Your Complete Guide to Obtaining a Residence Permit in Poland

Table of Contents

Navigating the application process for a Poland residence permit doesn’t need to be complex. In this guide, you’ll find direct, step-by-step instructions to apply for either temporary or permanent residency, fulfilling your goal of long-term living, working, or studying in Poland. We’ll outline the key documents, application procedures, and critical distinctions between the different permits to simplify your journey to legal residency.

Key Takeaways

  • Poland provides two main types of residence permits for non-EU nationals: temporary (valid up to 3 years) and permanent, with the latter requiring at least a five-year continuous residence. A special EU Blue Card is available for highly skilled professionals.

  • Applications for Polish Temporary Residence Permits must be made at regional Voivodeship Offices with complete supporting documents, including payment of associated fees; applicants can stay legally in Poland while the application is processed.

  • Permanent residency in Poland allows for indefinite stay plus travel within the EU for 90 days within any 180 days; eligibility may also be based on marriage to a Polish citizen, Polish origins, or granted asylum, among other criteria.

Exploring Residence Permit Options in Poland

Illustration of a residence permit card with the Polish flag in the background

Poland, as a member of the European Union, provides a gateway to numerous opportunities for those willing to establish a life here. To stay for more than three months, third-country nationals are required to obtain a Polish Residence Permit, issued by Voivodeship Offices. But not all residence permits are created equal. Poland offers two types of residence permits and a special EU Blue Card document issued specifically for professional workers.

These residence permit options form the cornerstone of establishing legal residency in Poland. Not only do they allow you to live in the country, but they also offer an excellent standard of living and safety. And for those looking to make a permanent home here, these permits may ultimately open the door to Polish citizenship.

Understanding Temporary Residence Permits

A temporary residence permit is the first step on the path to making Poland your home. With this permit, you can legally reside, work, and study in Poland for more than three months. It provides the opportunity for extended stays in the country. If you’re a foreign national planning to stay in Poland for more than 3 months, this permit is for you.

The duration of a temporary residence permit is flexible, with permits issued for a maximum of three years. However, the length of your permit may be less if your application doesn’t justify a longer stay. It’s also important to note that temporary residence permits cannot be renewed; you must reapply before your permit expires.

Path to Permanent Residence

After spending some time in Poland with a temporary residence permit, you might start considering making Poland your permanent home. But what does it take to transition from a temporary stay to permanent residence? In order to apply for a permanent residence permit in Poland, a requirement is to have held a temporary residence permit and to have lived in the country for five consecutive years.

A permanent residence permit grants the rights of foreign nationals to live and work in the country. It also allows travel within EU countries for up to 90 days within a 180 day period without the need for an additional work permit. The permit is valid for an indefinite period of time, but it must be replaced every five years.

Securing Your Polish Temporary Residence Permit

Illustration of a person submitting documents at the Voivodeship Office

Having familiarised yourself with the various residence permit options, it’s time to delve into the specifics of obtaining a Polish Temporary Residence Permit. This permit is valid for three months to three years, and it can be extended or renewed if the conditions under which it was initially granted remain unchanged.

Applications for a temporary residence permit should be made at the voivodeship office competent for your place of stay in Poland. It’s generally recommended to submit your application on the last day of your legal stay or any time before it expires. The voivode’s office is required to make a decision on your temporary residence permit within 60 days of deeming your application complete. While your application is pending, you can legally continue to stay and potentially work in Poland, provided your application was submitted during a lawful stay.

Preparing Your Application Package

As with any official process, applying for a temporary residence permit requires a certain set of documents. The basics required documents used for a temporary residence permit application include:

  • An application form

  • 4 recent color photos

  • A valid travel document with photocopies

  • A confirmation of payment of stamp duty

  • Basic documents required for the specific type of permit.

Once you have submitted all the necessary documents, your temporary residence permit completed application will be processed.

There are additional requirements for these documents. For instance, all documents submitted with the application must be translated into Polish. Depending on the document, legalization, such as through an Apostille Stamp or equivalent, may be for all the required documents.

As for the cost, application fees and stamp duties amount to PLN 340 or PLN 440 for the application, with an additional PLN 50 for the residency card upon acceptance. Depending on your purpose of stay, additional documents may be required, submit additional documents such as:

  • proof of identity

  • purpose of stay

  • health insurance

  • in certain cases, a university acceptance letter or work permit.

Navigating the Voivodeship Office Procedures

The Voivodeship Office is your destination for applying for a residence permit. You should apply at the office located in the region of your residence. There are a total of sixteen Voivodeship Offices across major Polish cities.

Some Voivodeship Offices allow you to book appointments online, which can expedite the process and avoid the need for additional communication. For offices without online booking, it’s advised to schedule appointments well in advance via email or phone due to high demand.

Any changes in your circumstances during the application process must be reported to the Voivodeship Office as they may impact the outcome. To find out the status of a residence card application, you’ll have to wait for written communication as there is no online status check available.

Transitioning to Permanent Residency

After spending some time living and working in Poland with a temporary residence permit, you might decide to make Poland your permanent home. Permanent residency in Poland is available to individuals who fulfill specific eligibility criteria. These include:

  • Continuous residence for five years

  • Marriage to a Polish citizen for three years

  • Having Polish origin

  • Being granted asylum status

An uninterrupted five-year stay in Poland with a temporary residence permit is a prerequisite for most individuals applying for permanent residency. However, under certain conditions, such as being the child of a Polish citizen or permanent resident, or having a tolerated stay permit with ten years of residence, individuals may also become eligible for permanent residency.

Permanent Residence Permit Application Insights

The process of applying for a permanent residence permit in Poland is similar to that of obtaining a temporary residence permit. To apply, you must submit your application at a voivodeship office, provide biometric data, and attend an interview.

The application for a permanent residence permit in Poland requires a fee of PLN 640. While this might seem like a significant amount, it’s a small price to pay for the benefits of living and working in Poland on a permanent basis.

Embracing Polish Citizenship

After securing permanent residency, you may start considering taking the next step: obtaining Polish citizenship. Permanent residents can apply for Polish citizenship after a continuous residence of three years with a permanent residence permit, provided they have a stable income and housing rights.

The general requirement to apply for Polish citizenship is at least three years of legal residence in Poland with a permanent residence permit, a stable source of income, and housing rights. In special cases, such as marriage to a Polish citizen, you can apply for permanent residency before fulfilling the regular five-year continuous residence requirement. The citizenship application must include a completed application form, officially translated foreign documents, and for minors under 18, a consent statement from the non-applying parent.

Special Considerations for Residence Permits

While the general process for obtaining a residence permit in Poland is relatively straightforward, there are special considerations for certain groups. These include individuals looking to join family members in Poland, those moving to Poland through marriage, and university students or researchers.

Non-EU citizens wishing to join family members in Poland need to apply for a family reunification visa. This visa grants family member a temporary residence permit valid for three years and can be renewed. For permits concerning scientific research, additional documents like a university acceptance letter may be required as part of the residence permit application.

Family Reunification and Marriage Certificates

Illustration of a family with diverse nationalities holding hands

Family reunification is an important aspect of migration policy in Poland. If you’re a foreigner married to a Polish citizen, you’re eligible for a residence permit in Poland. Permanent residency can be obtained by those married to a Polish citizen for at least three years, facilitating the family reunification process.

When applying for a residence permit, individuals married to a Polish citizen must provide the following documents:

  • Marriage certificate

  • Identification documents

  • Children’s birth certificates (if applicable)

  • Proof of paid taxes in Poland

To apply for Polish citizenship via marriage, one must be married to a Polish citizen for at least 3 years and have resided in Poland legally for at least 2 years based on a permanent residence permit or an EU long-term residence permit.

For the Academically Inclined: Polish University Sponsorship

For those academically inclined, Poland offers additional options. Doctoral students and researchers from non-EU countries can benefit from special mobility programs that facilitate their stay in Poland, simplifying and expediting the residence permit process.

There are dedicated residence permit solutions offered through short-term research mobility programs for individuals engaged in research or development work at Polish research units. A temporary residence permit can be obtained for the purpose of conducting work in professions that require high qualifications, such as academic or conducting scientific research.

The Polish Residence Card: Your Key to Europe

Illustration of a key with the European Union flag design

For those looking to explore Europe while residing in Poland, the Polish Residence Card might be your ticket. To obtain this card, you must first secure a Polish Residence Permit.

The residence card works as an official document confirming the holder’s identity and legal status during their stay in Poland. But its benefits go beyond just that. Holders of a Polish Residence Card have the advantage of being able to travel freely within the Schengen area for short stays, totalling up to 90 days within any 180-day period.

Applying for Your Residence Card

Applying for your Polish Residence Card is a straightforward process. The card is issued as a confirmation of identity alongside a residence permit, which must be obtained prior to applying for the card.

To apply for a residence card, you must:

  1. Submit your application at the nearest Voivodeship Office

  2. Include supporting documents and fingerprint data

  3. Pay a fee of PLN 100 for issuing or replacing the residence card

Please note that there are some exemptions that may apply.

The typical application processing time for a Polish Residence Card should not exceed three months, but applicants should be aware of potential delays and the possibility of filing appeals.

Enjoying the Freedom of Movement

One of the biggest advantages of the Polish Residence Card is the freedom of movement it offers. As a holder, you are permitted visa-free travel within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

The Schengen Area covers 26 European countries, allowing you easy movement across most of the continent. This means you can explore countries like France, Germany, Italy, and many others without the hassle of obtaining separate visas. The Polish Residence Card also grants access to non-EU Schengen countries, including Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.

Legal Framework and Assistance

Illustration of legal documents and a gavel representing legal assistance

Poland has a robust legal framework to protect and assist those seeking residence permits. The country provides international protection under the Law in the form of refugee status and subsidiary protection, as well as asylum, for those fearful of persecution or serious harm, consistent with obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Legal assistance is advisable for those seeking international protection. There are services offering consultations with knowledgeable lawyers who can provide support during the application process granting international protection. The UNHCR has contributed to the establishment of asylum procedures and centers in Poland, ensuring collaboration with institutions for the well-being of refugees and asylum seekers.

Life in Poland: Beyond the Paperwork

Obtaining a residence permit is just the first step in your journey of living in Poland. Beyond the paperwork, you’ll find a country full of rich history, vibrant culture, and warm-hearted people. Here, familiar acquaintances greet each other with a kiss on each cheek, and superstitions such as avoiding farewells in doorways are part of local custom.

Poland’s dynamic economy, with expected GDP growth, alongside various elements such as a structurally low unemployment rate and emerging labor shortages, influences job prospects. The country also offers a high quality of life, with accessible education for all, including expat families, as residence permits afford children the right to free public education. If you’re planning on starting a news business in Poland make sure to check our comprehensive guide on opening a new Polish company.


In this journey, we’ve explored the process of obtaining a residence permit in Poland, from understanding different permit options to securing a temporary residence permit, transitioning to permanent residency, and even obtaining Polish citizenship.

We’ve discussed special considerations for certain groups, the benefits of a Polish Residence Card, and the legal framework that supports those seeking residence permits. While the process may seem daunting, with the right preparation and understanding, it’s a feasible journey. And at the end of it, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Europe, in a country that offers a multitude of opportunities for those willing to embrace it.

Frequently Asked Questions

To get a Polish residence permit, you need to hold a temporary residence permit and live in Poland for five consecutive years before applying for a permanent residence permit, which is issued indefinitely.

The residence permit application fee amount in Poland varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for. It would be best to check the latest fee list on the official website for the most accurate information.

In Poland, a permanent residence permit is valid indefinitely, providing long-term residency. The resident’s card will need to be renewed once every 5 or 10 years (depending on its type).

Yes, you can live in Poland without citizenship if you meet the criteria for a Polish permanent residence permit, such as living in Poland for at least five years with a valid visa or being married to a Polish citizen for at least three years.

Yes, a temporary residence permit in Poland allows you to work legally for more than three months.


more insights