- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Poland.
- Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media and other local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Poland for the most up-to-date information.
Poland is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with 25 other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Poland without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.
Foreigners in Poland are required to register their place of residence within 48 hours of arrival. Registration is usually completed as a part of hotel check-in procedure. If you are staying in private accommodation, you must register with the local registration office. Proof of registration is required when applying for a visa extension.
People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) carrying 10,000 euros or more in cash (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
You should avoid all protests and demonstrations, pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. In the event of demonstrations, you should follow the instructions of local authorities.
Violent crime is rare in Poland. However, there have been incidents of street crime such as mugging, carjacking and theft from vehicles in large Polish cities, including in Warsaw. Do not leave valuables in motor vehicles. Criminal gangs have been known to target vehicles with foreign number plates by simulating a car crash or a flat tyre. There have been some cases of vehicles being stopped by thieves posing as police, particularly in tourist areas such as the lake district of Poland. If you are flagged down for no apparent reason, be cautious, remain in your vehicle and ask to see identification.
Major cities have higher rates of crime than other areas.
Petty crime such as pick-pocketing is generally carried out by small groups of criminals in tourist areas of large cities. These groups often operate near hotels, markets, ATMs, money changing facilities and on public transport, including on trams and trains.
Thieves, working alone or in small groups, operate at central railway stations, particularly in the Baltic towns of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot and in Warsaw and Krakow. Travellers on long distance, overnight trains and buses and on public transport between the airport and central Warsaw have on occasion been targeted by thieves.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Driving, especially after dark, is hazardous due to local driving practices, poor road conditions, insufficient street lighting and increasing traffic volume, particularly large trucks. It is compulsory to drive with headlights on at all times. Traffic fatalities are a major cause of death in Poland, with over 5,000 deaths from road accidents reported annually. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.
Overcharging by non-regulated taxi drivers occurs. You should use official taxis that 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. You should seek assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book an official taxi.
Children under the age of 10 years old are prohibited from riding in the front seat of vehicles.
There is virtually zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. The blood alcohol limit while driving is 0.02 (see Laws section).
The 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) will be held in Warsaw from 11 to 22 November 2013. It is anticipated that 16,000 delegates will attend. Hotels and accommodation in Warsaw during this period will be extremely limited.
Please refer to our travel bulletin for information about Aviation Safety and Security.
When you are in Poland, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for drug offences in Poland are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.
There is virtually zero tolerance for drink driving in Poland. The blood alcohol level limit is 0.02. Offenders can be imprisoned for up to two years. Penalties for drivers involved in accidents while over the alcohol limit are severe and can include up to eight years imprisonment.
Poland exercises a strict approach to public drunkenness. Offenders may be taken to a sobering-up room and made to pay for the cost of their stay.
It is illegal to photograph some buildings in Poland. These buildings generally display signs stating that taking photos is forbidden. If in doubt, check with local authorities.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Poland does not officially 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.
Australian/Polish dual nationals must enter and exit the country using their Polish passport.
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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 will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for staying healthy while travelling overseas.
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. In rural and border regions, however, facilities can be limited. Private medical facilities are equipped with modern equipment. Immediate payment is required for medical treatment in Poland.
Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world, including Poland. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
In Poland, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, Warsaw
If you are travelling to Poland, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Poland was affected by severe flooding in May and June 2010. If flooding occurs, Australians in the region should monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or child care facilities in Poland we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments.