The Leading Global Portal for Diplomats!    
    Keep in touch with the community Prepare for your new career Take care of personal affairs Chat with diplomats online      
Home > New Posting > Post Reports
Preface Last Updated: 9/24/2003 1:46 PM

“Polanie” (people of the fields) settled into the area that is now Poland in the 10th century. Because of its geographical situation in the heartland of Europe, Poland has been both a bridge and frontline between Eastern and Western Europe. It is endowed with a wonderful culture in music, theater, and writing.

Poland’s geography and national struggles have made it a country of contradictions, ideologically and emotionally torn between East and West. The Polish people, still haunted by 150 years of partition and the Holocaust of the Second World War, are patriotic and eager for a better life.

It is endowed with a wonderful culture in music, theater, and writing. Today, it is a multifaceted country-the capital and medieval old towns are coddled by contemporary city slickers and horsedrawn carts travel country lanes where the 20th century seems to have gotten lost.

Major industries include machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, and agriculture. These products are traded with the European Union (EU) countries, especially France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and Russia.

Intellectual pursuits abound in Poland. One of central Europe’s oldest universities, Jagiellonian University in Krakow was founded by Casimir the Great (1333–70). And, Copernicus, one of the world’s earliest astronomers, attended the University and proposed in his book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres that the Earth moves around the Sun. In the 20th century, emigrant Isaac Bashevis Singer’s works in Yiddish recreated Jewish Poland. Composer Henryk Gorecki’s third symphony achieved worldwide success several years ago.

An assignment to Poland can be professionally and personally rewarding and challenging. In the 21st century, life can be comfortable in Poland and it is a worthwhile place to serve.

This is the official post report prepared by the post. The information contained herein is directed to official U.S. Government employees and their families. Any other information concerning the facts set forth herein is to be regarded as unofficial information.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 9/24/2003 1:48 PM

Poland covers about 120,000 square miles, an area about the size of New Mexico. The population in 2002 was officially estimated to be 38.6 million. Poland ranks seventh in Europe in area and population.

Most of Poland consists of lowland plains. To the north are the Baltic Sea coast and a broad belt of lake land. In the center are broad, low-lying plains and vast forest belts. To the south, the land passes into chains of mountains—the Sudety in the west and the Carpathians in the east. These mountains combine to form the southern boundary of Poland. The Tatra Mountains, a part of the Carpathians, are the highest in Poland. Rysy Mountain rises 8,212 feet above sea level. At the foot of the Tatras lies the town of Zakopane, a year-round sports center.

Poland borders Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine on the east, Russia and the Baltic Sea on the north, Germany on the west, the Czech Republic on the southwest, and Slovakia on the south.

One main seaport, Szczecin, is near the German border. Poland’s two other major port cities, Gdansk, and Gdynia, lie about 170 miles farther east, at the mouth of the Vistula River. Many summer resorts with beautiful beaches lie along the Baltic coast, although the water is often too cold and polluted for swimming. About 200 miles north of Warsaw is a belt of lakes stretching from Olsztyn to Augustow, surrounded by the largest forest in Poland. Good camping and fishing abound.

The main rivers are the Vistula, on which Warsaw and Krakow are situated; the Odra, whose northern course forms a part of the German border; the Narew, in northeastern Poland; the Warta, on which Poznan is located; and the Bug, part of which helps form Poland's eastern boundary.

In addition to Warsaw and the port cities, Poland has several other major cities. Krakow, a former capital, is noted for its beautiful Renaissance architecture. Wawel, the Castle Hill, is the former seat and present burial site of Poland’s past kings. Lodz is the center of Polish light industry. Poznan is an industrial and agricultural center and site of the International Poznan Fair. Other major cities are Wroclaw, Katowice, and Gdansk.

Poland’s climate is continental European. Winters can be severe, with heavy snows possible from December through March. Winter temperatures in Warsaw average about -3.9ºC to 0ºC. The lowest temperature in recent years was - 30ºC. Spring is usually cold and rainy. Summer can bring temperatures topping 37ºC, but a few days at about 32ºC is more typical. Autumn is usually cloudy and can be quite cold. Yearly rainfall averages about 59.69 centimeters. Poland has no diseases caused by climate, and mildew is not a problem because humidity is usually low. Earthquakes do not occur, and snowslides in the mountains normally are not hazardous.

Population Last Updated: 9/24/2003 1:49 PM

Poland’s population of 38.6 million is 96% ethnically Polish. Small German, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Jewish minorities, and even smaller Lithuanian, Czech, and Slovak communities exist. The population of Warsaw is about 2.5 million.

More than 90% of Poland’s population is Roman Catholic. Church attendance is high, and most people strictly observe Catholic holy days.

The foreign community in Warsaw has grown radically since 1989. The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland, founded in 1991 with seven members, now has around 300 members in virtually every industry category.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 9/24/2003 1:54 PM

Poland is organized as a parliamentary democracy according to the constitution approved by national referendum on May 25, 1997. The constitution codifies Poland's democratic norms and establishes checks and balances among the President, Prime Minister, and Parliament. It also enhances several key elements of democracy including judicial review and the legislative process, while it continues to guarantee the wide range of civil rights, such as the right to free speech, press, and assembly, which Poles have enjoyed since 1989.

Poland has a bicameral parliament, comprised of a lower house (Sejm) and upper house (Senate). Within the legislative branch of the government, the Sejm has most of the power; the Senate may only suggest amendments to legislation passed by the Sejm or delay it. Both bodies are democratically elected. Poland’s last parliamentary elections were in September 2001. The Government has maintained generally pro-market economic policies and made clear its commitment to a democratic political system.

The Polish Prime Minister is nominated by the President and must propose a government that can win a vote of confidence in the Sejm. He chairs the Council of Ministers and serves as Poland’s chief of government with 19 cabinet ministers, two of whom serve as Deputy Prime Ministers.

The parliament and government are elected to 4-year terms. The President may dissolve the parliament and call new elections if it fails a vote of confidence or does not approve the budget within a set period of time.

Poland’s President, who serves as the country’s head of state, has a 5-year term and may serve a maximum of two terms. Aleksander Kwasniewski was reelected on October 8, 2000, out of a field of 12 candidates. The Polish President is the commander of the armed forces and may veto legislation passed by the parliament. Presidential vetoes can be overturned by a two-thirds vote of parliament.

The most influential political parties in Poland are the center-left, post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the agrarian Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the center-right Civic Platform (PO), the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, the radical, populist Self-Defense (Samoobrona), the leftist Union of Labor (UP), the far-right League of Polish Families (LPR), the centrist Freedom Union (UW), and the Conservative-Peasant Alliance (SKL), most of which are currently represented in parliament.

Provincial and local government can play an important role in facilitating or hindering trade and investment in Poland. Poland is divided into 16 provinces, each of which is headed by a provincial governor appointed by the central government. Mayors in Poland are elected directly as of October 2002. Party affiliations play an increasingly important role in local Polish politics, particularly in larger cities, but are not yet as significant as in the U.S.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:05 PM

There is good to excellent Polish-language theater in Warsaw, with some very interesting theater of varying quality in the smaller cities. Krakow’s Teatr Stary (Old Theater) is among the best of the non-Warsaw theaters and ranks with the best of the capital city’s offerings. Most productions run in repertory four to five times a month for a year or two. International translations, English amateur theater, Polish classics, avant-garde, and theater of the absurd can also be seen. Tickets are inexpensive compared to U.S. standards and are available through the Embassy’s American Community Association (ACA).

The grand opera presented in Warsaw at the Teatr Wielki (Great Theater) is a great bargain for an evening out. Extraordinarily lavish productions with fair to excellent singing and acceptable conducting are the norm; tickets average around $15–$25. The repertoire includes Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Moniuszko, and contemporary Polish opera. The Chamber Opera (Opera Kameralna) is charming and of a high musical standard. Here one can see first-rate productions of early opera, as well as some of smaller scale, including Mozart. Some very interesting and daring operatic productions are produced at the Poznan Opera as well.

Classical music concerts and recitals are of a very high standard. In the summer there are free performances of Chopin’s music in Lazienki Park (a major city park close to the Embassy) every Sunday. Chopin’s home at Zelazowa Wola is also the site of regular Sunday summer recitals given by visiting and local pianists. The Music Academies in Warsaw and Krakow offer many opportunities to hear both classical and contemporary music. Most major cities offer a philharmonic orchestra and some chamber music as well. Warsaw also hosts a jazz festival every year.

The university system in Poland consists of 10 state-supported and maintained universities; numerous specialized academies and institutions of higher education in such fields as engineering, teacher training, agriculture, medicine, the fine arts, music, and economics. The only private university in Poland is Catholic University in Lublin.

The oldest Polish university is Jagiellonian University in Krakow; the largest is Warsaw University. Polish academics welcome scholars from the West and actively seek opportunities to visit and engage in joint research. Polish universities, however, are in difficult financial straits and often lack the facilities to attract the best Western scholars for long periods of time, but there are active exchange programs in all areas of the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

There are numerous language schools, mostly to teach English, but Polish-language instruction is available either with a group or on an individual basis.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/24/2003 1:56 PM

After enjoying rapid economic growth in the 1990s, Poland has struggled economically since 2000, with unemployment surging to over 18%, one of the highest rates in the OECD area. Privatization has slowed considerably since its peak in 1999–2000, as many state-owned heavy industries inherited from the communist era, such as coal, steel, and shipbuilding, remain financially troubled and in need of restructuring. Poland’s extensive agricultural sector, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the working population but contributes less than four percent to GDP, is also in need of serious restructuring. Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell by more than 50% between 2000 and 2002, although Poland's share of world FDI flows has remained relatively constant.

One factor behind the economic slowdown since 2000 has been the policy of relatively high real interest rates pursued by Poland’s central bank. This policy has, however, succeeded in brining down Poland’s previously-high inflation rate from 11% in mid–2000 to under one percent by the end of 2002. Poland’s currency, the zloty, has also stabilized as foreign portfolio managers have invested heavily in Polish securities, attracted by rising bond prices and Poland's expected membership in the European Union in 2004.

Adapting the Polish economy to the requirements of EU membership stands as one of the principal policy challenges facing the government for the next several years, since EU laws and directives will affect how virtually every company in Poland does business. Another important policy challenge is the need to restructure the state budget in order to meet the financial costs of EU membership as well as to satisfy the fiscal requirements for Poland’s eventual entry into the eurozone.

Poland, as a WTO and OECD member, maintains trade and investment policies that are largely open. U.S. companies are well represented in Poland, and the U.S. is among the top three foreign investors in the country. Most foreign investors are set up to serve the large domestic market, although an increasing number are using Poland as a base for exports both to the EU and to other destinations in Central and Eastern Europe. Foreign investors are most active in the automotive, food processing, banking, and retain sectors. Most of Poland’s trade is with EU countries, particularly Germany, amounting to more than two-thirds of both imports and exports. Direct bilateral trade between the U.S. and Poland is relatively modest, with U.S. exports equaling only $700 million in 2002, and imports from Poland reaching $1.1 billion.


Automobiles Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:06 PM

According to Polish Government regulations, diplomatic personnel at post may import or buy one duty-free automobile at any time during their tour of duty or two if they have one or more adult dependents. The same conditions apply to administrative and technical staff. Duty-free purchase is possible in Poland with a good variety of continental makes and models. However, if you want to purchase a car with air-conditioning or automatic transmission, you may have to wait three months. Local newspapers always include a good selection of secondhand cars offered for sale. Local publications also have advertisements of vehicles for sale by departing employees or diplomats from other embassies.

An automobile purchased duty free in Poland may be sold at any time. However, if it is sold less than three years from the date of customs clearance, and if the buyer is not a diplomat or a member of the Technical and Administrative staff of the diplomatic mission, the duty and taxes must be paid by the buyer. If the buyer is a diplomat or a member of the Technical and Administrative staff of our Embassy or another Embassy, the 3-year customs bond is continuous until the original date expires. If the sale occurs three years after the date of purchase, all taxes and duties are waived.

All automobiles must be inspected yearly and may require modifications at the owner’s expense to pass inspection. Poland has passed a law requiring catalytic converters on all automobiles. Unleaded gas is readily available at all gas stations. Polish law requires that all automobiles conform to EU manufacturing/ safety standards, and eligible employees of the Mission must request a waiver if their car does not meet these standards. GSO must be informed if the vehicle is American-made to request this waiver before the car can be registered. Upon completion of an assignment to Poland, each employee must either export his personally owned vehicle, sell to another diplomatic buyer, or adapt it to EU specifications before the nondiplomatic buyer can register it. Polish law also requires all vehicles to contain a prescribed first-aid kit and reflective triangles. Because headlights must be on at all times from October to March inclusive, it may be useful to bring an extra headlight or two. All cars should have undercoats to protect against road salt used in winter. Radial tires may be used year round in the Warsaw and Krakow areas, but snow tires should be used for driving outside the city in winter.

As with HHE, personally owned vehicles must arrive at post after the employee’s arrival due to a lack of storage facilities and to satisfy customs regulations. All personnel planning to import a vehicle into Poland should inform the General Services Office of the details as far in advance as possible. The Embassy will estimate the probable expenses involved in registering your car in Poland and will assist you with registration.

Embassy personnel and their dependents may drive with either a valid international driver's license or a Polish driver’s license. Drivers can obtain an international driver's license at any “AAA” office before coming to Poland, but it is only valid for 1 year. To obtain a Polish driver’s license you must hold a current U.S. license, so ensure that your state license is valid for at least the length of your tour. GSO will assist personnel with obtaining a Polish driver’s license through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Note: Poland has very strict drunk driving laws. Driving after drinking, even a very moderate amount, is a serious offense that carries mandatory fines, loss of license, and jail sentences.

Third-party-liability insurance is compulsory for every vehicle. Local third-party-liability insurance must be purchased once a vehicle has been registered. In addition, comprehensive insurance may be purchased from international firms such as Clements, UNIRISC, and Jannette. All questions about personally owned vehicles should be addressed to GSO.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:06 PM

The public bus and tram networks are extensive and inexpensive to use in most towns, as they are the primary mode of transportation for the majority of Poles. Although wide-reaching within the city, public buses can be slow and crowded, especially during rush hour. Most personnel commute by either personally-owned vehicle, metro, or tram. Several reliable “radio taxi” (phone-in) companies operate in each major city; they are cheaper and safer than taxis hailed on the street. Personnel can make routine, private arrangements with taxi drivers for scheduled service.

The quality of roads within most cities is adequate but distinctly below North American standards, and there are not enough roads to accommodate the growing number of vehicles. Traffic jams are a regular problem, particularly crossing the Vistula River in Warsaw during rush hour. Roads outside the cities are poorly paved, dimly lit, and are dangerous to drive at night. Poland has one of the highest mortality rates by car accidents. Although Poland has few divided highways, major routes between cities are well marked and are slowly being upgraded. Both leaded and unleaded gasolines are readily available. Poland requires all cars to have catalytic converters, although many old cars already in Poland are exempt.

The train is often the quickest mode of transportation between major cities. Trains are comfortable, inexpensive by U.S. standards, and reliable. Train stations on the other hand, can be unpleasant. Theft on trains and in stations is a major problem.

Intercity buses are slow and uncomfortable. There are airplane connections between major cities at reasonable prices.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:12 AM

Air connections between Warsaw and most European capitals and to the U.S. are good. The Polish national airline LOT and several foreign airlines fly to and from Warsaw and Krakow. There are two AA code-shared nonstop flights from Warsaw to NYC and Chicago operated by LOT Polish airlines. There are also code-shares with Northwest Airlines and United Airlines via European interchange points to the U.S. everyday.

Train connections between major Polish cities and other major European cities are good. There is a daily car ferry service between Swinoujscie/Gdynia, Poland, and Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

American citizens do not need visas for Poland for up to a 90-day stay and most Central and Western European countries. However, personnel assigned to Poland are reminded that a diplomatic visa is required prior to travel to Poland and must be obtained through the Polish Embassy in Washington. Visas are required for travel to many countries to the east, including Russia. Personnel are advised to check visa requirements for particular countries/passports with the General Services Office Travel Office.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:16 AM

Direct-dial telephone service from Poland to the U.S. and other parts of the world is available and reliable. Direct-dial calls are often less expensive than calls placed using most standard calling cards, e.g., AT&T, MCI, and Sprint. Renewable prepaid calling cards are the best deal for use with the IVG lines in the Embassy.

Poland has several Internet service providers available. Most providers charge a small fee for the initial activation plus a monthly service fee. This monthly fee may vary depending upon the number of hours spent “surfing” the Web. Access to the Internet is most often achieved by using standard telephone lines and a modem connection. The monthly service fee, charged by the service provider for telephone access to the Internet, does not include the cost of the telephone call, which is assessed by the TPSA (Telekomucnikacja Polska S.A.) and can substantially increase costs. With the combination of fees and telephone charges, the average user can expect to pay about 90% more for the same service in Poland than in the U.S. Some cable TV companies have recently started to offer Internet access through their cable companies, although this service is limited to particular areas in the larger cities and is unpredictable. The telephone company offers DSL line installation in select areas.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:08 PM

The pouch and Polish Postal System (PTT) are equally reliable for first-class mail. On average, it takes 2–4 weeks for letter mail from Poland to reach the U.S., and vice versa. Special services such as registry, insurance, and return receipt are not available for mail transmitted via diplomatic pouch. Mail is transmitted via air pouch to and from Warsaw-Washington twice a week. Pouch mail to and from Krakow takes a few days longer.

The following addresses should be used—please have correspondents include section information, as noted below, as this will greatly assist post efforts to quickly distribute incoming mail when it arrives:

Warsaw — Official Mail Name/Section Department of State 5010 Warsaw Place Washington, DC 20521–5010

Warsaw — Personal Mail Name 5010 Warsaw Place Dulles VA, 20189–5010

Krakow — Official Mail Name/Section Department of State 5140 Krakow Place Washington, DC 20521–5140

Krakow — Personal Mail Name 5140 Krakow Place Dulles VA, 20189–5140

Street addresses (for mail within Poland and international mail through the PTT):

Warsaw Name/Section Ambassador USA Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 00–540 Warszawa, Poland

Krakow Name/Section Konsulat Generalny USA ul. Stolarska 9 31–043 Krakow, Poland

Because transit time between the Department and post varies, employees assigned to Poland should arrange in advance for automatic deposit of salary checks to bank accounts and for automatic transfer of funds to meet payment deadlines on regular financial obligations. Employees may also wish to advise merchants that it will frequently be impossible to comply with the requirements of “30 day” credit accounts. Alternatively, many employees are now making payment transactions by Internet.

U.S. domestic rates apply for mail sent via the State Department pouch. Mail must comply with the existing State Department postal regulations. The American Community Association (ACA) sells both U.S. and Polish postage stamps at the Embassy. ACA also provides “Homeward Bound” mail service. This service allows employees to send packages back to the U.S. via pouch, but there are additional fees to cover the cost of the air pouch services. These costs can run on average to an additional $3 per pound and sometimes more.

Commercial carriers such as UPS and FEDEX also operate in Poland. ACA can assist with contacting them and arranging pick up.


Radio and TV Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:09 PM

Poland is well served by a variety of radio and TV stations. Most Polish homes have radio and TVs and cable and satellite systems are common. Polish viewers can choose programs from around the world. English-language programs on cable include CNN, TCM, CNBC, BBC, and British Sky, among others. Polish TV features many American series, voiced over in Polish.

Poland’s broadcasting industry has developed remarkably since the fall of communism. In addition to three public television channels (TVP), viewers in most of Poland can also tune into one nationwide network (Polsat) and two that reach most of the nation (TVN and TV4) as well as a variety of regional offerings. Cable and satellite also add RTL7 and Canal + to the menu of Polish networks and five regional stations round out the field. Although TVP receives a Government subsidy, all Polish networks, public and private, compete for advertising revenue to cover most of their expenses. TVP still reaches the largest audiences, but the fact that both Polsat and TVN enjoy higher advertising revenue is significant from a marketing point of view. Polish TV uses the PAL system, so American NTSC sets will not work. Excellent quality television sets (some multisystem) are available locally at prices comparable to those in the U.S. Satellite companies also offer a wide-range of programming, some in English. European satellite and cable companies are switching to digital broadcasts and analog receivers will no longer be applicable to Poland. You can buy an AFN decoder at military bases in Germany and have it installed locally.

Poland has more than 200 radio stations. Vying for the number one position are two national private networks, Radio Zet and RMF-FM. Polish state radio has the greatest geographical extent, but an increasingly less dynamic audience. The radio spectrum is full of offerings ranging from “top 40” to traditional Catholic programming to public affairs. American music is prominent and even dominates on more popular channels. American radio sets will work in Poland (although the current is 220v) but may not be able to pick up all the lower FM frequencies used in Poland. Shortwave, very popular in Communist times, has been almost completely squeezed out by other offerings.

ACA offers a lending video collection for Embassy employees. Private Polish video rental shops are common and feature American and European films. Unfortunately, many of these are voiced over, not subtitled, which can be distracting. Movie theaters are comfortable and relatively inexpensive. Most major American releases make it to Poland within a few months or weeks after the U.S. release. Theaters subtitle movies, but keep the original soundtrack, except for children’s films, which tend to be fully dubbed.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Gazeta Wyborcza is Poland’s leading national newspaper, with the widest circulation. Rzeczpospolita, the authoritative national daily, is widely read in government circles. Behind these two leaders are a variety of other nationally available publications. Super Express is the publication of choice among taxi drivers. Major cities and regions outside the capital have their own newspapers and regional inserts of national publications.

In addition to a rich variety of dailies, Poland is served by a variety of weekly and monthly magazines. The three most popular newsweeklies are Wprost, Polityka, and Newsweek-Polska. Wprost is a Polish equivalent of Time or Newsweek with short, easy to read articles, while Polityka is similar but with longer articles. Newsweek-Polska is the Polish version of Newsweek, with the same format. Specialty magazines aimed at particular market segments, such as business, computer users, etc., are common. Important Western publications, such as Business Week, Scientific American, Readers Digest and National Geographic have Polish editions.

Major American newsmagazines are available in their international editions. Other English-language publications are also available, but tend to be more expensive in Poland. The International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today are available in Warsaw on their publication day (although not until mid-morning) at international hotels and kiosks or by subscription. Several English-language papers are published in Poland. The most popular among expats include the Warsaw Voice and Warsaw Business Journal. The English language Warsaw Insider and Warsaw in Your Pocket are monthly magazines of social events, movie and restaurant reviews, and contemporary articles.

English-language books can be easily found on the Polish market, but prices tend to be higher than they would be in the U.S and selection is limited. Embassy personnel use, Barnes and Noble, and other on-line bookstores widely. CLO also has a lending library with a wide variety of titles.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:19 AM

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw maintains a Health Unit staffed by a Foreign Service regional medical officer (RMO), registered nurses, and an administrative assistant. The RMO is responsible for coordinating the State Department’s medical program for all of Poland and eight other countries; therefore, the RMO is away from Warsaw some 30% of the time. Health Unit office hours are Monday through Friday with either the RMO or RN on-call after hours and during weekends. The Health Unit functions as a primary care outpatient facility for eligible employees and their dependents in Warsaw and Krakow. U.S. Mission employees whose agencies have health care agreements under ICASS with the U.S Department of State have access to the Health Unit for themselves and their eligible family members. Other groups and individuals may have access to the Health Unit by specific contract with the U.S. Government and are required to have physical examinations submitted to the Health Unit and an agreement for reimbursement before they can receive care.

The Embassy Health Unit has a small private pharmacy located on the premises, but those taking chronic medications are encouraged to bring their own supply. This includes birth control pills, vitamins, blood pressure or cardiac medications, and hormone replacement medications. A wide range of medications of variable quality, cost, and availability may be purchased in Poland, but many newer U.S. medications are not available. To ensure availability of chronic medications, the Health Unit recommends establishing a supply source, either through a CONUS pharmacy, on-line pharmacy, or one of the prescription drug plans before coming to post. Those receiving allergy shots may continue to receive them at the Embassy Health Unit. However, the question as to whether or not these shots will be helpful against Central European allergens must remain open.

Local medical facilities are used selectively for specialty consultation and emergency hospitalization. All hospitalizations are done as referrals to specific physicians in consultation with the Embassy Health Unit. The Health Unit generally does not recommend elective surgery in either Warsaw or Krakow. Patients with medical or surgical problems that cannot be handled adequately in Warsaw or Krakow are evacuated to London. The hospital used (whether local or regional) depends on the condition and urgency of the problem. The Health Unit recommends that all pregnant women deliver in CONUS. Some expatriates choose to deliver in Warsaw or Krakow, but this is a personal decision and should be discussed with the Health Unit. The RMO believes that Polish facilities to handle high-risk obstetrics and neonatal care are limited.

Dental care, such as cleaning, repairs of dental cavities, and root canal and bridgework, can be performed in both Warsaw and Krakow. Complicated dental problems can be referred to specialists in London. There are orthodontists who work in Warsaw (regularly used by Embassy personnel), though the quality of their work is inconsistent. However, all personnel and their eligible family members assigned to Poland should attend to their dental needs before arrival. Although medical travel can be funded for management of serious dental problems, the limitation of per diem payments and the fact that follow-up trips cannot be funded can make dental care in London very expensive.

Warsaw and Krakow have optometrists and selected ophthalmologists of reasonable quality. Lens work is satisfactory, but bring an extra pair of glasses with you. The regional psychiatrist (RMO/P) is resident in Vienna and is available for phone consultations. The RMO/P usually visits Warsaw twice a year.

Krakow. The Consulate General has no Health Unit. The RMO visits quarterly, and employees should call the Warsaw Health Unit for necessary guidance and advice. Local physicians and health care facilities there are used selectively. Complicated medical conditions may warrant evaluation in Warsaw or evacuation to London. Local pharmacies carry a range of products of variable quality, availability, and cost.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:20 AM

Poland’s community sanitation is generally satisfactory, but some problems occur with garbage collection. Flies can be a problem, but U.S.-leased and -owned residences are screened. Restrooms in many public places are below American standards of sanitation and cleanliness.

Common colds, bronchial ailments, sinusitis, and influenza are common, especially in winter. Respiratory ailments seem to be further aggravated by wide variations of air pressure, pollen, and dust. Air pollution, once a major problem, has dramatically improved due to control measures implemented in the 1990s. Krakow, due to its topography has more problems with air pollution. A viral form of gastroenteritis is prevalent in spring and summer. The incidence of tuberculosis is high and increasing. Tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis, are a risk in wooded areas during warm weather.

Depression in the winter from lack of sun and insomnia from short nights in the summer are common problems. Sunlamps are available for use in common areas and blackout curtains are provided in all residences.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Everyone covered under the Department of State's medical program must have proper medical clearance before assignment to Poland. Individuals with limited medical clearances for medical conditions requiring sophisticated medical surveillance or delicate laboratory monitoring may not find suitable care in Poland. The Health Unit can advise on local resources if there is a question.

Recommended immunizations for children include all of the standard pediatric immunizations of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and hemophilus B, plus hepatitis B, hepatitis A, and the pneumoccocal vaccine. Adults should be current on all recommended immunizations (including a diphtheria and tetanus booster within 10 years). Children and adults are encouraged to have the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine, which is available at post. The Health Unit does not consider the water in Krakow and Warsaw potable. Due to discoloration and high metal levels from deteriorating pipes, the Embassy recommends that all water for human consumption be distilled or bottled. Embassy and Consulate General homes have water distillers. Local bottled water delivery is also available. Most personnel use pasteurized-homogenized milk or UHT (long-life) milk available locally. Factory-bottled soft drinks and juices are generally safe. Standard recommendations for preparing fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats apply here. Thorough washing and cooking is mandatory to minimize insecticide residue and bacterial and parasitic contamination. Local markets and supermarkets offer a wide variety of foods, and it is possible to eat a well-balanced diet. Car accidents are the primary cause of severe injury to foreigners living in Poland. Defensive driving and use of seatbelts are encouraged; use of motorcycles is strongly discouraged. The Embassy and Consulate General maintain a list of available blood donors.

American Embassy - Warsaw

Post City Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Located in central Poland on the banks of the Vistula River, Warsaw is probably the most significant symbol of patriotism of and to the Polish people. During World War II, thousands of its people were killed and more than 80% of its buildings were destroyed. Through the efforts and dedication of the people from all over the country, the capital city was rebuilt in its former style, using historical paintings and, where possible, incorporating the ruins into the construction. Today, the city center has a Renaissance style, with many of Warsaw’s unattractive Communist-style housing complexes, factories, and Government buildings undergoing facelifts. Warsaw has seen tremendous growth in the past several years and many new modern, gleaming apartment and office buildings are springing up in between the old. It is overcrowded because it was not built to accommodate 2.5 million inhabitants or the rapidly growing number of cars. But Warsaw is also filled with numerous parks in which one can escape the noise and bustle of the city.

Warsaw is undisputedly the governmental and commercial center of Poland. The art and academic communities are also significant. Warsaw continues to change rapidly, with more Westernized commercial centers and business, more foreign investment, and increased tourism. With these changes come the usual problems of big cities—crime increased, traffic jams, insufficient parking, increased pollution, and magnified infrastructure problems.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:22 AM

The Embassy’s Chancery Section is located at Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, near the center of town and several parks. The Consular Section has a separate entrance at Piekna 12. The Administrative, FAS, and ODC sections are in an adjacent building at Piekna 14A. FCS is currently offsite, some 15 minutes away from the Embassy by car. Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A Marine Guard is on duty 24 hours daily.

Also in the Piekna Building is the American Information Resource Center (AIRC). It provides fast, accurate, and objective reference services on a wide range of U.S. subjects to Polish Government officials, journalists, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and businesses.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:23 AM

It is post policy to place new arrivals directly in permanent housing if possible; however, at times, a short stay in temporary quarters is necessary. The Embassy has two transient apartments and other periodically vacant housing units, so newcomers seldom stay in hotels. Transient quarters have adequate facilities for cooking and housekeeping and are either on the compound or an easy commute to the Embassy.

Hospitality kits include utensils, flatware, dishes, bed and bath linens, pillows, blankets, iron and ironing board, toaster, coffeemaker, computer, and television sets and are available for incoming and departing personnel. New employees must return the hospitality kit as soon as they no longer need it or their HHE is delivered.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:16 PM

Government-owned or -leased furnished housing is provided. Apartments and houses are located in various areas of the city; commuting can take from 5 to 40 minutes by car. There are three Government-owned apartment buildings. Post has implemented a program to acquire more U.S. Government-owned housing and currently has approximately 41 homes. Usually, there are several Embassy-owned/leased units in a neighborhood.

Size of the houses and apartments generally is comparable to American standards, but there is no storage at post and little storage in the residences. A one-car garage or carport is provided with each house or townhouse, but most garages are designed for compact vehicles. Apartments come with a designated parking space usually in a covered parking area, but again the size is for smaller compact cars.

The Ambassador’s residence is both spacious with sizable gardens. The Ambassador's residence has a swimming pool that is open for Embassy use during the summer.


Furnishings Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:26 AM

All quarters, except the Ambassador’s and DCM's residences, are usually furnished with the following:

kitchens and bathrooms fully furnished with basic appliances provided, including a microwave and, when size permits, a dishwasher; all bedrooms have a dresser, night table(s), desk and a chair; master bedroom has a queen-sized bed, all other bedrooms have twin sized beds; living room sofa, loveseat or armchairs, coffee table, end tables, etageres or bookcases; dining room table, chairs, credenza, china cabinet, buffet. Lamps, rugs, mirrors, sheers, and drapes are also provided. Laundry facilities are provided. Quarters that have gardens or terraces are provided with one set of garden furniture.

All the quarters have installed U.S.-approved alarms and grilles on windows where necessary. Every effort is made for the housing to be secure. Nonetheless, some Embassy homes have been burglarized; keep this in mind when deciding what to bring to post. Employees must bring their own linens, pillows, blankets, china, small appliances (toasters, blenders, hairdryers), and anything else that will make the house a home. Hospitality kits must be returned when UAB is delivered.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:27 AM

Government quarters have central heating and electric lights. Heating is adequate; electricity is reliable. Space heaters and humidifiers are provided for each residence. Tapwater is not potable. Although some of the more outlying dwellings have their own wells, water is in most cases supplied by municipal services. There is no air-conditioning, but for most of the year it is not needed. Ceiling fans and table fans are provided. Kitchens and bathrooms meet American standards although bathroom under-the-sink and medicine cabinets are small. Kitchen appliances provided are an electric or gas stove, refrigerator with freezer, dishwasher, water distiller, microwave oven, three transformers, and washer and dryer. One telephone and one connection are provided in each residence but residents must pay the monthly charge. Additional phone units or connections are the responsibility of the residents. American telephones can be used in the walljacks with The information provided herein is deliberately general in nature; please contact your agency’s administrative or executive office for a list of additional specific items that may be included by your agency.

Food Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:13 PM

mMost personnel shop on the economy because the selection is good and food is on par with or below U.S. prices. Neighborhood shops and open-air markets are favorite places to shop. Some open-air markets carry an especially good selection of domestic and imported produce. Several large, Western-style superstores are available around the city, including hardware and garden stores.

On the economy, basic foodstuffs are readily available all year. Bread and pastries are very good. The variety of fresh produce available varies greatly from season to season, but basics such as dairy products, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, oranges, and bananas are available year round. Spring and summer selection is good. Meat and poultry are available in all cuts, as is seafood. Canned and frozen vegetables are available. Fresh spices, such as basil, parsley and oregano, are almost always available. Baby food and disposable diapers are available on the local economy and they can be bulk ordered at the commissary.

Most personnel use the ACA-operated commissary located in the Piekna building to supplement local food purchases. Employees must pay a refundable deposit to become ACA members; only members may use the commissary. Single employees pay $250; families pay $450. ACA charges a yearly service fee of $35 for singles and $50 per family. The commissary carries a limited selection of dairy products, sliced bread, canned foods including Mexican, Italian, and Chinese, cereals and snackfoods, soft drinks, bottled water, baking goods, spices, imported wines and spirits, and a limited selection of frozen meat and seafood. ACA also provides other services such as help with car insurance, school buses, auto repairs, drycleaning, ticket sales, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, U.S. and Polish stamp sales and Homeward Bound mail.

Special orders of a wide variety of items can be arranged through the commissary. Items must be bought by the case and deliveries are made every 2–3 months.

Clothing Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:14 PM

Clothing for Poland is similar to that needed in the Northeastern U.S. Snow is normal during the winter (beginning in November), as are cool temperatures and rain in the spring. Summer temperatures can range from 10 °C–32 °C. European/American-style clothes are available in local stores although finding extra large and petite sizes is hard. Many personnel use mail-order catalogs to purchase clothing while in Poland. Local tailors also sew clothes for less money than you would pay in the U.S., but the price and quality of material varies.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:15 PM

There are many new grocery “superstores” both in town and in the suburbs and several Western-style malls. Imported goods are widely available but they can be more expensive than in the U.S.

The commissary carries a limited supply of toiletries, nonprescription medicine, cigarettes, and household supplies. All are also available locally. Some are more expensive than in the U.S. and not all brands are available. The commissary does not carry cosmetics. Most are available locally, but variety may be limited.

Disposable diapers and wipes are readily available on the local market and reasonably priced. Good-quality baby formula produced in Poland under Finnish or German labels is available locally, as is a variety of reasonably priced baby foods. Although well-known brands such as Gerber are produced locally, quality can be mixed and different from that found in the U.S. The commissary does not carry baby food or diapers, but these items can be bulk ordered by the case through ACA. The commissary carries a limited supply of baby oil, lotion, and other toiletries.

Pets. Pet food and kitty litter are available both locally and at the commissary, but prices are high. “Whiskas” and “Pedigree” are the predominant brands, both in dry and wet forms. Special brands such as “Iams” or “Science Diet” can be purchased through local veterinarians but are very expensive. The commissary does not stock special cat supplies like hairball medicine, catnip, or worm pills. Poland is a pet-friendly country, and pet stores abound with a variety of supplies. Dogs must be muzzled if riding on local transportation, in parks, or if off the leash and if considered to be a threat to others. Some employees order through pet supply catalogs from the U.S.

There are obedience classes for dogs held many times a year (some in English). Dog shows are held several times a year also. There is a SPCA where dogs and cats can be adopted and many employees have found great pets there.

Miscellaneous. The commissary carries a small selection of greeting cards. Polish greeting cards and Christmas decorations are beautiful and widely available. Giftwrapping paper and ribbon are available locally and in the commissary. The commissary does not carry toys or party supplies. It carries paper plates, plastic cutlery, motor oil, anti-freeze, windshield cleaner, and car wax. Many employees buy various items through mail-order catalogs and online and have them shipped via pouch.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:31 AM

Most basic services are available locally, but the quality of the service varies from poor to excellent depending on the kind of service and the business used.

There are several excellent beauty shops with well-known brands of products, 1-hour photo developing, and picture framing shops. Tailors and dressmakers are generally satisfactory. Shoe and watch repair services are good. Warsaw has dozens of English-speaking veterinarians who make house calls for reasonable fees.

The ACA provides basic car maintenance on Embassy premises. Independent repair shops abound. If not available, Western car parts may be ordered, but they are very expensive.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Domestics are generally hard working and dependable. Most Embassy families employ some help as domestics’ salaries are low by American standards but employers are required to pay into the employee’s social security fund. Waiters can be hired by the hour for special occasions. Gardeners can be hired by the hour or by a year-round maintenance contract. Hair stylists, manicurists, masseuses, and tailors make home visits. Cooks who know French and American cuisine are hard to find, but some who have worked for Embassy families before can prepare many American dishes. Few domestics speak English, so it might be helpful to learn numbers as well as cooking and shopping vocabulary.

The Community Liaison Office keeps a list of some domestics who have been employed by Embassy personnel, along with recommendations left by personnel who have departed post. It is the employer’s responsibility to pay social security, health insurance, and bonuses. It is also the employer’s responsibility to provide uniforms, if needed. If you choose to bring domestic help with you to post, contact the Embassy Human Resources Office well in advance as appropriate visas must be prearranged.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:32 AM

Warsaw has a variety of religious organizations. Services are held in English in at least 12 different denominations. Christian groups include Roman Catholic, Anglican, Church of Christ, Mormon, interdenominational, German Catholic, Baptist, and various fellowship groups. Other religions represented are Jewish, Islamic, and Baha’i. Warsaw has a Mosque and a Synagogue. Poles are predominantly Roman Catholic but have Polish-language services in some other denominations.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:17 PM The American School of Warsaw (ASW) (Web site at: opened in 1953 and offers instruction from prekindergarten through grade 12. It is located in Konstancin, about 15 kilometers south of the Embassy in a new facility that opened in September 2001. This school is affiliated with the Embassy and gives priority placement to Embassy children during the early registration period. There may not always be places for Embassy children if application is made late in the registration period.

With a student population of more than 750 from 50 countries this is the school most often used by expatriates. The lower school consists of prekindergarten through grade 5, middle school is grades 6 to 8, and the upper school has grades 9 to 12. The school follows an American curriculum, with American textbooks and standardized tests. The International Baccalaureate Program is offered as well as the U.S. diplomas. AP course tests are given but no AP classes are offered. Advanced IB courses are used in place of the AP courses. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools accredit ASW. Individualized instruction is emphasized throughout the school. The School is supervised by a board of trustees and is financed in part by U.S. Government grants. In addition to the core curriculum, students receive regular instruction in art, music, foreign language (Polish, French, Spanish, or German depending on the grade level), physical education, and if necessary, English as a second language. The school features classrooms that are networked with 8-24 computers each; an early childhood wing; three computer labs; seven science labs; three music rooms, five art rooms; two libraries; a theatre-auditorium; two full-sized gymnasiums; full track and soccer fields; two softball fields; and outdoor tennis and basketball courts.

Children whose fourth, fifth, or sixth birthday falls on or before September 30 are eligible for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade, respectively. The post school allowance does not reimburse for children who are enrolled in pre-kindergarten. Because ASW fills its classes quickly, parents who intend to enroll their children should contact ASW before June 1 for enrollment in the fall semester by writing to the Director:

Director American School of Warsaw Department of State 5010 Warsaw Place Washington, DC 20521–5010

The school year begins in late August and ends in mid-June with vacation periods at Christmas, mid-February, and Easter. Bus transportation is available through the ACA or a bus service contracted by the school. There is a dining hall for lunch for all grades.

Other Schools. Warsaw currently offers a few other English language schools; consult their Web sites for details and contact information:

The British School of Warsaw: International American School American School of Warsaw: World Hill Academy Tel: +48 (22) 642–5414 Preschool. The International Preschool of Warsaw is open to toilet-trained 3 and 4 year olds. Currently 45 children are enrolled. Children can attend morning or afternoon classes or a combination of both. Transportation is not provided. Parents are advised to register their children as early as possible. For more information and tuition and registration materials, parents should write to the Embassy’s CLO or the school directly at:

Director International Preschool of Warsaw 14 Zawrat Warszawa, Poland

Other Preschools. Warsaw currently offers a few other English language preschools; contact them directly for information:

The British School of Warsaw: Ames Hanzon Int’l Learning Ctr: +48 (22) 620–1428


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

The University of Warsaw, Academy of Fine Arts, and other institutions of higher education often organize meetings and discussions with English-speaking guest lecturers. These are usually free and open to the public. Each semester several courses are taught in English, but special arrangements must be made to attend. A fee is usually required.

Private language schools abound. Private language, music, art, and various sports teachers are usually available. Rates are comparable to or lower than in the U.S.

The Embassy also has a language program for employees and spouses. Employees and family members are encouraged to pursue their study of Polish under the post language program as space and funding permit.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:18 PM

Sports are popular in Warsaw. For running enthusiasts, Warsaw has two Hash-House Harrier groups, and you can enjoy dozens of marathons held throughout Poland. With its flat terrain, Poland is also a biker’s paradise with an evolving network of bike trails in Warsaw offering access to country roads in the environs of Warsaw. Some bike lanes are appearing on city streets but are still not widespread. Many new bicycle shops make simple repairs and sell Polish-made and imported bicycles.

Rockclimbing and hiking are popular in the Tatras of southern Poland. Although Warsaw rarely has enough snow for cross-country skiing, downhill ski resorts exist in the Tatras to the south. Warsaw boasts two ice-skating rinks; rollerblading is also popular in the summer, with a few asphalt-surfaced paths for covering long distances.

Volleyball, softball, and soccer tournaments among various embassies, schoolteachers, and other expats are played throughout the year. Basketball and tennis are also growing in popularity in Poland with numerous gyms and outdoor courts available year round. A men’s corporate basketball league comprised of 8–10 teams competes from December to March. Soccer remains Poland's most popular sport. There is an active diplomatic soccer team in Warsaw with diplomats from more than ten countries represented on the indoor and outdoor teams that play Polish opponents. Opportunities for women to participate in team sports in Poland are much more limited than in the United States.

One Olympic-sized pool has recently opened, but hours can be limited. Several gyms in Embassy neighborhoods offer weight training and aerobics classes. Also, the Marriott, Sheraton, and Hyatt hotels offer discounts to their fitness clubs to embassies in Warsaw. There is a golf course 30 minutes from Warsaw, although greens fees are expensive. New driving ranges have opened in the Wilanów and Stugew areas. There are several golf courses elsewhere in Poland, most located in Gdansk and Szezeczin. Local stables offer horseback riding opportunities and boarding facilities for horse owners. Windsurfing, sailing, and canoeing are popular in the lakes north of Warsaw and in the Mazurian Lake Region in northeastern Poland. In Warsaw, crew is one of the few water sports currently pursued on the Vistula River. Fishing is quite popular throughout Poland, but eating the fish caught in the highly polluted rivers is not advisable.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:19 PM

Cultural life in Poland offers something for just about everyone. Warsaw’s annual music festivals include a Jazz Jamboree in October, a Summer Mozart Festival, and a contemporary music festival in September. There is an annual country music festival in Mragowo in July and an organ and choral music festival in Gdansk in August. In addition, many festivals are organized on a one-time basis.

Warsaw has a choice of grand opera, chamber opera, a varied symphony season that usually includes one or two major foreign visits, such as the Israeli Philharmonic or the Pittsburgh Symphony. Lighter entertainment is provided in the form of musical theater, mostly American in origin. Most plays are in Polish, but there is an English-language amateur theater.

Most other cities also have an opera, a philharmonic orchestra, and several other music groups. The Poznan Opera is particularly well known for its productions of 20th-century opera. The productions of Musical Theater of Gdynia are not to be missed.

Theater and film are probably Poland’s best homegrown arts. Although fewer Polish works are produced than most Poles would like, there is still much excellent theater. Productions tend to be lavish and they generally run in repertoire 2–3 years. There are many productions of foreign plays in translation, but some theaters have headphones for English translations available. Polish film directors are known all over the world. The most famous Polish film festival is held each year in Gdansk. Many films from the pre–1989 period are available on video with English subtitles. Foreign films, including first-run American films, are shown in their original language with Polish subtitles. New multiplex cinemas show several first run movies in their original language. Children’s movies are dubbed. Movies run from a week to several weeks and play in several area theaters at a time.

Art galleries abound in Warsaw. Modern, impressionist, and all other styles are represented. Sculpture and ceramics are also becoming popular. Poland is also known for its glass artists and several are well known outside Poland. Art schools offer classes in painting, watercolors, and other media at reasonable prices. Folk art is also popular with extensive works available in woodcarvings, naïve paintings, and papercutting.

Tickets for most cultural events can be purchased at the door or through ACA.

Warsaw restaurants vary considerably with regard to menus, atmosphere, décor, and price. New ethnic restaurants are opening monthly, and dining can be a wonderful adventure. Several excellent establishments serve everything from Polish to international cuisine. Several fast food chains have places in Warsaw such as KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, and Sbarro’s.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:21 PM The American Embassy currently exceeds 500 employees; the American community in Poland is estimated to be 5,000 with most in Warsaw. Several organizations work to facilitate contact among Americans. Among them are the Community Liaison Office, the Marine Detachment, and the American Friends of Warsaw. Information about events organized by these groups and other information of interest to Americans is published in the biweekly Embassy newsletter The NOW. Two monthlies, Warsaw Insider and Warsaw in Your Pocket are available at most major hotels and by subscription or on the Internet at and, respectively.

The Community Liaison Office welcomes newcomers, provides one-on-one briefings, coordinates Embassy orientation, acts as liaison with schools and organizations, and plans community activities. The CLO also maintains a paperback library and an Internet-accessible workstation.

The Warsaw Marine Security Guard Detachment hosts frequent TGIF’s and special occasion happy hours in its bar in the Embassy, the Salty Dog. The Annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball, held in November, is one of the biggest annual social events in Warsaw.

The American Friends of Warsaw (AFW) is not affiliated with the Embassy, but many Embassy personnel join it. The AFW organizes lectures, luncheons, excursions, and children’s holiday parties of interest to Americans and provides a good opportunity for Embassy personnel to meet other American residents in Warsaw.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:22 PM Social contact with other foreigners and Poles depends largely on individual preference and initiative. Many American and Polish Embassy employees socialize with each other. Several groups not affiliated with the Embassy, such as the local chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce, the International Women’s Group, Scottish Dancing Club, and Toastmasters, facilitate contact between Americans and Poles with shared interests.

There are many foreigners in Warsaw working in the private sector and serving in the more than 70 diplomatic missions. Many foreigners socialize with each other. The British Embassy operates a small snackbar (the Pink Club) and commissary/shop that American diplomats can use.

Official Functions Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:22 PM

The Mission’s moderate size permits officers and spouses of all agencies and ranks to be included occasionally in the Mission’s official social events. The Ambassador, DCM, counselors, and military attachés are often invited to other mission and Polish Government official and semiofficial functions.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:47 AM

Formal calls within the Embassy are minimal. Arriving employees’ post sponsors arrange for employee meetings with the Ambassador and the DCM within a few days of arrival. The Ambassador, DCM, or Section or Agency head informs new personnel if it is appropriate to arrange meetings with members of other missions or the Polish Government. Officers will need a supply of calling cards; cards can be printed locally.

Special Information Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:23 PM

Crime Threat. Crime within Poland continues to increase as the country grows economically and becomes more westernized. Warsaw is designated as high threat for crime; Krakow is designated as medium threat for crime. Most crimes committed against Embassy personnel are petty theft, pickpocketing, residential burglary, and vandalism to and theft of vehicles. Until recently these types of criminal activity were generally nonviolent, but the use of force is becoming more and more prevalent. Employees are advised to equip their vehicles with alarm systems, “ignition kill switches,” “clubs,” or any other security devices. Embassy residences have alarm systems installed and roving guard patrols check the residences several times a day. Using common sense reduces the risk of being a crime victim.

Post Allowances. Post personnel currently receive a 5% differential. Employees on 2-year tours receive one R&R; those on 3-year assignments receive two.

Post Orientation Program

Newly assigned personnel from State Department and other Foreign Affairs agencies receive a welcome cable from the Human Resources Section and a letter or e-mail from the Community Liaison Office (CLO) with information pertinent to their transfer. The CLO Coordinator assigns a post sponsor a few weeks before arrival at post; please contact your sponsor or the appropriate office with your questions and your travel itinerary. Also forward itinerary information to the Human Resources and GSO Sections. Your sponsor will meet you upon your arrival at post, take you to your living quarters, and help you get to work the first few days. Your sponsor will also coordinate with a member of your section to arrange meetings for you with key Embassy officers and introduce you to your colleagues. In the fall, the CLO offers an orientation program that helps newcomers, both employees and spouses, familiarize themselves with Embassy operations and host-country facilities, services, and organizations.

Consulate General - Krakow

Post City Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

The Krakow consular district consists of Poland’s five southern provinces. The district comprises about one-third of Poland’s territory and has a population of approximately 14 million, more than one-third of Poland’s total population. It extends approximately 700 kilometers from the Ukrainian border in the east to the German border in the west and encompasses some 75,000 square kilometers. The largest cities in the district include Krakow, Katowice, Wroclaw, Opole, Rzeszow, and Tarnow.

Nearly one-half of Poland’s industrial output comes from the consular district. The heavily industrialized area around Katowice, about 80 kilometers from Krakow, contains most of Poland’s coalmines and many steel, chemical, and other industrial plants. Much of the land remains agricultural, particularly in the district’s northern and eastern plains and in the hilly territory to the south, where small subsistence farms prevail. The district contains numerous mountain ranges, most significantly the High Tatras along the southern border with Slovakia, which rise to over 8,200 feet.

The historic city of Krakow lies near the center of the consular district in a shallow basin on the Vistula (Wisla) River. With a population of about 750,000 inhabitants, the city was the capital of Poland until 1596 and remains an intellectual and cultural center. Much of the city’s charming atmosphere comes from its many institutions of higher learning, attended by nearly 100,000 students. The most notable is Jagiellonian University, the second oldest in central Europe, which counts the great astronomer Copernicus among its distinguished alumni. The city remains an important center of religious learning, and the spires of its many medieval churches dominate the skyline. Pope John Paul II studied, wrote, and preached in Krakow before being elevated to the Papacy.

Krakow’s historical roots are deep. The ancient Wawel Castle and Cathedral complex remains the most revered repository of Polish culture and history. Buried within its walls are many of Poland's most beloved national heroes, including Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who fought for American independence during the Revolutionary War. Though largely destroyed during the Tatar invasions of the 13th century, Krakow survived to become the capital of Poland in 1320. The town’s culture flourished during the 14th-century reign of King Kazimierz the Great. Kazimierz welcomed oppressed peoples from throughout Europe into his realm, a policy that attracted many Jews to the city and influenced its architecture and culture to the present day.

The city suffered greatly during the Second World War, when the Nazi regime made Krakow the capital of occupied Poland. Although the city escaped much of the physical destruction wreaked on other Polish cities during the war, many prominent Krakowians were either executed or sent to concentration camps. The site of the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, is located about an hour’s drive west of Krakow. The camp, preserved as a museum, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

The Communist era brought significant changes to Krakow. Communist authorities, seeking to dilute Krakow’s influence as a largely anti-Communist intellectual center, constructed many large, heavy industrial facilities near the city, bringing a significant influx of blue-collar workers. Tragically, the industrialization of the surrounding area severely degraded the environment, poisoning the region's air and water and eroding the city’s ancient stone monuments. President George Bush, who observed the environmental damage firsthand during his 1989 visit to Krakow, initiated an U.S.-funded environmental assistance program for the city. The cooperative program, which concluded in 2000, has resulted in significant improvements in the region’s air and water quality.

Today, the city of Krakow offers most modern amenities while retaining its charm and historical character. Polish Airlines LOT offers nonstop flights from Krakow to the U.S. several times per week as well as daily flights to major European cities. English-language books and first-run American movies (with Polish subtitles) are relatively easy to find. Krakow is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tour groups from the U.S. and elsewhere. With this opening to the world has come an increase in the perils of an open society: a rise in traffic problems and in property crime. See the latest Consular Information Sheet for an assessment of the latest security information.

Krakow’s weather is typically central European, with four distinct seasons. Winters tend to be gray and damp, with occasional heavy snowfall. Summers are pleasant, with generally warm temperatures and light humidity. Spring and fall are usually mild, though rainfall can be significant.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:49 AM

A postwar American Consulate operated out of the Hotel Francuski from 1945 to 1947. Today, the Consulate General is in a renovated 16th century building in the heart of the city at 9 Stolarska Street. Consisting of two buildings separated by an interior courtyard, the Consulate General premises were leased from the Polish Government in 1973 and officially opened for business in July 1974. In September 1987, the post was elevated to the status of Consulate General.

The ground floor of the front building, facing Stolarska Street, houses an extensive multimedia library with several terminals for Internet access as well as the offices of the principal officer, political/economic officer, and the public affairs officer (PAO). A garden-courtyard separates this complex from the rear building, which houses consular services for American citizens, nonimmigrant visa operations and the Administrative Section.

The staff consists of 11 Americans (a principal officer, a political/economic officer, chief of the consular section, a public affairs officer, an administrative officer, 6 junior officers in the consular section) and 54 Polish employees. The post’s workload, relatively small staff, and considerable overlap of functions places a premium on individual flexibility for both American and Polish employees.

Consulate General office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for American and Polish holidays. The Information Resource Center (IRC) is open to the public on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by appointment. Immigrant visa applications are accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily. Visitor visa applications are accepted by appointment only. The Consulate General phone number is (48)(12) 424-5100; fax: (48)(12) 424-5103. After hours, an answering machine provides the duty officer's cell phone number. For updated information about the post and its operations, consult Internet Web site


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Every effort is made to have permanent quarters available when new personnel arrive. If this is not possible, arrangements are made for them to stay in one of several hotels located within walking distance of the Consulate General. Most hotels accept pets. Contact the administrative officer as soon as possible if you will be traveling with a pet.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

The principal officer’s residence is spacious and fully furnished, including 18-place settings of china, glassware, and silver. The large, recently renovated house in a quiet neighborhood about is a 10-minute drive from the Consulate General. It has an attractive garden and large patio; an open, U-shaped ground-floor entertaining area with living and dining rooms wrapped around a spacious hallway entrance; a kitchen equipped with most major appliances and American-made cabinets; and two bathrooms located on the same floor. A library, three bedrooms, and two more large bathrooms are on the second floor. In the basement is another bedroom with bath, a laundry room, and considerable storage space. There is an attached two-car garage.

Post owns one half of a 4-bedroom duplex and leases four 3- or 4-bedroom houses and three apartments. The houses and one apartment are about a-20 minute ride from the Consulate General by car. Public transportation is available but the commute can be 25-30 minutes. The other two apartments are within walking distance of the Consulate General. All houses have garages and yards. Most houses and one apartment have fireplaces. Secure parking is available for those living in apartments. All houses and apartments are alarmed and grilled to Diplomatic Security standards.


Furnishings Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

All quarters contain basic furniture, including rugs, curtains, and lamps. A queen-sized bed is located in the master bedroom of each residence. Other bedrooms contain one or two single beds. No linens are provided. Blankets and comforters can be bought locally, but queen-sized blankets and sheets are not available in Krakow. Ship bedding in advance with personal effects.

Bring books, pictures, art objects, small lamps and rugs to make your house a home. Good-quality Polish paintings, woodcarvings, linen rugs, crystal, and folk art are available locally.

A careful inventory of household and personal effects should be hand-carried to post. Polish law makes it illegal to export items of artistic or historic value made before 1945. Such items and all items deemed by newly arriving personnel to have an artistic or historical value (of whatever date) should be packed and inventoried separately. This will expedite customs clearance on arrival and ensure the unhindered reexport of these items.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

All Consulate General housing is provided with central hot water systems. All housing units have telephones. Each unit is provided with refrigerator, freezer, stove, microwave, humidifier, washer, and dryer. Water distillers are available. The Consul General’s residence has two freezers. Electric current in Krakow is 220V, 50-cycle, AC. A limited numbers of transformers are available. Polish television is on PAL system. Satellite and digital television are available in Krakow. Multisystem TV’s & VCR’s are available from AAFES or Peter Justensen in Denmark (Peter Justensen ships regularly to Poland) and in local stores. Internet service providers are available at comparable costs to service in the U.S. However, the local phone company charges for connect time, which can make for surprisingly high phone bills. Internet connections are considerably slower than in the U.S.

Food Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Basic foodstuffs are available, although there can be occasional shortages. Certain specialty items, such as fresh herbs or sun-dried tomatoes, are seasonal or otherwise difficult to find. Availability of some items can vary from day to day, which makes gourmet or ethnic cooking a challenge. Food shopping, particularly for entertaining, can require a number of stops. Vegetables are often seasonal, particularly domestic produce. Root vegetables make up most of the local winter vegetable crop. Meat and poultry are plentiful although seafood is frequently limited to carp, herring, trout, and salmon. There are few low-calorie or low-fat items on the market. Canned, frozen, prepared goods are widely available, as are baby food and diapers. Baked goods, fresh and packaged, are abundant and varied. American style cereals and crackers are unavailable. Beauty products and toiletries are in plentiful supply, but American-quality household supplies are not. Individuals should bring their favorite brands with them. Higher end pet food is now available, although at higher prices than in the U.S. Western-style supermarkets and neighborhood shops are very popular.

Personnel assigned to Krakow have access to the limited commissary in Warsaw. A post van makes a regular supply run to Warsaw, picking up duty-free spirits, canned soft drinks, cleaning supplies, and other American items ordered by Consulate General personnel. Because of the inconsistent supply of goods, Krakow has a 2,500-pound consumables shipping allowance per family.

Clothing Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

See Warsaw. Drycleaning up to Western standards is available in Krakow. Nevertheless, some Consulate General employees have experienced problems with the quality of the service.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Krakow has more than 85 Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches. English-language Mass is available every Sunday. Jewish Sabbath services are conducted, though the local Jewish community has not appointed an official rabbi.

Education Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:50 AM

The American International School of Krakow (AISK), which opened in 1993 offers instruction starting with 3-year olds through 12th grade. The school follows an American curriculum, using American textbooks and standardized tests. The school is affiliated with the American School of Warsaw. All accreditation that applies to ASW applies to AISK as well. Individual instruction is emphasized throughout the school. AISK is supervised locally by a seven-member board and is closely affiliated with both the Embassy and Consulate General. The consul general acts as the Board president, and the administrative officer is the Treasurer.

In addition to the core curriculum, students receive regular instruction in art, music, foreign language, and physical education. There is a computer lab and library.

The enrollment for 2001-02 was 50 students from the U.S., Poland, Austria, Mexico, Germany, the U.K., Denmark, and the Netherlands. There were five full-time U.S. accredited teachers and seven part-time. Children whose fifth or sixth birthday falls on or before September 30 are eligible for kindergarten or first grade. Parents who intend to enroll their children should write to the Consulate General and mark the envelope to the attention of AISK. Parents can also get information by visiting the school’s Web site http\\ The school will send registration forms and a more detailed description of its programs. Parents must bring all available records from previous schools to complete the registration process. The school year generally runs 180 school days, beginning late August and concluding mid-June. School business office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students attend classes from 8:30 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., except Wednesday when students are dismissed at 2 p.m. to accommodate teacher planning and curriculum development.

Please contact the administrative officer for more information.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Krakow’s Jagiellonian University is the home of the Polonia Institute, which offers year-round courses in Polish language, history, and culture. There is also an intensive summer course available. The university is also developing several courses of study conducted in English that are designed to attract foreign students. As an example, in the 2000-01 academic year, programs in comparative law, European studies, English, and medicine were offered. Private tutoring can be arranged in music, languages, and other subjects. The French Institute, Goethe Institute, and Italian Center offer language courses.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

Because the staff is small, social contact among American and Polish employees is frequent and informal. The foreign community in Krakow is relatively small. The Austrians, French, Germans, Russians and Ukrainians maintain consulates in Krakow. There are also a number of honorary consulates. Reflecting the city's cultural prominence, many consulate contacts come from the academic and cultural communities. Many Poles are eager to practice their English, but a knowledge of Polish adds immeasurably to one's enjoyment of many social activities.

American first-run films are shown in their original language with Polish subtitles, though children’s films are dubbed. There is now a bowling alley, indoor Water Park and multiplex theater. American fast food includes McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Numerous quality cultural events are available including concerts, opera, art galleries and theater.

The International Women’s Association of Krakow (IWAK) is an informal social club offering a number of opportunities to meet other expatriates. Members can participate in book clubs, tennis playing, dinners, dances and other events. The club also publishes a helpful guide to living in Krakow.

Official Functions Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

The Consul General receives many invitations to functions, most often to receptions and official ceremonies in Krakow and elsewhere in the consular district. Given the number of invitations, all consulate officers have frequent opportunities to represent the Consulate General. Most entertaining is done in an informal setting; the Consul General's residence is particularly suitable for small dinners and, in summer, entertaining on the patio and in the garden. Although Polish social attitudes are formal by American standards black tie events are extremely rare. Business suits and cocktail dresses suffice for receptions, dinners and other official ceremonies. Poland is the land of business cards. Officers will need a supply of 200-300 cards to start. Decent ones can be printed in Krakow.

Special Information Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM


Many employees use Krakow’s public transportation to travel about the city because it is convenient, reliable, and inexpensive. Travel by radio taxi in Krakow is also reliable and inexpensive; taxis arrive within minutes of a phone call and give a discount. Taxis hailed on the street charge full fare.

Lead-free gasoline is widely available in Krakow and throughout Poland. Unless you intend to travel extensively to the East, you will find that most places in Western Europe sell lead-free gas.

When deciding which type of car to bring to Poland, you need to consider the safety factor because of the high rate of automobile accident fatalities. Poland has the highest rate of traffic deaths due to accidents in Europe. Many Polish roads are two-lane rural roads that have a combination of vehicle and driver types ranging from farm vehicles traveling at slow speeds to reckless drivers passing on blind curves. Any choice of vehicles must take into consideration crash safety as well as winter driving conditions.

Health Services

RMO, Warsaw, makes regular visits to post. Several Consulate General families have had occasion to consult doctors and dentists in Krakow with good results. There is limited orthodontic work available.

Dependent Employment

There is very limited employment for spouses at the Consulate General. There is one family member appointment position that is shared by two individuals. Opportunities on the local economy are limited due to the language barrier and low wages compared to Western standards.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:52 AM

There is currently no American commercial carrier landing in Warsaw but there are four code-share (U.S. flag designator) flights daily. Personnel fly to Warsaw via Frankfurt or Munich on Lufthansa/United code-share flight and via Amsterdam on KLM/Northwest code-share flight, utilizing city-pair contract fare. Personnel fly to Krakow via Zurich on American Airlines code-share flight and via Copenhagen on United code-share flight to Krakow.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:54 AM

Holders of diplomatic and official passports officially assigned to U.S. Mission in Poland, including administrative and technical staff, are accorded duty-free entry of goods on arrival and on later trips, with no limitations on weight or value. Automobiles as well as firearms and ammunition require special permission and arrangements (see below).

Polish laws prohibit the exportation of articles that were or may have been produced in Poland before 1945, or items considered by the Polish Government to be national treasures. This includes, but is not limited to, works of art, books, stamps, furniture etc. If you are bringing such items or items that may be considered as such, into the country, declare them and obtain a customs certificate of importation, which GSO Shipping will arrange. The best way to do this is to make a detailed list of all such items and the numbers of boxes in which they are packed and hand carry the list to post. Upon arrival, request that GSO arrange photographs to be taken after unpacking to be then attached to your import customs clearance documents.

The following addresses should be used for shipment of household effects:

For sea shipments:

Port of Antwerp C/o American Consulate General ELSO 147 Nooderlaan BUS 12A 2030 Antwerp, Belgium For: (Owner’s name) American Embassy, Warsaw, Poland (or Substitute American Consulate General, Krakow, Poland)

One original and one copy of bills of lading (B/L) should be sent to ELSO, Antwerp. If your consignment is large enough for one container the U.S. Despatch Agent will consign it directly to Gdynia. In this case, GSO Shipping should receive at least one original of the B/L. Forward official shipments via the U.S. Despatch Agent, Parkway Towers, 485B U.S. Route 1 South, Iselin, NJ 08830-3013.

For airfreight:

Warsaw Warsaw International Airport Okecie, Poland, Consignee: American Embassy (owner’s name) Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 Warsaw, Poland

The AWB should state: “Upon arrival in Warsaw please notify GSO Shipping Unit tel. 628-3041 ext 2498”

Krakow Warsaw International Airport Okecie Poland

Consignee: American Consulate General in Krakow (owner’s name) Ul. Stolarska 9 Krakow, Poland

No special packing procedures are required. Storage facilities for HHE/UAB are unavailable at post; therefore, employees are requested to time the shipment of their goods so that they arrive at post only after the owner's arrival. The post is not able to accept delivery of shipments that precede the owner’s arrival. Shipments shipped too early have to remain in storage in ELSO, Antwerp, or at customs bonded warehouse at the airport accruing high storage charges. Shipment from the U.S. normally takes 6 to 8 weeks. Although HHE shipments are handled relatively efficiently and carefully in Poland, employees may wish to insure their HHE with an all-risks maritime policy.

Privately owned vehicles should be shipped via Gdynia and addressed as follows:

Port of Gdynia, Poland C/o Hartwig International Spedition Ul. Derdowskiego 7 Gdynia, Poland For: American Embassy (owner’s name) Warsaw, Poland

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

All persons assigned to Poland and their American eligible family members must obtain an official or diplomatic visa, as appropriate, before departing for post. Entering without an appropriate visa may cause problems at the border and cause delays in the importation of HHE/UAB/POV. If in Washington D.C., visas must be arranged through the Department’s Passport Office, next to the Foreign Service Lounge. (At the Foreign Service Institute, the Registrar’s Office will obtain the visa; they have applications on file.) If overseas, visas can be arranged through the Polish Desk in Washington D.C., but may be picked up at any Polish mission overseas. Please allow 6 weeks processing time before arrival in Poland.

Auto insurance valid in Poland (usually an international green card) is necessary for those driving to post. Employees driving to post via NIS need transit visas; none of the other neighboring countries require transit visas.

Employees and eligible family members over the age of 16 will need six to eight 1.5” x 2” photos upon arrival. These are available locally, but it may be easier to bring them to post.

Dual Nationality

Polish citizenship regulations have an impact on American diplomats born in Poland and their family members. Individuals who hold Polish citizenship, regardless of other citizenships (including U.S.) they may hold, are considered Polish citizens while in Poland and do not enjoy diplomatic immunity. Such individuals may wish to consider renouncing their Polish citizenship if they wish to enjoy diplomatic status in Poland. Check with the Embassy Human Resources office if you fall into this category.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:55 AM

Poland has no quarantine for pets. Those bringing a pet to Poland should also bring a recent veterinary health certificate signed by a veterinarian and a document certifying that the pet has received a rabies inoculation no more than 6 months and no less than 6 weeks before entry to Poland. There is a special pet health certification form, written in Polish and in English, which is available from the Consular Section of the Polish Embassy in Washington D.C. It might make things easier once the pets arrive in Warsaw. United currently allowd one pet per flight to travel in the cabin. If the pet is shipped separately, the documents may be brought by the owner or may accompany the pet. Contact GSO for names of kennels in Frankfurt.

Pet transportation may be subject to a summer pet embargo imposed by most of the airlines, which means that unless your pet can fit in its cage under your seat, you will not be able to check the pet as luggage on your flight. The very expensive option is to ship your pet on cargo flights. Please contact your TMC or carrier prior to making your travel arrangements.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:56 AM

To ship any firearms, you must coordinate with GSO and the Regional Security Office (RSO) in advance (tel: 48-22-504-2107) so the necessary post and Polish Government permission may be obtained.

Only personnel holding diplomatic passports may import, buy, or own firearms and/or ammunition. Employees must obtain prior approval from the RSO and COM to import firearms to Poland. A copy of the “Mission Firearms Policy” can be e-mailed to interested employees upon request. Only semiautomatic, single shot, or repeating firearms and not more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition may be brought to post. Once RSO and COM approval has been granted, persons who wish to bring firearms or ammunition must obtain a temporary importation permit specifying the make, model, caliber (in metric), type of weapon, serial number and amount of ammunition to be imported. The permit should be obtained from the same Polish mission that issues your diplomatic visa. Employees are responsible for obtaining any customs declarations and/or export forms that may be required by U.S. or third country law. Immediately after the weapons and/or ammunition are brought into the country the employee must notify the GSO Shipping Unit and the RSO so that permanent permits may be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Firearms and/or ammunition should be shipped in employee’s HHE and not hand carried to Post. If the employee buys weapons and/or ammunition while in country, he/she must also notify GSO Shipping Unit and RSO to notify the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Please note, that ammunition may not be transported in HHE or UAB, see 6 FAM 161. 5-2.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 7/24/2003 8:56 AM

The official unit of currency in Poland is the zloty (PLN). There are many banks and authorized foreign exchange dealers throughout Poland. ATMs are readily available in the commercial areas of large urban centers and credit cards are widely accepted in shops and restaurants in the major cities. Small towns and much of the countryside still operate on a “cash” basis. Local checking accounts are still extremely rare.

Most employees have an account with an U.S. bank and cash personal checks with the Embassy or Consulate cashier. ATMs are being used more frequently for obtaining local currency cash and for traveling to reduce the amount of needed cash on hand. Due to the increased risk of theft from pickpockets and purse-snatchers, it is not advisable to carry large amounts of cash. Telephone and cable TV bills are paid at the Post Office with cash.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Davies, Norman. Heart of Europe. Clarendon Press: Oxford, UK: 1986.

Garton-Ash, Timothy. The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, 1980-82. Jonathon Cape Publishing: London, UK: 1983.

Gwertzman, Bernard and Kaufman, Michael T. (editors). The Collapse of Communism. Times Books/Random House: New York, 1991.

Jaworski, Rudolf (editor). Women in Polish Society, Columbia University Press, New York, NY: 1992.

Kersten, Krystyna. The Establishment of Communist Rule in Poland: 1943-1948. University of California Press: Berkley, CA: 1991.

Knab, Sophie Hodorowicz. Polish Weddings: Customs and Traditions. Hippocrene: New York, 1997.

Kuniczak, W.S. (retold by). Glass Mountain, Twenty-Six Ancient Polish Folktales and Fables. Hippocrene: New York, 1997.

Lukas, Richard C. The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944. University of Kentucky Press: Lexington, KY: 1986.

Milosz, Czeslaw. The Captive Mind. Random House: New York, 1990.

Old Polish Traditions in the Kitchen and at the Table. Hippocrene: New York, 1996.

Poznanski, Kazimierz Z. Poland’s Protracted Transition: Institutional Change and Economic Growth. Cambridge University Press: New York, 1997.

Rosenberg, Tina. The Haunted Land. Random House: New York, 1995.

Toranska, Teresa. ‘Them:’ Stalin’s Polish Puppets. Harper and Row: New York, 1987.

Tworzecki,. Hubert. The Political Consequences of the Cleavage Structure: The Basis of Party Support in Post-1989 Poland. Westview Press: Boulder, CO: 1996.

Weclawowicz, Grzegorz. Contemporary Poland: Space and Society. Westview Press: Boulder, CO: 1996.

Wedel, Janine. The Unplanned Society: Poland During and after Communism. Columbia University Press: New York, 1992.)

Weigel, George. The Final Revolution. Oxford University Press: New York, 1992.

Zamoyski, Adam. The Polish Way. Franklin Watts: New York, 1998.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 7/21/2003 11:28 AM

The Mission observes the following Polish national holidays:

New Year’s Day January 1 Easter Monday Monday following Easter Labor Day May 1 Constitution Day May 3 Corpus Christi Day mid June Assumption of the Virgin Mary August 15 All Saints’ Day November 1 Independence Day November 11 Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

The Embassy and Consulate General are closed to the public on the above days and on all U.S. national holidays.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
Share |