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IMPORTANT: Polish passport protips

Tl;dr: Dual citizens, use your Polish passport when traveling to Poland. Anything else may mean unpleasant border surprises.

Just got the below from the embassy. I’ll just summarize the (very!) important bits in English here: Poland is threatening inconvenience and possibly penalties like extra fees for Polish dual citizens who use their other passport to enter Poland. Additionally, if you are a dual citizen and something happens to you in Poland, Polish law applies first, to the exclusion of the law of your other country. This should only pose problems for people in sketchy situations, but it also brings to mind a Croatian friend who didn’t travel there for his entire 20s to avoid serving in the army. I’m only glad Poland doesn’t have conscription. Now that would be a surprise, eh: “Yes, everyone can go back except for Sławek, who’s actually getting on this other plane. Here Sławek, take this gun.”

I wish border crossings were as easy as Belgium/Holland. But we're getting there, even if it feels like pulling teeth at times...

I wish border crossings were as easy as this. We’re getting there, even if it’s like pulling teeth at times…

I don’t know how this works for arriving in Europe without planning to stop by Poland. Still, I always travel with both passports beyond the USA, using my Polish passport to enter the EU and the Canadian one to get into Canada. The rest of the time I play it by ear based on visa fees ($20 cheaper for Polish than Canadian in Turkey, protip) and perceived danger locally (Sometimes–often enough that I remember it–“Canadian” still means “rich and gullible” while “Polish” still carries with it a very convenient nondescript, post-Soviet mantle) and globally (if the region is unstable then I lean Canadian because I feel more secure with Canada’s might behind me, knowing the country is rich and reliable in assisting its citizens abroad). I still remember when I was jumped by two drunk thugs on a university campus in the middle of the day in Toruń and the police only perked up and really (pretended to) try to show they cared when I told them I came from Canada. Another protip: register when going abroad. This way the government knows you’re there and can reach you should anything go down during your stay.

How it sometimes feels at that border.

How it sometimes feels at that border.

In the end, when I’m in Europe I don’t even show my Canadian passport anymore just because it’s such a huge hassle, funky stamps be damned. Especially not in Poland, where I sometimes feel an uncomfortable tinge of patriotism/nationalism/jealousy/suspicion from border staff layering on top of the already pretty hurtin’ customer service many of us have come to expect on trips to our second home (yes, it’s getting better and better almost daily, but you still see those drab, glassed-in grey faces pretty often). I know this post has a bit of a surly spin, but this just because any imposition of seemingly nonsensical authority makes my anarchist hackles rise. Still, after talking with my sister the ex-border guard, she clarified this probably has more to do with applying the right line of questioning to the right group of travelers, with guards being primed for the correct things to watch for, and, in the end, completing the correct paperwork.

In line with this trend, I recently went ahead and ordered my national ID to make this process a tad bit easier on me (passports + pockets comfort). It takes about 2 months for it to be ready, and it seems like you can order it online now (when I ordered mine this past February, I didn’t have this option). However, I believe you’ll still have to pick this up in person still. With things like this Poland seems to be bounding lightyears with each leap in catching up to the rest of Europe in bureaucracy, so I suppose these new passport requirements are just another step in this direction. Still, I can’t help thinking of this hilarious Quebecois skit:

… and of the adorable Zootopia sloths:

Happy travels! Original text below with all the important bits highlighted, but you can read more on the original release.

Gdy posiadasz podwójne obywatelstwo sugerujemy Polakom posiadającym obok polskiego, obywatelstwo innego państwa aby posiadali polskie dokumenty podróży. Dzięki temu unikną kłopotów, a czasami dodatkowych kosztów związanych z wyjazdem. W myśl obowiązujących w Polsce przepisów, głównie Ustawy o obywatelstwie polskim, posiadanie przez obywateli RP podwójnego obywatelstwa jest dopuszczalne, jednak nie skutkuje ono prawem do przedkładania obywatelstwa obcego nad polskie i w żadnym wypadku obywatel polski na terytorium Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej nie może żądać przed organami państwowymi, aby traktowano go jako obywatela innego państwa. Osoby posiadające oprócz polskiego inne obywatelstwo przy przekraczaniu granicy RP powinny zwrócić szczególną uwagę na wymogi obowiązujące w zakresie dokumentów uprawniających do przekroczenia granicy. W sytuacji, gdy funkcjonariusz Straży Granicznej w trakcie kontroli granicznej uzyska informację, że podróżny posiada obywatelstwo polskie, a nie ma ważnego polskiego paszportu, czy dowodu osobistego – w zależności od kierunku podróży, funkcjonariusz ma obowiązek nie zezwolić takiej osobie na przekroczenie Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na wyjazd, nawet jeśli wjechała na terytorium Polski na podstawie dokumentu stwierdzającego obywatelstwo innego państwa.

— Aleksandra Kucy, Kierownik Referatu Konsularnego, Ambasada RP w Ottawie, +1 (613) 789 0468

About Paul Sulżycki

Resident blogger and one half of PISK's webmaster team, Paul is a huge trivia buff with an unfortunate penchant for puns. He also loves strategy games. Like, a lot.

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2 Responses to “IMPORTANT: Polish passport protips”

  1. Joanna April 20, 2016 at 2:13 pm # Reply

    I need to listen to you more often. Super useful — thank you!!

    • Paul Sulżycki April 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm # Reply

      : )

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