Is it possible to return to Ukraine after coming from Ukraine to Poland and then return to Poland again?

Persons who are currently on the territory of Poland and benefit from the provisions of the so-called Special-purpose Act (i.e. Ukrainian citizens and their spouses who crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border after February 24 this year) may return to Ukraine at any time. 

Re-entry from Ukraine to Poland depends on the presence of documents:

  • if a citizen of Ukraine is in possession of a biometric passport but does not have a electronic document, it will be possible to cross the border again on the basis of the passport, provided that the border crosser has not yet used up the 90-day Schengen visa-free stay period in any 180-day period,
  • if a citizen of Ukraine holds a e-document and a valid passport, it will be possible for such a person to re-enter on the basis of the abovementioned e-document together with a valid travel document (passport) – in such a situation, it is possible to freely cross the border during the period of protection in Poland (that is, until June 30, 2024 or in certain cases until August 31 or September 30, 2024. )
  • if none of the above applies (e.g. a citizen of Ukraine holds an ordinary passport and is not entitled to an electronic document) then – although in theory a person subject to the Special-purpose Act should be able to cross the border freely, we know that in practice there are problems with this – when crossing the border it is safest to apply for permission from the Commander of the Border Guard post to enter on humanitarian grounds.

This consent shall be granted without a specific procedure and the prerequisites for its granting are defined in Paragraph 6(5)(c) of the Schengen Borders Code – these prerequisites are, so to speak, general clauses (they are very broad and allow for considerable freedom of interpretation) and the nature of the consent is optional, i.e. the Commander may, but does not have to, provide consent.

Therefore, it cannot be stated unequivocally that every time the Commander will provide such consent and entry will be possible. The current political situation indicates that, in the absence of documents, such consent will be granted, but it is impossible for anyone to ensure that the situation will not change during the person’s stay in Ukraine or that the Commander, after verifying the person concerned during re-entry, will not consider that the person cannot enter, because, since he or she left voluntarily, it means that he or she can stay in Ukraine. In this respect, an analysis of the legislation does not allow for a clear answer – as already noted, the provision allowing entry is optional.

However, there is a time limit – the departure of a Ukrainian citizen from the territory of Poland for more than 30 days deprives him/her of all the benefits of the Act.

However, the legislation provides for the possibility of reassigning the PESEL with the annotation UKR if a person who has left Poland for Ukraine for a period of more than 30 days returns again due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and his/her entry has been documented or registered in the register kept by the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard.

If this entry has taken place via the Polish border, which is the external border of the Schengen area, the re-establishment of UKR status is automatic.

Re-assignment of status can also occur as a result of a renewed application for a PESEL number. The competent authority for the registration of the above data is any municipal executive, as was the case when the PESEL number was first applied for. As a result of reapplying for a PESEL number in accordance with the Special-purpose Act, the number already held will be updated by adding the UKR status back to it.

Leaving the territory of the Republic of Poland for a period of more than 30 days does not result in the loss of the entitlement to benefit from the protection provided for in the Special-purpose Act and does not deprive the UKR status if it concerns a person directed to perform work or services outside the territory of the Republic of Poland by entities operating in the territory of the Republic of Poland.