A few dozen UK citizens living in Wrocław gathered at Hotel Piast last night to learn what hoops they’ll have to shoot through in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A representative from the UK Government spoke at the event, as did someone from the Polish Government’s Office For Foreigners. Although both parties generally repeated the advice that has been broadcast for some time, some new information was revealed at the event.
The meeting kicked-off with a facepalm-inducing spiel from the UK Government that sought to explain Boris Johnson’s ‘strategy’ for getting a deal.
The attention then turned to the basic steps UK citizens need to take in order to access health care, exchange their driver’s license and become registered with the Polish Regional Office. All of this info is available on the UK Government’s Living in Poland website.
Next, a representative from Poland’s Office For Foreigners explained how UK nationals that have not yet registered can do so. Much of that information is available here. This article from our archives also explains the steps that need to be taken.
The presenter also used his time to frequently poke fun at the UK Government’s dealings on Brexit, using the phrase “if Brexit happens” on numerous occasions. At one point the UK Government representative even felt the need to politely butt-in, allowing him a moment to repeat Boris Johnson’s line about Brexit happening on the 31st of October.
Following that, the focus moved towards what UK citizens already registered will be required to do after a no-deal Brexit. According to the presentation, the process is line with the draft Brexit legislation that was published back in January.
The bill states that UK citizens officially resident in Poland at the time of a no-deal Brexit will have a grace-period of 1 year (after the no-deal Brexit date) to get their Karta Pobytu (residence permit). During this time, they will be able to live, work and run their businesses in the same way they do now.
However, within that period UK nationals will need to go to the regional office in order to complete a new temporary (5 years) or permanent (10 years) residency permit form. They will also have their fingerprints taken and receive a stamp in their passport to allow them to return to Poland following any international travel.
Provided a no-deal Brexit takes place as planned on October 31st, the earliest any UK citizen will be able to get the stamp will be November the 4th. The Regional Office will be closed on Friday November 1st for the public holiday and over the weekend.
Although that process may seem somewhat painstaking, there is no doubt that things could be a lot worse. The good news for UK citizens is that their applications will be dealt with via the Regional Office’s ‘EU’ queue. That should in theory mean that their paperwork will be dealt with relatively quickly, which is obviously not the case with other 3rd-country nationals. Had this ‘fast-track’ option not been granted, UK nationals would have been in line for the same Karta Pobytu nightmare that so many of our readers have suffered from.
On the other hand, there were some no-deal Brexit hard truths to digest for those gathered at the event. Chief among them was the need to purchase travel insurance for trips home. UK citizens resident abroad will not be able to use the NHS for free in the event they have a medical issue or accident. However, should a UK citizen become resident in their home country again, they will be able to use the NHS.
In addition, some pensioners were less than impressed to learn they may have to pay ZUS contributions in order to access Poland’s public health service.
Interestingly, the Polish Office For Foreigners also revealed that the ability of UK nationals to open a business in Poland will change following a no-deal Brexit. At present the process is relatively simple, but this could change in as little as a few weeks – meaning UK citizens would face the same barriers as many other non-EU and non-EEA nationals. That could potentially shake up the English-teaching market in Poland, where self-employment is the norm.