Polish Citizenship by Descent

Poland is part of the EU and has one of the world's best passports.

More than 9 million Americans have Polish ancestry, with a large concentration of them in the Chicago area.

Polish citizenship by ancestry is very open. But not all ethnic Poles could claim Polish citizenship; those whose ancestors left before the independence in 1918 would have had to be able to trace their address in local registries.

Your ancestor could have also lost their Polish citizenship if they became a citizen of another country before 1951. If your ancestors are still alive, they can apply for restoration of citizenship in order for you to apply.

Polish Citizenship By Descent
Program SnapshotWhat is Polish CBDEligibilityRequirementsBenefitsTypes of ApplicantsTimelineHow to ObtainFees and CostsStatisticsFAQs

Your right to citizenship is based on Jus Sanguinis (blood right)

Italy deploys a principle called Jure Sanguinis when it comes to citizenship. Simply put, this law ensures that anyone with legitimate ancestral ties to Italy can be entitled to Italian citizenship through descent.

The Polish Citizenship Act indicates the basic principle of acquiring Polish citizenship by birth, i.e. based on the principle of the law of blood (ius sanguinis).

There are roughly 20,000,000 people of Polish ancestry living outside Poland, making the Polish diaspora one of the largest in the world.

There are roughly 8.2 MIllion Americans in the US with Polish ancestry.

Polish citizenship and nationality law is set out in the Polish Citizenship Act of 2009, which was published on 14 February 2012, and became law in its entirety on 15 August 2012. To qualify for Polish Nationality by Descent (called Confirmation of Polish Citizenship), an applicant must have a direct Polish ancestor. This can be a parent, grandparent or great grandparent born in Poland. The act indicates the basic principle of acquiring Polish citizenship by birth, i.e. based on the principle of the law of blood (ius sanguinis).

Free Polish Citizenship
Eligibility Assessment


Who is eligible for Polish Citizenship by Descent?

Your right to apply is based on Jus Sanguinis (blood right)

Individuals with parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents born in Poland may be eligible for Polish citizenship. The intriguing aspect is that there are no constraints on the number of generations you can trace back to establish your Polish ancestry, provided you possess Polish records validating that your ancestor held Polish citizenship after 1920.

Poland deploys a principle called Jure Sanguinis when it comes to citizenship. Simply put, this law ensures that anyone with legitimate ancestral ties to Poland  can be entitled to Polish citizenship through descent. However, it is crucial to be aware of circumstances that, as determined by the law, might lead to the loss of citizenship along the ancestral journey.

How do you determine if you are eligible?

You need to have at least one ancestor who:

  • Was born in Poland (or one of the former territories) and resided there after 1920; or
  • Left Poland before 1920, but your ancestors’ residential address can be found in the Polish, Prussian, Russian or Austro-Hungarian registers; and
  • Maintained their Polish citizenship until the day of your birth
  • Did not immigrate to the soviet Union
  • Ancestor did not serve in the military of an axis power

To qualify you must confirm that the chain of Polish citizenship has never been severed across generations in order to qualify. The Polish citizenship of your ancestor must have been passed down through the family before it reached you.

None of your ancestors should have lost their Polish citizenship before transferring it to the following generation. Therefore, the Polish Citizenship By Ancestry program just serves to prove that you have been a Polish citizen all along, even if you and your parents were unaware of this.

Condition 3

Requires the applicant to hold a Slovakian residence permit (hyperlink to Slovak Residency requirement), which is an unusual requirement for citizenship by ancestry programs. However, this allows for more extensive vetting of potential applicants. There is no set time for how long an applicant must hold their residency, and the residency application process is simplified for the purposes of the citizenship by descent program. Additionally, there is no physical residence card issued. In practice, you can apply for both residence and citizenship at the same time at your nearest Slovak embassy, without needing to come to Slovakia for any part of the process.

Alternatively, you can obtain a "Slovak Living Abroad" (hyperlink to SLA section/def )certificate, also known as "semi-citizenship," which grants you a residence permit and a physical residency card.

(SEE SLA Requirements- hyperlink)

The duration of the entire process is currently unknown, but it is certain that you will not be required to demonstrate proficiency in Slovak or renounce your other citizenship upon obtaining Slovak citizenship.

Regarding your family members, your spouse will not receive any special treatment. If your children were born before you became a Slovak citizen, they would need to have a qualifying Slovak ancestor to be eligible for citizenship (hyperlink to children FAQ).

For example, if you are qualifying through your Slovak great-grandfather (3rd generation), your children, who are four generations removed, would not be eligible. However, any children born to you after you become a Slovak citizen would automatically inherit Slovak citizenship at birth.

How would my ancestors have lost their Polish Citizenship?

There are many ways your Polish ancestors could have lost citizenship, for example: If your male ancestor:

  • Became a citizen of another country, and also
  • Turned 50 between 1920 and 1938, or
  • 60 between 1938 and 1951…

…then he would have lost his Polish citizenship. (These dates and ages have to do with compulsory military service in Poland at the time)

  • It doesn't matter if the male ancestor passed his Polish citizenship to his kids before losing it himself. Which, wasn’t always possible – according to the Polish laws at the time, all his underaged (younger than 18) children lost their Polish citizenship with him.

For women,

  • Between 1920 and 1951, Polish citizenship law stated that a child born within wedlock gained their father’s citizenship. But children born out of wedlock gained their mother’s citizenship
  • If your Polish female ancestor married a foreigner before 1951, she would lose her Polish citizenship. Additionally, if she naturalized in a foreign country before 1951, she would lose her Polish citizenship.


What are Polish citizenship application requirements?

One of the easiest citizenship by descent programs in the EU

What documents are required to apply for Polish Citizenship by Descent?

Documents Required to Confirm the Possession of Polish Citizenship by Descent are divided into 3 groups:

Polish documents proving Polish citizenship of your ancestors
  • Proof of residence, residence registration cards
  • Extracts from Registers of Permanent Residents
  • Electoral rolls to the Polish Parliament and local authorities
  • Military enlistments
  • Entries in real estate registers
  • Notarial deeds
  • Polish civil acts: birth and marriage certificates
  • Documents that prove the confirmation/recognition of Polish citizenship
  • Certificates of good standing/police clearance certificates
  • Medical, school and other official certificates
  • Copies of Polish ID cards, passports, travel documents, military books, and other identity cards
Documents Proving the Chain of Citizenship Was Not Broken

It is necessary to prove that there was no loss of Polish citizenship as a result of emigration and naturalization in another country. Relevant documents produced by the country in which your ancestor lived and finally settled are:

  • Naturalization acts (also of previous generations)
  • Documents proving the acquisition of foreign citizenship
  • Documents of military records until January 19, 1951
  • Documents proving jobs held until that date
Documents That Establish the Family Line

Usually the most easily obtainable documents are those proving the family line from your ancestors that emigrated from Poland to you. These are:

  • Naturalization acts (also Birth, marriage (divorce) certificatesof previous generations)
  • Parents' and grandparents' birth, marriage (divorce) certificates
  • Name change certificates
  • Certified copy of each applicant's valid foreign passport


Family Privileges

EU Education
The right to an education in any EU member state.
EU Healthcare Rights
The right to free public health services in every EU member state.


Live & Work in the EU
The ability to live and work in any EU member state indefinitely.
Future Generations
Automatically passes on to
future generations.


Consular Protection
Each member state’s entitlement to consular protection while visiting another country.

Leverage / Control

Renounce Citizenship
Give up your ancestral passport and your high-tax citizenship.
Local Elections
The ability to cast a ballot in local elections in other EU countries.

Mobility Rights

Schengen Mobility
Mobility without restriction between members and other European nations.
Visa Free Travel
Automatically passed down to
future generations

Tax Efficiency

Additional investment

A second passport will expand your options for tax planning.

Free Polish Citizenship
Eligibility Assessment

What types of applicants qualify for ancestry-based citizenship?

Types of applicants to Polish citizenship

Path #1

By Birth

Path #2

By Descent

Path #3

Citizenship by Naturalization

Citizenship By Birth

Children born to at least one Polish parent acquire Polish citizenship irrespective of place of birth.

Citizenship By Descent

By establishing Permanent Residency in Italy, on the basis of being eligible for Citizenship by Descent, you can obtain citizenship within 2-4 months. Minimal physical presence in Italy is required.

Citizenship by Naturalization

An applicant who has resided legally in Poland for a continuous period of at least 3 years on the basis of a permanent residence permit, an EU long-term residence permit or the right of permanent residence may for Naturalized Citizenship.

How long does it take to get Polish Citizenship by Descent?

The process can take a year or more once your application is submitted. After citizenship confirmation, there are additional steps as new citizens must obtain Polish civil records certificates (birth and marriage if applicable) in order to actually apply for a passport.

Can I apply on my own?

How long does it take to get Polish Citizenship by Descent

The Do-It-Yourself Route (DIY): 24-36 months

Adds 6 to 24 months to the process

  • If DIY simply added 4 to 5 hours more of work, that's one thing but....What if I told you that the DIY route automatically adds no less than 6 months, and more likely 1-2 years to the process?
  • With the perpetual learning curve of how and what actions to take, coupled with the inclusion of superfluous steps resulting from a deficient grasp of the government's true requirements, the majority of self-directed endeavors endure an additional six-month delay in the completion of their applications.

Delays compound on each other

  • During the additional six months DIYers spend preparing their own petitions, hundreds of qualified applicants will have filed their applications before you, making your wait that much longer
  • If you make a single mistake, and are denied as a result, then you're sent back to the end of the line.

How to obtain Italian Citizenship by Descent

How to Apply for Your Polish European Passport

After you have your Polish citizenship confirmed and are legally recognized as a Polish citizen, you can apply for the Polish European passport.

Visit Registration

Anyone who wants to apply for a Polish passport must first book a visit to the Polish Consulate at their OFFICIAL WEBSITE. Without booking a visit first, it is not possible to apply. Everyone must apply in person. It is not possible to send the application and documents by mail or to be represented by anyone else, as today Polish passports are bio-metric and fingerprints must be taken at the Consulate.

Polish Civil Acts

To file an application for the Polish European passport after confirming your citizenship, it is necessary to attach your Polish birth and marriage certificates to your application. In the event that you were born and/or got married outside Poland, you must submit translated foreign certificates to the Polish Civil Registry Office and obtain Polish vital records. This procedure is called transcription and usually presents no problems or difficulties. Processing usually takes 3-4 weeks.

PESEL (national Insurance Number)

Due to the latest changes in the Polish PESEL and civil acts system, there is a new demand by some Polish Consulates to apply for a PESEL number before applying for a passport. In practice these two applications can and should be processed by the Consulate at the same time.

Temporary Passport

If you are in a hurry to receive your passport, you may apply for a temporary one. Consulates can usually issue temporary passports on the same day. Since Poland entered the EU and with the substantial improvement in the system of Polish passports, however, the regular 10-year passport is issued quite fast (1-2 months), so in most cases a temporary one is not necessary.

Passport Photos

Passport photos must be taken at the most 6 months before applying for the passport. These and your signatures is actually the only things you need to do by yourself.


You only need to pay for the passport while applying at the Consulate.

How to obtain your Polish Dual Citizenship

Applying for Polish Citizenship by Descent:
A Step-by-Step Guide

Confirmation and Registering of your Polish Citizenship

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Determine through Polish legislation if you qualify for the confirmation of Polish citizenship by descent.

Step 2: Document Collection

Collect all relevant ancestral documents, meaning- issued by Polish Authorities in Poland after 1920. The most important issue for the confirmation of Polish citizenship are Polish documents. Pursuant to the POLISH CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 2011, an application not supported by Polish documents will not be even accepted for processing. This new Polish citizenship law almost completely transfers the burden of proof to the applicant.

Step 3: Translation, Apostille, and Notarization

All foreign documents must be translated into Polish and certified by a Polish Sworn Translator or by a Polish Consulate.

Step 4: Application Preparation

The official 11-page application effective in 2011 should be filed in Polish. Once the application is filed, it must be processed by a Head of Province relevant to the last place of residence in Poland. Direct contact with an inspector who handles the case at the Provincial Office ensures that we are able to closely follow the course of the entire procedure.

Step 5: Transcription

To file an application for a Polish European passport after confirming your Polish citizenship, it is necessary to attach the your birth and marriage certificates. In the event that you were born and/or got married outside of Poland, you must submit translated foreign certificates to the Polish Civil Registry Office and obtain Polish vital records. This procedure is called transcription and usually poses no problems or difficulties. It takes 3-4 weeks to process.

Step 6: PESEL

Each Polish citizen and permanent resident in Poland has a Polish Resident Identification Number PESEL. This number is required to receive a Polish passport, a Polish ID, or to open a bank account and perform other acts-in-law essential for Polish citizens. PESEL is granted via a consulate when the passport application is filed.

Step 7: Submission of Application

The entire process ends with preparing and filing an application for a Polish European passport and attaching all the aforementioned documents. You must personally submit the passport application to the nearest Polish consulate in your country of residence. To file the application, you must make an appointment via the OFFICIAL WEBSITE. If you fail to do so, the consulate may not accept the application.

Fees and Costs

What are the Government Fees and Costs related to Polish Citizenship by Descent

Government Application Fees

Administering an application for granting a Polish citizenship including the delivery of a certificate of granting or denial of granting a Polish citizenship*

  • $384 USD

Administering an application for a restoration of Polish citizenship including the delivery of the decision on restoration of Polish citizenship*

  • $43 USD

Administering an application for a confirmation of Polish citizenship including the delivery of the decision

  • $86 USD

Passport Fee:

  • Issuing a passport (Adult): $118 USD
  • Issuing a passport for a child under 12 years of age: $38 USD


Polish Immigration to the United States

There have been four significant waves of immigration from Poland to the United States since the days of those first settlers—romantics, explorers, and individuals merely seeking a better economic existence. The first and smallest, brought on by Poland's split, lasted roughly from 1800 to 1860 and was primarily made up of political dissidents and individuals who left after the breakup of their national state. Between 1860 and World War I, a second, significantly larger wave occurred. During this time, immigrants sought a better quality of life economically and mostly belonged to the rural class, hence the term "za chleben emigrants" (for bread). A third wave of political refugees and dissidents arrived between the end of World War I and the end of the Cold War. A fourth wave of wakacjusze immigrants—those who enter the country on tourist visas but find work and remain there either illegally or legally—has occurred since the demise of the Soviet Union and Poland's political changes. Most of these economic immigrants want to make money so they can go back to Poland.

Wave 2: The Working Force (1854-World War 1)

The establishment of Panna Maria, an agricultural settlement in Texas, by roughly 800 Polish Catholics from Silesia in 1854 marked the beginning of the second wave of immigration. The floodgates of immigration were also opened by this symbolic opening of America to Poles. The newcomers tended to congregate in industrial Midwest and Middle Atlantic States cities and towns including New York, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis, where they found employment as steelworkers, meatpackers, miners, and later autoworkers. These cities continue to have sizable Polish American populations. The crucial role that these Poles in America played in the expansion and development of the American labor movement—Joseph Yablonski of the United Mine Workers being just one example—remains as one of their most enduring legacies.

During this time, there is once more confusion over the precise number of Polish immigrants, and there is significant underreporting, particularly during the 1890s when immigration was at its peak. However, it is generally accepted that roughly 2.5 million Poles moved to the United States between the middle of the nineteenth century and World War I. This migratory wave can be further divided into two subsequent movements of Poles from various parts of their divided country.

Wave 3: War Refugees (World War 1- Cold War)

It was anticipated that a significant number of Polish immigrants would return to their native country following the conclusion of World War I and the restoration of an independent Polish state. Although there was no such exodus, immigration over the following generation significantly decreased. This was greatly influenced by the Great Depression as well as the 1920s immigration quotas enforced by the United States. A extra 500,000 immigrants—many of them refugees—from Poland arrived between 1918 and the late 1980s and the fall of communism, however, due to political tyranny in interwar Europe, the displacement caused by World War II, and the exodus of dissidents.

Wave 4: 1980 - Present

Now beginning is the fourth wave of Polish immigration. This is primarily made up of younger individuals who experienced communism as children. The most recent wave of post-Cold War immigrants, whether they are long-term residents, wakacjusze, or short-term workers, continue to add new blood to Polish Americans, ensuring that the ethnic community continues to have foreign-born Poles among its contingent, despite their relatively small numbers due to immigration quotas. The number of Poles who were either born abroad or native-born people with at least one Polish parent was estimated to be close to three million according to the 1970 census. In the 1980 and 1990 censuses, about eight million people and 9.5 million people, respectively, stated they had Polish ancestry in their background.

Where are Polish Americans Now?

Quality of Life in Poland

The quality of life in Poland is generally considered to be good. The country has a strong economy, a stable political system, and a high standard of living. Poland is also a beautiful country with a rich history and culture.

Some of the factors that contribute to the high quality of life in Poland:

Strong economy

Poland has a strong economy with a low unemployment rate. The country's GDP has been growing steadily in recent years, and the standard of living has been improving.

Stable political system

Poland has a stable political system with a strong democratic tradition. The country has been a member of the European Union since 2004, and it is committed to upholding the rule of law and human rights.

High standard of living

The standard of living in Poland is high. The country has a well-developed healthcare system, a good education system, and a wide range of cultural and recreational amenities.

Beautiful country

Poland is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture. The country has a diverse landscape, including mountains, forests, and beaches. Poland is also home to many historical cities, such as Warsaw, Krakow, and Gdansk.

What is the Cost of Living in Poland?

Unlike the majority of members in the European Union who adopted the Euro, Poland has the Polish zloty. Overall, the cost of living in Poland is very affordable, making it a great option for people looking to live in Europe on a budget.

Overall cost of living

Poland is a relatively affordable country to live in, with a cost of living that is significantly lower than in Western Europe or the United States.

  • Cost of living in Poland is, on average, 39.5% lower than in United States.


Rent is the single most expensive cost of living in Poland, but it still varies significantly depending on the city. In Warsaw, rent for a one-bedroom apartment can range from 1,500 to 3,000 PLN per month. In smaller cities, rent can be much lower, starting at around 500 PLN per month.

  • Rent in Poland is, on average, 60.0% lower than in United States.


Food is another relatively affordable cost of living in Poland. Eating out can be as cheap as 15 PLN for a meal, and groceries are also very affordable.


Public transportation is also very affordable in Poland. A monthly pass for the city of Warsaw costs around 100 PLN.

Other costs

Other costs of living in Poland, such as utilities, clothing, and entertainment, are also relatively low.

Tax Implications for US and Polish Dual Citizenship

Is there a Double-Tax Treaty between the US and Poland?

Yes, there is a bilateral tax treaty between Poland and the United States. The treaty was signed on February 13, 2013, and it entered into force on January 1, 2015. The treaty's main purpose is to avoid double taxation of income between the two countries.

What are the potential tax implications of becoming a dual citizen with Poland?

In accordance with citizenship-based taxation, U.S. citizens are taxed on their worldwide income by the U.S.government, and Polish citizens are taxed on their worldwide income by the Polish government under the parameters of residential taxation. This means that U.S. citizens who become dual citizens with Poland can be subject to double taxation on the same income.

To avoid this situation, the U.S. and Poland have a bilateral tax treaty in place that outlines the rules for determining which country has the right to tax certain types of income and provides for tax credits to be claimed in the country of residence. If a U.S. citizen becomes a resident of Poland, they will be taxed as a resident of Poland, however, they may be able to claim a foreign tax credit on their U.S. tax return for any Polish taxes paid on the same income.

Who is a “Tax Resident” in Poland?

Poland defines a tax resident as a person who either:

  • Has their center of vital interests (or center of personal or economic interests) in Poland; or

  • Spends more than 183 days in Poland in a calendar year.

The center of vital interests is a subjective concept, and it is determined on a case-by-case basis. However, factors that are considered include the person's family ties, employment, property ownership, and other factors that indicate that the person has a permanent home in Poland.

The 183-day rule is a more objective test, and it is based on the number of days that a person physically stays in Poland in a calendar year. If a person stays in Poland for more than 183 days in a calendar year, they are considered to be a tax resident of Poland, regardless of whether they have their center of vital interests in Poland.


My spouse is Polish, do I qualify for Polish citizenship?

Spouses of those who gain Polish citizenship by descent and live outside of Poland typically are ineligible for citizenship. However, a spouse of an EU citizen has many rights that are equivalent to their citizen spouse. Rules are different for non-Poles who live in Poland with their spouse. Naturalization is possible after a period of time but rules are complex.

Are my children or grandchildren eligible for Polish citizenship by descent?

Generally speaking children and grandchildren are eligible to apply subject to a few limitations. If your children are under the age of 18, they can be automatically included in your application for citizenship. They will need to individually apply for passports. If they are 18 or older and qualify, they will need to apply separately. Your grandchildren can also apply.

How about other family members? Can I use the same application?

All living ancestors in the direct line between you and your Polish ancestor are eligible, including your children,.

Can my Spouse and children be added?

Your spouse can get a residency permit to live with you

  • Will I need to go to Poland to become a Polish citizen?
    No. If you are a Polish citizen by descent or ancestry, there is no residency requirement nor are you required to go to Poland at any time during or after this process.
  • Can I apply for Polish citizenship by myself in English?
    The application must be submitted in Polish. All official documentation, application forms, statements and archival records must be translated into Polish by a sworn translator.

Does the US permit dual citizenship?

Your US citizenship is not affected by this in any way.

Does Poland allow dual citizenship?

There is no exact reference to dual citizenship in Polish law. There are no published penalties for possessing dual citizenship. Hence, for practical purposes, dual citizenship is permitted. It is important to note that those who are citizens must use their Polish passport in cases involving Polish authorities. For example, on an international flight, you must use your Polish passport to enter and exit Poland.

Who is eligible for Polish citizenship?

Most people whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were born in Poland qualify for Polish citizenship through descent. In essence you need to have at least one ancestor who: Was born in Poland (or one of the former territories) and resided there after 1920.

How do I become a citizen of Poland?

If you have Polish ancestry, you are already technically a Polish citizen and you can apply to have your citizenship verified or by providing your heritage and by satisfying other specific eligibility criteria from the Polish government.

How long does it take to obtain Polish citizenship by descent?

For citizenship by descent, the process can take a year or more. After citizenship confirmation, there are additional steps as new citizens must obtain Polish civil records certificates (birth and marriage if applicable) in order to actually apply for a passport.

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Polish Citizenship by Descent
Application Requirements

Applicants may be eligible to one of the following:

Polish Citizenship By Descent

Long heading is what you see here in this feature section

Process #1

Your ancestor was born in Poland (or one of the former territories) and
resided there after 1920; or

Left Poland before 1920, but your ancestors' residential address can be
found in the Polish, Prussian, Russian or Austro-Hungarian registers; and

Poland Passport

Long heading is what you see here in this feature section

Process #2

Didn't lose their Polish citizenship
until the day of your birth.

Do you qualify for Polish citizenship?

Take a free eligibility test today! Your eligibility for ancestry-based citizenship will be determined within 48 hours by the internal genealogy team at Global RCG.


Application Process

Subheading one

Week 1

Verify eligibility and onboarding with Global RCG.

Subheading two

Week 2

Book an appointment at the Polish consulate
near you

Subheading three

Week 3

We help you collect all the relevant documents
and fill the forms

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Month 3

Go to your consulate appointment with
your documents and forms

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Month 16

Receive your Polish
citizenship certificate


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