Living in Poland
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- 12 November 2013
Advice for British people living in Poland, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in Poland, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.
If a British national is entitled to healthcare under EEA rules, then during his/her stay in Poland he/she is entitled to receive free healthcare services, if necessary on medical grounds by the Polish National Health Fund (NFZ)
If a British national would like to receive medical treatment by a GP he simply needs to go to a doctor who has a contract with the NFZ and show a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a replacement certificate. A doctor may also refer you to diagnostic tests, to a specialist or to a hospital. A prescription can be issued by a doctor.
A referral from a GP is usually required when somebody needs to see a specialist. No referral is required for the following specialists however: obstetrician, dentist, dermatologist, oncologist, eye specialist, or psychiatrist. The following individuals do not require referral by a GP either to specific specialists: a person with TB a HIV-positive person, wounded casualties of war and persecuted persons, addicts receiving treatment for alcoholic, narcotics, or psychoactive substance abuse. Also in cases of a sudden illness, accident, injury, intoxication or life threatening circumstances anyone can receive the necessary medical benefits without referral.
Usually you are required to pay for dental treatment in Poland.
For medical emergencies dial 999 or 112 or go directly to a hospital, in particular to the accident and emergency department (SOR). Ambulance transport in such cases is free of charge. You must show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a replacement certificate.
Contact details for the NFZ:
Central Office of the National Health Fund - The Department of International Affairs (Centrala Narodowego Funduszu Zdrowia – Departament Współpracy Międzynarodowej) ul. Grójecka 186 02-390 Warszawa tel. 0048 22 572 62 68 fax 0048 22 572 63 19 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Poland has a well-developed state-run educational system where foreign nationals are also allowed to attend free of charge. However, non-Polish families can also send their children to private or international schools as teaching in state-schools is only through Polish.
The majority of the private or international schools are located in Warsaw, including the British School, and other larger cities such as Krakow, Gdansk, Wroclaw and Lodz.
Polish public universities, as well as private schools of higher education, offer studies in English. Most programmes conducted in English usually need to be paid for.
Employment and recognised qualifications
British citizens, like all citizens of the EU, do not need a work permit to work in Poland.
Entry and residence requirements
British citizens, like all citizens of the EU, do not need a visa to enter Poland. However any EU national staying in Poland for more than three months must contact the Department of Foreigners at the relevant Voivod Office to register their address in Poland. This office also provides information about permanent residence in Poland.
The social security system in Poland is of a general and compulsory character and consists of
- old-age pension
- invalidity pension
- sickness and maternity insurance
- insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases
- health insurance
- family benefits
- unemployment benefits
Social security – in respect of selected risks – covers persons practically all people in active employment, i.e. employees, self-employed people and their family members. Reporting those people to social insurance is the responsibility of either those who pay contributions (employers), or – for the self-employed and clergy – of the individuals themselves. Social security in Poland covers the EU citizens on the same basis as Polish citizens.
For more information regarding social security in Poland please see the brochure prepared by the Polish Social Insurance Company (ZUS) or the report published by the [European Commission] (http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/empl_portal/SSRinEU/Your%20social%20security%20rights%20in%20Poland_en.pdf)
For more information regarding UK benefits and retirement if you are abroad:
If you are in receipt of a UK old age state pension, request an S1 form (previously E121) from the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999. If you are in receipt of an exportable DWP benefit you can request an S1 form the office which pays your exportable benefit.
It is your responsibility to keep the Overseas Healthcare Team or office which pays your exportable DWP benefit up to date with any changes in circumstances which may affect your entitlement to an S1 (E121). When received, register the S1 form with your local social security office, before you register with your local GP surgery and obtain a medical card.
Driving licences and vehicles
It is a legal requirement to carry your original driving licence, ID, original vehicle-registration papers, ownership documents and insurance papers at all times. You will need to present these documents if you are stopped by the police and when crossing non-Schengen borders. This also applies to rental vehicles. If you do not have these papers the police may impound your vehicle and charge you for this. All vehicles driven on public roads in Poland must meet local technical requirements.
Seat belts must be used in both front and back seats. Car lights must be on day and night all year round. Using a mobile phone while driving (unless ‘hands free’) is banned.
The speed limit in built-up areas, unless otherwise stated, is 50 kilometres per hour.
As of April 2007, low-beam headlights must be switched on at all times. Motorcycles must also have low-beam headlights switched on at all times. Pedestrians have priority on a zebra crossing, the rule being that vehicles must stop if there is a pedestrian on the crossing. Jay-walking is an offence. You should cross major roads only at recognised crossing points. If caught by the police you will be fined.
A new system of toll collection was implemented on selected sections of motorways, expressways and national roads in July 2011. Detailed information on the new system
Drink driving in Poland
Polish law on driving under the influence of alcohol is very strict. The legal alcohol limit in Poland is 0.2 mg/ml (lower than the EU average and the equivalent of drinking less than one unit of alcohol) so there is zero tolerance for drink driving. Penalties include heavy fines and in some cases imprisonment. This applies also to cycling.
As such you are strongly advised when in Poland: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
Individuals with their place of residence in Poland are taxed on their total income, regardless of where the income is earned (unlimited tax obligation in Poland). Individuals who do not have a place of residence in Poland are taxed solely on income earned in Poland (limited tax obligation in Poland).
Guidance on bringing medication into Poland
When travelling with prescription drugs, you should carry a note of explanation from your health care provider to avoid problems with customs officials. In Poland you should have a clear hospital or pharmacy label on the original drug container that identifies your full name as it appears on your passport, the name of the pharmacy, the name of the medication and the dosage; and a copy of your prescription.
You will also need this information if your medication is lost or stolen. Along with copies of your prescriptions, keep a record of each drug’s generic and trade names. Some over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and herbal and homeopathic products used in your country may be illegal for import and use in other countries or may require a prescription.
If your medication requires needles and syringes, carry an explanation from your health care provider or a medical certificate with you. In some countries, a traveller found with needles and syringes and without an adequate explanation could be in serious trouble.
Published: 12 November 2013
Related guides: Notarial and documentary services guide for Poland