Dobrowolska: How to officially remain a Pole in Lithuania

Fot. Joanna Bożerodska

In two years, another census will be carried out, in which whether we are Poles according to statistics will be determined not by the answer we give the enumerator, but by entries in our documents. How large will the Polish minority be then? It is worth checking now whether we will be included in it.

The issues of education, language, spelling of first and last names, topographic names and generally understood greater involvement of national minorities in political, social and cultural life, together with appropriate financial support, have remained unresolved in Lithuania for many years. Although since 2010 there is no basic legal act to protect the rights of national minorities (the Act on national minorities is not in force), the fact that the Polish minority is the largest national minority in Lithuania allows these rights to be seen a priori as the rights of Poles in Lithuania.

As indicated by opinion polls carried out by the Capital Migration Service (Vilniaus apskrities VPK, Migracijos tarnyba), almost half of the applicants for this identity document expressed their desire to enter their nationality in the passport. The first person who on January 2, 2015 asked to enter their nationality in their passport was a Lithuanian citizen of Ukrainian nationality.

Identifying yourself as a Pole not only in public life, but also towards the state, is one of the main elements of the identity of a minority representative. How to officially remain a Pole in Lithuania? We will try to answer this question by providing appropriate instructions.

Nationality in the register

In two years, in 2021, a census in Lithuania will be conducted in a different way than before. This time, instead of collecting answers to questions from the residents of Lithuania, information about them will be generated on the basis of administrative entries in registers and databases (Sodry, address register, register of residents, etc.).

What threat can it pose? National minority statistics may turn out to be the biggest problem for Poles in Lithuania. In this case, when the data will be taken directly from the register, and not by surveying, it is likely that some Poles will not be considered Poles in the list and their place of residence will not reflect reality.

Why can this happen? Most people living in the Vilnius region actually check in in the city, e.g. to get a place for a child in a Vilnius school or kindergarten. In turn, the entry about nationality does not appear in every register for every Pole.

Below we provide two step-by-step instructions on how to check whether we have entered nationality in the register and whether it is valid.

Instructions for entering nationalities in the register

You must check your birth certificate (gimimo liudijimas). If there is an entry about nationality in it and the entry reflects our true nationality, you must check with the civil registry (Civilinės metrikacijos skyrius) whether the office has obtained this information and completed it.

If there is no entry on the birth certificate and there is information about the nationality of the parents – go to the appropriate registry office (list of offices: https://mepis.registrucentras.lt/web/mepis/kontaktai) and submit there application for entering a nationality in the birth certificate.

This step can also be done online at https://mepis.registrucentras.lt/web/mepis. We log in> Paslaugos> Papildyti, pakeisti, ištaisyti civilinės būklės akto įrašą. We mark “personally” (Asmeniškai), “complete” (Papildyti), “birth certificate” (Gimimo) – here we enter information about the birth certificate. We mark the first reason (Priežastys) for changing the entry. We write below that we are applying for an entry about nationality in order to reveal that we are Polish. We enter data from the passport or identification card. We attach documents on the basis of which we ask for an entry, e.g. a birth certificate, in which one of the parents is Polish. We keep, send.

If the birth certificate does not have information on the nationality and the nationality of the parents is not indicated, we should look for the birth or marriage certificate of the parents. If we find a note about nationality on these documents, we follow the instructions above and attach a scan of the document to the application.

Changes to the birth certificate cost 4.90 euros. The birth certificate will be changed within 20 business days. Data to the register of residents will be sent automatically. You can ask directly at the registry office in which you applied for whether the application has already been processed.

There may be situations that the nationality of “Lithuanian” will be entered in the register or in the birth certificate. In this case, you need to check the entry about the parents’ nationality. If at least one of the parents has written that he is Polish – we follow the instructions above. Otherwise (if both parents are registered as Lithuanians or other nationalities), a note for Polish nationality can only be sought. The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) offers free legal assistance (consultation, preparation of documentation, representation in court) in this respect. Contact with the EFHR: info@efhr.eu, +37 069 150 822. More information at www.efhr.eu.

Nationality in the passport

According to the amendments to the Lithuanian Passport Act (LR Paso įstatymas) adopted in 2014, it is possible to enter your nationality in your passport from January 1, 2015. As stated in this legal act, a passport is a document confirming identity and citizenship, and nationality itself is an indispensable element of human identity.

It is worth recalling that the right to such information was provided for in art. 2 of the Regulation governing the issuing of passports to the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania of 1991. In 2003, the Seym RL changed the law and decided that the box indicating the nationality of the document holder should be removed. However, the section with nationality was removed from Lithuanian passports, it was still possible to make an appropriate entry in the birth certificate.

The possibility of mentioning nationality in the passport – this should not be confused with citizenship – provides for several countries of the European Union. These include Austria, Belgium, Germany and Latvia. In the European Union, passports have a similar appearance, which results from Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States. However, Member States may decide to add other headings if they deem it appropriate and necessary.

According to art. 3 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which Lithuania ratified without reservation in 2002, every member of a national minority has the right to freely decide to treat him as a person being or not being a part of such a minority, and such choice or the use of related the choice of rights may not entail any adverse effects.

Instructions for entering nationalities in the passport

Anyone interested in adding a nationality note to a passport should first check that the National Registry Service database (Gyventojų registro tarnyba) has a nationality entry. Such information can be obtained by contacting the office directly (head office: tel. +37 852 688 262) or via the Internet (then the electronic signature iPasas.lt is required): www.registrucentras.lt> choose Gyventojai> Susipažinimas su tvarkomais asmens duomenimis> Lietuvos Respublikos gyventojų registre Prisijungus iPasas.lt. We connect via iPasas.lt. An excerpt of information will appear which is managed by registry. Under the heading “nationality” (Tautybė) there will be an entry for nationality or an empty space. Every Lithuanian citizen has the right to check, free of charge, what information about him is being processed by the state.

If a person’s nationality appears in the register, he or she can immediately go to the delegation of the Migration Service (e.g. in Vilnius at Naugarduko 100) and submit an application for a passport exchange. It is worth emphasizing that you can exchange even a valid passport. The lowest fee for changing the passport is 43 euros (for pensioners and persons up to 18 years old – 21.50 euros). When ordering a passport, you must apply for the nationality entry. It is possible to book a meeting with an official for a specific time at www.epolicija.lt/rezervacija.

If there is no nationality entry in the register, you must follow the instructions on entering the nationality in the register. Only after we have obtained an entry in the register, it remains to follow the instructions for entering nationality in the passport.

And this is just the beginning. You should also try to get a Polish name and surname. We will write in “Kurier Wileński” soon about how to do it and whether a Lithuanian citizen can also have Polish citizenship.

Source: https://zw.lt/wilno-wilenszczyzna/dobrowolska-jak-oficjalnie-pozostac-polakiem-na-litwie/

Tłumaczenie by Patrycja Polanowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Patrycja Polanowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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