Statelessness Index reveals poland can do more to identify and protect stateless people

In order to highlight the key findings of the Poland country profile on the Statelessness Index - an online tool which allows instant comparison of how different countries protect people without a nationality – the European Network on Statelessness has worked with its partner Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center to develop a Poland country briefing.

28 Feb 2019 / Detention / International and Regional Instruments / Poland / Prevention and reduction / Statelessness determination and status / Statelessness population data


Although Poland is party to some relevant human rights instruments, it has not acceded to any of the core statelessness conventions. Its data on stateless populations in the country is unreliable, and there is no dedicated statelessness determination procedure. Some stateless people may regularise their stay through alternative administrative procedures, for example, during return or removal proceedings, but there are significant protection gaps. Stateless people can be detained solely to confirm their identity, and their protection needs are not considered during detention procedures.

  • Poland does not have a full safeguard to prevent childhood statelessness. The law provides for certain categories of children born on the territory to unknown or stateless parents to acquire Polish nationality, but there is no safeguard on the basis of the child's statelessness.
  • A foundling or child born to stateless parents, or parents whose nationality is undetermined, is granted Polish nationality automatically, but there is no other safeguard for a child who would otherwise be stateless (for example if parents cannot confer their nationality).
  • Children who fall within the scope of the safeguard are not required to prove they cannot access another nationality, nor are they or their parents required to fulfil a period of legal residence.
  • There are no specific provisions in place for the children of beneficiaries of international protection born in Poland.
  • Foundlings are granted Polish citizenship automatically by law.
  • There is no age limit set in law for the granting of citizenship to foundlings, though the legislation refers to ‘new-born’ status.
  • There is no legal possibility for a foundling's citizenship to be lost as Polish nationality is granted ex-officio so there is no decision that could be later revoked.
  • Foreign adoption does not interfere with the Polish nationality of a minor child. If the foreign parents want to confer their nationality to an adopted Polish child and the nationality law of their country of citizenship does not allow for dual nationality, they may submit an application to the President of Poland asking for consent for renunciation of Polish nationality.
  • A minor adopted by a Polish national is deemed to have acquired Polish citizenship by birth when adopted and the full adoption takes effect before the child reaches 16 years-old. If the adopted child is over 16, they can acquire Polish nationality through procedures for acknowledgement or conferral of nationality.
  • All children with at least one Polish parent are Polish nationals by law irrespective of the place of birth.
  • In practice, problems may arise resulting in statelessness: although Polish nationality is acquired automatically at birth, in practice, registration in Poland (or transcription of the birth certificate) is sometimes required to be issued with a passport or Polish ID at the Polish embassy. Recent cases of children of same-sex parents abroad have raised problems as Poland does not recognise same-sex partnerships and will not issue a transcription of a birth certificate naming both parents in such cases.
  • The law stipulates that all births must be registered within 21 days of the medical record being issued by the hospital. This is then transferred to the local Civil Registry Records Office.
  • The parents are not required to be legally resident to complete the birth registration process.
  • There are no current reports of barriers to birth registration in practice and no mandatory requirements on the authorities to report undocumented persons, although Poland has received UPR recommendations in relation to access to birth registration in the past.
  • If a birth is not registered before the prescribed deadline, the Head of the Civil Registry Records Office records the birth ex officio.
  • There are no legal obstacles to late registration and no reports of barriers in practice.
  • There are no government campaigns to promote birth registration and no current reports of high-risk groups where children are at risk of not having their births registered.
  • There are no reports of groups at particular risk of statelessness in Poland. There are few identified cases of statelessness in Poland – most of those affected are individuals from a migrant or refugee background.
  • Polish law currently in force does not allow for deprivation of Polish citizenship.
  • A Polish citizen can only lose Polish citizenship at their own request (renunciation) and only after the President of the Republic of Poland has granted their consent. If granted, loss also affects the applicant’s children.
  • A person requesting renunciation of their citizenship must present documentary evidence proving that they hold or have been promised citizenship of another state. However, this safeguard is not sufficient as it does not eliminate the risk of statelessness, and there is no explicit requirement to prove that any minor children covered by the application for renunciation will not become stateless as a result.

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