Archives 2014

Personal income tax

By Claudia Sofianu

Individuals domiciled in Romania are considered tax residents and are taxed on their worldwide income (with certain exceptions). During the first year of meeting certain residency criteria, individuals who are not domiciled in Romania are subject to tax on their Romanian-source income, regardless of where the income is earned. In the absence of a tax residency certificate issued by another state based on a double tax treaty, a foreign individual or someone who carries out independent activities through a permanent establishment in Romania becomes subject to tax on worldwide income starting with January 1 of the year following the one year when the tax residency criteria were met. Foreign individuals who are working in Romania are taxable from their first day of presence. However, if they are tax residents in another country and they meet the criteria from the applicable Double Tax Treaty, they may be exempt from Romanian tax liabilities, provided that a tax residency certificate is made available to the authorities within 15 days of the beginning of activities.


Most types of income are subject to tax at a flat rate of 16 percent, applied to salary income, income from freelance activities, rental income, pension income, prizes, investment income and other sources. Special tax rates apply to income from gambling and transfer of property ownership. The taxation of various types of income is summarized below.
Employment income includes: salaries, benefits in cash or kind, salary premiums, other income received by an individual based on an employment agreement, fees and compensation paid to directors and managers of private enterprises and to members of the board of directors, general shareholders, administration council and audit committee.
Income from independent activities includes income from commercial activities, freelance activities and transfer of intellectual property rights. The net taxable income from freelance activities is computed as gross income less specified deductible expenses. Individuals engaged in freelance activities must make advance tax payments on a quarterly basis by the 25th day of the last month of each quarter.
Taxpayers who earn income from independent activities from which a 10 percent advance income tax is withheld at source, can opt for a final withholding tax at a rate of 16 percent.
Taxable income from intellectual property rights is computed by deducting from gross income expenses representing 20 percent of gross income and compulsory social charges. A 10 percent advance income tax must be withheld at source by payers of income from intellectual property rights by the 25th day of the following month. Taxpayers who earn income from intellectual property rights can opt for a final withholding tax at a rate of 16 percent.

Rental income. Gross rental income consists of amounts stipulated in rental agreements, as well as certain expenses borne by the tenant that are the landlord’s liability according to the law. It is also assessed as rental income, the income derived by owners from rental of rooms located in their own homes, with a capacity of tourist accommodation ranging from 1 to 5 rooms inclusively. The rental income is taxable in the tax year to which the rent relates. It is reduced by a flat 25 percent and the difference is taxed by 16 percent. As an exception, taxpayers may opt for the determination of the net rental income based on single entry accounting.
Investment income includes: dividends, interests, gains from transfers of securities, etc. Any amount paid in excess of the market price by a legal entity for goods or services provided by a shareholder is treated as a dividend if the beneficiary of such amount was not subject to income tax or profits tax on the amount. Amounts received from holding participation titles in closed investment funds are treated similarly to dividends. A 16 percent final withholding tax is imposed on dividends.
Taxable income from interest is considered to be any income in the form of interest other than state bonds.
A 16 percent final withholding tax is imposed on interest income. The tax must be remitted by the 25th day of the following month. Capital gains are subject to a 16 percent final tax. A 16 percent advance tax is imposed on gains derived from sale and purchase transactions in foreign currencies with subsequent term settlement, as well as similar operations.
Income whose source was not identified should be subject to 16 percent income tax applied to the taxable base adjusted according to the procedures and indirect methods of the reconstitution of the revenues or expenses. The income tax and late payment penalties will be calculated by the tax authorities.


No taxes are levied on inheritances or gifts, except for revenue subsequently derived from these items.

Social charges
Employees are required to make the following monthly contributions:
Type/Contribution — Amount (monthly gross salary earnings)
• Social security — 10.5% (taxable base is capped at 5 times national average gross salary earnings)
• Health — 5.5%
• Unemployment — 0.5%

Employers are required to make the following monthly contributions:
Type/Contribution — Amount (normal work conditions, of the total gross salary earnings)
• Social security — 20.8% (taxable base is capped at 5 times national average gross earnings multiplied by the number of employees)
• Health — 5.2%
• Unemployment — 0.5%
• Insurance against work accidents and work related sickness — 0.15% to 0.85%
• Medical leave — 0.85% (taxable base is capped at 12 times national minimum gross salary earnings multiplied by the number of insured persons)
• Salary Guarantee Fund — 0.25%

For 2013, the average gross national salary earning is RON 2,223 per month and the minimum gross salary was RON 700 per month during January 2013, RON 750 per month up to June 2013 and RON 800 staring at the start of with July 2013. Foreign nationals working in Romania fall under the Romanian social security system and are liable to pay social security charges due as per Romanian regulations. EU citizens may be exempt from social charges if relevant European certificates are obtained.


Foreign nationals assigned to Romania must register for tax purposes within 15 days after beginning their activities and pay income tax on a monthly basis. If the individual is on a local payroll, the local employer must calculate, withhold, declare and pay the income tax. Expatriates employed abroad but working in Romania must file monthly individual tax returns and pay monthly tax and, if applicable, social charges, by the 25th day of the following month.


Romania has entered into double tax treaties with several countries.


Romania has entered into Totalization Agreements with several countries for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social charges:
Non-EU Member States Status
• Albania In force
• Algeria In force
• Armenia In force
• Canada In force
• South Korea In force
• Libya In force
• Macedonia In force
• Moldavia In force
• Peru In force
• Russian Federation In force
• Turkey In force
• Canada In force
• Israel In Force

Claudia Sofianu is the leader of the Human Capital team of EY Romania and senior tax manager. She has an extensive experience in expatriate services, covering individual taxation, domestic and international social security, immigration formalities, individual tax planning and compensation structuring.

A short guide to banking

By Mariana Ganea
The banking system in Romania is made up of the National Bank and credit institutions, banks and financial non-banking institutions. Most of the banks in Romania are controlled by foreign lenders. A list of banks that are active in Romania can be found at the end of this article. Credit institutions from Romania are generally universal banks which offer a wide range of products and services.

The largest banks in Romania by volume of assets are BCR, with about 20 percent of the local banking market, followed by BRD Societe Generale, with 13 percent, and Banca Transilvania, with 8 percent, according to data from the end of 2012. CEC Bank, UniCredit Țiriac Bank, Raiffesen Bank, Volksbank, ING Bank come next, followed by Alpha Bank and Bancpost. After the 2013 takeover of RBS’ retail portfolio by UniCredit Țiriac Bank, the rankings are set to change before the end of 2013 and following the print date of this guide.

Most banks in Romania offer savings and/or current accounts in lei, Euro, USD and other currencies on various maturities with fixed and/or variable interest (including negotiated interest), escrow accounts, term deposits, mainly in lei, Euro, USD and other currencies, from overnight to 18 months, as well as Certificates of Deposits. They also offer loans, refinancing loans, loans for personal needs, mortgage loans, restructured loans, credit lines, housing loans, as well as the first house loan, which is backed up by state guarantees for first time home owners.

The most common credit cards issued by Romanian banks are Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron, American Express. The current bank operations provided are bill payments, transfer of funds in foreign currencies and lei, direct debit and standing orders, payments in local and foreign currency, buying and selling currency, money wires, payment orders, cheques (in lei and foreign currency), travel cheques, invoice payments, custody and/or depositary services. The majority of Romanian banks offer remote banking services, including Internet banking, phone banking and banking by text message.

Banking in Romania is quite easy. To open a current/checking account, you’ll need only an ID card if you are an EU resident or passport if you are from outside of EU. Usually, the current account comes with the debit card. Most of the banks issue MasterCard or Visa cards but if you want you can find also American Express.

Most of the banks operating in Romania (domestic or foreign bank offices) offer internet, mobile and phone banking services. Most packages offered by banks usually contain the remote banking products and services. You could look first at one of the biggest players on the market and their fees and offers (BCR, BRD, Transilvania, Raiffeissen, CEC, ING Bank) before making a decision.

Coming to savings, banks operating on the Romanian market offer a lot of term deposits at various maturities for lei, Euro, USD and other currencies, some investment products (pension funds, bonds), treasury products (trade and FX transactions), asset management products (mutual funds) and, in two or three cases, gold-investment (BCR, Pireus Bank). To open savings or investment products you may need to prove the source of your income.

During your stay in Romania you may face some cash flow challenges or you may find something to buy for which you need some cash. Most of the banks offer credit cards or cash loans if you are Romanian resident and you can prove a regular income. If you want to buy properties in Romania, firstly you should consult a lawyer to make sure you have all the legal knowledge necessary about property transactions.

If you don’t have enough time to spend at the bank counter you can appoint an authorized person to represent you. However, you must make sure you specify for which banking transaction/s you give the authorized person permission to represent you because, if you don’t, he/she could have rights for all type of transactions and you could lose control of your funds.

Several banks have packages aimed at expats, which usually combine the most sought after services. For example, Credit Agricole Bank launched a package mid-2013 which offers certain discounts to foreigners, such as a 75 percent discount on international payments, multicurrency facilities, free internet banking and a free extra debit card, among others.

Banks active in Romania: Alpha Bank, Carpatica, Creditcoop, Banca Comercială Feroviară, Italo Romena Bank, Banca Românească, Banca Transilvania, Bancpost, Leumi Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Banca Comercială Română (BCR), Bloom Bank, BNP Paribas, BRD Societe Generale, CEC Bank, Citibank, Credit Agricole Bank, Credit Europe Bank, Eximbank, Garanti Bank, ING Bank, Intesa San Paolo Bank, La Caixa, Libra Bank, Marfin Bank, Millennium Bank, Nextebank, OTP Bank, Piraeus Bank, Porsche Bank, ProCredit Bank, Raiffeisen Housing Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, Romanian International Bank, UniCredit Țiriac Bank, Volksbank.

Mariana Ganea holds a PhD in Economics and she has worked in banking and financial training for 15 years. She is currently a freelancer, an authorized trainer in soft skills & financials, an evaluator and communication consultant. She was a senior training consultant, banking researcher and associate professor. She studied economics, finance and banking, communication, sales, NPL, coaching and transactional analysis. She is passionate about education, writing and reading, travel, history, politics, cultural events and photography.

Landing a job in Romania

By Adina Bigaș


With the global economical constraints, some foreigners have increased their interest for changing their country and Romania is one of the destinations: an EU member, just a couple of hours by plane to most of the other European capitals, with one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and still with a relevant economical growth potential.

Besides, Romania is a beautiful country, has a very affordable cost of living compared to mature markets – rent, utilities, daily basket cost, dinners out, touristic attractions – all which allow a better quality of life under recession times and make Romania even more attractive for foreigners. While many western EU cities dominate the world’s most costly places for foreigners, Bucharest ranks among the cheapest in Europe. The flat income tax rate of 16% makes Romania even more appealing for executives and highly paid professionals, whose purchase power is worthy compared to their peers in Europe.

Therefore, for several good reasons, Romania is the right place to be.

Tips for foreign job-seekers:


Most of the employers update regularly their career section or post their openings on portals like,, and Candidates for managerial positions should enlarge their search and contact specialized agencies like Aims, Alexander Hughes, Hill International, Lugera & Makler, Pederesen and Partners, Rinf and Stanton Chase, among others. People interested in less qualified jobs can search through regional bureaus of the National Agency for Employment


Join groups like Internations, Meet up, attend City Compass events, or Junion Chamber International events – depending on your qualifications and interests – connect to professional communities such as HR Club and European Professional Women Network. Make relationships that can open doors, give you a hint or refer you for a position!


Identify your professional strengths that can set you apart from other applicants. It’s more difficult to compete with a local professional for a job in sales, which usually requires Romanian but, if you fluently speak a second language besides English, you should know that the BPOs, Shared Services Centers or call centers are actively looking for, and pay extra to, people with multi-language skills.
As per the last Mercer survey, the best-paid languages are the Nordic (Dutch, Danish or Swedish), continuing with Polish, German and Portuguese. The value of monthly allowances granted for a second foreign language can reach up to 20% of a monthly base salary.


The big cities are offering the best employment opportunities: first is Bucharest, followed by Timișoara, Cluj, Brașov, Iași and Sibiu. According to top job portals, Bestjobs and Ejobs, most of the job openings are in sales, customer support, IT&C, engineering and the financial sector.
You can also find employment through non-governmental organizations, while teaching English, French or German is another option for foreigners.


Dress code for interviews varies depending on the company and industry from smart casual for something like engineering to a more strict business etiquette in financial institutions for example. Neatly styled hair is recommended.
Otherwise, we don’t have a particular “protocol” for the selection process – so keeping the general rules of interviewing in mind would be appropriate.


The salaries need to be related to the market conditions and correlated to the overall cost of life. The best salaries are paid in Bucharest, followed by Cluj and Timisoara, the latter two being about 10%-15% less than the capital. In other cities the differences are even more significant and salaries can decrease up to 40%.
Depending on the industry, function and seniority, the salary range for a manager is between 2,000 and 5,000 euros a month, but can also reach 5 digits, although this happens rarely. Expats’ packages are considerably higher compared to local managers and in addition they include benefits such as relocation, accommodation, children’s education etc.
In Bucharest, the specialists that might reach a net of 1,400-2,000 euros after only 3-5 years of experience are software developers. The IT&C industry has a big advantage in the labour market also due to the tax-free legislation for several types of jobs in that sector.

The employees in call centers and customer support earn between 500 and 1,300 euros net, but sometimes they can go higher depending on seniority and supported technologies. Some other well-paid industries for qualified professionals are oil and gas, aviation transportation, finance and banking, tobacco and pharmaceuticals.The salaries for blue collar workers are significantly lower. The minimum salary in Romania is 900 RON gross, which corresponds to about 150 euros net per month. The average net salary in Bucharest is 500 euros while the monthly expenses per person are evaluated at 180 euros by the National Institute of Statistics.In terms of forecast, the average salary increase for 2014 is 5%, the same as in 2013, according to Mercer. A slightly higher increase is expected in some industries such as services, IT&telecom, life science and durable.


Adina Bigaș works as external consultant, running her own business in HR services. With more than 10 years of strong expertise in HR management, she holds a master degree in HR and Organizational Psychology from the University of Bucharest and a Diploma in Management from the Codecs Open University. Email: [email protected].

2013 Overview – The lowdown on 2013

By Corina Chirileasa

Looking back at the year 2013, with its privatizations, street protests, gold medals and politicians sent to jail. A regular year in the life of a developing country.

The state-owned railway freight company CFR Marfa found its new owner mid-2013, after a previously failed bid. For EUR 202 million and with a promise to invest a further EUR 204 million in the company, Romanian Grup Feroviar Român (GFR), owned by Gruia Sandu, took over the majority of shares in CFR Marfă. The company is the largest railway freight carrier in Romania with a turnover of EUR 261 million in 2011 and a loss of EUR 22 million. GFR is CFR Marfă’s main competitor in Romania and the two companies together control 70 percent of the railway freight market in Romania.

Sometime mid September, the first stock exchange listing of the year took place. Electricity producer Nuclearelectrica raised EUR 63 million in funding by selling 10 percent of its shares. Nuclearelectrica runs the Cernavodă nuclear power unit, which produces 20 percent of Romania’s electricity. These listings came several months after the successful secondary public offering of Transgaz. The state raised EUR 72 million via the sale of 15 percent in the state-owned gas provider.

Elsewhere in banking, it was a good year for lenders UniCredit Bank and Raiffeisen Bank, which took over the retail portfolios of two competitors: Royal Bank of Scotland Romania and Citi, respectively.
It was, however, not the best year for American road builder Bechtel, whose highway contract with the Romanian state was canceled but, fortunately for the company, things were not all bad. The Romanian state, left with an unfinished Transylvania highway, and having already paid EUR 1.4 billion for around 50 kilometers of highway, agreed to pay additional penalties for canceling the contract. And, unfortunately for Romanians, 10 years after the contract was signed, the 412-kilometer Transylvania highway remains unfinished.

Russian steel company Mechel, which had entered Romania in 2002, sold its factories in the country to a company called Invest Nikarom, for a symbolic amount of around USD 70. Four factories, Ductil Steel S.A., Câmpia Turzii S.A., Mechel Târgoviște S.A. and Laminorul S.A were temporarily closed down however production was gradually restarted.

Mid-2013, Romania agreed with International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission on a new EUR 4 billion preventive financial deal over the next two years. The deal was to be discussed by the IMF board in fall. This will be Romania’s third agreement with the IMF since 2009. The first package was worth EUR 20 billion, out of which some EUR 13 billion came from the IMF, and helped Romania weather the financial storms. The second was signed in 2011 and was worth some EUR 5 billion, out of which EUR 3.6 billion came from the IMF, and was meant to be a precautionary credit line.

In late May, the justice system in Romania reported yet another victory: football boss and real estate mogul Gigi Becali, a former MEP, and also an MP in the Romanian Parliament was sentenced to three years in jail. The ruling came in a case involving a land exchange from the late 90s. Just before being convicted, Becali, known for his eccentric media appearances and for his fervent Orthodox belief, tried to flee the country, heading to Israel to pray.

While Becali was being jailed, former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, who served most of his prison sentence, was enjoying the first months of freedom after his early release in March. Given a two-year jail sentence in June 2012, Năstase managed to be released on parole after displaying good behavior while serving time.

Jail time is most likely what the Romanians behind the art heist of the century face. In a scenario which has already inspired movie directors, a group of Romanians stole EUR 18 million worth of famous paintings from a Rotterdam Museum. Following the heist last year, the gang now faces a trial in Romania as well as an ongoing investigation in the Netherlands. Receiving much attention from the foreign media, the story took a twist when the mum of one of the alleged thieves declared she’d burned the paintings in her stove. Although she later retracted the statement, the paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gaugain are still nowhere to be found, despite the alleged thieves being in Police custody.

Creating almost as much of a stir as the art heist was the opposition to Romanians aspiring to work in the UK with Brits fearing an “invasion” of Romanians and Bulgarians to the country once the labor ban is lifted from the beginning of 2014. Countless media reports both in UK and in Romania have discussed and debated the topic, arguing on the number of expected migrant workers and their impact on the UK’s social welfare systems. The debate triggered some humorous reactions as well, including a cheeky ad campaign by Romanian newspaper Gândul, which invited Britons to visit Romania, a country much enjoyed by Prince Charles.

At home, thousands of Romanians took to the streets in Bucharest and other regional cities, protesting against the planned gold exploitation at Roșia Montană. The protests began in September, following the Government’s approval of a law allowing Canadian company Gabriel Resources to dig for gold at Roșia Montană. For weeks in a row, Romanians staged daily protests calling on Parliament to vote against the proposed project, especially its use of cyanide and its impact on the area’s environment.

Almost at the same time as these protests, another group of supporters took on the streets: stray dogs lovers. After the death of a four-year old attacked by stray dogs near a Bucharest park, the Parliament decided to permit euthanasia for stray dogs which were not adopted after 14 days in municipality shelters.

But it was not all gloomy and doomy in Romania in 2013. Saving the best for last: Romania’s brains again proved to be among the best in the world, with numerous medals won at different Olympiads across the world. Romanians ranked among the first in the world for math, chemistry, physics, informatics and environmental research. There were medals all year in sports competitions too: athletics, para-cycling (Carol Novak), fencing, judo, rowing and gymnastics, to name a few. In most European and world sports competitions in 2013, Romanians got their place on the podium.

And if these did not fix Romania’s slightly tarnished image abroad, then the new episodes of the Travel Channels’ Wild Carpathia series will surely help in promoting the country as a tourist destination. After a first successful episode featuring Prince Charles in 2012 and with financing now provided by the Romanian state, the series is set to continue with a second episode aired in the fall of 2013, and a third in 2014. The second and third episodes of the documentary will feature interviews with Romania’s Princess Margareta II and rower Ivan Patzaichin, who will promote Romania.

As well as taking pride in all the amazing places presented in the documentary, Romanians can now include their Bigăr waterfall, officially, among the most amazing waterfals in the world as of 2013. The Bigăr Falls are in western Romania, on the Bigăr Reservation, which lies between the Cheile Nerei–Beușnița and the Semenic–Cheile Carașului National Parks in the Semenic Mountains.

Last but not least, Romania proved to be the home of numerous recently discovered archeological treasures unique in the world. Several bone fragments of some rare mammals that lived 10 million years ago were discovered in the village of Crețești, in Romania’s Vaslui county, during work on a local road. The important discovery showed a savanna with tropical area features once existed on what is now the region of Moldova in Northern Romania. The paleontological site, which covers some 30 sqm, is unique in Eastern Europe, as it hosts bone fragments of rare mammals. Skulls of sword fang tigers, mandibles of tridactyl horses, a hyena mandible, mandibles of antelopes and gazelles, as well as a Chalicotherium skull were all found on a hill crest after digging two and a half meters into the earth.

Another discovery turned all eyes on Romania. Archeologists investigating the site of a former Dominican monastery in Cluj uncovered a remarkable tale of love, preserved in the bones of a medieval grave. Two skeletons, of a young man and a woman, were found clearly buried together with their hands clasped for eternity. Dubbed Romeo and Juliet by the archeological team, the couple are thought to have lived between 1450 and 1550, as the grave’s position and proximity to the monastery is typical of this period.

Another discovery was more accidental. A Romanian man playing with his recently bought metal detector unearthed 47,000 15th century silver Turkish coins buried in a forest. In a gesture commended and rewarded by the Prime Minister, the man donated his discovery, the largest find of its type in Romania, to a museum. The 54-kilo treasury, which was buried 30 centimeters in the ground, is worth some EUR 0.5 million at current market prices.

Corina Chirileasa is the founder & editor-in-chief of, the most read English-language news and features website in Romania. A business journalist and entrepreneur, Corina has also been the editor of this guide for the last three years.

The Town of Knowledge

The Town of Knowledge (Oraselul Cunoasterii) will be opened on February 15 in Bucharest and aims to be an interactive museum for children, an environment where children’s creativity is stimulated and are actively engaged in learning.

The concept is new in Romania, but exists in other countries like England, France, Japan, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, etc.

Objects are displayed in the museum without posing a threat for children, and they are allowed to interact with objects, to experiment, to follow their curiosity and give free rein to ther imagination.

The museum will have various theme rooms such as: the aquatic laboratory, IQ room, air games room, mirror zone, the senses area, and many more.

The program is as follows: Monday-Friday: 9:30 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday: 9:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Prices: children between 2 and 18 years, RON 32, adults: RON 18, family pack: 60-85 RON.

More information can be found here.


Going out on Valentine’s Day

Either in love or not, single or in a relationship, the Western tradition of Valentine’s day has taken over Romania. As every year, pubs, clubs and restaurants come up with themes events on Valentine’s day. Expect the whole package: flower prices up, hotels and chalets in the mountains booked, restaurants full.

We prepared a list of places where one may find perfect for a romantic evening with the love one.

Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel – a romantic dinner at Roberto’s restaurant. Italian menu, live jazz music and a special package accommodation starting with 375 RON. More info here.

Radisson Hotel – candlelight dinner on Valentine’s Day at Sharkia restaurant. 240 Ron/ couple. Find more info here.

At Intercontinental Hotel the offer includes a dinner for two in one of the two restaurants and accommodation for 295 RON/ couple. More details here.

Also, in our online guide you will find a list of restaurants, pubs and clubs where you might choose going.


Building relationships part of the job description?

By Ximena Reyes

In some countries there is a clear and rigid separation of personal and professional, these two areas are not supposed to be blurred since it would imply that someone is unable to be objective and rational when having to make decisions. Any decisions that have included a gut feeling or an emotional based starting point are not supposed to be trusted.

Trust, what people trust changes across cultures, if there is a culture that is relationship oriented, like Romania the trust will be put on the person that leads a project not on the project itself. Knowing people becomes an important factor when wanting to get things done. Because if you know people it means you are good, you can be trusted.

So to aghast of many professionals coming from other parts of the world, work is about doing the work and not about getting to know people.

However, their missing an opportunity to create pillars that will later on become useful when needing something. When needing your team to go the extra mile, and this is how the two worlds meet.

If you haven’t done your job of dedicating time to build those relationships then you won’t have anyone running with you the extra mile. Because you may be thinking task, they are thinking trust.

So if you include the building relationships as part of your planning and job description, then it will be easier to get things done and lead your team.

Most of the time people reject this idea because it just conflict with everything that they have learned and considered valuable, but don’t forget that every place has a different set of rules and that it does pay to invest time knowing and sharing, including time to build those relationships.

If you want to know more about this, contact [email protected]

Ximena Reyes is the Partner and Director for Intercultural Consulting


How Michael Dell missed his chance to enter the Russian market

by Ximena Reyes

When doing business the first wrong assumption is that it is all about money, it is but how you become a trusted partner or provider requires of Intercultural awareness in order to understand the mindset of your counterpart.

On January 2009, Michael Dell from Dell computers, shared the panel with Vladimir Putin, in the World Economic Forum in Davos, as his turn to speak came, he started by prizing the Russian accomplishments like providing internet to remote areas and the talent in the IT sector, then he closed by saying: ” So my questions to you (Mr. Putin) is how we as the IT sector can help you broaden the economy as you move out the crisis.”

Nothing wrong with this question as it had follow the structure of complimenting, describing a situation and then taking a step forward to become part of a solution, with a very well intended offer.

Mr. Putin’s answer started with ” you see, we don’t need help, invalids need help, people with limited capacities need help” and then he spoke for 10 more minutes.

To many of the people who attended the forum, the reaction and answer by Mr. Putin was odd and difficult to understand, and this is exactly why, intercultural business understanding and intercultural communication training is required for anyone doing business internationally.

If we look at the words used by Mr Dell, the all well known and used, “How can I help you” as a business opener, as a gesture that shows good will, they are not offensive by themselves. However, if one looks it from another perspective It does put one of the parts on a superior position while the other part has to reach out for help.

In this case it was not just about the use of the word help, it was the context, the place , the people surrounding, the exposure and loosing face.

If you want to know more about how to do business internationally, contact [email protected].


Dealu Mare – Romania´s top wine region

The wine region Dealu Mare (“Big hill”) is one of the most famous and oldest wine-growing districts in Romania and said to be the “Tuscany” of Romania. Indeed it is situated on the same latitude as Northern Italy, but tourism is still at the very beginning. Dealu Mare has an extension of about 90 km between Valea Calugareasca (near Ploiesti) and Merei/Vernesti (near Buzau), covering the two counties Buzau and Prahova. Dealu Mare offers more than 3.000 years of history, a Mediterranean climate from April to October and excellent wines from sunny southward hills.

Traditional wineries as well as new built wineries with (mostly) foreign investment started to develop several tourism offers (winery visits, wine tasting, accommodation in the vineyards).

Further information about Dealu Mare:

Romania rising as new world of wine in ´old` Europe (AFP)

TravelBuzau – Tourism development  association of Buzau county

Romania Insider: 15 wine cellar and vineyards you should visit in Romania


City Compass tour offer for the Dealu Mare wine region:

Muddy Volcanoes & Dealu Mare wine tasting tour (1 Day)

Wine tasting tour Romania (3-5 days)

Dealu Mare wine brunch (offer for larger tourist groups &  corporate events)

VIP Tour: Bucharest & wine trip

Premium wineries in the Dealu Mare area:

Crama SERVE, Crama LacertA, Domeniile Sahateni, Crama Basilescu, Crama Rotenberg, Crama Davino, Crama Vitis Metamorfosis, Vinarte, Crama Budureasca.
You want to buy wine from Dealu Mare? Please check also our overview of wine shops in Bucharest.

Places to visit:

Bellu Mansion, Stone church and archaeological sites of Naeni, sculpture camp made by children, archaeological sites of Pietroasele, salt water pools of Sarata Monteoru


Please contact us if you plan a trip/ tour to the Dealu Mare region and you need more information about accommodation options, wine tasting or sightseeing.

Muddy Volcanoes & Buzau Mountains

The Muddy Volcanoes, 12 kilometers from Berca, are a unique natural phenomenon. Gas from 3,000 meters underground pushes water and clay to the surface. The area is full of small cones of mud which look like volcanoes. This area, a spectacular moon-like landscape, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Buzau county.

Follow the signs to “Muddyland” instead of going where the vast majority of tourists go. There you will find much bigger volcanoes without any entrance fee.

The future geo-park ‘Ținutul Buzăului’ (Land of Buzău), covers a area of more than 100,000 hectares, 18 municipalities and around 50,000 inhabitants. It will be located in the Northwest of Buzău exactly at the crossroads of three historical regions of Romania: Transylvania, Moldova and Wallachia. The Southern entrance point will be 130 km from Bucharest and the Northern entrance point 80 km from Brașov, which will make the park attractive for foreign tourists visiting both Bucharest and Transylvania, or passing from Transylvania to the Danube Delta direct via Buzău valley.

Besides the geological phenomena like the Muddy Volcanoes and the Living Fires, the Geopark offers a wide biodiversity and several world-class cultural sites. The triangle created by the Vrancea, Buzău and Covasna counties is one of the wildest regions in both Romania and Europe. An area of more than 3,000 km² without public roads or settlements and with butterflies, bears and wolves as denizens.

Check also our tour program for tours to the Muddy Volcanoes & the future Gepark Buzau

Portable careers for accompanying partners, creating a new you

With increasing Global mobility and companies opening new markets it is very likely that international assignees bring along an accompanying partner (A.P.)

The journey of the accompanying partner is usually a parallel and different one of the assignee.

Starting with the fact that usually the A.P. has left a job and now has to redefine him or herself as well as going through the process of dueling the old being and embracing a new version of themselves that most likely differs from their expectations.

While the assignee can point directly to goals and accomplishments, the A.P. finds a blurred area where they feel the strain of moving, setting up, socializing and getting things done, but at the same time unable to materialize their accomplishments.

Usually the A.P. feels aimless, confused, lonely and in self-doubt unaware that moving globally is by itself a set of challenges and situations. Most of us think that random things are happening to us, but when understanding the process and effects of cultural shock we are able to understand the structure behind and take a step further to redefine our careers and lives as expats.

The Portable Careers workshops opens a door into living and enjoying the art of living and working globally, understanding that through all the moves and apparent chaos you have gain skills and resilience.

If you would like to know more about this, contact [email protected]

Ximena Reyes is the Partner and Director for Intercultural Consulting


Grief, the uninvited emotion

As expats we tend to understate grief. Maybe because there is so much to get done that you feel that there is no time for sadness, maybe because you need to show yourself strong in front of the children or your spouse, maybe because you have such a great opportunity (or better lifestyle) so who are you to complain, right? But grief doesn´t go away for lack of acknowledgement, instead it gets deeper inside ourselves.

When we consider expat life there is always loss: it might be a specific place you liked, or a job, or close friends, relationships, food, weather, language, even smells could be felt as losses.

When we hurt our body we don´t hide the wound, we don´t cover it and just continue with our lives. If we leave it unattended chances are it might become infected and we could end up with a much more painful experience. When we pretend everything is fine and we hide our pain, our grief, we are doing exactly the same thing.  We are encouraging an infection.

Grief is a normal emotional response to a loss and expat life is full of them. Unfortunately, among expat communities there is not much “permission” to talk about this. Unresolved grief is commonly found among expat communities. Sometimes it could be due to lack of awareness, maybe some hidden losses, or lack of permission to grieve, a lack of time to process, etc.

It is crucial that you allow yourself to go through the grieving process. This does not mean to be negative about your new life but to allow yourself to find out whatever you might be feeling about things left behind.

Acknowledgement means a lot more than it seems to. Recognition and validation of our feelings are crucial for resilience. Placing words on our emotions is important for the healing process to begin. Allow yourself to mourn your losses, accept the sadness, whatever your might be feeling, give yourself permission and embrace it. Grieving is tricky; all the unresolved grief comes back to you with each new loss.

So the holiday season becomes even more complex since we tend to look back, analyze how the year went, our gains and our losses and plan for the New Year. What could be better than a fresh start, right? But we need to cry for our losses to get one. There is no way to go through the experience “unmarked”.  Back to the wound example, with the appropriate treatment, we can prevent the infection. The scar will not disappear. That´s right, you will still have those marks but it doesn´t hurt anymore. Just as in our body, our expat life can shape us. It is an experience that might change us but we will not necessarily be traumatized by it. Acknowledge of losses and grief will allow us to live a more fulfilled and enriched experience.

Author: Paula Vexlir

Paula is a Psychologist that supports the Spanish-speaking expat community worldwide. For more than ten years she has been providing counseling to expats for their acculturation processes (cultural adjustment, parenting issues and trailing partner´s challenges) and for any other situation they could be facing. By offering an online service she can support Spanish-speaking expats worldwide.

If you would like to learn more about this, join one of our workshops Feel at Home by sending an email to [email protected]City Compass collaborates with Paula Vexlir, expat psychologist, Director of ExpatPsi.

This article is a Fragment of her article published in Expatriates Magazine Issue 3.

Contact: [email protected]

Ski courses for children

by Irina Chirileasa

So far the winter hasn’t been itself lately and many winter sports enthusiasts still wait for the snow to come. The artificial snow, however, is the only thing that keeps this winter season up and running, otherwise it would have been totally compromised.

But don’t hang your skis or boards just yet, because there is still hope for a classic snowy winter in Romania. And besides that the season brings some good news for children who love winter sports.

Trails with an easy difficulty level to initiate youngsters into the mysteries of ski or snowboard, can be found in almost all areas: Kalinderu (Prahova Valley), Bradul (Brasov), Transalpina ski area (Valcea) Sureanu ski area (Alba). In general, a ski pass for children is less expensive than adults (somewhere between 60 and 95 RON ).

If you like Prahova Valley, then you should know that in Busteni there is a Fun Park equipped with all kinds of facilities for children: baby ski, slide, and track transport.

In Azuga the season novelty is a conveyer belt for beginners, also a favorite for the children.

If you chose Transalpina ski area during this period, the snow is about 30 cm tick, and a pass for children up to 14 years costs 60 RON .

It is known to be quite expensive, but skiing is very good for children, stimulating growth and reducing the risk of obesity. In Poiana Brasov, for example, for a private hour with a ski instructor you will pay around RON 80, but there is also the possibility of a family pack which costs RON 250 for an hour.

In Prahova Valley (Busteni, Azuga), one hour for one person costs RON 80, and for a group of 2-3 persons the cost is RON 75 per hour.

At Vatra Dornei, a lesson for beginners costs RON 80 per hour and for a three-day course you will pay RON 450.

Let’s not forget the cheer pleasure of sledding, so wherever you choose to go to the mountains, do not forget to bring the sleds.


Following the footsteps of Mihai Eminescu in Bucharest

On January 15 Romania celebrates the commemoration of the national poet Mihai Eminescu. Controversial, mystified, remixed according to ages interests, blasphemed, wrapped in a mist of mystery and shameful disease, we remember him, however, organizing poetry recitals, book launches and exhibitions, conferences, lectures, film screenings and special courses for the study of poems.

There are few places in Bucharest where the poet worked, lived and loved. On Calea Victoriei corner with Lipscani we can still see the building that was once the Palace of Dacia Insurance Company and in 1877, the editorial office of ‘Timpul’ newspaper, where the poet worked between 1877 and 1883.

As for where he was going after the hours spent at the office, there was a time when on 5 Buzesti Street was a little nest where Eminescu and Veronicla Micle (his lover at that time and also a writer), used to live. Unfortunately, the house was demolished in 2010 due to some political interests.

Read more about the poet and other famous Romanian authors in our art special section.



Mastering the art of working and living globally

by Ximena Reyes

It is an exciting journey to live in a different place than your original home and see different ways of doing things, but although it may sound exiting for many, it may turn in to an extended negative state of mind for some.

So here are my 5 key ideas for you to include in your 2014 resolutions

1. Flexible, flexible , flexible

Even when you think you are flexible, let’s not forget you have left your known environment and, you may underestimate the level of flexibility required. You may perceive this as being compliant or not being strong, but remember that you are in a learning process, you are new to the scene, you need to be as malleable and easy going as possible in order to get enough balance and insights. In this way you will reduce friction and frustration.

2. Do not make conclusions, do not assume.

This one is one of the hardest, moving to a new place challenges everything you know, everything you consider, logic or common sense, suddenly IT IS NOT. But not because you are in a crazy place and living with lunatics. It is because they as a group have found a different way to approach a problem based on certain elements that you may not be aware of. So don’t jump into conclusions, wait and observe in order to understand better.

3. Give your self space to complain.

It is ok to be in the unhappy zone. It is normal to wake up and want to stay in bed. Your brain has been working a lot making sense of things and you have to gain your status and recognition again. So allow yourself to get some perspective and energy BUT do not stay long there.

4. Reduce the pressure.

Make sure you have an activity or a way to release the pressure and avoid  exploding when the pressure has piled up. You are put to the test to perform and function upon arrival, the avalanche of things happening is overwhelming, so give yourself a nice treat, you deserve it.

5. Learn more about making it the easy way. 

Join one of our workshops and speed up the process of understanding and reducing the cultural shock, understand better the place where you are and use it as a tool for your day to day activities.

For more information get in touch with [email protected], Partner & Intercultural Director



Top 5 movies worth seeing in 2014

2014 promises to be a rich year in terms of movies. Many productions with strong titles announced huge budgets and great actors. So to help, here is a list of 5 movies we are most looking forward to see this year:

Grudge Match

Who ever thought Sylvester Stallone will not play in another boxing film than Rocky was wrong. Grudge Match will be released this Friday in theaters and consists of Sylvester Stallone , Robert De Niro and Kim Basinger . The movie announces a spectacular confrontation between two retired boxers.

I, Frankenstein

The movie directed by Stuart Beattie will appear in theaters on January 24 and is expected to be an action movie that sees a battle between two races of supernatural beings.

The Legend of Hercules

The film will be launched in Romania on January 31 and presents the original story of the Greek mythical hero Hercules. Exiled and sold as a slave, Hercules tries to use his formidable powers in order to escape and return to his own kingdom.


A movie with a budget of 110 million can’t possibly fail. The story of the half human-half robot cop returns to our attention, arriving in theaters on February 7.

Need for Speed

Need for Speed game fans should mark their calendar on March 14, when Need for Speed launches the movie, which seems to be very promising. The lead actor is Aaron Paul, known for his role in the ‘Breaking Bad’ TV series. Chilli M and Dominic Cooper will also make their appearance in the movie.



Bucovina: a tale of apples and pastries

by Alexandra Duță

Also known as the land of beech trees where tall, blonde, blue-eyed and kind-hearted people live, Bucovina is the place where the earth keeps warm even in winter time and the dishes are refined to everyone’s liking.

The historical region of Bucovina, now divided between Ukraine and Romania, covers the northern part of the latter and represents the most fruitful Romanian land in terms of history, linguistics, traditions and religious ancestry.


There are six of them, one more spectacular than the other, from north to south: Putna, Sucevița, Arbore, Moldovița, Humor and the crown jewel, Voroneț. Called by some the Sistine Chapel of the East, the latter displays vivid frescoes painted in the perfect cerulean blue. Go round the main church and you’ll be rather surprised to discover the northern wall has its unique paintings almost wiped out due to the north wind.

Red, green, yellow and blue, each monastery has its own historical charm as the monastic residents share old time legends sweetened with their soft regional accent. Do not leave the monastery without enjoying every bit of a finger-licking lunch. Our tip is to ask for rose and raspberry sherbet as a dessert, you’ll be amazed. Then test your bargaining skills at the nearby permanent fairs for the most whimsical woven peasant blouses and other artisan objects.

The best way to visit all-important monasteries with a single tour is to hire a car transfer; check for availability with local guesthouses in Gura Humorului. We highly recommend guided bicycle tours and leisure walks to Humor and Voroneț monasteries as they’re located within reach of Gura Humorului city center.


The locals from Bucovina are most proud of their ancient craftsmanship: the art of decorating eggs. The egg is carved, dyed or painted and, even though every technique is spectacular, perhaps the most exceptional is the ornamentation of the egg with six layers of colored wax which creates a unique texture. A visit to the largest egg collection in our country would be well worth it for a chance to assist the artist herself while she decorates the eggs with archaic symbols belonging only to land of Bucovina.

The Egg Museum – prof. Letiția Orșivschi

+40745 869 529 +40230 239 212

[email protected]


The northern village of Marginea shelters more than 30 potter families, distinguished bearers of the unequaled tradition of crafting nacreous black ceramics. They are proud to share each stage of the manual production as visitors are welcome to join the process of preparing the clay, molding it barehanded on the potter wheel, applying stone polish and finally burning the pots in sealed ovens.

As the renowned Sucevița stud farm is close at hand you shouldn’t miss the chance to take a recreational ride or enjoy an equestrian show. Magopat Family Workshop

+40 745 922 949

Forest Ecvestru Park

622a Sucevița village +40 744 628 154


Covering the Eastern Carpathians, the thick forests of Bucovina, a wildlife haven indeed, are pure bliss for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, bird watching and of course, mushroom and berry picking. The local star is the fleshy porcino along with the chanterelle, both enriching the taste of the zesty baked appetizers and pickles. The enthusiasm for this mushroom rises every autumn when locals from Vama celebrate the Porcino Festival (between September 1 and October 15).


Bucovineans are truly passionate about food. Their cooking tradition has been influenced in the past centuries not only by the local ethnic minorities but also by the Orthodox heritage. Vegetable sour soups and hot peppers (borș cu ardei iute), nests of meat stuffed cabbage rolls and polenta (sarmale cu mămăligă) and tinted trout (păstrăv la baiț), all topped with organic sour cream. The local housewives’ cooking techniques can only be matched by monastery kitchens where exquisite fasting or vegetarian meals are prepared. These are entirely homemade, including the bread. Nonetheless, the masterpiece of cuisine is by far the freshly puffy and delightful poale-n brâu, a cottage cheese and raisin filled pie.

Every dish is thoroughly matched with the finest Moldavian wines, from the rich flavored farmer harvest to the award-winning boutique wines.


At the heart of Bucovina, this charming little town knows no dull moment regardless of the season. The Ariniș recreational area includes an Olympic-size swimming pool, heated during winter, floodlit sport courts and an ice rink. In wintertime, bare limbed apple orchards with their ripe fruits still hanging are the most inviting places to enjoy a glass or two of fresh apple juice and perhaps a soothing massage after a ride down Șoimul ski slope located in the immediate vicinity of the town. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the close-by Cacica salt mine for a look around and a bath in the salt-water pool.


Hilde’s Residence Boutique Hotel

2 Șipotului St., Gura Humorului

+40 230 233 484

This would be the most chic with a hint of traditional guesthouse. Raluca, a thoroughly Bucovinean host, will welcome you with the finest of borș from Rădăuți – a free range chicken soup seasoned with fresh sour cream – and other local treats as the freshly squeezed apple juice.

Casa Călin Guesthouse

1 Horia St., Vama

+40 230 239 225

Widely famous for their lively traditional picnics, at Casa Călin each day is an epic journey across the local cuisine, beautifully finished with a unique demonstration of the reverse painting on glass technique. Naturally, this would be accompanied by a glass of fizzy fir tip syrup.

Inima Bucovinei Guesthouse

833 Frasin +40 230 340 067

With the largest playground in the region, Inima Bucovinei is entitled to be considered the children’s heaven no matter the season. Meanwhile, the adults are invited to catch dinner from the nearby trout pond, everybody enjoying later on the sizzling fried fish and steamy polenta in a rustic ambiance at the sheepfold lodge.

Bucovina Lodge

17A Dimitrie Cantemir St., Vama

+40 330 080 382

At the edge of the thick spruce-fir forest, there are few things to match the peace of mind at the sight of the mellow sun setting behind the hills surrounding the sleepy village of Vama. The smoke curls twist and twine above the tiny rooftops while a few tired children drag along their sleds. Inside the lodge a savory smell of home cooking tingles your taste buds.



67 Unirii Square, Rădăuți

+40 230 565 551

[email protected]

This place is highly appraised for its traditional Bucovinean dishes, authentic setting and excellent pricing. Make sure you take a walk or a cab to the restaurant, as it doesn’t have any parking space.

Orso Bruno

1 Putnei St., Rădăuți

+40 742 188 538

Cozily located at the heart of Rădăuți, this is the best Italian restaurant serving the most sought after pizza in the county.


9 Curtea Domnească St., Suceava

+40 230 523 627


68 Sofia Vicoveanca Blvd., Suceava

+40 230 220 099

Feel at Home Romania in 4 steps

by Ximena Reyes, Partner & Intercultural Manager

Feeling at Home happens when you feel comfortable, when you have the tools to lead your team at work, when you have insightful information about how and why things work on a certain way. When you understand yourself better, in order to connect with the new place.

1. Setting up Romania

This is the first step to have a solid platform and start the process of Feeling at home. The avalanche of events happening when you are new in town can be overwhelming; your mind is on constant attention trying to understand all the new habits, language and more.

Wherever you are working internationally, you should speed up the adapting process by learning about the place. You will be surprised by how many things that you find incoherent or nonsense actually have an explanation, and a reason to be.

Most importantly you will withhold yourself, from making conclusions or assumptions.

City Compass Setting up workshop includes:

– Intro to Romanian mind set, history and key themes

– Practical up to date info for daily living in Bucharest and Key places in Romania

– Professional trainers with real global experience.

For more info contact: [email protected]


New ice skating rink in Sinaia, Romania

A new 600 sqm skating rink was opened at the end of 2013 in Romania’s mountain resort Sinaia, in Prahova Valley.

Located in the city’s Dimitrie Ghica park, the Arctic Park Sinaia skating rink will stay open daily between 9:00 and 23:00 until March 2, 2014, and is equipped with lighting and sound systems.

An entry ticket can be purchased for RON 15, while renting a pair of skates costs RON 15 for 90 minutes. Sinaia city residents have free access to the rink from Monday to Thursday, between 17:30 and 19:00.

Restaurant review: Vecchio

The Old Town is full of good restaurants for all tastes so choosing is not always easy.

But as someone has recommended us the Vecchio restaurant, we went for it.

I had passed by it many times without really knowing its name. I vaguely remembered that the building the restaurant is located in, at 16 Covaci street, has some historic importance.

The adjoining building at number 14 used to host the headquarters of the newspaper Timpul, where Romania’s national poet Mihai Eminescu used to write, along with a host of other famous Romanian writers.

The restaurant itself is located in a building, which used to host the Cafeneaua Istorica coffee shop – apparently the coffee place where the elite who wrote for the nearby Timpul liked to pass time and find inspiration. We’re talking history here, 18th and 19th century, and art. So if you fancy the idea of spending time in a place that Romania’s national poet Eminescu used to visit quite frequently in 1880 and 1881, this is it.


But don’t go just for the history, I did not, I learned the history part while being there, and a bit after. I went for the food, and I was not disappointed. But above all, I was impressed by the service. It is not very often that I see waiters who just know when to pass by your table, always filling your glass of wine, gently suggesting solutions (such as four teaspoons for the desert which was initially meant for two people, while the other two were probably leering at the cake). So in Romania, where in most restaurants you have to almost beg silently for your waiter to do you a favour and approach your table, being at Vecchio where people were attentive (as the norm should be everywhere!) required some getting used to in the beginning.

Now the food. I started with the broccoli soup, and I also tasted the Tuscan tomato soup, both of which were delicious. A good start. On our table there were also bruschetta with anchovis, but as I currently refrain from eating anything wheat-based, I had to pass. It looked tasty however.

Then for main course, two of us had the salmon in flavored herb crust, one with potatoes, the other with carrots, and they were both tasty, and nicely presented. (I should know, I have been watching Master Chef, I now judge plating!) Somebody else in our group got the risotto with seafood, I liked it but they said that while they also liked it, they’ve had better elsewhere.

The prices are on the average to high side, I have seen much higher prices elsewhere for worse food. For four people, with soup/appetizers, main course, one shared desert and wine, the bill went to around RON 380 (or EUR 86). To check the menu (also with English translation), go here.

Vecchio is an Italian restaurant – they have pastas and pizzas, but that will have to be for another time there, when I decide to indulge in some wheat-based food. I think a restaurant should anyway be judged based on at least two visits, so bear in mind, this was my first.

While enjoying our food and our wine, I realized there was something in this place that made me feel good. Was it the interior décor? Was it he fact that I saw a nice, round Italian oven which I hope to one day have in my large kitchen too? Was it the company, or the waiters’ almost undivided attention? Either way, it was enough to get me hooked and promise myself I’d return to see what else it has to offer.

Vecchio, 16 Covaci st, Old Town, Bucharest, +40314309578,

by Corina Chirileasa, [email protected]