Poland - Consular Information Sheet
August 11, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Poland is a moderately developed
European nation and a democracy rapidly implementing a free market
transformation. While improving rapidly, tourist facilities are
not highly developed in all areas, and some of the services taken
for granted in other European countries can be difficult to find
in some parts of the country.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required. U.S.
citizens do not require visas for stays up to 90 days for tourist,
business, or transit purposes. Americans should ensure that their
passports are date-stamped upon entry. Persons planning to stay
in Poland for longer than 90 days or who will be employed in Poland
must obtain a visa in advance. Polish law requires every traveler
to be able to show means of support, if asked. For persons above
16 years of age, this has been defined as 100 Polish zloty per
day or the equivalent in foreign currency or other negotiable
instruments. For further information on entry requirements, please
Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Consular Section, at 2224
Wyoming Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 232-4517
or 232-4528 or the Polish consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles,
and New York. The Polish Embassy can also be contacted via its
Web site at http://www.polishworld.com/polemb.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Polish law now requires Polish citizens
(including those who are also American citizens) to enter and
depart Poland using a Polish passport. Americans who are also
Polish citizens or who are unsure if they hold Polish citizenship
are advised to contact the nearest Polish consular office for
information about citizenship requirements and travel documentation.
While recognizing that some Americans are also citizens of other
countries, the U.S. Government does not encourage its citizens
to become or remain dual nationals due to an array of complications
that may ensue from the obligations owed to the country of second
nationality. For example, Polish law prohibits Polish citizens
from serving in the armed forces of a foreign state, and violators
are subject to arrest and prosecution. U.S.-Polish dual nationals
who are members of the U.S. armed forces may be subject to these
penalties. Additional information
about the U.S. Government’s policy with respect to dual nationality
may be found at the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov/dualnationality.html.
CRIME INFORMATION: Crime rates in Poland vary. Warsaw,
Krakow, and other major cities have higher rates of crime against
residents and foreign visitors. The tri-cities area of Gdynia,
Sopot, and Gdansk has a high incidence of muggings, sometimes
in broad daylight. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets
operate at major tourist destinations, in train stations, and
on trains, trams, and buses in major cities. Thefts have occurred
on overnight trains, including thefts from passengers in second-class
closed compartments. Most pickpocketing on trains occurs when
boarding. A common practice is for groups of well-dressed young
men to surround a passenger in the narrow aisle of the train and
jostle/pickpocket him or her as they supposedly attempt to get
around the passenger. (This often occurs in first-class cars).
Racially motivated verbal and, on occasion, physical harassment
of Americans and others of non-Caucasian ethnicity can occur.
Most of the incidents that have occurred were perpetrated by groups
of young males generally identified as skinheads.
Car thefts, carjackings, and theft from cars are commonplace.
Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull
over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second
car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted
car gets out to see if there is a problem, the person who has
been following will get in and drive off with the car. Drivers
should never get out of the car to check for damage without first
turning off the ignition and taking the keys. There has been an
increasing incidence 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.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad,
for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet
is available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Adequate medical care
is available in Poland, but it generally does not meet Western
standards. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside
the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not
provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for
health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether
your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical
evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems
requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United
States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you
incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
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. Roadside services,
while not at Western levels, are rapidly improving. Full-service
gas stations are now commonplace. The information below concerning
Poland is provided for general reference only, and may
not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Driving, especially after dark, is very hazardous. Roads are
generally narrow, badly lit, and frequently under repair, especially
in the summer months. Roads are often used by pedestrians and
animals as well as by vehicles. Heavy alcohol consumption is frequently
a contributing factor in accidents. Polish laws provide virtually
zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Poland’s civil aviation authority
as Category One -- in compliance with the international aviation
safety standards for the oversight of Polish air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 256-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Polish customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary import and export of items
such as works of art, particularly those created before 1945.
Works of art produced by living artists after 1945 may be exported
with the permission from the Provincial Conservator of Relics.
Some works of art produced after 1945 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. It is advisable to
contact the Embassy of Poland in Washington, D.C. or one of Poland’s
consulates in the United States for specific information regarding
Poland’s customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission
Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission
of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for
exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located
at the U.S. Council
for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New
York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the
United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480,
or send e-mail
to email@example.com, or visit http://www.uscib.org for
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. Persons violating
Poland’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Poland are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
Special Circumstances: Upon entry into Poland, visitors
must request a form to declare currency, travelers checks, and
other cash instruments in amounts in excess of 5,000 euros (please
check exchange rate for approximate dollar amount). The declaration
form must 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 subject
to criminal penalties. Most major banks now cash traveler’s checks.
ATM machines are readily available in all major cities and credit
cards are becoming increasingly accepted.
Children's Issues: For information
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or tel. (202) 736-7000.
Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans
living in or visiting Poland are encouraged to register at the
Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Poland and obtain updated
information on travel and security within Poland. The U.S. Embassy
in Warsaw is located at Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31. The consular
entrance is located around the corner at Ulica Piekna 12, tel
(48)(22) 628-3041, fax (48)(22) 625-0289, after-hours tel, (48)(22)
625-0055. The U.S. Consulate in Krakow is located at Ulica Stolarska
9, tel (48)(12) 429-6655, fax (48)(12) 421-8292, after-hours cellular
phone, 0601-483-348. A Consular Agency providing limited consular
services in Poznan is located at Ulica Paderewskiego 7, tel (48)(61)
851-8516, fax (48)(61) 851-8966.