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Acquisition of Polish citizenship by descent, documents from Polish state archives

Issues related to Polish citizenship and documents from Polish state archives.

Acquisition of Polish citizenship, with few exceptions, occurs on the basis of the principle of blood. This means that it is acquired by birth, based on descent from Polish parents. However, it sometimes becomes necessary to confirm acquired citizenship, which requires the use of resources from Polish state archives.

Acquiring Polish citizenship by descent.

The acquisition of Polish citizenship by descent is regulated by the Act of 2 April 2009 on Polish citizenship (consolidated text, Journal of Laws of 2022, item 465, as amended). As mentioned at the outset, it sanctions its acquisition based on the principle of blood. According to the aforementioned legal act, a minor acquires Polish citizenship by birth if at least one of the parents is a Polish citizen. Therefore, if the birth certificate indicates that one of the parents is a Polish citizen, the child has Polish citizenship by the force of law, regardless of their place of birth, whether it occurred in Poland or abroad.

Issues related to Polish citizenship and documents from Polish state archives.

Documents confirming possession of Polish citizenship.

Any person who possesses Polish citizenship may apply at any time to have this fact confirmed. This applies especially to individuals who, from a legal point of view, are Polish citizens but do not have formal confirmation of this fact, and therefore cannot use the rights that such a status entails. In practice, this concerns primarily persons born and residing outside the territory of the Republic of Poland. It should be known that documents confirming possession of Polish citizenship are, in particular, those confirming identity. These include, above all:

  • Polish passport
  • Polish identity card
  • Military booklet issued by Polish authorities
  • Extract from the register of permanent residents in Poland
  • Certificate of the last place of residence in Poland with a note about the issued ID card.

If you do not have any of these documents, you will need a decision confirming possession of Polish citizenship, the citizenship of our country.

The procedure for confirming Polish citizenship:

The authority authorized to issue a decision regarding the confirmation of Polish citizenship is the governor competent for the place of residence or last place of residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland of the interested person. If this basis is not available, the Mazovian governor does so.

Generally, this is done at the request of the person concerned, or a party that demonstrates a legal interest or obligation to obtain such a document. In exceptional cases, it may be done ex officio, i.e., on the initiative of the administrative body itself.

An application for confirmation of Polish citizenship is submitted to the governor. A person residing outside the territory of the Republic of Poland may also submit such an application through our law firm. Our law firm in Poland will comprehensively handle the entire procedure.

Documents necessary for confirming Polish citizenship:

In the application, you must provide the data of your parents and grandparents and any information that will help prove Polish citizenship. You must also attach all documents confirming the data and information contained in it, unless obtaining them encounters difficult obstacles. Therefore, as a rule, the burden of proof that you possess Polish citizenship rests on you.

What documents are needed for this?

If you do not have any current documents that could confirm your identity, then first and foremost, you can use a copy of your birth certificate containing your first name(s), last name, date, and place of birth, as well as the personal data of your parents. If it is not possible to obtain such a document or any other document indicating that you are Polish, it is necessary to present proof of Polish citizenship of your parents or ancestors, such as grandparents.

Documentation in Polish state archives

Documents confirming Polish citizenship of your ancestors can primarily be searched for in offices that are appropriate for the person’s place of residence in Poland, especially in Civil Registry Offices or State Archives.

However, it should be noted that the situation becomes complicated when searching for documentation that was created many decades ago. It must be emphasized that in accordance with the Act of November 28, 2014 on Civil Status Acts (consolidated text: Journal of Laws of 2022, item 1681, as amended) – civil status acts are kept by the head of the civil status office for the following period:

• 100 years – birth certificates and collective civil status registration records concerning a birth certificate,

• 80 years – marriage certificates, death certificates, and collective civil status registration records concerning a marriage certificate or a death certificate,

counting from the end of the calendar year in which they were drawn up.

After the indicated timeframes have elapsed, the documentation is transferred in its entirety to the appropriate state archives in Poland.

State Archives in Poland is a network consisting of 3 central archives based in Warsaw and 30 regional archives with their respective branches. These are the places to turn to when searching for the appropriate document that will prove your ancestors’ possession of Polish citizenship.

However, it should be noted that searching for documentation in Polish resources often resembles a difficult journey. This is mainly due to the turbulent history of our country and the terrible destruction that also affected archival documentation, including civil status acts. As a result, it is largely incomplete and flawed. In addition, there is the phenomenon of multiple changes in the legal status of acquiring and losing Polish citizenship throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

All of this makes finding the necessary documents impossible in many cases. It should be noted that as part of the Polish Citizenship Confirmation Procedure, our law firm from Szczecin deals with searching for old documents from State Archives.

If you need to obtain a birth, marriage, death certificate, or any other document from Polish archives to confirm your Polish citizenship, look no further. Our team of experts can assist you with the process. Fill out the form below and take the first step towards discovering your Polish roots.

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