In general, Poland is known for relatively straightforward driving rules. Whatever is established by the law should be implemented on the road. This applies to the use of seatbelts (they are always obligatory), strict drunk-driving law (the acceptable limit of blood alcohol level is 0.02%) and many speed restrictions (beware of radar traps and police officers hiding behind a corner).
Who needs a driving licence?
If you are an EU citizen - you can drive using your driving licence as long as it is valid and not restricted in any way.
Please remember that after 185 days of residence in Poland, you are obliged to exchange your driving licence for a Polish one; otherwise, you will face car insurance problems. Your original document will be collected and sent back to your home country, but you will be able to retrieve it upon coming back.
People from outside the Eurozone - can also use their licence provided the International Driving Permit (IDP) accompanies a passport-like document that has to match with your driving licence. It is valid only for 185 days. After 185 days, foreigners residing in Poland need to exchange their driving documents or apply for a Polish driving licence.
You can apply for an international driving licence (IDL) before arrival while still in your home country. The international driving licence is given based on a valid driving licence issued in your country. To receive it, you have to fill out a form, have an actual picture of yourself, bring your valid driving licence, and confirm payment. An international driving licence is valid for 1 to 3 years, depending on your home country. International Driving Permit is valid in all countries that have signed the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic and are recognised in many countries that are not signatories to the Convention. You may be required to have an International Driving Permit to drive in some countries. Most foreign car rental agencies may require you to have one to rent a car.
How to apply for a Polish driving licence?
To do that, four conditions need to be fulfilled:
- You need to be a resident of Poland.
- You need to meet the age requirements for the category you want to obtain.
- You need to pass medical tests.
- You need to pass a theoretical and practical driving exam.
Point no, four from the list above involves dual examinations of theoretical and practical knowledge. Both tests are organised by local road traffic centres called WORD. Before attempting to pass them, new drivers are obliged to enrol for a driving course. There is a variety of driving schools in each city and even smaller towns, although exams are conducted only in those which host WORD facilities. Courses are paid (around PLN 1000, depending on the school) and include a min. of 30 hours of theoretical lectures and a min. of 30 hours of driving. Even schools offer instructions in foreign languages, but it depends on the city.