1. Who may leave Ukraine?
Due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, many Ukrainian citizens are looking for refuge outside of their country. However, not everyone has the right to leave. According to the communication of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine:
“During the statutory martial law period, travel outside Ukraine is restricted for men – male Ukrainian citizens aged between 18 and 60. Please note that exceptions may apply only to persons defined in legislation. First of all, these are persons who hold: a certificate of postponement of conscription and notice of qualification for special military records, or a certificate of incapacity for military service issued by the military medical committee. In addition, these restrictions do not apply to persons who support three or more children up to the age of 18, or single parents who raise a child up to 18 years of age, or those who support a child with disability. As well as: those who are adoptive parents, carers or whose relatives have died or went missing during counter-terrorism operations.”
The matters of exemption from conscription and postponement of conscription are governed by the Military Service Act. The categories of persons whose conscription may be postponed are governed by Article 17 of that Act and these include, among others, university students. Despite this, conscription is postponed only when a Decision is issued by District (Municipal) Conscription Committee – it is not automatic. In other words, the person concerned should report to that committee and request a postponement of conscription. The exemption from conscription is governed by Article 18 of that Act.
2. On what terms can I now enter Poland?
According to the information provided by the Office for Foreigners (www.ua.gov.pl), admission of Ukrainian citizens to Poland is currently possible based on:
- visa-free travel (based on a biometric passport);
- a national visa (D) or a Schengen visa (C);
- visa designated D or C, or a residence document issued by other Schengen country;
- holding a temporary residence permit, permanent residence, or Long Term European Residence Permit and a valid residence card;
- a request for international protection given to a Border Guard officer at a Polish border crossing point;
- decision of the Head of the Border Guard Station, issued when crossing the border.
Although a condition for visa-free entry into Poland is the possession of a biometric passport, the Polish authorities assure that anyone who escapes from Ukraine in connection with the war is admitted, whether or not they have appropriate entry documents. If you do not have a biometric passport, you will be admitted to Poland based on a decision of the Border Guard issued under Article 32 of the Act on Foreigners. Such admission is currently given for 15 days. Everyone also has the right to apply for international protection at the border crossing point, but due to a large number of people currently crossing the border, this is rather not practiced. However, you may submit such an application later during your stay in Poland.
Important! If possible, take your identity documents with you, such as a foreign passport, a driving licence, or even a birth certificate, to the border. They will be also useful during your stay in Poland.
3. What conditions do I have to meet to benefit from visa-free travel?
To use this option, you must hold a biometric passport. Moreover, based on visa-free travel, you can stay in Poland for a maximum of 90 days in every 180 days. So, if you have been in Poland for a longer time recently, then you returned to Ukraine and now you are trying to enter Poland again – it may turn out that you no longer have the right of entry based on visa-free travel. In such case, however, you may enter Poland based on the consent of the Border Guard Commander granted when crossing the border. The Polish authorities have assured that anyone fleeing Ukraine will be admitted to Poland.
4. Will I be able to enter Poland if I don’t have a travel document (foreign passport)?
As a general rule, a valid travel document is required for entry into Poland. However, exempted are persons who apply for international protection at the border. Such a request should be accepted from any person; even if such person does not hold any travel document or any other entry document. Moreover, according to the assurances of the Polish authorities, Ukrainian citizens travelling without passports will be granted special permission to enter Poland based on the consent of the Border Guard Commander.
5. Will I be able to enter Poland if I am banned from entering the territory of the Republic of Poland?
Yes, those who are banned from entry will also be admitted to Poland. However, in such a case, you have to consider that the Border Guard can request the court to place you in a guarded centre where you will be in detention conditions.
6. Am I bound by the regulations issued in connection with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?
Restrictions on entry into Poland from Ukraine, introduced in March 2020 in connection with the COVID pandemic, were lifted on 19 February 2022. As a result, the general rules for crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border based on the Schengen Borders Code and the Polish rules have been restored. As of 24 February 2022, the obligation to have vaccination against COVID-19, valid test results and quarantine for persons entering Poland from Ukraine has also been lifted.
7. Can a child enter Poland without their legal guardians (alone or with another family member, e.g. with a grandmother)?
To cross the border in such a situation, two documents are needed: a document confirming the identity of the child and the consent of the parent.
The document confirming identity does not necessarily need to be a passport, and it may also be a certificate of birth. Parent’s consent is a separate document in which he or she authorises the designated person accompanying the child in travel to care for the child, and to obtain all travel documents and to take any decision concerning the life and health of the child during the period of travel. Such consent must be certified by a notary. Currently, many Polish notaries have declared their willingness to certify the consents of parents of children fleeing Ukraine, free of charge.
However, there are exemptions from the requirement to have the consent of the second parent. In practice, Ukrainian border authorities let go children without the consent of the second parent, provided that the documents show clearly that the child crosses the border with at least one parent.
8. May I enter Poland with my pet animal? Do I need relevant documents for it?
On 24 February 2022, the Chief Veterinary Inspectorate has introduced temporary derogations to facilitate the crossing of the Ukrainian/Polish border with pet animals: dogs, cats and ferrets. Animal carers don’t need to present a complete set of veterinary documents at the border. However, as far as possible, it is worth taking with you all documents related to the animal’s health.
After crossing the border, the animals will be examined for rabies and vaccinated at public expense. The owner of the animal will then receive a document confirming compliance with veterinary requirements. If the animals do not have a chip, they will be chipped at public expense.
9. Can citizens of countries other than Ukraine enter Poland (e.g. foreign students from Ukraine)? What documents must they hold?
The rules for entry into Poland of nationals of countries other than Ukraine depend on entry requirements for the specific country of which the person is a national. This is most often a visa requirement. However, those requirements do not apply to persons who apply for international protection at the border. Such application should be accepted at the border crossing point from anyone fleeing the danger, whether or not the person concerned has appropriate entry documents. In addition, any person may be authorised by the Border Guard Commander to enter Poland without complying with the legal entry requirements. The Polish authorities have assured that anyone fleeing Ukraine, including citizens of other countries, is currently admitted to Poland. The practice shows that they receive an entry stamp with the right of residence in Poland for up to 15 days.
10. Is it that men of a conscriptive age would not be admitted to Poland?
There are no legal grounds for the Polish border authorities to refuse entry to Poland for persons of conscriptive age. However, in order to enter Poland, it is necessary to move through Ukrainian border controls to the exit direction, and Ukrainian border authorities do not let go men between 18 and 60 years of age from the country. Even if a man of this age holds a decision on incapacity for military service, he may be taken back from the border to the conscriptive point for a review of the decision.
The following persons are not subject to national mobilisation:
- persons serving at the time of mobilisation or war at public authorities other than the military;
- persons recognised by the Military Medical Commission as temporarily incapable of military service – up to 6 months after the decision;
- men and women who support at least three children under 18 years of age;
- single parent of a child/children;
- parents or carers of a disabled child – group A if the child is under 18;
- parents or carers of a disabled child who has any defects in the functioning of the body in Levels III or IV and a reduction in the life activity of any category in Level II to III;
- parents or carers of a disabled child in Level I or II, until the child reaches the age of 23;
- carers or foster parents of children up to the age of 18;
- permanent guardians of persons who, in accordance with the Act, require care in the absence of other persons able to provide such care;
- personnel of military management authorities;
- university students and doctoral students, assistants – trainees, aspirants and doctoral students;
- research and research/teaching staff of university-level education and scientific organisations with a scientific degree;
- men or women whose closest relatives have died or went missing during counter-terrorism operations.
11. What documents do I need to enter Poland with my own car?
There are no requirements limiting the right of entry into Poland by your own car. However, a number of requirements under Article 71 (4) to (6) of the Road Traffic Act need to be met to drive a vehicle registered abroad on Polish roads. Above all, the driver must hold a driving licence. In addition, a certificate of vehicle registration abroad issued by the relevant authority should be provided, which should confirm that the driver has the right to drive the vehicle (for instance, it states that the vehicle is owned or co-owned by the driver). If the registration certificate does not certify the right to use the vehicle, the driver should hold a document confirming the right to use it (rental agreement or owner’s consent). Finally, the vehicle must be technically fit – it must have a proof of valid technical examination and registration plates composed of letters of the Latin alphabet, numerical digits, and letter code showing the country of origin. The vehicle should also have a valid third-party liability policy. The car will have to be registered in Poland 6 months after entry.
12. How can I apply for international protection in Poland?
Everyone has the right to apply for international protection at the border or in the territory of Poland. To this end, it is sufficient to inform the border authorities of such intention and state the reasons why you cannot safely return to your country of origin. At present, however, due to a large number of people crossing Polish border crossing points from Ukraine, submitting such applications at the border is rather not practised. The Border Guard let in persons fleeing from Ukraine to Poland based on visa-free travel regulations or a special consent of the Border Guard Commander.
13. What will happen to me after entering Poland?
If you enter Poland based on visa-free travel regulations, you can stay in Poland for up to 90 days. During that time, you have the right to stay legally in Poland and in other Schengen countries. If you are unable to return to the country before that deadline, it will be necessary to request the legalisation of your stay in Poland.
If you enter Poland based on your existing residence card, you may stay in Poland during its period of validity.
If you apply for international protection in Poland, you will be sent to one of the reception centres for persons seeking protection and you will be subject to a refugee procedure. You will then be obliged to give your passport to deposit and stay in Poland until your application is resolved.
If you enter Poland based on the consent of the Border Guard Commander, your legal stay in Poland lasts up to 15 days. Before this deadline, you should apply for legalisation of your stay in Poland based on general regulations. You can also apply for international protection in Poland.
14. Where will I receive support in Poland?
All Ukrainian citizens entering Poland may come to one of the reception centres offering temporary accommodation, food and medical assistance. Below you will find addresses of several of these places. It’s useful to follow government websites (for example: ww.ua.gov.pl), because new helpdesks are being gradually opened.
- Pałac Suchodolskich Gminny Ośrodek Kultury i Turystyki [Suchodolski Palace. Municipal Culture and Tourism Centre], ul. Parkowa 5, 22-175 Dorohusk – osiedle
- Przygraniczne Centrum Kultury i Rekreacji [Border Centre for Culture and Recreation], ul. Spółdzielcza 8, 22 - 540 Dołhobyczów
- Zespół Szkół w Horodle [School Complex in Horodło], ul. Piłsudskiego 58, 22 - 523 Horodło
- Szkoła Podstawowa w Lubyczy Królewskiej (zaplecze hali sportowej) [Primary School in Lubycza Królewska (facilities of the sports hall)], ul. Jana III Sobieskiego 5, 22 - 680 Lubycza Królewska
- Świetlica [Community Centre], Korczowa 155 37-552 Korczowa
- Hala sportowa [Sports Hall] Medyka 285, 37-732 Medyka
- Szkoła Podstawowa w m. Krowica Sama [Primary School in Krowica Sama] 183, 37-625 Krowica Sama
- Była Szkoła Podstawowa w Łodynie [Former Primary School in Łodyna], Łodyna 41, 38-700 Ustrzyki Dolne
15. Will I be covered by medical assistance in Poland?
Medical assistance financed from public funds is provided to insured persons in Poland. So everything depends on the basis of your entry into Poland and whether you have the right to insurance. For example, persons who have applied for international protection are covered by medical assistance financed by the State budget. If you want to make a doctor appointment, contact Petra Medica, a healthcare provider: +48 22 112 02 06.
In addition, LUX MED, a healthcare provider, has offered medical assistance to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the country. For that purpose, a special Polish-Ukrainian hotline was established at +48 22 45 87 007 (open every day from 9:00 to 17:00) and e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. Will I be able to leave Poland freely to other EU countries?
If you have a valid visa or residence card or have entered Poland based on visa-free travel regulations, you can enter other Schengen countries for up to 90 days.
However, if you do not have a foreign travel document (or your children do not have one), then you will not be able to cross the borders freely from Poland to other countries. You will be also unable to do so if you have applied for international protection in Poland. You then have an obligation to stay in Poland until your procedure is completed, and your passport will be deposited with the authority until the procedure is completed.
17. What organisations can I turn to for help?
24-hour hotline for Ukrainian citizens operated by the Office for Foreigners:
www.ua.gov.pl (information in PL, UA, ENG and RUS)
Dom Ukraiński/Nasz Wybór (Warsaw)
ul. Zamenhofa 1, 00-153 Warszawa
Phone number: +48 727 805 764
Centrum Pomocy Prawnej im. Haliny Nieć (Kraków)
Halina Nieć Centre of Legal Aid (Krakow)
ul. Krowoderska 11/7, 31-141 Kraków
Phone and WhatsApp: +48 693 390 502
Ocalenie Foundation (Warsaw)
ul. Krucza 6/14a, 00-549 Warszawa
Centrum Wielokulturowe [Multi-Cultural Centre] (Warsaw)
ul. Jagiellońska 54, 03-469 Warszawa
Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej [Association for Legal Interventions] (Warsaw)
ul. Siedmiogrodzka 5/51, 01-204 Warszawa
Phone number: +48 880 145 372
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Warsaw)
ul. Wiejska 16, 00-490 Warszawa
NOMADA. Stowarzyszenie na Rzecz Integracji Społeczeństwa Wielokulturowego
Association for the Integration of Multicultural Society (Wrocław)
ul. Paulińska 4/8, Wrocław 50-247
Instytut Praw Migrantów
Institute of Migrant Rights (Wrocław)
ul. Ruska 46A/201, 50-079 Wrocław
Phone number: +48 510 011 846