Complex multi-level governance systems face a variety of challenges. As one of the most prominent multi-level administrative systems in the world, the EU has experienced a legitimacy crisis for several years, with many citizens displaying skeptical or even hostile views of European integration in general and the EU’s central bureaucracy specifically. Despite the prevalence of such negative views of the EU public administration, citizens have almost no direct interactions with or substantive knowledge of this institution. Given these circumstances, my study seeks to answer the following question: How do citizens form their views of the EU bureaucracy? The theory presented here suggests that people use mental shortcuts—specifically a variation of the “representativeness heuristic”—to make inferences about the EU’s administrative institutions. Empirically, I focus on the case of Romania and use survey data to show that perceptions of domestic bureaucracies are significant predictors of perceptions of the EU bureaucracy. These findings have wide-ranging academic and practical-political implications.