Registration and conducting business activity by foreigners in Poland

In Poland, after fulfilling the statutory requirements, foreigners can register and conduct business activities along the same principles as Polish citizens.  Specific provisions are included in the Act on freedom of economic activity (hereinafter SDG).

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The law on freedom of economic activity distinguishes the following groups of foreigners:

  • EU, EEA

Foreigners from Member States of the European Union, from member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) — parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), and foreign persons from countries which are not party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, who are entitled to freedom of economic activity under agreements between those States and the European Union and its Member States, can undertake and conduct business activity on the same terms as Polish citizens ( Article 13(1)).

Currently the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) includes only four countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (which are not EU Member States).  In practice, Article 13(1) sdg refers to the countries listed below:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, United Kingdom, Italy.

  • nationals from other countries

To foreigners who come from countries other than those mentioned above, Article 13(2) to (2a) shall apply and paragraphs 4 to 5 of the SDG.  These provisions contain a catalogue of conditions which, in regulating the status and residence permit shall entitle a foreign national to pursue activities in Poland.  Foreigner who has proven one of the rights from those listed below, is authorised to pursue an economic activity in the territory of Poland on the same rules as Polish citizens:

  • a permanent residence permit,
  • residence permit to long-term residents of the European Union,
  • temporary residence permit, granted in connection with the circumstance referred to in Article 144 or Article 159(1), except in the circumstances referred to in paragraph 1, point 1 (a) to (d), Article 186(1), point 3 and 4 of the Act on foreigners,
  • temporary residence permit granted on arrival to Polish territory or to a person staying on the territory for purpose of a family reunification, within the meaning of Article 159(3) and 4 of the Act on Foreigners, of persons referred to in points (a), (b), (e), and (f) of the Act on Foreigners,
  • refugee status,
  • subsidiary protection,
  • consent for a  stay for humanitarian reasons or consent for a tolerated stay
  • temporary residence permit and remain in matrimony, concluded with a Polish citizen residing in the territory of the Republic of Poland,
  • temporary residence permit in order to carry out an economic activity, granted because of the continuation of existing business on the basis of an entry in the CEIDG,
  • Enjoy temporary protection in Poland,
  • They are in possession of a valid Polish Citizen Card (Karta Polaka),
  • They are members of the same family, within the meaning of Article 2, point 4, of the Act of  on the Entry in the Territory of the Republic of Poland, Stay and Departure From This Territory of Citizens of Member States of the European Union and Members of Their Families), joining nationals of the States referred to in paragraph 1, or residing with them.

However, foreigners to whom the above does not apply because of the status of other than those mentioned, e.g. holding a visa entitling them to reside in Polish territory, have the right to take up and pursue an economic activity only in the form of:

  • Limited partnership,
  • Limited joint-stock partnership,
  • Limited liability company,
  • Joint-stock company,

Importantly, foreigners shall not be required to have the right of residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland.

Foreigners can join above mentioned partnerships and they can acquire their stocks and shares.  Article 13(3) sdg. contains an exception to that rule, unless international agreements contain specific provisions in this respect (in connection with the contract concluded, these provisions concern US citizens)

Regulations concerning family members (foreign persons and foreign nationals)

  • family members of foreign persons, which include those international agreements and may take up business activities in the form of a limited partnership, limited joint-stock partnership, limited liability company, and joint-stock company, authorised  for temporary residence, may undertake and conduct economic activity on the same terms as those foreign persons,
  • family members holding a temporary residence permit, granted in connection with arriving on Polish territory or staying on the territory to be reunited with family, may undertake and conduct economic activity on the same terms as these foreigners who hold a temporary residence permit and carry out business activity on the basis of an entry in the business activity register made on the basis of reciprocity.

The application for entry in the CEIDG

A foreigner becomes an entrepreneur in the same way as a Polish citizen, by entering (by post or online, via the electronic form) in the Central Registration and Information on Business. Users who wish to apply for registration online, without the qualified certificate for electronic signature NIP or PESEL number are required to confirm they established the account in the CEIDG website in the city/municipality office. If entrepreneur does not have a PESEL number, they need to show to authorised employee of  the municipality office a  passport or other document confirming the applicant's identity and nationality. If you want to know more on how to register as a sole trader, read the article Submitting an application for entry.

Registration in the National Court Register

A foreigner  has the possibility of registering  limited liability company and limited partnership using standard online contract through portal of the Ministry of Justice as well as through traditional means. The system can be used by both Polish nationals and foreigners after logging in. Only the registered person may login to the eMS system.

Registration of limited joint-stock partnerships and  joint-stock companies is only possible through traditional means.

Note! Since June 2017, in the entry in the National Court Register (KRS) or an amendment of entry covering the acquisition or subscription of shares or of all the rights and obligations, and in case of submitting to the file registered documents containing information about the amendment of parntners, the applicant shall declare whether he is a foreign national within the meaning of the Act on real estate acquisition by foreigners.  If the applicant holds the status of foreigner, he includes in the application for entry in the National Court Register a statement whether he is an owner or a perpetual usufructuary of property located in Poland.

You want to register a business or a branch in the National Court Register.  Read the article Registration of business activity or a branch.

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