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18 August 2008

How to get a PESEL

As you may have already noticed in Poland, any time you try and do something (such a open a bank account or get a mobile phone contract) people ask your for your 'Pesel'. Most of the time you don't actually need a Pesel if you argue with them - but of course it's a lot easier if you have one.

What is a PESEL?

A Pesel is an 11 digit identification number partly based on your date of birth. Polish people are assigned one within a couple of months of being born. When my daughter was born here in Poland we simply called the Urząd Miasta when she was 2 months old and they told us it over the phone. For foreigners you get it in the same place where you do your zameldowanie.

A Pesel is not a VAT number, nor is it a tax number (called a 'NIP' number in Poland), nor is it a national insurance number. It is just an ID number.

How do I get my PESEL?

If you are a foreigner (i.e. you don't have confirmation of Polish citizenship) then a pesel can be applied for when you do a zameldowanie for a a period greater than 3 months. But to register for more than 3 months you will need to have got your karta pobytu already which lets you register for 5 years.
When you do your 5 year zameldowanie make sure you explicitly tell them that you want a Pesel. They are supposed to ask you about it but they didn't ask me at all.
I have heard that sometimes they generate the Pesel automatically and some people didn't even know that one had been generated for them. But for me no-one mentioned anything and on checking today they said I don't have one.
Because the procedure is that a Pesel can only be generated when you register, I therefore needed to de-register and re-register (wymeldować and again zameldować). Unfortunately I didn't have my documents with me so I will come back and do this another time. I was told I would receive my Pesel within 10 days of doing this.

Getting a Pesel is very easy to do and doesn't cost anything. It will save you many arguments in public offices and shops. I wish I had known about this a few months ago...

EDIT - 19th Aug 2008:

I just returned form the Urząd Miasta and was told something different - the regular guy was there and he claimed that he did offer me a Pesel and I declined it. I find that hard to believe (why would I decline a Pesel?) but maybe I misunderstood something. He said that it would now be difficult to issue one. After a few phone calls and playing with his computer he said he would delete me, start over again from new and do it. So in the end it was sorted and I didn't have to de-register and re-register. He said I had to return in a week to collect it. I asked if I could just call by phone and he said no. By this time he was getting grumpy so I didn't try and push my luck any further...


Anonymous said...

I received my PESEL 2 weeks ago.

In fact, you just ask a zameldowanie for a period greater than 3 months.
And 2 weeks after, you go back to the same Urząd with your zameldowanie and ask for your PESEL number.
They need around 10 days to generate your pesel number.

BritInPoland said...

Yes - which is pretty much what I said, except that you can't get a zameldowanie for more than 3 months unless you have a karta pobytu. Also it's worth explicitly saying you want a Pesel to make sure they generate it and you avoid the problems I had.

No matter who said...

I've just stumbled across your blog and must say that you're putting down many of the "real-life" important questions and answers (!) for any foreigner who's living in poland for an extended period of time.
Even though I've mastered some of the obstacles you're writing about already by myself, I'm still happy to read about some things which I'm seeing ahead of me (e.g. buying a car).
All in all I'd like to say thank-you for your blog - and I'm curious to read more from you in the future!
All the best!

By the way: I hope it's ok that I've posted a link to your blog on my own blog?!?!!

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