What is an International Driving Permit or License?
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by one hundred forty-one countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
On the other hand, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in Poland?
Any international driver that uses their original license (foreign license) in Poland can do so for six months as long as they have an International Driving Permit. Your foreign license needs to remain valid for the period you drive in Poland. You may also use your IDP as an identification document while traveling, and it can also be used to translate your license during traffic stops.
How do you apply for an IDP in Poland?
You can apply for an IDP in Poland through our website.
How long will it take to get an IDP in Poland?
A printed IDP can be delivered to your doorstep with an estimated delivery date between 2-30 days, depending on the selected delivery method.
A digital IDP takes up to 2 hours to land in your inbox. Alternatively, if you want a faster processing time, you can choose an Express Order, in which you will receive your IDP in twenty minutes.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
There were three international motor traffic conventions – 1926 in Paris, 1949 in Geneva, and 1968 in Vienna. Many countries signed contracts wherein an IDP would be honored as a legally valid document.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Poland
Functionality as an ID
An IDP can have many uses. It can be used as a form of identification during your travels, which is useful if you want to secure your passport in your hotel or residence. Your IDP can also be used instead of a national ID card.
Car rental companies
Car rental companies can be hesitant to rent vehicles to foreigners without an International Driving Permit. Since an IDP is a legal document recognized by the United Nations, almost all vehicle rental companies recognize an IDP as a valid document.
Laws requiring an IDP
You can use a driving license from a foreign country in Poland for six months. However, you must also carry an international driving permit for your driving license. As Poland was contracted to the Vienna Convention on Motor Traffic in 1968, the Geneva Convention on Motor Traffic in 1949, and the Paris Convention on Motor Traffic in 1926, your IDP is valid for one year.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Poland
Short-term visitors vs. residents
Short-term visitors will find it beneficial to use their original license with a translation in the form of an IDP. Long-term visitors or residents staying over 185 days in Poland are required by Polish law to get a domestic license. You can aquire a Polish license by exchanging, providing that your country was contracted to the Vienna Convention on Motor Traffic in 1968. All other nations must undergo standard testing to get a Polish license.
How long can I drive with a foreign driving license?
You can only drive within Poland for six months with a foreign driver’s license. Your driving license needs to remain valid for this period, and you must also have an IDP.
When should I get a Polish Driver’s License?
You must get a Polish driving license if your stay is for longer than six months. This law does not apply to drivers coming from the EU and EEA states. You may decide to get a Polish driving license if you stay there for a prolonged period. The hassle during routine traffic stops and the extra bureaucracy when renewing your original license might not be worth hanging onto your country’s driving license.
How to get a Polish driver’s license
If you are from a country contracted to the Vienna convention, you can exchange your license for a Polish one. Your application can be submitted to the Starost’s Office/town hall or the district office in Warsaw. You should submit a recent colored photograph, a copy of your residence card or passport with visa, your resident registration, and a certified Polish translation of your foreign license.
If you are from a country that is not contracted to the Vienna convention but only to one of the older motor traffic conventions of Geneva or Prais (like the United States or India), you will have to take the theory test to exchange your license to a Polish one.
If your country is not contracted to international motor traffic conventions, you must follow the standard procedure for getting a Polish license from scratch.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s Licence While in Poland
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP easily through our website.
Renewing your original driver’s license
An IDP can only be used alongside a valid driving license. If your driving license expires while traveling, you must renew it to continue driving in that nation. The process of renewing your license will differ depending on your home country.
Car Rental in Poland
Requirements for car rental
Car rental agencies in Poland will only rent you a vehicle if you are over 21 and have had your license for one year. Like in most European countries, there will be a young driver surcharge if you are below 25. You will not find many car rental companies that will rent you a car if you are over 70. If you are from a state in the EU or EEA, you will only need your license, but if you aren’t, you will need both your license and an IDP.
Deposit and costs for car rental
Rental companies will expect you to pay a deposit. You can expect to pay €300 to €1,000 as a deposit in Poland. Some companies allow you to rent a car without paying a deposit but will expect you to pay an insurance premium. A car rental will cost €20 to €100 per day, depending on what type of car you rent. You will spend roughly €250 for a week’s rental. You are recommended to use a credit card when renting as charges can be disputed if you are erroneously charged. Debit cards can be used, but the procedure for verification may be longer.
Most car rental agencies will include a 3rd party insurance cover (ubezpieczenie OC) in their rental charges. This will cover damage to other persons, vehicles, animals, or property but will not cover any damage to yourself or the vehicle. We recommend getting breakdown and replacement car coverage and the primary cover as getting help during a breakdown in Poland will take time, and the procedure is anything but smooth.
The crime rate in Poland is low for a European country; however, it is still wise to get travel and car insurance. Some points to look out for when getting your travel insurance are:
Coverage for hospital stays
Coverage for damaged and lost baggage while traveling
Funeral costs (in case of an extreme situation)
Driving and Safety in Poland
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
There are many versions of the Highway Code published by several publishers, so it’s essential to ensure that you select one with all the updated traffic rules and fines. Alternatively, you may purchase one at a book store or online. Some sites will sell you an English version of the driver’s handbook for a fee of about €20.00. The past five years have seen a lot of changes in traffic regulations and fines. We recommend you read a current version of the highway code before hitting Polish roads.
Overtaking on Polish roads
You are advised to only overtake from the left-hand side as long as there have been no signs signifying otherwise. You must check your mirrors, judge the speed correctly and make sure that the lane ahead is sufficiently clear for you to enter back into its traffic. You cannot cut in on the vehicle that you are overtaking. Overtaking during nighttime or with poor visibility should be undertaken with extra vigilance.
Turning and right of way on Polish roads
Drivers on the main road have priority over a lane coming into the main road. On equal roads, vehicles going straight or turning right have the right of way, meaning drivers turning left have to wait until there’s a gap in traffic to do so.
Slowing down before junctions that don’t have signs or traffic lights is advised. In Poland, you must go slow enough to stop at a junction if you have to give way to a motorist coming on the other road.
If you are entering a roundabout, you have to give way to vehicles already in the roundabout. Pay attention to the speed at which the traffic is moving and the signal lights used by the vehicles in the roundabout when entering one.
Speed limits on Polish roads
The speed limit is 20 km/h (12.5 mph) in residential areas and 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas. Rural roads’ speed limit is 90 km/h (55 mph). The speed limit for single carriageways is 100 km/h (63 mph) and 120 km/h (75 mph) for dual carriageways. Poland has one of the highest speed limits in Europe for a motorway at 140 km/h (87.5 mph). However, it also has some of the least maintained road systems in Europe, so ensure you assess the speed you should be driving on any particular road to safeguard yourself and your vehicle.
Tips for driving in Poland
People drive on the right side of the road in Poland
You should be at least 18 to operate a vehicle on Polish roads
You should always wear a seat belt when in a vehicle
You are not allowed to use your mobile phone while driving unless you have a hands-free device
The driver (and passenger) must wear helmets when riding a motorcycle or scooter
An oncoming car flashing its lights to you probably means a police car ahead
Drinking and driving
Poland has one of the strictest drunk driving laws in Europe. You can only have a blood-alcohol level of 0.2 mg while driving. You will receive a fine of up to €457.00, up to 10 points deducted from your license, and jail time of up to 30 days for driving with a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.5mg. New laws are being implemented that allow the court system to fine you up to €6,850.00 and up to 6 months imprisonment for the same violation.
Any drunk driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.5 mg or above is considered a crime in Poland. You will be fined according to your income, based on your daily wages, with an upper limit of €457.00. You will also be banned from driving a vehicle for 3 to 15 years. Depending on the court’s decision, you will also face a penalty of €1,141.00 to €13,700.00 and be jailed for up to 2 years. Since Poland has some of the world’s harshest drunk driving penalty systems, make sure you don’t drive under the influence.
Top 3 Destinations to Visit in Poland
This historic city is one of the oldest in Europe and has been inhabited since the 7th century. Its Old Town center was not destroyed in WWII and has stunning medieval architecture, including the Wavel Castle, the district of Kazimierz, and a preserved ‘Jewish Quarter’ – the latter two declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city has 40 urban parks and 28 museums, enough to keep you busy for weeks! Make sure you see the National Art Collection at Wawel, the Rynek Underground Museum, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps on your visit to Krakow.
After getting decimated during WWII, massive efforts were made to restore its Old Town using original plans. The Baroque and Renaissance merchant houses are perfect replicas of the originals. Home to over 60 museums, you should visit the Museum of Posters (the museum dedicated to the WWII Warsaw Uprising), the Neon Musem, the Museum of Caricature, and the National Museum. The 18th-century Lazienki Palace has 76 hectares of curated gardens and urban forests. It is also home to a planetarium, outdoor theatre, and pavilions. Make sure you visit Warsaw’s Krakowski Przedmiescie, home to some of Poland’s best architecture.
This mountain range adjoins the National Park and forms a border between Slovakia and Poland. The mountain range is home to breathtaking views, and you can freely hike between the Polish and Slovakian areas. The Polish side of the mountain range has 270 kilometers of trails. The national park is home to over 600 limestone caves, including the Wielka Sniezna, 23 km long, and the deepest cave is 824 meters deep. The Tatras have waterfalls, streams, and mountain lakes that combine to form picturesque beauty and clean mountain air. Make sure you visit Morski Oko Lake on your visit as it is one of the largest lakes and has a large natural forest around it.
Am I required to have an IDP in Poland?
Having an IDP to drive in Poland is highly recommended as many countries require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP.
Can you drive with a foreign license in Poland?
You can drive for six months with a foreign license in Poland with an IDP.
Can I use my EU driver’s license in Poland?
Yes, you may use your EU license in Poland.
How long will transferring my license to a Polish license take?
If there are no complications and you have a valid foreign license from a contracted to the Vienna Motor Traffic Convention, the process should take no longer than one week.
On which side do you drive in Poland?
Motorists drive on the right side of the road in Poland.