If you’re a foreigner who recently made their way to Poland, you may have heard of something called a PESEL number and wonder whether you really need one. The answer is yes, and I’ll explain why in this post.
A PESEL number is the Polish version of a social security number, so it’s the number which identifies you and allows you to do various important things. It’s legally required for anyone planning to stay in Poland longer than 30 days.
You’ll need a PESEL if you’d like to:
- Open a bank account
- Open a company
- Pay taxes
- Go to the doctor via NFZ (Polish health service)
- Get a residence permit
- Apply for loans
- Get a driver’s license
- Generally, anything that involves an institution
How to get a PESEL number
These days, Urząd Miasta (city hall) has streamlined the process for getting a PESEL and everyone who registers their stay (zameldowanie) also gets a PESEL number. If you’re an expat trying to get a residence permit (karta pobytu), you’ll have to do this anyway. Simply go to city hall and ask where to “zameldować”, and they’ll send you in the right direction. Be sure to take your rental contract with you.
The application process is free and you will wait up to 30 days for the number to be sent to your home. As for completing the process, you may want to take someone who speaks Polish with you to the office, as it’s not a given that the civil servant (urzędnik) will speak English. But you never know, maybe you’ll get lucky 🙂
Overall, it’s a very simple procedure and having a PESEL number will make your life in Poland much easier. For an even more in-depth guide, I recommend Poland Unraveled’s Expat’s Guide to PESEL Number and for other legal advice.