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Moldova travel guide

About Moldova

Moldova is a largely overlooked destination, as yet untouched by the budget airline brigade. But it shouldn't be. In this land-locked Eastern European country, you can wander round vast monasteries, trek through ancient forests, or sample the local wines. Rich with history and fertile soils that produce abundant vineyards, Moldova is a special country despite its lack of fame, and one well worth getting to know.

Despite remaining one of the poorest countries in Europe, the people are friendly and welcoming, and the main hubs, such as the capital Chişinău, have everything a visitor could need. Although few outsiders have heard about it as a viable city break destination, Chişinău has plenty going on. There's a buzzing cafe-bar and restaurant scene, while its cathedrals, monuments and museums have survived despite the city taking a serious pounding from aerial bombardments during World War II. One such survivor not to miss is the house where the writer Pushkin spent his days in exile penning some of his most famous works.

The most obvious selling point of Moldova is probably that it's almost the least known spot in Europe. With only a few thousand visiting the country in every year – even neighbouring Romania and Ukraine see far higher foreign footfall – it's mainly favoured by intrepid backpacking completists. But there's much more to the country than this.

A largely unspoilt, natural hinterland with plenty in the way of traditional culture and village life still going, Moldova can feel like a fragment of old Europe, at least if you get beyond the cities. Cross the Dniestr River, and you'll find yourself in the beguiling separatist Russian-speaking province of Transdniestr, all Soviet architecture and Lenin busts.

Then there's the wine. The Moldovan grape's slowly fermenting fame means that the wine tourism industry is just beginning to emerge. The upshot? You can try one of Europe's best, most unique wines in a hidden land that will surely have more than its fair of tourists in the years to come.

Key facts

Area:

33,800 sq km (13,050 sq miles).

Population:

4,062,862 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

104.9 per sq km.

Capital:

Chisinau (Kishinev).

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Maia Sandu since 2020.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița since 2021.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Moldova on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do before and when you arrive in Moldova.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Moldova

There are no local travel restrictions in place in Moldova. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advises against all travel to Transnistria.

Accommodation

Most hotels are open with no restrictive measures in place.

Public places and services

Moldovan authorities have removed most of the COVID-19 related bans. All public spaces, including markets, restaurants, bars, theatres, cinemas are operating as usual, without any limit on the numbers of guests.

No COVID-19 certificate is required to access indoor or outdoor venues.

Schooling is in-person.

Healthcare in Moldova

If you think you have COVID-19 you should see a medical practitioner and self-isolate along with the members of your household. For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Moldova.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Travel from Ukraine

The FCDO advises British Nationals in Ukraine to leave immediately if they judge it is safe to do so.

If you have travelled into Moldova from Ukraine and are in need of assistance you should contact (+373) 22 225 902, or send an enquiry via the web contact form. If you are close to a Ukraine-Moldova border crossing point and require assistance, you should call our Consular Contact Centre on +44 1908 516666, selecting Option 2 – Consular services for British Nationals.

Crime

Be alert to the risk of street crime and petty theft, particularly in Chisinau, and for pickpockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas. Take precautions when using ATMs, there have been instances of credit card and ATM fraud see Money

Streets, pavements, and other public paths are not well maintained or illuminated including in Chisinau and other cities. It’s useful to carry a small torch after dark, as street lighting is poor.

Keep your valuables and passport in hotel safes and carry a copy of your passport with you.

Although most visitors experience no difficulties, some visitors of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent have reported being stared at, verbally abused, assaulted, denied entrance into some clubs and restaurants, or harassed by police.

Transnistria

Due to the situation in Ukraine, the FCDO advises against all travel to Transnistria.

There have been a number of explosions in the Transnistria region in late April. Transnistria is outside the control of the Moldovan authorities. Our ability to offer consular support within this region is extremely limited, and in the event of military action on/near the border with Ukraine, would be further reduced.

From midnight local time on 28 February, all checkpoints between Ukraine and the Transnistria region were temporarily closed. All other border crossings into Moldova remain open.

If you are in Moldova you are strongly advised to read and be aware of the Ukraine travel advice.

The Entry requirements section has further details on entry into Transnistria.

Road travel

You can drive in Moldova with a valid UK driving licence.

To drive a vehicle into Moldova you will need the following documents:

  • car registration
  • valid insurance (Green Card)
  • UK driving licence
  • passport
  • if you’re not the owner, written permission from the owner to drive the vehicle. This should be translated into Romanian and legalised.

The vehicle will need to be declared to the customs authority at the point of entry into Moldova. Vehicles can be brought into Moldova without payment of import taxes for a maximum of 90 cumulative days in a 365-day period, from the date of first entry. Contact the Moldovan Embassy in London if you have questions about bringing a vehicle into the country. The British Embassy is unable to assist individuals attempting to bring vehicles into Moldova.

A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to drive in Moldova.

Avoid driving outside urban areas, particularly at night. Driving standards are poor and roads are of variable quality. There are a high number of traffic accidents, including fatalities. You should comply with all local speed limits. There is a zero tolerance policy on drink driving.

From 1 November until 31 March, drivers are obliged to travel with headlights on at all times. Winter tyres should be fitted to road vehicles during this period. Failure to do so could result in a fine.

Official looking taxis can be unlicensed. Do not share a taxi with strangers or flag down unofficial taxis. Where there is no meter, you should negotiate a price before getting into a taxi. Where possible ask your hotel to get a taxi for you, or to give you the telephone number of a reputable company.

The Department of Traffic Police has published the following helpline:

42, Vasile Alecsandri street, Chisinau, Moldova Telephone: 00 373 (22) 255-920 Fax: 00 373 (22) 255-200 email: pol.rutiera@mai.gov.md email: info@pr.gov.md (Moldovan officials speak Romanian, Russian and limited English)

Foreign-registered cars driven by foreign nationals are allowed into Transnistria upon payment of a vignette (a form of road pricing). The fee depends upon the duration of the stay. Civil liability insurance is mandatory, except for categories such as cars registered in certain CIS states, diplomatic vehicles or vehicles registered to NGOs.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Moldova, attacks can’t be ruled out. You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those visited by foreigners.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

There is a zero tolerance policy for possessing or supplying any drugs. While legislation stipulates that fines are possible for drug use/supply, in practice possession of even small quantities of drugs (Class B/C drugs as well as Class A) could result in long prison terms in addition to heavy fines.

Homosexuality is not forbidden in Moldova, though the Moldovan government does not formally recognise unmarried or same-sex partners. There is an active social and lobbying group on gay and lesbian issues in Chisinau, but public attitudes are less tolerant. Be careful about public displays of affection. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Avoid taking photos of military and government facilities (including airports, power stations etc). You’re likely to be detained for questioning or arrested if you’re caught.

There are frequent police checks and police officers have the legal right to ask for identification on the street. You should carry a copy of the bio data page of your passport with you at all times.

You must obtain permission from the Moldovan Department of Monuments to bring out of the country any artwork or antiques. Failure to obtain this permission could result in the artwork or antiques being impounded and criminal charges brought.

This page has information on travelling to Moldova.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Moldova set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Moldova’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All current direct routes from the UK to Chisinau International Airport are operating normally. All border crossing points with Romania are also fully operational. You should check with your airline provider before booking tickets and travelling and be aware that new security protocols are currently in place at Chisinau International Airport, following a recent spate of bomb hoax e-mails. For information, Iasi Airport (Romania) flies directly to the UK and is situated 150km from Chisinau (3 hour drive).

All travellers

All travellers should familiarise themselves with the entry rules for Moldova before travel.

Entering Moldova from Ukraine

All COVID-19 entry requirements have been removed, for Moldovans and foreign nationals. If you are in Ukraine and intend to leave via Moldova, you should Register your presence as currently in Ukraine, ahead of arriving in Moldova.

Entering Moldova from all other countries

No COVID-19 documentation is required to enter Moldova.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

You should check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for at least 3 months and have at least one unused page.

Visas

Visas are not required to enter Moldova if your stay is under 90 days. For all other types of visa, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova in London. See below for information on entry into Moldova.

As a visitor you are allowed to spend no more than 90 days in any six months period in Moldova. At any official point of entry, your arrival date will be registered automatically. The Moldovan authorities strictly enforce penalties (including deportation) against foreign visitors who overstay the terms of their visas. See below for details of entry through Transnistria.

Residence and/or work permits are required for stays over 90 days. Immigration, residence, and work permits usually need to be extended annually, but can be issued for up to five years. Alternatively, you must regularise your stay by applying for a residence or work visa.

Border crossings with Ukraine and Romania

You should check for updates on border crossings with Ukraine and Romania on the Moldovan Border Police website.

Entry into Moldova via Transnistria

The FCDO advises against all travel to Transnistria.

On 28 February, all checkpoints between Ukraine and the Transnistria region were temporarily closed. We do not know when they will reopen. All other border crossings into Moldova remain open.

The train service between Odessa and Chisinau is suspended until further notice. If you have recently arrived in Moldova via Transnistria you should regularise your stay at the Bureau for Migration & Asylum in Chisinau (124 Stefan cel Mare Bulevard) within 3 days of your arrival. Alternatively, you should go to the local offices of the Bureau for Migration and Asylum located in: Hîrbovăț in Anenii Noi; Hajumus in Căușeni; Pîrîta in Dubăsari, Criuleni in Criuleni, Rezina in Rezina and Sărătăuac în Florești.

To register your stay you must present the following documents:

  • your passport
  • proof of travel (for example a Green Card if you drive a vehicle into Moldova; air/ bus/train ticket)

Failure to register may result in fines and difficulties when leaving Moldova.

Entry into Moldova via Ukraine

If you enter Moldova overland from Ukraine do so at one of the internationally recognised border crossing points between Moldova (excluding the Transnistria segment) and Ukraine in the north and south of the country.

Entry into Transnistria

The FCDO advises against all travel to Transnistria. Checkpoints between Ukraine and the Transnistria region closed on 28 February. We do not know when they will reopen.

There are no ‘immigration controls’ in place on the internal boundary between the Transnistria region and Moldova and entry stamps won’t be placed into passports. But on entering Transnistria you will be required to fill in 2 copies of a migration card, one of which should be retained and produced on exit. You may also be questioned on the aim of your visit, duration and where you will stay.

You should check ahead that the relevant border crossings are open and roads on the Ukrainian side are fully operational. This is particularly important around Transnistria which is outside the control of the Moldovan authorities.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Moldova.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

Preparing for travel

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

The standard of medical care in Moldova is below that available in the UK and English is not widely spoken. COVID-19 testing and treatment is carried out in both private and public health facilities. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Health risks

Drink only bottled water.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 12,000 adults aged 15 or over in Moldova were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.4% of the adult population compared to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance, but be aware that if you do not speak Russian or Romanian you may encounter difficulties. You should inform your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Moldova is located in a seismically active area and is prone to small earth tremors that are recorded throughout the year without consequence. The last significant earthquake occurred in 1986, causing fatalities and damage to buildings.

Independent advice on how to prepare for an earthquake and how to protect yourself during an earthquake or tremor is available from many sources online.

The Moldovan economy is traditionally cash-driven, you may not always be able to pay by card (particularly outside of the capital city Chisinau). When paying by card, ensure that you maintain sight of it at all times.

The most widely accepted foreign currencies are the US Dollar and the Euro. You should carry some Euro cash. Notes should be in perfect condition or they may not be accepted. It’s not always easy to exchange Sterling for local currency.

ATMs in banks in Transnistria won’t accept cards from non-Transnistrian banks. The de facto currency in use in Transnistria is the Transnistrian ruble. It isn’t possible to exchange Moldovan lei or other currencies into rubles, or rubles into other currencies outside of Transnistria. Attempting to pay for purchases in Transnistria in currencies other than the ruble is considered an illegal act by the de facto authorities.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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