Step by step guide

Car in Poland. Some people say, that buying a car is equal with throwing your money in to bottomless well – and I partly agree with this. Having a car is related with many expenses on a weekly, monthly, yearly and occasionally base. On the other hand, having a car gives you a freedom to drive wherever and whenever you want. But how much actually does this cost? And do you really need it? Allow me to help you answer these questions on behalf of this post.

Where can I buy a car?

Buying a house in Poland - Expat in Poland
Buying a house in Poland – Expat in Poland

On the base of the statistics from March 2019 provided by GUS (Główny Urząd Statystyczny – Central Statistical Office), there are almost 30 million motor vehicles already on Polish roads. Average polish car has 190 000 km on the odometer, around 11 years and diesel engine. As you may notice, polish market is full of an used cars. you may try to look for something via local used car dealer, but almost everyone went online already. This means, that you may easily find a car for sell in the internet. Below are the links to the top 3 of polish online portals with car offers. Just click on the button in order to have it open in a new tab.

All 3x portals are very similar with each other and in around 70% of all cases, cover up the same offers. The reason for it, is that they are cooperating with each other and give you possibility in exchange for small additional fee to publish your advertisement in all 3x places at the same time.

There are few tips, which you supposed to know before buying used car in Poland:

  • Never go alone – also if you are car mechanic with a lot of experience. And especially, if you are not Each single purchase/sell contract for used cars contains paragraph, which clearly says that at the moment of buying this specific car, you are fully aware about its technical condition and that you will not claim any complains after driving away from seller’s place. This is the reason why you should have go for test drive with two of you, where at least one of you have an idea about technical aspect of cars.
  • In case of technical checkups, you might use one of the local vehicle inspection stations (Stacja Kontroli Pojazdów) and for additional fee (around 100 zł) they supposed to run diagnostics of a car which you want to buy and let you know about its technical condition.
  • Bargains on a polish used cars market do not exist. Polish used car dealers are very experienced and they know what is the value of their cars. If the price of a car is too low or much lower than average for such type, it means troubles. Always. End of story.
  • If you want to buy a car for longer and/or for higher price, rather look for a car with documented history – for example maintenance book.
  • Every single buy or sell transaction of used car registered in Poland is followed by purchase/sell contract (umowa kupna sprzedaży) or invoice (faktura) in case when you buy a car from dealer with own company. You also supposed to receive valid insurance (OC), vehicle card (Karta Pojazdu), car registration certificate with valid annual review (dowód rejestracyjny auta) and of cours a car keys.

Purchase contract

Thanks to admoto.pl, I am attaching already translated template of purchase-sale agreement in both Polish and English. Worth to have with you, especially if you are planning to buy a car from private person.

Car Registration

Car in Poland - Car Registration
Car in Poland – Car Registration

If you bought a car and you proudly drive home already, you can’t forget about registration of “your precious”. Registration happens in your own local district office (Starostwo Powiatowe), communications department (wydział komunikacji). The best way to find one nearby place where you leave is Google Maps. You supposed to bring there:

  • Purchase/sale contract or invoice
  • Registration certificate (Dowód Rejestracyjny)
  • Vehicle card (Kart Pojazdu) – no longer needed from September 2022
  • Current registration plates (Tablice Rejestracyjne) taken off your freshly bought car, if you have them
  • Documents from Import, if available (read more about Importing a car to Poland)
  • PESEL number
  • An ID of the foreign: a passport or an ID
  • In case of third country, you might be asked for a residence card as well.
  • In case of EU citizens, your EU ID and PESEL should be enough.

However local district office in Kraków, requested few times , “Certificate of residence” (Zaświadczenie o pobycie). Despite the fact that the applicant comes from EU. I called the office for foreign affairs, to clarify the case. They told me, that this depends from the official and his interpretation of the law since as per official EU law, such certificate should not be a must. It is confusing, however – in the worst case scenario, you can get “Certificate of residence” for EU citizen for free in the same local district office.

So, coming back to regular part of the process

You will need to feel in application for registration (Wniosek o rejestrację pojazdu) and pay there 180.50 around 160 zł. This is in one-time payment which includes set of a new registration plates – 80 zł, plate verification marks – 12.50 zł, control sticker – 18.50 zł (no need for it from September 2022), temporary registration certificate – 13.50 zł, registration certificate –  54 zł and small registration fees.

At the very beginning you will get proper registration plates and temporary permit – it takes around 2 weeks up to 1 month to get a official version of it, since they need to prepare dedicated document for you. As it is ready for pick up, you will get a phone call or sms about it. Worth mentioning here – registration plates, temporary permit and valid OC insurance allow you to drive with your freshly bought car.

COVID Update

Process got slightly changed, due to COIVD restrictions. Nowadays, you supposed to call “Starostwo Powiatowe”, or check availability of empty slots for a session in order to schedule a meeting for submitting the documentation. From that moment, you will need to wait around 2-5 working days for new registration plates and temporary registration permit. As plates and permit are ready for pick up, you will get an sms or call from officials. So from now on, you need to wait around one month for permanent registration card permit.

PCC TAX – Car in Poland

In case of buying a car with purchase/sell contract, you are also obligated to pay PCC tax, which is 2% of a catalog value from your car. For example, car with catalog value of 20 000 zł, bought on regular contract, not invoice will cost you additional 400 zł paid for your local tax office.

20 000 zł * 2% = 400 zł

Once again – you will be released from it, if the seller is a company and provides you invoice. You have only 14 days from the date of purchase of the vehicle to regulate this. The declaration can be submitted in person, by post or online. The place to which you should go is the tax office (Urząd Skarbowy) where you settle (appropriate for the place of residence). Here once again – Google Maps 😉 If you miss to do this, then the offense will be committed, which results with threatened heavy fines. Don’t miss this and remember the name: PCC tax declaration (Deklaracja PCC).

Luckily this is all as we talk about onetime registration costs and taxes for buying a car. We do not have any additional monthly fee for having a car, as for example in England, Germany, Belgium or Netherlands. Our taxes are hidden in the price of the fuel and in fee for a highways (yes – big part of a polish highways are toll roads already).

OC, NNW, AC – Car insurance in Poland

Car in Poland - Insurance
Car insurance in Poland

We have a 3 main types of a car insurance:

  • OC – Liability Insurance (Odpowiedzialność Cywilna) which is mandatory in Poland and covers damages made by you in case of causing any incident or accident. Such as other car damages, damaged road infrastructure or costs of eventual roadside assistance. What to do in case of car accident in Poland – click here to read about it on my blog.
  • NNW – The Insurance from consequences of accidents (Następstwa Nieszczęśliwych Wypadków) which is optional. This is the type of personal insurance in which it covers human life or health. Insurance benefit depends on the percentage injury of the persons who was in our car while we had an accident.
  • AC – Motor Hull insurance (Autocasco) is also optional motor vehicle insurance against random events. The purpose of the insurance is to protect your own vehicle and its accessories in terms of loss, destruction, damage or theft.

Details about OC

As mentioned above, only OC is obligatory in terms of polish law, so having any additional insurance is completely up to you. The best way to find insurance for your car is online price comparison portal, which I am using on my own from many years already. It is called Rankomat. Final cost of insurance depends from 3x main values and many minor ones which are having much lower impact on final price.

  • Driving experience years with amount of incidents within last 6 years. Each single damage-free year in a row gives you 10% discount from standard value.
  • Drivers history of traffic violations – click here to read about Polish Highway Code in 2022 or here to read about Drink Driving in Poland
  • Driver’s age – if you are 18, your insurance will be charged with a 60% increase which will be 10% lower every year. Until you are 24.
  • Current value of a car – this includes production year, mileage, equipment version etc.

In case of damage-free years made abroad (not with polish insurance), you will be requested for certification in English which will prove declared data. In case of car insurance, we can have the whole amount paid yearly, semi-annual or per quarter. One time yearly payment is most beneficial. Car insurance is an annual entitlement – you need to renew it every year.

Annual review & annual maintenance

Car in Poland - Maintenance
Car in Poland – Maintenance

Another obligatory annual entitlement is an annual review (Przegląd Techniczny). It is a technical checkup of your car which cost 100 zł. They are testing if a car is safe and environment acceptable. What is important in here – they are not interested about general condition of engine or any comfort module, but about breaks, exhaust, leaks, suspension, tires and lights. If your car fails the test, you will need to fix the issues listed down and come back for validation once again.

Except annual review, we also need to consider annual maintenance which covers exchange of oil, filters and all eventual “consumable parts” as break discs, radiator fluid or clutch etc. In addition, as it happens with cars – they may get broken. It is a good time to remind the sentence from the very beginning of this post:

“Buying a car is equal with throwing your money in to the bottomless well”

So finally, what is the cost of having a car in Poland?

I took as an example most typical car which I would buy for myself for around 20 000 zł – average amount spent for car in Poland. I am leaving in suburbs of Kraków, 100 km away from my closest family. This means around 50% of a time spent in the city traffic and another 50% longer trips. I also have a two kids and small dog – some space is required. I would chose station wagon or limousine with benzine engine (read more about alternative for regular fuel on my blog: LPG – Autogas or Electric Car in Poland) – Ford Mondeo MK4 GHIA, 145 horse power, 2007, 160 000 km on ODO meter with  complete maintenance book. We need this data to follow up with proper insurance value.

Price of a car             20,000.00 zł
Registration cost                   160.00 zł
PCC tax                   400.00 zł
Total cost of buying a car             20,560.00 zł

Let’s have look as well on a table with costs for fuel (15 000 km as expected amount driven yearly) for mentioned car and for annual technical maintenance, taking in to the consideration that except standard annual oil and filters exchange, I need to go for breaks replacement.

Annual cost

Insurance (OC + NNW + AC)1,079.00 zł
Expected amount KM driven yearly15 000 km
Usage of fuel per 100 km in liters8 l
Price of fuel per liter6.50 zł
Yearly fuel cost7,800.00 zł
Annual maintenance – oil and filters400.00 zł
Breaks replacement – discs, pads and
working hours in a garage.
1,200.00 zł
Total expected annual cost10,479.00 zł
Expected Annual Cost

As you may see, annual cost of having a car is a pretty high amount o money, which might be equal to around 38% value of price which I paid. Of course insurance cost does depend mostly from the driver and will grow up adequately with value of a car. The same rule works with parts and service of your machine. You may download the Excel file which I used for creating table above and play in there with your own scenario. Link below.

Summary – Car in Poland

Cars are expensive. Cars give freedom and fun. Right now I can’t imagine how would I do daily activities without a car. At the same time – if I would live alone in a city center (read about public transport in Poland or about Car Sharing in Poland), I would prefer to save this money. If you buy a car, make sure, that is a mindful decision. I really hope, that this post will help you with making right decision which suits you the best. Let me know what do you think about this post in a comments below. May the horse power be with you!

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26 Comments

Mert · 19/10/2020 at 21:43

Hi Mateusz, small question from my side regarding registering a car as a foreigner. I currently have a working visa + PESEL no. Is it possible to register a car for my own name? Thanks.

    Mateusz · 20/10/2020 at 16:03

    Hey Mert – this is very good question. I called local district office (Starostwo Powiatowe) in Kraków in order to ask them about he same. If we talk about person from out of EU, You supposed to have a valid residence card as well.

    nini · 02/11/2022 at 15:15

    Do I need a certificate of employment to buy a car?

      Mateusz · 24/11/2022 at 06:26

      Hello nini – no, it shouldn’t be the case. A certificate of employment might be required in some of the cases while obtaining a PESEL, but not during buying a car.

Christine Nigam · 31/10/2020 at 09:20

I applied for residence in Wroclaw in February this year 2020. I am still waiting for news of my application. In the meanwhile I had bought a second hand car in the summer and I went to register but because I do not have a pesal number, I went to the enquires desk of the city hall in Wroclaw. There is a form for a foreigner ( not from an EU country) to register the purchase of my car. Everything is good. I keep the car plates of the previous owner.

    Mateusz · 01/11/2020 at 09:37

    This is also curious case Christine. Could you please tell me if you are originally a citizen of EU? I am asking myself if it is different process in different locations (Kraków / Wrocław) or any external rule. I am also asking myself how is this possible, that they allowed you to keep original registration plates. Normally it is possible only if you bought a car from the same district of the same city, but still, the stickers on the registration plates have to be changed. Did you get temporary registration certificate with your own name on it?

Salauddin · 09/01/2021 at 02:59

I have driving license of UAE. sir can you suggest me how I can get polish driving license exchange to Poland.

    Mateusz · 10/01/2021 at 19:32

    Hey Salauddin,

    firstly – not “sir”. Mateusz is enough 😉
    Secondly, I did some investigation here. United Arab Emirates (I hope I figured your abbreviation well) did not signed Vienna Convention. This makes it complicated. I am afraid, that the fastest way to do it for you, is to go for Polish course and exam.
    But before you do this, my advice here is to call UAE embassy in Poland and ask them for the same. Local consul should be able to confirm what is the best option for you. Below the contact details:

    Ambasada ZEA, Ul. Złota 59, Warszawa,
    Phonenumber: (22) 222 20 20

Barry · 01/07/2021 at 11:08

Hi, great article really useful, can you tell me, I am planning on spending my time living in Poland and the UK 50/50, I have a pesel do I need to change my UK license ?

Thanks

Barry

    Mateusz · 14/07/2021 at 05:24

    Hey Barry,

    polish law says: “If you want to stay in Poland longer, before the lapse of 180 days from arriving in Poland, you must apply for a driving license exchange into a Polish one, returning your native back.”

Barry · 23/08/2021 at 15:02

Hi Mateusz, I`m live the UK but have an IRE passport, can I buy and register a car in my name ? also how do I insure myself and my partner to drive the car ? is the car insured of are the drivers insured ?

    Mateusz · 26/08/2021 at 06:36

    Hey Barry,

    you need to have a certificate of residence and a PESEL number.

    https://www.expatinpoland.pl/mystery-of-pesel-number/

    As we talk about car insurance – in Poland, you need to insure the car, not the drivers. Every driver, driving this car with valid insurance, has automatically valid insurance as well. However, remember about the different options for an insurance. You can buy OC only. But remember, that NNW and AC are covering completly different thinges. Details above – in this article.

      Barry · 17/09/2021 at 22:05

      Thank you I have a PESEL, but no permit, so I can buy and insure car in partners name, and I can then drive it ?.

        Mateusz · 29/09/2021 at 15:06

        If your partner is Polish citizen, than yes.

Tami · 12/05/2022 at 09:59

Hi Mateusz,
I plan to buy/order an Right-Hand-Drive (RHD) vehicle and will export it to my home country upon completion of the assignment in Poland. My question is, can I register an RHD vehicle in Poland?
Thanks and regards.

    Mateusz · 12/05/2022 at 13:39

    Hi Tami,

    yes you can. However, the car must have a valid technical inspection and lamps adapted to driving on the right side of the way.

Roman Hatashita · 19/05/2022 at 15:08

Hi,
I am considering buying a vehicle but live in North America.
Do you know of legal services to assist in purchasing a vehicle to handle paperwork, cash transaction etc.?

    Mateusz · 20/05/2022 at 22:30

    Hello Roman,

    I am sorry, but I have no one to recommend as of now.

Blessing Gbenga Onileowo · 30/06/2022 at 08:47

Hi Mateusz hi planning to come to Poland to buy cars to ship to Africa please what is the best city to buy car for export and ship out of Poland

    Mateusz · 19/07/2022 at 10:23

    This is an interesting subject, however I am not a car dealer. On the other hand, if I would like to ship a car on the boat ( I presume, that this is the idea), I would advise to start somewhere close to the Polish sea shore.

chirag · 14/10/2022 at 11:40

if i already sell a car – what do i have to do after that?

    Mateusz · 19/10/2022 at 12:35

    There are two options available – you can visit local district office (Starostwo Powiatowe) in person and submit the vehicle sale confirmation there or do it via ePuap:
    https://www.expatinpoland.pl/epuap-in-poland/

    Afterwards, I recommend to call your insurance company and inform them about new owner of your car.

Daniel · 22/10/2022 at 11:41

hello,
Is it obligation to register the car in your local city? can’t it be any any city or district?
And my next queston is; what will be the consequence if I didn’t register the car at time which is supposed to be, after I bought the car?
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME

    Mateusz · 24/10/2022 at 18:50

    Hi Daniel, allow me to quote the statement from official gov statement:

    As of 1st January 2021, car owners will have a period of 30 days to register vehicle. The fine for not registering a car in 2022 has not changed, so drivers who fail to comply with this absolute obligation must take into account a fine of PLN 200 to 1000.

    Answering the second part of the question: you should register your car in a district, where you are registered.

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