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Travel Security Advice for Poland

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: 

Poland is a stable, free-market democracy, and has been a member of the European Union since 2004.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Poland for additional information.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Poland are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the Department of State's travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. 

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.

The U.S. Embassy Warsaw is located at:


Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31.
Telephone:  (48) (22) 504-2000 
This number can be called 24 hours/day. For emergencies after business hours, press “0.”
Fax:  (48)(22) 504-2688

The Consular Section entrance is located around the corner at Ulica Piekna 12.
Fax for the Consular Section: (48)(22) 627-4734 (only checked during business hours).
After-hour Emergiecies call main switchboard number.

The U.S. Consulate General Krakow is located at:


Ulica Stolarska 9.
Telephone:  (48) (12) 424-5100;
Fax:   (48) (12) 424-5103
After-hour Emergencies:  601-483-348.

Consular Agency Poznan (limited consular services) is located at:
Ulica Paderewskiego 8
Telephone:  (48) (61) 851-8516
Fax:  (48) (61) 851-8966.



ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Poland is a party to the Schengen agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter Poland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

Polish immigration officials may ask travelers for proof of sufficient financial resources to cover their proposed stay in Poland, generally viewed as 100 zloty per day. Additionally, citizens of non-EU countries, including the United States, should carry proof of adequate medical insurance in case of an accident or hospitalization while in Poland. Polish immigration officials may ask for documentation of such insurance or proof of sufficient financial resources (at least 400 zloty per day) to cover such costs. Those who lack insurance or access to adequate financial resources may be denied admission to Poland. Medicare does not cover health costs incurred while abroad.

Poland requires Polish citizens (including U.S. citizens who are or can be claimed as Polish citizens) to enter and depart Poland using a Polish passport. U.S. citizens who are also Polish citizens or who are unsure if they hold Polish citizenship should contact the nearest Polish consular office for further information.

For further information on entry requirements, please contact the consular section of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, 2224 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 234-3800, or the Polish consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York. Visit the
Embassy of Poland website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Poland.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.



SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Poland, like other countries in the Schengen area, has open borders with its Schengen neighbors, allowing for the possibility of anonymous travel between Schengen countries.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website,

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.



CRIME: 

While Poland generally has a low rate of violent crime, the incidence of street crime, which sometimes involves violence, is moderate.  Major cities have higher rates of crime against residents and foreign visitors than other areas.

Organized groups of thieves and pick-pockets operate at major tourist destinations, in train stations, and on trains, trams, and buses in major cities.  Thieves will target overnight trains.  Most pick-pocketing on trains occurs during boarding; in a common scenario, a group of well-dressed young men will surround a passenger in the narrow aisle of the train, jostling/pick-pocketing him or her as they supposedly attempt to get around the passenger.  Keep an eye on cell phones; they are prized by thieves.  Beware of taxi drivers who approach you at the airport or who do not display telephone numbers and a company name or a meter; these drivers usually charge exorbitant rates.  Order your taxi by telephone and at the airport; use only taxis in the designated taxi ranks.

The number of car thefts and car-jackings has significantly declined.  However, theft from vehicles remains a constant concern.  Drivers should be wary of people indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their cars; when such drivers pull over to see if there is a problem, they may find themselves suddenly surrounded by thieves from a second vehicle.  Drivers encountering someone indicating that there is trouble with their car and the problem is not apparent should continue driving until they find a safe spot (a crowded gas station, supermarket, or even police station) to inspect their vehicles.  There also have been incidents of thieves opening or breaking passenger-side doors and windows in slow or stopped traffic to take purses or briefcases left on the seat beside the driver.  Those traveling by car should remember to keep windows closed and doors locked.  U.S. citizen tourists of Asian and African descent have reported being targets of verbal harassment and physical attacks while traveling in Poland.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.



INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Poland is 112.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



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.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

Penalties for possessing, using or trafficking in illegal drugs in Poland are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Visitors importing the cash equivalent of more than 10,000 Euros should, as part of the arrivals process, complete a form to declare currency, traveler's checks, and other cash instruments. This form should be stamped by Polish Customs and retained by the traveler for presentation on departure. Undeclared cash may be confiscated upon departure, and visitors carrying undeclared cash may be prosecuted. Most banks now cash traveler's checks, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are readily available, and credit cards increasingly accepted. Polish customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the export of items such as works of art, particularly those created before 1953. Works produced by living artists after 1953 may be exported with permission from the Provincial Conservator of Relics. Some works of art produced after 1953 may still be subject to a ban on exportation if the artist is no longer living and the work is considered of high cultural value. If you are importing an item or work of art like those described above, even if only temporarily (e.g., for an exhibit or performance), you should declare it to customs upon entry and carry proof of ownership in order to avoid problems on departure. Contact the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., or one of the Polish consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Poland does not recognize (although it does not prohibit) dual nationality. A person holding Polish and U.S. citizenship is deemed by Poland to be a Polish citizen and therefore subject to Polish law.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Adequate medical care is available in Poland, but hospital facilities and nursing support are not comparable to American standards.  Physicians are generally well trained but specific emergency services may be lacking in certain regions, especially in Poland's small towns and rural areas.  Younger doctors generally speak English, though nursing staff often does not.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.  Medications are generally available, although they may not be specific U.S. brand-name drugs.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website.  The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

Polish immigration law requires travelers either to carry adequate medical insurance in case of accident or hospitalization while in Poland or to be able to document access to sufficient financial resources (at least 400 zloty per day) to cover such medical emergencies.  Failure to carry insurance or the inability to provide documentation of sufficient financial resources if requested may result in a traveler being denied admission to Poland.  Medicare does not cover U.S. citizens in Poland. The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



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. 

An International Driving Permit (IDP), obtained prior to departure from the U.S., must accompany a U.S. driver's license.  A U.S. driver's license without an IDP is insufficient for use in Poland and U.S. Citizens cannot obtain IDPs in Poland.  Only two U.S. automobile associations — the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) — have been authorized by the U.S. Department of State to distribute IDPs.  Polish roadside services, while not at Western levels, are rapidly improving.  Polski Zwiazek Motorowy Auto-Tour has multilingual operators and provides assistance countrywide; they can be reached by calling 9281 or 9637 preceded by the city code (outside of Warsaw 022-9281).  The police emergency number is 997, fire service is 998, and ambulance service is 999.  Mobile phone users can dial 112, the general emergency number for assistance.  Seat belts are compulsory in both the front and back seats, and children under the age of 10 are prohibited from riding in the front seat.  You must use headlights at all times, day and night.  The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited except when using “hands-free” models.

There has been a substantial increase in the number of cars on Polish roads.  Driving, especially after dark, is hazardous.  Roads are generally narrow, poorly lighted, frequently under repair (especially in the summer months), and are often also used by pedestrians and cyclists.  The Ministry of Infrastructure has a program called “Black Spot” (Czarny Punkt), which puts signs in places with a particularly high number of accidents and/or casualties.  These signs have a black spot on a yellow background, and the road area around the “black spot” is marked with red diagonal lines.

Alcohol consumption is frequently a contributing factor in accidents.  Polish laws provide virtually zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol, and penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol (defined as a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher) include a fine and probation or imprisonment for up to two years. Penalties for drivers involved in accidents are severe, and can include imprisonment from six months to eight years.

Within cities, taxis are available at major hotels and designated stands or may be ordered in advance. Some drivers accept credit cards and/or speak English.  When hailing taxis on the street, travelers should avoid those that do not have a telephone number displayed because these may not have meters and many of them charge more.  Do not accept assistance from “taxi drivers” who approach you in the arrivals terminal or outside the doors at Warsaw Airport.  Travelers availing themselves of these “services” often find themselves charged significantly more than the usual fare.  Use only taxis at designated airport taxi ranks.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the web site of Poland's National Tourist Office and that of Poland's Ministry of Infrastructure which is responsible for road safety.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessedthe government of Poland's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Poland's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s safety assessment web site.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on inter-country adoption and international parental child abduction.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Poland dated March 13, 2009 without substantive changes.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to Poland HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).........

Regards

The SW Team..........

 

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