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27 March 2008

Apparently I'm Polish and don't know it

The other day I got a phone call from some guy in the office regarding my application for my karta pobytu. That was a nice suprise as I was wondering what was happening with it having not heard anything since applying. He asked me about my Polish looking surname. When I told him it was because my Grandfather was Polish he asked if I knew that I probably already had Polish citizenship.

What?

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:

Pros:
  • 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
Cons:
  • 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
This whole thing has also got me thinking about whether or not I want to be Polish or not. Would I feel comfortable having to carry an ID card? How would I feel about declaring myself as Polish? Which country would I feel I had the most allegiance to? How would this change my view of Poland?

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!?!

4 comments:

Biluś said...

Quite a turn up - and congratulations! As for not wanting to carry an ID card, it may yet be the norm in blighty too if the Big Brother Brigade get their way...

Cheers, Biluś :-)

von Stirlitz said...

Great post, mate

Obywatelstwo RP « Wychodźstwo

Thank you

W-wa Jeziorki said...

Take the Polish citizenship and shove it. Don't get me wrong - I love Poland and the Polish people - but the Polish state stinks. Until Polish bureaucrats start treating me like those wonderful British civil servants* rather than as a blethering imbecile because I get some case-endings wrong, I will not bother going for the ID card. A British passport suffices for all purposes now we're in the EU.

* A recent phone-call to National Insurance re: my contributions status was dealt with efficiently, swiftly and courteously. The lady on the other end of the line was an angel.

polandian said...

you looked suspiciously handsome for a Brit;))

 
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