Yes that's right - I might already have Polish citizenship. Apparently, if you have a parent or grandparent who is/was Polish then you automatically became Polish the moment you were born whether you knew it or not, regardless of where you or your parents were born!
So today I did a bit of googling to see how this could be, and what the impact would be for me.
It seems that as long as my Grandfather didn't renounce or otherwise 'lose' his Polish citizenship, then by blood rights I too have Polish citizenship. The rules are complicated though because if your ancestors left Poland before 1962 (as my Granddad did) then there are a number of caveats.
To check whether I have citizenship or not apparently I need to do an application to my local embassy and supply documents such as birth certificates with translations and so on.
These are the links for more information:
Polish nationality law - good ol' wikipedia.
Polish Embassy in London, Citizenship info - explains exactly what the rules are
Polish Citizenship, ancestry and geneology - questions and answers from polishforums.com
This has got me thinking though - what are the advantages and disadvantages of getting Polish citizenship? I have come up with the following - let me know what you reckon:
- Will be treated like a Pole whilst in Poland, therefore bureacracy should be less complicated than it is for me now with registration, buying property etc..
- Ability to get a Polish passport. Not much use to me as a Brit, but might be useful to non-EU citizens who want an easy way to get an EU passport
- No doubt applying for citizenship (or rather I should say "getting confirmation of citizenship" as these are two different applications) will be tedious, bureaucratic and time-consuming
- New legal responsibilities (for example you have to declare your nationality as Polish to the authorities when in Poland)
- Potential tax/legal issues could arise (I read about some guys who suddenly became obliged to do national service or pay taxes etc..)
- If you are involved with the armed services or areas requiring special security clearance then dual nationality can be problematic
I am still quite suprised to discover that this could be possible and will think about it all some more before deciding if I will apply or not.
Meanwhile I have written to the UK embassy with my details to find out exactly what the process involves.
Apparently the blood line can go further back than just 2 generations - which is food for thought - who knows what citizenships you might have that you don't even know about!?!