The start guide for doing business in Poland

Poland is the 7th largest economy of the European Union and one of our biggest trading partners from Eastern Europe. The Polish market has much to offer for European business owners. In this blog, we give a brief explanation of how to start a business, export to Poland and we also provide an overview of the differences when it comes to doing business.

Setting up a business in Poland

If you wish to start a business in Poland, you can choose from several corporation types. Poland also has special economic zones which have a favourable investment climate.

Forms of enterprise Poland

The following are the most popular legal entities in Poland:

  • Spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością (sp. z o.o.). Limited Liability Company
  • Spólka akcyjna (S.A.). Joint stock company.
  • Spółka komandytowa. Limited partnership.
  • Oddział w Polsce. Branch Office.

To start a company in Poland, we recommend that you work with an agency that can provide you with information on the tax benefits of the various company forms.

Special Economic Zones in Poland

Poland has several special economic zones aimed at stimulating the investment climate. The zones offer several benefits for this purpose such as corporate tax deductions and income tax exemptions. More information on the special economic zones in Poland can be found on the Polish Investment & Trade Agency website.

Export to Poland

If you have a product or service that you think could also be interesting for the Polish market, you can choose to export to Poland. There is free movement of goods and services between the UK and Poland. However, there are a few things to take into account, such as how VAT is set and settled.

VAT for the supply of goods or services to a trader in Poland

If you deliver products to Poland, you charge 0% VAT. There are two conditions for charging 0% VAT. The first condition is that your client must be a company. The client must therefore have a valid VAT identification number. You can check the VAT identification number of companies yourself on this website. The second condition is that the products should leave an EU country and that this can be proved upon inspection.

VAT on supply of goods to private individuals in Poland

When delivering products or services to private consumers in Poland, you charge VAT to the client. A threshold amount of €10,000 applies for the levying of VAT. For amounts up to € 10,000, you may treat the VAT as if your customers were from the UK and pay the VAT to the UK HM Revenue
& Customs office. As soon as an invoice exceeds the EUR 10,000 threshold, you must apply the Polish VAT rate. You also have to pay the VAT to the Polish Income Tax Department.

The easiest way to do this is via the Union Scheme. Under this scheme, you pay the VAT collected from Polish customers to the local tax authorities, which then forward it to the Polish Income Tax Department. The Union Scheme applies to all EU Member States and you can consequently also use this scheme to pay the VAT on your exports to, for example, Germany or France.

Excise tax on the delivery of goods to Poland

Do you export alcohol products, tobacco products or certain energy products to Poland? Excise tax must be paid on these goods. Who is obliged to pay the excise tax depends on several factors. The European Commission offers an excise tax tool that allows you to determine who should pay the excise tax.

Export license for exporting goods to Poland

Despite the free movement of goods between the United Kingdom and Poland, some goods require an export license. This applies to medicines, phytosanitary products and strategic goods. If you want to export such products to Poland, we recommend that you contact the tax authorities.

Invoices for export to Poland

If you export goods or services to Poland, additional Polish rules apply in addition to the invoice requirements.

Polish culture

If you intend to do business in Poland, we recommend that you to take the following cultural differences into account.

  • English is not a common language. In most Polish cities, many people speak English fairly well. Young people in particular are proficient in English. However, not a lot of people are outside of city areas. Take this into consideration and perhaps arrange for an interpreter.
  • Record agreements in writing. To avoid any miscommunication, it is advisable to record agreements in writing, for example, in emails.
  • Be on time for meetings. Being late is not acceptable in Poland.
  • Let the host or hostess take the first bite. At a business dinner or lunch, it is polite to let the host or hostess take the first bite.
  • Be formal (for long enough as reasonably required). Polish society is more formal than other European societies. Therefore, it is not advisable to address your Polish business partner by their first name. Moreover, wearing proper, formal clothing is appreciated. In addition, business cards are usually exchanged after a first meeting.
  • Respect hierarchy. The Polish business world operates hierarchically. Keep in mind that you need to contact the right person if you want to close a deal.

Support for doing business in Poland

If you intend to do business, you are not alone. The following organisations support companies that want to do business with Poland.

  • The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is an alliance of more than 600 organisations and provides, among other things, a database of organisations looking for business partners.
  • The Polish government also provides information and support to foreign companies seeking to establish themselves in Poland. More information on this can be found on the gov.Pl website.

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Useful links

The following web pages provide valuable insight into doing business in Poland.

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