How to obtain Polish citizenship?

Our Egyptian half holds Polish citizenship since few months. The same as with applying for residence permit, there isn’t much information online about the whole process. Therefore we decided to share our experience.

This is not going to be an article about how to get Polish citizenship if you don’t meet the requirements. We don’t know how to do that. Instead we will tell you how to go through the whole process and not go crazy instead.

Recognition as a Polish citizen vs. naturalization as Polish citizen by the President

Firstly, let’s differentiate between the two things. Foreigners in Poland have to ways to obtain the Polish citizenship. The first one is the application of recognition as a Polish citizen which is submitted to the Voivode in the place where you live. Second way is to apply for naturalization as Polish citizen to the President of Poland.

Should I apply to Voivode or President?

If you want to apply for the citizenship, you must answer this question first. The basic difference is that the decision for recognition as Polish citizen is made within 2 months. It’s an administrative procedure so whenever it needs more time, the office must inform you about it. Apart from that, if the decision is negative, it is always justified so you may appeal later.

On the other hand, President’s decision is not limited with time. You may get it after a month, 3 months or even wait few years. What’s more, the president doesn’t need to justify the decision in any way and you cannot appeal if it’s negative. But the application submitted to the president doesn’t require so much documents as the one for Voivode. For example, you don’t have to prove your knowledge of Polish on B1 level and there is no administrative fee.

People who meet the requirements for recognition as Polish citizen apply to Voivode. Those who don’t meet the requirements or want to get the citizenship quicker that the years needed for recognition, apply to the president. Personally, I don’t see the point that a person who has all the needed documents for the application to Voivode, should apply to the president and wait no one knows how long and without a chance to appeal from the decision.

Recognition as Polish citizen

We will focus here on the recognition as Polish citizen because this is how our Egyptian half got the citizenship. I will also describe everything from the point of view of a spouse of a Polish citizen. In other situations the process is similar but we don’t know exactly what documents are needed.

When can I apply for the Polish citizenship?

A person who has been married to a Polish citizen for 3 year and stayed in Poland based on permanent residence permit for at least 2 years, can apply for a Polish citizenship. I have already written an article about obtaining temporary and permanent residence permit here. In our case, when Mohamed submitted his application, we had been already married for 6 years and he had lived in Poland for more than 2.5 years based on permanent residence. His total stay in Poland was already more than 5.5 years.

Required documents

The best way to check the required documents is on the website of the office. Then you can be sure that all information is up-to-date. Mazowiecki Urząd Wojewódzki works perfectly and it has all the information on the website. We used only this page and we collected all the documents without problems.

People married to a Polish citizen have to submit:

  • copy of all (even empty ones) pages of the passport
  • copy of permanent residence card
  • decision of granting permanent residence in Poland
  • marriage certificate, not older than 3 months
  • birth certificate (remember that the foreign birth certificate must be registered earlier in Poland)
  • copy of ID or passport of the spouse
  • document that proves knowledge of Polish (can be B1 certificate, certificate of a university degree of studies completed in Polish)
  • one photo
  • filled application
  • written statement about all stays in abroad within previous 2 years
  • proof of payments of application fee of 219 zł

Statement about trips abroad

The statement we got from the office’s website said that we should include all travels outside Poland within previous 3 years. However, in the office the clerk told us that this applies to foreigners not married to Polish citizen. A person who is married to a Polish citizen, has to provide stays outside Poland during the last 2 years.

As you can guess, this part of the application was the most problematic for us. We had to go through all our trips from two years. In the office, the clerk checked Mohamed’s passport and all the stamps. For two years we had been to more than 10 years and it was hard to fit everything on one page. If, as us, you have travelled by car around Schengen and you don’t know where exactly you have crossed the border, you can leave it empty. It’s impossible of us to remember where we crossed the border. After asking the clerk, we left the “point of crossing the border” empty for countries we travelled to by car.

What should you keep in mind?

The documents like marriage certificate or birth certificate must be submitted as original documents taken from the registry office (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego). As for other documents, a copy is enough, but you must bring the original one with you, so the clerk may verify them.

Data in all the attached documents must be identical. Keep that in mind when you are registering foreign documents in Poland. All data like name, last name have to be the same in marriage and birth certificate. They also must be the same as your data in passport.

What documents are not needed?

I’m often very surprised when I see what kind of documents people prepare for their application for residence permit. Work contract, tenancy agreement, family photos… Of course, if someone applies for the residence based on wok, it’s necessary to submit documents like that. Nevertheless, if you apply as a spouse of a Polish citizen, those documents are useless. It’s the same when you apply for the citizenship. If you apply as a spouse of a Pole, no one in the office cares about your work contract, how much you ear, if you rent a flat or own one. Whenever the office finds those facts relevant in the process, they will ask for extra documents. Otherwise it’s really not needed to bring more documents or family pictures.

You may find this information on the web page of the office itself. “If you apply for recognition as Polish citizen based on article 30 paragraph 1 point 2, 3 and 7 of the law of Polish citizenship, you don’t include documents from point 12 and 13. („Jeśli ubiegasz się o uznanie za obywatela polskiego na podstawie art. 30 ust. 1 pkt 2, 3 i 7 ustawy o obywatelstwie polskim, to nie załączasz dokumentów wymienionych w pkt 12 i 13.”). Article 30 paragraph 1 point 2 of the law refers to foreigners who have been living in Poland based on permanent residence permit for 2 years and have been married to a Pole for 3 years. Points 12 and 13 of the requirements from the web page of Mazowiecki Urząd Wojewódzki refer to documents proving stable income and document of tenancy rights respectively.

Confirmation of knowledge of Polish language

Polish language exam

In order to submit the application, you need to prove the knowledge of Polish on B1 level. I believe this is the thing that makes most people illegible to apply for citizenship. A proof of language knowledge may be for example a certificate of passed B1 exam from Polish as a foreign language. You will find all the necessary information here.

Until now the exam had always taken place three times a year: in March, June and November. As I can see, for 2020 there are 4 exam sessions planned: January, March, June and October. The cost of the exam is 150 euro.

Where can I pass the exam?

On the page of certyfikatpolski you will find all the information you need. You choose a place of the exam, contact them, fill the application form and pay for the exam. My advice is to sign up for the exam as early as you can. Sometimes two weeks before the exam there are no places.

How does the exam look like?

The exam is a typical test that you can find on the same level from other languages. There are 5 parts: reading, listening, writing, grammar and speaking. The written examination take part one day and the next day is the oral part. In order to pass it, you need to score at least 50% from each part.

Again, check the website certyfikatpolski. You will find all information and even examples of exams there.

Is the Polish B1 exam difficult?

Let’s face the fact, the B1 exam is not a very high level. It’s a level of good communication. Of course, you also have grammar and writing there. Those are things that you just have to practice for some time. Obviously, Polish and its grammar is not easy for foreigners who have never studies any Slavic languages. Because of that, the exam even B1 is difficult for them. However, I have to admit that I’m always shocked whenever I hear from Poles that they wouldn’t pass this exam themselves. I believe that every Polish native speaker who has secondary education, is able to pass it. So, for Poles the test is easy. It will be difficult for foreigners. Unless they have been living in Poland for 20 years and they speak the language perfectly.

The preparation for exam may be challenging for a person who is not used to taking language tests. Based on our experience I can say that preparatory courses for B1 exam help a lot. Many language schools that teach Polish as a foreign language, make also courses before the test. In the class you can practice all the types of tasks that appear on the exam.

It takes time to get the certificate

Checking the exams takes few weeks. Preparing the certificates as well. If I remember correctly, the certificates for the exam from March, were ready in June. Take that into account if you are planning to pass the exam and add your certificate of Polish language to the citizenship application.

Other ways to prove language knowledge

B1 certificate is not the only way to prove the knowledge of the language. You can also submit a school certificate. If someone moved to Poland as a student and graduated from Polish high school, the report card may certify the language level. If someone graduated from a university in Polish (even if it was abroad), that is also a proof of the language knowledge and you don’t need to take the B1 exam.

How to fill the application?

Surprisingly, the application for recognition as Polish citizen is short and easy to fill. At the beginning, you need to provide basic data, address, information about source of income (which is your work) and also the place where you live. That shouldn’t be complicated.

Later on there is a part “Information on professional achievements, political and social activity” (“Informacje o osiągnięciach zawodowych cudzoziemca, działalności politycznej i społecznej”). What should you write? Where and what position you are working, if you ever got promoted. You can also include any academic output here. Apart from that, write about all the social activities you performed since you moved to Poland: volunteer work, charities etc.

How to justify the application for citizenship?

At the end of the application you need to justify it. How to do that? The easiest way is just to write the truth. Think about it why are you even applying for the citizenship in Poland? What is your connection to this country that you need to have the citizenship? That’s the best solution. No one will give one answer for that because the situation of every foreigner is completely different.

Submitting the application

The best solution is to submit the application in person in Oddział ds. Obywatelstwa in Urząd Wojewódzki in the region where you live. In Warsaw there is online registration for submitting the documents. You can book it here. The new dates appear on the calendar a week in advance. So on Monday you can register for the next Monday. They update the system at 6 p.m. so you have to book it exactly at this time. The free hours are gone within few minutes.

How long will I wait for the decision?

The decision for recognition as Polish citizen takes two months. We were really shocked how quick it is compared to the decision of temporary or permanent residence. Nevertheless we have never waited long for decision about residence, it always took for us 3-4 months. Anyway, the decision for citizenship takes two months. If the time is extended, the office has to inform you about it.

We applied on the 1st of June. The clerk told us that we can forget about it till September because nothing would happen till then. During this time, the office (Urząd ds. Cudzoziemców) asks border guard, police and Internal Security Agency (ABW) about their opinion on the foreigner. They may also pay you a visit at your home. We didn’t have any or we don’t know that we had because we weren’t home.

In our case, it took 2 months and a half since submitting the application until the decision was ready. The office sends a text message when the decision is made. Then you have to pick it up in person.

I got the decision for Polish citizenship – what next?

If the decision is positive, you pick it up from the office and then go to municipality office (Urząd Gminy) to apply for Polish ID.

If, the same as our Egyptian half, in all the documents registered in Poland you have one name and 4 last names, you can consider applying in the Civil Registry (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego) for changing the last name. We did that because, to be honest, I have no idea how they would give Mohamed the ID for four last names if in Poland you can have only two. As a Polish citizen you have the privilege to change your surname. The decision for changing the last name takes up to 30 days.

You will also wait up to 30 days for the ID. Once you have the ID you can apply for the Polish passport which also take up to 30 days to be issued. So after picking up the decision, you will still wait 2 months (or 3 if you are changing last name) tops until you have a Polish ID and passport.

Our experience

To tell you the truth, we were so surprised how easy the process of applying for the Polish citizenship is. The office (Wydział ds. Obywatelstwa w Urzędzie Wojewódzkim) itself, really impressed us. All the information was provided on the webpage. The clerk that was looking into Mohamed’s documents was so nice and she answered all his questions about waiting time for the decision and how to contact the office. What’s more the decision was ready after 2.5 months. The office really works perfectly in this matter. At the beginning we were obviously stressed about the process and how it would look like. In the end it turned out we didn’t have to stress at all. Mohamed met all the requirements, submitted all the necessary documents and finally the decision was positive.