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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/exporting-to-poland/doing-business-in-poland-poland-trade-and-export-guide
1. Poland export overview
Poland has been one of the fastest developing countries in the EU in recent years. In 2017 it was ranked by the World Bank as the 27th easiest country in which to do business.
Contact a Department for International Trade (DIT) Poland export adviser for a free consultation if you’re interested in exporting to Poland.
Poland is located at the crossroads of European trade and transport routes. It can be an entry point to other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries as well as emerging markets further east.
€85.2 billion from EU structural and cohesion funds for the years 2014 to 2020 will be invested in a range of projects in Poland.
The largest UK investors in Poland include Tesco Plc, Rolls Royce, Glaxo SmithKline, AVIVA Plc, BP, Shell Overseas Holdings Ltd, HSBC, BUPA and Unilever.
Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Poland include:
- a huge domestic market with over 38 million consumers
- widespread English language use, particularly amongst younger people
- a strong, dynamic economy
- access to the emerging markets of eastern Europe
- regular flights between the two countries
Strengths of the Polish market include:
- a stable political situation, with EU and NATO membership
- a central location in Europe
- a large domestic market
- a €105.8 billion EU fund allocation between 2014 and 2020
- a highly qualified and competitive labour force
- improving business conditions - Poland is in the top 30 of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index
- increasing transparency - Poland is in the top 30 of Transparency International‘s Corruption Perception Index
- investment incentives in Special Economic Zones (SEZ), business and technology parks
- ready availability of lawyers, accountants and consultants to help foreign businesses
2. Challenges of doing business in Poland
Doing business in Poland is very similar to doing business in the UK. If your product or service is successful in the UK, there is a good chance you will be successful in Poland.
However, there are challenges. These include:
- complexity of fiscal regulations
- a highly competitive market with many global and local players
- a tough public procurement environment
- a slow judicial system
- a relatively low gross domestic product (GDP) per capita
You should ensure you take the necessary steps to comply with the requirements of the UK Bribery Act.
3. Growth potential
3.1 Economic growth
Poland has a healthy economy, with the World Bank predicting GDP growth to be around 3% for the period 2017 to 2019.
Growth is expected as a result of:
- increased exports
- improved economic outlook in the eurozone
- growing demand from emerging markets
- domestic consumption
3.2 EU funds
The EU has allocated €85.2 billion to Poland through the structural and cohesion fund programme. This will help maintain Poland as a market offering growth, stability and good prospects for UK business. The EU funds will contribute to investment in Polish:
- environmental and technology projects
- human development
- regional development
3.3 Emerging Europe
The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region offers considerable potential to British business. Economic forecasts for CEE are very positive, with GDP expected to grow over the next few years. Poland can act as a gateway into the other CEE markets.
The CEE region:
- is easily accessible from the UK
- offers a market of over 100 million consumers
- has widespread use of English as the business language
- is making major investments in energy, transport and other infrastructure as a result of billions in EU funding
- is an entry point into eastern Europe
3.4 Trade agreements
Poland is also a member of the Schengen area.
Contact the SOLVIT team if you have market access issues relating to the operation of the Single Market.
4. Top goods and services imports into Poland
UN comtrade ranked Poland’s top imports of goods in 2016 as:
- electrical and electronic equipment
- boilers and other machinery
- mineral fuels, oils, distillation products
- plastics and plastic products
- mineral fuels, oils and distillation products
- iron and steel articles
- ships and boats
- rubber and rubber articles
- meat and offal
The top imports of services in 2015 were:
- business services, such as consultancy, technical services and research and development (R&D)
- royalties and licence fees
- construction services
- insurance services
The UK and Poland enjoy a growing trading relationship, which was valued at £15 billion in 2016. Poland was the 20th largest export market for United Kingdom, with 1.4% of United Kingdom exports. UK exports to Poland have doubled over the past 10 years, to £5.6 billion in 2015, according to the Office of National Statistics.
5. Opportunities for UK businesses in Poland
Department for International Trade (DIT) provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. Search for export opportunities.
UK companies bidding for Polish tenders are usually required to submit certain certificates along with their tender bid. These certificates do not exist in the UK, but there are equivalent UK documents or substitutes that are acceptable.
Poland has announced plans to build 2 new 3 gigawatt (GW) nuclear plants. The first plant is scheduled to open in 2024, at an estimated cost of £7 to £11 billion. Delivery is being managed by the state-owned company, PGE S.A.
There are opportunities for:
- regulatory capacity building
- research and development (R&D) transfer
- supply of all elements of the fuel cycle
- consultancy and project management
Contact Director of Department for International Trade (DIT) Poland Energy Unit email@example.com for more information on opportunities in the energy sector.
The Polish government has made upgrading the rail network a national priority. This is to align the country with the rest of Europe’s advanced trans-European rail network. There is expected to be billions of pounds worth of investment in Polish railways between now and 2030.
There are opportunities for:
- planning and development
- development of technical standards and regulation
- supply of rail technologies
- supply of rolling stock, including subcomponents
- operational maintenance
- project and commercial management
Contact Department for International Trade (DIT) Poland Key Account Manager for Infrastructure firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on opportunities in the railways sector.
Public security and crime reduction is of major importance to the Polish government. New security strategies and programmes are already in place or are being created in Poland. These include:
- a new national security strategy
- a national critical infrastructure protection programme
- digital Poland 2014 to 2020 programme
Cyber security is regarded one of the most important issues due to:
- rapid development of mobile internet and e-services
- insufficient cyberspace protection
Polish businesses are looking for solutions to secure access to critical data in the areas of cloud computing and mobile devices.
One of the best business areas for UK companies is sophisticated electronic security equipment as there is little domestic production of this.
There are opportunities for:
- CCTV monitoring systems for cities, transport systems and intelligent buildings
- access control solutions
- cutting edge solutions for homeland security services, including surveillance, security and communications equipment
- Information Technology (IT) security solutions for public administration, businesses and individuals
- cyber security solutions including those for critical infrastructure areas
Contact Director – Department for International Trade (DIT) Poland Key Account Manager for Security email@example.com for more information on opportunities in the security sector.
The Polish government has adopted a modernisation plan for the Polish armed forces for the period to 2022. The major opportunities for UK companies are within 14 operational programmes, and focus mainly on air force, naval upgrade and land carriers.
- planned tender for 30 plus combat helicopters (Raven programme)
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and related equipment
- new submarines, Offshore Patrol Vehicles (OPVs) and Coastal Defence Vehicles (CDVs )
- heavy armour programme which includes tanks and wheeled armour vehicles
- supply chain for anti-missile shield programme
- electronic command support systems and battlefield management systems
- logistics equipment
- R&D initiatives in training and simulations
- modern individual soldier equipment such as uniform, helmets and IT
- supply chain for aircrafts, helicopters
- R&D and technology transfer
Contact Export Control Organisation (ECO) to check your goods you are meeting legal requirements for export.
Contact Key Account Manager – Defence and Aerospace firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on opportunities in the defence sector.
5.5 Financial and business services
Poland has developed a well-regulated, stable financial market, overseen by the National Bank of Poland (NBP) and the Financial Supervision Commission (KNF). Many of the banks in Poland are owned by foreign parent companies.
IT expenditure in financial services sector has grown considerably in the CEE region.
There are opportunities in:
- fintech, specifically digital banking, big data, mobile payments and cybersecurity
- legal and financial consultancy as public private partnership (PPP) / EU funds hybrid projects are used more widely
- private health insurance with less than 800,000 Poles currently paying for private healthcare policies
Contact Key Account Managers – Financial and Business Services email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on opportunities in the financial and business services sector.
Poland’s retail sector market is highly competitive, but there is huge potential for new UK entrants. Poland has the largest retail market in the CEE region. It has:
- a growing middle class
- increasingly sophisticated consumers looking for new, high quality products
- opening stores in new and existing shopping malls
- online retail
- the potential for growth in mobile commerce
- innovative solutions such as mobile payments solutions for retail
- warehousing, especially for e-commerce
- premium UK food products
Use DIT’s selling online overseas service to get exclusive deals for your business, negotiated by the UK government.
Find out how DIT’s E-Exporting programme can help you export your products to Poland.
Contact Key Account Manager email@example.com for more information on opportunities in the retail sector.
The private healthcare sector is continually expanding. In particular, high annual growth rates are expected for:
- over the counter (OTC) products and food supplements
- image diagnostics
- in vitro diagnostics
There are also opportunities for:
- specialised medical equipment, particularly for hospitals
- telemedicine solutions and diagnostic equipment
- e-health as part of a new Digital Poland 2014 to 2020 Programme
- clinical trials
- building new or buying existing private centres
- small public private partnership (PPP) projects
Contact Key Account Manager – Healthcare and Life Sciences firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on opportunities in the healthcare sector.
6. Start-up considerations
The main routes to market include:
- direct sales
- joint venture
- agent or commission agent
Direct sales into the Polish market can be difficult. It is often more effective to approach the market through local business partners with the ability to distribute and provide technical support.
Licensing and franchising are increasingly popular.
Invest in Poland provides information on setting up a company or a branch office in Poland.
7. Legal considerations
Polish legislation, although harmonised with EU requirements is complex.
Contact the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Poland to help find tax and legal advisers before entering into agreements.
7.1 Standards and technical regulations
Products and packaging should meet EU standards.
Local product law may vary. The Polish Norms Committee is responsible for issuing standards and certification.
Labels should be in Polish.
7.2 Intellectual property (IP)
Trademarks, designs, patents and copyright are the principal forms of IP protection available to companies and individuals.
IP law, especially for patent protection, is not totally harmonised within the EU.
Poland is a member of the main international conventions protecting intellectual property.
The Polish Patent Office has responsibility for intellectual property.
8. Tax and customs considerations
Poland has a double taxation agreement with the UK. Poland also has an investment promotion and protection (IPPA) treaty with the UK.
8.1 Value Added Tax (VAT)
The basic VAT rate is 23%, which is applied to the majority of goods and services.
VAT at 8% is applied to certain goods and services such as fire protection, specific groceries, hotel services, social housing programme modernisation.
5% VAT applies to supply certain (basic) food products.
Check with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regarding VAT refund of business expenses incurred in Poland.
8.2 Company tax
Corporate income tax is 19%.
Find more information about corporate taxation on the Invest in Poland website.
8.3 Income tax
Income tax is in 2 bands at 18% and 32%.
Find more information on income tax on the Invest in Poland website.
The internal market of the European Union is a single market which allows the free movement of goods and services. Therefore, no import duties apply.
9. Entry requirements
You don’t require a visa to travel or work in Poland, but passports must have 6 months remaining.
9.1 Travel advice
If you are travelling to Poland for business, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice page before you travel.
Contact the DIT team in Poland for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Poland.