Tips for driving in Poland
3 December 2023
Advice, Checklist & Legal Requirements
Driving in Poland is significantly different to the experience of driving in the UK. There are few dual carriageways and even main roads between major towns and cities can be narrow and are often poorly surfaced. Streetlights are weak, even in major cities, with roads turning from brightly lit to complete darkness. If you are planning to drive in Poland, read the following guide, using our checklist at the end to ensure you have everything covered!
What do I need to drive in Poland?
According to EU law, driving licences issued by any EU member state are mutually recognised in other EU member states. Article 94 of the Act on Road Transport (Polish law) states that foreigners may drive in Poland if they hold a valid driving license, issued by an EU member state. If you are a resident of Poland and wish to change your driving licence for a Polish licence you may do so but there is no requirement to do so.
Required documents for driving in Poland:
- · Valid driving licence
- · Original vehicle-registration papers
- · Ownership documents
- · Insurance papers
These items will be asked for if you are stopped by the police and, in particular, when crossing borders. This also applies to rental vehicles. If you do not have these papers when stopped by the police, they have the right to impound your vehicle and charge you for this.
If you plan to drive your car in Poland, you should note that driving on Polish roads can be hazardous. In 2011 there were 11 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.
As Poland is a major east-west transit route for heavy vehicles, you should try and avoid driving a right-hand drive vehicle alone for long distances or driving long distances at night.
Be aware that local driving standards are poor for the following reasons:
- · Speed limits, traffic lights and road signs are often ignored.
- · Drivers rarely indicate before manoeuvring.
- · Slow moving agricultural vehicles (and horse dawn vehicles) are common in rural areas, even on main roads.
While some locals might not adhere to the rules of the road, it’s very important that you do. This includes carrying the essential documents, as well as a variety of other laws that you should follow. For example, seat belts must be used in both front and back seats, and children under 10 years of age must use an appropriate restraint when sitting in the front. In-car radar detectors are illegal in, whether they are in use or not, and drivers are banned from using a mobile phone while driving, unless they are using “hands-free” equipment.
Standard speed limits (km/h) unless otherwise stated by traffic signs:
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (62 - 56 mph).
Motorways / expressways (87 - 74 mph).
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (43 mph).
Motorways / expressways (50 mph).
There is a zero tolerance for drink driving in Poland. If you drive and have been drinking (even if it’s just 1 unit of alcohol) you can be charged. If you break Polish Driving Regulations you should be prepared to pay an on the spot cash fine in Polish currency to the Police. Alternatively, foreigners who are settled in Poland and have a permanent address may be fined with a credit ticket that can be paid later.
To sum up, here are the main things to remember when driving in Poland:
- You are legally required to carry the following documents: a valid EU driving licence, original vehicle-registration papers, ownership documents and insurance papers.
- Be aware that local drivers may ignore rules of the road.
- On rural roads, slow moving agricultural vehicles and even horse dawn vehicles are common.
- Ensure that all passengers are wearing seat belts, with children under 10 years using an appropriate restraint if sitting in the front.
- It is illegal to use in-car radar detectors.
- “Hands-free” equipment must be used if you are to use a mobile phone.
- Drink driving is strictly forbidden.
The team at Eurobreakdown.com hope that you find this information helpful and wish you a safe journey through Poland.
Driving to Poland through another country? You might be interested in our guides to:
Need breakdown cover for Poland? Eurobreakdown.com can provide you with comprehensive single trip breakdown cover or annual multi trip breakdown policies with a best price guarantee.
Reference: The statistics mentioned on this page were sourced from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report 2013 and, to the best of Eurobreakdown.com’s knowledge, are correct at the time of publication (May 2014).
For general European driving tips click here