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GMI Legal Update: Newly available for Belarusians: a Polish travel document as an alternative to Belarusian passport


From 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2023 selected categories of Belarusians staying in Poland can apply for a Polish travel document that replaces the Belarusian passport. The documents will be issued free of charge.

This is the answer to Belarusian authorities` potential repressive measures towards Belarusians returning from Poland to their home country to obtain a new passport. Moreover, certain individuals refrain from renewing or replacing their passports in the Belarusian consulate, because it represents the Belarusian regime in Poland. The issue became more complex after Belarusian presidential election in 2020.

A Polish travel document can be obtained by Belarusian citizens holding temporary or permanent residence permits (or certain other long-term residence titles) in Poland. They can apply if their passports have become invalid or if they have never had passports, for instance, this applies to Belarusian children born in Poland. There is also no need to prove it is not possible to obtain a new passport e.g. in a consulate of Belarus.

A travel document is available without applying a fee and can be issued for a period of 1 year. The application should be submitted to the provincial governor with jurisdiction over the non-national’s place of residence. The document can be used instead of passport, however it does not replace a Polish visa or residence permit and does not legalize stay of foreigner in Poland. Obtaining the document is also not equal to obtaining Polish citizenship.

Some practical difficulties may apply to obtaining the document at the beginning of July as the relevant regulation has been issued one day before their entry into force on 1 July. For example, the relevant ministry is still to issue another regulation that will update the application form to reflect newly introduced process for Belarusians.