PESEL (Polish: Powszechny Elektroniczny System Ewidencji Ludności, Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population) is the national identification number in Poland. It consists of 11 digits that are unique for every registered person. It looks like this:
- YY – last two digits of a year person was born in
- MM – month
- DD – day
- PPPP – random number, but the last digit indicates person’s gender (odd number is for male, even – for female)
- K – randomly generated number
Since 2018 every foreigner in Poland is obliged to register their address in the district office corresponding to the district where they reside. Procedure of registering already includes assigning a unique PESEL number, so technically every international student and worker in Poland should have a PESEL.
This is particularly important when you are an employee (that includes members of staff at the UW). Until 2018, an employer who hired an international worker could use Tax Identification Number (NIP) in order to settle taxes, but now it applies only to persons who are engaged in their own business activity. As a result, having a PESEL number is the only way for regular employees to fulfill their tax obligations.
It is recommended that you register your address, but if you are interested only in obtaining a PESEL number without registering your address, you can also do that. You need to fill in the application form (in Polish) and deliver it to:
- the office of the district in which you live (if you have registered your address already)
- the office of the district in which your employer has their headquarters, or
- Śródmieście district office if you are not employed at all/the company in which you are employed is located outside of Poland: Śródmieście District Office – Communication Department (Urząd Dzielnicy Śródmieście – Wydział Komunikacji) Leona Kruczkowskiego 2, 00-001 Warszawa
You will also need to bring documents confirming your identity and other data included in the application form (passport, etc.). In addition, the application should state the legal basis, from which the obligation to obtain a PESEL number results. Note that if any office (e.g. ZUS or tax office) requires you to have a PESEL number, it should also specify the legal basis for such a requirement.