What is regulation of business activity?
Regulation of business activity means that a business operator does not have full freedom to set up and carry out certain business activities.
Usually, the freedom of business activity is restricted due to issues that are important for the functioning of the state, in particular security and the public interest. This may be, for example, protection of the country’s natural resources, protection of consumer interests or preventing monopolistic practices.
A business operator planning to conduct a regulated type of business activity must obtain the right to carry out such activity and must meet specific conditions set out in legal acts.
Whether a business operator meets such conditions is assessed by a competent authority, such as a minister or the head of a public authority.
Later on, the same authority also verifies whether the business operates in accordance with the statutory conditions and, in the case of a licence and certain permits – also with the contents of the decision and the conditions set out in the licence or permit. This means that such an authority may carry out inspections of the business and, as a last resort, deprive the business operator of the right to continue to carry out regulated activities.
In Poland, regulation of business activity can take the form of:
- entry in the register of regulated activities.
For certain business activities you may need a professional licence. This applies in particular to businesses that require special education or qualifications to practise specific professions, for example, property appraiser, lawyer, architect, tax advisor. Essentially, a professional licence has the same effect as a permit – it is a consent to undertake and carry out a business activity and, at the same time, it confirms that you have the required qualifications.
Please note! Stamp duty is charged when applying for a licence, a change to a licence and a promise of a licence, a permit or an entry in the register of regulated activities. Its amount depends on the type of business activity.
When to apply for a licence, a permit or an entry in the register of regulated activities
Before applying for a licence, permit or entry in the register of regulated activities, you must register your business activity in:
- the Central Register and Information on Economic Activity (CEIDG), if you have a one-person business
- the National Court Register (KRS), if you operate as a partnership or a company+
If you are a business operator registered in CEIDG, you may submit your application for an entry in the register of regulated activities at the gmina office, indicating the authority keeping the relevant register.
The granting of a licence
A business licence (in Polish: koncesja) is the most rigorous business permit. Any business operator may apply for a business licence – including those who are already engaged in business or have a licence to carry out other activities.
Please note that if you have previously been refused a licence, you have the right to re-apply.
What are the business activities that require a business licence?
A business licence is granted at the business operator’s request always for a fixed period of no less than 5 years and not more than 50 years, unless the business operator applies for a shorter period.
The application for a business licence or a change in the business licence should contain the following:
- name of the business operator, address of their registered office and of their place of residence
- address of the main place of business activity
- number in the register of business operators or in the business register, and the tax identification number (NIP)
- the type and scope of business activity for which the business licence is to be granted
- information and documents specified in separate provisions regulating the business activity requiring a licence.
Please note! Any changes subject to notification to the licensing authority must be notified to that authority within 14 days of their occurrence.
A business licence is an administrative decision. The licensing authority may grant a licence, refuse to grant a licence, limit its scope in relation to the one applied for, or refuse to change the licence.
Before issuing a decision, the authority verifies whether the business operator meets the conditions for carrying out a particular business activity. For this purpose, it may, for example:
- request that you supplement, within a specified period of time, any missing documentation certifying that you meet the conditions specified in legal acts, under pain of leaving the application unprocessed
- verify the facts included in the application for a licence in order to state whether you meet the conditions for carrying out the licensed business activity
- verify whether you guarantee proper performance of the licensed activity
If you do not meet all the requirements or there is a fear of a threat to the defence or security of the state and citizens, you will most likely not be granted a licence – the authority will either issue a decision refusing to grant the licence or the licence will be limited in scope. You may also be refused a change in the licence.
The authority may also refuse or limit the licence if, as a result of a court hearing or a tender procedure, the licence has been granted to another business operator or a decision has been issued to declare the exercise of rights from the business operator’s shares unacceptable, and this is in the public interest.
Once you have been granted a licence, the authority can monitor whether you operate in accordance with the contents and conditions of the licence. If it is found that you do not comply with the conditions of your licence, the authority may restrict your licence, withhold it temporarily and, in some cases, revoke your licence.
Please note that a business operator whose licence has been revoked may apply for the licence to be re-granted to the same extent no earlier than three years after the date of the decision to revoke the licence.
Inspections to monitor licences
Persons authorised by the licensing authority to carry out inspections are entitled in particular to:
- enter the property, facility, premises or their parts, where the business activity covered by the licence is carried out, on the days and hours when this activity is or should be carried out
- request oral or written explanations, production of documents or other information carriers, and
- be provided with the data connected with the subject of inspection.
The licensing authority may summon the business operator to remove any identified shortcomings within a specified period of time.
Promise of business licence
If you intend to start a business activity that requires a licence, you can apply for a promise of licence before obtaining it. The promise sets a period of validity, but it cannot be shorter than 6 months. During this period, the authority may not refuse to grant you a business licence to carry out the business activity specified in the promise, unless:
- the data contained in the application for the promise have changed
- not all of the conditions specified in the promise have been met
- the conditions for performing the business activity covered by the licence have not been met
- such decision is justified due to a threat to state defence and security or citizens
Permit to carry out business activity
A given type of activity may require a permit only if this has been explicitly specified in legal regulations. Permits are issued after verifying that the business operator is able, and has the technical or organisational capacity, to carry out the specified business activity. The business operator must meet the conditions for carrying out this activity set out legal acts.
Such permit is an administrative decision and is issued under an administrative procedure. It may contain special conditions which must also be met.
Please note! If you meet all the requirements for performing a certain activity, the authority is required to grant you a permit.
Types of business activity that require a permit:
Subject of business activity
Authority issuing a permit
wójt (head of a rural gmina), city mayor or president (for retail sale) and the marshal of the voivodeship or the minister competent for the economy (for wholesale)
Voivodeship Pharmaceutical Inspector
Head of the tax office
Marshal of the voivodeship, poviat starost (head of the poviat) or the regional head of environmental protection
Entry in the register of regulated activity
Entry in the register of regulated activity is the simplest form of regulation of business activity in Poland. In this case, the business operator must:
- meet certain conditions related to carrying out this type of activity
- submit an application for entry in the register of regulated activity
- submit a statement on fulfilment of conditions required to carry out this activity (as an attachment to the application)
Please note! Keep all documents confirming that you meet the conditions for carrying out regulated activity – for the purpose of inspection.
Registers of regulated activities are public and anyone can view them through the authority that keeps them. The register shows the company details, the tax identification number or – if requested by the authority – other data, but only those that comply with data protection regulations.
Type of activity
Authority keeping the register
Manufacture and bottling of wine products. Manufacture and bottling of spirits. Manufacture, distillation, denaturing, dehydration of ethanol.
Keeping personnel and payroll employer documents with a temporary storage period
Marshal of the voivodeship
Voivodeship Inspector of Plant Health and Seed Inspection
Minister competent for internal affairs
District Medical Council
Main Council of Nurses
Running a driving training centre, a psychological centre for instructors, examiners and drivers. Organising additional training courses for drivers transporting hazardous goods.
Poviat starost (head of the poviat) competent for the place of business
Organisation of tourist events
Marshal of the voivodeship
Head of the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE)
The authority keeping the register of regulated activity may refuse entry in the register when:
- a valid decision has been issued banning the business operator from performing the regulated activity included in the entry
- a business operator has been removed from the register of that regulated activity as a result of a decision banning them from performing this activity within a period of 3 years before the date of application
- in cases specified in specific provisions
The authority keeping the register of regulated activity issues a certificate confirming the entry in the register ex officio within 7 days from the date of receipt of an application together with a statement on fulfilment of the conditions required to perform the business activity for which the register is kept.
If you cease to carry out a regulated activity, you must apply to the authority keeping the register to have you removed from the register. If you intend to cease conducting business at all, it is sufficient to de-register in the CEIDG register or apply to be removed from the National Court Register (KRS) (depending on the legal form of your business).