If like me, you’ve been thinking of confirming your Polish citizenship to to emphasise your heritage or to stay a European citizen, here is a quick guide based on my experiences. Three months after submitting my application I received my confirmation of obywatelstwo (citizenship) and after registering my certificates in Poland, I’ve applied for and received my passport. 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)d. Once they have made this decision they don’t necessarily let the Consulate know, so check if this is the case. This appears to be one part of the process that is slightly clunky. Now that all the Consulates in countries are under one website gov.pl there is uniformity in the information provided about the process, also in English but the application form is in Polish. This is the UK link: www.gov.pl/web/unitedkingdom,.
It’s a lengthy process
Once the Consulate has all the appropriate documents, the decision making process takes three to five 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 might be 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 a passport, 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:
- your birth certificate which states your parents’ names
- your marriage or divorce certificate (if applicable) and any documents confirming changes of names (if applicable)
- Your current passport or other valid document confirming your current nationality
- your parents’ marriage certificate
- 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)
- Act of naturalisation (if you were originally born in Poland and naturalised as a UK/US or other 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). For the UK this can be obtained through the National Archives.
- 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 and sent it onto me.
If you don’t have all of these documents, don’t worry. It is best to order certified copies. Your personal documents – birth and marriage/divorce will be kept by the Consulate so obtain copies. For the UK this is through the General Register Office (GRO) on gov.uk. If you intend to go through to a passport, obtain two copies of these key documents. This does not refer to your predecessors’ documents which are scanned and returned.
You can obtain army documents through the UK 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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, for countries outside the EU, all certificates need an official apostille to certify they can be recognised in foreign countries. There is a charge of £30 plus postage for each certificate in the UK, through this link on gov.uk
Any documents in English need to be translated into the Polish language by a sworn translator registered in Poland. The up to date list is available by checking these on these UK Consular lists (for other countries type Lista Tłumaczy and your country into the search function at the top). Alternatively if you are planning a trip to Poland, find an approved translator Przysięgły Tłumacz online, putting the town in the search function. Send them scans of the documents and then show them the originals in person. It’s a slightly cheaper option. You will 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 application, the second for registering your documents in Poland. Order these from the registering town or city, or through the GRO as above as you will not get them back.
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, email them to the relevant Consulate (UK – Edinburgh, Manchester, London) to the email for Citizenship and Passport to check before you organise a visit. 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. Don’t forget to photocopy your application form as this will be kept by the Consulate as well as your key documents and translations.
Had I arranged my translations in the UK, to date I would have spent nearly £300 plus travel costs to and from Manchester. Now after the last stage of arranging a passport, the total has come to over £500 plus a few grey hairs. There are Polish companies who do the whole process for you who quote well over £1000 for the whole process and arranging a passport. Lexmotion Law Firm and Hexon Law Firm have been used and recommended by people, however I can’t endorse this route as I haven’t used their services.
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 you have the certificate of confirmation of Polish citizenship you are confirmed as being a citizen of Poland. Congratulations!
What’s next? More visits?
YES! if you want to go through and get a passport. First you need to arrange the registration of your key certificates in Poland. If you want to do this through the Polish Consulate, you pay £45 per certificate to register the translations of your UK certificates (birth, marriage etc). This is where you need your second copies of documents and translations. If you can, register your certificates yourself or through a family member (who you give permission to), by taking copy certificates and their translations to a local council in Warsaw or your family town, it’s a smaller fee (about 50 PLN per certificate).
You will then obtain copies of the Polish registered certificates of your birth/marriage etc. which you will need to apply for a passport. If you want to keep a copy of these for your own records, order two as one set is submitted and kept for a passport application.
Finally you will be able to apply for a passport and automatically receive a PESEL (national insurance equivalent) number and according to the normal system that any Pole needs to complete, the cost of which is currently £98. This passport application process is similar 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. Please note for Polish passports they take fingerprints and you’ll also need to provide one photograph.
Well done for reading this far. I told you it was complicated, but not impossible. Keep a checklist throughout the process, apply for two copies of your documents and obtain two copies of the translations and don’t forget to apply for a visit to the Consulate a few weeks before you are ready. I received my passport on 8th May, very appropriately I thought – Victory Day in Europe 1945. I f 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. I have reproduced the information I’ve had from the Consulate and my own experience of the elements that are less obvious in the process. I update this article regularly though I have now successfully completed the process. Updated 22 February 2023