If you have a Polish great grandparent, you’ve likely heard many stories about Poland’s rich culture, and have been curious about both Poland and life in Europe.

Well, the good news is that having such a great grandparent means you’re of Polish descent, and can likely apply for citizenship under Polish citizenship law. This officially recognizes your connection to your Polish ancestors, gives you benefits within the European Union and more.

Of course, this is not an overnight process. There are clear steps needed to prove your Polish origin, but the results are worth it. Here’s everything you need to know before you start!

Benefits of being a Polish citizen

The process of obtaining Polish citizenship by descent offers many benefits. Primarily, when you acquire Polish citizenship., you similarly acquire European citizenship, as Poland is an EU member state. This means you can live, travel and work across the 27 countries of the European Union. For many, this visa-free access is a great boon and offers plenty more life opportunities.

Similarly, becoming a Polish citizen also officially recognizes your heritage. Such a status, especially when held as part of a dual citizenship, helps many to get in touch with their Polish roots and feel connected to a wider part of their family tree.

Polish citizenship by descent great grandparent requirements

For the purposes of acquiring Polish citizenship, it’s important to understand the criteria that your great grandparent must meet. They, or another Polish relative, must:

  • Have been living in Poland at some point from 1918 or later.
  • Have not lost their Polish citizenship status.
  • Be a direct relation to yourself.

When applying for Polish citizenship by descent, it is this person that you need to prove your connection to. Therefore, ensuring your great grandfather or grandmother qualifies is a very important first step.

What if my great grandparents don’t meet the criteria?

If the relative you had in mind does not meet the criteria, then this does limit your options. However, the Polish government does not place any generational limits on who can apply. It’s worth exploring your Polish ancestry to see if another relative, such as another great grandparent, a grandparent, or even a parent, meets the previous criteria.

You only need to prove one such connection to acquire Polish citizenship through the right of blood, so a little research into your family tree can certainly help.

Obtaining Polish citizenship: the process

It’s important to note that, under the Polish Citizenship Act, you are not applying to be Polish. More so, you are applying for the legal recognition of your birth right. Under Polish law, you are already Polish at birth, so this is a formality to officially recognize your Polish heritage.

Confirm if your eligible

The current citizenship requirements in Polish law come with very specific eligibility criteria. Before getting into the larger part of the application process, it’s worth first ensuring that you meet the necessary requirements.

You can do this by talking to any living relatives for further proof and confirmation. You can also seek expert help from those that know Polish law. Our quiz is a great way to get started: it takes ten minutes but will readily show you if you’re able to obtain Polish citizenship.

Collecting the required documentation

Once you have confirmed your eligibility, you then need to collect the necessary documentation. In order to claim citizenship, you need to not only prove the Polish identity of your ancestor – in this case, your great grandparent – but also the direct lineage to yourself. This includes your grandparent and parent in between.

It does not matter if they are not Polish nationals (although they can also apply!) as the purpose here is to prove your ancestry.

Key documentation for your application can include:

  • Birth and marriage certificates: These will help prove blood relations to your previous family members. In many cases, you may also require death and divorce records as well.
  • Identity documents: State ID, local records, census data and more can help in verifying your family history. These personal documents help further prove the identities of family members detailed in your application form.

Of course, this list is not complete, and there may be other official documents that can also help prove your Polish ancestry. Again, this is where outside help can aid you in ensuring your application is as successful as possible.

Are there any requirements for these documents?

Polish authorities will only accept supporting documents in Polish. Everything in another language will need to be translated into Polish via a sworn translator – a certified individual recognized by the Polish consulate and government – and, in certain cases, accompanied with an apostille certificate to ensure their authenticity. 

Both of these services have strict requirements, and this is a complex part of the application that we can support you with.

Completing the application

Finally, with all your birth certificates, marriage records, ID and other vital records collected, you can then fill out the application itself. Straight away, you may run into one major problem here: the Polish government requires your citizenship application to be completed in Polish. Note that you do not need to speak Polish as a requirement for Polish citizenship by descent, but the form still requires it.

If your family speaks Polish, this can of course help you, but we recommend getting expert help from someone who not only knows the Polish language, but the specific ins and outs of the legal system and paperwork.

After researching your family tree and finding all the necessary files, it’s best not to run the risk of a misunderstanding in the final form.

How long does the full application process take?

Generally, the more complex your application, the longer it takes to verify. In our experience, it takes around 10 to 14 months to claim official citizenship status. This is due to two specific factors. The first is how busy the Polish authorities are at the given time, and the latter is the complexity of each application.

For example, when applying for Polish citizenship through one of your great grandparents, that means there are four generations of your family that need to be documented in the process, including yourself. This means there are four identities and separate histories that Polish authorities need to check and verify.

What about a Polish Passport?

Many people who gain Polish citizenship also go on to apply for a Polish passport. For those wishing to travel to Europe or make use of many of the benefits of Polish citizenship, a passport is the next logical step.

Unsurprisingly, however, you need to have a Polish nationality first.

In addition to the usual information and a photo, your passport application requires a few more documents:

  • Confirmation of Polish citizenship: You must have your citizenship verified in order to get a Polish passport. This confirmation must be included with the application.
  • Translated birth certificate: The Polish government requires citizens to have Polish versions of your vital records, including your birth certificate. This is different from a sworn translation of your birth records, in that it is an official document issued in Polish.
  • Marriage records: If you’re married, the same rules apply as above. You will need a Polish marriage certificate.

Alongside the above, you will also need a PESEL. However, the good news is that this is assigned to you when obtaining your passport. We wanted to mention it because it’s an important aspect: the PESEL is Poland’s equivalent of a social security number and has lots of future uses.

Can I still hold dual citizenship?

Yes. Current does not require people to give up previous statuses when applying for Polish citizenship. In fact, many Polish citizens enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship, which better reflects the some 20 million people of Polish descent estimated to live around the world.

Planning ahead

Whether you want Polish citizenship on its own or you also want a Polish passport, planning ahead can save you a great deal of time, money and headache. As you can see, there are many documents that need to be gathered, so knowing the full extent of this at the start will make things much easier.

For example, knowing that you will need numerous translated documents for both your Polish citizenship and Polish passport applications means you can do this in one step.

Also, don’t forget to contact your wider family, as many of them can also apply. After all, if your great grandparent counts as a Polish ancestor for these purposes, then all of their descendents, including your uncles, aunties, parents, cousins and siblings, can be considered Polish citizens.

And since these cases would require the similar documents, streamlining the researching, translating and applications can again save time and money. That’s one of the key reasons we offer a family discount package – it’s better for both you and us!

If you have any more questions about Polish citizenship, or would like to embark on the journey to obtain Polish citizenship by descent, we can help.

Are you by any chance of Polish origin? Find out if you are eligible for EU citizenship by taking the test below:

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