Poland

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 27 June 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Poland.

Poland overall

Summary

  • 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 threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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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

Terrorism

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

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.

Crime

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 valuable documents 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.

Local travel

Driving, especially after dark, is hazardous due to local driving practices, poor road conditions, insufficient street lighting and increasing traffic volume, particularly large trucks. Roads are generally narrow, and overtaking lanes are scarce. It is compulsory to drive with headlights on at all times. Traffic fatalities are a major cause of death in Poland, with over double the rate of road deaths per annum than the European average. For further advice, see our road travel page.

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).

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

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 drinking alcohol in public and 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 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 in doubt, check with local authorities.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, 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 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 Poland using their Polish passport.

Our Dual nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

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.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

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.

Where to get help

In Poland, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

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: www.poland.embassy.gov.au
E-mail: ambasada.australia@dfat.gov.au

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.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Poland can be affected by severe flooding, particularly during Spring. 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.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.