Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Car Talk - Another Story About Stamps


Recently a new ex-pat posted a question on the Meetup Expat Web Board about buying a used car in Romania. Someone else gave her websites and advice about how to buy, casually mentioning that she should take a native speaker with her to help with the process, to which I added the following: (I just thought you'd like to have one more picture about the everyday life I am now trying to lead, living in Bucharest):


About registering a car in Romania:

I recently (two weeks ago) bought a used car from a friend, and by the way, everybody is right about that. Next time I won't. Fortunately, she did a lot of the running around with me. We started at 9am and at 5pm still had not finished.

First we went to the home sector of the car owner to the official place to get the car unregistered to her and start the process with me, and buy me some manditory insurance.

Then we had to go next to the official place in a different sector to where the address of the company is listed to get some more papers to start the re-registration process. (Yup. Did I mention that it was in a different sector? Across town? In Bucharest traffic?) So we did that. Well, first, of course we went to the obvious location, but alas, that was the place where a "physical person" not a company registers a car. We were across from my favorite cafe, so we recessed for some caffeine fortification for what was yet to come. We drove to another extremely obscure location where a company located nearby officially could register an old automobile.

Then we drove off to the Post Office to pay a tax. (Lines, of course, silly. Lots and lots of lines.) Don't ask me what tax. I just nodded and ponied up. Cash. Then we went to another place to pay another tax, and, of course, get lots of stamps. Romanians seem to love making that ca-cha-chunk sound loudly with their stampers. It must feel really good in the old party memory sense. Makes them feel more important.

Then we went to a place for another tax payment/stamp which had somehow turned from a government place into a bank making it really difficult to find. It was, of course, in another sector. There they informed us that we had to go back to the post office to pay a different tax, which they could have told us about in the first place. You know, when we were actually AT the post office.

So we did. Go back to the post office. Then we went back to the place in the neighborhood of my company's official address to get more stamps. We stood in line more than half an hour only to get to the front and be told we were in the wrong line and had to start over in a slightly longer line. (And I had a Romanian speaker with me!)

Then we went to what people here keep referring to as "the police station" which seems to be the equivalent of the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get more information on what else was needed to complete the registration. And then it was five o'clock on a Friday.

On Monday the car wouldn't start but that's another story about towing with a flex cable dragging the car to the dealership with the key turned on so the brakes and steering wheel would work (and drain the battery) and several thousand more RON.

Now that the car actually is drivable, I still have to have a Romanian speaker call a phone number to get an appointment so that someone can look at the papers and compare the number of the car with the number on the papers by appointment only. Sometimes you have to leave the car there for up to three days, I'm told. No they don't inspect for an engine. Or brakes. Or tires with actual tread. Just the numbers please. For the stamp.

THEN back to the "police station" on Strada (B-dul?) Pipera above Barbu Vacarescu (several sectors away, I'm sure, from where ever I happen to be at the time) to do god knows what to get god knows which stamp. Then the car will officially be mine.

Are you sure you want to do this to yourself. James is right. Definitely bring a native speaker with you, preferably one with a long history of putting up with the Romanian need to have three thousand pounds of paper with the proper stamps. Bring a lunch and some red bull or high test coffee and/or Valium. (There was no drug testing and she drove. But, alas I figured this part out too late.)

In two years or so, I'll sell the Renault to you for half of what I paid, and go home and buy something new and let the dealership sort out all the paperwork. I'll deserve it by then. Hell, I deserve it now, but I thought it was just better to buy something that I wouldn't mind having to repair when someone turning left from the extreme right lane at the last minute across my front quarter panel, decides that those pesky laws of physics about two objects occupying the same space at the same time only apply to foreigners. Or expats.


Oh, yeah. If you get the car and want to drive it out of Bucharest, you should know that you have to stop at a gas station and get, no, not a stamp, a permit that let's you drive outside of bucharest. You can buy it for a day or a week or a month or till your next birthday probably. Your choice. And I'm pretty sure that when you pay them, they will be delighted to ca-cha-chunk a stamp importantly onto your recipt.

What a country!



Anonymous said...

That's why i love ROmania, it's so creatively stupid :)

I do also hate "rovineta"

Anonymous said...

I now feel a lot better about all the junk i went through to buy a car here in America! We love you, grand!