|Preface Last Updated: 9/24/2003
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Warsaw — Official Mail Name/Section Department of State 5010
Warsaw Place Washington, DC 20521–5010
Warsaw — Personal Mail Name 5010 Warsaw Place Dulles VA,
Krakow — Official Mail Name/Section Department of State 5140
Krakow Place Washington, DC 20521–5140
Krakow — Personal Mail Name 5140 Krakow Place Dulles VA,
Street addresses (for mail within Poland and international mail
through the PTT):
Warsaw Name/Section Ambassador USA Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 00–540
Krakow Name/Section Konsulat Generalny USA ul. Stolarska 9 31–043
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
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 Amazon.com, 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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
At Post Last Updated: 9/24/2003 3:17 PM The American School of
Warsaw (ASW) (Web site at: www.asw.waw.pl) 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
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
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
Other Schools. Warsaw currently offers a few other English
language schools; consult their Web sites for details and contact
The British School of Warsaw: www.britishschool.waw.ids.pl
International American School www.ias.edu.pl American School of
Warsaw: www.asw.waw.pl 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,
Other Preschools. Warsaw currently offers a few other English
language preschools; contact them directly for information:
The British School of Warsaw: www.britishschool.waw.ids.pl 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
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
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
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
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
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
www.warsawinsider.com and www.warsawinmypocket.com, 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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\\www.aisk.kompit.com.pl. 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
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
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.
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
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
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
The following addresses should be used for shipment of household
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
Warsaw Warsaw International Airport Okecie, Poland, Consignee:
American Embassy (owner’s name) Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31 Warsaw,
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)
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.
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:
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:
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
The Embassy and Consulate General are closed to the public on the
above days and on all U.S. national holidays.