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Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated - removal of U.S. Travel Alert for the holiday season.
Poland - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Poland. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The rate of violent crime, for example, mugging and carjacking, in Poland is generally low. However, petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, is common, particularly in larger cities. Organized groups of thieves operate at major tourist destinations, on public transportation, at train stations, near hotels and in busy markets. Thieves also target the bus and tram route to and from Warsaw Chopin Airport.
Exercise caution on trains, particularly at night. Store personal belongings in a safe place, do not leave the compartment unattended and ensure the door is secured from the inside. Most pickpocketing on trains occurs during boarding and disembarking. Commonly, a group of well-dressed young men will jostle and rob a passenger as they supposedly attempt to get around the victim in a narrow aisle of the train.
On the road, be especially vigilant when stopped at traffic lights, as bags can be snatched from passenger seats by thieves travelling on scooters or on foot. Keep your windows closed, bags and handbags out of reach and car doors locked at all times.
Youth gangs can be a threat, particularly in urban areas. Individuals have sometimes been harassed for reasons of race, sexual orientation or foreign-looking appearance.
Card skimming sometimes occurs in Poland. To avoid being a victim of fraud, use automated banking machines located in well-lit public areas (or inside a bank or business), avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature, cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN and check any unauthorized transactions on your account statements.
See Overseas Fraud for more information on scams abroad.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as these items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Demonstrations occur frequently and, while generally peaceful, have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities and there is a potential for other violent incidents, which could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Continue to exercise normal security precautions.
Poland continues to improve its highway system, but travel by road can be hazardous outside of major centres. Many secondary roads are poorly maintained, narrow and badly lit, and traffic is congested. Some drivers have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe driving practices.
The country’s role as a major east-west route for transport trucks also poses risks. Horse-drawn and slow-moving agricultural vehicles are common in rural areas. Avoid travelling after dark in remote areas.
Use only officially marked taxis. Make sure that the taxi meter is in use; all registered taxis are required to have an operating meter. The taxi should display the rate per kilometre on the back passenger window, visible from outside the vehicle. Be wary of taxi drivers who approach you at the airport or whose vehicles do not display telephone numbers and a company name; these drivers usually charge exorbitant rates.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety Information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
You must report the loss or theft of your passport to the local police. A police report is required for the issuance of a new passport or the replacement of a Polish visa.
Confrontations, which at times become violent, may occur between opposing fans at soccer matches. Exercise caution if attending a soccer match or if staying in the vicinity of sporting venues.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Polish authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
Foreigners must register their stay in Poland within 48 hours of arrival if the stay is to exceed 14 days. Registration will normally be arranged by your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel, registration must be organized by your host, landlord or holder of the property deed of the residence.
Poland is a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians who also hold Polish citizenship must enter and exit Poland using their Polish passport. Consult Laws and Culture for more information.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
Business visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
To stay longer than 90 days, Canadians must apply either for a Polish visa in Canada before arriving in Poland or for a temporary residence permit while in Poland and must have a valid reason for extending their stay, such as education or employment. For more information, please consult the Polish Office for Foreigners.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel. For more information, see Schengen area.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Satisfactory medical care is available in Poland. However, emergency services may be deficient in small towns and rural areas. Medical services require immediate payment. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and Poland are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Poland to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Polish authorities.
Poland does not recognize dual citizenship and does not allow its citizens to serve sentences abroad. Dual nationals may, therefore, not receive the agreement of the Polish authorities to be transferred to a prison in Canada.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Poland. If local authorities consider you a Polish citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Polish passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Always carry original government issued photo identification, such as a passport or a driver’s licence, as local authorities can ask for you to prove your identity.
An International Driving Permit is required and must be obtained prior to arrival in Poland.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.
The use of seatbelts is mandatory for the driver and any passenger in the car. Children below 150 cm may not ride in the front seat without a child car seat.
Headlights must be on at all times.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.02 percent. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and jail sentences.
Foreigners may be required to pay traffic violation fines on the spot.
Additional information about road safety and regulations can be found on the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport website.
Other traffic laws
Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol is illegal and subject to detention and fines.
In rural areas, cyclists and pedestrians must wear reflective clothing (or vest) when on the road between dusk and dawn. A cyclist or pedestrian involved in an accident and not wearing a reflective item could be held liable.
Tickets must be validated at the start of any trip. You could be fined on the spot if you fail to show a validated ticket to an official upon request.
Photography of military installations and some public buildings and monuments may result in a penalty. These installations generally have adequate signage. If in doubt, you should seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.
It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places. If you are found intoxicated in a public area, you may be detained and could be taken to a sobering-up centre, where you may need to spend the night. You will be responsible for paying the cost of the stay.
Strict regulations are in place on items older than 50 years or of a specific value. If you purchased any works of art or antiques, confirm with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage if you may leave Poland with these items before attempting to leave as a permit may be required. Consult the Ministry of Finance’s Information on export of arts and antiquities for details.
There are strict export restrictions on firearms. Before acquiring firearms in Poland, contact the local police for information about export requirements.
The currency of Poland is the zloty (PLN).
Credit cards and debit cards are accepted. Automated banking machines are available in all major cities and towns. Traveller’s cheques are often not accepted.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU country sites, visit the European Commission’s cash controls website.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Heavy rains and thunderstorms are frequent during the summer, sometimes resulting in flooding. Monitor regional weather forecasts and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Warsaw - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Warsaw and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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