Moving to Poland

Poland is a country in Eastern Europe located on the Baltic Sea. Relocating here will open your eyes to diverse cultures that influenced it from long years of invasion by Russia and Germany. In 1990, Poland became an independent country and finally opened its curtains for the world to witness its beauty. As you walk the city centre, you will find yourself surrounded by magnificent bodies of water and vast luscious green plains on the north.

Poland's lifestyle is similar to most European countries; however, Poland is significantly cheaper than most countries in Europe, making the standard living of expats in the country quite good. Poland is also one of the most interesting countries you can visit in Europe, and despite common misconceptions, Polish people are actually very friendly and accommodating to foreigners. There are so many wonderful things, as well as some not so wonderful things you need to know before moving to Poland. Allow us to assist you by providing some much needed advice below.

What you need to know

1. Know your immigration requirements

As a member of the EU, Poland has lenient immigration policies for other EU members. All foreigners from the EU can freely enter, work, and live in Poland. Non-EU foreigners can get a work permit through a Polish employer.

Work permit

The employer will then have to process the application to the Voivod Office where the employer’s company is registered. It’s worth noting that even though the process for a work permit application is straight-forward, it’s not easy. The Voivod office will only grant a work permit to foreigners if the employers can provide proof that there are no Polish candidates suitable for the position. So unless, it’s for a highly specialised work, or you’re being transferred by your company, it’s not very easy to find a job in Poland.

Here are the requirements you would need for a work permit in Poland:

  • Completed application form
  • Undamaged high resolution coloured 35 mm x 45mm photographs
  • Original travel document
  • Copy of valid travel document
  • A document from the employer stating that the position cannot be occupied by a Polish national or an EU national based on unemployment registers and job seekers)
  • Stamp duty payment confirmation

Travel visa

Poland is part of the Schengen scheme in the EU, therefore, as we mentioned earlier, EU residents do not need to apply for a visa to enter Poland. Non-EU residents who wish to visit Poland as their primary Schengen country, need to provide the following documents to apply for the Schengen visa in the Polish Embassy of their country of residence:

  • Travel Document (valid at least three months after your planned departure in the Schengen territory, with at least 2 blank pages, issued within the last ten years)
  • Signed and completed visa application form
  • Visa processing fee
  • Biometric photo
  • Supplementary documents stating the following:
    • Details of planned accommodation
    • Proof of sufficient financial funds (bank statements, credit cards)
    • Purpose of visit
    • Proof of intent to leave after the visa expiration (tenancy agreements, proof of employment, business ownership etc.)
  • Travel insurance (covers health) of at least EUR 30,000 valid for the duration of your stay in the Schengen territory

Aside from EU residents, there are also some nationals outside the EU who do not need a visa to enter Poland. Here’s a list of countries allowed to enter Poland for less than Ninety days:

Albania (only for holders of biometric passports) Grenada Montenegro (only for holders of biometric passports) St. Lucia
Andorra Guatemala New Zealand St. Pierre and Miquelon
Antigua Barbuda Honduras Nicaragua St. Vincent and Grenadines
Argentina Hong Kong Norway Switzerland
Australia Iceland Palau Taiwan (for holders of passports which include an identity card number)
Bahamas Israel Panama St. Pierre and Miquelon
Barbados Japan Paraguay St. Vincent and Grenadines
Bosnia and Herzegovina (only for holders of biometric passports) Liechtenstein Peru Switzerland
Brazil Macau Saint Kitts and Nevis Taiwan (for holders of passports which include an identity card number)
Brunei Macedonia (only for holders of biometric passports) Samoa Tonga
Canada Malaysia San Marino Trynidad and Tobago
Chile Marshall Islands Sao Tome and Principe Tuvalu
Colombia Mauritius Serbia (only for holders of biometric passports) United Arab Emirates
Costa Rica Mexico Seychelles Venezuela
Dominica Micronesia Singapore United States of America
East Timor Moldova (only for holders of biometric passports) Solomon Islands Uruguay
El Salvador Monaco South Korea Vanuatu

2. Local salaries are a bit low

Salaries in Poland are quite low compared to other countries in Europe, especially other EU members, which is why so many Polish nationals choose to live in other EU countries than stay in Poland. Taxes are also a bit high in Poland as it makes up more than 30% of the country’s GDP.

Good jobs with relatively higher salaries can be found in the more commercial cities, such as Warsaw, Krakow, and Gdansk.

The Ministry of Labour has announced that the monthly minimum wage in Poland for full-time employees is PLN 1,850 gross starting January 1st 2016. However, the cost of living in Poland is quite low compared to other EU countries as well, which means that the purchasing power an expat can have in Poland is higher than the rest of the countries in Europe. Poland ranks 12th out of 50 in Time Magazine’s 50 Cheapest Countries to Live, published February of 2016.

3. Save up for vacations, they have a lot of holidays

Poland is one of the oldest countries in Europe with a very rich culture, history, and tradition, therefore, they have quite a lot of national days to remember and celebrate. Most holidays are related to religion, as the Poles are very traditional and religious. They celebrate a total of 13 official national days a year, not counting famous traditions and festivals such as the All Saints Day, where Poles visit their deceased loved ones and decorate their graves on the 1st of November.

Poland’s national days:

1-Jan New Year's Day
6-Jan Epiphany
27-Mar Easter Sunday
28-Mar Easter Monday
1-May State Holiday
3-May Constitution Day
15-May Pentecost Sunday
26-May Corpus Christi
15-Aug Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1-Nov All Saints' Day
11-Nov Independence Day
25-Dec Christmas Day
26-Dec 2nd Day of Christmas

 

4. The healthcare system is not the best, so find an alternative

Health and protection services can be provided by the government, if you are employed or if you are a dependent of an employed person. Otherwise, healthcare is not free and not cheap. It is a requirement for foreigners to have a travel health insurance before entering Poland, and it is advisable for expats in the country to get international health insurance as the medical costs in the country can be quite expensive. The medical care and facilities are also not of the highest quality in Poland, which is why people who can afford it tend to seek medical treatments outside Poland in nearby countries with better facilities such as Germany or Czech Republic.

Amazing Facts about Poland

1. It has a rich history, culture and tradition

Poland is an old country with a history that can be traced way back to the Middle Ages. With this long and rich history come a very long standing and colourful culture and tradition.

The architecture in Poland reflects its long history with a wide spectrum of different European architecture styles, from Roman, Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, up to modernist. Even after World War II several old buildings and landmarks survived in the country. Cities like Warsaw and Gdansk have some of the best architecture in the country.

It’s also the home of several famous names in the field of Philosophy and the Arts, such as:

  • Nicolaus Copernicus
  • Daniel Schultz
  • Frédéric Chopin

And five Nobel Prize in Literature Laureates, namely:

  • Henryk Sienkiewicz
  • Władysław Reymont
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • Czesław Miłosz
  • Wisława Szymborska

If you need another famous name in that list, Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for two different sciences, namely Physics and Chemistry, was originally Polish before she became a naturalised French citizen.

Most Polish are religious Catholics who view Christmas as the most important holiday. "Dzielenie oplatkiem," a highlight of this season, is the practice of breaking and sharing a thin white wafer while people express their wishes for everyone. Although this is performed only once a year, it is deeply ingrained in the Polish culture.

2. It’s exciting

Poland is quite a big country, and as such, it has more than a few characters depending on which region you’re in. You’ll certainly never run out of things to do, as Poland has almost all types of scenic views such as:

The country has greatly preserved Europe’s primaeval forest, the Puszcza Bialowieska (Bialowieza Forest). It is also the home of the European Bisons that roam freely in the Bialowieza Forest; it’s the only species in the world that has been saved by regeneration breeding.

3. It has fantastic local food

Home of the famous Kielbasa sausage and the notorious Polish Vodka, the local food in Poland is anything but ordinary, and it is definitely captivating. From a variety of cheese and sausages to traditional dishes, like the Pierogi, an Eastern European favourite, Poland’s cuisine is an adventure unlike any other cuisine in Europe. Chances are, you haven’t heard of most of these dishes unless you’re from Eastern Europe yourself, but these heart-warming dishes, which usually feature traditional methods of cooking, a wide range of vegetables, bread, and meat are the perfect merge of Eastern and Central European cuisine. Food in Poland is more than enough reason for some people to stay.

4. Friendly locals

Polish people are quite interesting, and they are very friendly to foreigners. Locals will gladly chat with you and help you when you need it wherever you may be. The Polish are known throughout Europe as kind-hearted people despite their often stern appearances. Most expats would tell you that the best way to make friends is simply by sitting at a bar. Locals are friendly enough to strike a conversation up in public places.

The official language of Poland is Polish, but most people can speak English, especially its younger citizens, so you wouldn’t have much trouble getting by, although, locals really appreciate it if you try to learn Polish, even through the use of common phrases for day-to-day activities.

The Polish has a strong familial attitude, and take joy in the company of extended families. In fact, one's social network in Poland typically consists of family members while friends or non-relatives can only come second. This makes them very close-knit and sometimes territorial.

How to live like a local

1. They don’t serve milk in a milk bar

Yes, that’s right. Milk Bars or “Bar mleczny” in Poland are not literally bars that serve milk, but rather, they are local cafeterias that serve traditional Polish dishes for cheap. Milk bars are the usual restaurants that workers frequent for lunch on a regular work day. Milk bars gained prominence during economic depression and World War II in Poland.

2. Shop during public holidays

But know that you will regret it. Most people rush the stores to buy food and gifts or whatever they need for the holiday on the holiday itself. Queues can last for about 30 minutes to an hour and you might get into fights over a can of beans. It’s totally a local thing to do, but you should know better and just shop before the holidays.

3. You expect the unexpected

Poland is also known for being quite unpredictable, primarily because it is a country known for its wealth of biological life. Its green campaigns are famous especially for eco-friendly tourists and expats who can’t get over the country’s successful exploits as nature’s defenders, so don’t be surprised if you happen to be riding the train with a horse or a goat.

 

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