Ready, steady, go! Business activity in Poland

Depending on the form in which the business will be conducted, starting a business in Poland requires meeting various formal conditions. In each case, however, an entry into the relevant register will be necessary. In Poland, business activity may be conducted in the form of sole proprietorship or, if two or more persons wish to conduct business, in the form of a civil partnership or commercial companies.

It should be kept in mind, however, that there are additional requirements introduced for foreigners from outside the European Union – their non-fulfillment may cause that not all of the above mentioned forms will be available for the given person.

If we intend to run a sole proprietorship, the entry in the register is in principle the main requirement. Moreover, conducting business activity in the form of a civil partnership requires the conclusion of the articles of association in writing. Among commercial companies, we can distinguish between partnerships (registered partnership, professional partnership, limited partnership, and limited joint-stock partnership,) or capital companies (limited liability company and joint-stock company). Partnerships are characterized by a lower degree of formalization, however, as a rule, they are not covered by the corporate veil mechanism, and the partners of the partnership are liable for its debts with all their assets (certain limitations of liability are provided for in a limited partnership and a limited joint-stock partnership). Partnerships may be used to conduct business on a smaller scale (in particular a registered partnership and a professional partnership), however, it is relatively often possible to encounter the use of a limited partnership and a limited joint-stock partnership to conduct large business ventures. On the other hand, capital companies (limited liability company and joint stock company) are characterized by the separation of shareholders’ assets from the company’s assets – the corporate veil is present. These companies are responsible for liabilities with their own assets. They are characterized by the highest degree of formalization, and activities related to their creation and functioning very often require the form of a notarial deed. In general, commercial companies can start operating before they are entered in the appropriate register of entrepreneurs.

Foreign entrepreneurs, as already mentioned above, often have to meet additional requirements (e.g. have a residence permit) in order to be able to start their activity in a specific form. However, without meeting additional requirements, they can always start their business in the form of a limited partnership, a limited joint-stock partnership, a limited liability company and a joint stock company. Moreover, instead of establishing a commercial company, foreign entrepreneurs may also operate in Poland through a branch office.

The progressing digitalization makes it possible to carry out a large part of registration activities related to the establishment of a business via the Internet.