20. December 2020
How to Quarantine in Poland, after Escaping From Belarus
Here is information on how to successfully survive quarantine in Poland. If you’re not a Belarus citizen you may want to skip directly to the Quarantine Section here.
- How to get a work visa to Poland, if you are a Belarus national
- Other types of visa options for Belarus nationals
- Getting from Belarus to Poland - transportation options and crossing the border
- About quarantine in Poland
- Need to know, tips and advice about Polish quarantine
- Polish food delivery apps for those in quarantine in Warsaw
In light of recent events, Belarus nationals are trying to escape the country. That is not to say that around the world the governments are looking to impose restrictions and take away rights. More and more similar to those in place in Belarus. We’re trying to shed some light on how one might escape from Belarus, quarantine in Poland, and then fly away to another country. To where though? - you’ll be asking. Any free nations left out there?
Escape from Belarus(Steps to get out of the country)
We are of course starting with the beginning. First, we must be able to secure some sort of visa. The immigration and customs officers routinely question travelers as to their destination and purpose. The Covid-19 situation turned tourism travel into something similar to a crime. Hence a work visa would do a lot better.
Get a visa to Poland
Why Poland some may ask. Currently, Poland is about the only country that still gives visas to Belarusian nationals. Work visas are better in the current situation. The only instruments available probably, at the time of writing. It is not that difficult getting a work visa. But it is not cheap. Even more painful for someone that earns an average salary in Belarus.
There are several agencies that can help Belarusian citizens secure a work visa. For the right amount.
Here is what you need to do:
- Contact a visa agency and follow their advice regarding Polish work visa
- Buy an invitation from a Polish entity (through an intermediary supplied by the agency)
- Buy medical insurance, which is mandatory for all foreigners working in Poland
- You need at least 2 face photos for the visa
- Provide the documents at the interview with the Polish consulate
Polish work visa costs in Belarus
The visa agency will take care of all the paperwork. You do, however, have to bring the documents to the consulate in person. The total cost amounts to roughly 350 euros. That includes all the above such as agency fee, invitation letter, health insurance, and the Polish Visa fee.
Timeframe to receiving the visa
It takes about 3 weeks to receive the visa. The longest is securing the invitation which takes up to 2 weeks. Then getting an interview date at the consulate can usually take up to 1 week.
The visa interview at the Polish consulate must be attended in person and it’s just a formality. Once the consulate staff has received your documents it should take a few days to handle your visa.
Other visa types or options
Actually, there is another possibility of applying for a different type of Polish visa. Namely the Polish Humanitarian Visa. However, there are certain restrictions attached to this particular visa. Only the politically persecuted, refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of serious crimes may apply for a Humanitarian Visa.
Visa agencies can also help with this category. Moreover, potential applicants could apply directly to the Polish consulate. An application letter must be submitted and it needs to explain the reason one is applying. The visa fee is 13 euros.
Update December 2020 - Humanitarian Visa holders in Poland may apply for a work permit.
Getting a Romanian or Bulgarian passport
Some agencies do even procure EU passports from Romania or Bulgaria. Their modus operandi is to somehow build proof that the person has family in either country. Then proceeds to get citizenship based on those findings. Apparently, it costs around 1500 euros to obtain this. How legal this is we’re not sure.
Getting to Poland from Belarus
The two options for crossing the border are flying or by bus. The border agents we will ask you questions - more on this below.
Flying vs traveling by bus
There is talk that the Belarus government will be restricting people’s movement but what’s new - this happens all over the world. Flights currently cost 60 euros with Polish LOT and 100 euros with Belavia, for 1 ticket from Minsk to Warsaw. Buses also run from Minsk to Warsaw and 1 ticket costs 20 euros - but it takes up to 9 hours getting to the destination.
Questions asked at the border by the immigration officers
Going out of Belarus, the local immigration and customs officers won’t ask you much. In fact, many times they’re just collecting the passports to stamp them. However, this may change so prepare your narrative.
Nonetheless, on the Polish side, you will be welcomed with a barrage of questions such as: “Where will you go?”, “Is it your first time in Poland?”, “Do you have an invitation letter?”, “Which company will you be working for?”, “Where will you be working exactly?”, “What will you be doing there?". So prepared, be nice, and look silly.
Quarantine in Poland
Currently, passengers arriving in Poland from most countries outside Schengen and the EU must quarantine for 10 days. When you enter the country your personal information will be taken. You are supposed to start quarantine as soon as you arrive at the destination. You’ll be expected to get a local phone number and also install the official Polish Quarantine App.
Need to know about Polish Quarantine
Until you go through a situation you won’t know its specifics. We’ve put together a list of must-know items to help the readers.
Technically, you must start quarantine as soon as you reach your destination. In reality, you should do some errands before starting. This will make your life easier. And some things must be done in order to launch the procedure. Here is what they are:
You must purchase a Polish sim card. In our experience, a local phone number is required as the staff can send you SMS text messages or call you if needed. You can purchase a cheap T-Mobile SIM Card that is about 5 zloty (a little more than 1 euro) and gives you unlimited phone calls and text messages for 1 month. Also, you get 1 GB of internet data for 5 days. Additionally, you can activate unlimited internet data for 5 days. The options are a little confusing so I would recommend that you download the Polish T-Mobile app. The app has an English version as well and it is easy to navigate. You can top-up with another 5 zloty every 5 days to keep the data. The top-up can be made with a debit or a credit card inside the app.
You must install the official Polish Government Quarantine App called “Home Quarantine - Poland (Kwarantanna domowa)” from here. This app is quite poor and you will see this by its low Google Play ratings. But it works. You will receive daily tasks - basically when to take a selfie and submit it inside the app. Definitely check the app often as there are no push notifications to communicate when to take the selfie.
You must call the Helpline Center and speak with the Polish Government staff. One of the numbers to get help is the Helpline Center number +48 22 25 00 115. You can call this number 24 hours a day. This is the Quarantine Hot Line phone number and they will ask to confirm your identity and set a phone number. IMPORTANT! Your quarantine may no start without making this phone call. You will later receive an SMS text message that you can START QUARANTINE. From now on follow the indications given inside the app. More details on the Polish Government website here.
Must keep your GPS on and must keep your internet connection on. Otherwise, it may raise suspicion that you’re trying to evade the quarantine location. You may receive a text message saying that you’ve left the location, even though you have not.
Usually there is no contact between yourself (the quarantined) and government staff. Unless, possibly, you miss taking a selfie or they believe you have left the location. Presumably, someone will come to the given address and check to see if you’re following the quarantine rules.
6.** You must not meet with anyone else at the quarantine location** and must open the door (for deliveries, etc) with the face mask on. **IMPORTANT! IF YOU’RE STAYING WITH SOMEONE ELSE IN THE SAME ROOM OR APARTMENT THAT PERSON MUST ALSO STAY IN QUARANTINE.** This is the official regulation. In reality, the support staff explained that it is not necessary. Yet that would be illegal. This is now at your latitude.
IMPORTANT! If you’re renting an AIRBNB apartment do take photos of any observable damages at check-in. You may not meet the owner/manager in person usually but do take photos regardless. Later the owner might try to make some money reporting some fake or previous damages to the AIRBNB support. It is better to have evidence.
Food delivery apps in Poland
I would recommend that you buy all that you need in terms of groceries. Especially items that may not be delivered or normally delivered with the help of such service apps. Generally, food delivery apps will bring food and not alcohol or other household items, cosmetics, cigarettes, etc. That is what you need to be shopping for before starting the quarantine.
Wolt is a food delivery app in Poland. It has an English interface as well and it’s quite easy to use. Of course, this is valid in the capital city of Warsaw and other large cities. For places outside the urban areas, it is wise to purchase enough groceries to last for at least 10 days. Or ask a friend to help you with shopping deliveries.