Driving in Poland: A Basic Guide for Expats
Before we go into detail on the step-by-step process of getting the proper license to drive in Poland, we need to talk a bit about the rules of who can drive in Poland. Because it’s a bit complicated, and unfortunately not everyone is subject to the same rules.
If you’re an EU citizen, or otherwise have a valid driving license issued by an EU or EEA country, then in fact it is fairly simple. Your EU driving license is valid in Poland until its standard date of expiration. So this guide is most likely not relevant to you.
If you’re from outside the EU, that’s when it starts to get a bit more tricky. Luckily, there are a number of international conventions that cover driving overseas on a foreign driving license, and Poland is a signatory to all of them. What this means for you, is that if your country is also a signatory, you can drive in Poland for up to 6 months with an International Driving Permit.
There are over 150 countries that are signatories to the conventions governing International Driving Permits, so hopefully your country is one of them. If it’s not, unfortunately you will not be able to drive in Poland with your license. You’ll have to go straight to the next section, where we talk about how to get a Polish driving license.
Keep in mind that you will still be required to present an International Driving Permit, so contact the relevant authorities in your home country to find out how to obtain one. Your foreign driving license alone will not be valid for driving in Poland.
How to Exchange Your Driving License for a Polish License
So you’ve got a driving license from your home country, but it’s not valid in Poland. Or you’re living in Poland and want to be able to drive legally beyond the six months that your International Driving Permit will be valid. If this is you, now comes the tricky part: getting a Polish driving license.
Step 1: Gather all necessary documents
To exchange your driving license for a Polish license, you will need the following documents:
- Your original driving license (NOT International Driving Permit)
- A certified translation of your license into Polish
- Proof of your legal stay in Poland (must be valid for 6+ months)
- 2x driving license sized photos (35mm x 45mm)
- The completed application form. It can be downloaded online but must be completed by hand in Polish. Google Translate is your friend!
- Administrative fee payment of 100,50zł. This can be done in cash at the office before filing your application
In theory, a medical certificate is also required. But in practice, the office will very rarely request one unless your driving license is nearing expiration.
Step 2: Submit the documents at your city hall
Now it’s time to head to your city’s Urzad Miasta, or city hall, and submit the required documents. Google Maps is a quick way to find the Urzad Miasta. Some cities, such as Gdansk, have gone high-tech and allow you to book appointments online, but it most cities, you’ll just show up, take a number, and wait to be called.
Note that they will be checking if you’re actually a registered resident in the city. So if you haven’t registered your residence, go ahead and do that first.
What will happen next will depend on where you’re from. Poland currently has bilateral agreements with 39 countries to facilitate the easy exchange of foreign driving licenses for Polish licenses. These countries are:
South Africa, Albania, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Philippines, Georgia, Guyana, Iran, Israel , Serbia, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Congo, Cuba, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Morocco, Moldova, Mongolia, Niger, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Seychelles, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Ivory Coast, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Zimbabwe.
If your driving license comes from one of these countries, that’s it! You’re done! Your documents will be processed on the spot, and you’ll have your new Polish driving license in about two weeks. The rest of this guide is no longer relevant to you.
If you are not fortunate to have a driving license from one of the above countries, you will instead be given a Profil Kandydata na Kierowcę (Driving Candidate Profile). The city hall will also send a formal request for your full driving records to the authorities in your home country to make sure there are no red flags on your driving record. This process can be very fast, or take up to a few months, depending on how efficiently your home country’s road traffic authority handles requests like this.
Step 3: Pass a written test on the rules of the road in Poland
We’re not going to lie to you: Poland’s theoretical driving test is notoriously difficult. Even for the locals. It’s one of those tests that most people pass on their second, third, or forth attempt, despite lots of studying.
To schedule an exam appointment, you’ll have to visit the website of your city’s Wojewódzki Ośrodek Ruchu Drogowego, or regional road traffic center. Once again, you can easily find the website of the nearest one to you with a quick search on Google Maps. Some centers take appointments over phone or email, others have an online booking system.
It is usually possible to take the exam in English, but just like everything in Poland, some places are unfortunately not as foreigner-friendly as others. We recommend always calling to to ask about the availability of the test in English before making an appointment. If the exam is not available in English, and you’re not confident enough in your Polish to ace the exam, you’ll have to bring a certified interpreter with you.
Although the exam itself might be available in English, you’ll still need to be able to interpret pictures of (Polish) road signs. So make sure to brush up on your Polish driving vocabulary.
Step 4: Go back to city hall with your test results
So you’ve passed – congratulations! Now all you have to do is return to the Urzad Miasta with confirmation of your passing marks, and you’ll have your driving license within a few weeks.
Note that your driving license will not be approved until the Urzad has received confirmation of your clean driving record from your home country. As this process can take a while, make sure to maintain communication with the Urzad to avoid making an unnecessary trip and being told to come back later.
* * * * * *
Well there you have it! Getting a driving license in Poland can be a very simple, or sadly very complicated task, depending on where you come from. But no matter what, we hope that this guide will clear up the process as much as possible.
Do you have experience exchanging your driving license for a Polish license? Let us know how everything went for you in the comments below!