is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Poland.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Poland country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Poland at Level 1,
indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Warsaw and Kraków as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed
at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Polish
National Police statistics underscore that Poland continues to be one of the
safest countries in Europe. In 2019, police reported 796,557 criminal offenses,
a 1.8% increase from 2017.
Pickpocketing is common, and is one of the most frequently
reported crimes for U.S. nationals and other visitors. Most pickpocketing
incidents occur on public transportation or in areas where there are large
crowds (Kraków’s Market Square or Warsaw’s Old Town). At train stations, where
many people are vulnerable by carrying cumbersome luggage and other articles,
groups of thieves can jostle and distract their victim while stealing their
wallet. Crowded public buses and trams also attract pickpockets. U.S. nationals
most often report passports and other items stolen from luggage, backpacks, or
purses. Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
Assaults occur on very rare occasion. Most assaults occur among
patrons of late-night establishments and often involve alcohol consumption.
These crimes generally take place between midnight and 0600. The Embassy has received reports of wildly excessive credit card
bills received from nightclubs near popular city center areas. Pay careful
attention to drink prices and pay in cash. There have also been reports of
nightclub security being overly aggressive, occasionally physically assaulting
patrons. Travel in a group when going out after dark to nightclubs, discos, bars,
or high-tourism areas, such as the Market Square in Kraków and Old Town in
Warsaw. Avoid any confrontation at these locations. Review
OSAC’s Report, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
Burglars tend to rob homes by entering through an
unlocked front door or by ruse. Police continue to report that most residential
crimes occur because tenants and homeowners failed to use alarm systems or to
lock doors, gates, and/or garages, allowing thieves to take advantage of the
vulnerability. A common tactic is to pose as employees of municipal utility services
and attempt to gain access to a residence under the guise of checking meters or
repairing reported problems. In reported cases, residents failed to verify the
employment status of the supposed employees. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
Poland is located along the eastern border of the Schengen Zone,
and is the entry point into Schengen Europe for some illicit activities.
Organized crime, which has declined in presence since its heyday in the late
1990s, remains active. Various elements operate across borders, particularly in
trafficking of stolen vehicles, drugs, cigarettes, and persons. While casinos
and gaming establishments are government-regulated, some are affiliated with,
or have attracted the interest of, organized crime.
Soccer matches often involve confrontations between opposing fans.
Such confrontations may become violent.
Only change money at banks or legitimate exchange kiosks (kantor).
ATMs at commercial banks, large hotels, shopping malls, and airports are
safest. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
In 2019, Polish authorities registered approximately 30,288
traffic accidents, including 2,909 fatalities. The road fatality rate is high,
placing Poland among one of the more dangerous places to drive in Europe. There
has been a substantial increase in the number of cars on the road. Driving,
especially after dark, is hazardous. Roads are sometimes narrow, poorly
illuminated, frequently under repair (especially in the summer), and include
pedestrian and cyclist use.
Unpredictable weather can cause problems on the roads. Flooding
has closed bridges and significantly disrupted road travel. Driving in the
mountainous regions in the winter can be extremely dangerous, as the roads tend
to be narrow and twisty with narrow shoulders. Drivers should consider snow
tires and/or tire chains.
Alcohol consumption is frequently a contributing factor in
accidents. Polish law provides virtually zero tolerance for driving under the
influence of alcohol; penalties include a fine and probation or imprisonment
for up to two years. Penalties for drivers involved in accidents are severe and
can include imprisonment from six months to eight years; in the case of drivers
under the influence of alcohol/drugs, penalties can be up to 12 years.
You must have both an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a
U.S. driver's license in order to drive in Poland. U.S. nationals cannot obtain
IDPs in Poland. Drivers staying for more than six months must obtain a Polish
Use of seat belts and headlights is compulsory. The law prohibits
the use of cellular phones while driving, except for hands-free models. The law
prohibits making a right turn on a red light. A green arrow allows you to turn,
but does NOT give you the right of way.
For traffic offenses or accidents, police may make an immediate
determination of guilt and levy a fine, which may be substantial. Individuals with
a registered address in Poland will receive a fine payable within seven days. Non-residents
must pay fines immediately to the issuing police officer. You must be prepared
to pay in local currency, though in some cases credit cards are acceptable. If
you are unable to pay, or if you refuse to pay, the police may hold your
passport and request an “accelerated procedure” with the court. The court will
not return the passport until the transaction is complete.
Polish roadside services are improving rapidly. The Polish
Automobile Association (Polski Związek Motorowy Auto-Tour, +48 (22) 532-8427 or
8433) has multilingual operators and provides nationwide assistance 24/7.
OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transportation is safe, efficient, and reliable.
Within cities, taxis are available at major hotels and designated
stands, or in advance by telephone. Some drivers speak English and accept
credit cards. When hailing taxis on the street, avoid those that do not have a
company name and/or telephone number displayed, since these may not have
meters, and may charge significantly more. Use "radio taxis," whose
company phone number and name appear on the light bar. Check to see that the
taxi has a functioning meter and that the driver uses the meter when starting
your trip. Do not accept assistance from self-professed “taxi drivers” who
approach you in/near the airport arrivals terminal; use only taxis from
designated taxi stands. Uber and other rideshare services are increasingly
common. Review OSAC’s report, Safety
and Security in the Share Economy.
Poland has a highly developed rail system, and the number of rail
accidents is quite low. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Warsaw and Kraków as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Poland has no indigenous terrorism. No known terrorist
organizations are identified as operating in Poland.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Warsaw and Kraków as being a LOW-threat location for political
violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Demonstrations are a regular occurrence, but are generally orderly
and peaceful. Demonstrations occur regularly in Warsaw, and can range from a
few individuals to thousands. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful may
turn violent. Avoid areas where you see heavy police presence or crowds assembling;
exercise caution if within the vicinity of any large public gatherings; and
stay away from demonstrations.
The U.S. Embassy is located near the prime minister’s chancellery,
Parliament, various government ministries, and other embassies. While
demonstrations rarely target U.S. policies, the U.S. Embassy lies along a major
north-south traffic artery often used by demonstrators, so the Embassy may
experience disruptions from these demonstrations.
Demonstrations in Kraków are much less frequent and typically draw
much smaller crowds. The U.S. Consulate General in Kraków is near the German
and French Consulates. Occasionally, small demonstrations target the German
Consulate; these normally have little impact on Consulate operations.
OSAC’s report, Surviving
Poland has some of the worst air pollution in Europe. It generates
almost 90% of its electricity with coal, with almost 70% of single-family homes
using a coal-fired boiler or stove. In 2015, the European Commission (EC) referred
Poland to the European Union (EU) Court of Justice as noncompliant with EU
regulations regarding the level of particulate (PM10) and fine particulate
matter (PM2.5) in the air. Poland has not yet complied with EU regulations
regarding particulate levels.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
In 2013, Poland adopted the National Critical Infrastructure Protection
Program, designed to improve security and resilience of its financial, energy,
and communications infrastructure. Polish authorities have not yet identified specific
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
U.S. government interaction with private-sector representatives
and Polish counterparts indicate economic espionage problems exist. Many
organizations do not know they are targets; others have tried to address the
problem internally without involving the authorities.
There are no legal restrictions on
consensual same-sex sexual relations between adults or on the organization of
LGBTI+ events in Poland. Polish law prohibits discrimination in employment based
on sexual orientation or gender identity. Though the government generally
enforces these provisions, there is growing discrimination, hatred, and verbal
and physical aggression against LGBTI+ persons. Politicians from multiple
political parties made statements attacking LGBTI+ “ideology.” During the year,
more than 30 local governments around the country adopted anti-LGBTI+
declarations, nonbinding documents that mainly focused on preventing “LGBTI+
ideology” in schools. Several pride marches were met with violent protests. In
April, approximately 400 participants attended the country’s first march of the
year in Gniezno, where around 500 counterdemonstrators threw bottles, eggs, and
other objects at police and shouted homophobic slogans. In July, there was
violence at an equality march in Białystok, where counterdemonstrators attacked
participants and tried to block the march. In September 28, police used water
cannons and tear gas to control counterdemonstrations during Lublin’s second
annual equality march. Police detained 38 persons who attempted to disrupt the
march, including a married couple who brought explosive materials to the march.
Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.
Anti-Semitic incidents continue to
occur, often involving desecration of significant property, including Jewish
cemeteries and the wall of the former Jewish ghetto in Kraków, and sometimes
involving anti-Semitic comments on radio and social media. Jewish organizations
have expressed concern regarding their physical safety and security. Review
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s
webpage on security for faith-based travelers.
Polish law states that buildings
should be accessible for persons with disabilities, but many buildings remain
inaccessible. Public buildings and transportation generally are accessible,
although older trains and vehicles are often less so, and many trains and
subway stations are not fully accessible. In Warsaw and other major cities,
some new public buildings are accessible. Wheelchair users will still find challenges,
as Warsaw is very hilly, with lots of steps and few curb cuts. Outside of major
metropolitan areas, accessible public transportation is less common. Review the
State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
Societal discrimination against
Roma continues to be a problem. Romani leaders complain of widespread
discrimination in employment, housing, banking, the justice system, media, and
education. Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities also continue to experience
harassment and discrimination.
There is a negligible threat of drug violence or narco-terrorism.
Most violence involving drug trafficking takes place among those involved in
the illegal activity; innocent bystanders rarely, if ever, become collateral victims.
Poland is primarily a drug trans-shipment country for Europe. Amphetamines,
marijuana, and synthetic drugs are reportedly the primary drugs of choice for
Authorities in Poland and neighboring countries report increased
illicit production of synthetic drugs, including methamphetamine. However, it
is unclear whether the methamphetamine is for local consumption or distribution
to neighboring countries such as the Czech Republic.
There are reports of wealthy Poles or their family members
kidnapped for ransom, but those instances are rare. Review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
pictures of Polish military buildings or other national security/restricted objects
is illegal. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
Customs enforce strict regulations concerning the export of items such as works
of art. Read the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
police emergency lines in Poland are 112 and997. In an emergency with a Polish-speaking person available,
call the police, fire department, or ambulance service, depending on your
emergency and assistance needed. If no Polish-speaking person is available,
call the Embassy or Consulate for assistance. Major cities will generally have
English speakers available through the general emergency number. Police
officers are universally professional and cooperative. For local first
responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency
Victims of crime should file a report at the nearest police
station. Few police officers will speak fluent English, but will usually offer
to obtain an interpreter. This may take a few minutes to a few hours. It helps
to have a bilingual companion along for translation. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
medical emergency lines in Poland are 112 and999. The standard of care in major cities may lag behind
healthcare in the United States; in small villages, it may be limited. Many
healthcare workers do not speak English. Prescription medication is reliable,
but sometimes unavailable. Find contact information for available
medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing
international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the
State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Poland.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
OSAC Country Council in Warsaw is active, meeting quarterly. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
29/31, 00-540 Warsaw
Regular hours: 0830 –
1700, Monday – Friday
Telephone: Embassy Operator: +48-22-504-2000.
Marine Post One:
Other U.S. Diplomatic Posts In Poland
you travel, consider the following resources: