Is a Ukrainian citizen who entered Poland after 02/24/22 and only has a Ukrainian document identity can travel to another EU country for a few days and then return to Poland?

Visa-free travel

From June 11, 2017. pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2017/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017, holders of biometric passports issued by the authorities of Ukraine, may cross the external border of the European Union without visas, if their total stay does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

As a consequence, citizens of Ukraine who have a biometric passport as persons traveling without visas, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 9, 2016 on the EU Code of Rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) have the right to move freely within the EU for a period of 90 days after entering its territory.

It follows from the above that a necessary condition for the exercise of the above-mentioned freedom of movement under the visa-free regime is possession of a biometric passport.

Obtaining an electronic residence permit by a citizen of Ukraine is not a substitute travel document. According to the announcement of the Border Guard, “Electronic document in the mobile application and a certificate of using security temporary issued by the Head of the Office for Foreigners to third-country nationals of other countries than Ukraine during the period of its validity – together with a valid travel document entitle you to:

  • crossing the external borders of the EU and internal countries of the Schengen area,
  • stay on the territory of Poland during the period of its validity,
  • stay in the territory of other Schengen states for up to 90 days in the last 180 days.

Other powers granted by other countries of the Schengen Area

However, in the absence of a biometric passport, it makes sense to turn to representative office of the European Union Member State, which is the target of the potential short-term departure, in order to obtain detailed information on the conditions of entry and stay at its territory the citizens of Ukraine. Indeed, individual states could introduce at the level of domestic facilities for entry and stay of Ukrainian citizens in connection with the ongoing war on its territory.

Re-entry to Poland

Beneficiaries of the special act can freely enter and leave Poland based on the document and passport.

According to the position of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, citizens of Ukraine who have declared evacuation from Ukraine at any time may, until June 30, 2024, leave Poland freely and each re-entry during this time will be legal, regardless of other entitlements, including those resulting from visa-free travel or the possession of a visa” and “this entitlement (recognition of the stay in Poland as legal) is independent of other rights related to entry and stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland resulting from the provisions of law. Such an interpretation allows us to assume that it is irrelevant for the entitlement resulting from the Special Act whether a citizen of Ukraine has a biometric passport to be able to freely and legally enter Poland.

There are divergent interpretations regarding the possibility of re-entry to Poland by a Ukrainian citizen covered by temporary protection in Poland (who is the beneficiary of the Special Act). While the Ministry of the Interior and Administration states that the Special Act is an independent basis for free and legal entry of Ukrainian citizens to Poland at any time (from February 24, 2022 to June 30, 2024), in the case of persons holding a residence permit, it is required that have a valid travel document to legally cross the border of the Republic of Poland.

However, given the lack of border control at the internal borders of the Schengen area, re-entry of a Ukrainian citizen from another Schengen state should not face any checks border.

It is worth remembering that leaving the territory of the Republic of Poland for a period exceeding 1 month is generally deprives a citizen of Ukraine of the status of a beneficiary of the Special Act.