Everything you need to know about the PESEL number

The PESEL number is one of a number of things that you are going to need if you want to live in Poland, irrespective of being an EU citizen or not. The law regarding the PESEL number has changed multiple times in the last few years with the last modifications being into effect since the beginning of 2018. The good news is that the process of obtaining the PESEL number by foreigners got simplified and in most of the cases it’s automatic.

What is the PESEL number

The PESEL number is an identification number given to every Polish citizen when they are born and registered in Poland. Moreover, expats that meet certain criteria or apply for it also can get the PESEL number.

Every PESEL number consists of eleven digits:

RRMMDDPPPPK

The first 6 digits signify the person’s date of birth
RR – the last two numbers of the year that a person was born in
MM – month
DD – date

The next 4 numbers contain the gender of a given person
PPPP – if the last number of this section is an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), the PESEL belongs to a male, if it is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) it belongs to a female.

K – the last number is random and is generated by an algorithm so every PESEL number is unique

Do expats need the PESEL number

If you are planning to live in Poland for at least a few months, sooner or later you are going to need the PESEL number. You definitely will be asked to provide it in government offices and when you try to open a bank account in a Polish bank. When you try to register at your local doctor the PESEL number also needs to be provided (of course you can rely on the private healthcare or EHIC card if you are an EU citizen but it’s better to have options). Also in more surprising circumstances, you will need to have a PESEL number. For example when you decide to join a gym or when you try to enter a football stadium.

Additionally, the PESEL number will be crucial when it comes to your work life. You can be hired without the PESEL number, however, the employer will need it at some point to fulfil their obligations of paying your insurance and taxes and they will need to have your PESEL number to do so.

It’s safe to say that a life in Poland means a life with the PESEL number.

How to obtain the PESEL number if a person is a foreigner

As mentioned previously, most expats will obtain their PESEL number automatically as a result of fulfilling a legal obligation of registering their place of living (zameldowanie) in the local City Council (Urząd Miasta). In Poland, every person who decides to stay in Poland for longer is obliged to register where they live. However, Polish and EU citizens have 3 months to register their new place of living and non-EU citizens need to fulfil this obligation within 30 days from the moment they arrived in Poland. Once that obligation is fulfilled the local government automatically creates the PESEL number and sends the document to the provided address.

Before the law has changed in 2018 only EU citizens and non-EU citizens who met certain criteria were granted the PESEL number automatically. This has changed and now anyone who registers their address will be granted this important identification number.

Applying for the PESEL number

In a very rare situation, when a person is not living in Poland, but needs a PESEL number (e.g. wants to be a chairman in a Polish company or conducts business in Poland) they can apply for it by: filling out the PESEL number form and bringing in to the local council that is assigned to the area that the company is registered in. If the company doesn’t have an address the form can be sent to Urzad Dzielnicy Śródmieście in Warsaw (Nowogrodzka 43 street).

You can download the PESEL number form here (it is available only in Polish).

Costs and waiting time of obtaining the PESEL number

Obtaining the PESEL number is free, similarly to the registration of the address of stay in the local government office. It can take usually up to 30 days. However, in case your situation is complicated and you need legal help with the process you can receive support from our legal team.

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