Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Given Moldova’s relatively recent opening to Western investors, it is difficult to generalize about proper protocol and customs for doing business in Moldova. Though a new Western-oriented generation is beginning to emerge, the legacy of centralized authoritarian bureaucracy, red tape, and a reluctance to take initiative persists in some sectors. Signatures, proper letterhead, stamps of authenticity, and forms (in triplicate) are considered an important part of “getting the job done” in Moldova - a process which can test the patience of even the most experienced international businessperson.
Western business people should keep in mind that Moldovan business culture features widespread corruption and a constellation of well-connected individuals. For this reason, Moldovan business partners often believe the key to the success of an enterprise is not the soundness of the business plan but access to influential individuals in government or business.
The form of business in Moldova often takes precedence over substance, making a U.S. partner’s approach all the more important. The success of your deal may depend on the trust you have painstakingly built over many months or years.
A strong emphasis should be placed on cementing personal relationships before doing any business. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face meetings were the norm, with little business conducted over the telephone. Moldovans take pride in their hospitality and may offer food and beverages at business meetings. To host a meeting without offering at least tea and coffee appears rude. It may be considered an offense if a guest refuses food or beverage the first time it is offered. Before the pandemic, long evenings and multi-course meals, wine and cognac or vodka (moderation is advised) can be important in building trust with your Moldovan partner. Wishing good health, happiness, and success to your partner’s immediate family will be certain to bring a smile and a hearty “thank you.” Remembering your Moldovan partner’s birthday and child’s birthday, and keeping Moldovan holidays in mind are gestures not soon forgotten.
For the latest travel advisories, please review the U.S. Department of State consular information sheet for Moldova.
U.S. citizens visiting Moldova do not need a visa. They are able to stay in Moldova for up to 90 days within a six-month period without registration. Residence and work permits are required for stays over 90 days. Visitors to Moldova are registered at the border. Immigration, residence, and work permits usually need to be extended annually, but may be issued for up to five years.
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website
The local currency is called the Leu (MDL). The latest available official exchange rate can be found on the website of the country’s central bank, the National Bank of Moldova. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, malls, stores and restaurants. Still, most retail transactions are conducted in cash. ATMs are commonplace in the cities but is best to avoid using the ones outside hotels and banks so as not to fall victim to identity theft or fraud.
Foreign currency cannot be used in domestic transactions. Exchange offices are ubiquitous in the cities. Bring crisp, clean bills to exchange, as exchange offices may charge you a 10% fee or even reject exchanging old and damaged currency.
Landline communication in Moldova is provided by state-run Moldtelecom. 4G cellular communication is available through Orange, Moldcell and Unite. International telephone connections via fixed or mobile telephony are generally good. Internet is widely available, including on mobile devices, with many WiFi hotspots offering limited free Internet access in public places in major cities.
Moldova’s electric current is 220-240 V, 50 Hz and sockets take the standard European dual round-pronged plugs. Non-European appliances require a plug convertor. A step-down power converter is necessary for appliances requiring 110V.
The country’s principal airport for international flights is the Chisinau International Airport, located 13 km from Chisinau’s center. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airport handled over 2 million passengers annually. There were connections to over 30 international destinations, including Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Larnaca, London, Lisbon, Madrid, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Rome, St. Petersburg, Tel-Aviv, and Vienna. There are no direct flights to the United States.
A taxi ride from the airport to the center of Chisinau should cost no more than USD 20. The public transportation within the city includes trolleybuses, buses and minibuses “marshrutkas,” which are cold in the winter and hot in the summer and can be crowded and slow, especially during the peak hours. Taxis are available from numerous taxi agencies or in the streets.
The overall condition of roads outside the city is below average. Some main roads were rehabilitated in recent years with funds from international community, including the U.S. Millenium Challenge Corporation.
The railway system is unreliable and slow, with most infrastructure in poor condition. International investment projects are underway to modernize the railway.
The proper naming of the official language spoken in Moldova is sometimes a matter of debate, even among Moldovan citizens, as some insist upon calling the language Moldovan, while others acknowledge that it is Romanian. With the exception of a few usage norms, in its standard form it is identical to Romanian. During the Soviet period, the language, exclusively called Moldovan, was written in Cyrillic and hence was clearly distinguishable from Romanian, but with the reversion to Latin script following independence, the distinction between the two has disappeared. One may hear that the language spoken in Moldova is roughly as similar to the one spoken in Romania as American English is to British English, though the difference is that Americans acknowledge their language as being English, without insisting that it be called American. Some people contend that, besides the typical regional accent, the main difference between Moldovan and Romanian is that Moldovans intersperse their speech with Russian words. In formal documents or settings, however, the preference is always given to standard Romanian. Most inhabitants of Chisinau speak both Russian and Romanian. In Chisinau, quite often the shopkeepers and business people use the Russian language among themselves and with foreigners. At outdoor (agricultural) markets one will hear more Romanian. In most of the villages, Romanian is the primary language; however, there are rural areas where only Russian is preferred. Nowadays, many young people can converse in English.
Medical care in Moldova is substandard throughout the country, including Chisinau. The quality of local clinics and hospitals in Chisinau varies considerably. Although none is up to Western standards, some do have equipment manufactured in Western countries and some staff members have had some Western medical training. A few private hospitals operate in Moldova offering some care comparable with western facilities.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of physicians that speak English.
In the event of a serious medical condition, every effort should be made to go to Western Europe, though the local system may be adequate for dealing with more routine health issues. In the event of emergency, travelers should attempt first to contact the local ambulance service 112, which is trained to determine which medical facility is most appropriate for treatment and will transport the injured or sick person to that location. Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk because of inadequate medical facilities. Visitors to Moldova are advised to bring their own supply of both prescription and common over-the-counter medications.
Prior to travel, make sure proper immunizations are up-to-date. Most pharmacies now carry imported and local medicine, although few medications are labeled in English. There are pharmacies in all regions of Chisinau, identifiable by “Farmacia” signs, and some are open 24-hours.
Tuberculosis is a serious health concern in Moldova. For further information, please consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Notice on TB.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from CDC.
For more information on the COVID-19 situation in Moldova, see the U.S. Embassy in Moldova page.
Local time, business hours, and holidays
Moldovan time is GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)+2 and EST (Eastern Standard Time)+7.
The country observes daylight savings times from the last Sunday in March through the last Sunday in October.
Work week: 40 hours per week
Normal business hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
An updated list of U.S. and Moldovan national holidays can be found on the Embassy’s website https://md.usembassy.gov/holiday-calendar/,
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Articles exempted from duty include personal effects and medicine required, in reasonable amounts, for the duration of the trip, personal jewelry, personal laptops, cameras, books, publications and recordings of all types and other similar items for personal use.
Travelers can bring into and out of the country amounts equivalent to EUR 10,000 without filing any written declaration with Customs. Sums larger than that require travelers to fill out written declarations. There is no limit on the amounts of cash that can be brought into the country. However, the amount of cash taken out of the country is limited to the equivalent of EUR 50,000 and requires supportive documents for the origin of the money and/or bank permits.