Does Polish citizenship expire?

Polish citizenship considered as a legal institution has never been defined directly in Polish legislation. Nevertheless, representatives of legal science remain unanimous that citizenship means a legal bond connecting an individual with the state, which is referred to as the legal status or legal situation of the individual.

The main features of Polish citizenship institution

Among the most characteristic features of the institution of Polish citizenship is the feature of permanence both in time and in space. The permanence of citizenship in time consists in the fact that from the moment of its acquisition in the manner prescribed by the internal law of the country until its termination, citizenship is continuous regardless of whether there have been changes in the citizenship legislation of the country.

Expiration as a legal concept, on the other hand, is defined as the state in which a certain law, contract, or claim finally ceases to be valid, as a result of the emergence of a situation specified in separate legislation, or in the document to which it relates.

Theoretically, therefore, one could imagine a situation in which the legal relationship linking a citizen with the state, after certain conditions are met, expires. Since termination is associated, among other things, with a situation in which the subject does not exercise his or her rights or does not demand the realization of his or her rights, this could apply to cases in which neither the individual nor the state in any formal way realizes the legal bond linking them. However, such a situation, like the conditions for acquiring Polish citizenship, would have to be subject to explicit legal regulation and be reflected in the law. Meanwhile, none of the laws on Polish citizenship envisaged similar solutions – Polish legislation has never introduced a form of termination of Polish citizenship by expiration.

The Polish Citizenship Acts of 1920 and 1951 provided for a form of cessation of citizenship such as loss of Polish citizenship by operation of law – ex lege (which may seem closest to expiration – since the latter also occurs by operation of law, including contractual). Loss of citizenship by operation of law, in the simplest terms, means that the fulfillment of the prerequisites provided by law resulted in loss of Polish citizenship, and it was not necessary to sanction this loss with any decision, order or other type of act of application or lawmaking issued for this purpose. The prerequisites for the loss of citizenship were each time based on some action or omission by an individual that demonstrated a lack of loyalty to the Polish State, such as taking up public service in a foreign country or joining a foreign army.

The loss of Polish citizenship – what to know?

In the current state of the law, the only way to lose Polish citizenship is through the Polish citizenship renunciation process – that is, loss as a result of a declaration of will by a Polish citizen – which, in addition, must be accepted by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Thus, the only thing that can expire in connection with Polish citizenship is the validity of our Polish passport!

It is worth mentioning here that in connection with the current state of the law and the above-mentioned fact concerning the loss of Polish citizenship, it is not a problem if we have a passport whose validity has already expired in the 21st century. Even if we apply for a new Polish passport some time after the expiration of the previous one, we are unlikely to encounter the need to obtain confirmation of Polish citizenship.

The case is different for Polish passports whose validity expired back in the last century. Since there were forms of loss of Polish citizenship other than renunciation, it will probably be necessary for an individual who would like to get a Polish passport again to first certify his Polish citizenship.

How could Polish citizenship be lost?

While assessing eligibility toward Polish citizenship by descent, we analyse facts confirming that Polish citizenship was held by one of your ancestors, but also, we need to review all the fact and events that took place in your Polish ancestor’s life, that could possibly impact his or her Polish citizenship and cause loss of Polish citizenship.

Check if you qualify for Polish citizenship by descent

Being a dual citizen and having an option to possess two passports bring a person many benefits such as freedom to use the one which is better in a particular situation, e.g. visa free entry to a country, or freedom of residence. If you are of Polish descent and know that someone from your family was a Polish citizen, you are likely eligible to confirm your Polish citizenship and get a Polish passport.