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Your experience as a foreigner running a small business in Poland


al111 13 | 89
28 Sep 2010  #1
I'm just curious, but i know there are many of you on here running small businesses in the country. My mate went through hell just getting his registered, he'd moved down here because of the favourable conditions. He came coz the government had said they were looking for foreign investors and mainly to Small and Medium Enterprises. He thought coming here was going to be as easy as they'd said it would be.He detailed me what he went through and most of it i have since heard and experienced considering i have been here for quite sometime now.

My question to you all who are running small businesses as foreigners, for the benefit of those wishing to emulate you how difficult is it really to register and run your own company in this company? Your experiences will be greatly appreciated.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
28 Sep 2010  #2
Absolutely painless from my point of view. Registering was a breeze - two visits to the Urząd Miasta, one visit to the tax office and the job was done. The ZUS side of things was handled by my accountant.

My mate went through hell just getting his registered, he'd moved down here because of the favourable conditions.

I'm not surprised. If you don't do your homework first, instead relying on what PR spokesmen might say - then Poland is always going to be a troublesome experience. In my experience, most problems are caused by two simple things - not reading and not asking. At least in Poznan, absolutely everything is listed - and if you give them what they want, no matter how stupid or idiotic it may be (from a foreign point of view) - then you get what you want.

My question to you all who are running small businesses as foreigners, for the benefit of those wishing to emulate you how difficult is it really to register and run your own company in this company?

It really isn't difficult at all. But you need to read about the subject first - the people who have problems are often the ones who have a vague idea of how it works, but they don't actually know what they're doing. I saw quite a lot of people registering a business who were doing just that - when I registered, I had the forms filled out in advance, I knew what my business was doing (in regards to PKD codes) and I had all the possible relevant paperwork with me, and copied twice - just in case. Being prepared makes a big difference.

For instance - legally, you should have a zameldowanie and a residence permit (or visa) if you're in Poland for more than 4 days. To start a business, you don't technically need these documents - but if you have them, it makes life much easier. It's just one little thing, but someone who complies with the law in other respects will find it much easier to deal with.

Another example : you should always have a good, competent accountant. If you try to do it yourself, it's just going to cause endless tears and trouble as a foreigner, especially if you can't read the language to a high standard. I've heard so many stories of people having problems - but almost universally, it was because they didn't have the right people doing the right things in place.

I would say that for anyone wishing to have a successful business in Poland, you need to live here for at least a year to become acclimatised to the environment first.
alexw68
28 Sep 2010  #3
100% true, and in many cases will solve most of the issues. BUT Poznań is way better than most places for this kind of thing as they're now used to it. Go to any smaller city and it's still highly probable that the urzędnicy have rather less than a clue.
Moonlighting 30 | 232
28 Sep 2010  #4
In my case, registration was quick and easy and the same goes for all other things like opening a bank account, registering for social security and tax office.

Beware though of who you call in as a legal advisor and accountant. Poland, like all poor countries, are full of people who will claim they can do everything for you just to make you one of their customers, although they don't have the required level of expertise or simply no clue of what you expect from that kind of professional relationship.
poland_
28 Sep 2010  #5
I would say that for anyone wishing to have a successful business in Poland, you need to live here for at least a year to become acclimatised to the environment first.

Very strong point. If you can somehow get involved in the sector you are going to invest your hard earned cash into, that would also be a very big plus.

Do not be afraid to seek out a business partner outside of your family.
SeanBM 35 | 5,809
28 Sep 2010  #6
how difficult is it really to register and run your own company in this company?

Easy enough.

I knew what my business was doing (in regards to PKD codes)

It's a funny thing because if you tick box of what your business is doing it costs nothing but if you want to change it in future you have to pay for the courts to change it.

And sure who knows what the future holds, so I went through the list ticking possibilities.
Ajb 6 | 232
28 Sep 2010  #7
how difficult is it really to register and run your own company in this company

I agree with the above, very easy, in fact all offices involves were very helpful and even gave advice..... something I'm not so used to in PL :)

I even sorted my own ZUZ (I say I, but i mean my Polish missis) Although now my accountant sorts everything for me, great guy and worth the 90zl a month!

It's a funny thing because if you tick box of what your business is doing it costs nothing but if you want to change it in future you have to pay for the courts to change it.

I have this problem... i need to add a new code, but I'm heading out and seeing the cost tomorrow, hopefully its not expensive!
OP al111 13 | 89
29 Sep 2010  #8
Thank you all for your contributions and for shedding a bit of light on this topic i hope this will be of benefit to all those hoping to run their businesses in Poland.
thorgallpl - | 2
29 Sep 2010  #9
Well, Poland is relatively poor if we compare it with the likes of UK or Norway. But hey, everywhere you go there are people who are incompetent and try to sell you things which are of poor quality. Poland is no exception.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
29 Sep 2010  #10
And sure who knows what the future holds, so I went through the list ticking possibilities.

Yep, I added all sorts of useless things - I even registered "fake jewellery production" just in case :P
Wroclaw Boy
29 Sep 2010  #11
you need to live here for at least a year to become acclimatised to the environment first.

yes indeedy.

Do not be afraid to seek out a business partner outside of your family.

You taking the p1ss? they'll shaft you left, right and center given half a chance. By all means have assistance but keep them on a very short leash.
Seanus 15 | 19,715
29 Sep 2010  #12
WB is right on the second point. Some companies are just short term and unsustainable concerns. I wouldn't roll with an unknown element at all.
Alexander_K 2 | 4
2 Oct 2010  #13
Another example : you should always have a good, competent accountant.

Can you please advise what will be the costs of such accountant on per month basis? I mean that of course I would not hire him/her permanently and there will not be too much job - something like "subscription" with an accounting firm or an independent accountant?
Ajb 6 | 232
2 Oct 2010  #14
if you want to change it in future you have to pay for the courts to change it

I went and added 4 new PKD codes and a grand total of nothing! They even send the amended zaświadczenie in the post, as i don't have time to pick it up next week!

Can you please advise what will be the costs of such accountant on per month basis?

I pay 90zl a month, he sorts out my business expenses, income tax and files what ever paperwork is needed.
Most importantly he speaks English!

Although one guy wanted 250zl a month!
Kazikowski 17 | 101
15 Jun 2011  #15
I would say that for anyone wishing to have a successful business in Poland, you need to live here for at least a year to become acclimatised to the environment first.

Resurrecting an old topic...

Is my quoted sentence for real? For those who have businesses, would u strongly recommend learning the ropes of the country first, and only then go into business? If there is no reasonable work or employment to be had, then the only option is to create work by creating a business, regardless of whether one is familiar to the country.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
15 Jun 2011  #16
For those who have businesses, would u strongly recommend learning the ropes of the country first, and only then go into business?

Strongly so. Poland is a very specific place - and if you don't know how people are thinking, they'll take advantage of you. A good example - people will simply often refuse to pay, or lie outright about why they haven't paid. They'll also convince you that you don't actually need a contract - or often refuse to sign one.

If there is no reasonable work or employment to be had, then the only option is to create work by creating a business, regardless of whether one is familiar to the country.

And that will almost certainly result in ruin. Poland isn't a place for those who need a safety net - if you get into a financial mess, they'll come for you quickly. With the lack of options, you can easily find yourself in a financial mess with no means to get out of it.
alexw68
15 Jun 2011  #17
If there is no reasonable work or employment to be had, then the only option is to create work by creating a business, regardless of whether one is familiar to the country.

That's just naive - unless you have a local partner whom you can trust (that's not a reflection on Poles; it is a reflection on how careful you have to be with any partnership, even in a family business) with the accounting, tax law, other red tape you're sunk without some understanding of how things work. That doesn't even have to mean speaking Polish if the above institutions - or intermediaries - can provide you with English-language services. Delph, I assume your accountant is English-speaking, right?

Without a background, how are you going to do any market research? Advertise, promote effectively? (Unless you're thinking of eg IT outsourcing where your market's not local anyway). Come on man, it's a jungle out there, you need every advantage you can get. Next to no local knowledge is anything but.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
15 Jun 2011  #18
I'd actually say that family members can be terrible in Poland - I heard about one guy who trusted his wife's father with some building investments. Unsurprisingly, her father made a complete mess of it - he had no experience in this sort of thing, nor with that sort of money.

I'd say that it takes a year just to learn who you can trust and who you can't - especially as in Poland, a nice image is no guarantee of quality. I know of several useless accountants who speak English and charge fairly high prices for basic work - yet mine, who has a small office in the middle of the osiedle, is fantastic. Looking at the place, you'd never consider it to be of high quality - but the service is second to none. She also practices a very 'safety-first' attitude with taxes - never deducting anything questionable without checking it out first.

Delph, I assume your accountant is English-speaking, right?

Actually, no - but my wife uses the same accountant for her business, so there's no real need for me to have an English speaking one for mine. But if I was to do anything more complicated than English teaching, I'd be looking for someone who really knew what they were talking about.

Without a background, how are you going to do any market research? Advertise, promote effectively? (Unless you're thinking of eg IT outsourcing where your market's not local anyway).

I'd say that without a local background, it's almost certain that the locals will take advantage. Even little things such as accountancy fees - I know someone who was paying nearly 2000zl a month for something that should have cost about 500zl a month!
teflcat 5 | 1,032
15 Jun 2011  #19
I pay 130PLN per month for my accountancy. It didn't cost me anything when I added to my profile. Be sure you can cover ZUS payments, which you have to find whether you have a good month or a bad one. When starting up you might go several months on a low income, so be sure to have a cash cushion till you get things moving profitably. The admin is very simple for small firms.
Hellboy15 1 | 11
16 Aug 2015  #20
Merged: Starting a business by British person in Poland

Any Brit or one had experience of starting a new business in Poland.
2014\15.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
16 Aug 2015  #21
Sure, it's a piece of cake these days. What do you want to know?
Hellboy15 1 | 11
17 Aug 2015  #22
I need to know its a piece of cake. So thanks for that. Does Poland encourage SME's or drown them with bureaucracy? I've got a few strings to my bow and could get a job but may have been self employed too long to be employable . Is it as simple as getting an accountant registering a company name opening a bank account and getting the hell on with it or is there more to it.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
17 Aug 2015  #23
Is it as simple as getting an accountant registering a company name opening a bank account and getting the hell on with it or is there more to it.

It's as simple as that. You should also get a company stamp made (can be done in 15 minutes easily from a multitude of shops), but basically, you want to do something like this.

- Find a good accountant (this will take time - feel free to ask about what a good price is and so on. If you have access to a Polish speaker, do NOT take an English speaking accountant, as they're 99% useless.)

- Go register the company (takes about 10 minutes)
- Open a bank account (piece of cake)
- Go back to the accountant and he/she should sort out ZUS for you.

You have to pay a fraction over 400zl a month in compulsory social insurance contributions in the first two years, then almost 1100zl in compulsory contributions from then on.

Apart from that, you're mostly free to get on with it. Tax is paid either monthly or quarterly.
Roger5 1 | 1,463
17 Aug 2015  #24
My wife and I both have small business. Our accountacy charges rose to 145PLN/month each before my wife decided to do it herself. She has found it so easy that we regret not doing it years ago. The tax office were very helpful. The guy there told us that we could submit our returns in biro on the back of an envelope; all they were interested in was an honest figure and regular payment.
Hellboy15 1 | 11
17 Aug 2015  #25
Thanks Roger and delphin very encouraging.cheers.
Buggsy 8 | 98
17 Aug 2015  #26
All sounds easy coz most people have small businesses providing a service. The key word here is "service". It becomes more difficult when you have a product to sell,employees to be paid and rentals to be paid.Would love to hear from people who have actual "physical companies" rather than working from home or small office offering services.
smurf 39 | 1,982
17 Aug 2015  #27
very encouraging

Exactly as Delph says, it's pretty easy to set up a company now.

the only slow part of the process is Zus, I think it takes between 6-8 weeks for them to sort out your health/social insurance, so if you're going to be living here during that time it would be a good idea to have some travel insurance, otherwise, if anything happens, you might be refused entry to a hospital.

Like Roger says, the tax system is pretty straight forward and if you're selling a service it's easy to do your own accounting. It depends on what you do. My tax is a nightmare because I sell stuff though sites based all over the world so I'm paying tax in different territories, getting some of it credited back, or I don't pay tax in those territories and have to pay it here. It's a head melter but finally got an accountant that agreed to do it.

Oh, opening a bank account while easy, take about 2 hours. F!ck knows why.....only logical thing I could come up with is that Polish banks love a paper trail.

You'll need your passport and your residence card to open an account and some proof of address of where you're from.
Hellboy15 1 | 11
17 Aug 2015  #28
My bag is education not just English but I want to get into eco tourism in the gdansk tri city area..maybe link in with educational projects too. What worries me is the language barrier which obviously can be broken down in time but I can't sit on my backside not earning while that's done.

I appreciate warnings of English speaking accountants but just how far will Google translate get you? ...
mafketis 19 | 6,898
17 Aug 2015  #29
how far will Google translate get you? ...

Straight into jail?

Google translate is great for some simple things but nothing very complex or that you need to be really sure of (like anything to do with anything legal).
eh?
17 Aug 2015  #30
tax kicks in from after six hundred pounds a year, they might improve on this in due course

also different rates of tax mean that what you can claim back varies (linia, flat rate, blah blah)

zus is costly and kicks in whether u earn a shilling or not every month that u r open for business even if it's 1 day a month u pay the full whack on type 1 & prorata on type 2 zus, so about 300 zl even if open 1 day each month, more if open or active longer than the 1 day each month

tax office help depends where u r, don't expect them to speak English

zus goes up and down throughout the year, they publish a table and people are expected to know what to pay and pay it by a due date each month or interest is charged at the very least, perhaps court eventually

it is much more difficult than the uk system, an accountant is necessary for most people, budget 200-500 a month for him or her at least

if in Poland most of the time, the tax office will want all your uk interest to be taxed if your income is over the Poland threshold (about six hundred quid yearly) including premium bond wins and similar

cost of living has crept up, no easy lifestyles, definite business plan w/ realistic profit projection homework done needed before taking plunge


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