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Healthcare in Poland

Expats will find both public and private healthcare options in Poland. Most Polish citizens use a combination of the two, and expats will want to make sure they have some degree of private insurance, as costs associated with these services can become expensive if paying out of pocket.

Facilities and treatment are generally better in the larger cities, and emergency services are less reliable in the rural areas. Poland also has a smaller number of doctors than many countries with a similar population size, and these individuals are usually located in the major cities.

Public healthcare in Poland

The Ministry of Health regulates national healthcare policy and oversees the state-financed system, the National Health Fund (NFZ), that supports it.

State care is compulsory for all Polish nationals and all official residents. Contributions are usually deducted directly from salaries, with self-employed individuals required to make a personal payment to the NFZ. 

The standard of public healthcare in Poland is adequate, though many of the hospitals may be of a lower standard when compared with hospitals in Western Europe. Despite this, there are excellent public facilities which cover more treatment plans than might be available at private medical centres – there are often no private options for cancer cases, for example.

Expats will need to obtain a personal identification number (PESEL) before officially applying for public health insurance. Once the application is approved, individuals and their dependants are given an official medical insurance card and are entitled to free health services in Poland.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare here during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

One disadvantage of public healthcare is the fact that the NFZ issues quotas on the number of free state procedures doctors can perform. For this reason, those needing either consultation or minor treatment may find themselves on a waiting list for months before receiving service.

A further issue is that it is necessary to first get a referral from a General Practitioner (GP) in order to consult a medical specialist, further increasing the waiting time before receiving treatment.

Private healthcare and insurance in Poland

Private healthcare in Poland is often used to supplement the public sector. Expats will find that many nationals choose this option to avoid the long waits and painstaking bureaucracy of the state system. In fact, many of the same doctors that work for the NFZ have private practices on the side, in which they can bypass the limits of the quota system and treat patients as they see fit.

Private treatment is relatively affordable, but continuous treatment will certainly pull at an expat’s purse strings. As such, expats should explore their private healthcare insurance options and consider securing a comprehensive policy.

Pharmacies in Poland

Pharmacies are widely available in Poland, and some in the major cities are open 24/7. Although expats will find a wide selection of over-the-counter medicines in Poland, these are often more expensive than in other EU countries. The state does not sponsor most prescription drugs, and some medicines associated with long-term illnesses, such as asthma, depression, heart disease and diabetes, are only partially funded.

Health risks in Poland

Although there are few health risks in Poland, expats should visit a health specialist to ensure that they have the latest vaccine information.

Expats walking outdoors should be careful of tick-borne diseases such as encephalitis. Tick bites can be avoided by using appropriate insect-repellant and wearing long trousers.

Emergency services in Poland

Emergency services in Poland are often prone to time delays, especially in areas outside the major urban centres. The time between calling for help and receiving treatment is much longer than in other European countries, so it might sometimes be faster for patients to make their own way to treatment centres.

If a person is not close to a hospital with an emergency room, a GP is required by law to treat them in their home.

Individual emergency services can be contacted on the following numbers:  997 (police), 998 (fire), and 999 (ambulance).

Transport and Driving in Poland

Poland has adequate road networks as well as an extensive public transport system that makes getting around a fairly easy task for expats whether they prefer to drive, fly, or go by bus or train. It is also easy to travel to cities outside the country via plane or high-speed train.

Public transport in Poland

Poland’s large cities all have comprehensive and efficient public transport links. There is also an exhaustive system of intercity trains and buses for travelling around the country and to other countries in Europe. Tickets are available for purchase from kiosks, machines at stations and aboard buses and trains.


Trains are one of the most popular ways to get around Poland. Intercity, EuroCity and express trains serve the larger cities in Poland, while the regional and local trains stop in smaller towns and villages. Fares will depend on the type of train, the class and the route. 

It is possible to travel by train between all the major cities in Poland as well as cities outside Poland such as Budapest, Prague, Berlin and Vienna


Poland boasts a far-reaching intercity bus system that covers areas that aren't serviced by train routes. Tickets are reasonably priced and can be bought at kiosks or from the bus driver.

Both PKS Polonus and Flixbus are reputable companies that offer well-priced tickets.

Taxis in Poland

There are many reliable and safe taxi services in Poland, but expats should be wary of unofficial-looking taxis that hang outside train stations and some hotels. These could take advantage of foreigners and overcharge them. Legitimate taxi companies usually mark their cars with logos. Legally, the driver should have a meter and a cash register in the cab and drivers are obligated to give passengers a receipt when they pay the fare. 

Taxi fares are largely affordable but increase on Sundays, holidays and late at night. Expats may be able to secure a discounted rate if they phone and book the taxi in advance.

Alternatively, ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Bolt operate in Poland's major cities. Many expats prefer using these apps as they give them more control over routes and prices while eliminating language barrier issues.

Driving in Poland

Expats who wish to travel around Poland by car should find the process rather straightforward and enjoyable. Road conditions are satisfactory, but snow and ice in winter can be hazardous. Expats should take the proper precautions and abide by all road rules to ensure their safety when driving in Poland.

It is required by law that drivers in Poland have their headlights on at all times. Fog lights may only be used when there is fog or heavy rain, and rear fog lights may only be used when visibility is less than 160 feet (50m). It is also advisable that expats fit their cars with winter tyres to ensure safe driving during the frosty months.

Driving licences

EU and EFTA citizens can use their home country’s driving licence in Poland. Other expats, however, will need an International Driving Permit for the first six months they are in Poland, after which they'll need to apply for a Polish driving licence. This involves passing a theoretical driving test and providing medical certificates, although a medical certificate is rarely required unless one's driving licence is near expiration. 

Once expats have received their licence, it is important that they keep it in their car, along with their car insurance documents, at all times.

Work Permits for Poland

The requirements surrounding work permits in Poland vary depending on an expat's nationality. 

European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens do not need a work permit to be legally employed in Poland, while non-EU citizens are required to hold a work permit.

Since Poland officially became part of the EU in 2004, efforts have been made to standardise the work permit process. Rules and regulations are becoming more closely aligned with the directives used by other EU countries.

Types of work permits for Poland

There are a few types of work visas for Poland, but most new arrivals wanting to work in Poland will apply for a Type A visa, which allows expats to work in Poland if a Polish company employs them. Expats who sit on management boards typically apply for a Type B visa, which allows them to live in Poland for six months or more during the course of a year. Otherwise, the Type C work permit allows expats to work in Poland for a company that is not Polish. The Type D visa is specifically for expats who work in export services for a non-Polish company.

Applying for a work permit for Poland

Most employers apply for their employees' work permits on their behalf, as it is necessary for an employer to first establish an expat's 'permission to work' from a provincial government office, known locally as a voivode office. This application must also be made at the office in the district where the expat is to take up employment. 

For this reason, most of the burden of organising the work permit falls on the shoulders of the hiring company. The company must present a great deal of documentation, detailing its legal status, its income and losses, information relating to the number of employees in the company, and most importantly, proof that there are no qualified Polish workers who could adequately fill the position in question.

Although this removes a lot of pressure from expats, it also means that companies often choose not to hire foreigners, as the process of filing paperwork can be resource consuming. 

Work permits are issued for a maximum of three years, at which point they can be renewed accordingly.

One restriction that many expats are unaware of is the fact that work permits in Poland are job- and employer-specific. Consequently, if an expat wishes to change employers while living in Poland, they will have to reapply for a work permit.

Once 'permission to work' is granted by the voivode office, expats can apply for a formal visa at the Polish Consulate in their home country, or apply for a residency card within Poland.

*Regulations for work permits are subject to change at short notice, and expats should consult their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Relocation Companies in Poland

Moving to Poland can be extremely challenging for expats and their families in terms of logistics, organisation and general well-being. Most large companies and plenty of individuals use the services of a relocation company to help ease the move. A good relocation consultant can help expats complete the required immigration and visa formalities, as well as assist them with finding accommodation and suitable schools for their children. Many relocation companies also offer orientation tours of the city, and can suggest dentists, doctors, supermarkets, car garages, and so on.

Here is a list of some relocation companies that can assist with any move to or from Poland.

Relocation companies in Poland


Express Relocations

Express Relocations helps HR departments of large and small companies from around the world with their relocations to Poland. They employ 80 experienced consultants, with offices in the major Polish cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Poznan, Lodz, Gdynia and Katowice.


crown relocation company

Crown Relocations

Crown Relocations provides transportation, destination and immigration services, as well as family support, to assist people relocating internationally. With experts working in Poland, and many other countries worldwide, they provide the support, guidance, care and personal attention needed to ensure a successful and seamless move to Poland for you and your family.


Santa Fe

Santa Fe Relocation

Santa Fe Relocation has over 50 years of experience providing comprehensive relocation services to both corporate and individual clients relocating to Poland. As an international firm, Santa Fe Relocation has a strong understanding of what is required in a move and caters for a full spectrum of needs.


Cost of Living in Poland

The cost of living in Poland is among the most affordable in the European Union (EU), alongside Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. In the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Warsaw, Poland's most expensive city, was ranked 170th out of 227 cities.

Cost of accommodation in Poland

The cost of accommodation in Poland varies, but apartments closest to the main square in any Polish city – big or small – will usually be the costliest. Expats who are willing to live a bit further out and manage a small commute will find better deals for apartments with larger living spaces.

Cost of transport in Poland

Public transport is relatively inexpensive, and students, pupils and senior citizens are eligible for discounts on long-term ticketing.

Poland's central location and the prevalence of low-cost air travel make it easy and affordable to explore the rest of Europe while living in Poland. Airports can be found in all the major Polish cities.

Cost of groceries in Poland

Shopping for groceries in Poland can be a refreshing change for expats, as the prices are often substantially lower than in Western Europe, the US or Australia. Local markets, filled with fresh produce, are especially cost-effective.

While local produce and goods tend to be affordable, imported goods might have a price tag closer to what expats are used to back home. For those with a penchant for local delicacies like pierogi, bigos or żurek, Poland is a food haven on a budget. It might be a bit pricier for those yearning for a taste of home from faraway places.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Poland

Poland has a vibrant cultural scene, and there's no shortage of things to do or places to explore. Thankfully, enjoying a night out or engaging in cultural activities doesn't burn a hole in one's pocket. Cinema tickets, theatre performances, and music concerts are usually much cheaper than in the likes of London, Paris, or New York.

As for dining out, a hearty meal in a local eatery will often be quite budget-friendly, although upscale restaurants in major cities like Warsaw or Kraków can have prices more akin to their Western European counterparts. Nonetheless, compared to a dinner out in Manhattan or central London, it's still a relative bargain.

Cost of education in Poland

Public education in Poland is free, but it is not a viable option for many expats because the language of instruction is Polish.

Most often, expat parents send their children to an international school, where the students can continue to follow the same curriculum they were studying in their home country. Most international schools are found in Warsaw or Kraków. International school fees can turn out to be a considerable expense because prices are high, as are additional expenses such as school trips, uniforms and textbooks.

Cost of healthcare in Poland

Healthcare in Poland has seen significant improvements over the years, and the standard of care in major cities is comparable to that in other parts of Europe. Public healthcare is funded through a mandatory health insurance system. Expats working in Poland will typically contribute to this system via their employment and, as a result, have access to public healthcare services.

On the other hand, many expats opt for private healthcare due to shorter waiting times and the availability of English-speaking doctors. While private healthcare costs are higher than public, they are generally lower than those in countries like the US or the UK. It's worth noting that many medications, especially generic brands, are cheaper in Poland than in several Western countries, but expats should still consider health insurance to cover any unexpected health expenses.

Cost of living in Poland chart 

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider, and the table below is based on average prices for Warsaw in August 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

PLN 7,100

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

PLN 5,100

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

PLN 3,800

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

PLN 2,900

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

PLN 15

Milk (1 litre)

PLN 4.50

Rice (1kg)

PLN 6.74

Loaf of white bread

PLN 4.64

Chicken breasts (1kg)

PLN 14

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

PLN 17

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

PLN 200

Big Mac meal

PLN 28

Coca-Cola (330ml)

PLN 7.17


PLN 13.72

Bottle of beer (local)

PLN 3.95


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

PLN 0.33

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

PLN 63

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

PLN 730


Taxi rate/km


City-centre public transport fare

PLN 4.40

Gasoline (per litre)


Diversity and inclusion in Poland

Poland’s small expat community is continuously growing. Nearly 10 percent of the population is non-Polish nationals, creating a diverse community for expats.

Accessibility in Poland 

In recent years, the government has been focused on improving the freedom of movement for people of all abilities, allocating billions of zlotys in funding. The effects of this drive to accessibility have been noticeable in larger cities, especially Krakow and Warsaw. The latter was chosen as the recipient of the EU’s Access City Award in 2020, thanks to major improvements to accessibility over a fairly short period of time, as well as the city’s commitment to continued improvements.

In larger cities, it is fairly easy to get around as buses and the Warsaw Metro are largely wheelchair friendly. Travelling by commuter train isn’t as convenient, however, as sometimes ramps are unavailable. Those intending to travel by train can arrange for assistance in advance – this needs to be booked about 72 hours ahead of travel.

Useful resources

LGBTQ+ in Poland

Polish society is traditionally conservative when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. Attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community are slowly shifting and becoming more accepting. Homosexuality has been legal in Poland since 1932, and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment has been illegal since 2003.

Various non-governmental organisations campaign to raise awareness of issues such as same-sex inheritance and transgender rights, though it does have to be stated that same-sex couples are not yet permitted to adopt children and transgender individuals face difficulty in changing their legal gender.

Private-sector companies, especially global ones, play a proactive role in creating working environments that are friendly for LGBTQ+ employees. This can include policies that allow same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

Larger cities often have lively LGBTQ+ communities, with new bars and nightclubs popping up all the time. Warsaw is the home of the Equality Parade, the largest gay pride parade in Eastern and Central Europe. In addition, the mayor of Warsaw has publicly pledged his support to the LGBTQ+ community, leading the Equality Parade in 2019 and 2021, and signing the country’s first declaration against LGBTQ+ discrimination in 2019.

Useful resources

Gender equality in Poland

Equality between men and women is enshrined in the Polish constitution. Though progress has been made on some fronts, in practice, gender inequality remains a problem in various areas of life. In the economic sphere, however, strides have been made, and the situation continues to improve.

Although there is a pay gap between men and women, it’s relatively small at 10 percent when compared to the OECD average of 16 percent.

Useful resources

Women in leadership in Poland

Although leadership in Poland remains largely dominated by men, the proportion of female leadership continually rises year by year, signalling a change. 

As a step towards equality, global standards aim for a representation of 30 percent in major companies. In 2021, 16 percent of leadership in Poland’s 140 major companies was female, a figure that has been continually rising over the past few years. Female representation in parliament is also increasing, with women making up 28 percent of parliamentary roles in 2020, up from 18 percent in 2010.

Useful resources

Mental health awareness in Poland

Studies have shown that expats can be at greater risk of mental health problems. This often manifests itself in the form of expat depression but cases of stress, anxiety and isolation among the expat community are also common.

More and more companies are becoming aware of the impact of mental health issues and adjusting policies to better support those who experience difficulties. This includes offering more comprehensive healthcare schemes to employees, providing better coverage for mental health problems, as well as creating awareness of mental health in the workplace by holding in-house workshops. Depression, in particular, has received much needed attention and is now more broadly discussed.

There are many excellent private counsellors, and in practice most expats will be able to access the services of a private psychiatrist or psychologist when living in Poland. We advise that expats ensure that their international health insurance covers access therapy and other support services.

Useful resources

Unconscious bias training in Poland

The concept of unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about groups of people different to themselves. Everyone holds some degree of unconscious bias – not as the result of a purposeful decision but rather an unnoticed development over time. People are more likely to hold unconscious bias about groups they rarely or never come into contact with, and this is no different in Poland.

Unconscious bias can deeply affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on recruitment as well as employee retention and performance. To improve awareness and create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to institute unconscious bias training. There are also numerous online resources that can be used to improve self-awareness regarding bias.

Useful resources

Diversification in the workplace in Poland

Poland’s inclusion in the European Union brought an influx of foreign capital and investment, and the relocation of major global businesses. Foreign nationals are employed across a wide range of businesses and offices buzz with English, French and German.

Poland’s economic success and continuing internationalisation is contributing to a better working environment for all. Progressive firms, particularly the global players, are working to ensure that there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, religious beliefs or physical ability.

Safety in Poland

Poland is by and large a safe country, with low rates of violent and non-violent crime compared to other European countries. Nevertheless, it’s important to take basic precautions to avoid becoming a victim of petty crime, which can occur in big cities.

Pickpocketing and other opportunistic crime mostly occurs in busy settings, such as tourist areas and at public transport stations. It’s best to keep belongings tucked away safely in these areas.

Calendar initiatives in Poland

4 February – World Cancer Day
8 March – International Women’s Day
7 April – World Health Day
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
8 October –World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
18 November – End Child Sex Abuse Day
25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
1 December – World AIDS Day

Banking, Money and Taxes in Poland

Polish banking has come a long way since its monopolised and inefficient banking system of the 1990s, and nowadays offers a good number of both local and international banking options. Each has different fee policies and account options, so it’s highly recommended expats do some preliminary research to find which will work best for them.

Money in Poland

Even though Poland joined the European Union in 2004, it has not yet adopted the euro. The Polish currency is the złoty (PLN), which is divided into 100 groszy

  • Notes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 PLN

  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 groszy and 1, 2 and 5 PLN

Expats can change money in banks or kantors (exchange offices). Banks will likely charge a commission, whereas kantors usually provide better exchange rates and don't charge a commission.

Banking in Poland

PKO BP is the largest and most popular national bank in Poland, while Citibank, MultiBank and MBank (a solely telephonic/online services bank) are most commonly used by expats. Bank staff generally speak English, and online banking can also be done in English.

Smaller, more traditional Polish banks and branches may not have English-speaking staff readily available.

Banking hours in Poland are generally from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Opening a bank account in Poland

A local bank account is necessary for day-to-day expenses and is needed to receive payment from employers.

Expats can use their passport and residency card (Karta Pobytu) to open a bank account. In cases where an expat doesn't have a residency card, it is often adequate to sign a declaration of residency.

A small monthly fee is required to maintain an account, and additional charges for transactions and direct debit orders also apply.

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs are plentiful and conveniently located around the major cities, but rarer in rural areas. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Taxes in Poland

Expats living and working in Poland qualify for tax status based on the amount of time they spend in the country, or the nature of their employment contract.

Those who are residents, or who spend more than 183 days of the tax year in the country, will be taxed on their worldwide income.

Poland has a progressive tax system, meaning that according to the annual income earned, expats will be taxed between 19 and 32 percent.

It is necessary for expats to register for a tax identification number (NIP) upon arrival. This is a 10-digit number that is also required for social security payments. It can be requested and applied for at local public tax offices.

A Brief History of Poland

Early history

  • 966: Poland is established as a sovereign state, with Mieszko I as its first recorded ruler.
  • 1025: Bolesław I the Brave becomes the first king of Poland.
  • 1385: Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, signs a document known as the Union of Krewo shortly before his marriage to Poland's Queen Jadwiga.
  • 1569: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is established, officially uniting the two nations. At its peak, the Commonwealth was the largest country in Europe and one of its most powerful.
  • 1648–1666: The Commonwealth is invaded by Sweden and Russia in a period of military campaigns known as the Deluge. During this time, the Commonwealth loses its status as a powerful political entity and a third of its population. The material damage is extensive, with more than 300 towns and cities razed by Swedish troops.
  • 1772: The First Partition of Poland takes place, with Russia, Prussia and Austria dividing and annexing significant portions of the country. The Commonwealth loses a third of its territory and another third of its population.
  • 1793: The Second Partition of Poland takes place, with Russia and Prussia taking over and dividing over half of the remaining Polish territory.
  • 1795: The Commonwealth is entirely erased from the map, with its little remaining territory divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
  • 1807: In an effort to rally support among the Polish, Napoleon creates the Duchy of Warsaw, a client state of France, from some of the partitioned Polish territories.
  • 1815: After Napoleon's exile, the Duchy of Warsaw is once more divided among Russia, Prussia and Austria, with the bulk falling under Russian rule. Russia establishes the Congress Kingdom of Poland, a theoretically semi-independent state, entirely under the control of Russia in practice.
  • 1848: The Poznań Uprising occurs in the Prussian Partition in reaction to the Prussian leadership's growing anti-Polish rhetoric, wilful erasure of Polish culture and language, and attempts to Germanise the Polish public. The rebellion ends when its leaders are captured and jailed.
  • 1863: One of many rebellions against Russian leadership, the January Uprising, is partitioned Poland's longest-lasting insurgency. Reprisals from Russia are harsh, including execution and exile. Despite an end to the overt rebellion, underground Polish society continues to foster change at a grassroots level through political involvement and other initiatives to retain the Polish language and culture.

20th century

  • 1918: Poland regains independence and forms the Second Polish Republic following the end of World War I and the collapse of the Russian Empire.
  • 1939: Germany invades Poland, marking the start of World War II. Shortly afterwards, the Soviet invasion of Poland begins. The two invading powers divide up the country as they had agreed in the secret provisions of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, signed between Stalin and Hitler in August 1939.
  • 1939: The Siege of Warsaw takes place as German forces attack Poland's capital, resulting in significant damage and numerous casualties. Despite fierce resistance, Warsaw eventually surrenders, leading to German occupation.
  • 1940: Stalin approved a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia, which became known as the Katyn massacre, named after the Katyn Forest, where German forces first discovered the mass graves. The Soviet Union has denied responsibility for the massacres until 1990 when it officially acknowledges them and condemns the NKVD killings and the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.
  • 1941: Operation Reinhard, a secret German plan for the mass murder of the Jewish people, is put into action as 'extermination centres' are built throughout German-occupied Poland. By the war's end, approximately 3 million Jewish Poles lost their lives.
  • 1944: The Warsaw Uprising, a major operation by the Polish resistance, aims to liberate Warsaw from German occupation but ultimately fails. The city suffers massive destruction, and thousands of lives are lost in the process.
  • 1945: World War II ends, with Poland's total fatality rate estimated at 5 million. Post-war Poland becomes a communist state under Soviet control. 
  • There are significant changes to Poland's borders after the war. Large parts of eastern Poland are ceded to the Soviet Union and today form part of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. Poland is instead given large sections of East Germany.
  • 1956: Protests and uprisings against the communist government occur, including the Poznań 1956 protests.
  • 1978: Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyła is elected as Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in over 450 years. His papacy inspires hope and contributes to Poland's eventual transition away from communism.
  • 1980: The Solidarity movement forms as a trade union and social movement that becomes a key player in the fall of the communist government.
  • 1981–1983: In response to growing political opposition, martial law is instituted by the communist government.
  • 1989: The Round Table Talks, negotiations between the communist government and the opposition, lead to the first partially free elections in Poland since World War II. This marks the beginning of the end of communist rule in the country.
  • 1999: Poland joins Nato.

21st century

  • 2004: Poland joins the European Union.
  • 2010: The Smolensk air disaster occurs when a Polish aircraft carrying President Lech Kaczyński and other top officials crashes near Smolensk, Russia, killing all on board. The tragedy has a significant impact on Polish politics and society.
  • 2015: Andrzej Duda is elected as President of Poland, marking a shift in Poland towards right-wing populism.
  • 2020: Poland's first case of Covid-19 is identified. Over the next few years, the pandemic sweeps across the nation, infecting more than 6 million and killing 119,000. Lockdowns are instituted throughout the pandemic, and the economy experiences significant setbacks.
  • 2020–2021: Large-scale protests erupt in Poland as the government tightens already restrictive abortion laws. The demonstrations reveal deep social and political tensions and spark a debate on women's rights in the country.
  • 2022: Over 10 million Ukrainian refugees flee to Poland following Russia's renewed invasion and land grab in Ukraine. Poland becomes one of Ukraine's most vocal supporters within the EU.

Shipping and Removals in Poland

Despite Poland's Baltic coastline, the major ports of Gdańsk and Gdynia are poorly connected to many of the major urban cities in the centre and south of the country. As a result, shipping can often take longer than expected.

Still, whether shipping a container or a car to Poland, it generally takes three to four weeks for goods to arrive.

Costs vary depending on the size of the container booked, and it's recommended that expats request quotes from a number of different service providers to find the best deal.

Customs clearance for Poland

As a member of the EU, Poland is part of a greater customs union, which means that goods and items shipped to Poland by EU citizens and residents are duty free. Most used and personal items are also duty free.

If expats are using more than one medium of shipping (i.e. air and sea), all goods must be declared at the initial point of entry.

The paperwork required for customs clearance in Poland can be complicated, but shipping agents generally facilitate this process.

Shipping pets to Poland

Shipping pets to Poland is a straightforward process. Animals must have a microchip that complies with ISO standards, and dogs and cats must have the appropriate vaccinations. 

A veterinarian must issue an EU Health Certificate no more than four months prior to an expat's travel date, and an International Health Certificate must be issued within 10 days of departure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Poland

Expats considering a move to Poland will naturally have many concerns about life in this culturally rich country.

From transport concerns to salary expectations, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Poland.

What is a PESEL number, and how do I get one?

All new expats moving to Poland for more than three months will need to register at a local district office (urzad gminy), and will need to obtain a PESEL number (Public Electronic System of Population Records). Citizens of the European Union (EU) must register within 30 days of arrival, while non-EU nationals will need to register within four days of arrival.

To register for the PESEL number, expats must bring their passport and appear in person at a public office. The PESEL is vital for completing many bureaucratic affairs, like opening a bank account or applying for a mortgage.

Do I need a car in Poland as an expat?

Poland's larger urban centres, such as Warsaw and Krakow, have cost-effective and efficient modes of public transportation. Buses, trams and state-of-the-art subway systems are available for use, and plenty of package deals exist for ticket purchasing. Night buses and meter taxis are also plentiful in the main urban centres.

On the other hand, if living outside any of the large Polish cities, or even if living in a suburb on the periphery of the centre, it will be necessary to buy a car in Poland.

The driving culture in Poland tends to be aggressive. Speed limits are often not adhered to, and overtaking is the norm.

What kind of salary can an expat working in Poland expect?

Expats with highly sought-after qualifications, and who have gained valuable experience in a specialised field, such as IT, can expect to earn a salary above the Polish average. Otherwise, earning potential in Poland is quite limited compared to Western Europe.

That said, the cost of living in Poland is among the lowest in continental Europe.

Public Holidays in Poland




New Year's Day

1 January

1 January


6 January

6 January

Easter Sunday

9 April

31 March

Easter Monday

10 April

1 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Constitution Day

3 May

3 May

Whit Sunday

28 May

19 May

Corpus Christi

8 June

30 May

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

15 August

15 August

All Saints' Day

1 November

1 November

National Independence Day

11 November

11 November

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December


Weather in Poland

Expats moving to Poland will need to learn to cope with cold weather, as the country is known for its bitterly cold winters, with temperatures often plunging as low as 16°F (-9°C). Although the length of winter varies every year, with the season typically beginning in November and ending in March, it can be extended when eastern winds blow in from the Russian front. Snowfall is also common in winter, and can even occur as late as April.

Spring usually lasts two months (April to May) and is characterised by rain and cold nights, with daily temperatures ranging between 41°F (5°C) and 59°F (15°C)

Although precipitation falls year round, it is heaviest in summer. Summer (June to August) in Poland is moderate and average temperatures tend to hover between 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C). Excessive heat is rare, but droughts can occur from time to time.

Autumn in Poland begins pleasantly and is marked by warm days, while the temperature begins dropping dramatically in the second half of the season.


Embassy Contacts for Poland

Polish embassies abroad

  • Polish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 430 2632

  • Polish Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 12 830 855

  • Polish Embassy, Washington, DC, United States: +1 202 499 1700

  • Polish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 291 3520

  • Polish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 0468

  • Polish Consulate General, Sydney, Australia: +61 293 63 9816

  • Polish Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 499 7844

Foreign embassies in Poland

  • Australian Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 521 3444

  • United States Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 504 2000

  • British Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 311 0000

  • Canadian Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 584 3100

  • South African Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 622 1005

  • Irish Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 564 2200

  • New Zealand Embassy, Warsaw: +48 22 521 0500

Culture Shock in Poland

From a cultural point of view, Poland's customs and norms won't be completely alien to Western expats. However, there are a few Polish cultural practices that may surprise foreigners and may even cause some light culture shock.

Meeting and greeting in Poland

Greetings and farewells in Poland are marked with a kiss on each cheek for those who are on close terms, and the usual handshake between men and business acquaintances. Women shouldn’t be surprised if older men kiss their hands.

Poles do not say goodbye in doorways (including a handshake through a doorway) as it is thought to bring bad luck.

If learning Polish, it is a good idea to master and utilise the polite forms of addressing people as soon as possible. For native English speakers this often feels uncomfortably formal, but for Poles it is second nature and while they are generally forgiving of mistakes, it is an easy way of showing respect.

Polish people are not in the habit of smiling gratuitously at strangers; if smiling at a stranger, expect to be met with suspicion.

Gift-giving etiquette in Poland

If invited to somebody's house for a meal, it is polite to bring a gift – flowers or alcohol are the most common choices, but sweets are another option. Give flowers in odd numbers and avoid blooms that have cultural significance, such as yellow chrysanthemums, which are used at funerals.

Dress in Poland

Business and work attire in Poland tends to be quite formal. Women generally wear shirts and suits, while men wear collared shirts and suit trousers. If doing business in Poland, it's best to err on the side of formality. If teaching, the rules are a bit more relaxed, but in general very casual work attire is not considered professional. 

In most Polish houses, the homeowners don't wear outdoor shoes inside and it’s best to follow suit. Also, there is almost always a coat rack inside the door, where visitors will be expected to leave outerwear in winter.

Language barrier in Poland

The language barrier is one of the biggest issues for foreigners in Poland. Polish grammar and pronunciation make it difficult for speakers of Western European languages to learn, though it may be easier for someone who already knows another Slavic language.

That said, if staying in Poland long term, it is worth learning as much Polish as possible for the sake of convenience, as many services don't operate in English. Many young people know English and other languages, but expats will be more independent if they learn to conduct basic exchanges in Polish.

On the positive side, Poles tend to be patient and appreciative of a foreigner's efforts to learn Polish.

Religion in Poland

Poland is a Catholic country, with a fair sprinkling of Eastern Orthodox, especially in the eastern part of the country. If visiting churches, one will be expected to behave in a quiet and respectful manner – keep their hands out of their pockets and their voices hushed, and men should remove their hats (this doesn't apply to women). 

Also, be aware of church and other public holidays in Poland, over which almost everything will be closed. Christmas gift-giving and the main Christmas dinner take place on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day, as is the case in many other countries.

Bureaucracy in Poland

For those applying for a residency visa or setting up a business in Poland, the paperwork can seem overwhelming. Many systems are not yet computerised, so expect to fill in plenty of forms and stand in long queues. 

For expats who have a Polish partner, are a non-EU citizen and are applying for temporary residency, be aware that part of the application process will be a home visit at the declared address with no warning so that the state can ascertain the credibility of an applicant's relationship and listed address. This may include invasive tactics such as rummaging through a wardrobe or requesting to see where private papers are kept. Both partners will be interviewed separately at the beginning of the residency process, to ensure that their stories about their relationship match – this interview will take place in Polish, so it may be necessary to have a translator present.

Racial identity in Poland

Poland, at this point in its history, is a culturally homogeneous country where the vast majority of the population is white and Polish-speaking. Consequently, many Poles are not used to interacting with foreigners, and non-European-looking expats may find themselves the object of frequent stares and whispered commentary, especially from the older generation. There is no easy way to deal with this, apart from developing a very thick skin.

The urban/rural divide in Poland

Expats in Poland will most likely find themselves living in a larger city where it will be easier to find someone who speaks their language. It is worth noting that life in the countryside in Poland is much different to urban life – people are generally much poorer and may struggle when dealing with a foreigner. It is essential that expats planning to spend time in rural Poland learn some Polish and accept that interactions may be much more difficult than they are in Polish cities.

Money and salaries in Poland

If seeking work in Poland, do not be surprised to find that the salary is not advertised. Interviewees will often be asked about their 'financial expectations' during interviews, with no indication given about what the prospective employer is ready to pay. It is a good idea to find out what the typical salary is for the job in question and to determine what an acceptable salary would be before going to the interview.

Doing Business in Poland

Poland’s strategic position in the heart of Europe and its strong and growing economy have made it an attractive destination for foreign businesses. 

The Polish labour force is generally well-educated and has a strong work ethic, and Polish business culture is largely similar to what expats might experience in other European countries. The commercial centre in Poland is its capital and largest city, Warsaw. Although Poland’s main exports and economy remain largely focused on manufacturing and agriculture, the country’s services sector has grown significantly in recent years. 

Fast facts

Business hours

Working hours are generally between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. Many Poles do not usually take a formal lunch break during the working day. If business lunches are held, they take place from around 4pm and may continue into the evening. Most Poles take their summer vacations in July and August, so it is worth bearing this in mind if planning meetings or business trips to Poland during this time.

Business language

Polish is the official language of business in Poland, although English may be understood and spoken in business circles in larger cities.


Business dress in Poland is formal and conservative. Businesswomen tend to wear suits with skirts or trousers, while businessmen generally wear dark suits and ties.


Business associates greet each other with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. Introductions should include a person’s full name and title.


Gift-giving is an established practice in Polish business. Gifts are usually given at the beginning of a relationship and at the completion of a project.

Gender equality

Women have equal business opportunities to men, however, most high-ranking positions are still held by men.

Business culture in Poland

Business culture in Poland is formal. While Poles tend to be reserved, their communication style is direct and eye contact should be maintained at all times as it is seen as a sign of respect and trust. People are expected to say what they think and address matters directly.


Polish is the official language of business in Poland, even though expats are likely to encounter many business professionals who are able to communicate in English, particularly in large commercial cities.

Business structures

Business structures in Poland tend to be hierarchical and the style of management may seem authoritative as decisions are made at the top and the senior executives are highly respected. In line with this, education and personal titles are revered and expats should not move to a first-name basis with their Polish associates until invited to do so.

Work ethic

Rules and regulations are valued and should be adhered to, while trust and honesty are equally important. Poles have a good work ethic, and it’s not unusual to work through the day without a lunch break, something that many expats may take a while to get used to.

Generational differences

Expats doing business in Poland may notice generational differences between older and younger Polish associates. While the younger generation may follow a more open and relaxed Western business style, the older generation may still be influenced by business practices which were prevalent during the old Soviet-style regime. 

Importance of family

Family and religion both play a central role in Polish society and culture, and this extends to the business environment. As such, most Poles prioritise their obligations to their family above others. 


Personal relationships are important and anyone doing business in Poland should aim to build close and trusting relationships with their Polish associates, as this is a stepping stone to creating strong business relationships. As such, business meetings typically begin with some small talk so that trust can be established before any specific business negotiations commence. Topics of discussion usually include sports and family life, but issues such as money and Poland’s history and relations with its European neighbours should be avoided.

Dos and don'ts of doing business in Poland

  • Do arrive on time and prepare fully for a meeting, as this exhibits professionalism which will be respected by Polish associates.

  • Don't address Polish associates by their first name until invited to do so. Titles are highly respected in Polish society and should be used when making introductions.

  • Do have business cards printed in both English and Polish. Have titles and qualifications printed on the card, as these are highly regarded. 

  • Do try to build personal relationships and trust with Polish associates before trying to forge a business relationship. Especially as Poles tend to only do business with people who they share a trusting relationship with. 

  • Don't refer to Poland as part of Eastern Europe, as some Poles may take offence to this. The country should rather be referred to as being part of Central Europe.

Education and Schools in Poland

The Polish education system has undergone many positive reforms in recent years, marking an overall improvement to the standard of education in Poland.

Expat children are allowed to attend public schools free of charge. However, owing to the language barrier, and a general preference among expats for their children to continue their home country's curriculum, most foreigners choose to enrol their children in international schools, of which there are a number to choose from.

Compulsory education in Poland begins at age five or six with a preschool year and continues for 12 years up to the age of 18. Students write standardised tests at 16 which help determine the type of school they will attend at the next level of their education. Students have the option of choosing between a general, technical or vocational high school. 

The Polish school year runs from September to June. The three major holiday periods are over Christmas and Easter, as well as a winter break in late January or early February.

Public schools in Poland

The majority of children in Poland attend state or public schools. Tuition is free for all children attending these schools, including expat children. Though, this does not include the additional costs of textbooks, school uniforms, lunches or general stationery and school supplies. Despite the high standard of education and free tuition, most expats in Poland don't send their children to public schools due to the language barrier.

In the case that expat parents decide to make use of public schools in Poland, it's important to know that attendance is determined by where the family lives and schools are required to accept all children residing in their catchment area. Children are not obligated to attend their nearest school, however, and parents can request that their child be allowed to attend another school outside their residential area. In such cases, it is up to the director of the school to determine whether the child will be accepted or not.

Private schools in Poland

Private primary and secondary education was only introduced in the late 1980s in Poland, which is much later in other European countries. Private or non-state schools are partly funded by the government and also by fees and donations from parents and other organisations, such as religious orders. As a result, many private schools in Poland are run by religious or social organisations.

The language of instruction at these schools is generally Polish or one of the country's minority languages. These schools are independent of the government and are not restricted to following the national curriculum. Fees at private schools in Poland can be quite steep.

International schools in Poland

There are several international schools in Poland that cater to numerous nationalities, including American, British, German, French and Japanese expats. Most international schools in Poland are based in Warsaw or Kraków, and there are also a handful in Poznan and Wrocław. While most of the schools follow the curriculum of their home country, some also offer the International Baccalaureate programme.

Places at international schools in Poland may be limited, so expat parents should plan in advance when making arrangements for their child’s education in Poland. Consideration should also be given to the cost of education at international schools, which are often an expat's biggest expense. 

Special-needs education in Poland

Expat parents of children with disabilities can rest assured that in Poland, special assistance – both throughout the entire educational process or during a certain period of education – is given to children who have special educational needs or those children whose opportunities for education, development and learning are limited to such an extent that they can't meet the educational requirements at mainstream schools.

Special educational needs may refer to long-term illnesses; adaptive problems; specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia; speech impairment; trauma-induced emotional and behavioural difficulties; or learning difficulties. Special-needs institutions provide care for differently abled pupils by allowing for the implementation of individualised educational processes, forms, curriculum and revalidation.

Tutoring in Poland

Education is highly valued in Poland, and Polish parents often use tutoring as a tool to assist students in their learning. It is also invaluable to expat children adapting to a new environment, language and curriculum. Even for children in international schools, tutoring is useful for gaining confidence, or for assistance in specific subjects such as maths, science or Polish. Good tutoring companies in Poland include Apprentus and TeacherOn.


Visas for PolandPoland is a party to the Schengen Agreement, and therefore nationals of the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and those nationals of a designated country list drawn up by the Polish government, including US, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian nationals, are afforded visa-free entry into Poland for holiday or business purposes for up to 90 days.
Travellers who do not fall into the above categories are required to apply for a Schengen visa to visit Poland. All travellers entering Poland should have a passport valid for at least three months past the date of entry.

Schengen visas for Poland

Those who apply for a Schengen visa will need to gather the required documents, complete the visa application form, and submit these to the Polish consulate or embassy in their home country before they travel. 
All documents must be in English or Polish.

Documents required for Schengen visa application:
  • Passport with at least two blank pages, valid for three months from the last date of travel
  • Recent colour, passport-sized photo
  • Round-trip air ticket or itinerary to/from Poland
  • Proof of travel, health or accident insurance
  • Proof of sufficient funds during travel (amount required varies)
  • Proof of accommodation (hotel reservations, letters from friends, details of a tour, etc.)
If applying for a Schengen visa to travel to Poland for business purposes, it may be necessary to include a letter of invitation from the Polish business party and a letter from your local employer stating the purpose of your visit to Poland. If attending a conference, proof of registration and accommodation may be required.
In some cases, applicants may be asked to provide additional documents, at the discretion of the Polish embassy or consulate. It's common to be asked for proof of employment and proof of residence in your home country, as an indicator that you will return home after your trip.

Residence visas for Poland

Those wishing to stay in Poland for longer than 90 days for work or study, or for family reasons, are required to apply for a residence or temporary residence permit.
Applications for residence permits for Poland should be made to the voivodship (local municipality) where the expat intends to live in Poland.
Residence permits are granted for a maximum of two years, and can be subsequently renewed for a further two-year period.
Expats entering Poland may be required to show proof of sufficient resources to support themselves financially while living in Poland as well as sufficient health insurance for the duration of their stay.
Once an expat has successfully submitted their residence permit application, they will receive a residence card, which serves as confirmation of their identity during their stay in Poland.
*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Visas for Poland

Getting a visa for Poland is relatively straightforward, especially since the country is party to the Schengen Agreement. Nationals of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as those of designated countries including the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, are afforded visa-free entry into Poland for holiday or business purposes for up to 90 days.

Travellers who do not fall into the above categories are required to apply for a Schengen visa to visit Poland. All travellers entering Poland should have a passport valid for at least three months past the date of entry, and it must have been issued within the last 10 years.

Schengen visas for Poland

Schengen visa applicants will need to gather the required documents, complete the visa application form, and submit these to the Polish embassy or consulate in their home country before they travel. All documents must be in English or Polish.

If applying for a Schengen visa to travel to Poland for business, it may be necessary to include a letter of invitation from the Polish business party and a letter from one's local employer stating the purpose of their visit. If attending a conference, proof of registration and accommodation may be required.

Residence permits for Poland

Those wishing to stay in Poland for longer than 90 days for work or study, or for family reasons, are required to apply for a residence or temporary residence permit. Applications for residence permits for Poland should be made to the appropriate regional office where the expat intends to live in Poland.

Residence permits are granted for a maximum of three years and can be subsequently renewed for a further three-year period. Expats entering Poland may be required to show proof of sufficient resources to support themselves financially while living in the country, as well as sufficient health insurance for the duration of their stay.

Once an expat has successfully submitted their residence permit application, they will receive a residence card, which serves as confirmation of their identity during their stay in Poland.

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Moving to Poland

Expats moving to Poland can look forward to an extremely safe country with picture-pretty cities and quaint villages. Situated in Central Europe with a long stretch of coast on the Baltic Sea, Poland is strategically positioned for trade, and its growing economy is evidence of that.

Poland has never been the most popular expat destination, and when the country officially joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, emigration statistics skyrocketed, leading to a population decrease as thousands of Poles left their homeland for greener pastures. But more expats are starting to realise the merits of living in Poland and that there are many more pros than cons to expat life here.

Living in Poland as an expat

A history of foreign occupation, repeated post-war partition and high unemployment rates left a sizeable grey cloud on Poland's horizon, but the 'Shock Therapy' programme initiated in the early 1990s, as well as a period of reforms, led to a market economy that has only truly become successful in recent years.

There is an increase in work opportunities for enterprising foreigners, and new arrivals usually find work in industries such as IT, finance, human relations, manufacturing and English-language teaching. Despite these opportunities, those looking to relocate will still face a number of challenges. Poland is known for its tedious bureaucracy and, as a result, large infrastructural changes are slow to take effect.

Expats living in Poland need to prepare themselves for a relatively conservative environment, as strong family values and a powerful Catholic undercurrent still dominate the social milieu. Another potential difficulty is that, except for Poland's vibrant youth, very little of the Polish population speaks English. This can complicate just about everything, from assimilation into the working environment to solidifying meaningful social connections.

On the upside, Poland's largest cosmopolitan centres, Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Wrocław and Poznań are gradually making their way onto the international stage, with a growing café culture, a thriving nightlife and an increasingly cutting-edge cuisine scene. There's a reason the Poles are known for their ability to have a good party, and a long legacy of vodka is only one part of the whole.

Cost of living in Poland

Salaries in Poland are among the lowest on the continent, but fortunately the cost of living in the country is also exceedingly low. Though offering limited space, accommodation in Poland is fairly affordable and expats are likely to find something suitable for their budget and style. Public transport is also comprehensive and reasonably priced, so most expats will not need to purchase a vehicle. Those who decide to invest in a set of wheels will need to account for the cost of petrol, insurance and winter tyres, which can all add up quickly.

Although public healthcare provision is adequate, the government spends the lowest percentage of its GDP on healthcare, and expats should explore their private health insurance options and include the cost of monthly premiums in their budgets to access private healthcare facilities.

Expat families and children in Poland

With strong family values, a religious societal foundation and an emphasis on quality education, Poland is a wonderful country to raise a family in. Poland’s public education system has undergone many positive changes in recent years, and tuition is free to all resident children, including expats. As Polish is the language of instruction in public schools, the majority of expats opt to send their children to international schools in Poland. Expat parents should, however, be prepared for the exorbitant costs often associated with international schools.

Parents will also have plenty of weekend entertainment for their tots and teens, even during the brutal winter months. Historical sites and museums abound while there are myriad outdoor spaces for hiking, swimming, kayaking and winter surfing. 

Climate in Poland

The weather in Poland is a source of frustration for many Poles and expats alike. Winters in the country are long and bitterly cold, and can even last up to six months. Snowfall is a common occurrence during the frosty months, while spring and summer are usually around for two months of the year, respectively.

Expats moving to Poland with an optimistic attitude can certainly succeed and enjoy a fun life here, and its central location means travel to the rest of Europe is a doddle.

Fast facts

Population: Around 38 million

Capital city: Warsaw

Neighbouring countries:  Poland is bordered by seven other countries – Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east and Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast to the northeast.

Geography: Situated in Central Europe, Poland is a relatively low-lying country with access to the Baltic Sea along its northern border. It is mostly flat and interspersed with forests, low hills and lakes, with no natural borders, except for mountains on its southern borders. 

Political system: Parliamentary republic

Main languages: Polish (official)

Major religions: Catholicism is the dominant religion, with over 80 percent of the population practising the religion.

Money: The Polish Złoty (PLN), divided into 100 groszy (singular: grosz). ATMs are widely available in the country's urban areas, and credit cards are accepted at the majority of establishments. 

Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230 V, 50 Hz. 'Type-E' rounded two-pin plugs with a rounded female contact are used.

Internet domain: .pl

International dialling code: +48

Emergency numbers: 112, the general European emergency number, is most commonly used in Poland. Individual emergency services can be contacted on the following numbers:  997 (police), 998 (fire), and 999 (ambulance).

Transport and Driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Poland. Public transport infrastructure is very good, and it is possible to reach most locations by bus or train. Low-cost flights also connect Polish cities to the rest of Europe. A car is only really necessary to reach more remote areas of the countryside.

Accommodation in Poland

Expats looking for accommodation in Poland will be delighted to find that there are plenty of options across all budgets and preferences available. Despite the variety of options, housing demand often outweighs supply, so competition over accommodation can be fierce in desirable areas.

Regulations for foreigners who want to buy property in Poland are complex, and most expats living in Poland choose to rather rent property.

Types of accommodation in Poland

The types of accommodation in Poland vary widely and include older as well as more contemporary styles. Fortunately, the quality of housing in Poland is on the rise. Expats will have their pick from Soviet-style apartments, freestanding homes with gardens, duplexes, semi-detached houses and spacious modern penthouse apartments.

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in Poland, although unfurnished options are more common. Standard appliances such as a stove, refrigerator and dishwasher are often supplied, but air conditioning is rare in Polish apartments.

Finding accommodation in Poland

Expats looking for an apartment or a house in Poland can find property listings online or published in daily Polish newspapers. That said, for expats unable to speak Polish, this may prove tricky, and they may want to acquire the services of a real estate agent. Once a lease is secured, agents usually require a fee equivalent to at least a month’s rent for their services.

When choosing an area in Poland to live in, expats should consider its proximity to their place of work and their children’s school, as well as access to public transport. The further away from the city centre, the cheaper the accommodation, but these areas typically have limited access to key services such as hospitals, schools and public transport. Rentals closest to public transport, such as Warsaw’s metro line, often cost more.

Renting property in Poland

Expats need to act fast after they find a suitable property, as the rental market is quite competitive.

Making an application

Prospective tenants usually need to provide proof of employment, ID and bank statements to secure a lease in Poland. The landlord and rental agencies will then review applications before choosing a tenant they think is the best fit.


After the application is accepted, a handover day is arranged where the tenant usually signs a 12-month lease. This also gives them an opportunity to inspect the property and do an inventory. Rental agreements are usually flexible and decided upon between the tenant and landlord.

Tenants are required to give a few months' notice if they wish to terminate a lease early.


A deposit of one to three months’ rent is often required by landlords, while some may even require six months' rental upfront.


Utilities such as gas, water and electricity are not usually included in the rental cost and are paid for by tenants. Additional expenses could also include general maintenance costs for the building, such as cleaning and gardening. Expats should keep this in mind when budgeting for accommodation.

Working in Poland

Expats who are considering working in Poland may find that salaries won't offer them the same purchasing power that they might find working in Western Europe. 

In Poland, most jobs require a five-day work week and working hours are generally from 8am to 4pm, although international companies often uphold a 9am to 5pm day. Although the unemployment rate in Poland is less of an issue than a few years ago, the country has traditionally prioritised the employment of local labour.

Job market in Poland

Poland's primary industries include automotive manufacturing, food processing, banking and construction. However, expats working in Poland will most likely find opportunities in areas that have seen recent growth, including IT, finance, human relations, business services and management.

As most of the population speaks Polish, there's also a significant shortage of native English speakers. As a result, there are many English teaching jobs in Poland, and in many cases, these positions pay more than a position in a large company with upward mobility.

What's more, foreign investment is filtering into Poland and this influx of capital comes with future plans for corporates and multinationals to set up operations in the country. The country itself is also looking to privatise more infrastructure, such as the energy sector, shipbuilding and even the postal market.

That being said, working in Poland as an expat still isn't straightforward. Inefficient local bureaucracy frustrates job creation and can prevent competition. And, as a result of a history of repeated foreign violations, Polish sentiment toward expat businesspeople can be cautious. It's vital for expats to build relationships based on trust and respect to succeed in Poland. The Polish-English language barrier can also be a source of much misunderstanding.

Finding a job in Poland

Citizens of the European Union (EU), as well as the European Economic Area (EEA), do not need a work permit to be legally employed in Poland. All other nationalities are required to have the proper documentation.

If not headhunted for a specific position in Poland, expats can make use of online job portals, social networking sites such as LinkedIn and, failing those, they could check out newspapers such as Gazeta Wyborcza, in its Praca (Work) section, and the Wednesday insert in Rzeczpospolita.

Otherwise, there are some Polish English-speaking recruitment agencies that could also prove helpful to expats.

Work culture in Poland

The work culture in Poland centres around direct communication. There is a strong respect for those in senior positions or those with higher academic qualifications. Trust is paramount to success in the Polish workplace, so businesspeople should spend a considerable amount of time getting to know business associates in a social setting.

Most companies in Poland, regardless of industry, maintain a formal tone, where punctuality and appearances are highly valued. Expats should invest time in getting to know Polish business associates in order to build trust and forge solid relationships.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Poland

Living in Poland can be a great adventure, but the country does pose its challenges for both foreigners and locals. Choosing to live in Poland, especially for those who don't have Polish roots or connections and know little about the country, will likely involve a steep learning curve but might very well be worth it. As is usually the case with any destination, there are some advantages and disadvantages to moving to Poland.

Below is our list of the pros and cons of moving to Poland. 

Accommodation in Poland

+ PRO: Accommodation is affordable and generally easy to find

Accommodation, even in the capital of Warsaw, is affordable compared to other European countries. Polish cities also tend to have a variety of accommodation, from small apartments to freestanding houses, and expats won't have to search long to find something that suits their taste, budget and commute.

+ PRO: English-speaking realtors available

Expats can generally find an English-speaking real estate agent to help in their search, though this might be a slightly more expensive option.

- CON: Small apartments and limited space

People in Poland generally live in apartments, and expats may be surprised how small apartments can accommodate whole families. Consequently, many places are a lot smaller than one may be used to.

Cost of living in Poland

+ PRO: Relatively inexpensive compared to other European countries 

The cost of goods, eating out, public transport and rent in Poland compare favourably with other European countries. Drinks at a bar or pub are also much cheaper than in Western Europe.

- CON: Pricey clothing and petrol

Many Poles complain that items such as new clothes are more expensive than in Western Europe. Petrol is also expensive and, along with parking fees as well as other related costs, should make expats think twice before purchasing a vehicle in Poland.

Lifestyle and culture in Poland

+ PRO: Vibrant nightlife and entertainment in Polish cities

In Polish cities, there's a range of cultural events including art exhibitions, concerts, talks, food events and film and music festivals. Museums and galleries are also plentiful.

There are also many outdoor activities that are easily accessed during the summer months, such as windsurfing, kayaking, hiking in the mountains, camping, going to the beach and bike riding.

- CON: Bureaucracy is rife

Bureaucracy and inefficient customer service prevail in some areas and government departments. As such, expats should expect lots of red tape when trying to organise their residency or work permits.

- CON: Long working hours and high pressure in the workplace

Poles work hard and spend long hours at the office. Whether this will be expected depends on the culture of one's company and the nature of one's role. There is a lot of competition for steady, well-salaried employment and this can lead, on occasion, to strained and suspicious relations in the workplace.

- CON: Long winters

No matter how much a person may love the cold and snow, the short winter days and large amount of time spent indoors can cause anxiety. In a bad year, the winter can last six months, and Poles often cite this as a reason for emigrating.

- CON: The language barrier

Though it’s not difficult to find English speakers, they may be rarer to come across outside major cities. Older Poles are also less likely to speak English, so learning some Polish may be necessary. Unfortunately, many English-speaking expats find Polish to be a difficult language to learn. That said, Poles tend to be highly appreciative of efforts to learn their language, so learning the basics will go a long way in earning local respect.

+ PRO: Poles are multilingual

Most younger Poles are multilingual, and many Poles will know English.

Healthcare in Poland

+ PRO: High standard of inexpensive private healthcare

Top-notch private healthcare is available in Poland from hospitals with superb medical staff and world-class equipment. Compared to other countries, private healthcare is relatively cheap, and expats who work for an international company or a well-regarded Polish company usually have a private healthcare package included in their employment.

- CON: Doctors often have poor bedside manner

Polish doctors are not known for their bedside manner and may come across as unsympathetic. Progressive ideas about patient self-advocacy and ideas such as birth plans and keeping the patient informed are not common in Poland. Expats should expect to be treated with brusqueness or impatience, even in the private system.

Transport and driving in Poland

+ PRO: Developed and affordable public transport system

Most Polish cities have well-developed and comprehensive public transport systems. Some of them, including Warsaw, also have public bike-sharing schemes, which allow riders to rent, pick up and drop off bicycles at various dedicated sites across the cities.

Transport around the country is also affordable and comprehensive, and even small villages usually have a functioning bus line, even if it only runs a few times a day. There is also a well-developed rail network and quick, reliable trains run between all major cities, as well as between Warsaw and other European capitals.

- CON: Underdeveloped road infrastructure and expensive petrol

Although there are some highways, many main routes such as the road from Warsaw to Gdańsk often consist largely of a single lane in each direction, meaning traffic congestion can be an issue.

Compared to the United States or even other Western European countries, it can be expensive to maintain a car in Poland, and petrol is pricey.