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Polish Drivers License? Posted by on Sep 5, 2009 in Culture, Vocabulary

So… a friend of mine (yes, I know, I know… I seem to have an awful lot of friends, but when I say “friend” I mean it in the American way, OK?) is moving to Poland. Why? She married a Polish dude (what a refreshing change from all those foreign dudes marrying Polish girls!) and they decided that living in Poland, at least for a few years, would be a splendid idea.

And she asked me, “Ummm… OK… so how’s the driving over there?” And then “Do I have to get a Polish drivers license?”

And while I could help her with question #1 – terrible whichever way you look at it, I didn’t really know what to say about #2. “I think you do,” I mumbled.

“You think I do,” she mumbled in response.

Unfortunately, my friend is NOT from an EU country (and I assume that if you’re from within the EU, you can just drive on the license from your home country and all is fine and dandy) and I am not really familiar with the process of obtaining a Polish drivers license. That is, the process if you’re foreign, because I do know, more or less, how it works for Poles.

So here’s my plea to you, my dear readers. I vaguely remember reading on one of your blogs about the process of exchanging a foreign drivers license for a Polish one. And I’d be eternally grateful if you could be so kind and leave a comment under this post if you happen to be familiar with this process. I’d like to contact you for more info.

And here’s the hateful word for today:

  • prawo jazdy – drivers license
  • prawo (noun, neuter) – law, the right to (do) something
  • jazda (noun, feminine) – driving
  • nauka jazdy – drivers ed

Image: wikipedia, because I’m not about to show you my ugly mugshot!

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  1. Chris:

    I am American married to a Polish man and we also thought it a splendid idea to live in Poland for a few years which is now about 9! Anyhow, if I remember correctly, you can drive in Poland on an American driver’s license for 6 months as a tourist. After that, you should get a Polish license which they told me involved taking the written exam in Polish. I heard through the grapevine that it is possible to take it in English. They also informed me that I’d have to attend a driving course but not take the driving part of the exam. When I pressed them on that they said I didn’t actually have to take the course. Also when you get your Polish license they want to keep your American license. They will give it back to you if you go and give them your Polish one, but what a hassle. I understand from one state to another in the US you can’t have double licenses but from the US to Poland?! Anyhow, I decided to risk it and do nothing. I still have my US license and on the few occasions that a police officer asked me about it, I cleverly distracted him 😉

  2. Mike (yellerbelly):

    I’ve been here for 3 years now and have just been informed that even with an EU driving license, some insurance companies will not pay up unless the driver has a Polish license (any excuse!). This is for driving company cars, but perhaps it applies to personal as well. Who knows until you have an accident, right? So I have to look into this myself, although my Dutch boss has just acquired one, so I will find out in the next few days and let you know! To be continued….

  3. David Piekarczyk:

    I’ve been living in Poland for two years now from Chicago. I use an International Drivers License in conjunction with my state license from Illinois. The IDL is renewable over the internet so it is no problem to obtain from AAA in Florida. The cost was ten dollars. I have had no problem with this system.

  4. Michael Foltz:

    I lived in Poland for 4 years. I never obtained a Polish or and IDN. I used my Washington State DL the entire time, and although I’d been pulled over at least three times at a routine roadblock-style stop (where they use those reflective ping pong paddles to wave at you) I never had a problem with my lack of a drivers license.

    As mentioned in the blog, the traffic system in Poland is pretty chaotic, but you can use this to your advantage. Just play the stupid tourist when you get pulled over, and talk as fast as possible in american slang, and most likely the cop will just walk away in frustration and let you go without a hitch.

  5. Michael L. (dziadek):

    I am married to a Polish lady for 17 years. We have an apartment in Olsztyn and during those years have found the regulations in a state of constant change. I use the International Driving Permit issued by the AAA.
    I was told I do not need to take the road test, but only the drivers’ written test that is in Polish…However, I was told in some large cities one does not need to take the test…I do not know about the residency requirements for the Polish license..
    Lots o fLuck !!!!
    Dziadek Majko

  6. John:

    I have an American friend retired and living in Poznan. He uses an International Drivers License obtained from the Florida AAA as previously discussed. He said he has no problem and even found it to be to his advantage when stopped by the police. “Nie rozumiem!” The police don’t want the hassle giving fines so use the USA license and get an international one. Why make it easy on them when they are making it hard on you!?

  7. Citizen:

    I’m living now in Zielona Góra and I also had that problem, I didn’t know how to drive here in polnad, or how to get Polish drive license since I’m from Bolivia.
    So i went to the drive department here in ZG and they told me as my country doesn’t take part of Vienna traffic treatmen (US do) I can drive only 6 months with my Bolivian drive license and then I have to take a written exam in Polish or English to exchange my current license for a new Polish one.

    But one friend of mine also told me that you I can drive with my Bolivian license and when a police will ask me for it, as I don’t speak Polish probably he won’t want to have too much problems so he won’t say anything else and let me go normally. Of course you have to follow the rules no?


  8. John:

    I came across these web sites and would like to add it to these comments. I have seen some of the items in this article during my stay in Poland over the past two months.: http://www.masterpage.com.pl/polish-driving-habits/


  9. A:

    Poland is not part of the European Union. So why does it have the European Union flag on it?

  10. A:

    Sorry! I didn’t know that Poland became an EU country!

  11. Ron:

    The people at the equivalent of the DMV in Poland do not know the rules and will lie to you through their teeth to look smart, rather than say they don’t know.

    I was told I could drive on my Nevada license with no problem when I showed them this. However, I was hit by another motorist and the police screamed at me that I had to have an International Driver’s License. So I found this on the web out of Florida. It is the only agency authorized by the U.S. government to issue these.

    In brief, it is a small booklet about 10 pages that is a translation of your license into every language that any Polish police officer could never read… Russian, Chinese, Spanish, German, English, French, Japanese, Arabic. I think those were the languages.

    It is good for one year and costs about $15. After that you will have to get a Polish driver’s license. To do that you are required to take a driving course, which is very very expensive and you have a 90% chance of failing the exam the first time and 80% the second time — they do it to make money, since you have to pay each time.

    It is a big scam that should have caused a revolution in itself, but as with many other things, Poles simply accept it and life stays shitty and people have something to bitch about. 😉 ha ha! Ok, I am exaggerating, but only a little.

  12. Jepyy:

    Question> can I change my Dutch Drivers license to a Polish one? or…what do I have to do to get it? Marry a polish girl who is in Netherlands allready and has a double nationality>? please advise, many thanks,Ma

  13. krish:

    Hi this is krish, i am from India. i have international driving license. i want to information regarding polish driving license. whats the procedure and fees and written test.

    Is there any agent to do.
    i can pay amount


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