COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Moldova is a republic with a freely elected government. It has been an independent nation since 1991. Its capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.
SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
A separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in the Transnistria region of eastern Moldova. The United States and other countries do not recognize this regime. Since no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and local authorities there, the provision of consular assistance to American citizens cannot be ensured. Travelers should exercise caution in visiting or transiting the area. Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints in the Transnistria region.
Moldova's recent economic difficulties, as well as increased organized criminal activity combined with more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk visitors face with street crime, some potentially violent. While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments. Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices are not uncommon. Travelers are wise to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.
Train and bus services are below Western European standards and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crimes involving thefts while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.
Internet Fraud Warning: The Embassy is also aware of various confidence schemes that have taken advantage of American Citizens, frequently via the Internet. In some cases these involve the purchase or sale of items on the Internet in which the payment or shipment of goods was not completed by a Moldovan counterpart. Losses have included merchandise valued above $1,000. In other cases, American Citizens, particularly males, have meet potential Moldovan fianc�(e)s on the Internet who have convinced them to send hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but with no intention of a serious relationship. Once the American Citizen starts to question the reason for sending the money, the Moldovan fianc�(e) suddenly ends their contact. Recently, American citizens who come to Moldova to visit someone they have first met over the Internet have reported becoming subject to crimes such as extortion and involuntary detention. American Citizens should be aware that any such activity committed by individuals in Moldova would be subject to the Moldovan legal system and could prove difficult to prosecute. In the vast majority of cases, there is nothing that the U.S. Embassy in Moldova can do to assist American Citizens who are defrauded by Moldovans via the Internet.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Moldova's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Moldova are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.
Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical care in Moldova is limited and there are often severe shortages of basic medical supplies. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of medical facilities and English-speaking doctors.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Moldova is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Moldova's highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads, unevenly maintained and unlit. Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles. Travel before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if at all possible. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace. Many accidents involve drunk drivers.
For specific information concerning Moldovan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Moldovan Department of Tourism Development via the Internet at
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Moldova by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.
Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
September 17, 2004