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I was born in Poland. I lived in Canada for around 30 years and am a citizen of both. I went back to Poland for the first time 3 years ago. I entered on my Canadian passport and only got a Polish dowod osobisty ie the polish ID card a month or so after getting to Poland. I still have no Polish passport.

Polish consul told me specifically I need polish passport to leave because I am a Polish national. ID card or Canadian passport is not enough.

If I want to go back to Canada now, can I use my valid Canadian passport? if not and I may want to visit Italy before leaving, then could I leave on Canadian passport from there?

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  • Is your issue entering Canada or leaving Poland? Feb 26 at 15:30
  • Kate.. well as said.. i wish to leave poland and enter canada..and my question wishes to establish whether there would be an issue with either..or both. ty
    – evoka
    Feb 26 at 15:34
  • ".because I'm polish document" Did you mean [Polish passport] is a Polish document? Polish ID card is also a valid Polish document. In fact the Border Guards website says so. strazgraniczna.pl/pl/niezbednik-podroznego/…
    – xngtng
    Feb 27 at 11:08
  • There are two questions here, what you can practically do, and what you are legally required to do by Poland. As the answers point out, for all practical purposes you can leave through another Schengen country and return that way.
    – o.m.
    Feb 27 at 15:07

3 Answers 3

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As an EU citizen, you cannot overstay in EU or Schengen area and must be allowed entry.

As a Canadian citizen, you cannot be denied entry to Canada and you cannot lose your Canadian citizenship without voluntarily renouncing it (other than if you obtained Canadian citizenship by fraud or misrepresentation), even if you obtain or get another nationality recognized .

If you have a valid Polish identity card that establishes your EU (Polish) nationality, it is a valid travel document in any EEA country and Switzerland and it is a Polish document recognized by Polish border guards.

From Polish Border Guards' website, regarding dual citizens:

W związku z pojawiającymi się w ostatnim czasie wątpliwościami, co do zasad dokonywania odprawy granicznej przy przekraczaniu polskiej granicy państwowej przez obywateli RP z podwójnym obywatelstwem, uprzejmie informujemy, że wymóg okazania funkcjonariuszom Straży Granicznej podczas kontroli granicznej polskiego dokumentu paszportowego lub odpowiednio dowodu osobistego dotyczy wszystkich obywateli polskich.

With regard to recent doubts concerning the rules for border checks carried out when crossing the Polish border by citizens of the Republic of Poland who are dual citizens, we would like to inform you that the requirement to present a Polish passport or, respectively, an ID card to the Border Guard officers during border control applies to all Polish citizens. (Translated by DeepL)

It also allows you to pass the exit check of the Schengen Area or another EU country. So you can travel to Italy or France, and you can pass the exit check when you leave Italy (or another EU country) for Canada without problem.

When you enter any EU country again from anywhere, your Polish ID alone also suffices.

You will need your Canadian passport and present it to the airlines when you are travelling to Canada (and most countries which do not accept Polish ID as a valid travel document).

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    "must be allowed entry": ... and exit, but I think the EU doesn't prevent Poland from requiring its citizens to have a Polish passport on departure from Poland to a non-EU, non-Schengen destination. I doubt Poland actually does that, but I think it's technically possible.
    – phoog
    Feb 27 at 8:04
  • @phoog There are anecdotal reports of Polish immigration giving trouble to such dual citizens and Canadian government's travel advice added the requirement to use Polish passport some years ago. But it might have been certain fervor in implementing some "new" rules some bureaucrats decided on back then.
    – xngtng
    Feb 27 at 10:57
  • Giving trouble to dual citizens in possession of a national ID card but not a passport?
    – phoog
    Feb 27 at 11:09
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    @phoog No, to people without any Polish documents. I found a border guard page that says ID cards should be acceptable as well.
    – xngtng
    Feb 27 at 11:12
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I routinely fly between the Schengen area and a non Schengen country using a passport from an EU country and one from the non-Schengen country. You should be able to do the same flying between Poland and Canada, using your Polish national ID card. This is how:

  1. Check in for your flight to Canada with your Canadian passport.

  2. On your way to the departure gate, you will go through a government-operated passport checkpoint. Show your Polish national ID card here.

  3. For the rest of the trip, show only your Canadian passport.

This assumes a direct flight between the two countries. If the flight is not direct, follow this rule: show the Polish national ID card to any government official of an EU or Schengen area country; show the Canadian passport to everyone else.

You can certainly leave the Schengen area through Italy; in that case you still normally not encounter any Polish government officials. But if you show your Canadian passport there, the Italian border officer should look for stamps to check whether you've overstayed in the Schengen area. Instead, you should show your Polish national ID card.

It's important to note that the purpose of this document switching is not deception. You aren't hiding anything. You are simply showing the document that establishes your rights as an EU citizen to EU officers and the document that establishes your rights as a Canadian citizen to Canadian officers and to the airline. If any questions ever arise, it's perfectly acceptable to show the other document to anyone.

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    However, this polandpassport.com/faq states “It is important to note that those who are citizens must use their Polish passport in cases involving Polish authorities. For example, on an international flight, you must use your Polish passport to enter and exit Poland.”
    – Traveller
    Feb 27 at 8:21
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    @Traveller do you have any reason to believe that this is an authoritative source? It doesn't appear to be. It also doesn't cite any authoritative source, and it doesn't even mention Polish national ID cards. I wouldn't take those statements at face value, and they are certainly incorrect for flights between Poland and other EEA countries or Switzerland unless you read "passport" to mean "passport or national ID card." The phone number is in North America, so it's likely the authors don't understand the significance or use of the national ID card.
    – phoog
    Feb 27 at 8:53
  • @Traveller see polandpassport.com/about-us -- it is hardly a description of a company with broad expertise in Polish immigration and nationality law.
    – phoog
    Feb 27 at 8:57
  • I commented only because it appeared to agree with the advice the OP says they received from the Polish consul. dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/poland refers to ‘passport or ID’, so it’s unclear why the Polish consul would advise otherwise
    – Traveller
    Feb 27 at 10:08
  • Polish consul might have assumed OP would be in Canada with an ID card issued by another country; and they can only apply for a passport not a Polish ID card abroad.
    – xngtng
    Feb 27 at 11:00
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Trying to board a direct flight from Poland to Canada:

  1. Your Canadian passport can be rejected on the grounds that Poland doesn't allow exercising other citizenships for Poles.
  2. Your Polish ID will undoubtedly be rejected on the grounds that it's not a valid document for out-of-EU travel.

#1 is informally known as "Polish passport trap". Enforcement of this policy comes and goes, but legally it's valid.

You can use your ID to leave Poland for another Schengen country (like Italy). Once you're outside Poland, rule #1 no longer applies are you can use your Canadian passport to leave Italy. That's airtight as long as your Canadian passport is still valid.

You can get a new Polish passport, leave Poland on it and enter Canada on your old Canadian one. That's also airtight, no matter how old the Canadian one is.

You can push your luck by pretending you're not a Pole at all and try to board plane in Poland using Canadian passport. That might work, as long as your Canadian passport is valid and nobody would notice or care you're also a Pole. But it's not really legit and I don't recommend taking this route if you can take one of the others.

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    If a Polish citizen with only ID card wants to travel to e.g. Serbia, they would be denied?
    – xngtng
    Mar 1 at 12:25
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    tnx..this is much more what the consul said..ie..that as long as I'm polish citizen they only care for.polish passport. however good.to know about italy.. I may do that... also yer idea to try luck pretend I'm not pole could have major issues as my canadian passport says I entered poland in.2019... I heard u can pay fines.or be banned if.u overstay the 90 days..
    – evoka
    Mar 2 at 11:36
  • @evoka well, Polish passport costs you 140zł and 30 days so IMHO getting one is well worth the peace of mind. Think of it as a backup if you forget to renew the Canadian one.
    – Agent_L
    Mar 3 at 10:13
  • p.s. if I get my polish passport..do I still need my Canadian passport to be valid? or something like citizen Id is enuf? cause technically I could just be traveler from poland to Canada...for the 90 or.180 days I'm allowed to be there with.no.visa.. it's just that once there I could stay indefinitely being.a.citizen.
    – evoka
    Mar 3 at 13:09
  • @evoka I'm not sure, but AFAIK you can leave and enter Canada without Canadian passport. Poland is one of the few exceptions that force which passport you can use.
    – Agent_L
    Mar 3 at 13:59

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