Since Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004, obtaining Polish citizenship and a Polish passport has become a very attractive proposition. Yes, it’s cool to be Polish again!
Citizenship of the European Union was established with the Maastricht treaty in 1993. It’s supplementary to the national citizenship of European Union member countries, which include Poland. European citizenship is an additional status and set of rights and obligations that all citizens of Poland hold. Having a Polish passport is like having a passport to any EU country, allowing you to live and work anywhere in the EU.
Thanks to Poland’s liberal citizenship laws, thousands of people of Polish descent born in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Israel, South Africa and many other countries hold dual nationality and an EU passport. Polish citizenship is their birthright and without it, doors to living, studying and working in Europe would normally be closed to most of them.
There is much confusion about Polish citizenship. So firstly, let’s look at the difference between “becoming” a Polish citizen and “confirming” your Polish citizenship. To become a citizen without having Polish ancestry, you need to reside in Poland, speak the language and meet other eligibility criteria. If you are of Polish origins, however, it means that technically you are already a Polish citizen and you can apply to have it “confirmed” by proving your heritage. It doesn’t matter where you were born; what matters is who your ancestors were. You don’t even have to speak Polish.
As the first step, people applying to the Polish authorities to have their citizenship confirmed need to establish whether their parents, grandparents or great-grand parents were Polish citizens. Normally, you only need one of your ancestors to have had Polish citizenship for you to qualify. To do that, they need to provide evidence, which can be problematic due to the passage of time, lack of documents or other events that make it difficult to prove the blood ties between applicants and their ancestors. Whilst the Polish authorities may assist with some research, the burden of proof lies with the applicants themselves and without proper documentation, cases can drag on for years.
When assessing applications, the Polish government looks at various milestones in the applicants’ life and that of their ancestors in light of the Polish legislation, to make sure that no event took place to affect their ability to reclaim Polish citizenship. One of the main conditions for a successful application is that the applicants’ ancestors need to have been born in Poland (or one of the former Polish territories) and resided there after 1920, when the first Act on Citizenship in Poland was ratified. Since then, the Act on Citizenship has been amended numerous times and is applied to individual circumstances of the applicants’ ancestors over time. It is a very complex area of law and at Polaron, we check the eligibility criteria very carefully before taking cases on. We regularly turn people away who we know wouldn’t be successful. That way, we don’t waste people’s time and money.
The citizenship certificate is obtained through an administrative process carried out via the processing office called the Voivodeship Office (VO), which determines the merits of your claim to Polish citizenship. Your application, consisting of forms, archival records, vital records, documentary evidence and information translated into Polish by a sworn translator is assessed by a VO case officer. The case officer reviews your file, seeks clarifications and may conduct their own enquiries. Once their work is concluded, a decision is drafted and submitted to the VO management for approval. A certificate of citizenship is then issued. The process usually takes 4-6 to months but can take longer if your case officer isn’t satisfied that the evidence but before the VO is sufficient or if new information comes to light that affects your case.
To be able to apply for a Polish passport, you also need to register your birth and/or marriage certificate in Poland. This is done through the Civil Registry Office in Warsaw, which also handles change of name applications and most divorce registration. At the end of this process, which takes about 2 months, you will receive a Polish birth or marriage certificate.
Along with passport, you will also need to apply for your PESEL number, which is like a social security number and is unique to each Polish citizen. This has to be done in person, directly at the nearest Polish consulate. During a short interview, the consular officer will collect your fingerprints, photos and a payment of approximately $150. The passports are produced in Poland and take about 2 months to arrive. If your passport application is urgent, you can apply for an interim passport, issued by the consulate within a week or so. It is valid for 12 months, and covers you for travel whilst the 10 year passport is being issued for you in Poland.
To be able to apply yourself, you will need an advanced level of the Polish language and services of a sworn translator for all your official documents. Whilst you can represent yourself or submit your application via a Polish consulate, it is better when applicants are represented by a professional agent. Also bear in mind that the current regulations require people residing overseas to nominate an authorised representative to collect correspondence in Poland as it can no longer be received by consulates.
Many people choose to submit their application via the consulate or appoint an agent to act on their behalf. With thousands of successful applications for confirmation of Polish citizenship every year, Polaron has established the networks, expertise and tenacity to handle cases for people from all walks of life. Everybody has a different story to tell. Over the years, we have become very good at determining whether the unique circumstances that surround your Polish ancestry meet the criteria set by the legislation. We’re also very good at finding information and records on long lost family members to prove your claim is legitimate. We have established ties with law firms, genealogical institutions and translation partners, as well as museums, associations and other organisations.
We like to say our success rate is 99% so that you understand that there is an element of risk but, statistically, our success rate is closer to 100%. The reason for this is that we will only submit your application to the Polish authorities if we are sure it will be successful. And in most cases, we can guarantee the outcome of your application or you get your money back.
Get in touch to find out more:
LONDON OFFICE +44 (0)75 4445 9909
@ [email protected] | W www.polaron.com.au
HEAD OFFICE – AUSTRALIA +61 (0)3 9551 0393
@ [email protected] | W www.polaron.com.au