There is a big sporting event coming up in Poland and Ukraine. Euro 2012 is about to start. Matches will be played on average every 2 days in Poland and Ukraine alternately. The opening game is set to be played in Warsaw on 8 June 2012 and the final will be on 1 July 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. As there isn’t much time left, it is time to get prepared and equipped as a real fan should, to support your favourite team. Scarves with national emblems, flags, whistles and banners are absolute ‘must haves’. South African vuvuzelas you can leave behind.  Please.  Once you have organized this, book your ticket to Poland and a hotel room. Get maps of the cities in which games are scheduled to be played, i.e. Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdańsk and Poznań and Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donieck in Ukraine. Buy Polish zloty. Get ready for delicious traditional Eastern food!

Ready to go? Everything prepared? Great! May I please see your visa then?

While expressing support for your team in Euro 2012 is absolutely understandable, sorting out immigration aspects of your presence at Euro 2012 allowing you to get there is also crucial. The applicable immigration provisions are varied and depend on the origin of each visitor entering Poland. Taking into consideration that these are European championships, it is expected that most of the attendees will be from European countries. However, citizens of countries not taking part in the competition may be also interested in attending.

If you are a citizen of a European Union member country, then you are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter Poland. You can exercise your freedom of movement within the EU zone and enjoy watching your football heros in action in Poland. When traveling to Ukraine, do remember to have a valid passport and make use of the special exemption from the obligation to obtain a visa granted under the Decree of the President of Ukraine of 26 July 2005 # 1113/2005 for a stay for up to 90 days.

As not all European countries are members of the European Union, however, not all Europeans may benefit from freedom of movement. Ukraine and Russia are the only two countries among all the countries represented in Euro 2012 that are not members of the European Union. Thus, to enter Poland citizens of those two countries are required to obtain a proper visa. A visa is also required for most non-EU citizens intending to come to Poland and attend Euro 2012.

Visa applications must be filed with the Polish Consul competent for the place of permanent residence of the foreigner. Poland and other Schengen countries issue standard types of visas, entitling holders to enter and stay within the Schengen zone. In order to enter Poland for Euro 2012 a short-term visa is applicable which allows multiple entries during the period necessary for the declared purpose of stay in Poland, but no longer than for up to 90 days during a period of 6 months from the moment of first entry. Do not worry if you think you are late. According to law a visa application may be submitted no earlier than three months prior to the commencement of the planned visit. Thus filing applications for coming to Euro 2012 is possible from 8 March 2012

A visa application should be made in Polish, unless the Consul agrees that it can be filed in other foreign languages. Any documents submitted with the application and prepared in a foreign language should be accompanied by a certified translation into Polish. These rules may vary from Consul to Consul.

A visa will be issued to travelling football fans only upon presentation of an original ticket for a game or an email or similar confirmation stating that a ticket will be received at the entrance to a stadium. Those who have no ticket yet should apply for tourist visas using the regular procedure.

Although Poland has not introduced any less strict immigration rules specifically for Euro 2012, procedures for obtaining visas have been simplified. While there is still a requirement to register a visa application online ( it is no longer necessary to wait for an appointment at a consulate to be scheduled as a condition for obtaining a visa. There is also an opportunity to submit an application for a visa on behalf of an organized group. In those cases, no attendance of individuals is required. The usual fee is charged for a visa, but for the purpose of Euro 2012 there is no extra fee for immediate issuance. There are also facilities introduced for Euro 2012 participants such as players, referees, and doctors who may obtain a visa for multiple entry on the production of an original of a document proving their participation. Issuance of a visa for this special group of foreigners does not require personal attendance at the consulate, nor a consular fee.

According to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs the procedure of granting a visa may be further adjusted according to the level of interest in matches and results of matches. If the Russian or Ukrainian national team reaches the quarter-finals or the semis, then in order to handle many football fans ready to support their teams, office hours of consulates will be double-shifted, including work on Saturdays and Sundays.

Have you filled in all the necessary documents? Fantastic!

Enjoy your Poland-Ukraine Euro 2012.  May the best team win!  So long as it’s Poland!