Acquiring the Pole’s Card in Poland: A Complete Guide

This article serves as a detailed guide for foreign citizens residing in Poland, focusing on how to obtain the Pole’s Card within the Poland, without the need to travel back to their countries.

This process is particularly relevant for those holding a valid Pole's Card (Karta Polaka) and aspiring to settle permanently in Poland, a crucial step towards obtaining a Poland residence permit by Pole’s Card.
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What is the Pole’s Card?

The Pole’s Card is a document that affirms one's belonging to the Polish Nation. It does not, however, grant permanent residence or citizenship, nor does it allow for visa-free border crossing. Nevertheless, holders of the Pole’s Card are entitled to several rights.

The validity of the Pole's Card lasts for a decade, with an option for extension. Its holders enjoy significant advantages, including expedited processes for acquiring a permanent residence permit and Polish citizenship, alongside facilitated access to employment and educational opportunities.

Application for Permanent Residence Permit based on Pole's Card

It is essential for applicants to apply for a residence permit in person before their current legal status, such as a visa or residence card, expires. By applying to extend your stay in Poland before your legal status expires, you can legally remain in the country while your application is under consideration. It is important to ensure that your application is complete and error-free, and that your passport remains valid during this period.

In-Person Application Process

You can apply in person at the Department for Foreigners or one of its delegations. Remember to book your visit. Applications for the Pole’s Card are processed by Provincial Governors, allowing you to apply at your nearest Provincial Office without any charges for applying or issuing the card.

Applying by Post

If you are unable to apply in person before your legal status expires, you have the option to send your application by post. In this case, the date of postage at the post office is crucial. Save the receipt in order to secure before border guard verification.

Post-Application Requirements
If you applied by post, you will need to visit the office in person subsequently to give your fingerprints and submit additional required documents for a stamp in your passport.

Required Documents for Passport Stamp

When applying for a permanent residence permit in Poland, particularly under the condition of holding a valid Pole's Card, applicants are required to submit a specific set of documents. These documents are crucial to ensure a smooth application process:

  1. Application Form: Applicants have two options for the application form. They can either fill out the form online (note that an external link is provided for this purpose) or download the form and fill it out manually according to the given instructions. Ensure that the application is completed in one copy.
  2. Photographs: Four recent photographs of the applicant are required. These should meet the standard specifications for official documents.
  3. Travel Document: A copy of your valid travel document (such as a passport) must be submitted. The original document will need to be presented for verification. In situations where an applicant does not possess a valid travel document and cannot obtain one, an alternative form of identity confirmation is acceptable.
  4. Exemption from Stamp Duty Fees: Notably, applications for permanent residence permits are exempted from stamp duty fees for those who possess a valid Pole's Card. This exemption is a significant benefit for Pole's Card holders.
  5. Pole’s Card: Applicants must provide a copy of their Pole’s Card, ensuring that the original is available for inspection during the application process.
  6. Supporting Documents for Settlement: To further support the application, documents that demonstrate the applicant's intention to settle in Poland are necessary. This may include a rental agreement, an employment contract, or proof of enrollment in educational institutions in Poland. These documents serve as evidence of the applicant's commitment to residing in Poland.
  7. Original or Certified Copies: All the submitted documents should be either original or certified copies to ensure their authenticity.
By carefully assembling and submitting these documents, applicants can effectively navigate the application process for a permanent residence permit in Poland, leveraging the advantages provided by holding a valid Pole's Card.

Permanent Residence Permit Application for Pole's Card Holders

Holders of a valid Pole's Card are exempted from stamp duty fees when applying for a permanent residence permit. The required documents for this application include:
  • A copy of the Pole’s Card, with the original for inspection.
  • Documents indicating your intention to settle in Poland, such as a rent or employment contract, or documents confirming enrollment in educational programs.
  • All documents should be submitted as originals or certified copies.
The permit issued is for an indefinite period and allows the holder to work without a work permit.

Eligibility for the Pole’s Card

To be eligible for the Pole’s Card in Poland, applicants must:
  • Declare themselves as members of the Polish Nation.
  • Demonstrate their connection to Polish culture through basic knowledge of the Polish language and an understanding of Polish traditions and customs.
  • Make a written declaration of their affiliation to the Polish Nation in front of a Provincial Governor or their designated representative.
  • Provide proof of Polish nationality or active involvement in promoting Polish culture or the Polish national minority for at least three years.
  • Confirm that neither they nor their ancestors were repatriated from Poland and that they do not currently hold Polish citizenship or a permanent residence permit.
Stateless individuals in Ukraine are also eligible for the Pole’s Card.

To prove Polish origin, applicants can provide various documents issued by Polish state or church authorities, or by the authorities of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, relating to themselves or their ancestors.

Knowledge of the Polish language can be demonstrated by submitting a certificate from a state examination board, or certificates from schools or universities in Poland or abroad where Polish is the language of instruction. In the absence of these certificates, language skills will be assessed during an interview.

Benefits of Holding a Pole’s Card

Holders of the Pole’s Card enjoy several benefits, such as exemption from work permit requirements, the right to undertake and exercise economic activity under the same conditions as Polish citizens, access to free education and potential scholarships, free emergency health care in Poland, a 37% discount on rail travel, and free entry to state museums.

Pole's Card nationality vs Polish citizenship

The Pole's Card (Karta Polaka) is an important document for individuals of Polish descent, but it's crucial to understand that it represents nationality in a cultural sense rather than legal citizenship.

Pole's Card and Nationality:
  • The Pole's Card is a certificate that acknowledges an individual's connection to Polish nationality in terms of heritage and culture.
  • It is typically granted to people who can demonstrate their Polish roots and a commitment to Polish language, traditions, and culture.
  • The card is an acknowledgment of an individual’s ethnic or cultural Polish identity, but it does not confer Polish nationality in the legal sense.

  • Citizenship, on the other hand, is a legal status.
  • Polish citizenship entitles individuals to a full range of rights and responsibilities in Poland, including the right to vote, work without a work permit, and access to social security and healthcare services.
  • Citizenship is typically obtained through birth, descent (from Polish parents), naturalization (after meeting certain residency and other requirements), or by restoration.
In summary, the Pole's Card acknowledges Polish nationality in terms of ethnic or cultural identity but does not equate to Polish citizenship, which is a legal status conferring specific legal rights and responsibilities. Holders of the Pole's Card do not automatically become Polish citizens; they must undergo the standard process for obtaining citizenship if they wish to do so.

Poland citizenship with Pole's Card

Obtaining Polish citizenship while holding a Pole's Card (Karta Polaka) can be a more streamlined process compared to standard naturalization procedures. Here's how the Pole's Card influences the process of acquiring Polish citizenship:

  1. Easier Naturalization Process: Holders of the Pole's Card are often eligible for a facilitated naturalization process. This means they might face fewer bureaucratic hurdles, less stringent residency requirements, or a simplified application process compared to other foreign nationals.
  2. Proof of Polish Heritage: The Pole's Card serves as official recognition of a person's Polish roots and cultural ties. This is a crucial element in the citizenship application, as Poland places a significant emphasis on the applicant’s connection to Polish culture and heritage.
  3. Language Proficiency: Since obtaining the Pole's Card requires demonstrating basic knowledge of the Polish language, cardholders have already met one of the key requirements for citizenship, which is language proficiency.
  4. Residency Requirements: While standard naturalization in Poland typically requires continuous residence in the country for several years, Pole's Card holders may benefit from reduced residency requirements. This means they can apply for citizenship after a shorter period of living in Poland.
  5. Legal Process: Despite the advantages, Pole's Card holders must still undergo the legal process of applying for citizenship. This involves submitting an application, providing necessary documentation (including the Pole's Card), and potentially undergoing an interview.
  6. Decision by the President: The final decision for granting citizenship lies with the President of Poland. The process is discretionary, and the President has the authority to grant citizenship on a case-by-case basis.
It's important to note that while the Pole's Card eases the path to citizenship, it does not automatically grant Polish citizenship. Applicants still need to go through the formal process and meet all the necessary legal requirements set by the Polish government.
This guide follows the Ordinance of the Council of Ministers of July 1, 2022, which amends the Ordinance on the Designation of the Provincial Governor Competent for Conducting Proceedings for Granting or Extending the Validity of the Pole’s Card.