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From what I understand, it is legal for a US citizen to spend up to 90 days in Poland, leave for one day, and re-enter for another 90 day period.


  • I called the Polish embassy in New York and they said that I don't need a visa as long as I don't stay for more than 90 days at a time.

  • I've visited the office for foreigners in Warsaw to ask for a visa and they said that I don't need one. The person I talked to suggested a visit to the Ukraine for one day.

  • Finally, I called the US Embassy in Warsaw and they also said that I do not need a visa as long as I leave to a non-Schengen country once every 90 days.

This seems like a contradiction of the Schengen rules (no more than 90 days in a 180 day period) but all of the sources that I have contacted are giving the same information. The person at the US Embassy in Warsaw referenced a bi-lateral agreement between the US and Poland.

More details:

I contacted the Consul at the US Embassay in Warsaw by phone at +48-22/504-2000.

According to the Consul, "the rule of 90 days within 180 days does not apply to US citizens in Poland." He personally verified that the Polish border guards are aware of this extra permission for US citizens.

He explained that there's no official documentation as law because it was created "as a declaration by the Polish government in the form of a diplomatic note authored on 4 April 1991 from the Polish government to the US government."

Is there any official documentation of this diplomatic note from 4 April 1991 anywhere online?

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90 days in a 180-day period is the Schengen rule, and Poland is part of Schengen. There are a few country pairs that have more favorable rules due to prior existing agreements, Poland/US may be one of these. – Gilles May 16 '12 at 19:42
I think that's the case, but I'd really like to see this documented somewhere. – johndbritton May 16 '12 at 20:16
There's a bi-lateral agreement between NZ and certain Schengen countries that existed prior, and therefore override the Schengen rules in some situations - it gets highly complicated but it does happen. It may well be the case with the US too, but you'd need to find it documented somewhere to be sure. – Mark Mayo May 17 '12 at 7:21
I called the US Embassay in Warsaw and got a bit more information. It seems that there was a diplomatic note on this issue executed on 4 April 1991. – johndbritton May 17 '12 at 11:36
Just apply for a residence permit in Poland if you are staying more than 6 months. Its easy to get for americans. With the RP pink card in hand, no questions will be asked in schengen. – pbu Sep 15 '15 at 12:25
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I did a bit of digging and found a bilateral treaty regarding visas dating April 4, 1991, with text in English and Polish. I located the text using the Polish Internet Treaty Database. Here's a direct link to the treaty:

The pertinent text (I think) is in the second paragraph of p. 2 of the English translation:

text from treaty

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You really don't have a problem here. What you need to do is simple.

But I'll explain why before

A US citizen DOES NOT NEED A VISA for tourist or business visits to Schengen so Karlson's answer is partly wrong.

You will be granted admission to the national territory of the Member State, AND to the Schengen 'area of freedom and security' simultaneously by just turning up. This is the same as a European citizen being admitted to the USA on a visa waiver, without the bureaucracy of ESTA or green W forms.

The maximum you can stay in the whole of Schengen is 90 days cumulatively in any 180 day period. So if you stay 30days in Poland, 30 days in France, 30 days in Germany, you are in some difficulty and have to leave the whole area.

Think of the Schengen Area as being the United States, and Poland as being say, Texas or California. However, Poland remains a nation state, while Texas and California stopped being countries in the 19th century. This means that it CAN have national bilateral rules. Say between Poland and Ukraine, This is potentially important which I'll get to shortly. So Karlson MAY be (partly) right as well.

The way this works is, that once you have been 90 days cumulatively in Poland, on the Schengen equivalent of a visa waiver (i.e. you just turned up and they let you in) you MUST leave the whole Schengen area and can't come back until your average time in all Schengen states has declined to less than 50% unless you get a visa (Schengen or national).

This can cause you unexpected problems. I presume what you are doing here, is an extended family or pleasure visit (since you can't work).

The information you have given may be right. But the implications of it may not be apparent, and you can fall foul of it with awkward consequences.

The Schengen Agreement contains provisions for national rules to be maintained on cross border traffic between Schengen States and third countries with which those states share a land border. (If you need a reference I could probably find authority with a bit of research.)

So its theoretically possible that you might be able to do a day trip across what in European Law is called the External Border and Poland will let you back in (remember, you don't need a visa). But, IF it decides to do so (and it may not, border guards can be arbitrary), it's doing this under National (Member State) rules, and not under Schengen rules. So guess what, even though you are in Polish territory, you may not leave Poland across the (unmanned) State Lines for the rest of your stay without the risk of, (e.g. if in Germany and stopped for a minor traffic infraction) being held, and possibly deported to the USA for exceeding your 90/180 quota.

So what you do is this.

You arrive in Poland, without a visa. Once you've settled in and got over your jet lag, you go to the Town Hall and tell them you want a temporary residence permission that exceeds the 90 days you are allowed under visa-free entry.

There'll be a bunch of form filling, checking of passports, but provided you can prove you are able to support yourself without working illegally, and you have someone with you who speaks fluent Polish (preferably a local resident of the town concerned) you will get in due course, legal temporary resident papers.

With those, you can freely travel anywhere in Schengen for the whol of your stay.

But questions like this need proper research as the rules can change.

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Hey, welcome to Travel.SE. You might consider @Karlson's answer partly wrong, but one thing his answer has is citations and links. Your answer is fantastically detailed and thorough, but do you have any evidence (online embassy pages or links) that may help – Mark Mayo May 17 '12 at 7:21
All of this makes sense and is in line with what I've found by contacting the various official sources of information. I'm just trying to find a name, law number, or link to some info on this bi-lateral agreement so that I can reference it at the border if there are concerns. – johndbritton May 17 '12 at 11:04
This doesn't even seem to attempt to answer the question that was actually asked. – Henning Makholm Oct 17 '15 at 13:50

Today I called the Wielkopolska Voivodship Office Poznan to ask information about an extension of my visa because in a few days I get to the 90 days limit of my stay in Europe. I wanted to ask for an extension so I could have more time to get a student visa. The answer the woman gave me was the same as it is stated above; she told me I just have to travel outside Poland for one day, and she even went as far as suggesting going to Germany. I asked if she was really sure of this! and she said she was very sure. When I asked if I needed to try to get a stamp on my passport from the country I was visiting, she said that as that is not done in the border anymore I just needed any proof that I was outside Poland, like a receipt from a purchase... This got me very confused, it sounds too good to be truth, but now trying to get information about this I find this page... I don't know what to think, I talked with the office that is in charge of this visa extensions... I was very clear about the end of the 90 days, and she told me USA citizens don't have to worry about it as long as they get out of Poland to any country at least one day before the 90 days (in Poland) finish...

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I would suggest that you get a national long-stay visa, as this diplomatic note you were told of will hold no weight when you can't show proof of it, and in actuality what you are trying to do is considered to be fraudulent.

Border hopping to gain a new travel visa, while a blind eye may be turned, is a fraudulent act, in doing so you could cause yourself to incur a fine, or worse yet be deported as well as being placed in the schengen information system that could red flag you the next time you try to enter the schengen area legally.

Get a national visa from Poland and give up the search for the loopholes, thanks to the schengen agreement the old days of extended stay border hop travel through europe is declining rapidly.

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