Persons who have never resided in Poland or left Poland in the distant past must obtain a special statistic number, called PESEL. The number is necessary while applying for a Polish passport.
The PESEL number consists of 11 digits and constitutes a numeric symbol that is granted to persons for their identification. Every Polish citizen residing in Poland must have a PESEL number. Every Polish citizen who was born in Poland obtains a PESEL number automatically at their birth. The PESEL system has been in force in Poland since the beginning of 1980s. That is why, individuals who left Poland before 1980s, have not returned since then and have not applied for a new Polish passport, do not have a PESEL number. It also applies to individuals born and permanently residing abroad (children or grandchildren of Polish emigrants). In order to obtain a Polish passport they need to obtain a PESEL number first.