Did you ever wonder how many fellow expats live in Poland, which cities they usually choose and where they come from? The Office for Foreigners has published an amazing website with statistics based on data from voivodeship offices. I will use it to show you some facts about foreigners in Poland.


How many foreigners live in Poland?

The national statistics show that currently there are 228,218 foreigners with valid residence permits who are neither EU citizens nor are their family members.

That’s quite a lot, but then you also need to add EU citizens. If we add the number of all EU citizens with valid registration documents (together with their family members), we have 307,837 people, but I don’t believe in this number. Why not?

  • First, there’s no procedure to cancel the EU citizen registration, so many expats registered here and left Poland some time afterwards, but they’re still included in the tally.
  • Second,  many EU foreigners have been living in Poland for years without any registration, because in practice there’s no penalty for EU citizens who don’t register.

This is why I don’t believe in statistics based on the number of EU citizens holding valid registration documents and I cannot accept the number or 78,793 EU immigrants currently living in Poland. How many of them really stay here? We will probably never know. Just for comparison it’s good to mention that according to Eurostat Poland hosted 29,400 EU immigrants in 2015 and this number hasn’t increased since 2013 (source).

Considering all of this, I’m guessing that it’s safe to say that there are no less than 258,000 foreigners in Poland, excluding visa holders and people staying in Poland illegally.


Foreigners in Poland vs. foreigners in other EU member states

The most recent European Statistical Office data that is available on migration comes from 2015, so we need to go back in time. According to Eurostat two years ago only 5 EU countries hosted more immigrants than Poland:

  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Spain
  • Italy

If you’re interested in European migration statistics, please check this source.


The number of foreigners in Poland is increasing

If you’re wondering why you need to wait in queues in the Voivodeship Office for so long, check out this data of the Office for Foreigners. The chart presents the number of people holding valid residence permits today and seven years ago.

non-EU foreigners in 2010 58,432
non-EU foreigners in 2017 228,218
All foreigners in 2010 88,951
All foreigners in 2017 307,837


In 2010 non-EU foreigners in Poland submitted 47,177 applications to have their stay legalized in the form of temporary or permanent residence permits, EU long term residence permit or international protection. In 2016 there were 153,890 applications. The number of applications has increased more than three times over this six year period. Now the only question is why the government hasn’t helped voivodes increase the number of staff members in their offices to meet this increased workload…


Is it easy to legalize your stay in Poland?

For all kinds of residence permits there are separate statistics including the number of accepted applications, issued decisions and positive decisions. As far as temporary residence permits are considered, there were 127,386 applications accepted in 2016, and 68% of them received a positive decision.


Which countries do foreigners in Poland represent?

You will find the full list of countries that Polish expats come from on the source website. Please remember that EU citizens are over-represented because in many cases their stay documents are still valid even though they have left Poland for good. These are the top 25 countries of origin of foreigners in Poland holding valid residence documents:

  • Ukraine – 132,241
  • Germany – 22,845
  • Belarus – 14,017
  • Vietnam – 11,483
  • Russian Federation – 11,277
  • China – 8,244
  • Italy – 7,629
  • India – 6,058
  • France – 5,860
  • United Kingdom – 5,569
  • Spain – 5,217
  • Bulgaria – 5,130
  • Turkey – 3,828
  • Armenia – 3,618
  • Romania – 3,351
  • Netherlands – 2,698
  • Sweden – 2,614
  • United States of America – 2,509
  • Lithuania – 2,347
  • Czech Republic – 2,320
  • Slovakia – 2,181
  • South Korea – 2,038
  • Hungary – 1,948
  • Portugal – 1,866
  • Uzbekistan – 1,734


Where do foreigners in Poland choose to live?

Let’s go back in time to 2010 once again. Back then as many as 36% of of the residency permit applications were submitted in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship (Warsaw and the region). The percentage of applications submitted in Warsaw is declining which means that expats have started relocate to other Polish cities as well, but still almost every third non-EU foreigner chooses Warsaw and the rest of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship (29%). How popular are other voivodeships?

Region (województwo) Residence city of the voivode Accepted applications in 2016
Mazovia Region (mazowieckie) Warsaw 45,302 29,44%
Lower Silesia Region (dolnośląskie) Wrocław 15,491 10,07%
Lesser Poland Region (małopolskie) Kraków 14,556 9,46%
Greater Poland Region (wielkopolskie) Poznań 12,117 7,87%
Silesia Region (śląskie) Katowice 8,812 5,73%
Łódź Region (łódzkie) Łódź 7,335 4,77%
Pomerania Region (pomorskie) Gdańsk 6,620 4,30%
West Pomerania Region (zachodniopomorskie) Szczecin 6,592 4,28%
Lublin Region (lubelskie) Lublin 6,298 4,09%
Lubus Region (lubuskie) Gorzów Wielkopolski 4,831 3,14%
Kuyavia-Pomerania Region (kujawsko-pomorskie) Bydgoszcz 3,634 2,36%
Opole Region (opolskie) Opole 3,031 1,97%
Subcarpathia Region (podkarpackie) Rzeszów 2,324 1,51%
Warmia-Masuria Region (warmińsko-mazurskie) Olsztyn 1,883 1,22%
Podlasie Region (podlaskie) Białystok 1,415 0,92%
Holy Cross Region (świętokrzyskie) Kielce 1,328 0,86%


Find more useful articles

You can find more useful articles in the Living in Poland Section.

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