Poland Travel Planner Logo with striped outline of Poland


if you're coming to Poland overland, you're going to have to cross the border - unless you're very creative; here's what you need to know.

- how is the border with Germany?
- what documents do I need?
- how long does it take to cross to Ukraine?


Schengen borders

what are Schengen borders?

Poland is part of the so-called Schengen area, a part of Europe which accommodates free movement and open borders. Below is a map of the area.

As you can see, Poland has borders with other Schengen-area states, namely Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania. Those are called Schengen borders in this article.

what are Schengen borders like?

You will be happy to hear they seem almost non-existent. There are no typical border crossings, there are typically no checks on the border, and borders are marked only by signs with the country's name. In fact, some smaller border crossings are so unnoticeable you might miss them and not see you just entered a new country.

In times of decreased national security, checks at Schengen borders may appear temporarily. However, only your passport will be checked, and you will always be allowed entry.

large Schengen crossing

small Schengen crossing

what documents do I need to cross?

Remember that, even if you are not stopped at the border, you requirements for entering any Schengen-area country are the same. You need to carry your passport and, if needed, a Schengen visa (read more about visas in our visas and law article).

If you're coming by car, you will also need proper third-party insurance and a driver's license, or, if needed, an International Driving Permit (read more about those in our long-distance car travel article).

non-Schengen borders

Poland's borders with Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast (to the north), Belarus (to the northeast), and Ukraine (to the southeast) are non-Schengen borders with regular border crossings. See a map of non-Schengen borders and crossings below.

what are non-Schengen borders like?

Non-Schengen borders with Poland have a few dozen border crossings, some larger and some smaller, which are regular border crossings with border police, document inspections, customs services, and barriers. They can be crossed by car, bike or on foot.

Typically, a non-Schengen border is comprised of two elements - the departing country's section and the arriving country's section, each with their own procedure and border guards.

This is how the procedure looks when arriving in/departing from Poland. You wait in line, drive up to the border guard booth of the departing country, show relevant documents (likely car ownership documents and passport), are let through the barrier, drive up to the arriving country's border guard booth, show relevant documents, possibly state reason for entry, and are let through the barrier.

large non-Schengen crossing

small non-Schengen crossing

what documents do I need to cross?

This depends on the crossing, but, if necessary for your country of citizenship, you will need a visa to enter Russia, Belarus, Ukraine or Poland. You will also need your passport, proof of ownership of your car or a certified permit from the owner, proper third-party insurance, a driver's license, and an International Driving Permit, if necessary (read more about IDPs in our long-distance car travel article).

how long does it take to cross?

This depends on the size of the border crossing. Large crossings like Korczowa (Ukraine) or Terespol (Belarus) can take up to 2 hours to fully clear, but this is mainly due to the queues. Small crossings usually don't take more than 1 hour to clear.

Note that the times above are estimates and don't account for extreme situations and political changes. They also assume that you have all the necessary documents in place at arrival.

extreme queues at Korczowa (Ukraine)

typical queue