The Pole's Card is a document confirming the foreigner's belonging to the Polish nation. It does not mean granting Polish citizenship to a foreigner, granting the right of temporary or permanent residence in Poland, or the right to cross Poland's borders without a visa.
However, having a Pole's Card is associated with certain rights; its holder may:
- obtain a national visa entitling to multiple crossings of the Polish border free of charge;
- submit an application for granting citizenship by the President of the Republic of Poland at a Polish consulate free of charge;
- use the help of the Consul, within the scope of the Consul's competence, in a life-threatening or safety situation;
- undertake legal work in Poland without the need for a work permit;
- conduct business activity in Poland on the same terms as Polish citizens;
- in Poland, use the free primary, secondary and tertiary education system on the same terms as Polish citizens, and at the same time apply for scholarships and study aid intended for foreigners learning and studying in Poland;
- in emergencies, use free healthcare in Poland on the same terms as Polish citizens;
- use a 37% discount on rail travel in Poland;
- visit state museums in Poland for free;
- be first to apply for funds from the Polish state budget or from the budget of municipalities in Poland, intended to support Poles abroad;
- submit an application for a permanent residence permit free of charge;
- after submitting the application for a permanent residence permit, have it granted, for a period not longer than 9 months, for themselves and their immediate family members staying with them in Poland.
CASH BENEFIT FOR POLE’S CARD HOLDERS
Place of application:
The application for granting the cash benefit should be submitted to the voivode to whom the application for granting the permanent residence permit has been submitted, and the first application for granting the cash benefit is submitted within 3 months from the date of submitting the application for granting the permanent residence permit.
The amount of the benefit:
The benefit may be granted for a maximum period of 9 months. During the first 3 months, a foreigner who has been awarded the benefit receives 50% of the minimum wage applicable in the year of submitting the application for themselves and their spouse and 50% of this amount for each minor child. However, only family members (spouses and minor children) who stay with the foreigner in Poland are taken into account. In the months 4 to 9, 60% of the above mentioned amounts will be paid.
Suspension / loss of the benefit
In the event of a negative decision on granting a permanent residence permit, the payment of the benefit shall be suspended. If the refusal becomes final, the awarded benefit is forfeited (by operation of law - without the need for an additional decision).
Note! The granted benefit is not included in income when applying for cash from social aid.
WHO CAN HAVE THE POLE'S CARD ISSUED?
The Pole's Card may be issued to a person who does not have Polish citizenship, declares belonging to the Polish Nation and meets the following conditions:
- The person demonstrates their connection with Polishness through at least basic knowledge of the Polish language, considered their mother tongue, as well as knowledge and cultivation of Polish traditions and customs;
- In the presence of the consul or voivode (who will be indicated under a separate regulation), or an employee appointed by them, the person will submit a written declaration of belonging to the Polish nation;
- They will prove that they are of Polish nationality or at least one of their parents or grandparents or two great-grandparents were of Polish nationality, or they will present a certificate of an authorized Polish or Polish diasphora community organization (the list of organizations is available tutaj) confirming active involvement in activities for the benefit of the Polish language and culture or the Polish national minority for the period of at least the past 3 years;
- The person submits a declaration that their ascendants have not repatriated or have not 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, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to one of the states being party to the agreements.
The Pole's Card may also be granted to a person whose origin has been legally established, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of November 9, 2000 on repatriation, and who meets the requirements for the knowledge of the Polish language specified in the Act.
PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING FOR THE POLE’S CARD
The application for granting or extending the validity of the Pole's Card is submitted at the Consulate of the Republic of Poland competent for the applicant's place of residence or at the Voivodship Office, provided that the Council of Ministers indicates the voivode competent to examine such applications.
Note! The Council of Ministers may also appoint a voivode as the authority competent to receive applications for the Pole's Card and indicate the country whose citizens will be able to take advantage of the option. Pursuant to the 2017 regulation, the Voivode of Podlasie was appointed the authority competent to conduct proceedings for granting the Pole’s Card to Belarusian citizens.
The basic set of documents necessary to submit a complete application for a the Pole’s Card:
- An application to be completed in accordance with the explanations to the application
- 1 photo (clear, taken within the past 6 months)
- Completed and copied documents confirming the applicant's Polishness and knowledge of the Polish language (confirmation of passing the Polish language examination before the state examination commission, or a school or study certificate in Poland, or a school leaving certificate abroad with Polish as the language of study). If the applicant is unable to present the described documents, the knowledge of the Polish language is assessed during the interview by the consul or voivode.
Note! Possible documents and proofs confirming the Polish nationality of the applicant or their ascendants: Polish identity documents; civil status records or their copies; baptism records; school reports; documents confirming military service in Polish military formations; documents confirming the fact of deportation or imprisonment with an entry informing about Polish origin; documents on the rehabilitation of a deported person containing an entry on the Polish origin of the person; foreign identity cards containing information about the Polish nationality of the holder; certificate of a Polish community organization confirming active involvement in activities for the benefit of the Polish language and culture or the Polish national minority; a final decision on Polish origin issued in accordance with the provisions of the Repatriation Act; Pole’s Card of the applicant's parent or one of the applicant's grandparents; other documents confirming a relationship with Polishness; e.t.c.
- A photocopy of a document confirming identity. The original should also be presented for inspection.
Then an appointment with the consul of the Republic of Poland or the voivode should be made.
The consul or voivode talks to the applicant in Polish about Poland, its history, culture, as well as customs and traditions. Estimated talk time is 15– 20 minutes.
If the interview is successful for the applicant, the consul or the voivode shall present the applicant with a declaration of belonging to the Polish nation and a declaration that their ascendants have not repatriated or have not been repatriated from the territory of the Republic of Poland.
WHEN CAN A CHILD BE GRANTED A POLE’S CARD?
A child is granted a Pole's Card at the request of their parents, when both of them have the Pole's Card or had it before permanent residence. If only one of the parents has or had the Card, the other parent, in the presence of the Polish consul, a notary public or a voivode, must consent to the issue of the Pole's Card to the child. If the other parent does not have parental responsibility, they do not have to give such consent.
The Pole's Card is also granted to a minor who proves that at least one of the parents or grandparents or two great-grandparents of their late parent were of Polish nationality . In such a case, the application on behalf of the minor is submitted by the surviving parent or legal representative. The Pole's Card may be granted to a minor who has reached the age of 16 only with their consent.
HOW LONG IS THE POLE'S CARD VALID AND HOW TO USE IT?
The Pole's Card is valid for 10 years from the date it was granted. An application for extension of the Pole's Card may be submitted no earlier than 6 months before its expiry date.
The Pole's Card issued to a minor is valid for 10 years, but not longer than until one year from the date of their coming of age. If, after turning eighteen, no later than 3 months before the above mentioned date, the holder of the Pole's Card applies for an extension of its validity and signs a declaration of belonging to the Polish Nation, the validity of the Pole's Card is extended for the next 10 years.
What to do if a Pole's Card is lost or damaged?
In the event of loss or destruction of a Pole's Card, the competent consul or voivode, at the request of its holder, issues a duplicate of the Pole's Card. How to use a Pole's Card?
In order to take advantage of the rights guaranteed by the Pole's Card, it must be presented with a valid identity document.
DECISION TO REFUSE TO GRANT A POLE'S CARD
The consul or voivode issues a decision refusing to grant the Pole's Card in the event that:
- The applicant does not meet the conditions set out in the section Who may be granted a Pole's Card;
- In the procedure for granting the Pole's Card, the applicant submitted an application containing false information or presented false documents;
- The applicant or their ascendants have repatriated or have not 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 Poland with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to one of the states being party to the agreements.
- The applicant has acquired Polish citizenship or obtained a permanent residence permit on the territory of Poland;
- It is justified by the defense, security or protection of public order in Poland;
- The applicant acts or has acted to the detriment of Poland, in particular its independence and sovereignty, or has participated or participates in the violation of human rights.
Note! The refusal to grant the Pole's Card may be appealed against to the Council for Poles Abroad.
WITHDRAWAL OF A POLE'S CARD
A consul or voivode (if appointed under the regulation) invalidates a Pole's Card if:
- Its holder behaves in a way that derogates from the Republic of Poland or Poles;
- In the procedure for granting the Pole's Card, the applicant submitted an application or attached documents containing false personal data or false information;
- The applicant testified untruthfully or concealed the truth,
- In order to use it as an authentic one, the applicant forged a document or used such a document as authentic;
- The applicant has acquired Polish citizenship or obtained a permanent residence permit in Poland;
- It is justified by the defense, security or protection of public order in Poland;
- The applicant acts or acted against the fundamental interests of Poland;
- A new Pole's Card has been issued after its holder has changed its data;
- The foreigner has renounced it.
In the case of issuing a decision to cancel a Pole's Card, its holder is obliged to immediately return the Card to the consul or voivode who issued it.
The decision to cancel a Pole's Card (as well as the decision to refuse to grant a Pole's Card) can be appealed to the Council for Poles Abroad.
Note! If a foreigner has acquired Polish citizenship or obtained a permanent residence permit in Poland, the Pole's Card becomes invalid by operation of law (no additional decision is issued). In such a situation, the card should be returned to the voivode (competent for the place of stay) within 14 days from the date of receipt of the document confirming the acquisition of citizenship or the day on which the decision on obtaining a permanent residence permit became final.
Returning the Pole's Card is a condition for issuing a permanent residence card.
The submission of the application and the entire procedure related to the receipt of the Pole's Card are free of charge and no fees are charged at any stage.
Act on the Pole’s Card of September 7, 2007 (unified text Journal of Laws of 2019, item 1598).
Repatriation Act of November 9, 2000 (unified text Journal of Laws of 2019, item 1472).
Regulation of the Council of Ministers on the appointment of a voivode competent in conducting proceedings for granting or extending the validity of the of the Pole's Card of October 5, 2017 (Journal of Laws of 2017, item 1900).
Announcement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the list of Polish or Polish diaspora organizations authorized to issue certificates confirming active involvement in activities for the benefit of the Polish language and culture or the Polish national minority of January 3, 2020 (Polish Journal of Laws of 2020, item 50).