This is your full guide to doing business in Poland. Download the guide in a pdf file here or read it below.
Poland is a member of European Union
Poland is a member of several international organisations on the European level. For instance it belongs to the Schengen Zone. It means that your operations within Europe will be much easier once you open your business here. However, pay attention to European regulations when you’re dealing with a Polish partner or a contractor.
Find out more in our guide on how can the European organisations affect your business.
With almost 38 million citizens, Poland is the largest Central European economy. Strong domestic market, fast growing GDP, production and trade, central geographical location with short distance to large neighbouring markets and human capital as the country’s strongest assets – this makes Poland the most preferred country to trade with and invest in the region.
It shares its borders with 7 other countries (moving counter-clockwise: Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia) and the Baltic Sea. Its official name is the Republic of Poland.
The largest city of Poland is its capital – Warsaw, which also serves as the financial and business hub of this part of Europe. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin as well as Silesian conurbation centred around Katowice.
The official language is Polish. The vast majority of the urban population speaks English. Some speak other languages, among which the most popular are German and Russian. However, in most cases, public administration will require usage of the official language or sworn translations of foreign documents.
Poland is a constitutional republic with a president as a head of state. The government is formed of a cabinet led by the prime minister. The legislative body is a parliament, consisting of two chambers: Sejm and Senat.
Although Poland is divided into 16 administrative provinces, it is a unitary state. It means that, except for very specific local regulations, the same legal system applies across the whole country. Income tax, customs, and most business regulations are the same in every province (voivodeship or województwo in Polish).
Poland is a member state of many international organisations, such as the European Union, World Trade Organisation and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and since 1997 is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Poland has a strong domestic market, low private debt, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union. It has its own, free-floating currency, the złoty (PLN 1 ≈ USD 0.24 USD; PLN 1 ≈ EUR 0.22).
The economy is diversified and not dependent on any single export sector.
In 2020, Polish GDP (measured by the purchasing power parity) totalled USD 1.3 trillion, which, according to the World Bank, ranked the country as 19th biggest economy in the world. The rating agency Standard & Poor’s predicts that Polish GDP will expand by 3.6%this year. The European Commission is even more optimistic and estimates the GDP growth rate to be 5.5% in 2022 and 4.2% in 2023, which places Poland among the fastest-growing countries.
In 2020, the country was the 20th largest exporter of goods and services in the world. Its most successful exports include machinery, furniture, food products, clothing, shoes, cosmetics and, more recently, video games. Export accounts for approximately 45% of the total GDP.
According to the OECD, the most important sectors of Poland’s economy in 2020 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (24.9% of GDP), industry (24.2%) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (15.3%).
The most important trade partners of Poland are other EU countries, especially Germany. The largest export partners outside the EU are Great Britain, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
Key economic data
GDP [USD, current prices]
Doing Business Ranking (2020)
World Governance Indicators (2020)
Infrastructure and transportation
Poland is an important transport hub, along with the neighbouring Germany, due to its strategic, central location in Europe.
Seaports are located all along Poland’s Baltic coast. Most freight operations use harbours in Świnoujście, Szczecin, Gdynia and Gdańsk.
Over the past decade Poland has overhauled its road network. The total length of highways in Poland over 4300 km. And the country prepares to invest sizable amounts in a further development of its infrastructure. A road construction programme announced in August 2021 assumes an additional 2,500 km of motorways. There are also plans to spend EUR 3.4 billion on upgrading the railway system.
The transportation and logistics sectors are booming. The consulting firm PwC predicted that the total volume (in tonnage) handled by the Polish road carriers will increase by 22.8% in 2022, compared to 2018. Almost two third of the transport handled by them is international. The Polish road transport sector also proved to be resilient in 2021, when the registrations of new vehicles quickly returned to pre-pandemic level, while logistics sector grew in the area of shipping and courier services.
Human capital is among the country’s strongest assets: academic-level education is prevalent, the percentage of university students is among the highest in the world, while Polish teenagers regularly place in the top 10 of the PISA ranking, the world’s most comprehensive study of 15-year-old students’ scholastic performance in mathematics, science, and reading.
In addition to that, part-time degree courses as well as professional and postgraduate training are relatively inexpensive and accessible. Therefore, long term investments in the development of back offices tailored to your needs can be easier and more cost-effective than in many Western countries.
If you think about importing Polish services rather than goods, it is good to know that Poland also has a well-developed digital infrastructure and office base. Knowledge of English at a professional working proficiency is customary for the office workforce.
Business culture in Poland
The business culture in Poland might be a little different from that of your home market. First of all, Poles prefer to negotiate face to face if possible. They also prefer spoken communication (like phone calls) to emails.
At the beginning of the business relationship, there is usually a degree of formality, possibly higher than in English-speaking countries. However, as Polish culture is deeply rooted in the spirit of familiarity, the air of formality quickly dissipates. Polish business culture is also much less formal than Japanese or German.
A useful insider’s tip is to refer to Polish nationals as Central Europeans rather than Eastern Europeans. While Poland is geographically located in the centre of Europe, and the region it makes part of is frequently referred to as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), it is primarily the historical and cultural affinity of Poland’s inhabitants that makes them prefer one label over the other.
Once you identify your business partner in Poland, you and your Polish counterpart will need to decide which law will regulate your contract. If it is Polish law, then you need to know that most of the documents in Polish require to be signed in original to be valid. The original signature in most cases will mean wet signature or Trusted Electronic Signature.
Although many entrepreneurs and administration officers speak English or other foreign languages, documents for the use by the Polish administration will usually need to be written in Polish or to be bilingual. Some contracts, if regulated by Polish law, will need to be signed at the notary. The main document that regulates the contract law in Poland is Kodeks Cywilny (The Civil Code). If you would like to use some legal advice or services for drafting, checking or signing a contract through an attorney, there are many law firms in Poland that have special departments dedicated to assisting clients from abroad or customers engaged in foreign trade. It will be very easy to find an English-, German-, Spanish- or French-speaking lawyer who works for an international law firm.
You can find all official Polish legal acts on this website (available in Polish).
KYC and compliance checks
Of course, you want to trade only with partners that you can trust. Before signing any deal, you might want to do some compliance checks.
There are two main methods of learning more about a potential Polish contractor:
- Most information is available free of charge from public sources. With basic data of the company you are interested in (name, NIP, REGON, KRS numbers – all of which are public thus a company should provide), you can easily and quickly check the registers available online.
- You can also use services of commercial companies such as business intelligence or consultancies. They offer services of obtaining data on the activity of business entities.
Find out more about available public registers on a dedicated subsite.
An inevitable part of business activity is taxes. A detailed guide on this matter can be found on Government’s website podatki.gov.pl.
In our guide, we will present a general outlook of the Polish taxation system.