If you are a foreigner and want to run a business in Poland, you should be aware of the social security rules necessary to determine whether you are subject to social insurance in Poland.
The institution dealing with social insurance in Poland is the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS).
Citizens of the EU and the European Economic Area
One of the main principles of European law is, among others, the principle of being subject to the legislation of one Member State - it means that at any given time you can be insured only in one Member State (even if you work in several countries at the same time).
Moreover, according to Union law, a person who pursues an activity as an employed or self-employed person in a Member State shall be subject to the legislation of that Member State. This is the principle of the so-called workplace. Therefore, the legislation of the country where the activity as an employed or self-employed person is pursued is applicable (derogation from this rule occurs, inter alia, in the case of temporary cross-border provision of services). The place of residence of the employee/person running a business, the seat of the employer of the employee or the place of registration of the business is irrelevant here.
Temporary cross-border provision of services
If you do business in your country and provide services in Poland only temporarily (not longer than 24 months), you are not obliged to register in the Polish insurance system. Legislation requires you to do business in your home country for at least 2 months before moving your business to Poland. In addition, you should maintain the infrastructure necessary to do business in your country (e.g. using office space, paying taxes, having a professional card and a VAT identification number). The activity should also be similar to that you normally do in your home country.
Before starting your business, you should inform the competent branch of the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) about the temporary provision of services in Poland. You should also obtain a social security certificate (on form A1) from the insurance institution in your country that is competent for your principal place of business (or address of residence).
A sole trader conducting business activity in the field of renovation and construction services has a registered business activity in the Czech Republic (here the seat of the company). For a long time he has been doing it here, but recently he has also won a contract for the renovation of a building in Poland.
In this situation, although he will provide services (work) in the territory of Poland, he will continue to be subject to compulsory insurance in the Czech Republic, provided that the expected working time in the territory of Poland does not exceed 24 months.
Activity conducted only in Poland
If you do not conduct activity in another country (or do not work as an employee), but only in Poland, you are subject to insurance obligations, just like other Polish entrepreneurs.
Business activity carried out in several countries
If you are normally self-employed in two or more Member States, you are insured:
- in the country where you live, if you do a substantial part of your work there
- in a country with a centre of interest for your business - if you do not live in a country where you do a substantial amount of work
In order to determine whether a substantial part of the activity is pursued in a particular country, account shall be taken of turnover, working time, number of services provided or income.
Business activity and activity as an employed person in several countries
If you are an employed person in one Member State and also start a business in another, you are covered by the social security system of the country where you are an employed person. You will be able to pay social security contributions for your employment and self-employment in the country where you work. Therefore, if a person is an employee in another country and is self-employed in Poland, he/she should obtain the A1 form from the insurance institution of the country where he/she is subject to compulsory social insurance. Such a document will confirm that a self-employed person in Poland should not pay social security contributions in Poland on this account.
What if the relevant legislation cannot be determined?
If you do business in more than one country at a time, it can be difficult in practice to determine the country in which you will be insured. There is a procedure for such cases in European legislation.
According to it, the institution of the place of residence shall determine the legislation applicable to a person pursuing an activity in several States. This preliminary determination of the applicable legislation is provisional. That institution shall inform the designated institutions of each Member State in which an activity is pursued and the institutions of the Member State in which the registered office or place of business of the undertaking employing the employee is situated of its provisional determination.
A person is self-employed in France and Germany at the same time. His/her place of residence is in Poland, where he/she does not conduct any activity. The centre of interest for his/her activities is in France. However, as this person lives in Poland, he/she should inform the ZUS unit with territorial jurisdiction over his/her place of residence in Poland. The Social Insurance Institution will determine the applicable legislation and will inform the person concerned and the French and German institutions of its determination. In this situation, French legislation will apply, since a significant part of the activity is not carried out in the State of residence, i.e. Poland, while France has a centre of interest for the activity carried out. In this case, the French institution will be competent to certify the A1 form if necessary.
If the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), as the institution of the State of residence, i.e. the institution competent to determine the legislation, establishes that the Polish legislation is applicable in a given case, it shall immediately inform the person concerned or his/her employer. It may do so by means of a letter or an A1 certificate attesting to the competent legislation.
If the local unit of the Social Insurance Institution of the place of residence has all the necessary information to issue A1 certificate, it will issue A1 certificates in order to inform the person concerned about the legislation applicable to it.
Shareholders of companies
If you are a foreign partner in a limited liability company or a partner in a registered partnership, limited partnership or partnership, you are treated as a person running a business and therefore you will be subject to obligatory social insurance in Poland. However, if you are employed in your home country or, for example, have the right to a pension in your home country, you will not have to be covered by compulsory social insurance (but health insurance will be compulsory).
Recruitment of staff
If you have registered your company in Poland and want to employ employees, you are bound by the same rules of settlements with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) as Polish entrepreneurs.
For more information on this subject of social security, when you change your place of residence, work or residence within the Member States of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland, contact ZUS.
If you live in a country outside the EU and want to do business in Poland, you will be obliged to take out insurance in Poland. However, there are exceptions to this principle, resulting inter alia from bilateral social security agreements. Currently, Poland is bound by the following agreements: with Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Macedonia, Canada, the USA, South Korea, Australia, Ukraine and Moldova. These agreements allow you to stay in the insurance system of the country you live in, without having to register for insurance in Poland. For example, if you are a Macedonian resident and want to temporarily (no longer than 24 months) transfer your business to Poland under the Polish and Macedonian agreement, you will be subject to Macedonian insurance legislation. However, when you register the company you should provide relevant certificate of insurance coverage in Macedonia from your insurance institution.
Important! If you are a foreigner and intend to conduct business in Poland, please contact the Social Insurance Institution in your country and the Social Insurance Institution in Poland before starting it. If you are a citizen of a country that is not a member of the EU, check also whether Poland has an agreement with your country, which regulates in detail the issue of insurance coverage and find out what rights and obligations you have under this agreement.
Report insurance information when you register a company
If you want to register your business in Poland as a sole trader with CEIDG, you should provide information about your insurance in another country when filling in the CEIDG 1 form. If you do not employ other people and you are employed in one of the following countries, tick box 12.2 of the application. Evidence of insurance in another State is a certificate issued by the competent institution of that State.