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I am a Polish-born Canadian travelling to Poland with my Canadian-born children who have Canadian passports. I’ve been told they may require Polish passports (I have one) They have never been to Poland or applied for citizenship so I’m not sure if this is just busy work. We are leaving in only a few weeks and have little time for this - is it needed?

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    Told by whom? What authorities were cited by this person?
    – C'est Moi
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 22:40
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    Related/similar: travel.stackexchange.com/q/90452/47309
    – shoover
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 1:01
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    @NateEldredge "I am a Polish born Canadian ... I have [a Polish passport]."
    – phoog
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 7:08
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    I believe (I do not know, hence a comment and no answer) that Poland requires Polish citizens to use their Polish passport, and your children may be Polish by descent.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 9:29
  • For a purely historical view I remember that in the 50's there were cases of US and Canadian citizens coming to Poland for a visit and they were blocked when leaving because they were Polish citizens (by their parents/grandparents and they did not know it) and officially needed a Polish passport to live. This was a political game by the regime of the time with the West (Canada and US for that specific case).
    – WoJ
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 20:17

3 Answers 3

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According to the Wikipedia article on Polish nationality law, "a child born to a Polish parent is automatically a Polish citizen at birth. It is irrelevant where the child is born." So your children are Polish citizens.

This can potentially become a problem because, as the US State Department notes,

Polish citizens (including U.S.-Polish dual nationals or those with claims to Polish citizenship) must enter and depart Poland using a Polish passport. Dual nationals who entered Poland only with a U.S. passport, especially those who stayed in Poland over 90 days, may be unable to depart Poland until they obtain a Polish passport. Due to possible delays in obtaining a Polish passport while in Poland, Polish citizens may wish to obtain a valid Polish passport from the Polish Embassy or Consulates in the United States before traveling to Poland.

Presumably the same problems could apply to a Canadian-Polish dual national entering on a Canadian passport. (The equivalent Canadian page confirms that dual nationals must enter on a Polish passport, but does not discuss the possibility of being unable to leave.)

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    The 90 days rule is probably due to Schengen rules. Both US and Canadian citizen can enter the Schengen area without visa with a maximum stay period of 90 days in 180. Staying for more than 90 days without a Schengen passport would mean overstaying. In the case of this question, since Poland has a birth citizenship rule, it would mean that to avoid any problems when leaving it should be done on the Polish passport.
    – bracco23
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 16:56
  • Note that when applying for a Polish passport in Poland, the passport is to be prepared within 30 days of application, so if you intend to stay over 90 days, you should have plenty of time to obtain passports. On the other hand, application itself may be a hassle (there might be long queues, with tickets only available quite early, the offices are a bit overwhelemed with the immigration now), and there may be other delays if Polish state is not aware of the children.
    – tomasz
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 23:56
  • Absolute worst case scenario you can just leave the Schengen area via a different country, so the embassy's claims seem far fetched.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 17:14
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Michael's answer is spot-on and correct, but I'd like to provide a relevant personal experience.

I grew up in a similar situation, though one generation removed. My grandparents are Polish (born and raised in Poland), so my mother is Polish (born in the US, 1950s), so my siblings and I are Polish (born in the US, 1980s). My mother and I have been to Poland numerous times, but on our US passports. There was no issue, even with a very obviously Polish surname. I only finally got around to applying for a Polish passport last month, after at least a dozen separate visits to the country.

To follow the letter of the law, your children should get Polish passports or formally renounce their Polish citizenship. In practice, if you don't make a big deal about it, it (likely) won't matter. There is always a risk, of course, especially if you act suspicious or like you're unusually nervous about this; I personally would just travel on my Canadian passport, but it is a personal choice.

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Your kids have right to obtain citizenship, but until you complete a long process of applying for one they DO NOT have Polish citizenship. So they are going to enter Poland as Canadian citizens on Canadian passports. They will be allowed to stay in Schengen for 90 days without a need for any additional paperwork.

As far as I understand you have Polish passport. So you are supposed to present Polish passport at Polish border control. In practice I am not sure how much this is enforced.

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    Can you reference any authority for the assertion that children of Polish citizens born abroad (here, in Canada) are not considered Polish citizens? The Wikipedia article cited in the earlier answer asserts the contrary. Commented May 1, 2023 at 17:36
  • Well, I have 2 kids born out of Poland and went through entire process myself. Before they can be considered Polish citizens you have to transfer ("umiejscowić") their birth certificate etc. Here is the link with details in Warsaw.
    – Peeech
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 19:23
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    The link you provided is about getting Polish certificates (birth etc.) This is not related to the fact of being or not Polish (which is automatic when parents are Polish, this is part of the Polish Constitution (art. 34)). OP children are Polish.
    – WoJ
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 20:10
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    I think @WoJ is correct as to citizenship. This English translation of the Constitution of Poland translates Article 34 as: Polish citizenship shall be acquired by birth to parents being Polish citizens. Other methods of acquiring Polish citizenship shall be specified by statute. This does not, however, address the OP's real-life issue of whether a child of Polish parents, born abroad and not formally known to the Polish government, will have difficulties in leaving Poland after an entry on another country's passport. Commented May 1, 2023 at 20:47
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    @DavidRemembersMonica: yes, I agree with you. I was rather challenging the non-automatic Polish citizenship in the answer.
    – WoJ
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 14:09

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