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Applying for Polish citizenship; problem with old style UK birth certificates

stevepl 2 | 49  
14 Dec 2009 /  #1
I'm in the process of applying for RP citizenship.
One of the qualifying tasks is to get your birth registerd in Poland at the local USC.
I was married in Poland several years ago and as part of that process my birth certificate was presented to the USC and after checking with them they agree that they have an original copy of my birth certificate but as the nice lady explained, she couldn't use that copy and I would have to present a new one (no older than three months of course).

So I obtained a fresh copy from the UK, had it translated by a sworn translator (40 PLN, very reasonable I think). Next stop the USC, filled in the forms paid my money and thought that's that.

Next day I get a phone call asking me to go to the USC, the lady wouldn't explain over the phone what the problem was. So off to the USC where the nice lady explained that my birth certificate was unacceptable. I explained that they already accepted it for marriage but she explained that they wouldn't accept it to register my birth here.

The reson being is that on the older style certificates there is no field for the surname of the child. There is only a column stating name (if any) refering of cource to the first name(s) of the child. I explained that this is how UK birth certificates are.

Then the nice lady, with a flourish and a proszę panna, produced a UK certificate in 'portrait' format not 'landscape' like mine, which indeed does have the surname of the child. I explained to the nice lady that this is how my childrens birth certificates are but old farts like me have the older type. She then told me that they had certificates like this from even old people (I hate to think how old that makes me if 'older people' have the new type of certificate).

She then explained that these other types of certificates were obviously trancripts whereas mine was just some kind of scan of the original. I explained that even if I got a transcript it would only be a handwritten copy of the same sort of landscape certificate with exactly the same details on it. So in the certain knowledge that she understands the UK system better than me refunded my money returned my certificate and told me to come back with the proper one and a fresh translation.

One quick phone call to the Register office in the UK and it transpires that on the 1st April 1969 the UK system was changed. Before that date there was no surname of the child. It's also not possible to get anything from them other than a copy of the original or a transcript of the original in the same format.

I rang the British Embassy in Warsaw where another nice lady asked why the hell I was ringing them and what did I think they could do about it. She then went on to explain that I should just ask the registrar in the UK to sort of 'add' the extra information on the certificate. (not an option I'd already asked them).

So a quick phone call to the nice lady at the local USC to explain the problem. All credit to her, she'd already checked with the British Embassy and was aware of the change in 1969 but she still couldn't accept my certificate. After some discussion she agreed that if I obtained an official letter from the UK registrar explaining the change and how a surname of a child was assumed to be that of the parents, then maybe (with a sworn translation of the letter) she could accept this.

So any old farts out there be warned.
cjj - | 281  
14 Dec 2009 /  #2
this o.f. says "thanks for the warning".
yet another reason to say "no" to the whole idea ...
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454  
14 Dec 2009 /  #3
Thank you very much for the post, it's appreciated.

In this case, I'd be checking the relevant Polish laws to find out what exactly is required - if she was making up a requirement for the surname to be present, then I'd let her have it. I wouldn't be surprised if she was just being awkward for the sake of awkward - or even more specifically, she'd never seen it before.

Incidentally, your report about the British embassy is not alone - I've heard some horror stories about the Embassy in Kyiv, and the general feeling is that the embassies are now nothing but cash cows for the FCO. It's sad - I think most people feel that embassies are a focal point of a country's presence in another country, but it doesn't seem to be that way anymore.
jonni 16 | 2,485  
14 Dec 2009 /  #4
I've heard some horror stories about the Embassy in Kyiv, and the general feeling is that the embassies are now nothing but cash cows for the FCO.

A British citizen could bleed to death on the steps of the embassy here in Warsaw and all they'd do is call out contract cleaners (and send you the bill).

I remember a few years ago, when a young female English teacher disappeared without trace on her way home from work, up near Gdańsk. And indeed there was 'nothing they could do'. When a young Dutch man went missing a couple of years later in the same area the Dutch Embassy sent staff there, contacted the chief of police for the region, and even hired a detective who eventually tracked him down in a hospital nearby.

The Irish Embassy ring round people, even sometimes their employers (I was amazed when they called me to check if one of my staff still worked there) to check if their citizens are still in PL and still working. The NZ Embassy appoints someone to help expats settle in. The French Embassy goes to great lengths to put French people doing business here in touch with each other. Even the Serbian Embassy (or Croatian, I forget) runs a private club for their citizens here.

The British 'Embassy' here is a disgrace.

As for the original topic, the Polish Consulate in London can advise on what documents are needed. Unfortunately it means a personal visit there, but they are usually helpful.
OP stevepl 2 | 49  
14 Dec 2009 /  #5
I wouldn't be surprised if she was just being awkward for the sake of awkward - or even more specifically, she'd never seen it before.

Funily enough, I didn't get that impression (and I often do). I think the problem stems from the fact that she can only enter information as stated on the certificate, I think it's part of their remit, the same as the UK registrar can't add any information that's not on the original. He wrote an explanation without any problem so he wasn't being awkward as the letter was more work for him (I have a very short surname).

The lady at the USC also said they sometimes have problems when they have to enter older Polish birth details on to the new system but for this there are at least established procedures.

Another interesting detail is that on the polish certificate there are also entries for the mother and fathers place of birth and dates of birth which are not on the UK certificates. She suggested I produce their UK marriage certificate but those details aren't on that either (shoddy brits). You would have to produce the marriage certificate and their birth certificates ( copies not older than three months and with sworn translations). I think she must be on a kick-back from the UK registry office.

This information doesn't have to be on the certificate, it's just that I'll probably appear to be what my wife already thinks (a complete bękart).
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454  
14 Dec 2009 /  #6
The British 'Embassy' here is a disgrace.

I don't think it's limited to Poland - they seem to be a disgrace worldwide!

Fair enough, the British Council does/did deal with some of the functions that might be dealt with by an Embassy - but given that they seem hell bent on cutting the British Council down to nothing in favour of grand (pork) projects, that isn't too good.

I'd personally like to know just how it costs over 600zl to stick a notice on a noticeboard for 3 weeks.
cjj - | 281  
15 Dec 2009 /  #7
by the time I finished reading this, the voices in my head were saying "computer system" and "what idiot designed the database"

In the old days - with everything hand-written in books - there was at least room for manoeuvre. Now, once some dork of a designer decides "oh, yes, we'll make /this/, /this/ and /this/ to be the key fields", there's often nothing the poor users of the system can do.

A few years ago now I was sitting at my desk at work one day and overheard the senior designer talking to the database designer ... one of them announced happily "and of course PESEL will be the primary key". They were designing an HRMS system - round a database - and this design decision would have meant that every person entered into it would need a PESEL. I fought the urge to say nothing but had to pipe up with "I don't have a PESEL" (despite being at work and paying taxes). That stunned them - they couldn't imagine someone /not/ having a PESEL. Actually, during my treatment at a local hospital around that time they had to make up a PESEL for me ... one that wasn't 'real' but which still got through the field validation on the data entry screens...

In this case someone has probably designed an unholy mismash of data entry validation based on recent birth certificates and some polish-bureaucracy-based understanding of "how things are"

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