One of our readers from Vilnius (who wished to remain anonymous) wanted to replace his passport. He was very surprised to hear that he had been recorded in a database not as a Pole, but… a Lithuanian! He turned to “Kurier Wileński” because as a true-born Pole he was appalled and offended by the fact that his nationality had been changed.
– I turned to the Migration Office to exchange my passport. An official filled in a form and asked if I am a Lithuanian. I replied that I am a Pole, my father was a Pole and my grandfather was a Pole. “That is strange – she said – in our database you are recorded as a Lithuanian…” – he said when telling us about his problems with nationality record. He admitted that he had been very surprised and indignant.
When he asked what he should do to restore his nationality, the official advised him to go to the Centre of Registers (Registrų centras) at Lvovo 25 Street.
– In such a situation, you can submit a birth certificate to the Civil Registry Office (CRO) and make a request for entering Polish nationality. The CRO can review the Residents’ Register database to obtain the data related to your parents. The CRO adds an entry and then you have to visit the Migration Office to ask for correction. However, if the CRO states that the nationality entry is already made, you can appeal against the action taken by the Migration Office – explained Ewelina Baliko, the lawyer from the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR).
She underlined that if there is an entry about nationality made in the Residents’ Register, recording nationality in a passport should not be a problem.
“Disappearance” of nationality in a passport entry was also reported by another reader who is well-known in our editorial office.
– In 2014 my son obtained the passport. His birth certificate includes an entry that he is a Pole. His parents and grandparents are also Poles. Relevant entries about nationality are also made in the Residents’ Register database. Unfortunately, nationality has not been included in the passport – she said.
– In this particular case the entry about nationality could not be made in the passport because this document was issued in 2014, when other legal acts were in force. On the 23rd of 2014 the Passport Law was supplemented by a new provision. Art. 5, point 6 of the new law stipulates that from the 1st of January 2015 nationality shall be entered into a passport upon written request of a citizen. Therefore, it is now possible to submit an application for passport replacement and obtain a new document with nationality entered – explained Ivona Zenevičienė, senior specialist of the migration division of Soleczniki Police Commissariat.
Art. 5 of the Passport Law stipulates that on the grounds of the information obtained from the database of the Residents’ Register of the Republic of Lithuania the following entries shall be made: 1) name (names), 2) surname, 3) sex, 4) date of birth, 5) personal number, 6) nationality. Ivona Zenevičienė explained that nationality entry is made by typing and put on the subsequent page, next to a photograph. Entry about nationality is not included in identity card (plastic ID card).
– When issuing child’s birth certificate, the Civil Registry Office submits the data to the Residents’ Register Service that stores all personal data. The Migration Office has access to the data and enters them into a passport. If there is no information about nationality, the Civil Registry Office makes the relevant entry in the Residents’ Register database upon request of a citizen – stated Ivona Zenevičienė.
She informed that it is unnecessary to submit a separate application for adding nationality in a passport entry.
– When a citizen submits an application for passport issue, we register it and ask if he/she wishes to declare his/her nationality in a passport (given that nationality is included in the database), and then we put it down – explained Ivona Zenevičienė.
After the amendment of the Lithuanian Passport Law (LR Paso įstatymas) from the 1st of January 2015 the nationality can be entered into a passport upon written request of a citizen.
– Obviously, that is not obligatory. If you do not wish to enter it, the Migration Service is not allowed to do it – said Ewelina Baliko.
In 2003 the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania changed the law and decided to remove the entry for holder’s nationality.
– Although space for nationality was removed from Lithuanian passports, it was still possible to declare nationality in a birth certificate. Hence, it is clearly stated that providing such information is tantamount to the essential and obvious need to declare one’s nationality – child’s nationality in that case – said Ewelina Baliko.
– Good to have such a possibility. It is up to a citizen to decide whether he/she uses it. But the mere possibility is good. This is a fully justified, delibarate and rational action – claimed Edward Trusewicz, vicechairman of the Association of Poles in Lithuania.
As he said, the similar case is with the Card of the Pole – it is possible to obtain the Card of the Pole, but Poles in Lithuania do not exercise that right very frequently, unlike Poles in Belarus or Ukraine. Nevertheless, about three thousand of Poles in Lithuania who hold the Card of the Pole have given informed consent to obtain such a document. It is also the case with entry about nationality – if you do not wish to have your nationality entered, you will not have it done.
– The opportunity to declare nationality in a passport strenghtens the sense of citizenship and affiliation to a nation, and compensates, to a little extent, for the fact that it is not allowed to put a surname in the original form, in Polish, with the use of Polish diacritical signs. Everybody has their own opinion on that subject – said Edward Trusewicz.
Passport and identity card – how much does it cost
To obtain a passport:
– within a month – 43 euro
– within 5 days, expedited procedure – 57 euro
– within 1 day (24 hours), expedited procedure – 71 euro
– for under-18-year-olds and persons of retirement age, normal procedure – 21.5 euro.
To obtain an identity card:
– within a month – 8.6 euro
– within 5 days, expedited procedure – 19.6 euro
– within 1 day (24 hours), expedited procedure – 31.6 euro
– for under-18-year-olds and persons of retirement age, normal procedure – 4.3 euro.
Tłumaczenie by Grzegorz Gaura w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Grzegorz Gaura within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.