By Staff Sgt. Michael EaddyJanuary 7, 2019
POZNAN, Poland -- U.S. service members are privileged more than they know when traveling abroad. The U.S. Consulate, in conjunction with the embassy, is equipped with the services and tools to assist an American traveling outside of the United States with the American Citizen Services Units in their local consulate.
The U.S. Consulate in Poznan, Poland, is equipped with information about living in Poland, first-time passport applications, Consular Report of Birth Abroad applications, and services to help citizens renew U.S. passports and notarial services.
"We've had someone come to the consulate not too long ago," said John Hall, The American Citizen Services Unit Chief. "His family applied for passports in the U.S. and he came to do the form that has to be notarized since he wasn't able to be present. We do those often."
If a service member would like to apply for a passport for the first time or receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, when a child is born in a foreign hospital, they can do so at the consulate.
"We had [the] Consular Report of Birth pretty quick," said Maj. Brandon Gilles, a U.S. Army Olmstead Scholar in Poznan, Poland. "After you receive the live birth certificate from the hospital, you take the birth certificate to the city administration building [where] they give you your official Polish birth certificate, you get that translated through an official translator, fill-out the application online then [send your] documents to the embassy through the consulate, and approximately four to six weeks later they sent us [the] Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Working with the consulate, here, was a super positive experience and very efficient."
The consulate understands the hectic work schedule for each service member serving in Poland, consequently, regular services are by appointment only to accommodate personnel needing the services of the consulate. The consulate will work with the service member to ensure they can give them the proper services need for their concern.
"Assisting all U.S. nationals while traveling is the consulate's primary goal," said Hall.
The embassy and the consulate work hand-to-hand to supply services to citizens traveling abroad. The two refer to government representations in any foreign country. A country will have one embassy, the larger representation of a nation, in another nation and multiple consulates, the smaller nation representation in another nation, in various cities in the host nation.
Additionally, the consulate can help if a service member is traveling during the voting season and wants to vote, voting ballots can be dropped off at the consulate to be sent to the states for that vote to be counted.
The consulate can also aid in adopting a Polish child, facilitating information and guidance on how to properly adopt in Poland.
Living assistance is another service provided to a newly located service member in Poland; if a service member needed to know where to get a drivers license, the location of a well known hospital, also, if they needed to get background information on a person of interest the consulate will direct the service member in the direction of the law enforcement authorities that can provide the services requested.
For safety reasons, the consulate suggests that any service member traveling abroad to sign up with the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) app.
"STEP is useful If there's an event that we expect to happen we will send out a message over email. We don't abuse it, we only send out the alert if the event is a big deal," said Hall. "Also, if there is an election season, we'll send out a reminder on how to vote overseas or what the embassy can do for you during the election season."
If an unforeseen event happens and a U.S. service member dies in Poland, the deceased would have a Poland death certificate naturally, however, the consulate will issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad that will work in the states as a regular death certificate. The consulate can also help with the arrangement of sending the body back to the states with a funeral home in Poland.
"It would be good to get an apostil on a Polish document," said Urszula Dziuba, a U.S. Consulate Consular Agent. "If the document was created in Poland and you want to use it in the U.S., you should get an apostil at the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs and vice versa, if it's needed, for the document to be recognized in the U.S."
The consulate offers a wide array of useful and helpful services to any service member traveling abroad on orders or for leisure.
"The most important thing is learning that the consulate is here for all service members in every country we're located," said Cpt. Anthony Bongi, the Atlantic Resolve Mission Command Element Headquarters Company commander. "It can provide us services that we might not have access to through the military, [learning we] have access to the individuals that work [in the consulate], access to the websites that can answer the questions we may have, and to ease the process for whatever we might need from the embassy or the consulate."
The U.S. Consulate in Poznan, Poland, can be reached at: telephone number +48 61 851 8516 or by email at CAPoz@post.pl if there's a need while traveling around Poland and to assist a U.S. service member in making their visit to Poland a positive one.