Starting a business in Poland

Registration, taxes and subsidies

The economic development of Poland offers many opportunities for setting up new businesses. Investors can access subsidies and tax allowances, and there are special economic areas (Specjalna Strefa Ekonomiczna) within which development incentives are offered.

However, the worldwide economic recession has also hit Poland. Recent wage and price inflation have led to an increase in labour cost. Moreover, there are branches of the economy that lack highly skilled workers and it can take very long to fill a position.

Business registration in Poland

If you want to start a small business or become self-employed, it is relatively easy to register at the appropriate town or community administrative office.

The first step of the registration process is an application for an entry into the register of trade (wpis do ewidencji gospodarczej). This normally costs about 100 PLN. To register a business, you need to choose one or more categories from the classification of activity. After you receive a written confirmation of a trade registration, you have to go to the National Statistics Agency (Glówny Urzad Statystyczny, GUS) to apply for a REGON number. The REGON is used on a number of other forms so you will be blocked without it. You will then need to register at the ZUS (social insurance) and apply for a tax number (NIP) at the tax office.

You may be able to get a subsidy for setting up your business. You will need to address the department of business development (Wydzial Promocji Gospodarczej). The programmes and subsidies offered change frequently. If you are an EU citizen, you should find out what EU-programmes are available.

Once you have navigated through all of that you will finally be ready to kick off business!

Keep in mind that in general all documents have to be validated through signature and a company stamp.

Business taxes in Poland

Polish corporate and income tax are at 19%, respectively. Value Added Tax (VAT) is 22%. Companies with an annual turnover of less than €10.000 are exempt from VAT payments. Once your company's turnover has been more than €10.000 you have to make a tax declaration and will then have to pay the corresponding tax.

Of course, you are allowed to set your advertising costs and other expenses off against tax liability. It then is important that you keep all invoices for the respective year, since they have to be handed in with the tax declaration.

If you are a member of the EU and act as a sole trader (self-employment), you can make demands on a reduction of the ZUS-contributions (about 300 PLN instead of at least 900 PLN) when founding your first company in Poland.

In general it is a good advice to find a competent accountancy office (biuro rachunkowe) to do your bookkeeping and deal with all of the administration for a fixed monthly price.

Other types of businesses

If you are planning to launch a larger company or want to invest in Poland, you should use the help of an expert consulting company to get advice on the best legal form for the company, the optimization of taxes, etc. The success of your company will be closely linked to these issues. Although Polish company forms might sound familiar, there may be differences from similar structures in your home country. You may be able obtain help and advice from embassies and consulates in addition to chambers of industry and commerce .

Business ethics in Poland

Interpersonal relations are very important when it comes to making business decisions in Poland. They may even be more important than economic results. You should therefore plan to invest much time in getting to know your business partners.

Oral communication is also very important. Written inquiries from your side will usually be ignored by the Polish company and a personal meeting will be offered. This meeting will then show if there will be a cooperation between the companies.

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