Polish Language Blog

Pleasantly Surprised with City Hall in Gdańsk Posted by on Feb 12, 2009 in Culture, Vocabulary

I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised with the speed and efficiency of Polish governmental offices. With the exception, perhaps, of Urząd Skarbowy (Tax Office), but then again, you can’t expect too much from the Taxman. They’re only fast if THEY want something from you, right?

But all the other offices I’ve dealt with so far – I have no complaints. Just the opposite, in fact.

I don’t know if this is just a local thing in Gdańsk, or if things are equally speedy and efficient in other towns. But I have to say, whatever they’re doing in Gdańsk, they’re doing it right.

Last week I had to submit some documents to Urząd Miejski w Gdańsku (City Hall in Gdańsk). So I showed up bright and early, handed my documents to the lady in the appropriate room and half expected her to have a cow. She admitted that one document was from a country she never even heard of, and the other – written in a script she didn’t know how to read. She wasn’t even sure if she was holding it upside down or not. But both papers were accompanied by that hateful thing required on official documents – apostille, and had translations (done by a sworn, official translator – tłumacz przysięgły) stapled to them, so she took them and made me sign a few papers and pay some money.

I had read on the internet that the average processing time for this type of document but issued by a Polish authority was about 30 days. So imagine my shock and surprise when two business days later a phone call came. This time I fully expected it to be about problems. But no. My documents were accepted and approved and I could send someone over to pick up the Polish versions.

This has been about the fourth time when the official offices in Gdańsk exceeded my wildest expectations. Whether dealing with Urząd Miejski or Urząd Wojewódzki or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego, my experiences were surprisingly pain-free and wholly positive.

The same however cannot be said about Urząd Skarbowy. C’mon Skarbówka, get on with the program! You’re ruining the good image for the rest of them.

  • Urząd Miejski – City Hall
  • Urząd Wojewódzki – Voivodeship Office (or Regional Office)
  • Urząd Stanu Cywilnego – Registry Office
  • Urząd Skarbowy (Skarbówka colloquially) – Tax Office
  • tłumacz przysięgły – [tłumacz (noun, masc., pl. tłumacze) – translator + przysięgły (adj., fem. przysięgła, pl.personal: przysięgli, pl.other: przysięgłe) – sworn] = sworn translator (one who is approved by the government to translate official stuff, like documents, court proceedings, etc.)
  • apostille – same in Polish as it is in English. In Poland you get an apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw.
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