Refugees obtain travel documents mentioned in the Refugee Convention, which are valid for 2 years from the day of issuance. Subsequent travel documents are issued on the refugee’s demand. The document is issued free of charge, whether a first travel document or a subsequent one. The authority responsible for issuance of refugee travel documents is the Head of the Office for Foreigners. The procedure concerning refugee travel documents should last one month or two, if it is a complicated case.
A refugee travel document has to be received in person. A travel document for a child under the age of 13 should be received in person by his or her legal representative. In case of force majeure preventing a foreigner to receive a document in person, the refugee travel document can be received by a proxy. Foreigners are obliged to give their fingerprints any time they apply for a refugee travel document. The obligation to give fingerprints and mandatory personal presence to receive the travel document means that most of the time refugees willing to obtain a new travel document have to travel to Warsaw twice, even if they live far away. It is time-consuming and costly.
Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are entitled to a Polish travel document for foreigners. The application for the document should be submitted to a Voivode having jurisdiction over the current place of stay of a foreigner and requires a fee of 100 PLN / 21 €.
A Polish travel document will be issued only if a beneficiary of subsidiary protection: has lost his or her passport or the passport has been damaged or its validity has expired, and he or she is unable to obtain a new passport from the authorities of the country of origin. Inability to obtain a new passport from the authorities of the country of origin is often understood by the Polish authorities as a requirement for beneficiaries to present written evidence that they have contacted the embassy of their country of origin and that this authority has refused to issue a passport for them. Often foreign authorities are unwilling to issue a document confirming those facts. Moreover, some beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are afraid to contact authorities of their country of origin, because they sought protection in Poland due to the persecution or harm they experienced from the authorities of their country of origin.
The procedure concerning the Polish travel document for a foreigner should last one month or two, if it is a complicated case. In practice, however, it may last longer.
Refusal to issue the Polish travel document for a foreigner can be appealed to the Head of the Office for Foreigners.
The Polish travel document for a foreigner entitles to multiple border crossings and is valid for 1 year. After that period, a beneficiary of subsidiary protection needs to apply for another such document. Even in case of an application for a subsequent Polish travel document, after the previous one expires, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are expected to again take measures in order to obtain the passport from their country of origin.
|Number of Refugee Convention travel documents (issued to recognized refugees)||Number Polish travel documents (issued to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection)|
Source: Authors of this report based on an analysis of the statistics shared by the Office for Foreigners.
 Article 89i(1) and (3) Law on Protection.
 Article 89m Law on Protection.
 Article 89n(1) Law on Protection.
 Article 89ib(1) and (2) Law on Protection.
 Article 89ib(4) Law on Protection.
 Articles 89i(4) and 89m Law on Protection.
 Article 257(1) Law on Foreigners.
 Article 252(3) Law on Foreigners.
 Article 253 Law on Foreigners.
 Article 254 Law on Foreigners.