If you have a valid national driving licence and you’re going to stay in Poland for a longer period of time, you may exchange it for a Polish driving licence. In this article I’ll explain in which cases your national driving licence is valid in Poland, what the procedure of the exchange looks like, and how to go through the process step-by-step. Similarly to my previous articles, I’ve also translated some parts of the form that you will need to fill out. That means that you will be able to deal with the whole procedure on your own, if only you are lucky enough to meet English-speaking clerks.

 

You need to stay in Poland over 185 days

A Polish driving licence can be issued for a person who declares Poland as their place of residence, being forewarned of accountability before the law for false statements. That applies to a person who spends a minimum of 185 days of every year in Poland. There are some exceptions possible (for example for people who live in two or several European countries and won’t make it to the minimum number of 185 days, but still have their personal ties here). However, they don’t seem relevant for the expat community.

That doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to wait 185 days before you apply to have your licence exchanged. You can do that just after arrival. You only need to have documents confirming that you’re allowed to stay in Poland over 185 days: a residence permit for EU citizens, a visa, or a stay card. You will also need to declare under penalty of perjury that you will reside in Poland for the required period of time.

Most offices that I checked with confirmed that you don’t need to wait before you apply, but there was still one office that said otherwise. If you happen to be in a similar situation, inform the officials that the offices in Warsaw, Wrocław and Kraków accept applications from day one (in order to make them double-check the procedure with their supervisors).

 

The responsible office

Most of my readers live in big cities like Wrocław, Kraków, and Łódź. These are urban districts, so you should simply go to the city hall, most likely in your city district. That should be the same building where you register residence.

If you live in a small town or village, the office responsible for exchanges is called Starostwo Powiatowe. Contact me and I’ll tell you the address that you should visit.

 

Can you drive without a Polish driving licence?

European Union and EFTA member states

According to the law, when you have a driving licence from any EU or EFTA member state you can use it as long as it’s valid, regardless of if you plan to settle in Poland. However, it is recommended that you get a Polish driving licence for your own convenience. For example if you lose documents, you won’t need to go to your country to apply for new ones. If you want to get a Polish driving licence, you can follow the procedure described in this article.

 

Convention on Road Traffic’s contracting parties

Poland recognizes International Driving Permits (IDPs) or driving licences compatible with international agreements for the following countries:

  1. Contracting Parties of Convention on Road Traffic of Geneva
  2. Contracting Parties of Convention on Road Traffic of Vienna 
  3. Japan
  4. South Korea

According to the conventions you can drive a car for six months after your arrival to Poland and you don’t need to exchange licences, but you must be in possession of documents compatible with the conventions. You need to apply for them in the country where you got your driving licence. Before leaving your country, contact officials in order to obtain a driving licence or an IDP compatible with the agreements signed both by your country and by Poland.

If you wish to keep driving after six months, you need to exchange your document for a Polish driving licence according to the procedure described below.

 

Other countries

If you don’t have documents compatible with the Convention on Road Traffic or agreements between your country and Poland, you cannot drive a car until you’ve exchanged your national driving licence for a Polish document.

 

How to obtain a Polish driving licence through exchange

EU/EFTA/Vienna Convention contracting parties

Licences from countries that have signed only the Geneva Convention (like India or the USA), or have signed but not ratified the Vienna Convention (like Chile or Indonesia) cannot be exchanged according to this procedure. You will need to pass a written exam, as described below.

The information given in this article is of a general nature. Some offices may ask you for extra documents or process your application differently.

Step 1

Print out this application form and fill it out according to the instructions from the next point.

Step 2

Prepare documents:

  • a driver licence’s picture (35×45 mm)
  • copy of your current driving licence
  • certified translation of the licence

Translations of EU and EFTA member states’ licences shouldn’t be required

Make sure to tell your translator that they have to make a copy of your driving licence and attach it to the certified translation. The office accepts certified translations only when attached to a copy of the licence in the original language.

  • copy of your stay card, visa or any other document confirming your residence permit
  • proof of payment

The procedure costs 100,50 zł. You can submit all the documents before paying, then come back in order to provide clerks with the proof of payment, or you can pay before you start the procedure. It can be paid via bank transfer or directly at the counter in the office.

  • Medical certificate

Medical certificate shouldn’t be required if your licence isn’t close to the end of its validity

Step 3

Submit documents in the office

In the office they will check if you’ve registered residency in their district. Some offices may also require the official confirmation of registration for residency, but that’s not a rule. Read more about registration of residency here.

Step 4

Collect your new driving licence from the office.

 

Other countries

You can still exchange your national licence for a Polish one, but you will need to pass a written, theoretical exam.

The information given in this article is of a general nature. Some offices may ask you for extra documents or process your application differently.

Step 1

Print out this application form and fill it out according to the instructions from the next point.

Step 2

Prepare documents

  • a driver licence’s picture (35×45 mm)
  • copy of your current driving licence
  • certified translation of the licence

Make sure to tell your translator that they have to make a copy of your driving licence and attach it to the certified translation. The office accepts certified translations only when attached to a copy of the licence in the original language.

  • copy of your stay card, visa or any other document confirming your residence permit
  • Medical certificate

Medical certificate shouldn’t be required if your licence isn’t close to the end of it’s validity

Step 3

Submit documents in the office

In the office they will check if you’ve registered residency in their district. Some offices may also require the official confirmation of registration for residency, but that’s not a rule. Read more about registration of residency here.

Step 4

Collect Profil Kandydata na Kierowcę – Profile of Driving Candidate

When a driving licence is not compatible with the conventions on road traffic, a competent authority first requests the confirmation of data included in the licence from the country where the document was issued. Once it’s confirmed, the applicant can collect a Profile of Driving Candidate form which is used to register for the written exam in the Wojewódzki Ośrodek Ruchu Drogowego (WORD) – Voivodeship Training Center for Drivers.

Step 5

Register for the exam

The written exam costs 30 zł. You will find the addresses and contact details of WORDs here.

That’s the only time when you really need the assistance of a translator. Although many WORDs have their exam sets available in English, you still need to have a certified translator with you if you’re not able to understand the Polish instructions.

Edit 15.06.2017: One of the readers, Nick, told me that in Gdansk you don’t need to have a translator. Many procedures in Voivodeship Training Centers for Drivers depend on the local practices, so ask in your center first, before you’ll hire a translator.

That’s also the point of the procedure that I cannot really describe, as it differs from place to place.

Step 6

With your positive exam results go back to the office and pay for a new licence. It costs 100,50 zł and can be paid via bank transfer or directly at the counter in the office. Provide the clerks with your proof of payment.

Step 7

Collect your new driving licence from the office.

 

How to fill out the form

The form is all in Polish, so let me translate it for you.

Note: This is not a professional, certified translation, so I cannot be held responsible for your statements made under penalty of perjury in the form.

Be careful when you print it out – the form is designed to be easily scanned to the special program, so it must be printed out in a very specific way. If you don’t do that properly, you will need to fill it out again in the office, so consider getting a copy from the office in the first place. If you prefer to print it out, however, remember that:

  • it must be a double-sided printout on one piece of paper
  • you cannot change its size or proportions
  • it must be printed out in a normal printing mode. Avoid downgrading the print quality
  • due to the small margins of the form some printers won’t print the paper out, but you cannot change it.

 

Skip the part at the top of the page and go straight to point A. Dane – A. Data

1. Numer PESEL/Data urodzenia – PESEL number/Date of birth

If you have a PESEL, cross out Data urodzenia and write the number on the form.

If you don’t have a PESEL, cross out Numer PESEL and type your date of birth into the form. They don’t specify the format of the date.

2. Nazwisko 1 członSurname, the first part

3. Nazwisko 2 członSurname, the second part

If your surname consists of two parts, split them between points 2 and 3. If you have a surname consisting of only one word, use point 2.

4. Imię (imiona)First name (first names)

5. Miejsce urodzenia – Place of birth

6. Adres zamieszkania – Place of residence

Kod pocztowy – Postal code

MiejscowośćCity

UlicaStreet

Nr budykuHouse number

Nr lokaluFlat number

TelefonPhone number (Not obligatory)

Email (Not obligatory)

7. Obywatelstwo Citizenship

Write the abbrevated name of your country (for Polish citizens it would be PL)

 

Then go to B. Wydany dokument – B. Issued document

Check field number 1 (mark it with the letter ‘X’) and fill out the data of your driving licence:

  • prawo jazdy kat. – category of your driving licence
  • nr number
  • nr drukuprinting number
  • data wydania – issue date (of this exact licence, not the first one that you got)
  • organ wydający – here you put the name of the issuing authority

 

Then go to C. Prawo jazdy – Pozwolenie na kierowanie tramwajem – C. Driving licence – Tram driver licence

In the point 1. Ubiegam się o (zaznaczyć właściwe kwadraty literką “X”) – 1. I apply for (mark the right fields with the letter “X”):

on the left side choose:

either h) wymianę prawa jazdy wydanego za granicą bez sprawdzenia kwalifikacji – h) exchange of a foreign driving licence without verification of competence

(if your country has signed conventions and you don’t need to take a written exam)

or d) wymianę dokumentu zaznaczonego w części B – d) exchange of the document given in part B

(if you need to take a written exam).

On the right side choose one of the available categories. If you want a regular driving licence for passenger cars, choose B.

 

In the point 2. Składam następujące załączniki (zaznaczyć właściwe kwadraty literką “X”) – 2. I file the following annexes (mark the right fields with the letter “X”) choose points: a), maybe d), e), and maybe g) :

a) wyraźną, aktualną i kolorową fotografię o wymiarach 3,5 x 4,5 cm – a clear, current color photo with dimensions of 3,5 x 4,5 cm

b) orzeczenie lekarskie medical certificate (you shouldn’t need it if your driving licence is still valid)

c) orzeczenie psychologiczne – psychological certificate (you shouldn’t need it)

d) dowód uiszczenia opłaty za wydanie prawa jazdy/pozwolenia w wysokości… zł – proof of payment of ……. zł for issuing a driving licence

check it if you pay on the day when you submit the form. Write 100,00 in the gap (you will pay 100,50 zł but the 50 groszy is an additional fee, so it doesn’t count here)

e) kopię prawa jazdy/pozwolenia – copy of the driving licence/permit

f) wniosek MSZ – the application from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for diplomats only)

g) inne – other

If you have a certified translation of your driving licence, check option g) and fill out the gap with: TŁUMACZENIE PRAWA JAZDY – translation of the driving licence

Skip parts D and E and go to F: Sposób przekazania dokumentu – Requested way of transferring document

Choose odbiorę osobiście – I will pick it up in person

You have to choose this option, because you need to go to the office in order to give them your foreign driving licence before you will be handed a new document.

 

Then go to section G. Oświadczenie – Declaration

Ja, niżej podpisany, będąc świadomy odpowiedzialności karnej za składanie fałszywych zeznań (art. 233 §1 k.k.), oświadczam, iż na dzień złożenia wniosku (zaznaczyć właściwe kwadraty literą “X”) – I, the undersigned, certify under penalty of perjury for false statement (art. 233 § 1 k.k.) that at the date of the application (mark the right field with the “X” letter):

1) podane w części A, B, E dane są zgodne ze stanem faktycznym – Data provided in parts A, B, E are factually correct

2) nie stwierdzono u mnie aktywnej formy uzależnienia od alkoholu lub podobnie działającego środka – I have not had an addiction to alcohol or similar substances

3) nie został orzeczony w stosunku do mnie – prawomocnym wyrokiem sądu – zakaz prowadzenia pojazdów samochodowych – I have not been banned from driving

4) nie mam zatrzymanego prawa jazdy/pozwolenia – I have no suspended driving licences or permits

5) nie mam cofniętego uprawnienia do kierowania pojazdami – I have no withdrawn entitlements to drive

6) nie posiadam innego dokumentu stwierdzającego uprawnienie do kierowania pojazdem silnikowym – I am not in possession of any other document certifying my entitlement to drive a motor vehicle 

7) utraciłem prawo jazdy/pozwolenie – I have lost a driving licence/a permit

8) wykonuję przewóz drogowy różnymi pojazdami, dla kórych jest wymagane posiadanie prawa jazdy co najmniej jednej spośród kategorii C1, C1+E, C lub C+E oraz D1, D1+E, D lub D+E – I perform the carriage by road with various vehicles, for which it is required to possess a driving licence of at least one category from the following: C1, C1+E, C or C+E and D1, D1+E, D or D+E.

After you mark the statements that you agree with, sign the frame below: własnoręczny podpis wniosodawcy (nie wykraczać poza ramkę) – Handwritten signature of the applicant (do not fall outside the frame)

On the right side there is a place for a picture, but don’t try to attach the photo on your own. Clerks prefer to do that for you, because many people attach their pictures in a clumsy way and often forms cannot be scanned because of that.

 

Then you have Oświadczenie o miejscu zamieszkania – Declaration of place of residence

Ja, niżej podpisany, uprzedzony o odpowiedzialności karnej za zeznanie nieprawdy lub zatajenie prawdy (art. 233 §1 k.k.) oświadczam, że moje miejsce zamieszkania znajduje się na terytorium Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, przy czym że – I, the undersigned, being forewarned of accountability before the law for false statements or withholding information (art. 233 §1 k.k.), declare that my place of residence is on the territory of the Republic of Poland, and:

a) przebywam na terytorium Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej co najmniej przez 185 dni w każdym roku kalendarzowym: – a) I reside in the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 185 days in every calendar year:

ze względu na swoje więzi osobiste i zawodowe – due to personal and professional ties

z zamiarem stałego pobytu wyłącznie ze względu na swoje więzi osobiste – with the intention of permanent residency solely because of my personal ties

b) przebywam regularnie na terytorium Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej ze względu na swoje więzi osobiste, a jednocześnie, że ze względu na swoje więzi zawodowe kolejno przebywam w co najmniej dwóch państwach członkowskich Unii Europejskiej – b) I reside in the territory of the Republic of Poland regularly due to my personal ties, and at the same time, that due to my professional ties I sequentially reside in at least two European Union member states

c) przebywam nieregularnie na terytorium Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej ze względu na swoje więzi osobiste, ponieważ przebywam w innym państwie członkowskim Unii Europejskiej w celu wypełniania zadania w określonum czasie trwania –  c) I reside in the territory of the Republic of Poland irregularly due to my personal ties, because I reside in another European Union member state to fulfill a task of specified duration

d) przebywam na terytorium innego państwa ze względu na podjęte w tym państwie studia lub naukę w szkole – d) I reside in the territory of another country due to studies or school undertaken in this country

Choose the right option for you. If you’re not sure which one to take, ask a clerk for assistance. It should be easy to decide when you already know the meanings.

Sign the form again above the własnoręczny podpis osoby składającej oświadczenie – handwritten signature of the person making a statement. And it’s done! You’re ready to go to the office.

 

Check out more content on JAP

I hope that you find this article useful. It took me a long time to write it, so I’m doubly happy for every person that can use it. Be sure to leave me a comment if you like what I do.

You will find more useful articles here:

Just After Moving to Poland Subcategory

Living in Poland Category

 

Sources

UM Warszawy – Karta AO-04-06

UM Warszawy – Karta AO-04-07

Obywatel.gov.pl

BIP UM we Wrocławiu

Info-car.pl

Europe.eu

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