Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Poland

Poland
Population: 38.5m
Area: 312,685 sq. Km
Currency: Zloty (100 groszy) – PLN

Coronavirus update

Please be aware that driving in Europe may be restricted at the moment.

Check the Foreign travel advice section of the GOV.UK website for up to date advice on all European countries.

From the medieval back streets of Krakow to the spectacular views of the Masurian Lake District, driving in Poland is a rewarding experience. However, it’s very different to driving in the UK. If you’re planning a trip, it’s essential you know about these differences ahead of time. 

To make your trip to central Europe as safe and effortless as possible, we’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know before you go, from required documents to rules of the road.  

Driving a rented vehicle? Jump to the advice for driving a hire car in Poland section.

In Poland, RAC European Breakdown Cover (Basic and Comprehensive) provides a wide range of benefits to ensure you stay safe. 

To supplement this, RAC also offers travel insurance. Cover will include medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings, among many other benefits.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

Advice for driving in Poland

driving-abroad-poland-tips

In an emergency

112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting. 

Operators can answer your call in their native language, English or French. 

Driving licence laws

Visitors must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in Poland. Riders of motorcycles up to 125cc must be aged 16 or over. 

Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted. International driving permits are recognised, but not required.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

Things to take when driving in Poland

Documents for driving in Poland

Vehicles from the UK can be temporarily imported into Poland for up to six months in any period of 12 months. In order to stay on the right side of the law, the following documents should always be carried:

  • Full, valid UK driving licence
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • V5 registration document

Do I need a GB sticker?

Yes, you will need a GB sticker on your car to drive in Poland unless it’s equipped with EU number plates, which show the country code in a circle of stars on a blue background.

Driving in Poland packing checklist

In addition to essential documents, motorists are also required by law to carry the following items to avoid hefty on-the-spot fines:

  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with four wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • Crash helmet for motorcyclists or moped riders and their passengers (a child up to the age of seven may ride a motorcycle or moped as a passenger without a helmet if the speed does not exceed 40km/h)
  • Reflective jacket (although not mandatory to carry, you could be fined for walking on the side of a road outside a built-up area at night or in reduced visibility if not wearing one)
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Green Card (although not a requirement, it's a useful back-up to your car insurance documents and shows you've got the minimum legal level of cover. If you'd like to find out more, contact your insurance company)

Our European driving kit has all the essentials you need for driving in Poland. If you’re camping, a Camping Card International could also be useful as it gives you additional proof of identity, third party liability insurance, plus discounts at a wide range of campsites and tourist attractions.

Arrival Breakdown Cover

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Rules of the road in Poland

Overtaking and passing

In Poland, motorists drive on the right and overtake on the left. If you intend to overtake or change lanes, you should indicate.

Overtaking is forbidden in several situations including:

  • In the face of oncoming traffic
  • At intersections
  • At bus stops, tram stops and railway crossings
  • At uncontrolled pedestrian and cycle crossings
  • Where overtaking is not possible without risk
  • Drivers must overtake trams on the right and can use any part of the road provided for trams. However, they should ensure it is free as soon as any vehicle on rails approaches. 

If motorists are approaching a tram stop without pedestrian islands, they should stop to ensure passengers can move safely between the tram and pavement.

Who has priority?

In general, traffic from the right has priority in Poland. One exception to this rule are vehicles on rails, which take precedence over all other traffic.

Vehicles already in roundabout traffic also have right of way over those approaching, while drivers should give way to any emergency vehicle with blue flashing lights and a two-tone siren.

Warning of approach

Use of the horn is forbidden in towns, except in cases of immediate danger.

Towing in Poland

Caravans, camper vans and luggage trailers can be temporarily imported without customs documents. However, to assist customs officers, you must have a list in duplicate of the contents.

The following dimensions for vehicles with trailers must not be exceeded:

Height: 4m
Width: 2.55m
Overall length: 18.75m

Polish seat belt law

If seat belts are fitted to your car, they must be worn by both drivers and passengers.

The fine for failing to wear a seat belt is set at 100 PLN (£20*). 

Traffic lights

The international three-colour traffic light system is used in Poland.

At a red light accompanied by a green light, drivers can turn in the direction of the arrow but must give way to pedestrians and other road users.

Polish speed limits

Poland uses the metric system for all road signs, meaning speed limits and other road signs including distance are indicated using kilometres and metres.

Residential areas 20km/h
In built-up areas50km/h (between the hours of 05:00 and 23:00) 60km/h (between the hours of 23:00 and 05:00)
Outside built-up areas 90km/h – 120km/h (according to local signs)
Motorways 140km/h

Speed restrictions apply to certain classes of vehicle, including coaches and vehicles with trailers, so check before travel. 

Motorways have a minimum speed limit of 40km/h.

Speeding fines in Poland

Speeding fines in Poland depend on the speed at which offenders are caught and the road on which they’re driving. 

They range from 57 PLN (£11*) for breaking the limit by less than 10km/h in a built-up area to 1,520 PLN (£300*) for exceeding it by more than 51km/h on a motorway. 

Speed camera detectors

If you have a GPS navigation system that shows you where any fixed speed cameras are, you must deactivate this function. It's illegal to carry or use any radar detection equipment when driving through Poland.

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Travelling with children in Poland

polish-driving-advice

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all children are wearing a seat belt or appropriate restraint.

Car seats

Children under the age of 12 and less than 150cm in height must be restrained by a seat belt adapted to their size or seated in a special seat. If the car is equipped with airbags at the front, it is prohibited to place a child in a rear-facing seat on the front passenger seat.

Bike helmet law

Cycle helmets are not compulsory in Poland. 

Driving a camper van and towing a caravan in Poland

Camper vans and cars with caravans are not allowed to exceed 18.75 metres in length, 4 metres in height and 2.55 metres in width.

Loads mustn’t exceed 11.5 tonnes at the driving axle and 10 tonnes at a single axle.

Please note: The Department for Transport advises that A-frames are not legal for use by UK campers and caravanners abroad. In practice, this could mean towing your car while it’s fixed to a trailer.*

Penalties and fines in Poland

On-the-spot fines

Polish police are able to hand out on-the-spot fines to motorists who have violated traffic regulations. 

Minimum and maximum fines

Fines depend on the offence committed, ranging from 57 PLN (£11*) for a minor speeding offence to 1,460 PLN (£285*) for driving through a red light.

For certain, more dangerous offences such as driving under the influence of alcohol, the fine could be fixed at a higher amount and your licence suspended. 

The Cross-Border Enforcement Directive

An EU cross-border directive came into effect in the UK in May 2017. This is aimed at tracking down people who commit traffic offences in cars that are registered in an EU member state different to where the offence was committed.

This means if you commit a driving offence abroad, the crime will effectively follow you back home to the UK where you can still be prosecuted.

Parking in Poland

Regulations

Parking regulations in Poland follow the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic.

Drivers should not park or wait up to one minute in locations where they could cause an obstruction or endanger other road users.

Parking meters are used in many towns across the country and a fee should be paid in Warsaw between the hours of 08:00 and 18:00 on Monday to Friday. Many supervised car parks are also available and charges vary.

Enforcement of parking regulations

Any cars causing an obstruction may be towed away and impounded, while wheel clamps are also used in the country.

Disabled parking access 

Motorists with a disabled driver’s badge are entitled to special parking concessions. They can park their vehicle in areas where parking is normally restricted or prohibited.

The disabled badge must be displayed behind the windscreen of the vehicle.

Drink-driving law in Poland

Legal limit

The maximum level of alcohol in the blood allowed is 0.02%. Every driver over the limit is considered incapable of driving any vehicle. 

Drink-driving test

The police may carry out random breath tests. A test is compulsory in the case of a serious motoring offence or after an accident that has resulted in injury.

Tolls in Poland

All motorways in Poland have tolls imposed. The cost varies according to the type of road, distance travelled and the emissions category of the vehicle.

An electronic toll system is in place for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. Lorries, coaches and cars towing caravans must be equipped with an electronic device known as the viaBOX.

Availability of fuel

Unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG are readily available throughout Poland.

There are filling stations in all towns and large villages. Most are open from 08:00 to 19:00. In large towns and along international routes, petrol stations are open 24 hours a day.

In larger urban centres, there is also a growing network of electric charging points.

Driving a hire car in Poland

Not all of the information in the guide above will be relevant to those looking to rent a hire car in Poland. Though it might be a good idea to read through everything anyway, here are the most important things to know for drivers of rental vehicles:

Rental information

  • The minimum age to hire a car is 21, although this may vary depending on the vehicle type
  • You need a full, valid UK driving licence and usually a second proof of ID (passport)
  • Car rental companies ask that you have held your licence for a minimum term of 1 year
  • Some companies may require you to use a credit card for deposit
  • You may not be able to drive outside of Poland unless planned in advance - check with your hire company first
  • Make sure you get car hire excess insurance before your trip to protect yourself from unexpected costs. It's almost always cheaper to do this with a separate insurer and in advance

Hire car driving tips

  • The Polish drive on the right - the opposite to the UK
  • The national speed limit on motorways in Poland, unless otherwise indicated on local signage, is 140km/h (87mph). On a main road outside a built-up area it's 90 km/h to 120km/h (according to local signs). For built-up areas it’s 50km/h (between the hours of 05:00 and 23:00) or 60km/h (between the hours of 23:00 and 05:00).
  • Dial 112 in an emergency
  • If seat belts are fitted to your car, they must be worn by both drivers and passengers.
  • The blood alcohol content limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.02%. That's lower than the all nations in the UK.

Driving in Poland FAQs

  • Can I drive my car in Poland?

    Yes, although you must have a valid UK licence and V5 document, along with sufficient insurance and breakdown cover for your trip. You should also familiarise yourself with the laws around driving in Poland before you set off to keep yourself and other road users safe.

    Driving to Poland from the UK is relatively straightforward. Simply catch the ferry to the Netherlands from either Newcastle, Hull or Harwich and drive through Germany across the border into Poland. The journey from Amsterdam to Warsaw, for example, takes around 12 hours by car.

  • What side of the road do they drive on in Poland?

    Unlike in the UK, motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road in Poland and overtake on the left – which can take some adjustment if you’re used to driving on the left.

  • Can you drive in Poland with a UK licence?

    Yes, you can legally drive in Poland with your UK-issued driving licence without the need to apply for an International Driving Permit.

  • Do I need extra insurance to drive in Poland?

    If you have fully comprehensive cover in the UK, you need to check that this level of cover extends to Europe as some insurers will only offer third party cover abroad.

    Before setting off on your trip, contact your insurance provider to make sure that no additional cover is required.

  • Do I need a Green Card to drive in Poland?

    As things stand, carrying a Green Card is not a legal requirement for driving in Poland, but many motorists choose to take one for extra proof of insurance. You should always check with your insurance provider before travel to ensure you will be covered.

  • Is driving in Poland dangerous?

    Poland has something of a reputation for poor roads and unsafe drivers, but the good news is that a national road-building programme over the past decade has improved safety considerably.

    Many foreign motorists don’t encounter any problems, but you should take extra care on rural roads and when overtaking slow-moving vehicles. And familiarise yourself with local laws before you go to ensure you stay safe on the roads.

  • Do I need a GB sticker for Poland?

    You will need to display a GB sticker on the rear of your car unless it has EU number plates with the country code in a circle of 12 stars on a blue background.

  • What age can you start driving in Poland?

    To legally drive in Poland, you must be 18 years or older and in possession of a full valid driving licence.

  • Do I need headlamp converters in Poland?

    Yes. This is so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic when driving on the right side of the road at night.

  • Do I need a fire extinguisher to drive in Poland?

    Every vehicle in Poland must have a fire extinguisher on board, including foreign-registered ones. If you’re stopped by the police and found to be without one, you face being fined.

  • Does Poland have toll roads?

    There are only a small number of motorways in Poland, but they all have tolls, although only certain sections are charged.

    The amount you pay will depend on the distance travelled and type of vehicle used.

    Visit https://www.viamichelin.com to calculate the cost of your journey.

  • How do you pay for toll roads in Poland?

    You can either pay by cash or credit card at a toll booth on the motorway. Or there is an electronic system called viaTOLL for regular users who can be fast-tracked.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice


Source: Information in this document is sourced from the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) & the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and, to the best of the RAC’s knowledge, is correct at the time of publication (November 2020).
 
*https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/helpandadvice/travelplanning/eurotraveladvice/europeancampingguide/page5

British Embassy Warsaw

Office: British Embassy Warsaw
Street Address: Aleje Raz No 1
ZIP Code: 00-556
City: Warsaw
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-22 3110000
Fax: +48-22 3110311
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
Website: www.britishembassy.pl

British Consulate Gdansk

Office: British Consulate Gdansk
Street Address: ul Grunwaldzka 102
Zip Code: 80-244
City: Gdansk
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-58 3414365, 3461558
Fax: +48-58 3441608
Email: [email protected]

British Consulate Katowice

Office: British Consulate Katowice
Street Address: ul PCK 10
Zip Code: 40-057
City: Katowice
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-32 2069801
Fax: +48-32 2054646
Email: [email protected]

British Consulate Krakaw

Office: British Consulate Krakaw
Street Address: ul. Sw.Anny 9
Zip Code: 31-008
City: Krakaw
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-12 4217030
Fax: +48-12 4224264
Email: [email protected]

British Consulate Ledz

Office: British Consulate Ledz
Street Address: ul. Piotrkowska 85
Zip Code: 90-423
City: Ledz
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-42 6388960, 6303349
Fax: +48-42 6364116
Email: [email protected]

British Consulate Lublin

Office: British Consulate Lublin
Street Address: ul. Beskidzka 9
Zip Code: 20-869
City: Lublin
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-81 7420101
Fax: +48-81 7429130
Email: [email protected]

British Consulate Poznan

Office: British Consulate Poznan
Street Address: ul Wroclawska 6
Zip Code: 61-837
City: Poznan
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-61 8517290
Fax: +48-61 8532919
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

British Consulate Szczecin

Office: British Consulate Szczecin
Street Address: ul. Starego Wiarusa 32
Zip Code: 71-206
City: Szczecin
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-91 4870302
Fax: +48-91 4873697
Email: [email protected]

British Consulate Wroclaw

Office: British Consulate Wroclaw
Street Address: ul. Olawska 2
Zip Code: 50-123
City: Wroclaw
Country: Poland

Telephone: +48-71 3448961
Fax: +48-71 3448961
Email: [email protected]

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover

^£11 a month is for existing Camping and Caravanning Club members purchasing new personal based Caravan Standard cover only on a monthly renewing contract. Vehicle based cover from £10 a month. New member personal based prices from £16 a month.

^ Comparison based on RAC Comprehensive Plus European Breakdown cover against the top level of cover from other major providers as of 15.09.2019. For full details visit rac.co.uk/eurocompare

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover