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Getting here and advice about your stay

Entry requirements

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

UK emergency travel documents

UK emergency travel documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Poland.

Visas 

If you are a British citizen visiting Poland, you do not need a visa. If you hold a different type of British nationality you should check entry requirements with the Polish Embassy in London.

For stays of longer than three months, see the Polish Embassy website at: www.london.mfa.gov.pl/en

Dual nationals 

Under Polish law, a Polish passport holder must be treated as a Polish national while in Poland, even if he or she holds another country’s passport. The Polish authorities therefore require dual Polish-British nationals to enter and exit Poland on a Polish passport. Check with the Polish Embassy in London if in doubt.

If you are a dual Polish-British national and are arrested or detained in Poland, you will be deemed to be Polish by the Polish authorities. You will have the same rights as any other Polish citizen in these circumstances (including the right to legal representation).

[Source: Foreign Travel Advice/gov.uk]

Money

The currency in Poland is the Zloty – available from UK foreign currency exchange providers.

It is not possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes in Poland.

[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]

 

Local laws and customs

Polish police take a strict approach to public drunkenness. You are not allowed to consume alcohol in public places and fines may be imposed. If you are found to be drunk in a public place you may be taken to a drying-out clinic where a doctor or nurse will medically assess you. You will not be released until you have sobered up and this may require an overnight stay. You will have to pay for the cost of the stay.

The drink-drive limit in Poland is 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – which is lower than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (80 milligrams) and Scotland (50 milligrams). Driving a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited and is punishable by up to two years in prison. Likewise cycling on public roads under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in prosecution.

Jay-walking is an offence. You should cross only at recognised crossing points. If caught by the police you will be fined.

[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]

 

Safety and security

Crime

Most visitors to Poland experience no difficulties, but you should be alert to the possibility of street crime and petty theft, and that foreigners may appear to be lucrative targets. Keep valuables and cash out of sight, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots where pickpockets and bag snatchers operate.

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. They will usually also show a rate card on the window of the vehicle, although not in all cities, for example Wroclaw. Taxis with a crest but no company name are not officially registered taxis.

Do not leave drinks or food unattended and beware of accepting drinks from casual acquaintances. There have been a small number of reports of drinks being spiked and visitors having their valuables stolen.

Local travel

Public transport tickets must be validated at the start of a journey. You will be fined on the spot if you are travelling with an invalid ticket, usually 180 Polish zloty (around £36). You can buy tickets at most newspaper stands and kiosks with a sign reading ‘Bilety’ or ticket machines distributed in cities.

If you think you may qualify for a discounted fare (e.g. student or older person) always double-check the rules as some cheaper fares may only be available to Polish nationals. You will be fined if you travel with a reduced fare ticket that you are not entitled to.

Road travel

If you drive and have been drinking (even a single unit of alcohol) you can be charged. If you break Polish driving laws you should be prepared to pay an on the spot fine in cash in Polish currency to the police. Foreigners who are settled in Poland and have a permanent address may be fined with a credit ticket that can be paid later.

Pedestrians and cyclists must wear a reflective item between dusk and dawn when outside a built-up area, regardless of the weather. Anyone hit by a car or a bike when not wearing a reflective item is liable to be held responsible for the accident. Police may impose fines on those not wearing reflective items.

A system of toll collection is in place on selected sections of motorways, expressways and national roads. Detailed information on the system is available on the toll operator website: www.viatoll.pl/en

Poland ranks high among European Union countries for road fatalities. In 2015 there were 2,938 road deaths in Poland (source: UK Department for Transport). This equates to 7.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in the same year.

Poland is a major east-west transit route for heavy vehicles. The road network is being constantly upgraded, and roadworks are frequent, particularly in summer. Even some main roads between major towns and cities can be narrow and poorly surfaced, making driving after dark particularly challenging.

Be aware when motorists are turning right on a green filter arrow. Pedestrians on any pedestrian crossing will also have a green light, and have priority.

According to EU law, driving licences issued by any EU member state are mutually recognised in other EU member states. If you are moving abroad, you cannot register your new address on your British driving licence. See the DVLA pages of the gov.uk website: www.gov.uk/browse/driving for more information.

It is a legal requirement to carry a driving licence, ID, original vehicle-registration papers, ownership documents and insurance papers at all times. You will need to present these documents if you are stopped by the police and when crossing non-Schengen borders. This also applies to rental vehicles. If you do not have these papers the police may impound your vehicle and charge you for this. All vehicles driven on public roads in Poland must meet local technical requirements.

Seat belts must be used in both front and back seats.  

Using a mobile phone while driving (unless ‘hands free’) is banned.

See also the European Commission, AA and RAC guides to driving in Poland, at:

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public places, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

You can find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack, at: www.gov.uk/guidance/reduce-your-risk-from-terrorism-while-abroad

Read the FCO’s guidance: www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-deal-with-a-crisis-overseas for further information and advice.

[Source: Overseas Business Risk/gov.uk]

 

Business risk

Bribery and corruption

Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.

In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case, it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.

The UK Government takes a very serious view on bribery and corruption, and any UK company considered to be involved in corrupt practices will feel the full weight of the law under the UK Bribery Act 2010. The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS, formerly Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – BIS) has published a number of documents on their website. See: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-business-energy-and-industrial-strategy for assistance in this area.

Poland is ranked 30th out of 168 countries in Transparency International's latest corruption perception index (2015): www.transparency.org/cpi2015/#results-table

Corruption has significantly reduced in recent years through a combination of law enforcement action and political will. The Polish Anti-Corruption Bureau has been set up and reports of corruption are now far less common. Public willingness to confront the problem has also led to a reduction in opportunities for corruption. The law gives the person in receipt of a bribe, immunity from prosecution if they report it to the authorities and assist in the prosecution of the bribe giver.

However, in the 2013 Special Eurobarometer on Corruption, 82% of Polish respondents stated that corruption was a widespread problem in their country (EU average 76%) and 27% said that corruption affected their daily lives (EU average 26%). 15% of Polish respondents were asked or expected to pay a bribe over the previous 12 months (EU average 4%), mostly in relation to healthcare. 32 % of entrepreneurs (EU average 43 %) reported corruption was a problem when doing business in Poland.

It is recommended you read the UK Government’s Anti-Bribery Policy advice at: www.gov.uk/anti-bribery-policy and also see the Business Anti-Corruption portal at: www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/poland for more advice and guidance about corruption in Poland and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), as intangible assets, are a key factor in the competitiveness of your business in the global economy. IPR can protect your innovation from competitors and can also be an important source of cash flow through licensing deals or selling IP. IPR infringement can lead to loss of business, revenue, reputation and competitive advantage unless you take steps to protect your IP both in the UK and abroad.

Poland adheres to all EU laws regarding copyright and intellectual property and the local branches of international watchdogs monitor breaches that may occur, including downloading of illegal software which mostly concerns the music/film industry. Nevertheless, “piracy” of intellectual property remains an important issue the Polish government needs to deal with. Poland has not signed the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.

For further information on IP:

Useful information can also be found at the following:

UK Intellectual Property Office – the UK Government agency providing free and impartial advice on protecting and registering your IP in the UK and abroad. See: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office

Organised crime

Levels of organised crime in Poland do not exceed those in other former accession states and most businesses will be unaffected. Corruption, fraud and theft do exist, though Poland benefits from a robust Anti-Corruption Bureau and a professional and capable police force. In previous years it was common to have to pay a crime group to run a business, but such practices are now rare. If you encounter any issues in this area you should, as with instances of bribery and corruption, contact the police, prosecutor’s office or Polish Anti-Corruption Bureau.

As in the UK, businesses should be cautious when shipping goods through Poland as hijacking of heavy goods vehicles can take place, especially where high-value goods are being shipped. Caution should also be taken in securing premises where goods of value are stored. Businesses in Poland make extensive use of security guards – in such cases, a reputable company should be used. Organised crime groups also engage in smuggling of commodities, illicit goods and people trafficking. Poland has a large logistics industry and a history of producing innovative smugglers. Tobacco and alcohol are some of the most commonly smuggled goods. Cigarettes are the commodity being smuggled in the largest quantities and the UK is the destination where the profit is highest due to high tax rates. Counterfeit cigarettes also make up a significant proportion of the goods seized by customs at national borders, some produced within Poland and some manufactured outside the EU.

Protective security advice

The UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) also provides protective security advice to businesses. See: www.cpni.gov.uk

[Source: FCO Overseas Business Risk/gov.uk]

Health

Visit your health professional at least four to six weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country-specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website: www.travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/180/poland and by NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/europe--russia/poland.aspx

Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/Pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx  

In general, medical facilities in Poland are comparable to those in the UK. Private medical facilities are comparatively inexpensive and of a good standard. Polish doctors and nurses are well qualified but English is not always widely spoken and you may face communication difficulties.

If you are visiting Poland you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Polish nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you have lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC will not cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

Tick-borne encephalitis is common, especially in forested areas during the summer.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately. 

[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]

 

FCO travel advice

If you are travelling to Poland for business, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has travel advice to help you prepare for your visits overseas and to stay safe and secure while you are there.

For advice please visit the FCO Travel section pages on the gov.uk website: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/poland  


Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. See FCO Foreign Travel Insurance: www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance

Contact FCO travel advice team

This email service only offers information and advice for British nationals planning to travel abroad.

If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the consular assistance team on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

If you are abroad and need emergency help, please contact the nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. See: www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations

[Source: FCO Travel Advice/gov.uk]


 

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