So, have you taken the plunge and tried driving in Poland? I know – for me it’s a lot different than in America. It’s scary even. I hate driving in new cities here – it’s stressful! There are many different rules and I never know who goes first. So, if you plan on driving here in Poland, you have to get a Polish driver’s license. Studying for the test will help you learn the rules as well. Overall, it’s a win-win, but it’s def a challenge.
So, here’s the general way things work. If you’re currently living in Poland and you’d like to drive a car, you can do so for 6 months on an international driver’s license, or you can simply get a Polish license. I wrote simply, but it’s not that simple, unfortunately. If you’re American, check out what the US Embassy says about it. For general information on how to get a driver’s license in Poland, check out gov.pl.
Go to the doctor for an examination
The first thing you’ll need to do is get a doctor’s approval (orzeczenie lekarskie) that you can drive. Generally, not every doctor does this, so you need to find one who does. You pay about 200 zł for the doc to ask you a series of ridiculous questions about your health, like if you have problems with your eyesight or if you have any other medical issues, never even examining you themselves.
Submit an application at the nearest city hall (Urząd Miejski)
You’ll need to fill out an application – normally a category B license – which you can find here, and submit it in person at the Urząd or by post, along with pics, your doctor’s approval, copy of your ID (karta pobytu, etc.), and copy of your current driver’s license. After that, the Urząd will provide you with a number called PKK (Profilu Kandydata na Kierowcę).
Sign up for the written exam
After submitting the application and receiving your PKK, you can sign up for the exam. Luckily for Americans, NO DRIVING REQUIRED – you only need to take the written exam – NO PRACTICAL! Because for sure you don’t know how to drive a stick, right? Worst 2 weeks of my life learning to drive stick.
However, it’s not like the 10 ridiculously simple questions you have on the American exam, such as “What do you do at a stop sign?” I actually failed the first time thinking I didn’t need to study much because I thought it couldn’t possibly be that hard 😏 So, yes, you genuinely need to study for the Polish driver’s license exam. There is a huge bank of potential questions and lots of very particular rules you need to know.
You can take the exam in English – yay!
Happily, you won’t have to suffer through the Polish version of the exam. You can do it in English – phew! Just get the Driver’s Handbook for a Cat. B license and start studying! You can find them online for around 50 zł.
Handing over your original license
The biggest surprise of this whole process for me was the fact that I had to relinquish my American driver’s license in order to get my Polish one – WTF? This is especially an issue for Americans who use their driver’s licenses as ID cards, so it was pretty upsetting for me. The people at city hall informed me that they’d be sending it to the American Embassy, who would be then sending it to the DMV in my hometown, where I could pick it up when I needed it. Furious, I called the Embassy, and they reassured me they also thought the idea silly and would send it back to me by mail. Sure enough, a couple weeks later, it was returned to me in an normal envelope 😆 So, don’t fret! It’ll all work out in the end.
NOTE: I’ve heard on some forums that occasionally here, if you’re American, they’ll give you a license that says you can only drive an automatic car – interesting. That didn’t happen to me, but be sure to look out for that. It would be rather limiting.
Another annoying thing is that my first driver’s license was only valid for 5 years, so then I had to change it and do the doctor’s approval bullshit all over again. This time I got 15 years, which I think is standard.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Powodzenia!
NOTE: I’m not exactly an expert on the subject, so some of these things might be not 100% true or are subject to change, so be sure to do your own research as well.