Country guides Europe
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. The standard two-pin European style plugs are used.
The national language is Polish; however, English is widely understood in tourist areas.
The official currency is the Polish zloty (PLN), divided into 100 groszy. Poland still uses cash more frequently than visitors might expect, while ATMs (bankomats) and credit card facilities are available in major towns and cities. Money can be exchanged in the cities and larger towns at banks, hotels or bureaux de change called kantors, which offer the best rates. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm, and some are open on Saturday until 1pm.
Tipping is expected in restaurants in Poland and 15 percent is the standard for good service. In restaurants, when your bill is collected, saying 'thank you' signals to the waiter/waitress that they can keep the change. Tipping is not the norm in hotels across Poland, but taxis, tours and spas generally expect no less than 10 percent tip for good service.
There are few health risks associated with travel to Poland. After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. Medical facilities and standards of healthcare are good, but not many nurses or doctors speak English. If travellers take prescription medication along, they should be sure to bring a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.
Having said that, visits to Poland are usually trouble free, and the precautions travellers should take are merely the safety measures advised for cities all over the world.
Family is incredibly important in Polish society, with many citizens relying heavily on their close-knit inner circles which also may include close friends. Parties can be formal, so don't be surprised if you're introduced by your host and try to use the prefix 'Pan' for males and 'Pani' for females when addressing others. It serves as the Polish equivalent for 'Mr' and 'Ms'.
Poland has an interesting mix of the old and the new, and this is apparent in the business world too. Women can expect a kiss on the hand rather than a handshake from the older generation and one can expect to be warmly offered drinks during meetings; it is impolite to refuse. Although the Polish are hospitable and friendly, business is still conducted formally. Punctuality is important, dress should be formal and conservative (a suit and tie are the norm) and business cards are exchanged. Use titles and last names unless otherwise indicated. English is widely spoken, though attempting some basic Polish phrases will be appreciated. Business hours in Poland are traditionally 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and lunch breaks are not a given as they are often unpaid.
Travellers to Poland over 17 years, arriving from non-EU countries, do not have to pay duty on 250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1 litre wine and 1 litre spirits; cosmetics and medicines for personal use; gifts up to the value of €430. Travellers to Poland arriving from within the EU do not have to pay duty on 800 cigarettes or 200 cigars or 1kg smoking tobacco; 10 litres spirits, 90 litres wine and 110 litres beer. Prohibited items include birds and poultry arriving from countries infected with avian influenza. The export of all articles of artistic, historic or cultural value are subject to special regulations.
The international access code for Poland is +48 and wifi is available in towns and cities.
Passport & Visa
A passport valid for at least three months after period of intended stay is needed for those who require a visa. Generally, visa exempt nationals must have a passport valid for period of intended stay (other than EEA nationals). The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.
US nationals do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. Passports must be valid for three months beyond period of intended stay.
British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject', 'British Overseas Territories Citizen', and Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar must be valid for the duration of intended stay. British passports with any other endorsement must be valid for three months beyond period of intended stay. Visas are not required for British Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Subjects, and those with Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar. Those with any other endorsement in their passports can stay in the country visa-free for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Canadian nationals do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. Passports must be valid for three months beyond period of intended stay.
Australians require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
South African passport holders require a visa for travel to Poland. Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay.
Irish nationals require a passport valid on arrival, but no visa is necessary.
New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. A visa is not needed for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Polish National Tourist Office, Warsaw: +48 (0)22 536 7070 or www.pot.gov.pl.112 (Fire Department, Ambulance and Police).
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Polish Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 499 1700.
Polish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7291 3520.
Polish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 0468.
Polish Embassy, Sydney, Australia: +61 2 6272 1000.
Polish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 430 2632.
Polish Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 283 0855.
Polish Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 499 7844.
Embassies / consulates in Poland
United States Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 504 2000.
British Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 311 0000.
Canadian Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 584 3100.
Australian Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 521 3444.
South African Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 622 1031.
Irish Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 564 2200.
New Zealand Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 521 0500.