How to calculate how much time I have to send a letter?
Usually, there is a time limit in advance for you to send a letter disagreeing with the decision in your case (e.g. an appeal). This is usually 7 or 14 days. Generally, if you send your letter after this period, it will not be dealt with and your case will be regarded as closed. In order to accurately determine when the last day to send a letter is, you must know with 100% certainty when you were served with the letter.
The letter may have been handed to you at the Office (if you have signed for it) or it may have been delivered by post – in that case the day on which you collected it from the office clerk, postman or at the post office counter is the actual day of delivery. However, sometimes the postman leaves the letter with another adult who lives with you, then the day they collect the letter is the day of delivery.
Once we know the exact day of delivery and the length of the period (7 or 14 days or some other period) we can go further: add this number of days to the day of collection but start counting from the day after collection. In other words, if you received the letter on Wednesday 2 March and you have a 14 day deadline to send your appeal, you skip that first Wednesday and count 14 days from 3 March. Then the last day is Wednesday 16 March and you have until this day inclusive to send your letter either at the post office or at the delivery office (remember to request a confirmation of posting). Do not worry about holidays – they are counted just like any other with one exception: if it turns out that your last day for sending a letter is a Saturday, Sunday or a holiday, you can still send the letter on the first working day afterwards. Obviously this makes sense – you cannot be expected to send a letter on a day when most post offices are closed.
Agent for service
In Polish law in administrative proceedings, a party is obliged to appoint an agent for service if he or she does not live in Poland during the procedure.
Any person over 18 years of age with full legal capacity (i.e. not incapacitated) and domiciled in Poland may act as an agent for service.
An agent for service will receive at his/her address mail intended for someone else – i.e. for a person who has authorised him/her to do so. This allows the authorities to send important letters in the country also to persons who are currently outside Poland, without the necessity to use the postal services of other countries. The agent for service shall immediately notify the person to whom the correspondence is addressed of its receipt and communicate the content of the correspondence to him or her as soon as possible. For the Office, the moment the post is received by the agent for service, it is already properly served, i.e. the time limits for lodging appeals or complaints start to run.
Who may be my proxy?
A proxy is a person who represents your interests before the courts or administrative authorities that are handling your case. It is he/she, not you, who will receive official correspondence, including decisions on your case. Your proxy can file motions for evidence on your behalf, appeals against negative decisions, as well as complaints to the court. He or she may participate in your and witnesses’ examination by actively asking questions. The fact that you have a proxy does not exclude your ability to act. This means that even though you have a proxy, you too can file motions for evidence, appeals or complaints, and attend the hearing of witnesses. Remember, however, that it is the proxy who will receive correspondence from the office regarding your case. It is therefore important to choose a proxy with whom you have a good relationship and whom you trust to represent you well. If you wish to resign or change your representative during the course of the proceedings, inform the court or authority before which your case is pending that you are terminating the power of attorney.
In administrative proceedings, i.e. before administrative authorities (e.g. the Province Governor, the Head of the Office for Foreigners, the Commander of the Border Guard post/branch, the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard), your proxy may be any adult person who is not incapacitated. He or she does not even have to be a lawyer, and even less a barrister or solicitor. For your safety, however, it should be someone who is familiar with handling cases of the type in question, whom you trust and with whom you maintain regular contact (your proxy should keep you informed of all official letters he or she receives on your case).
In proceedings before an administrative court (the Provincial Administrative Court or the Supreme Administrative Court), your proxy may, as a rule, be an advocate or a legal advisor. You may also be represented before administrative courts by your spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, adult children or grandchildren.
You may file a complaint to the Provincial Administrative Court on your behalf either on your own or through a proxy who has the authority to represent you before the court. Note that not every proxy who represented you before the administrative authorities (e.g. wrote an appeal on your behalf) will be able to represent you before the administrative court.
Remember that there are situations in which you will not be able to act alone in your case. Only a professional attorney, i.e. an advocate or a legal adviser, will be able to represent you. This applies in particular to the submission of a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court. Such an appeal must be signed by an advocate or legal adviser.
How can I send a letter to the office?
If you need to send a letter to the office within a certain time limit, such as an appeal or a complaint, you can do this in several ways:
- Deliver the signed letter in person to the office of the clerk or to the court before the deadline.
- If you have a trusted profile, you can send a letter electronically signed with your trusted profile via the ePUAP platform before the deadline (NOTE: does not apply to criminal or civil court proceedings).
- Send it by Polish Post certified mail before the deadline. The deadline is deemed to have been met if you send your letter before the deadline set by the court or authority. It is not important when it reaches the court or authority. However, please note that you must send your letter via the Polish Post and you must receive a postal receipt at the post office.
- If you are in another European Union country, send your letter with acknowledgement of receipt before the deadline via the public postal service provider operating in that country (i.e. the equivalent of the Polish Post Office in your country). The deadline is deemed to have been observed if you send your letter before the deadline set by the court or authority.
- If you are abroad (also outside the European Union), you may submit your letter before the deadline at the Polish consular post. You are deemed to have met the deadline if you do so before the deadline set by the court or authority.
- If you are in a guarded centre or custody for migrants or in a penal institution, or if you are deprived of liberty, submit the letter before the deadline to the administration of the penal institution or guarded centre or custody for migrants. The deadline is deemed to have been met if you do it before the deadline set by the court or authority. Try to obtain confirmation in writing from the administration of the date on which you submitted your letter.
- If you are a member of a seagoing vessel, you may submit a letter before the expiry of the time limit set by the master of the vessel. The time limit is deemed to have been complied with if you do so before the deadline set by the court or authority.
- If you are in military service, you can submit the letter before the deadline to the military unit command. The deadline is deemed to have been met if you do so before the deadline set by the court or authority.
What does it mean to send an appeal to an office “through” another office?
Some letters, such as appeals or complaints, are submitted via a specific authority or court, which will then only send our letter to the correct authority where it should go. This means that even if you want the letter to be addressed ultimately to authority A, you have to address it to authority B, which will send it to authority A.
Example: An appeal against a decision to refuse a temporary residence permit is submitted to the Head of the Office for Foreigners through the Provincial Governor who handled your case. This means that the appeal should be sent to the address of the relevant Governor, who will then send it to the Head of the Office for Foreigners.
Information on the authority through which the letter should be lodged should be included in the instructions for the decision you have received. However, it may be assumed that, as a general rule, appeals and actions should be brought through the authority or court which issued the decision or judgment in question.
Remember, however, that most letters that are not appeals or complaints are filed directly with the authority that is currently handling your case.