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Polish travel document for foreigners

21 September 2023

Due to recent political events in the countries neighboring the Republic of Poland, questions about the Polish travel document have intensified. In this article, we explain what a Polish travel document is, who is entitled to receive it and on what terms.


Polish travel document is a document issued by the voivode competent for the foreigner's place of residence, intended to be used in Poland and abroad. Other documents that may be obtained by a foreigner in Poland include: residence card, Polish identity document, temporary Polish travel document and tolerated stay permit.


Pursuant to Article 252 of the Act of 12 December 2013 on Foreigners, a Polish travel document for a foreigner is issued to a foreigner who has lost his or her travel document or whose travel document has been destroyed or expired, and it is not possible for the foreigner to obtain a new travel document when the foreigner was granted:

1) permanent residence permit;

2) residence permit for a long-term EU resident;

2a) temporary residence permit due to other circumstances, granted to a citizen of Belarus in connection with a previous stay on the basis of a humanitarian visa;

3) subsidiary protection;

4) residence permit for humanitarian reasons.


The above directory is a closed directory, which means that it is not possible to apply for a Polish travel document for a foreigner staying in Poland on the basis of a visa.


The Act also detailed the grounds for applying for a Polish travel document.


First of all, it is the loss of the travel document. An example may be the loss of a foreign passport or its theft. The second reason for issuing a travel document by a Polish authority is the destruction of the foreigner's document. The degree of destruction or damage must render the document incapable of further use. The third reason is the expiration of the document's validity, e.g. as a result of the refusal to extend the document by the consular office of the foreigner's country of origin.


In all the above-mentioned situations, another condition must necessarily exist, namely - the foreigner's inability to obtain a travel document. The burden of confirming the impossibility of obtaining a document in the country of origin or in the consular office of the country of origin rests with the foreigner. This may happen, for example, in a situation where a foreigner, after being granted subsidiary protection as one of the forms of international protection in the territory of the Republic of Poland, is unable to maintain contacts with his country of origin.


To obtain a Polish travel document, a foreigner must submit an application to the voivode competent for his place of stay. The application must be accompanied by current photographs, a document confirming the foreigner's identity and citizenship, a photocopy of the residence card, documents necessary to confirm the data and circumstances provided in the application and confirmation of payment of the stamp duty. The deadline for considering the case is approximately 1 month. After examining the application, the authority issues or refuses to issue Polish travel documents.


In the event of refusal to provide a Polish travel document, the foreigner is entitled to appeal against this decision within 14 days from the date of its delivery. The appeal is submitted to the Head of the Office for Foreigners through the voivode who issued the decision.


A Polish travel document for a foreigner is valid for a period of 1 year from the date of its issue, and during its validity period it entitles the foreigner to repeatedly cross the border in the Schengen area as well as outside it.


It is worth noting that issuing a Polish travel document to a foreigner does not mean granting him citizenship, nor does it release him from the obligation to take steps to obtain a travel document. When traveling, foreigners with a Polish travel document are obliged to always verify the entry rules for citizens of their country of origin.

According to Art. 258 of the Act, the Polish travel document is withdrawn, among other things, if: the foreigner has acquired Polish citizenship; a permanent residence permit, a temporary residence permit due to other circumstances, a residence permit for a long-term EU resident has been revoked; the foreigner was deprived of subsidiary protection; the foreigner has received a travel document in the country of origin.


An exception to this procedure is the legal status of citizens of Belarus, for whom certain simplifications have been introduced based on amendments to the Law and relevant regulations that entered into force on July 1, 2023.


The most important change is the expansion of the list of residence permits for citizens of Belarus, on the basis of which it is possible to apply for a Polish travel document, for all possible residence permits in Poland (in connection with work, study, running a business, reunification with family, etc.). Accordingly, a Belarusian who is in Poland on the basis of a temporary residence and work permit will have the right to receive a Polish travel document. Unfortunately, if the basis for a Belarusian’s stay is a visa, it is still impossible to apply for a document.


Another simplification is the removal of the obligation to have a travel document before applying for a Polish travel document.


In addition, for citizens of Belarus the obligation to justify the impossibility of obtaining a new document in the country of origin has been abolished, and therefore there is no need to confirm or prove this impossibility.


Another simplification is the exemption of Belarusian citizens from the obligation to pay stamp duty for issuing a Polish travel document. For persons who applied and paid a fee for the consideration of their application before the date of amendments, and for whom the document was not issued until June 30, 2023, the voivode will return the paid fee.


More information about Polish travel documents can be obtained from the Department of Foreigners' Affairs of the Voivodeship Office competent for the foreigner's place of residence. The application form for a Polish travel document is available on the website of the Office for Foreigners: https://www.gov.pl/web/udsc/nowy-wzor-wniosku-o-wydanie-polskiego-dokumentu-podrozy-dla-cudzoziemca