Navigating Legal Requirements for Polish Citizenship as an EU Citizen

Following the change of borders in 1945, as a result of the end of the Second World War, many Poles found themselves outside the country. This number included several hundred thousand of our compatriots who had been deported during the war and during the Stalinist repression deep into the Soviet Union. These people, far from their homeland, struggled and suffered, but nevertheless preserved the language, traditions and customs of their native Poland. For many of them, Polish citizenship was only a dream, as they had not had it since birth. Today, in the era of free Poland, we are seeing the return of descendants of exiles who want to return to their roots and find themselves in the new reality.

Among those wishing to obtain Polish citizenship are also people who do not have Polish roots, but who identify themselves with their country in other ways. Whether through marriage to a Polish citizen or through many years of residence in our country. What are the legal requirements for citizens of the European Union to obtain Polish citizenship?

Legal Regulations Concerning Acquisition and Loss of Polish Citizenship

The legal framework for the acquisition and loss of Polish citizenship is set out in the Act of 2 April 2009 on Polish citizenship (Dz.U. of 2012, item 161), which constitutes the foundation of the regulations in this regard.

The Act is based on two main principles that shape the image of Polish citizenship. The first of these, expressed in Article 2, is the principle of continuity of Polish citizenship, which guarantees its permanence over time. This means that Polish citizenship, once acquired, remains valid in accordance with the provisions in force at the time of its acquisition, regardless of any changes to the citizenship law. Thanks to this principle, persons who have acquired Polish citizenship under previous legislation retain it in accordance with the provisions in force at the time of its acquisition, unless of course, they have lost it in the meantime.

The second principle, set out in Article 3 of the Act, is the exclusivity of Polish citizenship. It addresses the problem of dual or multiple citizenship by establishing unequivocally that if a person has Polish citizenship, he or she is subject only to the provisions of Polish citizenship law. Even if a Polish citizen also holds citizenship of another state, he or she may only invoke his or her Polish citizenship before the Polish authorities, without benefiting from the rights and obligations arising from the other citizenship. This provision provides the foundation for understanding the status of a Polish citizen in an international context and defines his/her rights and obligations towards the Republic of Poland.

What are the ways of acquiring Polish citizenship by a citizen of the European Union?

In Polish law, there are several ways for an EU citizen to also acquire Polish citizenship. Accordingly, we distinguish:

  •   The rule of blood/Ius Sanguinis

According to this principle, a child automatically acquires Polish citizenship if at least one of his/her parents has Polish citizenship, regardless of whether the child was born in Poland or abroad (Art. 14(1) of the Act on Polish Citizenship).

  •   The territory principle/Ius Soli principle

This principle applies to children born or found on the territory of Poland whose parents are unknown or have no citizenship (Art. 14 point 2 and Art.15 of the Act on Polish Citizenship). According to it, the child automatically becomes a Polish citizen.

  •   Full adoption

When a child is adopted by a person or persons holding Polish citizenship, the child also acquires Polish citizenship if the adoption was carried out before the child reached the age of 16. In such a case, the child is considered by law to have Polish citizenship from the moment of birth.

  •   Granting citizenship by the President of the Republic of Poland

Pursuant to Article 18 of the Act on Polish Citizenship, the President of the Republic of Poland may grant Polish citizenship to a foreigner upon their application. The President of the Republic of Poland has full discretion in granting Polish citizenship, regardless of the circumstances. In the case of children, the granting of citizenship to one parent automatically extends to children under their parental authority. An application for granting Polish citizenship to a person residing in Poland is filed through the intermediary of a voivode appropriate for the place of residence, and in the case of persons residing abroad, through a consul of the Republic of Poland. The application may be filed in person or by correspondence, with an officially certified signature. Documents in a foreign language must also be submitted together with their translation into Polish by a sworn translator or by a consul of the Republic of Poland. The form of the application for Polish citizenship and other formal requirements are set out in the relevant ordinance of the President of the Republic of Poland.

Recognition as a Polish citizen

The provisions contained in the Act of 2 April 2009 on Polish citizenship introduce opportunities for foreigners who may be recognised as Polish citizens through administrative procedures. This process, known as recognition as a Polish citizen, is available to foreigners residing in Poland on the basis of relevant permits who, during a long-term stay in Poland, have integrated into the local community, speak the Polish language, have accommodation and sources of livelihood secured, comply with Polish law and do not pose a threat to the security of the country. This process specifically covers refugees, persons without citizenship, children and spouses of Polish citizens and persons of Polish origin. The procedure for obtaining the status of a Polish citizen will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Administrative Procedure. The application for recognition as a Polish citizen shall be submitted on a specific form, determined by the Regulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of 3 August 2012. (Journal of Laws, item 916).

If you think that you already have full knowledge about obtaining Polish citizenship by descent or recognition as a Polish citizen, we encourage you to take the test which you can find at It will allow you to check whether you actually have a chance of becoming a citizen of the Republic of Poland based on your Polish ancestry. 

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