Polish Citizenship Confirmation

Why confirm your Polish citizenship?

During the years we spent working on cases of applying for Polish citizenship, we could see two major reasons for trying to get one’s Polish citizenship confirmed.

The first reason is that a Polish passport equals an EU passport and having Polish citizenship and subsequently applying for a Polish passport means:

– open access to the EU work market
– smaller fees at the EU universities for the EU students
– shorter queues at the EU passport control.

The second reason was the emotional value attached to having back the citizenship of one’s ancestors.

 

How to confirm your Polish citizenship?

To successfully confirm Polish citizenship through one’s Polish ancestry, the following requirements have to be met:

 

1. Polish ancestors are obviously needed.

We need to be aware that until November 11th, 1918 there was no Poland on the map. When Poland was finally reinstated, the first law on Polish citizenship entered into force on January 31st, 1920. This law was granting Polish citizenship to those who met the following conditions:
– whoever lived in Poland (within its borders from 1920) and was registered in the books of inhabitants,
– whoever lived abroad and wanted to confirm their Polish citizenship (on the condition of resigning from their foreign citizenship),
– married women were getting the citizenship of their husbands,
– legitimate children were taking citizenship after the father, illegitimate after the mother (this rule was in force only until January 1951),
– there was a rule of single citizenship.

 

2. There should be no event of loss of Polish citizenship.

The law on Polish citizenship was very developed and has changed several times until today. Below are presented major events that would result in the loss of Polish citizenship:

Until 1951
– Unpermitted military service in a foreign army with the exception of military service in the Allied armies during World War 2.
– Naturalization in a foreign country with the exception of those who were in the age of military service in Poland.
– For women, a marriage with a foreigner.
– Working as a public functionary in a foreign country (ex. policeman, postman, teacher, priest, rabbi, etc.).
– Wives, and children under the age of 18, were losing Polish citizenship with the husband/father.

1951-1962
– Accepting citizenship of a different country.
– Children under 13 were losing their Polish citizenship with their parents.
– Living in the territories lost by Poland after World War 2 and being of Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, or German nationality.
– Choosing foreign citizenship for the children.

1962-2012
– Renouncing Polish citizenship in front of the Polish authorities.
– Children under 16 were also losing citizenship due to the above.

From 2012
– Renouncing Polish citizenship in front of the Polish authorities.

These are the major points that we would like to highlight. They apply in most of the cases, however, the Polish citizenship law is much more complicated and every case needs to be carefully and individually analyzed.

 

3. You need to have documents that will confirm your eligibility.

What is always needed:
– the birth certificate of your Polish ancestor after whom you are confirming your Polish citizenship – the subsequent vital acts that prove your connection to your Polish ancestor.
– the proof that your ancestors had Polish citizenship – such as their Polish passport, military documents, entries in inhabitant books, notary documents, good conduct attestations, etc. Any kind of document issued in Poland can be valuable.
– documents confirming their emigration, such as ship manifests, etc.
– documents confirming the naturalization date of your ancestors or the lack of naturalization.
– more documents might be required by the Polish authorities depending on your specific case.

 

4. All the above requirements are met, am I sure to have my Polish citizenship confirmed?

One has to always be aware that the decision on citizenship confirmation is made based on a set of complicated laws and interpretation of the law can vary in different government offices. Also, the interpretation of the law by the court of justice tends to change from one case to another one (Poland does not use the common law system). Moreover, the office responsible for your case will make their own survey regarding your ancestors during which they may discover facts that you were not aware of.

 

Study case

Adam – a man born in Poland in 1896 in Tarnopol (today in Ukraine), married Jozefa in 1924, they emigrated to the US in 1930 with their four children born in Poland. Adam was naturalized in 1938 as an American. He was a salesman and did not enter military service in the US. Adam had four children born in Poland; his son Franciszek born in 1925 and three girls: Maria born in 1927 and twin girls Ewa and Anna born in 1929 in Poland. Two more boys were born in the US: Stanley in 1931 and Barney in 1934.

Adam should lose his Polish citizenship in 1938 when he was naturalized but he was in the age of military service in Poland so he was protected from the loss of citizenship until May 1950 when due to the changes in the military service age he lost his Polish citizenship together with his wife and their youngest son Barney who was younger than 18.

Adam’s oldest son Franciszek turned 18 in 1943. He joined the American army in 1944 and was dismissed from military service after World War 2. He kept his Polish citizenship as both his reserve and active duty were limited to the service in the army of an Allied country during World War 2. His descendants can confirm their Polish citizenship.

Adam’s oldest daughter Maria turned 18 in 1945 therefore before her father lost his Polish citizenship. However, Maria married in December 1950 an American citizen and, as a result, she lost her Polish citizenship. Her descendants cannot confirm their Polish citizenship.

Ewa and her twin sister Anna turned 18 in 1947, before the loss of Polish citizenship by their father. Ewa worked as a teacher from September 1950 and married an American in 1952. Working as a public functionary made Ewa lose her Polish citizenship in 1950. Her descendants cannot confirm their Polish citizenship.

Anna was also a teacher but she started her work only in 1952. She married an American citizen in 1953. As the loss of the Polish citizenship due to marriage was in force only till January 1951, Anna kept her Polish citizenship and she passed it on to her children and their descendants.

Stanley turned 18 in 1949, before the loss of Polish citizenship by his father. He worked in a grocery store and married an American citizen in 1950. His descendants can confirm their Polish citizenship.

Please note that your eligibility for the confirmation of your Polish citizenship depends on a much more complicated set of laws that were changing several times during the last 100 years. At the same time, the Polish borders were also changing. We have drawn the major lines to give you an idea of what you can expect. To check your eligibility for Polish citizenship you should always consult a specialist.

 

Is the confirmation of citizenship equal to obtaining a Polish passport?

It is a common confusion to mistake the confirmation of Polish citizenship with the Polish passport as a physical document. Once your Polish citizenship is confirmed, you will have to do the following steps to obtain your Polish passport:
– translate your birth/marriage record into a Polish vital record (this can be done through a Polish consulate)
– apply for the unique PESEL number (this can also be done through a Polish consulate)
– apply personally for your Polish passport through a Polish consulate in your country.

 

What if I’m not eligible for the confirmation of Polish citizenship?

If for any reason the citizenship confirmation will not be possible in your case, you still have two more options that you can consider:

1. The Polish Card (Karta Polaka) – applicable for those who have Polish ancestors, who are connected to Polish culture and heritage, and who speak at least basic Polish.
2. Recognition as a Polish citizen – applicable for those with Polish ancestry or Polish Card who are settled in Poland for at least a year based on a permanent residence permit.

 

Article prepared by Katarzyna Kasia Kacprzak for PolishOrigins’ clients

 

See also: Do you need Polish citizenship to live in Poland?

 

13 Responses to “Polish Citizenship Confirmation”

  1. John Kalec says:

    I was born in the US in 1950. Seven of my eight great grandparents were born in Poland with one just over the border near Ostrava, in Czechia. Two of my grandparents were born in Galicia, one in Czechia, and one in Chicago, 8 years after his parents immigrated from Poland. My parents were both born in Illinois. Is it possible for me to obtain dual citizenship? It is purely for the feeling of pride in my ancestry. I look forward to your reply.
    John Kalec

  2. Anthony Fabian says:

    I was born in the US. Six of my great grandparents were born in Poland, the other two were born in a village in Slovakia about 4 kilometers from the Polish border. My one grandparent was born in Poland, but today the village is in Belarus. My parents were both born in Pennsylvania. Could I obtain dual citizenship?

  3. Zenon says:

    Hello John,

    If your grandparents were born before 1920, which is the case as far as I remember from the information you shared with us before, you are not eligible to confirm your citizenship by descent.

    Anthony,

    The same question to you, were your ancestors born after 1920 or did they live in Poland after 1920?

    If not, you both can try to pursue one of the last two options to obtain (not to confirm) citizenship Kasia listed at the end of the article:

    1. The Polish Card
    2. Recognition as a Polish citizen

  4. Jack Uminski says:

    All four of my grandparents were born in the Polish Partitions.

    On my father’s side, his father was born in 1875 in the Russian Partition according to family tradition. We don’t know much about his origins, even searches via internet haven’t turned up much info. He immigrated to the US in 1890. Dad’s mother was born in Posen (Poznan) in 1878 and immigrated to America in 1886. I learned this via documents: US Census, Ship manifest.

    On my mother’s side, both parents were born in Galicia in 1883 and 1888. They immigrated to the US in 1904 and 1907. I have found records of them in ship manifests. I have a baptismal certificate from Poland for my grandmother.

    I visited cousins in Izdebnik and Bialy Bor in 2015 and still keep in touch. My mother’s sister visited them twice in the 1970s and corresponded regularly with them. I have all the letters.

    I speak fairly basic Polish. Perhaps I might qualify for a Karta Polaka?

    Thanks
    Jasiu

  5. Zenon says:

    Jasiu,

    So far we were helping people in getting documents and confirming their Polish citizenship. You don’t qualify for confirming Polish citizenship.

    However, the two last options listed by Kasia are fairly new ones. Karta Polaka for a long time was limited to people of Polish descent from the former Soviet Union Republics. But recently it has changed and now it is an option for all people of Polish descent.

    If you want we can try to learn the legal details of the procedure to apply for Polish Card (Karta Polaka).

  6. Mary Ann Latko Groetsema says:

    My grandfather, born before 1920, immigrated to the USA in the early 1900s but never became a US citizen. He filed the paperwork, but died before he was naturalized. I have a copy of his baptism record from Poland/Galicia. If I can locate my great-grandfather’s registration in one of the inhabitant books or have some other Poland-issued document post-1920, could I be eligible for Polish citizenship? Would my grandfather have to have registered as a Polish citizen in some way in the US?

  7. Zenon says:

    Mary Ann,

    If you can locate any official documents like passport, employment for the Polish government, service in the Polish army or other public institution, registration in a book of inhabitants, issued in 1920 and forward then yes, there is a chance for you (as well as your siblings, cousins, your and their children) to confirm Polish citizenship.

    Before submitting any official applications to the Polish government our experts would assess your concrete case.

    Update:

    After learning more details from Mary Ann and consulting the case with Kasia (author of this article) we have more information which might be useful for all (Mary Ann already received this information).

    Mary Ann’s grandfather left his family in Europe before 1920 when there was no Poland state on the world map. When his parents, who remained in Poland, became Polish citizens in 1920, Mary Ann’s grandfather was already an adult living in the US. It means that his father (Mary Ann’s great-grandfather) couldn’t pass down citizenship to his adult son by default. So, even if we would be able to prove that Mary Ann’s great-grandfather lived in Poland in 1920’s, we do not have the continuity in all generations, all the way to Mary Ann. This is why according to the Polish citizenship and nationality law we cannot confirm Polish Mary Ann’s citizenship by descent.

    Thank you Kasia for straightening out my original comment which might mislead some of the readers.

  8. Olivia says:

    My father was born in Bialystok, Poland, in 1929. His parents were Ukrainian. During the War, apparently all their documents were lost as they ended up in multiple camps in 1943-44, eventually emigrating to Canada by way of Germany, as they feared repatriation to the Soviet Union by Stalin. My father obtained Canadian citizenship in 1954 and remained a Canadian citizen until his death. We have a “Certificate of Birth” issued by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in a parish in Heidenau, Germany in 1947 which stated his birth date, but not birth location. The document is issued on the basis of “civilian documents and confirmed by witnesses.”

    His Polish documents may no longer exist due to the destruction that occurred during the war, and his moving around to different refugee camps. How would I check to see if there are any official POLISH documents in existence? I understand some official Polish documentation would be required for me to claim Polish citizenship by descent.

  9. Aga says:

    Olivia,
    I have sent you an email. Could you please send us more information: What was your father’s name? How do you know he was born in Białystok? What were the names of his parents?

    I will try to check what can be done in your case.

    All the best,

    Agnieszka Pawlus

  10. Vicki says:

    My Grandfather was born in Muzyliw in 1921. My father was born in Austria in 1949. They went to Australia in 1950 and were naturalized in 1965. Would my Dad, myself and my children be eligible for Polish Citizenship?

  11. Aga says:

    Vicki,

    As Katarzyna wrote in the above article, there was one citizenship rule, so if they were naturalized in Australia, it means they automatically lost Polish citizenship. However if you would be interested in researching your roots in today’s Western Ukraine, feel free to contact us.

    Best regards,
    Agnieszka

  12. Hannah says:

    My great-grandfather was born in Michálkovice (Ostrava, Czechia) in 1903, but indicated in all subsequent documentation in the US that he was Polish and born in Michałowice. I’m working with a Polish document service to get any proof of his Polish citizenship. He emigrated to the US in 1905 with his parents, both of whom were born in Poland (father in Wieliczka and mother in Bochnia). My great-grandmother was born in Bialystok in 1907, and emigrated to the US in 1921. They got married in the US in 1925. I found that my great-grandfather filled out a draft card for World War II, but it seems he was never drafted nor served in the US military. I’ve read that even submitting one’s name for potential military service in a foreign country nulls the “military paradox” rule for Polish citizenship, but I’ve also read that WWII is specifically exempt.

    My grandmother was born in 1927 in the US.

    My great-grandparents both naturalized as US citizens in 1943, when my grandmother was 15.

    My grandmother married my US citizen grandfather in 1953.

    My mom was born in 1956 and married my US citizen father in 1986. I was born in 1987.

    My great-grandfather died in 1972, and my great-grandmother died in 2000. Their daughter, my grandmother, died in 2018.

    Is there any chance I may qualify for Polish citizenship by descent? I heard back from one of the Polish law firms I reached out to that I am not eligible because my grandmother, born in the US, reached the age of majority before 1951 and therefore lost her Polish citizenship. Is that the case?

  13. Zenon says:

    Hannah,

    I consulted your case with one of our lawyers specializing in the Polish citizenship law.

    He said the key here is the male ancestor. If he left after 1919 then we could pursue. But your grandfather left Poland in 1905. Your grandmother who left in 1921 doesn’t count, unfortunately…

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