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How to exchange almost expired USA driving license for Polish license?


Einstein 6 | 48
20 Sep 2018 #1
I have a USA driving license that expires in 3 weeks and am trying to figure out how to replace it here. I have lived in Poland legally for 3 years but do not have a residence permit (still waiting for appeal from foreigners' office). I have a PESEL and zameldowanie.

What exactly must I do to exchange my license for a Polish license?

Do I need a sworn translation of my USA license? Or an expired IDL will work?
Do I need a medical exam? If so where do I go for it?
Will the give me the Polish license right away, or I must wait days or weeks while not being able to drive?
Atch 17 | 3,234
20 Sep 2018 #2
Apparently you need to pass a written theory exam before you can exchange an American licence. The exam is available in English but you may still need a translator to accompany you. Scroll down to the 'other countries' section of this post linked below, it's very helpful:

justaskpoland.com/polish-driving-licence/

It seems from the EU's own website that you should have exchanged your American licence within six months of arriving in Poland:

europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/driving-licence/driving-licence-recognition-validity/poland/index_en.htm

But there may be other posters here who have had personal experience of this and could confirm.
MoOli 9 | 483
20 Sep 2018 #3
I have a USA driving license that expires in 3 weeks and am trying to figure out how to replace it here

You will have to pass a test to get Polish license which will first be issued for as long as your US license is valid meaning for 3 weeks as you have mentioned but then you will have to get a medical test to prolong your Polish license.You can go to any General doctor for the medical exam,I got mine that way they issued license with no expiry date but now I heard they issue for 4/5 years and you have to renew it.Yes taking a Translator always helps:) and in my case was mandatory.

I would suggest you renew your driver license in US first as you don't have much time left or go to AAA site and apply for a IDP(International driving Permit) which is good for one year for you to drive.I don't know if Polish authorities change IDP to a Polish license and they will keep your US license when they issue you Polish license but you can always get a duplicate one in US

Also you will need a sworn translation for your license(front and back) and you have to be careful as the categories are different in Poland then in the states.

I changed my license in 2003 so rules might have changed now.
Atch 17 | 3,234
20 Sep 2018 #4
Rules from 2003 will be obsolete as they pre-date Poland joining the EU.
OP Einstein 6 | 48
20 Sep 2018 #5
@MoOli

Can't I submit the medical exam when I exchange my license, and then the new Polish license I get will be valid for longer than 3 weeks?

The international driving permit is simply a translation of the license; AAA won't give me another one if my license is only valid for 3 weeks. And I can't renew my USA license or I will face state income tax consequences.
Atch 17 | 3,234
21 Sep 2018 #6
Einsten, did you not look at the first link I provided? It is current information and gives very detailed instructions on the application procedure for those with non-EU licences.

justaskpoland.com/polish-driving-licence/

Here's what the EU has to say about non-EU licences specific to Poland:

"If you hold a driving licence issued outside the EU, you must exchange it within six months of the date on which your permanent or temporary residence in Poland began.

If you hold a valid driving licence issued abroad, you can ask to obtain a Polish driving licence for the equivalent category, but you will have to pay for it (and produce proof of payment) and return your foreign licence to the body that issued it. If a driving licence issued abroad is not covered by the road traffic conventions, you will also have to pass the theory part of the national examand present a certified translation of the foreign licence."

A USA licence is not covered by the road traffic conventions because they are not a party to the Vienna Convention hence you have to take the theory test. It's in English but you'll need to swot up the Polish rules of the road - not that you'd ever know there WERE any, watching the way people drive here!
OP Einstein 6 | 48
21 Sep 2018 #7
Thank you for this information. Will simply having been here for 3 years be enough, even though I don't have a residence permit of any kind? Does the 6 month deadline apply to me? If so what happens since I missed it?
Atch 17 | 3,234
21 Sep 2018 #8
As far as I know you don't need a residence permit. I can't see any reason why you'd be exempt from the six month deadline. As to what happens if you missed it, I haven't a clue but I don't think you'll be punished for it if that's what you're worried about.

If you'd clicked on the very first link I gave you yesterday (God give me patience!) and read the post plus comments you would have found this, the post is from July of this year:

"I went with all my required documents to the "Urzad Gminy" and was told I need the USA to verify the authenticity of my drivers license. They said they cannot do it as the US does not respond. In addition they told me I cannot be the "middle man" and give them the validation documents physically, it needs to be done via mail or email.

The US DMV told me they do not email anything, only fax or regular mail. They also do not send items via mail abroad.
The US embassy here in Warsaw informed me they do not do authenticity checks.

Seems it will be easier to just take the written and practical examas the US and PL cannot communicate with one another."

The Mods here don't like us to copy and paste but maybe they'll be kind to me as I'm trying to help somebody :)

I think especially as you missed the deadline for a straightforward exchange, you'll have to take the Polish driving test as well as the theory exam :( You should really just bite the bullet and go along to the Urzad. You won't get any definite answers on this forum.
OP Einstein 6 | 48
21 Sep 2018 #9
Ok so it sounds like it will likely be easier to just get a new license rather than exchange my USA license. I won't have to pay for a sworn translation of my license and don't have to worry about the USA and Poland not communicating.

Can I just walk into the Urzad and tell them I want to take a driving test and get a license? Or I should make an appointment somehow?
Atch 17 | 3,234
21 Sep 2018 #10
You have to enrol for a driving course, 30 hours driving lessons and 30 hours theory. You may find that they will want you to change some of your driving techniques. They don't really have the concept of 'defensive driving' here so they're not big on checking their mirrors, they may actually tell you not to! Also they do weird things like cross their hands on the steering wheel. Well, stuff that is very much a no-no if you learn to drive in the UK or Ireland. Don't know about America.

careersinpoland.com/article/living-in-poland/hit-the-road-jack-getting-driving-licence-in-poland

Read it - I'm not doing anymore Googling for you :))
OP Einstein 6 | 48
21 Sep 2018 #11
Thank you, I read this article and it is helpful. I see in this section it doesn't mention anything about being required to take lessons. So can I just skip to the exams? Google didn't seem to have this answer either.

"Apply for a Polish licence
In order to do that, four conditions need to be fulfilled.

You need to be a resident of Poland.
You need to meet the age requirements for the category you want to obtain.
You need to pass medical tests.
You need to pass a theoretical and practical driving exam."
Atch 17 | 3,234
21 Sep 2018 #12
it doesn't mention anything about being required to take lessons

Oh but it does, you were speed reading weren't you, you naughty boy!

It actually says:

"Point no 4 from the list above involves dual examinations of theoretical and practical knowledge. Both tests are organised by local road traffic centres called WORD in Polish. Before attempting to pass them, new drivers are obliged to enrol for a driving course. "

It's really bad luck but I don't see a way round it for you.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
21 Sep 2018 #13
I see in this section it doesn't mention anything about being required to take lessons. So can I just skip to the exams?

Nope, in order to be eligible to sit the exams, you need to complete an approved course of instruction.
OP Einstein 6 | 48
11 Feb 2019 #14
Update: Starostwo Powiatowe in Pruszków refuses to issue me driving license

After passing my theory and practical driving exams, I went to the district office in Pruszków today to pickup my driving license. I paid 100.50 PLN as instructed by the woman at the desk, but she then refused to give me my license claiming that I must hold a karta pobytu or visa. When I explained to her that American citizens do not need a visa to enter Poland and that I have lived legally in Poland for 3 years she explained that the stamps in my passport, both from the foreigners' office and from the border guards, are not acceptable and only a karta pobytu or visa is acceptable.

This goes against the advise given to me in an earlier post by @Atch , as well as justaskpoland.com/polish-driving-licence/ , which state "As far as I know you don't need a residence permit." and "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. " respectively.

Can someone please clarify the situation, and ideally mention the exact Polish laws where it is written whether or not a karta pobytu is required to obtain a license?

I reside in Poland legally on the basis that I am waiting for the foreigners' office to issue a decision on my temporary residence permit application, and on the basis that it has been less than 90 days since I last entered the country. I have a PESEL, a zameldowanie, and I pay taxes to Poland on my worldwide income.

Article 11 of this Polish law: Dz.U. 2011 Nr 30 poz. 151 prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20110300151/T/D20110151L.pdf
states " 5) stays on the territory of the Republic of Poland for at least 185 days
in any calendar year because of their personal ties or
professional or provide a certificate that he / she is studying at least from 6
months.
" without any mention of a residence permit being required. Is this correct? Should I print out this law and take it back to the district office? To whom can I appeal if they still refuse to give me my driving license?
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
11 Feb 2019 #15
Is this correct?

No, you need to legalise your stay. A legal stay is proven only by a residence permit or certificate.

Having said that, it's strange they let you take the exam without providing the certificate. Anyway, you should appeal in the first instance to the manager responsible for issuing driving licences. When that fails, appeal onwards to the director of the city department responsible, and from there, to the courts.
OP Einstein 6 | 48
11 Feb 2019 #16
Can you point me towards the exact law which states this? My research shows otherwise.


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