The Convention for the protection of world cultural and natural heritage was adopted by UNESCO in 1972 and ratified by Romania through Decree no. 187/1990. It establishes that certain cultural and natural heritage goods have an exceptional importance, and that they need to be protected as part of humanity's world heritage. The World Heritage List, created together with the adoption of the Convention, contains today a number of 1073 properties, inscribed by the decision of the World Heritage Committee, of which 832 are cultural, 206 natural, and 35 mixed.

The World Heritage List opened for România with the inscription of The Danube Delta (1991) as a natural site, and continued afterwards with the inscription of cultural sites: Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania (1993), Churches of Moldavia (1993, 2010), Monastery of Horezu (1993), Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains (1999), Historic Centre of Sighişoara (1999), Wooden Churches of Maramureş (1999).
Romania is also part of the trans-boundary serial inscription Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2017).

These monuments are protected in Romania both under Law 422/2001 for the protection of historical monuments, and under Law 564/2001 for the approval of OG 47/2000 regarding establishing certain protective measures for historical monuments that are part of the World Heritage List, with further modifications and additions. These laws set out responsibilities for both owners – for the current management, maintenance and restoration – and local authorities – for issuing permits, co-financing, coordinating the UNESCO Organizing Committees - and for central authorities: Ministry of Culture (directly or through The National Commission of Historical Monuments) – issuing permits, coordinating, developing methodologies, co-financing restoration works, the relationship with UNESCO; Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration – - development of town planning documentation and methodologies; Ministry of Internal Affairs guarding the monuments listed on the World Heritage List. The National Institute of Heritage is also responsible for monitoring monuments registered in the World Heritage List, for scientific coordination within the UNESCO Organizing Committees, and for the preparation of files for new proposals on the World Heritage List.

In order to nominate sites for World Heritage List, all 165 signatory States have agreed to prepare tentative lists of those sites considered to be of outstanding universal value, according to the ten criteria established through the Convention. Tentative lists are reviewed every 10 years and are transmitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Center. In order to allow all states to define and harmonize the Tentative Lists on the basis of the UNESCO Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List, these lists are published on the Center’s website.

Romania's Tentative List has been revised in 2017, and will be published in its new format on the World Heritage Center - UNESCO website. Brâncuși Monumental Ensemble of Târgu Jiu has been inscribed in the Romanian Tentative List since 1991.