Thursday, March 31, 2011

Administration Spree !

Czesc my trusty fellows. Today we are going to talk about serious business: Polish Administration. Well, administration stuff in every country is quite boring, but there are many relics from the communist era here which are sending you completely mad. Fortunately you can count on the kindness of Polish people to help you… and make you discover the city in the mean time and enjoy this amazing administrative maze.
Be aware that this is the short (very very very short) version, and the timescale of the complete story is about 3 months.

Let’s begin the Marathon!

So right after I had the answer from my company (remember first post, yes it was slippy…), I went to my embassy to register my stay. Quite simple: passport, address in Poland, phone number, e-mail. Then, and it’s the beginning of my initiatic journey, they asked me to register with the local authority to get the Karta Pobytu (residency permit), which means going to the Urzad Wojewodzki (“regional town hall”). All foreigners are required by law to have it.

At the Urzad Wojewodzki, after hours of waiting, the lady in front of me told me in 1 minute everything I need to fill the 4 application forms, and that means a lot of papers, ID pictures that show your left ear and face (so bad Van Gogh), a magic number called PESEL (ID number) and the zameldowanie (residency registration) and I can get it at the Urzad Miasta (“town hall”) All foreigners are required by law to have these two things.

At the Urzad Miasta, after hours of waiting, they told me in (less than) 1 minute that I have to go to the Urzad Dzielnicy (“district town hall”).

At the Urzad Dzielnicy, after hours of waiting, the guy told me in 1 minute everything I need to get the zameldowanie, and that means a lot of papers, the rental agreement, the permission of the landlord saying he agrees I’m living in his flat (yes, that’s different from the rental agreement, don’t ask…). There are two kinds of zameldowanie, temporary (3 months) or permanent. As a foreigner, you are eligible only for the temporary one, so you have to register every 3 other months, up to 5 years, then you can apply for the permanent one (so simple). Is it clear for you? Ok, breath a little bit then let’s keep on! 

The difficulty here is to get the permission from the landlord. Why? Because most owners are renting flats on the sly to avoid paying taxes. So no rental agreement and of course, no permission. Now, in case you have a rental agreement, there are two ways to get the permission: a signed paper or an oral declaration. Can you imagine someone going with you to face the Polish administration during hours (and actually during office hours) just to say one sentence? And this 4 times a year? Yeaaaaah suuuure they will… The other thing is once the permission is signed, it’s very difficult to legally remove the occupant. Guess what? I have no rental agreement.

Well, that’s not the only thing. To work in Poland, you need another magic number called NIP (Taxpayer number) you can get at the Urzad Skarbowy (tax office).

At the Urzad Skarbowy, after hours of waiting, the lady gave me the application form to fill and I need… wait for it… PESEL and zameldowanie fuck yeah! However, she added that I don’t really need the zameldowanie, and I can go to the Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji (Ministry of the Interior and Administration).

At the Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji... No queue, I just could not enter the place. Instead, I was allowed to use the phone to call someone inside the building 50 meters from me. There is another way to get the PESEL (only the PESEL). My company can apply for me and I don’t need any zameldowanie. Also, I need the NIP number first to begin to work so…

At the Urzad Skarbowy, after hours of waiting, the same lady finally asked me to put my passport number, my French address, the names of my parents (wut? number one), the address of my parents (wut? number two), and to come back to her in 10 days. \o/ Congratulation! I have my first magic number! I wouldn’t imagine bureaucracy could be so heavy when you just want to pay your taxes… But it’s not finished yet!

So it seems companies can apply for foreigners to get a PESEL and they usually do. Who here is thinking that private administration is better than public administration? Because that’s quite the same story… I’m the first foreigner asking them for this. Ok. So they don’t want to do it. Why? Because! Back to the Ministry, I asked for all the documents I need (well, my company needs) and it’s surprisingly simple: 1 application form (only one), copy of my passport, copy of my contract. Back to my company, giving the application form and the ministry phone number. Guess what? I received an e-mail from the HR manager saying… NO they won’t apply for me but that they’ll help me if I have any question related to residency registration… They lost more time looking for that than filling out the form and sending it… Everything takes a lot of time here, I received this last information last week… Back to the beginning.

You know what this reminds me? 

French version

Czech version (couldn't find any Polish version)

English version

In theory, I’m legally required to have PESEL, zameldowanie and karta pobytu, to stay in Poland so right now I’m just a tourist here. More, I’m an illegal tourist as I can’t prove I’m on the Polish territory for less than 3 months. And as I’m a tourist, I should pay a “tourist tax” for each day I stay here (the tax is included in the price of your hotel for instance).

In practice, no one cares…

Still alive?


  1. However, I'm quite curious about the version of a foreigner dealing with the French administration. I suppose, well I'm sure, there are similar situations...

  2. Never heard of that "tourist tax" before :D

    great stories btw!

  3. Haha, I have exactly the same problem. I'm British and approaching my 3 month limit, with no way of getting a zameldowanie at the moment. Did you ever get it sorted?

  4. Well, I just put my French address on official documents and everything's fine. I guess that from the moment you have the NIP, everything else is just decoration.


  6. this is brilliant! :)))...i mean ok while reading as when you need to go through it then Im not pretty sure if it stays the same funny....
    but what I'm sure about is the fact that it;s good to have such tourists like you used to be...hope to see you back!:)