Do I own my car yet?

If you were thinking that buying a car in Romania is a weeks-long ordeal of vague paper-intensive obligations and expensive bureaucratic appeasement, then I compliment you on your astuteness.  I bought my car two weeks ago and I’m still nowhere near officially completing the transaction.  Once you have the car, there are seven (7) different places you need to visit to make it all official, all of which require that you show up in person, during limited business hours, stand in long lines, fending off accomplished line-jumpers and paying a Romanian king’s ransom in fees, while carefully amassing a ream of paperwork that is the only thing standing between you and fines/jail time when you get stopped by the Securitate. To make matters worse, no one you talk to, including these officials, are entirely sure of all the necessary requirements to get the job done.  They only know their one little step in the system (e.g. fill out a scrap of paper, stamp it, collect 30 lei (US$9) from you, never smile).  The insurance lady was the closest thing I found to a helpful person and here’s the breakdown she scratched out for me:

  • Get insurance (I already knew that one)
  • File a purchase contract, pay a fee
  • Change title
  • Pay change title tax (different building across town, of course)
  • Pay something-something tax that no one has yet to successfully explain to me.
  • Visit the RAR (a mysterious agency, that no one understands, located in an unmarked building on a nameless street that few people can give accurate directions to).  Make an appointment.  Go back at appointed time and pay RAR fee.
  • Visit the police.  Bring two bottles of cognac (just kidding, you still have to visit the police and pay the Visiting the Police fee, but I’m told that the cognac step of the process was eliminated in 2003).

Again, no one can say with any certainty that this is the extent of my duties, leaving me wide open for arbitrary harassment by the Securitate the first time I get stopped, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. If I go more than 36 hours without updating this blog, you can assume I’ve been nicked for not paying the Tax for Tax Management fee or something and you should contact the US Embassy immediately.