Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 13/06/24



Refugee status is granted for an unlimited period of time. Recognised refugees obtain a 3-year residence permit (karta pobytu).[1] The first permit is issued ex officio[2] and is renewed after this period for another 3 years upon request.[3]

Subsidiary protection is also granted for an unlimited time. Subsidiary protection beneficiaries obtain a 2-year residence permit (karta pobytu).[4] The first permit is also issued ex officio,[5] and is renewed after this period for another 2 years upon request.[6]

Humanitarian protection (zgoda na pobyt ze względów humanitarnych) is granted for an unlimited period of time. The beneficiary of humanitarian protection obtains a 2-year residence permit (karta pobytu).[7] The permit will be renewed after this period for another 2 years.[8] The first and subsequent cards are issued at the third-country nationals’ request.[9]

As of 31 December 2023, there were 2,726 persons holding a valid residence permit for refugees, 9,729 persons holding a valid residence permit granted to subsidiary protection beneficiaries and 1,879 persons under the humanitarian protection scheme.[10]

An application for the renewal of the residence permit should be submitted 30 days before the expiration date of the current residence card.[11] Beneficiaries of protection are often not aware of this rule.

The issuance of the residence permit is paid and costs PLN 100 / EUR 23.42 (the amount has been raised from PLN 50 since 29 July 2022).[12] Only the first residence permit is issued free of charge.[13] The fee can be diminished by 50% if a beneficiary is in a difficult material situation (only if he or she obtains social assistance benefits) or is a minor up to 16 years old.[14] There is no possibility of full exoneration from the payment. The obligation to pay even only PLN 50 / EUR 11.71 sometimes prevents third-country nationals from obtaining a new residence permit. Moreover, in case of culpable loss or damage of the card, a new one will be issued subject to a higher fee of no more than PLN 300 / EUR 70.26.[15]

The Office for Foreigners, responsible for the issuance and renewal of residence permits for refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries,[16] is situated in Warsaw. In the case of humanitarian protection beneficiaries, an authority responsible for a residence permit renewal is a Border Guard unit having jurisdiction over the third-country national’s current place of stay.[17]

The residence permit must be received in person. A permit for a child under the age of 13 should be received in person by his or her legal representative.[18] There is no possibility to receive this permit by another representative or by post. Moreover, beneficiaries are obliged to give their fingerprints any time they renew a residence permit.[19] If they refuse to give their fingerprints, the residence permit will not be issued.[20] The obligation to give fingerprints and mandatory personal presence to pick up the permit means that every time a third-country national has to obtain a new permit, he or she has to travel to Warsaw in case of refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries, or another town in case of humanitarian protection beneficiaries, twice, even if he or she lives far away. This can be time-consuming and costly. According to the Office for Foreigners, the obligation to collect fingerprints from an applicant is very occasionally lifted (3 times in 2022: two cases of illness and one – the lack of hand, 11 cases in 2023 – physical impossibility to give fingerprints).[21] The lack of a legal possibility to exempt a third-country national fully from the abovementioned payment, the obligation of personal presence twice – upon application and collecting the document, and the possibility to be issued a residence permit only in one place may postpone the receipt of new residence cards by third-country nationals.

Failure to renew a residence permit can be punished through a fine,[22] but this does not happen in practice. There have been no such cases in 2015-2023.[23]

Moreover, Polish law requires presenting – as a condition to issue or renew the residence permit – recent photographs. Photos presenting face with covered hair are not allowed (hair has to be visible on the picture), which is often problematic for Muslim women.[24]

By law, all residence permits should have the annotation “access to the labour market”, if the third-country national is entitled to work in Poland.[25] In practice, permits issued for refugees as well as humanitarian and subsidiary protection beneficiaries do not have such an annotation, which can impede their access to the labour market and to some social benefits, such as the ones in the framework of the “Family 500+” programme.[26] However, the Supreme Administrative Court as well as the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw held that such lack of annotation cannot be interpreted as excluding the third-country national from receiving social assistance if he is entitled to work in Poland.[27] Consequently, the Polish authorities changed their practice and no longer refuse the special financial support under the 500+ Programme on that basis.

In 2023, the Commissioner for Human Rights noticed that third-country nationals wait approximately 6 months to receive a new residence card.[28]




[1] Article 89i(1) Law on Protection.

[2] Article 229(2) Law on Foreigners.

[3] Article 89i(2a) Law on Protection.

[4] Article 89i(2) Law on Protection.

[5] Article 229(2) Law on Foreigners.

[6] Article 89i(2a) Law on Protection.

[7] Article 243(1)(4) Law on Foreigners.

[8] Article 243(2)(3) Law on Foreigners.

[9] Article 229(1) and Article 229(4)(3) Law on Foreigners.

[10] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 16 February 2024.

[11] Article 230(2) Law on Foreigners.

[12] Article 235(1) Law on Foreigners. Office for Foreigners, ‘Nowe stawki opłat za dokumenty wydawane cudzoziemcom’, 29 July 2022, available in Polish at:

[13] Article 236(1)(a)-(c) Law on Foreigners.

[14] Article 237(1) and (2) Law on Foreigners.

[15] Article 238 Law on Foreigners.

[16] Article 89n(2) Law on Protection.

[17] Article 245(4)-(5) Law on Foreigners.

[18] Article 248(1)-(2) Law on Foreigners.

[19] Article 246(2) Law on Foreigners.

[20] Article 247 Law on Foreigners.

[21] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 3 February 2023 and 16 February 2024.

[22] Article 465(4) Law on Foreigners.

[23] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, i.e. 16 February 2024.

[24] Ordinance of the Minister of Interior of 29 April 2014 on the documents issued for foreigners, available (in Polish) at: Obwieszczenie Ministra Spraw Wewnętrznych i Administracji z dnia 4 lutego 2022 r. w sprawie ogłoszenia jednolitego tekstu rozporządzenia Ministra Spraw Wewnętrznych w sprawie dokumentów wydawanych cudzoziemcom, available at:

[25] Article 244(1)(11) Law on Foreigners.

[26] European Website on Integration, ‘Poland: social benefit ‘500 PLN per child’ not for refugees?’ 29 February 2016, available at: M. Sadowska, ”Świadczenia ‘Dobry start’” in Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (SIP), SIP w działaniu. Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2018 r., 2019, available (in Polish) at:, 52.

[27] See judgments of Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw No I SA/Wa 1997/16, 7 October 2016, available (in Polish) at: and of the Supreme Administrative Court no. I OSK 1164/16, 14 March 2018.

[28] Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Rzecznik: przewlekłość załatwiania spraw cudzoziemców może jeszcze bardziej się wydłużyć. Odpowiedź MSWiA’, July and November 2023, available in Polish at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation