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Warsaw Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The standard two-pin European style plugs are used.

Language

The national language is Polish. English is widely understood in tourist areas.

Travel Health

There are few health risks associated with travel to Poland. Those visiting forested areas are advised to seek medical advice about inoculations for tick borne encephalitis, and take tick bite prevention measures due to the presence of Lyme disease. Vaccinations may be recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid, although those eating only in restaurants and hotels can safely disregard the typhoid vaccination.

Poland has a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to low-cost emergency medical treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but full health insurance cover is still advised. Medical facilities and standards of health care are good, but not many nurses or doctors speak English. If you take prescription medication along, be sure to bring a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Poland, but small gratuities of 10 percent or so can be offered for excellent service. In restaurants, when your bill is collected, saying 'thank you' signals to the waiter/waitress that they can keep the change.

Safety Information

Tourists should be alert to the risk of robbery in tourist areas in large cities in Poland, particularly in the vicinity of hotels, markets and banks. Vigilance against theft should also be exercised at central railway stations, as well as on overnight long distance trains, and when travelling on public transport between Warsaw's Frederic Chopin Airport and central Warsaw. Avoid walking alone at night. Tourist sites, areas near big hotels, money exchange facilities and ATMs are popular with thieves. Having said that, visits to Poland are usually trouble free, and the precautions travellers should take are merely the safety measures advised for cities all over the world.

Local Customs

Jay walking is an offence in Poland, and is punishable with a fine. Public drunkenness is severely viewed; police will take drunk people to drying out clinics until sober and the person will be charged for the stay, and driving after drinking alcohol is punishable by law.

Business

Poland has an interesting mix of the old and the new, and this is apparent in the business world too. Women can expect a kiss on the hand rather than a handshake from the older generation and one can expect to be warmly offered drinks during meetings; it is impolite to refuse. Although the Polish are hospitable and friendly, business is still conducted formally. Punctuality is important, dress should be formal and conservative (a suit and tie the norm) and business cards are exchanged. Use titles and first names unless otherwise indicated. English is widely spoken, though attempting some basic Polish phrases will be appreciated. Business hours in Poland are traditionally 7am to 3pm Monday to Friday, with a long lunch taken after 3pm. Western influence, however, means that hours are starting to shift to the more common 9am to 5pm.

Communications

The international access code for Poland is +48. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)22 for Warsaw and (0)12 for Krakow. Cheap rates apply between 4pm and 6am, and on weekends. Mobile phones work throughout the country; local operators use GSM networks, which may not be compatible with some US cell phones. Internet cafes are available in most towns.

Duty Free

Travellers to Poland over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1 litre wine and 1 litre spirits; cosmetics and medicines for personal use; gifts up to the value of €175. Travellers to Poland arriving from within the EU do not have to pay duty on 800 cigarettes or 200 cigars or 1kg smoking tobacco; 10 litres spirits, 90 litres wine and 110 litres beer. Prohibited items include birds and poultry arriving from countries infected with Avian influenza. The export of all articles of artistic, historic or cultural value are subject to special regulations.

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