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How to Get Polish Citizenship by Descent

How to Get Polish Citizenship by Descent

Polish passport is a desirable passport as it’s a relatively strong EU passport. It’s not a well-known fact that getting Polish citizenship by descent is relatively easy, similar to getting Italian or Irish citizenship by descent (my husband actually got that one!).

If you have a true Polish heritage that you can prove, it might be worth obtaining another citizenship. Once you get it, you don’t actually even have to live in Poland – you can live freely anywhere in the EU.

Polish Citizenship By Descent: Useful or Not?

Polish citizenship might not have been very attractive back in the 80s, when many Poles were escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, but these days it’s a completely different story. With Poland being in the EU, Polish passport rose in the rankings of the most powerful passports in the world.

These days you can travel visa-free to 155 with a Polish passport, plus many other countries only require a visa on arrival.

Most importantly, unlike Germany or the Netherlands for example, Poland does not require you to surrender your other citizenships, so you can have multiple nationalities.

One thing to note is that Poland is very strict when it comes to identifying Polish citizens. Once you get your Polish nationality you cannot pose as a foreigner in Poland.

In fact, Polish nationality law is based on the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood) so since kids automatically get Polish citizenships if mother or father is Polish, the government claims that they’re already Polish before you even submit any documents for them.

How to Apply for Polish Citizenship through Ancestry

Just like any citizenship by descent, it will require patience as the process is lengthy and requires a lot of documents. Unlike in Ireland which requires one of the grandparents to be born in the country, Poland has no such rule.

Moreover, there is no limit to the number of generations that can exist between you and your Polish ancestor, as long as they were born in the XXth century.

I can attest that it’s indeed possible, as I know two people who received Polish citizenship by descent based on their relatives 3 generations back.

Most Important Things to Know:

The most important rule is that there’s a continuing blood line. Your relatives could have been Polish a very long time ago and you will be eligible unless someone on the way lost their Polish citizenship. One could lose their Polish citizenship if:

  • kids of Polish citizens were born abroad before 1920, as then they would not be granted Polish citizenship at birth
  • they acquired another citizenship before 1951 as it caused a loss

That means that if your great-grandmother was Polish, but your grandparents lost their Polish citizenship, then you’re not eligible.

Documents Needed

You’ll be happy to hear that most importantly, Poland does not require language knowledge to grant citizenship by descent.

The most important document you need is proof of your relative’s Polish nationality. It has to be issued by Polish government. If you don’t possess it, it might be possible to find it in various Polish archives – but, you might need to hire someone to help you find it, especially if you don’t speak Polish.

It doesn’t need to be a birth certificate. You can get population censuses, registration registers, tax and military registers, voter lists, indexes and questionnaires related to old Polish passports and identity cards.

I definitely recommend hiring a Polish firm specializing in this matter, because you don’t want to go through all this process and make sure that no ancesor lost their Polish citizenship before you.

Once it’s establish you need to submit a petition to grant citizenship (Wniosek o obywatelstwo) along with starting to register your birth by Polish authorities (equivalent to American CRBA basically).

This can be done at the Consulate or in Poland, but if your original birth certificate is from outside of the EU you need to get it apostilled and then translated by a sworn translator.

How Long Does it Take?

These days the processing time takes about a year. There is no official processing time, so unfortunately all you have to do is wait.

Can Your Spouse Join You in Poland After Obtaining Your Citizenship?

This is the most common question asked and the answer is yes. Once you obtain your citizenship, you need to register your marriage certificate in Poland (same way you registered


Thursday 16th of May 2024

My father was born in 1887 in Łódź, Poland to two Polish parents, and my mother was born in Lithuania, in her parents' country home, in 1908 (Both her parents were Polish and she grew up in Warsaw). I was born in the U.S. in 1945 while my parents were still Polish citizens but they took American citizenship in 1946. My brother was born a bit later in 1946. Would he and I qualify to obtain Polish citizenship now?

Alina Rubinstein

Sunday 26th of May 2024

@AnnaEverywhere, Thanks for your response! I enjoy your website.


Thursday 16th of May 2024

There is a chance for you, because your parents were still Polish when you were born, so there was no break in lineage (they lost their Polish citizenship after you were born). For your brother it depends on the actual dates of obtaining their US citizenships and whether it was after his birth or before.

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