It's worth mentioning that apparently you can register permanently, but I haven't looked into this too much and you need the card of stay first anyway. Quoting from the "instruction to the nationals of the European Union member states and their family members" leaflet that they gave me when I applied for my karta pobytu, it says "the Union citizen shall obtain right of permanent residence after five years of continuous residence within the territory of Republic of Poland".
Also note that you can only get the karta pobytu having already been here for 3 months having already done the local registration as above.
The first problem in doing this is the difficulty in finding out exactly what you are supposed to do, what documents you need and where to go.
There's a thread here about it on Polish forums where I asked if anyone had tried doing this in Krakow. Just to be sure though I called up the office in Kraków myself to check. They referred me to their portal at www.wrotamalopolski.pl where the forms and instructions are available for download. It took a bit of hunting down but here is the page for registration in małopolskie. Unfortunately the link entitled "wniosek do pobrania (ob. UE)" which in English is "form for download (EU citizens)" is the wrong form. That form is for a replacement card, not a new application. I had to do my application a second time and of course go and get photocopies there and then because of this.
If anyone has links for the right form or for other regions please post a comment.
Where to go
Oddzial do Spraw Cudzoziemców Wydziału Spraw Obywatelskich i Cudzoziemców Małopolskiego Urzędu Wojewódzkiego w Krakowie, ul. św. Sebastiana 9-11, I piętro, pokój 102
Here it is on google maps.
Basically that is the office for foreigners, room 102, 1st floor on Świetego Sebastiana street. It's pretty near the Wawel behind the hotel Royal, so if you get lost head for the castle and ask. Also there is a photocopy place (ksero) in the same street near the kiosk. You might find yourself having to go there to get photocopies of whatever they decide to demand from you.
There's also an office in Nowy Sącz if that's nearer for you (ul. Jagiellońska 52).
What you need
- Forms. First fill out the 5 page form. As mentioned it is supposed to be downloadable from their website but my experience is different. You need 3 photocopies too. If you don't have copies they'll just send you out to get them. I should mention here that you even need to copy the blank sections that you are for them to fill in - I didn't, and of course I was sent out to get photocopies. I did ask her what the point of photocopying empty pages was but she wasn't having any of it.
- Passport with 1 photocopy of the page with your details on it.
- Proof that you have health insurance. This ones a bit tricker because it depends on whether you are working for a Polish company, are a student or still work for a UK company. I work for a UK company so just got the new European Health Insurance Card by filling out this form on the NHS website. Of course I needed 1 photocopy of it.
- Proof that you have financial means. This one is tricky because again it depends on whether you are a student, working locally, retired or whatever. Either they will ask for some crap such as a letter from a Polish bank confirming that you have a bank account, or they will ask for 1 photocopy of your credit card if you have one.
- Photocopy of your 3 month temporary registration.
Because my wife is Polish they also asked me for our Polish marriage certificate. Because we got married in English we previously had to "announce" our marriage to the Polish authorities and they gave us a little yellow A5 document which seems to keep the officials happy. However I didn't have this with me because when I rang I hadn't been told this was necessary. Even if I had had it with me it would have been no good, because they said they wanted one less than 3 months old. We have been married 2 years and our Polish translation/certificate is already 1 year old.
Still following this?
So according to them I have to go all the way back to Opole (where we first lived when we came to Poland and where we announced our English wedding) to get another Polish certificate, to then bring to them in Kraków, even though I live nowhere near either place.
I pointed out to her politely that that was bollocks and I wasn't going to, so she decided instead that photocopies of my credit cards would suffice, but that I should call up after 2 weeks to check it wasn't going to cause a problem with my application.
MORAL OF THE STORY - I STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO CALL UP AND ASK THEM EXACTLY WHAT YOU WILL NEED FIRST!
The Kraków office phone number is 012 392 1845.
What to do
Turn up. Queue. Get told that you have the wrong form or have filled it out wrong. Fill out the right form correctly. Go back to the photocopier place. Return to the office again. This time she decides that she wants photocopies of your credit card as you don't have your Polish marriage certificate with you. Go back to the photocopier place. Return to the office again. Call after 2 weeks to check your application is OK. Wait for the Police to turn up at your door to ask you strange questions about your educational history, work experience and if you are a terrorist or some sort of nutter. Tell them "no". Go back to the office again after 1 month to collect your certificate. Pay 1 złoty at the till first.
Springer's Final Thought
This process has to be the biggest load of bureaucratical bollocks I have dealt with to date living in Poland. I really don't see the point - if I am a terrorist why would I apply for a residence card to start with? If we're all in the EU aren't we free to live anywhere we want? What p*sses me off the most is that they ask you to bring photocopies with you - how primitive is that? What happens if you have made a mistake or have the wrong form? Would it not be more logical for them to check your forms and originals and then take whatever copies they want themselves?
Anyway that's my rant over for now... please post your experiences of applying for the karta pobytu if you have any.
EDIT - I got a phone call on 13th May 2008 to say my karta pobytu was ready. I went back to the office in Krakow, paid 1 zloty and collected it. What an anticlimax - just a little bit of paper with a stamp :-(