PESEL for Polish citizens
Since 1979, all Polish citizens have been obliged to be entered into the official registry. Nowadays, each child gets its identification number at birth. Please bear in mind that it is not just a number – the system possesses all sorts of information, including the person’s and their parents’ full names, date and place of birth, gender, citizenship, birth certificate number, the registry it was given in, marital status, spouse name and their PESEL number (if applicable).
The number has always 11 digits and is built in a predefined way. The first 6 digits are your date of birth, so you can easily tell someone's birthday by looking at it. For instance, if you were born on May 30th, 1983, your PESEL number would start with 830530..... followed by 5 other digits.
PESEL for foreigners
How does it work with foreign citizens coming to Poland? From 1 January 2018, apparently you are granted your PESEL number ex officio if you get registered with your temporary or permanent residence address. Since getting a registered address is obligatory for anyone willing to stay in Poland for over 30 days, this means that a vast number of foreigners in Poland (those who are here not on the basis of a short-term visa solely) should have their own PESEL number.
What do you need PESEL for?
PESEL is obligatory for anyone who wants to e.g. get a driving licence or start a business in Poland (without it you will not get your NIP number). Some banks or mobile operators ask for it before signing an agreement with you; although it is not necessary from the legal point of view, it may be required by their internal regulations.
How to get PESEL number?
The process is quite simple. If you are sure that you are in need of your PESEL number, fill in this application form. Please remember to bring along your travel documents (passport, visa etc.). The authority responsible for granting PESEL numbers is your relevant gmina office (Polish equivalent of a borough). It is free of charge and most people manage to receive their identification number at one go.