- 29 March 2019
In March 2019, the Romanian government passed an emergency ordinance (OUG) amending law 38/2003 that regulates the activity of taxi services and car rental services. The amendment stipulates that rental-based transport is transferred from local authorities to the Romanian Road Authority (RRA) and that drivers can be fined for conducting illegal public transport on their first violation, with a fine of up to RON 5,000 (about €1,000). At the end of June 2019, another emergency ordinance, Ordinance 49/2019, was introduced to regulate alternative transport services in Romania, such as the ride-sharing services provided by Uber and Bolt. The ordinance has introduced a set of rules for the vehicles used for alternative transport services, drivers and platforms.
On 29 March 2019, the Romanian government passed an emergency ordinance (OUG) amending law 38/2003 that regulates the activity of taxi services and car rental services, under the pressure from the taxi industry. The amendment has introduced two major changes. The attributions related to rental-based transport has been transferred from local authorities to the Romanian Road Authority (RRA). Meanwhile, the word ‘repeatedly’ has been deleted from the law. Drivers can be fined for carrying out illegal public transport on their first violation, with a fine of up to RON 5,000 (about €1,000). Under the previous law, only those ‘repeatedly’ providing services through ride hailing platforms without a taxi license were liable to fines, while such provision can rarely be enforced without a database that records these actions.
Representatives of both Uber and Bolt claim that the emergency ordinance will not impact their operations at least in the short term.
On 25 June 2019, the Romanian government has introduced another emergency ordinance, Ordinance 49/2019, to regulate alternative transport services in Romania, such as the ride-sharing services provided by Uber, Bolt and Clever. The ordinance has introduced a set of rules for the vehicles used for alternative transport services, drivers and platforms.
According to the new ordinance, the vehicles must meet the following conditions:
- Have a maximum of five seats, including the driver’s;
- Have a periodic technical inspection (ITP) every six months;
- Have a certified copy of the alternative transport permit, which is issued for vehicles not older than 15 years at the time of permit’s expiry date;
- Have an electronic payment register to issue and transmit to the passenger the electronic invoice;
- Have a round badge on their windshields and back windows displaying the digital platform’s name and the car’s registration number.
The ordinance also specifies conditions for drivers, such as:
- Being at least 21 years old and holding a certificate of training for passenger transport issued by RRA;
- Having a category B driving license that has been valid for at least two years;
- Having a clean criminal record;
- Not having had their drivers’ license suspended in the last 12 months for driving activities that led to serious injuries or deaths.
Meanwhile, drivers cannot reject a ride under the conditions that have been agreed initially or ask passengers a price different from the agreed tariff. A fine between RON 1000 to 5,000 (approximately €200 to €1,000) will be imposed to those who violate the law.
The obligations for digital platform operators include, amongst others:
- Obtaining the technical permit issued by the Ministry of Communications and Informational Societies (MCIS) for digital platforms;
- Paying a lump sum tax, which is irrespective of the revenue of the platform, amounting to RON 100,000 (€20,000) every 24 months;
- Registering the branch in Romania, in case the digital platform operator is a non-resident legal person.
To obtain the technical permit, the digital platforms need to:
- Have the technical ability to offer drivers the optimal route, to continuously monitor the rides, and to hold information which allows the issuing of the electronic invoice to passengers and the annual financial statements;
- Provide information on the vehicle’s license and applicable tariff before the ride confirmation;
- Provide passengers with the option to communicate with their assigned driver, the information of location and arrival time, the possibility to report any incident directly to the digital platform operator.
The technical permit was initially valid for 12 months throughout Romania. In November 2019, the ordinance has been further modified, revising the validity of the permit to 24 months.
The ordinance has been effective from 4 July 2019 onward. The ordinance granted a transition period until 1 November 2019, which was later prolonged until 1 February 2020 by the law adopting the ordinance (Law 204/2019 PL-x nr. 406/2019 (cdep.ro)). After 1 February 2020, platforms operating without such technical permit may incur an administrative fine between RON 50,000 to 100,000 (approximately €10,000 to €20,300) as well as potential criminal liability. Offenders may also be banned from conducting any type of economic activity on Romanian territory through independent software for two years.
On 14 October 2020, Yandex Taxi, a Russian-owned ride-hailing service platform, announced to halt its operation in Romania, claiming that they did so to comply with the rigid local legislations regulating local passenger transport. However, the company’s financial statements show that the company suffered massive losses of about €300,000 in Romania in 2020 while other ride sharing companies, such as Uber and Bolt, turned a profit during the same period.
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