A foreigner coming to Poland in order to work here doesn’t have a PESEL number. However, he/she should obtain it. It’s necessary to deal with many official matters and formalities in this country. Below we will explain what a PESEL number is and how to get it.


In Poland, the civil registration is kept in the Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population (Powszechny Elektroniczny System Ewidencji Ludności – the PESEL register) and in the population registers (Article 3 of the Act of 24 September 2010 on population records (i.e. Official Journal of 2021, item 510, as amended), hereinafter referred to as the Act).

The PESEL register collects data:

  1. of Polish citizens living in the territory of the Republic of Poland;
  2. of Polish citizens residing outside the Republic of Poland in connection with applying for a Polish identity document;
  3. of foreign nationals living in the territory of Poland (Article 7(1) of the Act).

It may also gather data of persons who are obliged by specific provisions to have a PESEL number (Article 7(2) of the Act).

The population register collects data concerning persons who have fulfilled the registration requirement (Article 7(2) of the Act).

Each person whose data is collected in the above-mentioned registers gets an identification number of the Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population – a PESEL number for short (Article 15(1) of the Act). This number is unique. It consists of eleven digits. The first six digits indicate the date of birth. The digits from the seventh to tenth one refer to the sequence number whose last digit contains the indication of gender. The eleventh digit constitutes a control number which allows to check electronically the correctness of the assigned PESEL number (Article 15(2) of the Act).

2. What is the PESEL number for?

The PESEL number is commonly used in contact with state and local offices and institutions, banks and the health service. It allows the unambiguous identification of its holder.

Situations in which the PESEL number is used include, for example: registering a new employee with ZUS (Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych – the Social Insurance Institution) and sending the annual declaration to the Tax Office. However, there may be a situation in which the employer hires a foreigner without a PESEL number. In this case, the application to ZUS shall include the series and number of the identity card or passport. Nevertheless, it isn’t possible to submit a tax return of a foreign national without a PESEL number to the Tax Office. According to Article 3(1) of the Act of 13 October 1995 on the principles of registration and identification of taxpayers and payers (i.e. OJ 2022, item 166, as amended), the tax identifier constitutes:

  1. the PESEL number – in the case of taxpayers being natural persons not registered for VAT or not engaded in economic activity;
  2. NIP (tax identification number) – for other entities subject to the registration obligation referred to in Article 2.

This means in practice that every person, including a foreigner, settling taxes in Poland should have a PESEL number. Thus, it’s impossible to send to the Tax Office the declaration in which a sequence of the same digits or consecutive digits was indicated instead of PESEL.

3. Obtaining a PESEL number

A foreigner who registers in Poland automatically gets a PESEL number. However, it may happen that he/she can’t register. In this case, he/she should apply for a PESEL to the commune office.

The request for a PESEL number shall be made in writing. In Article 18(2) of the Act, the legislator strictly defined the scope of information which the application should contain. Nevertheless, there is no need to draft it by oneself. The template for the application is specified in the regulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs of 4 January 2012 on assigning or changing the PESEL number (OJ 2015, item 1984, as amended). The form is available online and at commune offices.

The completed form shall bear the handwritten signature (Article 18(1) of the Act).

When submitting an application for a PESEL number, a foreign national should present a valid travel document for inspection. If the request concerns a citizen of a Member State of the European Union, a national of a Member State of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or a national of the Swiss Confederation, it’s possible to show another valid document confirming the applicant’s identity and citizenship.

If the foreigner acts through a proxy, the power of attorney document shall be submitted.

The application for a PESEL number is free of charge. However, in the event of acting through an agent, the request must be accompanied by the proof of payment of stamp duty on the power of attorney. It’s PLN 17.

The PESEL should be assigned without undue delay.

4. Assigning the PESEL number to citizens of Ukraine on the basis of the provisions of the Special Act

Due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine, many citizens of this country have arrived to Poland. In order to make it easier for them to obtain a PESEL number, the legislator introduced a specific regulation. This occurred in the Act of 12 March 2022 on assistace to citizens of Ukraine in connection with the armed conflict on the territory of this State (OJ 2022, item 583, as amended), hereineafter referred to as the Special Act.

Ukrainians citizens whose stay in Poland is legal in accordance with the provisions of the Special Act receive a PESEL number upon their written request submitted to the executive body of the commune (Article 4(1) of the Special Act).

The scope of data provided in the application differs slightly from information supplied in the request used in the “standard” procedure of assignig a PESEL number. The application form has been made available in the Public Information Bulletin. It’s drawn up in Polish and Ukrainian (Article 4(18, 19) of the Special Act).

The request should be completed by the applicant or by a staff member of the authority to which it is submitted on the basis of the data provided by the applicant (Article 4(2) of the Special Act). Fingerprints are taken from the applicant. They aren’t collected from a person:

  1. who is under 12 years of age;
  2. from whom it’s temporarily impossible to take fingerprints of any of the fingers in a physical way;
  3. from whom it’s physically impossible to take fingerprints (Article 4(8,9) of the Special Act).

The confirmation of identity of the applicant occurs on the basis of a travel document, the Pole’s Card or any other document with a photograph that allows identification. In the case of persons under 18 years of age, the confirmation of identity can also take place with a document proving birth (Article 4(11) of the Special Act). Moreover, it can be made using a cancelled document. However, this one should allow to determine the identity of a person (Article 4(12) of the Special Act).

5. Legal notice

The study is a work within the meaning of the Act of 4 February 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights (OJ 2006, No. 90, item 631, consolidated text, as amended). Publishing or reproducing this study or its part, quoting opinions, as well as disseminating in any other way the information contained therein without the written consent of Crede sp. z o.o. is prohibited.

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