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 the 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 can apply for 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 350 PLN / 75 € (the amount has been significantly raised since 29 July 2022 from PLN 100). If a person concerned lost their Polish travel document or destroys it (and it is a culpable loss or destruction), they must pay PLN 700 (EUR 149) for a new one. If it happens again, he/she must pay PLN 1050 (EUR 223). 
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. The 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 the authorities of their country of origin, because they sought protection in Poland due to the persecution or harm they experienced from their national authorities. The expression of this fear is often not enough to convince the authorities that the person concerned cannot obtain a travel document from the country of origin. In a 2021 judgment, the Supreme Administrative Court stated:
“It should be pointed out that a failure to take any actions aimed at obtaining a travel document is justified in a situation where their taking may have a negative impact on the legal or factual situation of the foreigner. Such a situation may arise when the applicant is a beneficiary of one of the forms of international protection (see the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of December 13, 2018, file reference number II OSK 309/18, CBOIS). The mere fact of granting international protection does not create a presumption that it is impossible for a foreigner to obtain a new travel document from the authorities of the country of origin and that the authority should not demand the presentation of documents and certificates confirming this impossibility. This circumstance should be subject to individual assessment. The authority should analyse the reasons for granting international protection to the party and assess whether the foreigner’s possible contact with the authorities of the country of origin may have a negative impact on his situation.”
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 a 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 to obtain the passport from their country of origin.
|Number of Refugee Convention travel documents (issued to recognized refugees)||Number of 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.
 Office for Foreigners, ‘Nowe stawki opłat za dokumenty wydawane cudzoziemcom’, 29 July 2022, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/3lPTv73.
 Article 252(3) Law on Foreigners.
 See e.g. Supreme Administrative Court, Judgment of 19 October 2021, no. II OSK 1420/21, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/3ZAcj7U, concerning an individual having a humanitarian stay in Poland married to the subsidiary protection beneficiary (author’s translation).
 Article 253 Law on Foreigners.
 Article 254 Law on Foreigners.