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Poland

If you’re travelling to Poland, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to take normal precautions.

Summary

Under Polish law, Polish citizens with dual citizenship are only treated as Polish while in Poland. If you are a dual national, Polish authorities may request to see a Polish passport or ID, for example, at an airport. The Embassy will endeavour to provide assistance to all Irish citizens in Poland but may only be able to offer limited consular assistance if you are also a Polish citizen.

There is zero tolerance by Polish authorities of public drunkenness or drinking alcohol in public, which is illegal. Public drunkenness can result in overnight detention in a detoxification centre. The consumption of alcohol in public places can result in fines. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited.

Crime remains relatively low in Poland. Pickpocketing can be a problem in public areas and on public transport, especially in crowded situations.

Do not leave drinks or food unattended and beware of accepting drinks from strangers or recent acquaintances. There have been a small number of reports of drinks being spiked in bars and night clubs.

Be very careful using debit or credit cards in bars and night clubs. There have been reports of large amounts of money being taken from bank cards in some bars and night clubs in Poland. Check your bill carefully and consider paying in cash. Report any suspicious activity on your bank account immediately to your bank and to police.

Accident and Emergency departments in Polish public hospitals may not accept private insurance membership cards and may require a cash payment if you cannot produce a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

The Embassy operates a weekend out-of-hours service for Irish citizens requiring emergency assistance. If an Irish citizen is in need of emergency assistance, please ring the Embassy Duty Officer at +48 602 765 602. Alternatively, you may contact the Duty Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin at +353 (0)1 408 2000.

Our tips for safe travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

 

 

Safety and security

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Poland. Pickpocketing can be a problem in public areas and on public transport, especially in crowded situations.

Do not leave drinks or food unattended and beware of accepting drinks from strangers or recent acquaintances. There have been a small number of reports of drinks being spiked in bars and night clubs.

Be very careful using debit or credit cards in bars and night clubs. There have been reports of large amounts of money being taken from bank cards in some bars and night clubs in Poland. Check your bill carefully and consider paying in cash. Report any suspicious activity on your bank account immediately to your bank and to police.

Reporting a crime

If you are a victim of a crime while in Poland, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact the Embassy if you require assistance.

Loss/theft of passport

Report the loss or theft of your passport to the police as you will need a Statement of Loss before the Embassy in Warsaw can issue replacement travel documents.

Driving

Irish driving licences are accepted in Poland. It is a legal requirement to carry your full driving licence, original vehicle registration papers, ownership documents and insurance papers while driving.

If you are planning to drive in Poland, you should exercise caution. Some roads are in poor condition, driving can be dangerous and fatal car accidents are common. If visiting in winter, be aware that conditions for driving may be severe and your car should be equipped with winter tyres.

Be aware of Polish traffic laws. If you are not resident in Poland, you will be expected to pay fines immediately in cash in Polish currency to the police officer issuing the fine. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited and is punishable by up to two years in prison.

Learn more about driving in Poland with this Road Safety Brochure from the Polish Roads Authority (PDF).

Hiring a vehicle

If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you are allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Personal identification

Under Polish law, if asked by Polish police, you must verify your identity by presenting photographic identification. As well as your passport, which we do not advise you carry with you unless absolutely necessary, you should carry another form of identification while in Poland, such as a driving licence or Passport Card. The Passport Card fits easily into a wallet and can be used for travel within the EU/EEA and Switzerland. It is available to Irish citizens, aged 18 and over, who hold a valid Irish passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.

Currency

The currency in Poland is the Zloty. This is available from currency exchange providers in Poland called ‘kantor’. ATMs are available in all major cities and towns. Visitors can also pay by credit or debit card in most shops, bars and restaurants.

Alcohol

It is against the law to consume alcohol in public places in Poland and fines may be imposed.

Public drunkenness (i.e. in the streets, on public transport, etc.) may be dealt with very severely by the Polish authorities, who have the right to detain people overnight in detoxification centres. If you are detained overnight in a detoxification centre, you must pay for the cost of the stay.

The drink-drive limit in Poland is 20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, which is lower than in Ireland (50 milligrammes).

Public Transport

Public transport tickets can be purchased at ticket machines located at main bus and tram stops or at most kiosks and newspaper stands. Tickets must be validated at the start of a journey in the small yellow machine on the bus or tram. You will be fined on the spot if you are caught travelling with an invalid ticket.

Taxis

There have been reports in Warsaw, particularly at the airport, of overcharging by non-regulated taxi drivers. Only use official taxis, which 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 light). Taxis with a crest but no company name are not officially registered.

Otherwise, you should telephone taxis for service rather than using parked or passing taxis, which can charge a good deal more. Taxi companies that provide a telephone service are usually prompt and reliable. Taxi apps are available and commonly used in Poland.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is legal in Poland, but there is still a degree of intolerance among some sections of the population; be careful about public displays of affection.

Poland does not recognise marriage or civil partnership between two persons of the same sex. This can have implications should you or your spouse become ill as you may not be recognised as the next of kin. We advise you to explore the possibility of bringing written consent for you and your spouse, to authorise them to access your medical information should you become ill or require hospitalisation. The Embassy can help you to find English-speaking lawyers in Poland. 

Hen/stag parties

Irish people are well regarded in Poland but are not immediately recognisable to Poles as Irish. On a small number of occasions, Irish people have received unfriendly treatment because of the stag/hen party phenomenon (particularly in Kraków) which locals found disruptive and a nuisance. You can help to keep Ireland’s good reputation in Poland by behaving responsibly during your stay.  

Dual Nationals

Under Polish law, Polish citizens with dual citizenship are treated as Polish while in Poland, even if they hold another country’s passport.

If you have dual Irish-Polish citizenship, Polish authorities may request to see a Polish passport or ID, for example, when entering or leaving Poland.

As an Irish-Polish dual citizen, you will be treated as Polish by the Polish authorities if you are arrested or detained in Poland. You will have the same rights as any other Polish citizen in these circumstances (including the right to legal representation).

The Embassy will endeavour to provide assistance to all Irish citizens in Poland but may only be able to offer limited consular assistance if you are also a Polish citizen.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

You need a valid passport or Passport Card to visit Poland and we advise you to take a number of photocopies or a scan of the passport information page with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy or scan of your passport information page at all times.

You will need a visa to enter Belarus from Poland - this includes anyone travelling by train on the Warsaw-Moscow route.

Climate

‌Polish winters can be very harsh by Irish standards. The average temperature in January is about -4'C but can fall as low as -35'C. It is essential to be properly dressed for the weather if travelling to Poland in the winter months.

Polish summers can be hot, with temperatures rising to over 35’C. It is important to wear appropriate clothing, including headgear, and to use sunscreen in the summer months. 

Health

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

European Health Insurance Card

Accident and Emergency departments in Polish public hospitals may not accept private insurance membership cards and may require a cash payment if you cannot produce a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.

Apply for your EHIC and find out more information.

The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.