The Pole's CardPrint

What is the Pole's Card?

Pole’s Card is a document confirming its holder belongs to the Polish nation. It does not mean though that the alien holding it is granted Polish citizenship, obtains a temporary residence permit or permit to settle in Poland or has the right to cross the Polish border without a visa.

 

However, possession of a Pole’s Card is indeed connected with certain entitlements, as its holder has the right to:

 

  • receive, free of charge, a national visa permitting multiple crossings of the Polish borders;
  • submit at a Polish consulate, free of charge, an application for granting of a Polish citizenship by the President of the Republic of Poland;
  • Benefit from aid offered by the Polish consul – within the limits of competencies granted to the latter – in the event of threat to life or safety;
  •  take up legal work on the Polish territory without the requirement to possess a work permit;
  • carry out business activities in Poland on the same terms as Polish citizens;
  • access the free Polish education system at primary, secondary and university level on the same terms as Polish citizens, while also being able to apply for scholarships and other assistance available to aliens learning and studying in Poland;
  • in emergencies use the free health care provided in Poland on the same terms as Polish citizens;
  • enjoy a 37-per cent concession on railway travel on the Polish territory;
  • visit national museums in Poland free of charge;
  • have priority when applying for funding from the Polish state budget or the local authorities budget in Poland intended to support Poles abroad;
  • apply free of charge for a permit to settle on the Polish territory;
  • after having been granted a permit to settle, obtain – for a period no longer than 9 months – financial assistance (provision comes into force on 01.01.2017) intended for the foreigner and their closest family members residing with them in Poland. 

Financial assistance for holders of the Pole’s Card

Where to submit an application:

The application for financial assistance must be submitted to the Staroste (Poviat Governor) with jurisdiction over the place of residence of the holder of the Pole’s Card in Poland. If a foreigner-holder of the Charter changes residence, the assistance is paid out by the Staroste who has granted it originally.

Amount of assistance granted:

The benefit may be granted for a maximum period of 9 months. During the first 3 months, an alien who has been granted right to the benefit receives 50% of the minimum wage applicable in a given year for themselves and their spouse, and 50% of that amount for each minor child. It should be noted that only family members (spouse and minor children) who reside together with a foreigner on the Polish territory are taken into account when calculating the amount of assistance due. In the period from the 4th to 9th month, 60% of the above-listed amounts is paid out.

Suspension/revocation of the benefit:

If a foreigner receives a negative decision on being granted a permit to settle, payment of the above financial assistance is suspended. If and once the refusal decision becomes final, the right to the benefit is revoked.

Note: The benefit granted is not to be included in calculation of total income when applying for social assistance.

Who may become a Pole’s Card holder?

Pole’s Card might be issued to a person who, at the time of application, is a national of a state formerly belonging to the Soviet Union (USSR), or is a stateless person in one of these countries and jointly satisfies the following requirements:

  1. shows their connection with the Polish nation and state by at least basic knowledge of the Polish language, which the given alien sees as their mother tongue, and by knowledge of and cultivation of Polish traditions and customs;
  2. in the presence of the Polish consul or voivode, or an employee designated by any of them, makes a written declaration on belonging to the Polish nation;
  3. demonstrates that at least one parent or grandparent, or two great-grandparents, are or were of Polish nationality, or were Polish citizens, or presents a certificate from an authorized organization of Poles living abroad in the country of the alien’s residence (list of such organizations is available here->) confirming active involvement of the foreigner in question in activities promoting the Polish language and culture or otherwise assisting the Polish national minority for the period of at least 3 last years
  4. declares that neither the alien him- or her-self, nor their ascendants have repatriated themselves or have been repatriated from the territory of the Republic of Poland or the Polish People's Republic, on the basis of repatriation agreements concluded in the years 1944-1957 by the Republic of Poland or the Polish People's Republic with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics onto the territory of one of the countries that were party to these agreements.

The Pole’s Card may also be granted to a person whose Polish descent has been validly certified in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 9 November 2000 on Repatriation.

Application procedure for a Pole's Card

Applications for issuance or prolongation of the Pole’s Card should be submitted at a Polish Consulate competent for the place of residence of the applicant, that is in the country of origin of the migrant. 

Note: The Council of Ministers may also designate a voivode as the organ competent to receive applications for issuance of a Pole’s Card, and indicate the state whose citizens will be eligible to submit their applications via this route (provision enters into force on 01.01.2017).

The basic set of documents required to submit a complete application for granting of a Pole’s Card is as follows:

  1. application, to be filled out in compliance with the guidelines provided together with the aplication form,
  2. 1 photograph
  3. completed and copied documents certifying the applicant's belonging to the Polish nation and their knowledge of the Polish language (certification of passing a Polish language examination before a state examination board, or school leaving certificate from Poland or a diploma of having completed studies in Poland, or a school leaving certificate from a school abroad where the language of instruction was Polish). If the applicant is unable to provide any of the documents described above, the language level assessment is performed by the Polish consul or voivode during the in person interview.

Notes: documents and certificates confirming the Polish nationality of the applicant and their links to the Polish nation and state could be for example: Polish identity documents; civil status certificates or their copies; baptism certificates, school leaving certificates; documents attesting to having served in Polish military formations; documents confirming the fact of deportation or imprisonment containing an entry informing of the Polish origin of the person in question; documents on rehabilitation of the deportee containing an entry informing of the Polish origin of the person in question; foreign identity cards containing information about tPolish nationality of their holder; certificate from an organization of Poles living abroad confirming active involvement in activities promoting Polish language and culture or otherwise assisting the Polish national minority; final decision on Polish descent of the application, issued under the provisions of the Act on repatriation, other documents attesting to links with the Polish nation and state etc.

  1. copy of a foreign passport (page with photo) and the internal passport (page with photo and page with the address of permanent residence). The originals should also be made available for inspection.

Subsequently, an appointment for an in person interview with the Polish consul or voivode should be made.

The consul or voivode interviews the applicant, conversing in Polish about Poland, its history, culture and customs and traditions. Approximate duration of the interview is 15-20 minutes.

In the case of having successfully passed the interview stage, the consul or voivode present the applicant with a declaration of belonging to the Polish nation and a declaration on neither the applicant nor their ascendants have repatriated themselves for or have been repatriated from the Polish territory to be signed.

When can a child be granted a Pole's Card?

A child may be granted the Pole’s Card at the request of the parents, if both of them are holders of the Pole’s Card or were such before receiving the permit to settle in Poland. If only one parent is or was the Charter holder, the other parent, in the presence of the Polish consul or voivode, must agree for the Pole’s Card to be issued for the child. If the other parent does not have parental authority over the minor in question, such consent is not required.

Pole’s Card is also granted to a minor who demonstrates that at least one parent or grandparent or two great-grandparents of their late parent had been of Polish nationality or had had Polish citizenship. In this case, the application on behalf of the minor in question is submitted by the surviving parent or other legal representative.

How long is a Pole's Card valid?

Pole’s Card is valid for 10 years from the date of its issuance. At the latest three months before the expiry date of the Pole’s Card, the holder must apply for its prolongation for another 10 years.

Pole’s Card issued to a minor is valid for 10 years, but expires in any case no later than a year after the minor reached his or her majority. 

What to do if the Pole’s Card is lost or destroyed?

If the Pole’s Card is lost or destroyed, the Polish consul or voivode that has issued the card in the first place issues – at holder’s request – a duplicate of the Pole’s Card document.

How to use the Pole's Card?

To exercise any right extended by virtue of being a holder of the Pole’s Card, the Charter must be presented together with a valid identity document.

Refusal to grant the Card of the Pole

Consul or voivode refuse to grant the Pole’s Card to an alien in the event when:

  1. the applicant does not meet the criteria listed above in the section Who may become a Pole’s Card holder
  2. when applying for the Pole’s Card, the applicant has submitted an application containing untrue information, or has presented falsified documents;
  3. the applicant or his or her ascendants have repatriated themselves or have been repatriated from the territory of the Republic of Poland or the Polish People's Republic on the basis of repatriation agreements concluded in the years 1944-1957 by the Polish state with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics onto the territory of one of the countries that were party to these agreements;
  4. the applicant received Polish citizenship or permit to settle on the Polish territory;
  5. for reasons of national defense, national security or protection of the public order in Poland;
  6. the applicant has acted or acts against the vital interests of Poland, in particular its national independence and sovereignty, or has participated or participates in breaches of human rights.

An appeal against the refusal to grant a Pole’s Card may be lodged with the Council for Poles in the East.

Revocation of a Pole's Card

Consul or voivode annul the Pole’s Card when:

  1. its holder behaves in a manner derogatory to the dignity of the Republic of Poland or Polish citizens;
  2. during the proceedings to obtain the Pole’s Card, the applicant has submitted an application or attached thereto documents containing false personal data or false information;
  3. the holder testified untruth or concealed the truth; 
  4. the Charter holder has forged or remade an official documents with the intent to use it as a genuine one, or used such a document pretending it was authentic;
  5. the applicant received Polish citizenship or permit to settle on the Polish territory;
  6. it is justified by reasons of national defense, national security or protection of the public order in Poland;
  7. the applicant has acted or acts against the vital interests of Poland;
  8. a new Pole’s Card has been issued after the holder’s personal data was changed.

In the case of voluntary waiver or revocation of the Pole’s Card, its holder is obligated to immediately return the Charter to the consul or voivode that has issued it originally.

In the case of a foreigner obtaining Polish citizenship or being issued a permit to settle in Poland, the Pole’s Card is to be returned within 14 days from receipt of the document confirming granting of Polish citizenship or issuance of a permit to settle to the voivode competent for the place of residence of the alien in question.

An appeal against annulment of the Pole’s Card may be lodged with the Council for Poles in the East

Fees

Submitting an application and the entirety of proceedings related to the granting of a Pole’s Card is free of charge; no fees or other duties are charged at any stage of this process.

Legal basis

Act of 7 September 2007 on the Pole’s Card (Journal of Laws of 2007, No 180, item 1280, as amended)

Act of 28 August 2003 amending the Act on repatriation (Journal of Laws of 2003, No 157, item 1691, as amended)

Act of 13 May 2016 amending the Act on the Pole’s Card and certain other acts (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 753) 

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