Work permits

Working legally in Poland

Since Poland has joined the European Union, its rules and regulations regarding labour mobility are changing as they come into line with EU directives.

Citizens of EU member states and their family members do not need a work permit for Poland. Most non-EU citizens need a work visa and work permit in order work in Poland.

Applying for a work permit

Non-EU citizens are obliged to follow general regulations of working in Poland. In most cases the procedure for employing a foreigner consists of three stages:

  1. Non-EU citizens intending to work in Poland have first to find a Polish employer who will agree to apply for a work permit for them.
  2. The application has to be presented to a Voivod’s Office in the district where the company or institution is located. The Voivod´s Office only issues work permits for foreigners if there are no suitable Polish candidates for the position.
  3. When the promise is issued to an employer, the Voivod’s Office will define the conditions for a foreigner to obtain a work permit. Only after these conditions have been met can a foreigner can obtain the appropriate work permit.

There is also a large group of non EU-citizens who can legally work in Poland without the necessity of having an official permit. These include foreigners who:

  • work on assignments for the foreign mass media as accredited press, radio and TV correspondents, photographers and film makers
  • are artists
  • work less than 30 days during a calendar year as actors, singers, dancers, orchestra conductors, instrumentalists, and mime artists
  • are students of Polish universities working during holidays (not longer than three months a year)
  • are people giving presentations of a particular scientific or artistic value or occasional speeches
  • hold the function of board members living permanently abroad (less than 30 days a calendar year)
  • are clergy
  • are employees sent to Poland for - at most - three months a calendar year to do training, assembly of fair expositions, reception or maintenance of machines and equipment ordered by their companies
  • are soldiers and civil personnel of NATO structures in Poland

As a legal employee working in Poland, your employment is governed by the Polish labour code. You can also obtain income on the basis of civil agreements as defined by the civil code (e.g. assignments, one-off job agreements, or one-off agreements with the transfer of copyrights). But in such a situation you do not have the same rights as an employee, such as leave, holiday or an eight-hour working day. In the case of assignments, like any employee on a permanent work contract, you have the same rights to pensions and health security.

If you work illegally in Poland (for instance you do not have the correct required work permit), you may face severe consequences if caught. Sanctions can include immediate expulsion from Poland at your own (or that of the person who invited you) cost. A decision on an immediate expulsion from the country will automatically make previously issued visas or temporary residence permits void.

Further reading

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