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The consumer

Consumer Profile
Poland has a population of 37.83 million, of which 51.5% are women (World Bank, 2019). In terms of age structure, 15.2% of the population is between 0 and 14 years old, 66.7% between 15 and 64 and 18.1% are 65 or older; with the median age being 41.7 years. With 1.46 children per woman, Poland is average for European countries. Life expectancy at birth is 77.6 years according to UN statistics. Poland’s population is declining as many people move abroad. By 2030, Poland could see its population shrink by 1 to 2 million. The proportion of the rural population is expected to decline at a faster rate than the urban population. 60.2 % of the population is urban. In Poland, the average dwelling comprises 1.1 rooms per person, compared to the OECD average of 1.8 rooms per person. In Poland, 92% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%, and among the highest rates in the OECD. This is equally true for women and men, as 92% have successfully completed high-school. Poland is one of the best performing countries in terms of the quality of its education system. In terms of employment, In Poland, 66% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job. This figure is lower than the OECD employment average of 68%. In Poland, the gender pay gap stands at 7.7 % (the average gender pay gap in the EU is 16.3 %).

Consumer behaviour depends on the level of income, which is generally lower in rural areas. However, the last decade has seen the growth of a middle class, whose income levels are in line with the average European wage. Rising levels of disposable income have triggered an increase in consumer spending, a trend that is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.

Although the majority of the country’s workforce is employed in the service sector, the other dominant occupations in the country are the financial sector, chemical manufacturing, logistics and the IT / telecommunications sector.
Purchasing Power
Poland’s GDP per capita at purchasing power parity was US$ 34,217 according to World Bank data. Over the past decade, a coherent middle class has developed, whose income levels correspond to the average European wage. Although, Polish people earn USD 27 046 per year on average, much less than the OECD average of USD 43 241.  In Poland, the average household net adjusted disposable income per capita is 19 814 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 33 604. The Gini index, which measures levels of inequality in the country, rose to 29.7, according to the latest World Bank data. In terms of the 2020 Gender Equality index, Poland scored 55.8 out of 100. Poland ranks 24th in the EU on the Gender Equality Index. Poland’s score is 12.1 points below the EU’s score.
Consumer Behaviour
The majority of Polish consumers tend to take into account various factors when making purchase-related decisions (quality, price, origin), but remain loyal to a brand once they perceive it as reliable and trustworthy. For the middle and upper classes, quality and brand are increasingly important, as is the overall level of service during and after purchase; they are willing to pay more for products offering better quality and more benefits. Although there are many shopping malls and super / hypermarkets, the Polish consumer likes to shop in different shops and markets, and small or medium sized local stores. Sales and discounts are very popular. Polish consumers generally prefer products made in Poland, but this attitude is changing thanks to the rise of e-commerce and Marketplace.  Although advertising campaigns are important, most publicity is through word of mouth. Poles are used to shopping every day of the week, at any time of the day or night. Polish consumers are particularly tempted by testing new products especially if they have been advertised on television or radio. In general, promotions, including competitions and couponing work very well in Poland.

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19, the prevailing sentiment among Polish consumers is similar to those in other European countries, with uncertainty about health and the economy as the biggest concerns, according to Mckinsey. The majority of Poles are being careful about expenditures, and spending expectations have declined across categories. Consumers are shifting to online shopping for household essentials.

The organic food sector is becoming increasingly important, with Poles improving their lifestyles and taking more care of their health and well-being. For example, Poles are moving away from packaged and processed products in favour of fresh fruit and vegetables. Collaborative platforms, such as Uber, Mytaxi and AirBnB are very popular in big cities such as Krakow and Warsaw.
Consumer Recourse to Credit
The use of credit is quite developed (there is a lot of advertising by institutions offering credit) and the level of savings is low. Polish consumers use credit not only for investment goods, but also for everyday consumer goods and leisure activities. There is a downward trend in the average value of loans, due in part to an increase in the average number of consumer credit loans in Poland. According to the Credit Information Office (BIK), Poles took out roughly 9 million loans totalling EUR 32 billion, an increase of 5.5% on the previous year. Mortgage lending recorded the highest growth in value at 11.1% compared to 2016. The value of overdraft limits increased by 6.4% and the value of consumer credit by 3.5%.

Credit cards experienced a low growth rate of (0.8%). At the same time, in December 2017, BIK announced that the value of money borrowed by consumers in the form of credit cards had decreased by 9% compared to the year before.
Growing Sectors

Construction (houses / apartments) furnishings / decoration (building related), IT, hygiene-beauty-cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, private medicine, education, consumer products, travel and tourism, banking and insurance.

Consumers Associations
Competition Authority and Consumer Protection Bureau
Association of Polish Consumers
 

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Importing & Distributing

Import Procedures
The official model for written declarations to customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The SAD serves as the EU importer's declaration.  It encompasses both customs duties and VAT and is valid in all EU Member States.

As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls- the "Import Control System" (ICS)- which aim to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Programme eCustoms, has been in effect since 1 January 2011. Since then, operators are required to fill out an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

Non-agricultural goods entering EU territory must adhere to customs formalities (ENS). This declaration must be carried out by the person bringing the goods to the territory. The Summary Declaration can be made electronically or on a form provided by the customs authorities. The deadline for lodging the ENS depends on the mode of transport carrying the goods.

Since July 1, 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an EORI number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration. Once a company has received an EORI number, it can use it for exports to any of the 28 EU Member States.

Goods in transit only need a single EU transit document.

Inward processing is free of customs treatment. This procedure allows raw material (non-Union good) to enter temporarily without customs fees if it will be processed (or repaired) and re-export the finished products out of the EU territory. In this case, the importer gives a guarantee (from an insurance company or bank) equal to the amount of customs duties that would have been due on the imported raw material. This guarantee will be reimbursed when the final product is exported. This process also applies to goods planned to be re-exported. Only goods sold in the EU market are eligible to import duty and taxes.

For outward processing, duties and taxes apply only to the value added during the process. Only firms located in Poland or in the EU may take advantage of this measure.

The EU plans to introduce a new import control system called ICS2 that will start on 15 March 2021 to implement the EU customs pre-arrival security and safety programme.

Check the website of the EU Customs Union periodically for updates. For more information, please visit the Polish Customs website.
Specific Import Procedures

The Union Custom Code - adopted on 9 October 2013 as Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 - Title V provides for the following customs simplifications:

  • Simplified declaration (Article 166 UCC)
  • Centralised clearance (Article 179 UCC)
  • Entry in the declarant's records (Article 182 UCC). This type of customs declaration is not allowed for all customs procedures (e.g. exclusion of transit).
  • Drawing-up of customs declarations for goods falling under different tariff subheadings ( Article 177 UCC)
  • Self-assessment (Article 185 UCC)
Distribution channels
According to PMR’s estimates, the value of the grocery retail market in Poland in 2018 reached over PLN 279bn. In 2019, market value will grow by over 4%. It estimated to reach PLN 290.3 billion in 2019.

Grocery retail market in Poland is highly saturated, the combined market share of the 20 largest grocery retailers is nearly 75%. Disposable incomes and spending in the country are picking up, backed by rising employment, growing wages and a new social program, Family 500 Plus, which is aimed at families with children. Consumers pay more attention to the convenience of shopping (store location, suitable sales area, a wide offer, but without having to walk long distances while shopping), the availability of fresh food such as meat, fruit and vegetables, as well as attractive promotions. Polish consumers increasingly appreciate the convenience of shopping in mid-sized commercial establishments such as discounters, convenience stores and supermarkets. In line with this trend, some brands have been shifting away from large to smaller store formats. Independent small shops are very common in Poland, although they face growing competition from supermarkets, which are opening in smaller cities and towns. Finally, discount retailers focused more on improving the quality of the product range and interior design. However, in Polish consumers' minds, discounters continue to be positioned as the cheapest sales channel.
Distribution market players
The sector is dominated by multinational retail hypermarkets incl. Tesco (UK), Auchan (France), Carrefour (France), Leclerc (France) and discounters Lidl (Germany) and Biedronka (Portugal). Leading neighborhood stores include chains such as: Leviatan, Spolem and Carrefour Express.
Jeronimo Martins Polska is the outstanding leader in grocery retailers, with USD 14,8 billion in revenue and nearly 3000 stores. Then there is Schwarz- Gruppe (Lidl and Kaufland) with only USD 7,5 billion in turnover and 730 stores.
Retail Sector Organisations
Polska Organizacja Handlu i Dystrybucji (Association of employers in big distribution companies)
Polska Rada Centrow Handlowych (Polish Council for Shopping Centers)

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Operating a Business

Type of companies

The Spolka akcyjna (SA) is the equivalent of a public limited company
Number of partners: One or more individual or legal persons with no maximum.
Capital (max/min): 100,000 PLZ of which 25% will be paid up on registering. (Minimum nominal value: 0.01 PLZ)
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount of capital contributed.
The Spolka z oograniczona odpowiedzialnoscia (ZOO) is a limited liability company
Number of partners: One or more individuals or legal persons with no maximum.
Capital (max/min): 5,000 PLZ (Minimum nominal value: 50 PLZ).
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount of capital contributed.
Spolka Jawna (RP) is a Registered Partnership.
Number of partners: A minimum of one, no maximum
Capital (max/min): No restriction on minimal capital.
Shareholders and liability: Unlimited Liability.
Spolka Komandytowa (LP) is a Limited Partnership.
Number of partners: At least two individuals: one as a general partner, and the other as a silent partner.
Capital (max/min): No restriction on minimal capital.
Shareholders and liability: Limited to capital except for general partners (unlimited).
 
Setting Up a Company Poland Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Procedures (number) 5.0 5.3
Time (days) 37.0 11.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

 

Cost of Labour

Minimum Wage
As of 1 January 2020, the minimum wage is EUR 611 per month (Eurostat)
Average Wage
The average hourly labour cost in 2019 was estimated at EUR 10.7 (Eurostat), well below the average hourly labor cost in the EU-27, which was EUR 27.7.
According to the OECD, Polish people earn USD 27 046 per year on average, much less than the OECD average of USD 43 241.
Social Contributions
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers: Pension fund (9.76%), disability fund (6.50%), accident insurance (0,67% - 3,33%), labour fund contribution (2.45%), Employees' Guaranteed Benefits fund contribution (0.10%)
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employees: Old age pension (9.76%), disability insurance (1.50%), sickness benefits (2.45%), health insurance (9%)
 

Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The organisation responsible for the protection of intellectual property in Poland is the Urzad Patentowy RP, and the Copyright Office.
Regional Organisations

For patent protection: The European Patent Office.
Governing trademarks, designs and models: The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.

International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
 

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Tax Rates

Consumption Taxes

Nature of the Tax
Podatek od towarow i usaug (PTU) (Value-Added Tax)
Tax Rate
23%
Reduced Tax Rate
Supplies covered by a reduced rate of 8% include: certain food products (e.g. sugar, spices, certain processed and preserved food); newspapers and periodicals (including e-publications other than publications wholly or predominantly consisting of video content or audible music) – except regional or local periodicals (printed or on disks, tapes and other media); goods and services of a kind normally intended for use in agricultural production (e.g.animals, plants, seeds, fertilizers and plant protection products); animal feeding stuffs; veterinary services; healthcare products (pharmaceutical products; medical devices; certain disinfectants applied in health protection); selected devices for the blind; services related to admission to cultural, sports and recreational events (admission to shows, theatres, circuses, amusement parks, concerts, museums, zoos, cinemas etc., admission to sporting events and use of sporting facilities); lending in libraries of books and newspapers;;services of general interest (e.g. supply of water, supply of services provided in connection with street cleaning, refuse collection and waste treatment, other than the supply of such services by public bodies); funeral services; transport of passengers and their accompanying luggage; reception of radio and television broadcasting services (excluding VOD); the supply, construction, renovation, modernisation, thermal modernisation or conversion of buildings or parts thereof subject to the social housing programme (single-family houses up to 300 square meters and flats up to 150 square metres); maintenance of private dwellings, excluding materials which account for a significant part of the value of the service supplied; accommodation provided in hotels and similar establishments; food and beverages serving services (excluding the supply of beverages and goods unprocessed by the taxpayer - other than those that are subject to a reduced rate, as well as seafood; some labour intensive services (hairdressing services, repair of footwear and leather goods, repair and alteration of clothing and home textiles, bicycle repair).

Supplies covered by a reduced rate of 5% include: basic foods (e.g. bread, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, bakery products, farinaceous products, eggs, fruit and vegetable juices, soups, broths, homogenised and dietetic food); products for children and hygiene products (food for infants and toddlers, pacifiers, nappies, car seats, sanitary pads and tampons and); printed books, books on disks, tapes and other media and e-books (other than publications wholly or predominantly consisting of video content or audible music) as well as regional or local periodicals (printed or on disks, tapes and other media).

Zero-rated activities include exports, intra-Community supplies of goods, supplies of certain sailing vessels, international transport and related services, supplies of computer equipment to educational institutions.
Amid the COVID-19 emergency, the supply of medicinal products can be subject to a 0% VAT rate (conditions apply).

Other Consumption Taxes
Excise duties apply on alcohol, cigarettes, energy products (e.g. petrol, oils, gas), passenger cars, and electricity.
A sugar tax is levied on the trade of beverages containing sugar, sweeteners, caffeine and taurine.
A number of taxes are levied by the municipalities, including road vehicle tax and a transfer tax applying to certain civil law transactions, etc.
 

Corporate Taxes

Company Tax
19%
Tax Rate For Foreign Companies
A company is considered to be a resident in Poland if its registered office or management is located in Poland.
A permanent place of business (like a branch, agency, office, factory, workshop, etc.), a person holding and exercising a power of attorney to enter into agreements on the company’s behalf in Poland, and construction, assembly, or installation works carried on within the territory of Poland do all constitute a permanent establishment in the country for corporate income taxation purposes.
Capital Gains Taxation
Capital gains are generally treated as a separate source of income and are subject to the standard 19% corporate income tax rate. An exemption may be available for venture capital companies (that are taxpayers for corporate income tax purposes) on gains from the transfer of shares that are acquired between 2016 and 2023 in companies performing R&D activities, provided certain requirements are met.
Capital losses are tax-deductible.
Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
Costs incurred for the purposes of deriving, securing or preserving a source of revenue are generally deductible.
Accrued interest on loans and credit that were paid or capitalised are deductible for corporate income tax purposes. From 2020, creditors may reduce their tax base by the value of receivables if monetary payment has not been paid or sold after 90 days from the invoice due date.
Companies are entitled to deduct donations for the purposes of public benefit and to volunteer activity organisations up to a total amount not exceeding 10% of income. Donations made to combat the COVID-19 epidemic are deductible with different rates, according to the beneficiary and the date of the donation.

Deductions may be claimed for royalties, management services, and interest charges paid to foreign affiliates. Taxes can generally be deducted (except for CIT, industry-specific taxes and VAT). Certain fines and penalties can be deducted.

Expenditure incurred for research and development (R&D) are deductible up to 100% of corporate income tax (varying according to the size of the company and the type of eligible costs). Expenditure incurred for covering the cost of staff hired in the context of R&D activities are also tax-deductible.

As a general rule, transactions with a value above PLN 15,000 can only be deducted when paid using a bank transfer.

Net operating losses can be carried forward up to five years, capped at 50% of losses incurred in a tax year. From 2020, a taxpayer may deduct from the tax base once over the next five consecutive tax years up to PLN 5 million of the loss incurred. Any loss above this limit may be deducted in the other years, capped at 50% of the loss incurred in the year for which it was reported. The carryback of losses is not permitted. Following the COVID-19 crisis, companies will be entitled to deduct the 2020 tax loss from 2019 income if their revenue is at least 50% less than in the previous year.

Other Corporate Taxes
Other taxes levied include: capital duty (0.5% of the nominal value of share capital), specific intangible services paid to non-residents (20% withholding tax on services e.g. legal, accounting, advertising, market research, recruiting, guarantees), excise tax on turnover of selected goods and tax on extraction of certain materials. Inheritance and gift taxes range between 3% and 20%, subject to certain allowances and exemptions.

Real property tax rates are fixed by municipalities within limits set in the Law on Local Taxes and Fees. In 2021, land used for business purposes is subject to a rate of PLN 0.99 per square metre. Buildings used for business purposes are subject to a rate of PLN 24.48 per square metre (depends on local authorities). Stamp duties and a transfer tax (0.5-2% on transactions such as sales and loans that are not covered by VAT) also apply.

As far as the social security system is concerned, employer contributions range from 19.48% to 22.14% of the employee’s gross salary; the contribution rate for the employee is 13.71% of gross salary. Contributions to a new type of retirement savings plan financed jointly by the employee, the employer and the government (Employee Capital Plans - PPK), are equal to 1.5% for the employer and 2% for the employee. Persons are enrolled by default but have an option to opt-out. Such plans apply as from July 2019 for companies with over 250 employees, as from 1 January 2020 for companies with 50 to 250 employees, as from1 July 2020 for companies with 10 to 49 employees, and from 1 January 2021 for all other companies. From 1 February 2020, entrepreneurs whose annual revenues do not exceed PLN 120,000 will have an option to pay lower social insurance contributions calculated proportionally based on their income (so-called ”Small ZUS plus”).

An additional tax is levied on the activities of certain financial institutions including local banks, branches of foreign banks, insurance and reinsurance companies. The tax applies at a rate of 0.0366% per month when the value of assets exceeds PLN 200 million in the case of credit institutions, PLN 2 billion in the case of insurance and reinsurance companies and PLN 4 billion in the case of other financial institutions.
Shipping companies may opt to pay tonnage tax on certain types of income. A special tax is imposed on the excavation of silver, copper, crude oil, and natural gas

An income tax from retail sales was introduced in 2016 (for any monthly turnover exceeding PLN 17 million); however, it had been suspended until 1 January 2021 as it was found in breach of the EU law. It came into force this year. The tax applies at two rates: 0.8% on revenues up to PLN 170 million; and 1.4% on revenues in excess of this amount.

Other Domestic Resources
Ministry of Finance
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 

Double Taxation Treaties

Countries With Whom a Double Taxation Treaty Have Been Signed
List of tax treaties signed by Poland (in Polish)
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 0% (resident companies)/19% (resident individuals and non-residents), Interest: 0% (resident companies)/20% (non-resident companies)/19% (individuals), Royalties: 0% (resident)/20% (non-resident)
The above rates may be reduced as part of a tax treaty.

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