Due to Russia’s armed attack on Ukraine, many Ukrainian citizens have lost or been forced to hurriedly abandon their households and seek help from foreign neighbors. Poland is one of the countries Ukraine has access to almost immediately.
Polish officials were also quick to decide on additional formal facilitations for Ukrainian refugees. The following guide is a comprehensive overview of what the current conditions for crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border look like. We encourage you to read the following information verified by our lawyers.
Entry into Poland following the current (28.02.2022) regulations:
based on a biometric passport – a stay of up to 90 days is permitted; during this period you can submit an application for a residence and work permit, an application for a residence permit, an application for a work permit; work is also possible based on a statement on entrusting work to a foreigner, but this is a solution for a maximum period of 24 months, during which time a work permit or a residence and work permit must be obtained).
based on a national visa (type D) or Schengen visa (type C), including those issued by an authority of another EU member state.
Residence permit (temporary, permanent, long-term EU resident).
Application for international protection (for refugee status).
Consent of the Border Guard Commander to an entry for a period of up to 15 days.
In practice – the Polish administration declares (https://www.gov.pl/web/udsc/ukraina; information of 27.02.2022) that anyone running from Ukraine from the war can find a shelter in Poland and does not have to worry about the legality of their stay, because Polish services will take care of extending the authorization for as long as needed. There are also reports that the EU intends to allow Ukrainians to stay in the EU for up to three years without additional formalities (“An overwhelming majority of EU countries support a proposal to allow refugees from Ukraine to stay in member states for at least three years. The formal decision will come soon, reports the New York Times” [for: onet.pl, g. 23.03 on 27.02.2022]).
Reduced requirements for documents: Polish border guards will let through the Ukrainian border also people who do not have a foreign passport. Any other document confirming identity (passport, internal passport, birth certificate in case of children without other documents) is sufficient.
Stay in Poland
Ukrainians with biometric passports may stay in Poland for up to 90 days under a visa-free regime.
People holding a residence permit may stay in Poland until the expiry of the period for which the permit was issued. The Polish authorities declare that those, whose residence permits are about to expire need not fear any consequences – the legality of their stay in Poland will be extended.
People who have entered Poland without documents (based on a permit issued by the Commander of the Border Guard) may stay in Poland for 15 days. During that time they should apply to the provincial office for a temporary residence permit or residence and work permit. This should be done by post – applying is equivalent to obtaining the right of legal residence until the application is examined.
Those, who have applied for international protection (refugee status) stay legally in Poland until their application is examined; however, they cannot work, nor will they be able to work for the first 6 months after being granted protection.
Work in Poland
Currently work in Poland is legal for persons who have a work permit, a residence and work permit, a residence permit for a long-term EU resident, and also for persons for whom the employer submitted to the Labor Office a statement on entrusting work to a foreigner.
- Those, who wish to apply for a residence permit or a residence and work permit after crossing the border based on a Border Guard permit, must file an appropriate application to the Provincial Office competent for the place of residence. As a law firm, we provide application filing services.
- Those, who stay in Poland under the visa-free regime (up to 90 days), can apply for a residence and work permit during that time; if they find a job, they can also obtain the possibility to work based on an employer’s declaration of entrusting work to a foreigner. The declaration allows you to work for up to 24 months, in which case you must apply for a residence and work permit before the expiry of the 90-day visa-free period. We support employers in submitting declarations and employees in obtaining documents entitling them to legal stay in Poland.
Those, who have applied for international protection (refugee status) cannot work until they are granted international protection. They will also be unable to work for the first 6 months after being granted protection.
All Ukrainian citizens who have entered Poland in connection with the Russian invasion may receive free medical assistance in Polish health care facilities, if necessary. This applies to Ukrainian who have a certificate issued by the Border Guard of the Republic of Poland or an imprint of the stamp of the Border Guard of the Republic of Poland in their travel document, confirming their legal stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland after crossing the border from 24 February 2022.
- Medical care will be provided by general practitioners (primary health care) and in specialist clinics or hospitals.
- Child who does not have a passport or other Ukrainian identification document can cross the border – based on birth certificate only. For Adults obtaining a foreign passport on the territory of Poland is possible by agreement with consular authorities of Ukraine and the legislation of Ukraine. However currently, according to information obtained from the Consulate of Ukraine, foreign passports are not issued, and consular services are suspended.
- All children, regardless of their basis of residence, aged 7-18 are subject to compulsory education in Poland. A child may be admitted to school throughout the school year. He/she will be referred to a class depending on the number of years of education completed abroad. The enrolment of a child to school takes place by applying the school principal. The public elementary schools in the area where the child lives accept the child in question ex officio. In the case of choosing other elementary schools and secondary schools, it is possible depending on the availability of places. To find out which school has free places, one should contact the education department of the municipality where the child lives.
Animals accompanying the traveler (dogs, cats, and ferrets) should have:
- A chip/transponder or legible tattoo identifying the animal.
- Rabies vaccination.
- A health certificate and documentation detailing the animal’s identification, as well as vaccination details and serological test results.
- The result of the rabies antibody titration test.
However, according to information published by the Chief Veterinarian, entry with an animal from Ukraine is now possible, even if the above requirements are not fulfilled. A temporary procedure has been implemented, providing for the submission of a declaration by the owner/guardian of the animal. It is not necessary to have a rabies test result.
We hope that this basic information will help Ukrainian refugees to survive in Poland. If anyone has additional questions, a 24-hour hotline has now been set up at +48 47 721 75 75.
There is also a special portal, where you can find all the official and up-to-date information about Ukrainian refugees in Poland: ua.gov.pl. We encourage you to keep track of the changes published on the website. This way you can avoid misinformation and also receive dedicated assistance.
Unlike any other news items in CEELM, these are published as received with no other edits than outlined in this editorial note.