Karta Pobytu: 5 Tips for Getting Your Temporary Residence Permit in Warsaw

If you’re a non-EU citizen coming to Poland with the intent to stay for a while, your first step is most likely to apply for a temporary residence permit (karta pobytu). This can be intimidating and confusing, but not impossible.

The process to obtain the Karta Pobytu typically looks like this:

  1. Submit your original application and supporting documents
  2. The office requests more documents via mail
  3. The interview
  4. The decision letter
  5. Collect of residence card
  6. Drink victory beers

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After having been through it more than once, I’ve learned a few things about working with the dreaded office on Marszałkowska.

Karta Pobytu, tip n° 1: Make an appointment and make it early

Always try to make an appointment if you’re going to submit documents. You can turn in documents during regular business hours as they have a walk-in option, but you never know how the line will be. I have seen lines extending outside of the building, but once I completed a walk-in submission in less than 20 minutes. It’s very hit or miss.

If you don’t want to take your chances, I would suggest making an appointment via email to [email protected] (I prefer email because the Infoline is always busy) at least five to six weeks in advance of when you would like to make an appointment. When I tried to make an appointment in the beginning of September, they were filled until the end of the month!

Bonus Tip: If you have an appointment for anything that’s not an interview, you have to knock and enter the room and say you have an appointment. No one will call your name or come look for you unless it’s an interview. Then, they will call your name.

Here is an email template if you’d like to request an appointment:

Dzień dobry,

Chciałabym/Chciałbym prosić o wizytę w celu zgłoszenia aplikacji dla karty pobytu. (I would like to ask for a visit in order to apply for the residence card.)

To jest moja informacja paszportowa: (These are my passport details:)

Numer paszportu: Passport number

Kraj: Country

Data upływu ważności: Passport Expiration Date

Nie mam preferencji co do daty lub godziny. (I don’t have a preference for date/time.)


Your name

If you already have a card and you just want to renew it, add the following:

Już mam kartę pobytu. Poniżej jest informacja o tym: (I already have a residence card. Below there is information about it:)

Imię i Nazwisko: Full Name

Data ważności: Residence Card Expiration Date

Numer Identyfikacji: Card Number

Karta Pobytu, tip n° 2: Don’t expect feedback right away

The people taking your documents can’t confirm that the specifics of your application are in order – they can only accept documents. If the reviewer needs more information or has questions, you will get a letter in the mail requesting additional information.

Karta Pobytu, tip n° 3: Get as many documents from Polish institutions as possible

For me, the biggest source of frustration was non-Polish insurance. I have insurance through my US employer which covers care overseas. That should have met the requirement, but because the two insurance systems are so different, it caused me a lot of hassle and plenty of courier fees for additional documents.

I could have saved myself two rounds of additional document requests plus courier and translation fees if I had just spent 100 zł on basic Polish insurance. Polish companies and institutions understand the sign-and-stamp rule and will give you exactly what you need. Trying to submit foreign documents in Poland is like trying fit a square peg in a round hole. Use a round peg when you can.

Bonus Tip: All documents should be signed and stamped to show they are legitimate. This can be a problem if your home country doesn’t use this system, so be prepared to use alternatives like notaries.

Karta Pobytu, tip n° 4: Speak Polish, but especially during the interview

The language struggle is real. Polish is consistently rated one of the most difficult languages to learn, so it’s no wonder many of us are afraid to speak it. I know it’s painful, but I recommend trying.

During my interview, I had a translator, but I only used her to confirm the interviewer’s questions. I sputtered through the answers in Polish, but it was clear that I cared enough to try. This is especially true if you are here for reasons regarding learning the Polish language. It will show that you are actually attending classes if you can at least speak and understand a bit.

The other thing that helped my credibility is preparing for my interview like I would for a job. I dressed up and prepared some answers to questions they would most likely ask. You may not be able to anticipate everything, but here are some likely questions:

  • When did you come to Poland?
  • Why did you come to Poland?
  • What are you learning in your classes?
  • What kind of work do you do?
  • If there were any mistakes or issues with your application, they will ask. For example, I had a misprinted date on one of my documents, so I had to resubmit. I simply had to explain it was a mistake that needed to be corrected.

Karta Pobytu, tip n° 5: Patience, just so much patience

This is the most important tip of all. The average residence card now takes six to seven months from start to finish. During that time, you can’t leave the country – not even if you’re going to a Schengen country. Plan accordingly.

The other element of this process where patience is key is the potential for multiple rounds of document submissions. For my previous residence card, I had three rounds of additional documents to submit. This meant coordinating documents with my employer, finding a courier, and making an appointment time. This is frustrating and I started to view this as a ‘how badly do you want to stay here’ challenge. Keep pushing through it!

Hopefully, these tips make the process a bit easier for you. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.


Resources in English:

  1. Mazowiecki Residence Permit Site
  2. Resident Permit Help from Migrant.pl

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8 thoughts on “Karta Pobytu: 5 Tips for Getting Your Temporary Residence Permit”

  1. Victoria it will take 6 months after u get ur fingers done or after submitted ur documents to kancelaria through post. I ask this question because i submit my documents through post and get my fingers done two months after posting. So now its 6 months almost for the whole process

  2. The process takes much longer than six months. I applied for Karta Pobytu as a student 8 months ago and still haven’t received my first letter yet.
    I’ve made five visits attempting to gain insight as to how to proceed but to no avail.

  3. I applied for karta pobytu and below status showing since more than one month. I didn’t get any sms. Anybody have experience this?


  4. I want to make the appointment for karta pobytu in Krakow, but there is no online system and email except for telephone. but the telephone line is so busy every time. So, do you have any idea to make the appointment in Krakow?

  5. I want to make the appointment for karta pobytu in Krakow, but there is no online and email except for telephone. but the telephone line is so busy every time. So, is it possible for me to make the appointment in Warsaw even if I live in Krakow?

  6. I also want to make an appointment in Krakow.
    I have one and want to apply for the next one.
    In Krakow, would it be possible to make an appointment via email.
    Last time, my University officer called instead of me.
    Now I ask for friend’s help.
    What do you think about?

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