles are a thing in Romania; you can explore all 310 hidden in Romania’s foggy woods without the risk of being bitten by a vampire.

5. Internet connection is one of the fastest in the world. Romania is 13th in the world in terms of Internet speed, as claimed by data from open sources. The Internet is also cheap in Romania: around €8 monthly compared to €40 in Portugal and around €30 in Cyprus.

6. Low cost of living. Consumer prices in Romania, including rent, are 30% lower than in Portugal, where the cost of living is rather low by EU standards and about 60% lower than in the US. A family of four spends around €2,000 without rent.

7. No problems with the language. Romania ranks 16th in Europe and 20th worldwide for English proficiency, and the youth are likely to speak English. Besides, Romanian is one of the Romance languages, so French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese speakers won’t find Romanian that difficult to learn.

Romania citizenship by naturalisation

Romania's landscape, with its dense forests, misty mountains, and mediaeval castles, has provided a fitting backdrop for supernatural stories

Romania citizenship by descent with a repatriation program

Citizenship by descent is one of the most natural ways to get a Romanian passport. The country has a repatriation program for foreign nationals whose ancestors lived in the former Kingdom of Romania in the Interwar period.

Part of modern-day Ukraine and the entire Moldova were incorporated in Greater Romania, so citizens of these countries may be surprised to find out they’re potentially eligible to become Romania’s nationals.

On paper, the process of repatriation takes around 2—3 years, but a more realistic estimate is up to 5 years and includes the following steps:

  1. Prove your Romanian ancestry. Digging through the past may be difficult, but organisations with access to Romania’s archives can do this for you.

  2. Prepare your documents and submit them in person. You can do it at the Romanian consulate in your country or online.

  3. Wait for your application approval. The whole process of obtaining Romanian citizenship by descent may take up to 5 years.

  4. Take the oath of allegiance. The oath is in Romanian; a few basic questions in the language are also to be expected.

  5. Receive a certificate of citizenship. The document is submitted upon receiving the passport.

Romania citizenship by naturalisation

The naturalisation process is lengthy and suits those who have lived in Romania for more than 8 years with a temporary residence permit or residency. At this time, an applicant is expected to learn the basics of the Romanian language and prove it during an exam.

Romania’s citizenship requirements are regulated by Article 8 (1) of the Act of Romanian Citizenship. The applicant has to:

  • be over 18 years old;

  • have legally resided in Romania for at least 8 years or 5 years if married to a Romanian citizen;

  • have a clean criminal record;

  • possess sufficient income to support themselves on the territory of Romania;

  • be loyal to the country and not have done anything against Romanian national security;

  • have a good command of the Romanian language and be familiar with the Romanian culture and history;

  • be familiar with the Constitution of Romania and its national anthem.

The practical guide on second citizenship for children's better future

Practical Guide

The practical guide on second citizenship for children's better future

How to obtain Romania citizenship by naturalisation: step-by-step procedure

Applying for citizenship takes up to 2 years, from preparing documents to getting a citizenship certificate.

1

1 day

Complete an application

Fill out an application for citizenship form in the Romanian language.

2

1 day—2 weeks

Collect the documents

Provide the following package of papers:

  • a passport;

  • civil status documents, such as a birth or marriage certificate;

  • criminal record;

  • relevant documents that show an applicant’s contribution to Romanian culture and civilisation;

  • 4 recent colour photographs, 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm.

All the documents must be translated into Romanian and notarised.

3

1 day

Upload the documents online and book an appointment to submit them

The General Inspectorate for Immigration asks applicants to first upload the documents online, then in person.

If approved, schedule a meeting on the National Authority for Citizenship website. You will be assigned a date to visit the National Authority office to submit the documents in person.

4

1 day

Pay fees

A declaration fee for an adult is €220; for a minor, it is €100. The fees are paid in the Romanian lei. One lei equals about one-fifth of a euro.

5

1 day

Submit the documents in person

Visit the National Authority for Citizenship at the chosen time; the address is Bucharest, Smardan Street 3.

6

6 months+

Wait for the interview

Applications are considered for 6 months on average, though it may take longer. The application status can be checked on the National Authority for Citizenship website. If successful, applicants will be assigned a date and time for the interview.

7

1 day

Go through an interview

During the interview, a citizen-to-be must show an advanced level of spoken and written Romanian language and familiarity with Romanian culture, history, and Constitution.

8

8—14 months

Wait for the Commission's decision

The approval is mailed to an applicant’s residential address in Romania.

9

1 day

Take an oath and receive a certificate of citizenship

Book an appointment to take an oath of allegiance to Romania and receive a citizenship certificate.

What is meant by the Romanian oath of allegiance?

An oath of allegiance to Romania is written in Article 20 of Romanian Nationality law. It sounds this way: 'I swear devotion to the Romanian country and Romanian people, I swear to defend the rights and national interest, to respect the Constitution and the laws of Romania'.

This oath is taken in the presence of the president or vice president of the National Authority for Citizenship and the minister of justice.

Does Romania allow dual citizenship and multiple nationalities?

Romania recognises dual citizenship, meaning you won’t have to relinquish your first passport.

Romanian dual citizens have the same rights as non-dual ones: they can vote, have to pay taxes and do military service if it is applicable.

Although Romania allows dual citizenship, your country of origin may not. Before starting your journey towards Romanian citizenship, check if your country allows its citizens to have a second passport.

Taxes for Romanian citizens

Romania raises very little tax revenue from the personal income tax compared to other EU countries. It has a flat rate on personal income now, but the country is considering launching a progressive rate to improve its tax system.

Citizens of Romania pay the following taxes:

  • personal income tax — 10%;

  • VAT — 19%;

  • social security contributions — 25%.

Romanian citizens pay taxes in Romania as tax residents if they have spent over 183 days a year in the country. A Romanian citizen who isn’t a tax resident pays taxes back home only for income sourced from local sources.

Non-resident Romanian citizens don’t pay taxes on worldwide income back home if Romania has a double taxation treaty with the country where they are tax residents.

Losing and restoring Romania citizenship

There are several legal grounds to have citizenship revoked. Apart from voluntary renunciation, citizenship may be lost due to fraudulent acquisition or evidence suggesting disloyalty or harm against national interests while abroad or having connections with terrorist groups.

If one’s citizenship is renounced, they receive a note via diplomatic channels and have 30 days to appeal the decision.

Suppose a person renounced Romanian citizenship or lost it. In that case, proving that one has been a citizen of Romania is necessary. A birth certificate, naturalisation documents and those proving foreign citizenship acquisition will work. The period of citizenship restoration is individual in each case.

How to move to Romania: tips for expats

1. Find accommodation. Decide what appeals to you the most: the bustling capital city of Bucharest or a scenic town like Sibiu. Book housing using websites like storia.ro, imobiliare.ro, and romimo.ro.

As for the housing prices, keep these in mind as a reference: a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs around €400, outside of the centre — €300; a three-bedroom apartment in the centre is around €700, one outside the city centre — €500.

2. Get to Romania with cheap plane tickets. If you move by air, you can get a reasonably-priced plane ticket with low-cost companies like Wizzair, Blue Air, Aer Lingus, Baboo, EasyJet.

3. Find a company to ship your stuff. Plenty of them are on the market: United Parcel Service Inc, DHL Group, FedEx Corp, and others. Ensure a chosen firm provides a list of documents necessary to enter Romania.

4. If moving with an animal, an owner must provide a health certificate and a document confirming the animal has been vaccinated against rabies and rabies virus antibody titer test results. The animal also must be identifiable with the help of an ID chip.

5. If you take a vehicle in Romania, you may drive it on European territory for six months. Afterwards, the vehicle either has to be sold or registered.

Faster and easier alternatives to Romania citizenship

There are alternatives if you don’t have Romanian ancestors to apply for Romanian citizenship by descent or it is too long to wait eight years before you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation.

Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment is an option if you seek global mobility, high-level medicine and education for your family members. The path to Malta citizenship takes 1—3 years.

To apply, investors must fulfil all the three conditions: 

  1. Buy real estate worth €700,000 or rent one worth €16,000 annually for 5 years straight.

  2. Contribute €600,000 or €750,000. The greater sum speeds up the process of getting residency from 3 years to one.

  3. Make a charitable donation of €10,000 to a Maltese registered philanthropic, cultural, sporting, scientific, animal welfare, or artistic non-governmental organisation.

The Portugal Golden Visa is a chance to become a citizen of the European Union in 5 years. The required investment is at least €250,000. By contributing to the country’s economy, an investor gets a residence permit for 2 years with the possibility to extend it. To maintain the status of a resident, one only has to spend 7 days in Portugal yearly.

The Greece Golden Visa also offers residency by investment of at least €250,000. It will take up to 6 months to obtain residency.

After 5 years of residing in the country, an investor can apply for permanent residence. 2 more years of residence unlock the path to citizenship.

Turkey citizenship by investment offers visa-free entry to over 100 countries, although the US and the EU states aren’t on the list. The main appeal of a Turkish passport is the timeframe for getting one, 6—8 months on average.

The key condition is a contribution of at least $400,000 with the option of purchasing residential or commercial real estate.

Caribbean citizenship by investment programs is an amazing alternative to European ones: investment amounts start at €100,000, and the timeframe for getting a passport is 3—6 months on average.

Caribbean passports allow global mobility, including visa-free travel to Schengen and the UK. Most countries in the Caribbean also have favourable tax systems.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Practical Guide

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Key takeaways

  1. Romania grants citizenship to foreign nationals who can prove their ancestors lived in the Kingdom of Romania from 1918 until 1940. The whole process is not that quick and may take up to 5 years.

  2. Romania citizenship by naturalisation is available to foreign nationals who have resided in the country for 8 years or 5 years if they are married to a Romanian citizen.

  3. Romania allows dual citizenship, so it’s possible to hold a Romanian passport and a passport of another country at the same time.

  4. Citizenship by investment is off the table for Romania. However, those needing a second passport can look for alternatives in the European Union and the Caribbean.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

Frequently asked questions

  • What documents does one need to obtain Romanian citizenship?

    To apply for Romanian citizenship by naturalisation, one has to provide a passport, civil status documents like a birth or marriage certificate, a criminal record, and 4 recent colour photographs 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm. All the documents must be translated into Romanian language and notarised.

  • How long does it take to get a passport in Romania?

    It takes 8 years from the moment you receive an ID card. After 8 years of legal residence in Romania, one can apply for citizenship. The process of obtaining citizenship is 2 years, though it may take up to five in practice.

  • Can you have Romanian and US citizenship?

    Yes, Romania allows dual citizenship and American citizens can hold both passports.

  • Can you get Romanian citizenship through marriage?

    Yes, obtaining Romanian citizenship through marriage is possible. To apply for a passport, one must legally live in a country for at least five years after marriage.

  • How can I get permanent residence in Romania?

    You can apply for permanent residence in Romania after five years of living in the country with a temporary residence permit.