How To Move To Poland
The complete guide!

Find A Job

Poland is increasingly becoming a popular destination with expats seeking employment. The country has recently been designated as one of the top 25 economies in the world, with the 6th largest GDP in the EU, and a wide range of opportunities are available, particularly in urban centres such as Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan. Salaries may be lower in comparison to the UK, for example, but the cost of living is lower as well – around 40% lower than the UK. Your chances of finding employment will be greater if you are a citizen of an EU/EEA state, but you will also be entitled to seek work if you come from outside the region.

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state, you will be entitled to work in Poland and will not need to apply for a work visa. If you come from outside the EU/EEA, you will need the relevant permit and these are issued at a regional level. You can apply to your local Polish consulate for a D-type visa, which along with a work permit, will allow you to work in the country for up to a year and which will also allow you to stay for 90 days within half a year in the countries of the Schengen Area. You will also need a short term residence permit.

In comparison with many countries, applying for a work visa for Poland is relatively straightforward. Moreover, either your prospective employer or a specialized consultant can assist you with the process. You will need to submit the following documentation for your D visa:

• application form
• a passport, valid up to at least three months after your planned departure from Poland
• passport size photos
• payment proof of your visa fee
• proof of your travel insurance or international medical insurance
• proof of sufficient financial means
• a letter stating the purpose of your visit
• a letter confirming the necessity of your long-term stay

Your employer will also need to apply for the actual work permit: this can take several weeks so it might be advisable to get this sorted out before you relocate.

The country is experiencing significant skills shortages, possibly due to the number of Polish citizens working abroad combined with an ageing population. The trades sector has been the worst hit in recent years and there is a shortage of personnel here. The service sector is growing rapidly, along with specialized agriculture, manufacturing, the automotive industry, shipbuilding and electronics. Digital industries are also expanding.

There are possibilities for teaching English if you have a TEFL certificate and, preferably, a university degree.

Typical working hours in Poland are hours are from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturdays. You are entitled to a 15 minute break every 6 hours. The standard working week is 40 hours over 5 working days – 8 hours on average per day, so most people in full time employment work a 40 hour week. You will have to negotiate any overtime with your employer, particularly if you are working part time. Overtime should be paid either financially or as time in lieu.

You are entitled to 13 days of annual leave and Poland also has 14 public holidays per year.

Maternity leave is relatively generous in Poland. You will be eligible for maternity leave (urlop macierzyński) of 20 weeks, 6 of which can be taken before delivery. Once your maternity leave ends, you will then be entitled to 32 weeks (34 weeks in the case of a multiple birth) of parental leave (urlop rodzicielski). This can be split between parents. You will be entitled to maternity pay (zasiłek macierzyński): the amount of this will depend on the quantity of parental leave that you undertake. Fathers are also eligible for 2 weeks of paid paternity leave.

The minimum wage is currently €502.8 per month. The average gross salary per month in Poland, however, is currently in the region of €2094. This will depend somewhat on whether you are working for a local provider or an international company: in the case of the latter, salaries are likely to be higher.

Your spouse will be able to work if they are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state, but otherwise must apply for a separate work permit. Note that you must be married in order to be counted as a dependent and you will need to submit a marriage certificate as part of your residence application.


Job Vacancies

There are a large number of online jobs boards which cover Poland, as well as recruitment agencies. If you are already on the ground in the country then you can check the local press for any vacancies.

You can also apply speculatively to companies.


Applying For A Job

A standard one or two page CV/resume should be acceptable. If you are going through a recruiter, check whether you need to have this translated into Polish. The standard of English in the country is quite high so this may not be necessary, particularly if you are applying to an international company.

The Polish Constitution has provision against a range of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of age.


Qualifications And Training

It is worthwhile to have any qualifications apostilled if you are applying for work, particularly in a professional sector.


Apply For A Visa/Permit

If you have dual citizenship with Poland and another country, you must enter and exit Poland using your Polish passport.

For the duration of your stay, you must have a valid passport. It is not necessary for the passport to be valid for longer than your stay.

For the duration of your stay, you must have a valid passport. It is not necessary for the passport to be valid for longer than your stay.

Anyone visiting Poland for no more than 90 days during any 180 day period may enter the country without a Visa if they are citizens of a country that has a reciprocal agreement with Poland.

Poland shares a border with seven countries. Four of them – Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania – are members of the EU/EEA and the borderless Schengen Agreement area. Border guards have the power to complete random identity checks along the borders, although most travel between these countries and Poland is unchecked.

Anyone entering Poland from the borders shared with the other three countries – the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia – must complete immigration paperwork.

A family member of an EU citizen has the right to live in Poland for up to 3 months, as long as they have valid documents. The family connection must meet one of the following conditions:

• Spouse of an EU citizen
• Direct descendant of an EU citizen or his/her spouse, no older than 21 years
• Direct ascendant of an EU citizen or his/her spouse, who stays with an EU citizen

Anyone looking to settle in Poland for more than three months is advised to seek advice on this official website. There are many other websites which are designed to look like official application sites, which charge unnecessary ‘processing’ or ‘management’ fees and obtain a lot of information about you. It is easy to get tricked by these other sites.

If you are an EU citizen and wish to stay in Poland longer than three months, you are required to register your stay. You need to present yourself in person at the voivode (local government) of the area you are settling in. This must be within one day at the end of your first three months in the country. No application fees will be due but a stamp duty tax is payable.

You must satisfy one of the following conditions:

• You are an employee or self-employed in the territory of the Republic of Poland, with sufficient financial means to support yourself and your family members, including possession of proper health insurance;
• You are studying or participating in vocational training in the territory of the Republic of Poland, with sufficient financial means to support yourself and your family members, including possession of proper health insurance,
• You are the spouse of a Polish citizen.

You will need to bring documentation confirming who you are, where you work or study, proof that you have sufficient means to support yourself (including credit cards and bank statements), evidence of your private health insurance, and proof of your marriage to a Polish citizen (if it is applicable).

If you wish to live and work in Poland, you must apply for a temporary residence and work permit, or a temporary residence permit for the purpose of work in a profession requiring high qualifications. These permits are obtained from the Staroste. The employer offering you work must prove that they cannot fill the post from within the country. This means they must advertise the vacancy and complete paperwork in conjunction with the District Labour Office. As a result, work permits are rarely processed within three months. If you employer is dealing with this they will have knowledge of the system or employ an agency to manage the process. The initial permit will only last for one year, but the renewal the following year will last for two years.

An EU citizen can obtain right of residence in order to seek employment. This requires valid documents and you must demonstrate that you are actively seeking employment and have realistic chances of obtaining it. If you wish to claim unemployment benefits you must have worked for 365 days in the last 18 months, received at least minimum wage, and register with a district labour office. They will then investigate whether the social security payments you have made in other countries will lead to entitlement in Poland.

If your family member is not an EU citizen and will be staying with you in Poland for longer than three months, they must obtain a residence card. The residence card will confirm their status as a legal resident by rights of being a family member of an EU citizen.

Once an EU citizen has been living in Poland continuously for five years, they have the right of permanent residence. The only acceptable breaks in residence are:

• breaks less than six months
• breaks of 6-12 months for compulsory military service
• breaks of 6-12 months for important personal situations such as illness, childbirth and training

Once the right to stay has been confirmed, the EU citizen who has acquired permanent residency will be issued with a document confirming the right of permanent residence.

If you are not an EU citizen, you will normally only get permission to stay if you obtain work and a work permit. The exceptions are as follows:

• you have the status of a family member of a EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen
• you are a recipient of international protection in Poland (i.e. you have the status of a refugee, or are a recipient of subsidiary protection)
• you have a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Poland
• you have a residence permit for EU long-term resident in the Republic of Poland
• you have a residence permit for humanitarian reasons
• you have a permit for a tolerated stay in the Republic of Poland
• you are a spouse of a Polish citizen with a temporary residence permit on the territory of the Republic of Poland given as a result of marriage
• you have a temporary residence permit in order to join the family
• you have a permit for residence in order to receive higher education
• you have a valid Pole Card
• you are a graduate from a Polish upper-secondary school, full-time studies or a full-time doctoral course at a Polish university/college

A family member who is not an EU citizen acquires the right of permanent residence when they have five years of continuous residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland with an EU citizen. When their right to stay has been confirmed, they will receive a permanent residence card of a family member of an EU citizen.

If you enter Poland without necessary documentation, you will be deported. A fine can also be levied if you have been working illegally, and the employer may be charged with a criminal offence.


Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property


Renting Property

In Poland, you normally cannot rent an apartment for less than a year. A typical deposit when renting a flat in Poland is equal to one month’s rent, or sometimes two, and you will be required to pay this upfront. That being said, you should never pay a deposit or rent before you view a room or apartment. It is always a good idea to thoroughly inspect the property for any obvious problems or damage, and, if you decide to rent it, make sure you take photographs before you move in. You should also point out any obvious damage to the landlord, just to cover your back.

Usually your landlord will be the one responsible for maintenance of the apartment. However, read your tenancy contract thoroughly and watch out for any hidden or vague clauses. Your tenancy contract should detail payment method, personal data (of both you and your landlord, and ideally you want to see their ID card or passport), the duration of the lease, whether utilities are included, and your notice period.

If you don’t speak Polish, you might find it a bit challenging to search for a room or apartment on your own. If you have any Polish speaking friends, it would be wise to enlist their help. Otherwise, you might want to hire a freelance translator. Many of the local advertisements you will find are likely to be in Polish, and there is also no guarantee that your potential landlord will speak English.

There are multiple websites one can use to find rental adverts, one of the biggest being Gratka. Other popular websites include Rent Flat Poland, Otodom, and OLX.

You can also choose to use a property agency. This is a more costly option, as you will have to pay them a commission fee. Agency fees vary, and it is always best to clarify which services are included and which are not, in order to avoid unexpected charges.

According to data statistic site Numbeo, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre location is around zł 2,105.20 (Polish Zloty). This is equivalent to roughly £406.11 (GBP) or $502.36 (USD). An apartment of a similar size outside of the city would cost around zł 1,628.43 (£314.14 or $388.59). A larger city centre apartment with three bedrooms would cost around zł 3,732.08 (£719.94 or $890.57) per month, while its suburban counterpart would cost roughly zł 2,833.60 (£546.62 or $676.17).


Buying Property

Foreigners can freely and easily buy condominium apartments in Poland. Land for commercial purposes can be bought by European Economic Area (EEA) citizens. However, they will require an Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration (MIA) permit in order to buy land that is not intended to be their permanent residence. If the land you are purchasing is for permanent residential purposes, it cannot exceed 0.5 hectares.

Non-EEA citizens need MIA permits to buy any kind of land, whether it is for residential or commercial purposes. The MIA permit will only be issued to foreign buyers who can prove they have links with Poland; for example, if they have family residing in Poland or if they are applying for permanent residency.

The price of a property can be negotiated directly with the owners (this is actually common practice) or through an estate agent. Once an agreement has been reached, a contract will be drawn up. The contract must be made in the form of a notarial deed executed by a Polish notary. The notary will draw up a preliminary contract detailing the conditions of sale. A completion date will be set, and the buyer will pay the deposit. The deposit for property in Poland is typically around 20% of the property price. The notary will then carry out all the necessary checks. Once all is in order, the deal can be completed.

It is worth noting that all the documentation will be written entirely in Polish, so if you cannot speak it to a high level, it is well worth finding either an estate agent or a notary that speaks English. Alternatively, you may wish to hire a translator.

Agents in Poland typically charge around 3% commission, but this is negotiable. There will also be the additional costs of notary fees, registration fees, and civil transaction tax (CTT) to consider.

For foreigners working and living in Poland on a permanent basis, obtaining a mortgage should not be too difficult. However, for foreigners who are not living and working in Poland, getting approved for a Polish mortgage will be difficult. The Bank Pekao and Alior Bank are two popular options for expat mortgage loans in Poland.

In order to be considered for a mortgage loan in Poland, you will need a PESEL number (Polish identification number), temporary or permanent residence status, an employment contract, a bank statement of your monthly salary for the last 12 months, a credit score report, and annual tax return information (if applicable). You may also be required to provide proof of a life insurance policy in some circumstances.


Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Poland health insurance

The National Health fund orchestrates the state health insurance scheme in Poland, under the Ministry of Health and the regional governments. You will need to register with a local health insurance provider contracted to the NFZ: they will exhibit the NFZ logo if they are signed up with the national scheme.

Coverage is intended to be universal and the Polish government extends free healthcare to vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant women, disabled people and the elderly. In practice, however, many Polish residents take out private cover.

Once you are registered with the NFZ you will be able to access primary and secondary public healthcare services: you may need your GP’s referral for some specialist consulations. You will need to take your insurance card, an insurance card for family members, or a pension card, and check that you have the documentation that you need to put in a claim for reimbursement.

Your employer should sign you up, but be sure to check that this has been done and that they are paying their share of contributions into the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). You may have to make contributions directly, rather than payments being deducted at source.

You can also register with the NFZ on a voluntary basis. If you do so, you must register any uninsured family members with the ZUS after signing a voluntary health insurance agreement with the voivodship (your local branch of the NFZ). You will need to supply any of the following documentation that is relevant to you:

• a visa for work
• a temporary residency permit
• a permit to settle in Poland
• a long-term EU residency permit
• a permit for tolerated stay
• proof of refugee status issued in Poland, or proof of temporary protection in Poland

After signing a contract with the NFZ, you must fill out and submit the ZUS ZZA form at an appropriate ZUS branch or inspectorate.

Expats may also take out voluntary insurance through another health insurance company. For example, PZU offers Wojażer (Voyager) insurance for foreigners coming to Poland for a holiday, to study or to work.


Open A Bank Account

Although Poland has been part of the European Economic Area (EEA) since 2003 and joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, it is not one of the 19 countries that are in the Eurozone. This means that Poland does not use the Euro. Some businesses in tourist areas and near the border with Germany will offer prices in Euros. However, the currency conversion rate is usually poor so you will pay more in Euros than you will in the local currency.

The currency used in Poland is the Polish Zloty. Each zloty can be divided into 100 grosze (gr). The denominations in circulation are:

• notes – zl10, zl20, zl50, zl100, zl200
• coins – zl1, zl2, zl5, gr1, gr2, gr5, gr10, gr20, gr50

Using a credit card in Poland should not be a problem, and nor should using VISA/Maestro debit cards. You may come across remote, small businesses which do not accept them, but the majority of businesses will especially in the cities.

Cash is still widely used across Poland, and ATMs should not be hard to find as there are almost 23,000 of them in the country. Look for the “bankomat” sign. Cash machines which have a bank logo on them will not incur withdrawal charges above those specified in the terms and conditions for your bank account or credit card. There are a number of private cash machine networks in operation too, which will make a charge to your card for using the service. You should be advised on screen that the transaction will incur a fee and what the fee is; it should then be shown clearly on your bank statement.

If you need to change cash from one currency to another, it is best to find a “Kantor”, or exchange kiosk. These are privately run businesses which will usually give a better rate than at the bank and much better than at a hotel. You should be asked for your PESEL card (which has your national identity number) or your passport if you want to withdraw cash in a non Polish currency or exchange it for zloty. This is to deter money laundering by criminals.

Personal cheques are not used in Poland. Travellers cheques can be cashed in a bank but you must have valid identification documents with you.

The same tax structures in Poland apply to those who were born in the country and those who move there. Poland has tax treaties with more than sixty countries, including the US, which determine that an individual should not have to pay tax twice, to two separate countries.

VAT is charged on the purchase of all goods and services.

Additional excise taxes are charged on specific goods, including alcohol, cigarettes and petrol (gas).

Companies who have been incorporated or have their headquarters in Poland are subject to Corporation Tax. Polish and EU laws protect businesses located in Poland regardless of who owns the business; these include laws protecting intellectual property, bankruptcy and competition law. Full repatriation of capital, after-tax profits and dividend earnings is guaranteed so that foreign shareholders are encouraged to invest in Poland.

In September 2016 Moody’s published a report maintaining a stable financial outlook on Poland’s banking system. GDP growth was expected to remain sound, with lending growth expected to continue.

All banks in Poland are government regulated. The Polish Financial Supervision Authority supervises the following areas of the Polish financial industry:

• banking
• the capital market
• the insurance market
• the pension market
• supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates
• electronic money institutions
• payment institutions and
• payment service bureaus
• cooperative savings and credit unions.

Banking hours are different according to the bank and its branch location. Most branches open at 9am or 10am, which is after the normal 7am start for manual workers and 8am start for office workers. However, many bank branches will stay open until 6pm on a weekday which means the working public can do their personal banking after they finish their shift. Shops will often stay open until 7pm, shopping centres until 8pm, and some international supermarkets (which also offer internet grocery shopping with delivery to home) will stay open all night.

Whilst most shops will open at the weekend, including Sunday trading until 3pm, banks will close for the whole weekend. Banks will also close for the public holidays: New Year’s Day, January 6th (Epiphany), Easter Sunday and Monday, May 1 (Labor Day), May 3 (Constitution Day, Corpus Christi Feast, August 15 (Assumption), November 1 (All Saints Day), November 11 (Independence Day), December 25 and December 26 (Christmas).

There is a range of Polish banks offering current and savings accounts, as well as a number of international banks offering similar services. Citibank, known in Poland as Citi Handlowy, have a website and a call centre in English, though some people feel the charges are high. Millennium bank is popular for its customer service levels, and again the website is available in English. Mbank was the first fully internet-based bank in Poland and their call centres employs English speakers.

All banks will have a variety of fees and charges, although some will waive them if you pay in a certain amount each month or maintain a minimum balance. Typically the internet-based accounts will have lower costs. Some banks offer multi-currency accounts. Be warned that you will face steep charges for presenting cheques into your account.

Do not go overdrawn without the bank having authorised it, as the penalty costs will be significantly higher if you do so. It is possible to take out a loan with a bank, even as an expat. The bank will often expect you to have been banking in Poland for a couple of years previously, but each bank will assess the situation differently.

You will need to take your passport as proof of identity when setting up an account. Your are supposed to give proof of your home address in Poland. There is anecdotal evidence of PO boxes being accepted, but banking processes have been strengthened in the past couple of years. The bank must satisfy the regulators that you are not a money launderer. Your debit card and internet setup will be posted to your address, and you will then ring to activate the card.

There are a few banks which work with expats who will allow the bank account to be set up in advance of arrival in the country, but many bank accounts will only be available to those already living in Poland. Some expats arrive at a bank branch to open an account and are told that they do not have permanent residence cards so cannot be accepted. If this happens, ask the clerk to check with the manager or with Head Office to make sure this is correct.

If you wish to open a business account in Poland, there are a number of steps that must have been completed before you make an application:

• Own your own company
• Pay taxes in Poland, including social security and income tax
• Register the company for VAT


Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

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Learn The Language

Poland is one of the crossroads of Europe, with a fascinating and diverse history. This is reflected in the languages spoken in the country and if you are intending to relocate here, you might be wondering how easy it will be for you to communicate in English. Will you have to learn Polish? We will look at some of your options below.

Polish is the official language of Poland: a West Slavic tongue related to Czech and Slovac. Around 97% of Poles speak it as their first language. It is the second most commonly spoken Slavic language, behind Russian, and due to the Soviet influence on the country, many older Poles speak some Russian as well: around seven million people overall in Poland speak the language. However, there are considerable political tensions with regard to the use of the Russian language and most younger Poles will speak English as their preferred second language.

Polish does not use the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, but is written in the Latin alphabet with some additional letters.

Other languages used in the country include:

• Arabic
• Armenian
• French
• Italian
• German
• Lithuanian
• Romani
• Russian
• Spanish
• Ukrainian
• Vietnamese
• Yiddish

Around 60,000 German speakers are resident in Poland and there are in the region of 26,000 speakers of Ukrainian, too. There are other languages spoken in the country, including Ruthenian and Kashubian. A number of these have official status as minority languages. In addition, there are a number of dialects, and fierce debate over whether, for instance, Silesian is a separate language or a dialect of Polish.

It is estimated that over a third of people in Poland speak English. You are most likely to encounter English speakers in urban areas such as Warsaw and Krakow, in the tourism and hospitality sectors, and amongst the younger generation. However, the popularity of the language is growing and English has been taught in schools since the fall of Communism. Road signs will be in Polish.

In the workplace, you will find English quite widely spoken, particularly in international companies where it is the lingua franca. Poles do not expect foreigners to speak Polish, and employers prefer to hire people who have more than one language.

If you are interested in learning Polish, you will find plenty of resources available. There is a considerable amount of Polish provision online, but if you are on the ground and have time to enrol in language classes, there are a large number of Polish private language schools and one-to-one tuition available, from all levels from beginners to advanced, and for different purposes. If you want a short course in conversational Polish, you will find this available, but you may want to take more intensive courses for business, for instance. Course duration varies greatly, from one week summer courses to yearly classes.

The University of Warsaw offers courses leading to the Language Proficiency Certificate. This document confirms proficiency of a given language in speech and writing at one of the levels defined by the Council of Europe. This may serve as a proof of language proficiency when applying to university, for an international internship or a job.

The University’s Centre of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners “Polonicum” is the oldest centre for teaching Polish as a foreign language in Poland. In its language classes, there is a focus on the practical acquisition of the Polish language. Students take part in in film screenings, multimedia programs relating to Polish history and culture, as well as ethnographic workshops.

Some schools can arrange homestay with local families for an immersive learning environment. It is recommended that, you read Polish newspapers and listen to Polish media.

You may also be able to take part in a language exchange with a ‘language buddy’ who wants to learn English. Check out the internet for language exchanges in Warsaw and other big cities.

You may be intending to go to Poland in order to teach English. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, business and finance, or in summer schools.

It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work. Salaries typically range from US$750 – 1050 per month and September and January are peak hiring months. You are likely to find work in private language schools and summer schools; contract lengths will vary. You may need a work permit, particularly if you are coming from outside the EU.

If you are seeking work in translation or interpreting, you will obviously need to be highly proficient in Polish, and will also need the relevant qualifications.


Choose A School

Compulsory schooling in Poland is free of charge and runs from the ages of 6–18 an eight-year primary school curriculum has recently been reestablished. Poland has been overhauling its educational model and when this is fully implemented it will look like this:

• 8-year compulsory primary school (single structure education covering ISCED 1 and 2)

Followed by post-primary (secondary and post-secondary) schools, including:

• 4-year general secondary schools
• 5-year technical secondary schools
• 3-year stage I sectoral vocational schools
• 3-year special schools preparing for employment
• 2-year stage II sectoral vocational schools (where students finishing a 3-year stage I sectoral vocational school can continue education)
• post-secondary schools with programmes of up to 2.5 years for students who have completed general secondary or vocational secondary education

Children start by enrolment into the “0” reception class (zerówka or klasa 0), and then enter primary school (szkoła podstawowa) proper. This culminates in a a primary school leaving certificate. They must then be enrolled in junior high school / lower secondary education).

The Polish educational system has been revised in recent years, but the first stage of high school in a general ‘lyceum,’ technical schools (technikum), or basic vocational schools (zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa) ends with the Matura, granting access to higher education. Schools follow a national curriculum which focuses on a wide range of standard subjects.

The school day runs typically from 8 am – 4 pm and the school week runs from Monday-Friday. Tuition in Poland tends to be rigorous and, in the case of early years, weighted towards the factual rather than the creative. You will need to pay some costs, including school uniforms and textbooks. You do not have to send your child to a school in your local catchment area, but you will need to pass through a few bureaucratic hoops in order to secure attendance at a school outside your area.

Educational standards in the public sector here are high. The 2015 OECD ranking placed Poland 5th in Europe and 11th in the world, ahead of Britain and the United States. However, although English is an important second language here, the curriculum will be delivered in Polish and due to this linguistic factor, some expat parents in Poland choose to have their children privately educated in international schools.

The country has now caught up with itself in terms of private schooling, not possible before the Iron Curtain came down, and there are a number of international schools these days, mainly in Warsaw and Kraków, but also some in Poznan and Wroclaw. Many of these schools are geared towards various international curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate, the British examination system of IGCSEs and A Levels, or American qualifications.

For example, The British School Warsaw teaches a British national curriculum to over 900 students between the ages of 2½ and 18 years. Fees range from US$8K – 21K per annum.

The International American School of Warsaw (IAS), the first private American school in Warsaw, offers tuition from pre-k – grade 12. It offers the IB diploma program and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Fees range from US$9K – 15K per annum.

The American School of Warsaw (ASW) offers tuition for elementary, middle, and high school students. It offers International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and the IB diploma program. Fees range from US$12K – 24K per annum.

The International School of Kraków (ISK) belongs to the Polish Embassy of the United States and offers education at preschool, elementary school, and secondary school level up to the IB diploma program, and AP courses. Fees are from US$9K – 15K per annum.

In addition, the British International School of Kraków offers the British national curriculum for students aged 3 to 19, and serves 210 students from 20 countries, offering the IB diploma program for students. Fees are from US$900 – 1200 per month.

You may find that you need to make one-off or regular payments such as capitalisation fees for school infrastructure or enrolment fees. Enrolment policies will vary but you may be asked for previous school reports and other documentation and the school may also wish to evaluate your child, for example for proficiency in English. You may be able to pay in termly instalments. Check if there are any reductions for sending siblings to the same school. Day schools will be cheaper than boarding schools.

Enrolment policies vary and you should contact individual schools to determine what documentary support you will need to make: some schools will ask for school reports and may also undertake a proficiency test. It is advisable to contact a school early on, as soon as you know your arrival dates in Poland, as places may be limited.

Education in the private sector is of a high standard. Some schools also run part-time or full-time programs for gifted students.

Homeschooling is possible but regulated: you will need a permit from the head of the relevant educational institution (nursery school, primary or post-primary school). You should submit your request with a statement from a public counselling and guidance centre, plus a statement from you confirming that you will provide conditions for your child to follow the national core curriculum for a given education stage, and finally a statement promising that your child will take annual qualifying exams in each school year.


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