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. Three  months after submitting my application I received my confirmation of obywatelstwo (citizenship) and I have just registered my birth certificate in Poland . 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.  Now that all the Consulates in the UK are under one website: www.gov.pl/web/unitedkingdom, there is uniformity in the information provided and it’s available in English, as previously each Consulate had different instructions.

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. There are three stages to the full process:

  • Stage 1: confirming citizenship
  • Stage 2: registering your birth/marriage/divorce certificates in Poland
  • Stage 3: applying for a passport.

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. I organised this through a friend in Poland and she received the letter confirming my citizenship, by registered post so I only have a photo of it so far.

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 birth, marriage and death certificates can be obtained through the General Register Office (GRO) 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 by emailing Consulates direct london.citizenship@msz.gov.pl. manchester.citizenship@msz.gov.pl or  edinburgh@msz.gov.pl. or on these consular lists (click through to the search function and type ‘Wielka Brytania’ into the ‘miasto’ box). Alternatively if you are planning a trip to Poland, find an approved translator (Przysięgły Tłumacz) online using the same government search function, 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 and two copies of the original certificates – one for the first part of the process, the second for registering your documents in Poland. Order these from the registering town or city, or through the GRO as above. At the moment GRO are offering a Polish translation with your certificate ( 2016 EU regulation) which works out cheaper at £25 – look for Multilingual Standard Forms on the application. I wasn’t aware of this option but I would check with the consulate as they state it has to be an approved translator. This service may end in December 2020 depending on the Brexit EU deal.

Application form

You also need to complete the application form now available on this government site:

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. If I go through to the last stage of arranging a passport, the total will come close to £500.  There are Polish companies who do the whole process for you, one Lexmotion Law Firm quoted me £1150 plus £88 for the whole process and arranging a passport, however I can’t endorse this route as I haven’t used their services but they are recommend by people commenting on this blog.

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 £69 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 and again another £94 for the passport stage. If you can register your certificates yourself by taking copy certificates and their translations to a local council in Warsaw or your family town, it’s a smaller fee (5oPLN per certificate).

What’s next? More visits?

YES! if you want to go through and get a passport. 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 set of translations of your certificates and also second certified copies of your UK certificates (as I have just discovered). The registration can be arranged through the Consulate Legal team paying the appropriate fee, or as mentioned above you can do this in Poland through your family or friends (many forms to fill in). You will then obtain copies of the Polish registered certificates of your birth/marriage etc. which you will need to apply for a passport.

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 £94. 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 your documents and of the translations and don’t forget to apply for a visit to the Consulate a few weeks before you are ready. If you don’t have the time, find a company to do it for you. 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 go through the next stages. Updated 22 September 2020.

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!

I used Lexmotion in Krakow and they were great … … found it a very emotional process … wish I had undertaken the process earlier

My father’s family were Kresy Sybiraks and served in the military. I was born in London, but now reside in Canada. I’m also slowly acquiring
information regarding my father Pawel Dominiak, grandfather Walenty Dominiak and uncle Slawomir Dominiak service doc’s from MOD.9

Great article. I’ve been through a similar process, and can add some comments which may be of use

Depending on your family circumstances proof of polish citizenship may be simpler – I only had to provide a photocopy of my Mother’s passport. That, along with my birth certificate proved she was my mother. My cousin married a lawyer who was my Polish point of contact, and therefore documents were translated in Poland

I had my Confirmation letter about three months after the form. It’s a letter with four lines (and interesting use of genitive case) and then a lot more about your right to appeal (including what to do if you are at sea – you give the appeal to your captain).

I registered my Birth Certificate at the Polish consulate in Manchester. I provided a birth certificate with apostille attachment – which you can request from GRO if you are British (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/login.asp). I didn’t have a translation and was a bit worried about that part, but GRO also allows you to order a translation along with the certificate. The Consulate seemed happy happy enough with it. A very nice officer walked be through the form (though I had to complete it myself). Sweetly they send the documents back to you, (including some extras I provided), with a little slip return tock to confirm receipt.

I have a passport appointment this week. Many Polish people have complained about booking appointments (most the comments on the Consulate’s Facebook page are about that topic]). One thing that tripped me up was that on the booking form you are aske for a PESEL number – which I don’t have. The form won’t submit without one – but I think you can use the reference from your Polish birth certificate – at least that is what the confirmation emails seems to suggest.

Great article. I’ve been through a similar process, and can add some comments which may be of use

Depending on your family circumstances proof of polish citizenship may be simpler – I only had to provide a photocopy of my Mother’s passport. That, along with my birth certificate, proved my Polish citizenship. My cousin married a lawyer who was my Polish point of contact. He got the documents translated and submitted from Poland.

I had my Confirmation letter about three months after the form was sent. It’s a letter with four lines (and interesting use of genitive case) and then a lot more about your right to appeal (including what to do if you are at sea – you give the appeal to your captain).

I registered my Birth Certificate at the Polish consulate in Manchester. I provided a birth certificate with apostille attachment – which you can request from GRO if you are British (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/login.asp). I didn’t have a translation and was a bit worried about that part, but GRO also allows you to order a translation along with the certificate. The Consulate seemed happy enough with it. A very nice officer walked be through the form (though I had to complete it myself). Sweetly they send the documents back to you, (including some extras I provided), with a little slip return tock to confirm receipt. Cost me £40

I had a passport appointment in Manchester last week. Many Polish people have complained about the difficulty of booking appointments (most the comments on the Consulate’s Facebook page are about that topic). One thing that tripped me up was that on the booking form you are asked for a PESEL number – which I don’t have. The form won’t submit without one – but I think you can use the reference from your Polish birth certificate – at least that is what the confirmation emails seems to suggest.

I went along on Tuesday, and was seen pretty much on time. The official conducted the entire exchange in English (I asked in Polish though). They checked my temperature on the way in. The application cost £96. I didn’t need my separate PESEL application form. I asked when it would be ready, and she indicated end of October. Kept my original polish birth certificate though

Thanks for explaining your process. I wasn’t aware of the translation option at GRO and just checked it. Sadly they are not guaranteeing this after the Brexit transition process.

Thank you for this, very useful. Do you know if there would be some ongoing commitments as a citizen but not a permanent resident in Poland ie. tax implications or committment to visit once a year for example

Hi Minnie, as far as I am aware there are no commitments as a citizen or commitments to visit other than to abide by Poland’s laws as your country of residence embassy would not be obliged to assist you if you encountered any problems within Poland.

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