Often overlooked thanks to its close proximity to more glamorized European countries, those who live in Poland can sometimes feel like they’ve stumbled on the continent’s best kept secret.
Known for little but it’s wartorn history, the reality of Poland is far removed from the image many people have of the eastern-European gem. For instance, many people fail to recognize Poland for its breathtaking landscapes, with major national parks and protected areas sprawling across miles and miles of grassy hills. It’s often forgotten that there are few places you could enjoy a close-knit, European lifestyle less expensively. People don’t often think of Poland for its cafe culture, nightlife or fresh foods movement; but all of these things are the realities, and it’s no surprise that many expats would seek to make their ties to the country more official through citizenship.
If you’ve been living in Poland or are moving to Poland for work, to start a business, or just to enjoy all the country has to offer, it’s important to understand what processes you must go through in order to obtain citizenship. This guide will walk you through all the most important steps and tips for making permanent ties with Poland.
What’s the difference between citizenship and permanent residence?
Many expats living in Poland don’t have citizenship, but instead hold either a Permit to Settle or a Long-Term EU Resident Permit. Both permits act as permanent residence in Poland, and holders enjoy all of the same rights within the country that native Poles do, with two notable exceptions.
Permanent residents in Poland may not vote in parliamentary or presidential elections, and they may not carry a Polish passport.
These differences are rather superficial, especially since holders of a Long-Term EU Resident Permit may live, travel and work freely within the EU without needing an EU passport. However, citizenship does give expats more control of their own futures in their right to vote, and it also ensures the continuity of your life in poland- having a citizenship revoked is extremely rare and nearly impossible. As such, it’s still advisable for long-term residents to pursue one, if only to cement their ability to remain in Poland permanently without restrictions or possible loss of residency status.
Can I have dual citizenship? How?
Polish citizens are allowed to hold both their Polish citizenship and citizenship in another country, and are subject to the same rights and obligations of Poles who hold only one citizenship.
It’s important for any citizenship applicant, however, to understand whether their country of origin allows and recognizes dual citizenship, to ensure they’ll not be required to forfeit that citizenship when they apply for one in Poland. Citizenship seekers from the U.S., UK, and most of Europe (with some exceptions) don’t need to worry about renouncing their home citizenship, but that isn’t true universally and it’s best to familiarize yourself with your country’s dual citizenship laws before beginning your application in Poland.
Ways to obtain Polish citizenship
Hands down, the simplest way to obtain Polish citizenship is through parents. If you were born to at least one parent who was a Polish citizen at the time of your birth, you’re eligible to be recognized as a Polish citizen yourself. This is called “right of blood.”
If you weren’t born to a Polish parent, however, there are still many ways to achieve citizenship in the European country, as follows.
Long term stay: Permanent residence permit
A foreign citizen who holds a permanent residence permit and has been living legally in Poland for a minimum of three continuous years, who has employment in Poland and who owns a home is eligible to apply for citizenship.
A foreigner who has been living legally in Poland for two uninterrupted years and is married to a Polish citizen is eligible for Polish citizenship.
A refugee who was legally granted long-term residence in Poland is eligible to apply for citizenship after living in the country for two continuous years.
Through parents restored citizenship
If your parent had forfeited their Polish citizenship at the time of your birth, but has since had it restored and both you and your parent are living in Poland, you’re eligible to claim your own Polish citizenship.
Long term stay: Other
Any foreigner who has been living legally by means other than a permanent residence visa in Poland for a minimum of 10 years is eligible for Polish citizenship
How can I apply for citizenship?
One of the most important aspects of applying for Polish citizenship is proving that you have achieved a communicative level in the Polish language. That command of the language must be confirmed with an official certificate, which is issued upon successful completion of a state examination. For foreigners who attended an international school in which the main language of instruction was Polish, a school-leaving certificate may suffice. Otherwise, an applicant is required to take the level B1 exam as issued by the State Commission for the Certification of Proficiency in Polish as a Foreign Language.
With a language certificate in place, the following documents must be submitted to the Voivode with jurisdiction over your place of residence in Poland:
- A completed application form, written in Polish
- One original photograph
- A certified copy of your birth certificate
- A copy of your foreign ID, specifically your passport
- Your certificate of language command
- A statement which details any departures, travel or non-residence periods within your mandatory uninterrupted period of stay. You can find the uninterrupted stay form here.
- Any documents which state professional achievements (like professional degrees or titles)
- A document to confirm your spouse’s citizenship (even if it’s not Polish)
- A receipt of payment for stamp duty for issuing the final decision
- Proof of employment and homeownership, if applying for citizenship based on long-term residence.
Process duration & fees
Assuming all of your paperwork is in order and you’re a qualified applicant, your case should be resolved “immediately,” or in a couple of days. If you need to submit more documents or your case needs any additional investigation, it’s still processed within a month, or two months in extremely complicated cases.
For the most part there are almost no fees associated with applying for Polish citizenship, outside of the 219 PLN stamp duty. While that sum isn’t too hefty, it can add up when you’re also paying international fees to fund the transaction from your foreign bank account. It’s a good idea to use TransferWise to get the real exchange rate and cut out expensive international bank transfer fees during this process.
That’s it! Good luck on becoming a Polish citizen!