Polish citizenship – the ultimate guide

December 13, 2019 | How to, Info

If like me, you’ve been thinking of confirming your Polish citizenship to stay a European citizen or just want to emphasise your heritage, here is a quick guide based on my experiences. I’ve submitted my application and I’m waiting for the decision. What I have learned to date is:

It’s not a Consulate decision

The Consulate deals with the paperwork (your declaration of possession of citizenship) but the actual decision is made by the local authorities in Poland. If you live outside of Poland it is the Wojewoda (Regional Governor)  in Mazowsze (Mazovian Voivod Office). Once they have made this decision they don’t necessarily let the Consulate know, so it’s best to appoint a person in Poland who will receive it by post.  This appears to be one part of the process that is slightly clunky.

It’s a lengthy process

I have been assured that once the Consulate has all the appropriate documents, the decision making process takes up to three months, however it could take you some time to amass all the relevant documents before that. I went through the form several times with my parents as in between they were finding documents and checking family names.  In a way, if you don’t have a lot of the information for great grandparents, it makes it easier, as long as you have enough evidence of your family’s polish heritage.  You also don’t automatically get a passport.  This is a separate process once you have a Certificate of Polish Citizenship. You can have this Certificate without then applying for a passport – or you can go the whole hog. If you do obtain one, remember that legally you will then have to use this passport when entering and leaving Poland.

You need a lot of documents to apply

If you belong to the second or subsequent generation of Polish emigrants you will need:

  • an original birth certificate issued in Poland of the family member who settled outside the borders of Poland
  • other documents confirming Polish ancestry (e.g. parents’ or grandparents’ birth, baptism, marriage certificates, Polish passports)
  • your birth certificate
  • your marriage or divorce certificate (if applicable)
  • Your current passport or other valid document confirming your current nationality
  • Act of naturalisation (if you were originally born in Poland and naturalised as a UK citizen), or your parents’ or grandparents’ (if they were naturalised and if for example their Polish citizenship was revoked by the Polish government  before 1962 or they themselves revoked it).
  • Any army documents to prove grandparents or great-grandparents served in the Polish Army or Polish Corps of the British Army during World War II.
  • The name and details of a person who will receive the certificate of confirmation of citizenship in Poland on your behalf.  You can sign a form at the Consulate to give them Power of Attorney for this (you’ll need their name, address, date of birth and PESEL (National Insurance) number. Please check with each Consulate about this as some can arrange this for you but Manchester informed me that without this person, the decision goes on file without notification to yourself or the Consulate.

If you don’t have all of these documents, don’t worry, you can obtain army documents through the Ministry of Defence if you have the death certificate and permission of next of kin of the grandparent or great grandparent who served during WWII:  MINISTRY OF DEFENCE, APC DISCLOSURES 5 (POLISH), Building 1 (Ops), RAF Northolt, West End Road, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 6NG, England. Tel: +44 (0)208 833 8603  Email: monika.helman100@mod.gov.uk or margaret.goddard135@mod.gov.uk. Copies of death certificates can be obtained through the General Register Office on gov.uk.

Translations

Any documents  in English (such as birth and marriage certificates), need to be translated into the Polish language by a sworn translator registered in Poland. The up to date list is available through the Consulates  london.citizenship@msz.gov.pl. manchester.citizenship@msz.gov.pl or  edinburgh@msz.gov.pl.  Alternatively if you are planning a trip to Poland, find an approved translator (Przysięgły Tłumacz) online, send them scans of the documents and then show them the originals in person. It’s certainly a cheaper option.  You will also need two copies of your birth and marriage certificate translations – one for the first part of the process, the second for registering your documents in Poland.

Application form

You also need to complete this application form:

It has to be filled out in Polish with a detailed autobiography in Polish about you and your family, including details of Polish ancestry. There are four parts to the form:

  • Part I: Your details, your mother and father’s details (which includes where they were born AND their parents’ names; both grandmothers’ details including their parents’ names, both grandfathers’ details including their parents’ names.
  • Part II: Your autobiography including places of work and living – this can be typed and added to the form as there isn’t much space on the form.
  • Part III: An autobiography of your mother and father, and both grandparents stating their places of birth, work, and if they lived in Poland, the places, how they left Poland and what their citizenship status was and how it has changed. Again these can be typed and attached to the form.
  • Part IV: Any additional information and a list of documents you are attaching.

If you don’t know some of the information – family names for instance, just write: NIEZNANE or  if something isn’t relevant: NIE DOTYCZY because you must fill in all the questions.

Visit to the Consulate

Once you have all of these documents and the application form, arrange a visit at the relevant Consulate (Edinburgh, Manchester, London) to the Citizenship and Passport Section. Don’t forget to photocopy your application form as this will be kept by the Consulate as well as the translations. Visits are arranged via an e-booking system but you need to book in advance as there are rarely appointments available within a couple of weeks.

The cost

Had I  arranged my translations in the UK, to date I would have spent nearly £300 plus travel costs to and from Manchester and if I go through to the last stage of arranging a passport, the total will come close to £500.

I’ve probably spent about £175  so far as I had the translations completed whilst on holiday in Poland but I still have another £168 to go. To kick off the process, together with your application form and submission of your documents, a consular fee of £64 is required, paid during the visit. Once the Certificate of confirmation of Polish citizenship is received, you pay another £40 per certificate to register the translations of your UK certificates (birth, marriage etc) in Poland via the Consulate. Again, you can do this yourself by taking the translations to a local council in Warsaw or your family town for registering for a smaller fee. Each Consulate appears to differ on the costs, Edinburgh quotes £285 for the whole process, others don’t specify.

What’s next? More visits?

YES! Once you have the certificate of confirmation of Polish citizenship you are confirmed as being a citizen of Poland. However, you then need to arrange the registration of your certificates in Poland, as mentioned above. This is when you need the second translation of your documents and the registration is arranged through the Consulate Legal team paying the appropriate fee. You will then obtain copies of the Polish equivalent of your certificates.

Finally once this is done you will be able to apply for a PESEL (national insurance equivalent) number and passport according to the normal system that any Pole needs to complete, the cost of which is £88. This is a similar process to what you have gone through, requiring the documents you will have received from Poland and a further application form all of which is submitted in person during yet another visit to the relevant Consulate.

Well done for reading this far. I told you it was complicated, but not impossible. Keep a checklist throughout the process, get two copies of translations and don’t forget to apply for a visit to the Consulate a few weeks before you are ready. Good luck with your application and let me know how you get on!

Please note: I’m not offering legal advice here, but I have reproduced the information I’ve had from the Consulate and my own experience of the elements you’re not informed of. I’ll update this article as I get my citizenship confirmed.

Blog Comments

I can recommend a Polish solicitors called Lexmotion who are based in Kraków. You do need a lot of documents which involved a lengthy visit to the administration office in the town of my Grandfather’s birth and also placing an online order with the General Records Office in the U.K.. I was pleased to be able to apply through my mother who hadn’t actually applied for Polish citizenship herself. Also the London Consulate spoke excellent English (once they’d stop laughing at my terrible Polish!). If applying for more than one family member then only one copy of your ancestor‘a documentation is needed.

Thank you for sharing the information. I did not realize that the process was so lengthy.

Wesołych Świąt! Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!

Thank you for this detailed info. I am first generation in the US as both parents came from Poland in 1950. I lived and worked in Poland from 1991-1996 and was told that I would have to “give up” my US passport if I get Polish citizenship. Is it possible to be bi- national now? Is the process the same in the US as in the UK?

As far as I am aware you can have your Polish citizenship confirmed in the USA the consulate in Washington DC has information about this. The process is the same as it’s the polish government that runs the process.

Thanks for this useful link. I too am going through this process and have been doing so for about 2 years. My father and his family were kresy sibiraks. My father made it to the UK in 1943 as a Polish airforce cadet. After the war he saw the soviets occupy Poland and he was offered a transfer into the RAF in 1947 and naturalisation. When I initially applied for Polish citizenship the London embassy told me I didn’t need to apply, just to confirm my Polishness. Indeed in 1999 the then ambassador had invited my Father to the embassy to present him with some Wartime honours. BUT when my application went to Warsaw it was quickly returned.There is a nationality act that states that anyone who joined a foreign army or worked for a foreign government between 1926 and 1950 were automatically stripped of their Polish birthright! I am not sure how this reflects on the famous Polish Pilots under British command? I know lawyerly it is argued that they were under Polish command but this happens after November 1941. Is the Polish government saying they weren’t really Polish? some of the most honoured and heroic figures of the wartime years? Back to my application. Both my grandparents and great grandparents paperwork shows full Polish bloodline ( my mother is British ) and it is via this route that I have had to apply to become Polish and my application has been in the Presidents office awaiting his signature since June 2018 after completing all of the other stages in about 4 months. I am confident it will eventually get signed ( I regularly contact the office to be told it’s in the pile awaiting a signature. Come on Poland this is a bit embarrassing, I myself am married to a Mexican and their civil service would be ashamed of such tardiness) but I am disappointed that despite all of this my father ( he passed away in 2015 ) remains in the eyes of the Polish government, a Kresy a sibiriak a Polish airman but not a Pole.

Today I received this:
zanowny Panie,
Biuro Obywatelstw i Prawa Łaski uprzejmie informuje, że postanowieniem z 20 grudnia 2019 r. Prezydent RP nadał Panu obywatelstwo polskie.
Stosowne zaświadczenie w tej sprawie zostało wysłanie 31 grudnia 2019 r. do Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych, które pocztą dyplomatyczną przekaże je do Wydziału Konsularnego Ambasady RP w Londynie.
Z poważaniem i życzeniami Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku

Hurray!

I am so pleased that after such a long long time they have approved your citizenship. I hope it brings you great comfort and joy. I have received a letter saying they are conducting further checks on my family – I suspect regarding formal irregularities due to my family not acknowledging the communist government of the time….but I suppose they have to be thorough!

Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article!
It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes.
Many thanks for sharing!

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