Are you married to a Pole and want to get a residence permit in Poland? Perhaps you’re married to a Polish man or woman and would like to move back here.

Well, you’re in luck. It is possible, but just like more residence processes in Poland, it’s a drawn-out affair.

In this article, Ron, an Australian friend of mine with a Polish wife, runs us through a few things to know about getting a residence permit based of marriage to a Polish national.

1              Know what you need. 

There are very good sources on the internet: in general, the procedures are explained clearly.

Hopefully by using this post as a guide and the appropriate sites (listed below), you will be able to get familiar with the process. This post is here for you to fill in the gaps.

The good news is that there are not that many gaps in between the internet sites and this post. But to be clear: applying for both the Permanent and Temporary Residence permits are detailed and requires a lot of documentation to be assembled along with a large number of visits to the Foreigners Affairs office in your Wojewoda.

2              Background

This post is a little specific: I married Mariola my Polish wife in 2005 in Australia. We moved to Poland at the end of 2015. I have applied so far for 2 Temporary residence permits (Pobyt Czasowy) and one permanent residence permit (Pobty staly).  Hence this advice here only applies to married foreigners. Sorry I cannot write for folk who are, say, applying for student permits or employment related permits.

3              Assumptions

  • You re a NON-EU passport holder
  • You do NOT have Polish ancestors
  • You have been married for at least 3 years before your application

4              The Process

I think the best way to do this would be to “walk” chronologically through the process which I had to undergo: remember this is an application on the basis of marriage to a Polish citizen.

1              First of all READ the websites. The ones I find the most useful are: – This one is pretty good. Note that the information related to the Temporary residence card is outdated, despite me writing to them to tell them the form had changed (they simply ignored me). In particular the current FORM as on their website is the wrong one-if you arrive at the office with the wrong form, you will have to print off the correct one, fill it in and make copies -all very hard to do on the spot.  – Note that this site is the one applicable to my own Wojewoda. Each Wojewoda has their own office for foreigner’s affairs. (Much like states in Australia) They all have slightly different procedures. You have to apply to your own Wojewoda.  – This site is the site for foreigners living in the Wojewoda for Warsaw. It has online forms that can be filled in.  – This one is the official national government site and appears to be useful, but it does not take long for you to find out that it’s all a front: most of the site after the front page is in Polish! However, there are user friendly forms.

1              CHECK the documents you require. Particularly in the case of marriage, a translation of the marriage certificate is required. Better still is if your spouse and you go to the “Palace of Marriages” in your town or city and register the marriage in terms of Polish law. For a marriage-basis application this is a really good thing to do, as you will then be able to return to the Palace of Marriages and get an official certificate each time you apply for a permit

2              Make sure you have been married for at least 3 years, this is a prerequisite

3              ASSEMBLE the docs. Be warned, there are a lot and diverse. As I mentioned in the case of marriage, a marriage certificate is required, better still, depending on where you were married, a registration as a marriage in the Republic is even better. You will need copies of your passport, also photographs taken in the approved format. You will also need a copy of your wife’s Dowod Osobisty (=Poland ID card). Note you also have to pre-pay the fee AND keep evidence.

4              Once you assemble all of the documents you will then need to SUBMIT the documents. In the case of Malopolska (which is my home Wojewoda) you have to actually make an appointment on a telephone line which always ems to be engaged for an appointment to LODGE your documents. This is caused by the sheer increase in the number of applicants for residence, mainly, as it turns out, Ukrainians.

5              You then have to be physically present to submit your documents. You will be fingerprinted whilst you are there. No ink pads – the electronic ones! Note in the case of applications based on marriage your spouse is best to go with you.

6              After this be prepared to be visited by the local police who will turn up, unannounced, at your registered address and ask you questions about your domestic situation. As an Australian, this turning up unannounced was very unusual for me.

7              A decision will eventually be posted to your registered address by registered mail, hopefully in the positive. You will then need to pay the fee for a card.

8              You will need to physically pick this card up-take your passport as ID and proof of paying the card issuance fee. This is on the average 2 months after the paper decision is posted to you.

9              You will then hopefully be issued with a Temporary residence card-valid for up to 1 year. This is the good news. The bad news is that you will need to apply for it again after a year-and go through the whole process again, the lot.

10           Note that for the 2nd temporary residence card application you will be visited by the police again and then also called for an interview in the office. They usually do not do an interview for the 1st temporary residence card. Note that this formal interview will be in Polish-and your spouse cannot interpret. Without knowing anyone in Poland, I ended up asking a very bright young bloke working at the local hamburger shop if he would not mind making some extra $ and he became my translator: he proved to be excellent and I have just asked him for my last interview.

11           For the 2nd temporary residence card, note that the police will visit your home again in order to check that you are actually present there. The 2nd temporary residence card will be valid for up to 3 years, there does not appear to be a standard, it all depends on the individual circumstances.

12           Note that for a Permanent residence permit, the same sequence as temporary residence applies. By the time the police visited me for the third time it was a pure formality. I live in a small town and I kept on bumping into the police sergeant at the local ships with his kids!

Anything else you need to know?

1              TAX clearance

The process for getting a permanent residence permit has a significant and hidden (=depending on which website you read) sting. Note that this requirement does not get mentioned anywhere in any of the official Wojewoda websites but it IS mentioned only on the migrant.plwebsite. And in fact when I applied for my permanent residence permit, it was asked for. Here is the brief paragraph listing ( amongst the other requirements) this requirement from the website.

NOTE AGAIN, this is NOT stated anywhere on any of the official Wojewoda websites!

a certificate of discharge of fiscal obligations due to the Treasury issued by the tax office with jurisdiction over the foreigner’s place of residence

Note that this is where a whole new world of complications can occur. To get a certificate of tax clearance implies that you have previously submitted a tax return…if you have not, you will need to file tax returns…for every year including the current one.

So if in fact you have been happily living in Poland and have not filed a tax return for, say, a few years…you then need to file all tax returns up to the current tax year. The Wojewoda will require our latest tax clearance. You will need to catch up as you cannot get a current tax clearance if your returns are not up to date.

So if you have never filed a tax return or have years missing…you will have to catch up.

Filing a tax return may get complicated as you may already be paying, or have paid, tax in your own home country. We were fortunate in that we are Australian, and Australia has a double tax treaty with Poland, which spares both Australians and Poles from having to pay tax twice.

I suggest the following actions:

  • Do a web search on paying tax/ declaring your tax status in Poland: read up
  • Do a web search on whether your own country has a double taxation treaty with Poland (and hope it does-basically if you have been working in some Gulf state with no tax treaty and indeed no income tax, you might have issues)
  • Do a web search on English speaking tax lawyers-then call them and ascertain if they can file on your behalf

Ultimately the tax lawyer can do it all for you-up to and including documenting what is known as the PIT 36, or income tax return.

Once you get the PIT 36, you will need to go to the correct tax office (urzad skarbowy) where you live and lodge it and, most importantly, get it stamped.

This is what the Wojewoda will want to see as part of your application.

They will also ask you to sign an acknowledgement that you are in compliance with tax reporting requirements. This acknowledgment is backed up ( on the form you sign and date) with a frightening set of penal code acts with penalties and punishments for those who are tempted not to tell  the truth!

Some points:

  • Accountants in Poland are all qualified lawyers (unlike Australia where accountants are accountants and lawyers are lawyers)
  • Factor in time for this-getting the tax stuff is not going to happen overnight!
  • The Polish tax year goes from Jan to Dec with filing required to be done by 1 April.

I’ve tried to condense what can be a complex topic in a few lines-nowhere else does it pay more to get professional advice than in this area!

2              Permanent residence permit-interviews

  • An interview will be done of you and your spouse for the permit application. This interview is to determine if your marriage is real or simply contrived for the purposes of obtaining a permit.
  • You may or may not receive another visit from the Straz Graniczna.

Final thoughts

I am comfortable and concur with this process-at least there is a process and the interview is there to determine that your relationship is genuine. If you are a little intimidated, my only comment is this: check out the procedure for Australia. It is a lot longer, a whole lot more expensive, a lot more stringent.

This one is kindergarten compared to Aussies.

Lastly for all those new to Poland one big tip: this is a paper and red stamp-based bureaucracy.

Do NOT be fooled by the “EU veneer” that sits on everything with modern-looking websites! It’s a front!

Take Everything, every single document you can lay your hands on. You will probably be asked for them!

If in doubt: take it!