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Travel Security Advice for Moldova

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moldova_mapMoldova_Overview

 


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Moldova became an independent country after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, and is now a parliamentary democracy.  Moldova is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program as well as member of the Council of Europe.  Its capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Moldova for additional information. 

REGISTRATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Moldova are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page , so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.   

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Citizens of the United States, EU member states, Canada, Switzerland, and Japan do not require visas to enter Moldova.  For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-1204, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Travelers may also wish to consult the Embassy of Moldova website for general information on Moldovan visas and for application forms. 

U.S. citizens are exempt from Moldovan visa requirements.  They are able to stay in Moldova for up to 90 days within a six-month period without registration.  Residence and work permits are still required for stays over 90 days, which may prove problematic for some long-term American visitors.  Immigration, residence, and work permits usually need to be extended annually, but may be issued for up to five years.

U.S. citizens are able to enter Moldova through Transnistria.  However, because they will not have been registered at the border, travelers must register within three days of arrival in right-bank (western) Moldova at the Ministry of Information Development (MID) registration office on 49, Kogalniceanu str. in Chisinau.

HIV/AIDS restrictions:

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Moldova.  Short-term visitors (periods of less than 90 days) do not require HIV testing.  Applicants for residence permits, however, are required to submit to a HIV test and demonstrate that they are HIV negative.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Moldova at before you travel.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

The U.S. Government has no information related to the targeting of U.S. citizens, interests or facilities by terrorist organizations in Moldova, and no Americans have been killed or injured as a result of terrorist activity in Moldova.  However, the U.S. Government remains deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad.  Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.  Because Moldovan Government authorities often ask to see identification on the street, Americans should carry a copy of their passport with them at all times.

A separatist regime that is not recognized by the United States controls the Transnistria region, lying to the east of the Dniester River.  Consular assistance to American citizens in that region cannot be ensured.  Travelers should exercise caution when visiting or transiting Transnistria.  Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints along roads leading into and out from Transnistria.  Taking photographs of military facilities, public buildings, and security forces, including checkpoints along roads leading into and out from Transnistria, is strictly prohibited.

Racially motivated incidents against foreigners and persons of color have occurred in Moldova.  Persons of African, Asian, or Arab heritage may be subject to various types of harassment, such as verbal abuse, and denied entrance into some clubs and restaurants.  These Americans are also at risk for harassment by police authorities. 

In some instances, Americans have become victims of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by Moldovan law enforcement and other officials.  Low-level bribery attempts are commonplace in Moldova.  These encounters should always be reported to the U.S. Embassy.  Moldovan authorities have cooperated in investigating such cases, but those investigations enjoy the greatest chance of success when the officer is identified by name, physical description, or other identifying characteristics.  Please note this information if you ever have a problem with police or other officials.  Americans who have refused to pay bribes in Moldova generally report no consequences beyond being delayed or inconvenienced.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

Moldova’s economic difficulties, as well as organized criminal activity and more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk visitors face from street crime, some potentially violent.  While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments.  Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices have occurred.  Sexual assault against foreigners is rare.  Travelers are wise to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.

Precautions should also be taken when using ATMs in Moldova.  Some Americans have reported unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts after using ATMs.  Instances have been reported of PIN theft from use of ATMs in Moldova, either by “skimming” devices, which record the ATM card information while in use, or by surreptitious observation. 

Train and bus services are below Western European standards and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crimes involving thefts while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.
Americans who use the Moldovan postal service report frequent losses from international letter and package mail.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. 

Internet Fraud Warning:

The Embassy is aware of various confidence schemes that have taken advantage of American citizens, frequently via the Internet.  In some cases these involve the purchase or sale of items on the Internet in which the payment or shipment of goods was not completed by a Moldovan counterpart.  In the spring of 2006, Moldovan police recovered over $250,000 in jewelry that was sent to “buyers” in Moldova from the United States via fake online escrow companies.  Substantial criminal enterprises specializing in this type of crime (Internet auction fraud) have emerged in Moldova.  In other cases, American citizens, particularly males, have met potential Moldovan fiancé(e)s on the Internet who have convinced them to send hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but have no intention of a serious relationship.  Once the American citizen starts to question the reason for sending the money, the Moldovan fiancé(e)s suddenly ends his/her contact. 

On occasion, American citizens who come to Moldova to visit someone they have first met over the Internet have reported becoming subject to crimes such as extortion and involuntary detention.  American citizens should be aware that any such activity committed by individuals in Moldova is subject to the Moldovan legal system and could prove difficult to prosecute.  In the vast majority of cases, there is little that the U.S. Embassy can do to assist American citizens who are defrauded by Moldovans via the Internet. Please see our information on International Financial Scams.

VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. 

The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Moldova are: 9-0-2 (Police Assistance) and 9-0-3 (Ambulance Assistance)

Please see our information on victims of crime , including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Travelers are advised to register any foreign currency brought into Moldova with customs authorities upon entering the country.  It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Moldova in Washington, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements. 

Visas and residency:

Current Moldovan Government (GOM) border registration procedures will remain unchanged under the new immigration law that states that U.S. and most other foreign nationals arriving in Moldova do not require a visa and are permitted stays of up to 90 days in any given six-month period.  At the point of entry (i.e., airport or border), the Border Guard Service enters the traveler’s personal data into a computer program and transfers the data to the GOM’s Population Register.  Visitors are not given a paper “registration receipt.”  U.S. citizens are able to enter Moldova through Transnistria.  However, because they will not have been registered at the border, they will still have to register within three days of arrival in right-bank (western) Moldova at the Ministry of Information Development (MID) registration office on 49, Kogalniceanu str. in Chisinau.

The new travel regime also will facilitate travel through the Transnistrian segment of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. Current Moldovan government border registration procedures remained unchanged under the new law. Still, travelers who want to travel to Moldova by transiting the Russian Federation should ensure that they have been issued a Russian visa beforehand.

For stays exceeding 90 days, foreign nationals are required to obtain “immigration certificates” and residence permits from the National Bureau for Migration.  Foreign nationals planning to work in Moldova must also obtain a work permit.  Immigration, residence, and work permits usually need to be extended annually, but may be issued for up to five years.
For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citizens are encouraged to call the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau at (373) (22) 40-83-00.

Requirement to Carry Documentation:   As noted above, Moldovan police have the right to request identity documents from any person.  Individuals who fail to produce appropriate ID upon request may be subject to detention and fines.  Therefore, Americans are advised to carry their U.S. passports (or a copy of their passport’s biographic information page) with registration card, if applicable, or a Moldovan-issued identification document when in public.

Consular Access:   Moldovan law enforcement authorities, particularly in the Transnistria region, have an uneven record of reporting the arrest or detention of American citizens to the U.S. Embassy, as required under international agreements.  American citizens are therefore advised that if they are detained or arrested by Moldovan authorities, they should immediately request that the U.S. Embassy be contacted.  Moldovan authorities have generally respected such requests in a prompt manner.

Photography:  Americans who choose to travel in Transnistria should be aware that foreigners have reported being detained or harassed by authorities for taking photographs of military facilities or public buildings.  Photography of checkpoints along roads leading into and out from the Transnistria region, or the personnel working there, is prohibited.

Dual Nationality:

Recent Moldovan legislation allows dual citizenship.  There is no requirement that dual nationals enter Moldova on their Moldovan passports.  For further questions, please contact the Moldovan Embassy in Washington, DC.  

Telephone and Postal Services:  Outside of Chisinau, travelers may have difficulty finding public telephones and receiving or making international and local calls. Losses have been reported from international letter and package mail, both of which are subject to a customs inspection before delivery.  “Express” mail services such as DHL and Federal Express are available in Chisinau, although in most instances prices are high, and shipments arrive from (or reach) the United States in no less than five (5) business days.

Disabled Access:   Persons with disabilities should be aware that public facilities and transportation in Moldova are rarely designed or built in a way that allows for wheelchair access.  Wheelchair entrances, ramps, lifts or similar accommodations are rare; those that do exist are often below Western standards and/or poorly maintained.  Most streets, sidewalks and other public paths are not well maintained and can be hazardous, particularly in poor weather conditions.
 
Commercial Transactions:   Although still generally a cash-only economy, traveler’s checks and credit cards may be accepted in Chisinau, although locations that will accept them outside the capital are still rare.  Some vendors require the customer dial in a PIN to authorize a sale by credit card.  Caution is advised, however, as some travelers have reported incidents of unauthorized expenditures made on credit cards during or following their use in Moldova, and there have also been reported incidents of fraud and account theft using bank machines (ATMs – see the section on “Crime” above).

Business in Transnistria:   As noted in the “Threats to Safety and Security” section above, a separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in eastern Moldova known as Transnistria (“Pridnestrovie” in Russian).  Individuals considering doing business in Transnistria should exercise extreme caution.  The Embassy may not be able to offer consular or commercial services to Americans in Transnistria.  Moldovan law requires firms (including those located in Transnistria) to register with the Moldovan Government and to use Moldovan customs seals on their exports.  Under a December 2005 agreement between Moldova and Ukraine, Ukrainian customs and border officials require Moldovan customs seals on goods exported from Moldova, including Transnistria, and are enforcing this requirement with EU assistance.  Transnistrian firms not legally registered with Moldovan authorities operate in contravention of Moldovan law, which may complicate or prevent the import or export of goods.  The Government of Moldova has indicated that it will not recognize the validity of contracts for the privatization of firms in Transnistria that are concluded without the approval of the appropriate Moldovan authorities.  A number of Internet fraud schemes have originated in Transnistria.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical care in Moldova is substandard throughout the country, including Chisinau.  In the event of serious medical conditions every effort should be made to go to Western Europe.  In the event of an emergency, travelers should attempt first to contact the local ambulance service, which is trained to determine which medical facility is most appropriate for treatment and will transport the injured or sick person to that location.  Hospital accommodations are inadequate throughout the country and advanced technology is lacking.  Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered.  Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities.  The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of medical facilities and English-speaking doctors, but cannot guarantee or endorse competence.  Visitors to Moldova are advised to bring their own supply of both prescription and common over-the-counter medications.  Pharmacies are not stocked to Western standards and products are not labeled in English.  Poor quality and/or fraudulent medications have been reported.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Moldova; the World Health Organization (WHO) has placed it in its “highest risk” category.  Travelers planning to stay in Moldova for more than 3 months should have a pre-departure PPD skin test status documented.  For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB. Other major health concerns include Hepatitis A (food-borne), Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C (blood- and body fluids-borne).   

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website.  The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad. Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page .

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. 

Moldova’s highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads that often lack markings or signage, are unevenly maintained, and seldom have lighting.  Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles and/or livestock.  Urban roads in Moldova are infrequently maintained and often lack clear signs or lane markings.  Travel outside of urban areas before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if at all possible.  Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace.  Many Moldovan drivers would be considered aggressive or erratic by American standards.  Many accidents involve drunk drivers.  The quality and safety of public transportation vary widely.  Trains, trolleybuses, and buses are often old and may frequently break down.  Taxis are available in most urban areas, and vary from old Soviet-era vehicles to newer, Western European or American model vehicles.  Emergency services are generally responsive.  Police emergency assistance can be called at 902 and emergency ambulance at 903.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information, or visit the website of Moldova’s National Tourist Office .

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Moldova, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAAs website.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Moldova are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State list of embassies and consulates .

U.S. Embassy (Chisinau)


103, Mateevici str., Chisinau, Moldova
Telephone: (373)(22) 23-37-72
Emergency after-hours telephone: (373)(22) 23-73-45

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 2, 2008, to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Special Circumstances.

 


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to Moldova HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)............

Regards

The SW Team......

 

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