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Country Description: Poland is a moderately developed European nation working to build a new political system and a market economy. Tourist facilities are not highly developed in all areas, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other European countries can be difficult to find.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: For information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Consular Section, at 2224 Wyoming Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel: (202) 232-4517 or -4528 or the Polish consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

Medical Facilities: Adequate medical care is available in Poland, but generally does not meet western standards. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven to be useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline, tel: (404) 332-4559.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime rates in Poland vary. Warsaw, Krakow, and other major cities are troubled by incidents of crime against residents and foreign visitors. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets appear to be operating in the train stations, and on trains, trams, and buses in major cities. A number of thefts have occurred on the overnight trains, including thefts from passengers in closed compartments. Car thefts, carjacking and theft from cars are commonplace. Break-ins, street crime and residential burglaries are all increasing.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. It provides information on travel to the region and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.

Currency Information: Polish law prohibits the import or export of Polish currency (zlotys). Upon entry into Poland visitors must declare in writing all money and valuable items they are bringing in. The declaration form should be stamped by Polish customs and retained by the traveler for presentation on departure. Undeclared cash may be confiscated upon departure if the customs declaration is unavailable. Throughout Poland, particularly outside Warsaw, it is difficult to cash traveler's checks or obtain cash advances on credit cards.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use, and dealing in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Highway Safety: Driving, especially after dark, is very hazardous. Roads are generally narrow, badly lit, and in poor repair. Roads are often used by pedestrians and animals as well as vehicles. Heavy alcohol consumption is frequently a contributing factor in accidents.

Aviation Oversight: An assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in November 1995 has found Poland's civil aviation authority not to be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of polish air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, polish air carriers are permitted to conduct the limited operations to the U.S. subject to heightened FAA surveillance. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at 1 (800) 322-7873.

Registration and Embassy and Consulate Locations: U.S. citizens planning to be in Poland for longer than a brief visit are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate after arriving in Poland. These offices maintain updated information on travel and security in Poland. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw is located at Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31. The consular entrance is located around the corner at Ulica Pirkna 12, tel (48-2) 628-3041. The U.S. Consulate in Krakow is located at Ulica Stolarska 9, tel (48-12) 221-400. The Consulate in Poznan closed in December 1995.

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