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Poland

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Poland. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. See Safety and security.
  • Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone. See Local travel.
  • Poland does not recognise dual nationality. Australian-Polish dual nationals must enter and exit Poland using their Polish Passport. See Laws.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Poland is a party to the Schengen Convention, which allows you to enter Poland without a visa in some circumstances.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Poland for up-to-date information.

More information: Schengen Convention

Other formalities

If you are staying in Poland for longer than 14 days, you must register your place of residence within four days of arrival. Registration is usually completed as a part of hotel check-in procedure. If you're staying in private accommodation, you must register with the local registration office. Proof of registration is required when applying for a visa extension.

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The currency of Poland is the Zloty (PLN). All major currencies are readily exchanged in Poland.

Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you're travelling between Poland and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Poland, you'll be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you're travelling to or from another EU country.

Safety and security

Crime

Exercise normal safety precautions in Poland. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Violent crime is rare in Poland but street crime, such as mugging, carjacking and theft from vehicles, happens in large Polish cities, including Warsaw. Petty crime is common, particularly in tourist areas of large cities.

  • Pick-pocketing is usually carried out by small groups of criminals near hotels, markets, ATMs, money-changing facilities and on public transport, including on trams and trains.
  • Thieves operate at central railway stations, particularly in the Baltic towns of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot and in Warsaw and Krakow.
  • Thieves sometimes target passengers on long-distance trains and buses, and on public transport between the airport and central Warsaw.

Bars and nightclubs sometimes charge excessive prices for drinks. Be careful of drink-spiking and theft.

To minimise risks:

  • be particularly alert in major cities
  • don't leave valuables in motor vehicles
  • don't leave drinks or food unattended
  • beware of accepting drinks from casual acquaintances
  • check the price of drinks before ordering and carefully review the bill
  • regularly check your credit card statement and immediately report any suspicious transactions to your bank.

Civil unrest and political tension

Avoid protests and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.

Monitor local media and follow all instructions issued by local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movements of asylum seekers. The number of arrivals decreased in 2017, but localised disruptions to some cross-border road and rail transport services are possible. If you're travelling by road or train, allow extra time to cover any disruption and make plans for what you would do if crossing the border is delayed or not possible.

  • Always carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone.
  • Monitor local media and alerts from transport providers for up-to-date information.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Road travel

Poland has one of the highest road fatality rates among European Union countries. You're twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Poland than in Australia.

Drink driving is a major cause of road accidents, despite a blood alcohol limit of 0.02. Local driving practices, poor road conditions outside major cities, insufficient street lighting and increasing traffic volume, particularly trucks, are also hazards for vehicle passengers and pedestrians. Many sections of highway are not dual-carriageway or are under construction, and overtaking lanes are scarce. Severe weather in winter can make driving even more hazardous and some roads may be closed.

  • By law, you must use your headlights at all times.
  • Don't drink and drive: stay below the legal limit of 0.02.
  • Drive defensively and patiently.
  • Use winter tyres if you drive during the winter months.
  • Carry chains if you drive in mountainous or rural regions in winter.

There are several local laws on where children can sit in a car. For example, children shorter than 150cm use a safety seat. Seek advice from your car hire company or the police if travelling with children.

Road rules are different from Australia. Do your research before operating any vehicle to avoid fines and any insurance issues.

Check the vehicle hire company rules before hiring a car or motorbike. Ensure you comply with both Poland and Australian vehicle operating and licence laws.   

More information: Road safety and driving

Taxis

There are a number of taxi companies which operate in Poland. Where possible, pre-book using a reputable taxi company or use an app such as ‘My Taxi’ (in English).

Many drivers of private unregistered taxis overcharge their passengers. Official taxis have the name and telephone number of the taxi company on the side of the door and on the top of the taxi (beside the occupied/unoccupied sign). Taxis with a crest but no company name are not officially registered taxis.

Seek assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book an official taxi.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Poland.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences in Poland are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Laws relating to the consumption of alcohol are stricter than in Australia.

  • There is virtually zero tolerance for drink driving in Poland. The blood alcohol limit is 0.02. Offenders can be imprisoned for up to two years.
  • Penalties for drivers involved in accidents while over the 0.02 blood alcohol limit are severe and include up to eight years imprisonment.
  • Public drunkenness is illegal. If you become drunk in public, you could be arrested and/or taken to a 'sobering-up room' and made to pay for the cost of your stay.
  • It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places, including parks and public picnic areas, with the exception of designated restaurant areas.

It is illegal to photograph some buildings in Poland. These buildings generally display signs stating that taking photos is forbidden. If you're not sure whether photos are permitted, check with local authorities.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Poland doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Polish dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Under Polish law, Australian/Polish dual nationals must enter and exit Poland using their Polish passport.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars up-front.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Tick-borne encephalitis

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common in country areas and active from spring to autumn.

Air pollution

Air pollution levels vary and can be very high. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, particularly a heart or lung condition, you may be especially affected. If you are concerned about the levels of air pollution, seek medical advice. 

Influenza

The Polish State Sanitary Inspection Authority strongly recommends getting a flu vaccination to decrease the chances of complications during seasonal flu outbreaks. H1NI (swine flu) has been reported in Poland and can be managed by the annual seasonal influenza vaccine.

More information: Infectious diseases  

Medical facilities

Most doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing services, including for emergency care.

The standard of public medical facilities in Poland's large cities is reasonable. Facilities in rural and border regions can be limited. Medical evacuation from Poland is very expensive.

Natural disasters

Poland can experience extremely low temperatures in winter, and snow and ice can be hazards. Snow clearing in cities is carried out efficiently but black ice on roads is hazardous.

Highways and roads in rural areas can be blocked for extended periods. Train travel can also be disrupted by heavy snow.

Poland can be affected by severe flooding, particularly during spring. If flooding occurs, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

More information:

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 997.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular services charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

If you need consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Warsaw.

Australian Embassy, Warsaw

3rd Floor, Nautilus Building
ul. Nowogrodzka 11
00-513 Warsaw, Poland
Telephone: (48 22) 521 3444
Facsimile: (48 22) 627 3500
Website: poland.embassy.gov.au
E-mail: ambasada.australia@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Poland, Czech Republic and Lithuania
Twitter: @AusAmbPoland

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources