Binational marriage - Polish-Egyptian experience

by Ewelina Nurczyk in: Living in Poland, 06 Feb 2017     0 Comments

Do transnational couples have to overcome a lot of difficulties from the legal point of view? Ola, who is Polish, and Mohamed, originally from Egypt, share their experience with CareersinPoland.com. What was it like for them?

Ola, you are Polish, while your husband Med is Egyptian. Could you tell us more about your wedding? Where did it take place and what was it like? Was it difficult to collect the necessary documents, to meet all the deadlines etc.?

We got married almost four years ago, so it was a bit different from current regulations. Our wedding ceremony took place in Egypt and I had to bring only a few basic documents from Poland, while the most difficult part was to be done in Egypt. We had to register the documents in the Polish embassy, translate all of them, and after the marriage we had to do the same with our marriage contract: translate and register it in the Polish embassy. The biggest problem came afterwards, when we had to register the marriage in Poland a few months later. The civil registry office wasn’t familiar with Arabic names, so they refused to register our marriage, claiming that my husband doesn’t have a last name.

What was the reason behind this misunderstanding?

In Egypt everyone has a name given by their parents and four names inherited from their father, grandfather, great-grandfather etc. Last names are not used in the same way as we understand it in Europe, so it may seem like Egyptians have five names and no surname. It was really problematic, but luckily the office workers were very helpful and we managed to get everything done. As for our wedding in Egypt, we got married in a civil ceremony. It looked exactly the same as civil marriages in Poland, the only difference was that we didn’t have to book the date in advance. We went to a special department in the Ministry of Justice, signed our marriage contract and stamped it with our fingerprints. We had two witnesses and everything took only an hour.

You love to travel together, but Poland seems to be your permanent place of residence. Were you faced with any formal obstacles while settling here? Med recently got his permanent residence permit – how do you feel about that?

For Mohamed the biggest obstacle was to get the visa to Poland after we got married. It was stressful and we weren’t sure if we would get it or not. We were lucky because Mohamed had stayed in Poland for a few months beforehand and as a result he got the visa without any problems. From what I hear, nowadays it is more complicated and the embassies may refuse the visa even to a spouse of a Polish citizen. After that, we applied for a temporary residence permit twice and a few months ago for the permanent one. We have never faced any problems with our application, but the process itself is a bit annoying. It takes time to collect all the documents, go for an interview and you also get home visits of policemen conducting a community interview about your marriage. As you can see, it was really a lot of things, but in the end we always got the permit. Now Mohamed has his permanent residence card so we don’t have to worry about anything. We don’t have to apply for a new residence permit again, which is a huge relief and it simply makes our life easier.

Read more about getting a permanent residence permit just as Med did!

Do you see Poland as your final destination? If so, what legal steps are you going to undertake in the future in relation to that?

For now, yes, we want to stay in Poland. Mohamed has the permanent resident status, so he can live and work here without any problems. That’s enough for us. In a few years, when we feel it’s the right time, Mohamed may apply for a Polish passport, but we don’t think about it much now. The permanent residence gives us a lot of comfort, we can live together in Poland and work here. That’s the most important thing for us.

Mohamed, is life in Poland difficult to get used to for a person brought up in Egypt? What cultural differences have been the most troublesome so far, if any?

I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, at least it wasn’t for me. There are cultural differences, but it has never been a problem for me that I couldn’t accept something. At the beginning I was a bit surprised that people here drink so much alcohol, but on the other hand Polish people were surprised that I don’t drink it at all. There were some surprising things for me here, but I just learnt to accept them all.

What advice would you give to all binational couples living in Poland?

Life in Poland for a foreigner is not as bad as some people may think. You should always stay aware of legal requirements for the residence permit. Moreover, when you travel you need to double-check if there are any extra documents required for your spouse. Nevertheless, it’s all worth it. It is tiring and irritating to do paperwork for visas, residence permits etc., but it’s definitely worth it. After these four years we are happy we went through all of this to have a stable life in Poland and we wish all binational couples the same! 

Huge thanks to Ola and Mohamed for sharing their first-hand experience with us!


Ola and Mohamed have been married for four years. Their biggest hobby is travelling and they share it on their blog called Polish Egyptian Travels.

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Author
Ewelina Nurczyk

Ewelina Nurczyk

Editor

Contact the author

Editor at CareersinPoland.com. A graduate of English studies and Polish language and literature at Warsaw University, specialising in teaching Polish to foreigners. 

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