Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
In general, conducting business in Poland is highly compatible with our expectations of doing business in the United States. Poles are, in general, hard-working, and trustworthy. The following discussion illustrates a few examples of some potential situations you may encounter when in Poland on business.
It is customary to greet by shaking hands in Poland. Eye contact and a firm handshake are appropriate. Poland is a hierarchical country, and it is important to know that while greeting it is appropriate for the higher-ranked person to extend his/her hand first. In case of a man and a woman, usually, out of politeness, the woman is the one expected to extend her hand, and the same goes for the older person between the two. A businesswoman should not be surprised if a Polish man kisses her hand upon introduction, however this custom is no longer practiced by younger generations.
When meeting someone for the first time it is more appropriate NOT to address him/her by his/her first name. “Pan” and “Pani” – which might be translated as equivalents of “Sir” and “Madam” – are used in initial contacts. In conversations in English, it is possible to switch to the use of first names, especially among the younger generation of business representatives in Poland who generally prefer a more informal approach. In Polish, in the business context the formal tone is usually kept, even among business contacts who know each other and work closely together.
Business cards are the norm in Poland and are generally given to each person present in a meeting. As Poles tend to bring more than one person to their meetings, U.S. visitors should bring plenty of business cards. It is not necessary to have business cards printed in Polish.
Business hours for offices start at 8:00 AM and end by 5:00 PM. Try to schedule your business meetings within this time frame. Poles might be reluctant to meet at an earlier hour or later in the day.
Although your business contacts may speak English, communication in Polish is recommended when dealing with the Polish government on official business. Just remember that even if you speak fluent Polish, you may still find yourself mired in red tape when doing business with the Polish government.
Business attire is generally formal, including a suit and a tie for men, and a suit or a dress for women. Casual wear, including jeans, is suitable for informal occasions, but more formal dress is usually customary for visiting or entertaining in the evening. Flowers, always an odd number, are the most common gift among friends and acquaintances. Sunday is the traditional day for visiting family and friends in Poland.
When planning a business trip to Poland, it is worthwhile to check Polish holidays. Poles are reluctant to schedule appointments on Sundays or Polish holidays. During summer months – July and August – most Poles take vacation; therefore, securing business appointments with decision makers might be difficult.
State Department Travel & Business Advisory for Poland
Poland is a party to the Schengen Agreement, which means that U.S. citizens may enter Poland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Visit the website of the Embassy of Poland in Washington for the most current travel information.
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should visit the State Department Visa Website for more details.
Since November 2019, Polish citizens can travel to the United States with the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) visa waiver. Citizens of Poland can apply to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a U.S. visa. For further information please contact U.S. Embassy in Warsaw’s Consular Section.
Poland is not a member of the Eurozone. The legal currency in Poland is the Polish zloty (PLN). In most places, it is not possible to pay in euros or U.S. dollars; only some hotels and/or shopping malls will accept euro. Money can be exchanged in banks or exchange offices (kantors) that are widely present in Poland, both in large and small cities. Over-the-counter exchange is also available at larger hotels, at border crossings or in dedicated outlets across the country. All major foreign currencies may be exchanged for Polish zloty. Since Poland’s accession to the EU, the exchange rates have remained stable. In view of the political and security situation in the region, in 2022 the zloty is weaker than in the recent years.
Visitors to Poland may be assured of easy access to banks and cash dispensers, particularly in larger towns. In Poland, ATMs, which operate 24 hours a day, offer far easier access to money than banks. They can normally be found near such places as banks, rail stations, airports, supermarkets, town centers, and other places popular with visitors. Poland has a dense network of ATMs, which are connected to all international networks. There are approximately twenty-one thousand ATMs located across Poland.
Debit and credit cards are widely accepted, and payment by debit or credit card is considered a standard form of payment. All large retail outlets and majority of other shops and restaurants accept debit and credit cards. The most popular are VISA, MasterCard, and Maestro, with American Express and Diners also present and accepted by major ATMs. Travelers checks are not popular in Poland. Only selected units of two Polish banks (PKO BP and Pekao SA) cash travelers checks. They also may be cashed in the Currency Express at the Warsaw Chopin International Airport. Travelers checks are of little use in Poland as only some large hotels may accept them as a means of payment. They are not accepted in other places.
Cellular phone services are GSM/DCS/UMTS/LTE/5G -based systems, with the coverage throughout the country. Internet access is available at all business-class hotels, though some at an extra fee. Free Wi-Fi internet access is usually available at gas stations, shopping centers, restaurants, public transport, and other public areas. Visitors can save on international and long-distance phone connections using the U.S. toll-free service provided by AT&T, Verizon and other service providers, or IP-based access numbers.
In an emergency, there is a unified 112 number, available from cellular and fixed-line phones.
To call Poland from abroad, dial +48 and telephone number (include a city prefix in case of calls to fixed line, no prefix needed while dialing to cellular phones). To call the U.S. from Poland: 001 or +1. The electricity in Poland is 230V and 50 Hz, with the European continental standard sockets (same as Germany and France).
Transportation by air to and from Poland is excellent. International carriers fly to Poland many times per day from all over the world, and LOT Polish Airlines has direct flights to Warsaw from Chicago, New York, Newark, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Transportation within Poland is quite convenient, especially by air, bus and by train. Flights operate between major cities. Railway routes are extensive and usually reliable, with the “Inter-City” line providing first-class, express service to several cities. Travel time by rail to some destinations might take much more time than expected, but recently this mode of transportation has been seeing a lot of investment in terms of infrastructure.
Rental cars are abundant, but due to significantly increased traffic over the past few years and a highway system that has not kept up, driving between Polish cities, especially at night, can be quite dangerous. Poland’s highway network is undergoing major improvements to meet EU standards. Thus, travel from Warsaw to other major cities (e.g., Krakow, Poznan, Gdansk) is becoming significantly faster, safer, and more comfortable.
Taxis in Poland are very affordable. It is advisable to call ahead to a reputable taxi company for radio dispatch for personal security, as well as to avoid overcharges. Ride hailing services, such as Uber and Free NOW are also available. Many cities have also introduced car and bike sharing services.
First class business hotels are available in most major Polish cities, and many are in the heart of business districts. Major western hotels offer air-conditioned rooms with access to the Internet and direct dial telephone capability. Many hotels offer business center amenities with computers, fax, business assistance services, and Internet capabilities. Availability and room rates are seasonal and competitive, and business travelers are advised to check and confirm rates at hotels in advance of their travel. Room rates may be higher during longer off-season breaks close to public holidays.
Polish is the official language in Poland. Communication in Polish is recommended if the seller would like to receive a speedy reply to correspondence and inquiries. U.S. companies should ensure that translations from English into Polish are performed only by professional translators who are fluent in modern business Polish and grammar. When conducting business in Poland, a qualified Polish language interpreter is recommended. CS Warsaw can provide lists of interpreters.
In general, American travelers should familiarize themselves with conditions at their destination that could affect their health (pollution, types of medical facilities, required immunizations, availability of required pharmaceuticals, etc.). This important information is available at “Travel.State.Gov” website under “International Travel - Before You Go - Your Health Abroad.”
American citizens are welcome to consult a list of medical assistance services compiled by the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General in Poland. The Embassy does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of persons appearing on that list. The list of health care providers is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive, nor does it represent either a guarantee of competence or endorsement by the Department of State or the American Embassy. Inclusion indicates that these health care providers have been utilized by the American community in the past. Medical Assistance
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Poland is on Central European Time (CET) and, as such, is six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast (EST). Regular business hours in most cases are from 8:00-4:00PM in governmental offices and 9:00-5:00PM in the private sector.
Locally observed holidays:
- January 1: New Year’s Day
- January 6: Epiphany
- Easter (dates vary)
- Easter Monday (dates vary)
- May 1: Labor Day
- May 3: Constitution Day
- Pentecost (dates vary)
- Corpus Christi Day (dates vary)
- August 15: Assumption Day
- November 1: All Saints’ Day
- November 11: National Independence Day in Poland
- December 25: Christmas Day
- December 26: Christmas Second Day
All major shops are closed on Sundays - plan your shopping accordingly.
Poland follows European Daylight Savings Time, which begins the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday of October.
The U.S. Commercial Service is closed on most U.S. and Polish holidays. During the months of July and August most Polish institutions are staffed with minimum personnel. For local time and business hours, please contact the Commercial Service in advance. The Commercial Service can be reached by telephone at +48 22 625-4374, or e-mail at email@example.com.
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
There are no restrictions on the temporary entry of personal laptop computers or other personal belongings into Poland.
As a result of various customs agreements, simplified procedures are available to U.S. business and professional people for the temporary importation of commercial samples and professional equipment to the EU. Polish law requires materials that enter Poland temporarily and return to the United States, such as exhibition goods, be delivered with ATA Carnet documentation.
An ATA carnet is a customs document that facilitates customs clearance for temporary imports of samples or equipment into foreign countries. With the carnet, goods may be imported without the payment of duty, tax, or additional security. The carnet also saves time since formalities are all arranged before leaving the United States. An ATA carnet is valid for one year from the date of issuance. To read more about ATA carnet please see: Export.gov ATA Carnet.