It is customary to greet by shaking hands in Poland. A good eye contact and a firm hand-shake are most appropriate. A businesswoman should not be surprised if a Polish man kisses her hand upon introduction, at subsequent meetings or when saying goodbye. American men are not expected to kiss a Polish woman's hand, but may simply shake hands.
Poland is a hierarchical country and it is important to know that while greeting it is appropriate that someone of a higher rank extends his hand first. In case of a man and a woman, usually, out of politeness, the woman is the one expected to extend her hand. With younger generations, this custom may not be observed.
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. The American way of overcoming formalities and addressing almost everybody by his/her first name is growing in popularity. Again, this is particularly true in case of the younger generation of business representatives in Poland.
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 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 – the majority of Poles take vacation; therefore, securing business appointments with decision makers might be difficult.
State Department Travel & Business Advisory
American companies that require travel of foreign business persons to the United States should be advised that security options are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.
Visa applicants should go to the following links: U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Consular Section
For persons traveling to the U.S. on business.
Poland is not a member of the Euro currency system and the legal currency in Poland is the Polish zloty (PLN). In most places, it is impossible to pay with Euro or US dollars, only some hotels and few 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 towns and cities. All major foreign currencies may be exchanged for Polish zloty. Since Poland’s accession to the EU, the exchange rates have proved fairly stable even if the zloty has appreciated over the years. As a rule of thumb, kantors buy currencies dearer and sell cheaper than banks.
Visitors to Poland may be assured of easy access to banks and cash dispensers, particularly in larger towns. In Poland, ATM’s, 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 ATM’s, which are connected to all international networks. There are more than twenty-two thousand ATM’s 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. Traveler's 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-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: +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 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 and rolling stock.
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, which is generally underdeveloped, is undergoing a major improvement to meet EU standards. Major highways A1, A2 and A4 are still under construction, but many parts of these highways are already in operation. Thus, travel from Warsaw to other major cities (Krakow, Poznan, Gdansk) became significantly shorter, safer and more comfortable.
Taxis 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 MyTaxi are also available. Many cities have also introduced car sharing services.
Basic English is widely spoken in most hotels and restaurants. International hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners accept major credit cards, although smaller hotels and restaurants may not. Currency exchange is widely available, as are local currency Polish Zloty (PLN)-dispensing ATM's, that accept most U.S. bankcards. Please note that the Euro has not been adopted in Poland.
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. All business hotels take major credit cards. 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 (high altitude or 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 Selling to 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.
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 in 2019:
January 1(Tue): New Year’s Day
January 6 (Sun): Epiphany
April 21 (Sun): Easter
April 22 (Mon): Easter Monday
May 1 (Wed): Labor Day
May 3 (Fri): Constitution Day
June 9 (Sun): Pentecost
June 20 (Thu):Corpus Christi Day
August 15 (Thu): Assumption Day
November 1 (Fri): All Saints' Day
November 11 (Mon):National Independence Day
December 25 (Wed): Christmas Day
December 26 (Thur): Christmas Second Day
On March 1, 2018, the act limiting trade on Sunday entered into force. From January 1, 2019, there is only one Sunday in a month - the last - where commerce is allowed. From January 1, 2020, all trading will be banned on all Sundays except seven.
Poland follows European Daylight Savings Time, which begins the last Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday of October.
The U.S. Commercial Service is closed on most U.S. and Polish holidays. During the month 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, fax at +48 22-625-4373, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. A current directory of staff and locations worldwide may be accessed on the Commercial Service website.
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 US 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, are 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 3-ATA Carnet.
Travel Related Web Resources