Pick what you’re interested in
EU v. non-EU
Recently Poland has become an attractive place to move to and to do business. While being an attractive destination for both tourists and entrepreneurs, people are still unfamiliar with the rules and regulations on visas, work permits, residence cards, and the local authorities’ requirements.
The knowledge of local law is essential, that is why we would like to share some information on obtaining a residence permit here in Poland (or as it’s officially known “to legalise your stay”).
When using the word “Residence permit”, foreigners usually mean any document, that would allow them to stay in Poland legally for a longer period of time. However, there is one major thing we have to point out beforehand: there are different laws, that govern the process of legalization and naturalisation of EU and non-EU foreigners.
The first one being the Act of 14/07/2016 on the entry into, residence in and exit from the Republic of Poland of nationals of the European Union Member States and their family members. The second one is the Act on Foreigners, sometimes also called Aliens Act.
If you are not a EU citizen or a spouse of a EU national, the rules, we describe in the next part of this guide do not apply to you. You should skip it, and take a look at the second part of the guide.
Rules for EU Nationals
Keep in mind, if you come from a EU country, and you intend to stay in Poland, it is not necessary for you to apply for a visa or a residence permit beforehand.
You can stay in Poland for up to 90 days (180 days if you enter the country in order to seek employment, or even longer even you can provide the authorities with an appropriate confirmation).
Once that time is up, you have to inform the local authorities and register your stay in Poland.
Be advised, that informing the local authorities of your intention to stay in Poland is not the same as obtaining the so called “zameldowanie” or “meldunek” — a confirmation of your registered address, issued by the authorities.
When informing the authorities, you have to satisfy one of the conditions, specified in the provision of the applicable law.
The person has to confirm, that he/she is one of the following:
- an employee of a Polish company;
- self-employed or conducts business activities in Poland;
- a spouse of a Polish national;
- a student, who plans to study in Poland;
- in the possession of sufficient funds to provide for himself/herself.
Remember: It’s not legal to reside in Poland without a proper document, even if you’re a EU country citizen.
If your spouse is a EU citizen, he/she has the same obligation as described above. Spouses and other family members, who are EU nationals are required by law to register their stay in Poland.
However if he/she is not a citizen of one of the EU countries, he/she will have to obtain the so-called “Residence card of a family member of a Union (UE) citizen” — Karta pobytu członka rodziny obywatela UE.
Under the applicable law, “a EU citizen” is a foreigner, who is a national of:
- another member state of the European Union,
- another member of the European Economic Area or
Meaning, that if you are a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, the same rules apply to you.
After 5 years of continuous stay in Poland, a EU national obtains the right of permanent residence in Poland, and can apply for a document to confirm the right.
The same applies for spouses/family members of a EU national, after 5 years of continuous residence in Poland, they can apply for a Permanent residence card of a family member of an EU citizen.
The documents are called in Polish: “Dokument potwierdzający prawo stałego pobytu” and “Karta Stałego Pobytu Członka Rodziny Obywatela UE” respectively.
Please bear in mind, that if you want to obtain the said right, you cannot leave Poland for a period longer than 6 months, otherwise your stay will be considered as interrupted.
Furthermore, if you cannot stay outside of the country for a period longer than 6 months in a year, otherwise your stay will not be considered continuous.
Rules for Non-EU nationals
If you are not a EU citizen, then the road ahead of you is going to be a tad more difficult.
These are the 3 major documents, that Poland issues to non-EU foreigners:
- Temporary Residence permit — zezwolenie na Pobyt Czasowy;
- Permanent Residence permit — zezwolenie na Pobyt Stały;
- Long-term EU-resident permit — zezwolenie na Pobyt Rezydenta długoterminowego UE;
If you are not a refugee, a person without a citizenship, you weren’t granted asylum in Poland but came as an employee, student or to conduct business activities, you are interested in the Temporary Residence Permit.
Permanent Residence Permit (document #2 on our list) is usually not available to the majority of foreign nationals residing in Poland.
Unless of course:
- your spouse is a Polish national (you have to have been married for at least 3 years) or
- you have a valid Pole’s Card, or
- you are of Polish descent and have documents to prove that
- number of other less common circumstances, (the full list is available here),
then you can apply for a permanent resident status almost immediately. If you are none of the above applies to you, you cannot take this shortcut. There are no exceptions. You have to apply for a temporary resident status.
Remember, aside from submitting the necessary documents, confirming your status, such as documents from your university, from your employer, your company’s income, evidence of sufficient funds to cover expenses (students) there are conditions that every foreigner applying for a card has to meet, such as:
- submitting documents in person;
- filling in the form in Polish only;
- allowing the authorities to take the fingerprints;
If you are applying as an employee of a Polish company, please remember, that you are also have to proof, that you have a place of residence (place of stay) here in Poland.
To prove it you can present: a lease agreement, or a confirmation of your registered address, issued by the authorities (the so called “zameldowanie”).
Note, you are also obliged to pay an administrative fee, pay attention as the amount differ, depending on the type of the application:
- PLN 340 for students,
- PLN 440 for those applying as a employee of a Polish company,
- PLN 440 for those conducting business activities.
- PLN 340 for family members.
Additionally, PLN 50 are to be paid for the actual card, once you receive your decision.
Take this into consideration: while the number of foreigners outside the European Union has been steadily rising in the past couple of years, the authorities usually have the same resources they had, let’s say 5 years ago.
And while some improvements have been introduced, it takes way longer than expected to review residence permit applications.
Need help getting your residence permit in Poland? We can help!