22 May 2020

Residence of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and the coronavirus epidemic (update)

The introduction of the state of epidemic emergency in Poland, followed by the state of epidemic, does not affect the residence rights of citizens of European Union Member States, countries of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA), Switzerland and family members staying with them. These rights are not dependent on having any permits or documents[i].

Right of residence for up to 3 months

Citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland and their family members who are not citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland can stay in Poland for up to 3 months without having to meet any conditions of stay other than having a valid travel document. Citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland may have another valid document confirming their identity and citizenship. Their family members who are not EU/EEA/Swiss citizens should be in possession of a visa to enter Poland, unless they are exempted from this requirement.

Stay for more than 3 months

Citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland have the right to stay in Poland for more than 3 months, if they meet one of the following conditions:

  1. they are employees or persons self-employed in Poland;
  2. they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family members on the territory of Poland, so as not to burden social assistance and they have adequate health insurance[ii];
  3. they study or undergo vocational training in Poland and have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family members on the Polish territory so as not to burden social assistance and they have adequate health insurance;
  4. they are spouses of a Polish citizen.

If the stay in Poland lasts for more than 3 months, the EU EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members are obliged to register their stay. However, a family member who is not an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen is required to obtain a residence card of a family member of an EU citizen. These formalities can be carried out at the voivodeship office competent for the place of stay of the given person. The application shall be submitted in person, no later than the next day after the expiry of three-month period starting from the date of entry into Poland.

Voivodship offices have suspended direct customer service. Therefore, it is currently not possible to register one’s stay, obtain a certificate of registration of an EU citizen’s stay, issue a residence card of a family member of an EU citizen, as well as documents confirming the right of permanent residence on the territory of Poland.

However, it should be emphasized that the residence rights of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members enjoying the freedom of movement in Poland are granted by law if the conditions of the right of residence are met. They do not depend on registering a stay or obtaining a residence permit.

Extension by law of the periods of validity of issued documents

New provisions[iii] introduce prolongation by law the periods of validity of documents issued for a limited period to nationals of EU Member States, European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA), the Swiss Confederation and family members staying with them:

  • documents confirming the right of permanent residence,
  • residence cards of a family member of an EU citizen,
  • permanent residence cards of a family member of an EU citizen.

Analogously to other anti-crisis solutions, if the end of the period of validity of one of these documents falls out during the period of the state of epidemic emergency or state of epidemic, it will be extended to the 30th day following the date of cancellation of the last of these states that was in force.

Reinstatement of controls at the internal borders of Poland and restrictions on movement across border crossings

Pursuant to the regulations of the Minister of the Interior and Administration[iv], since 15 March 2020 internal border controls have been introduced until further notice together with restrictions on movement through border crossings:

– traffic at border crossing points with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, the list of which is set out in Annex 1 to the Regulation, has been suspended;

– traffic at border crossing points with Germany, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, as well as at air and sea border crossings has been limited. The list of crossings together with the type of authorised border traffic is set out in Annex 2 to the Regulation.

In terms of passenger traffic, crossing of the Polish border through land, air and sea border crossings is allowed to:

1) citizens of the Republic of Poland;

2) foreigners who are spouses or children of citizens of the Republic of Poland or remain under the constant care of citizens of the Republic of Poland;

3) foreigners holding a Card of the Pole;

4) heads of diplomatic missions and members of the mission’s diplomatic and consular staff, i.e. persons having a diplomatic rank and members of their families;

5) foreigners who have the right of permanent or temporary residence on the territory of the Republic of Poland;

6) foreigners having the right to work in the territory of the Republic of Poland, i.e. foreigners entitled to work on the same terms as Polish citizens, who have a work permit, a certificate of entry in the register regarding seasonal work, a declaration on entrusting work to a foreigner on the territory of the Republic of Poland, who:

a) perform work on the territory of the Republic of Poland or

b) present documents showing that the commencement of work will begin immediately after crossing the border;

7) foreigners who run a means of transport designed for the transport of persons or goods, and whose transit takes place as part of their professional activities consisting in the transport of goods or persons;

8) drivers performing road transport as part of international road transport or international combined transport within the meaning of Article 4 points 2 and 14 of the Act of 6 September 2001 on road transport (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 2140 and of 2020 item 875) in transit through the territory of the Republic of Poland, traveling by other means of transport than the vehicle used for road transport:

a) for the purpose of taking their rest period referred to Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 (OJ L 102, 11.04.2006, p. 1, as amended) in the territory of the country of stay,

b) after taking their rest period referred to in the Regulation referred to in point a, and after a break in the performance of work in the circumstances indicated in Article 31 para.1 of the Act of 16 April 2004 on the working time of drivers (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 1412);

9) pupils and students receiving education in the Republic of Poland;

10) citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, and their spouses and children, for the purpose of crossing the territory of the Republic of Poland, lasting no longer than 12 hours from the moment of crossing the border of the Republic of Poland, to their place of residence or stay.

In particularly justified cases, the commander of the Border Guard post, after obtaining the consent of the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard, may allow foreigners other than those mentioned above to enter the Polish territory.

It follows from the above that EU/EEA/Swiss citizens or members of their families will be admitted to border control under the current provisions, if they represent at least one of the following cases:

  1. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens holding a certificate of registration of an EU citizen’s stay or a document confirming the right of permanent residence of an EU citizen, issued by Polish authorities;
  2. family members of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens holding a residence card of a family member of an EU citizen or permanent residence card of a family member of an EU citizen, issued by the Polish authorities;
  3. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens or their family members who are spouses of Polish citizens or children of Polish citizens or children who are under the constant care of Polish citizens;
  4. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens or their family members holding a Card of the Pole;
  5. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens or their family members who are heads of diplomatic missions or members of the mission’s diplomatic and consular staff;
  6. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens or their family members working in Poland or holding documents showing that they will start work immediately after entering the Polish territory;
  7. EU / EEA / Swiss citizens or their family members who are pupils or students receiving education in the Republic of Poland;
  8. EU / EEA / Swiss citizens and their spouses and children in order to cross the territory of the Republic of Poland lasting no longer than 12 hours from the moment of crossing the border of the Republic of Poland, to their place of residence or stay.

In exceptional, particularly justified cases, it is possible to grant entry to an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen who does not belong to one of the above-mentioned categories (e.g. if entry would be based on humanitarian reasons).

More information on crossing borders can be found at www.strazgraniczna.pl.

United Kingdom citizens and their family members

Until the end of 2020, in the “transitional period”, citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are treated as EU citizens and their family members are treated as family members of EU citizens[v].

Read also:

Coronavirus outbreak – special solutions for foreigners


[i] The rules of entry and stay on the territory of Poland of EU / EEA / Swiss citizens and their family members are regulated by the Act of 14 July 2006 on entry into the territory of the Republic of Poland, stay and departure from this territory, of citizens of the Member States of the European Union and members of their families (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 293). It implements into the Polish legal order the provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (OJ L 2004 158, of 30.04.2004, p. 77).

[ii] is covered by universal health insurance or is a person entitled to healthcare services under the provisions on coordination within the meaning of Article 5 point 23 of the Act of 27 August 2004 on health care services financed from public funds (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1510, as amended) or has private health insurance, covering all expenses that may arise during a stay in Poland in connection with the need for medical assistance or hospital treatment, in which the insurer undertakes to cover the costs of health services provided to the insured directly to the entity providing such services on the basis of the invoice issued by this entity.

[iii] The Act of 14 May 2020 amending some acts in the field of protective activities in connection with the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Journal of Laws, item 875), which entered into force on 16 May 2020.

[iv] Regulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of 13 March 2020 on the temporary reintroduction of border control of persons crossing the state border forming an internal border (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 434, as amended) and the Regulation of Minister of the Interior and Administration of 13 March 2020 on the temporary suspension or limitation of trans-border traffic at specific border crossings (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 435, as amended)

[v] pursuant to the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (OJ L C 144 I from 25.04.2019, p. 1)