Foreigner as a board member and shareholder of a Polish company

Foreigner as a board member and shareholder of a Polish company
Jakub Chajdas

Jakub Chajdas

Partner / Attorney-at-law

Foreigner as a board member and shareholder of a Polish company. Due to dynamic business development and freedom of relocation foreigners more and more often become shareholders and board members of Polish companies. If a foreigner intends to cooperate professionally with a Polish company for a longer period of time, it will be necessary for him or her to obtain a temporary residence permit as well as a permit for conducting business activity.

Foreigner as a board member and shareholder of a Polish company – who can be granted a residence permit for the purpose of running a business?

Firstly, it should be emphasized that citizens of the European Union member states are released from the obligation to obtain such permit. This also applies to citizens of the Swiss Confederation or of the countries that are parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. The requirement also does not concern citizens of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states.

A temporary residence permit for the purpose of conducting business activity is granted to a foreigner whose purpose of the stay is to work as a board member of the company registered in Poland. This concerns a limited liability company or a joint-stock company. It can be a company registered in Poland by a foreigner or, alternatively, whose shares or stocks have been acquired by a foreigner.

Moreover, the circumstances of the case should justify the foreigner’s stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland for a period of time of at least 3 months.

Who grants the residence permit for conducting a business activity?

A temporary stay permit is issued by the Voivode competent for the foreigner’s place of residence, by means of an administrative decision. It is also up to the Voivode to refuse to grant such a permit or to revoke it. The application to the Voivode should be submitted either by post or personally, in compliance with the regulations specified by the Voivodship Office competent for the foreigner’s place of residence.

It is important to know that the minister responsible for internal affairs may limit the number of permits issued during a year. Before submitting an application, one should first verify whether the specified limit of permits has been reached. If the limit is exceeded, the Voivode will issue a negative decision.

For what period of time is the residence permit for the purpose of running a business in Poland issued?

The permit is granted for a period of time which is necessary to achieve the purpose of the foreigner’s stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland. The period of the residence permit’s validity is subject to the Voivode’s decision. It should be noted that this period of time cannot be longer than 3 years.

A foreigner who intends to be a board member or a shareholder of a Polish company must submit the application no later than on the last day of legal stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland.

Foreigner as a board member and shareholder of a Polish company – what requirements must be met to obtain the permit?

In order to obtain a permit for residence and running a business, a foreigner must submit the application on an official form and meet the statutory requirements. The applicant must prove that he or she:

  • has a source of stable and regular income,
  • has health insurance, as defined by the Act of August 27, 2004, on healthcare services financed from public funds (if one has no such health insurance, it is necessary to submit a confirmation that the insurer covers the costs of treatment on the territory of the Republic of Poland),
  • has an ensured place of residence on the territory of the Republic of Poland.

What is important, a foreigner cannot be validly convicted for a crime against the credibility of documents committed in connection with the granting of a temporary residence and work permit.

Finally, it is worth noting that the occupation of certain positions and practising certain professions in Poland requires the authorization of a competent administrative entity. If a foreigner is to conduct such business activity, he or she must obtain a relevant authorization and submit it together with the application.

Moreover, a company whose shareholder or board member is a foreigner must meet certain detailed criteria. First of all, an income of the specified amount is important. A company must demonstrate that in the tax year preceding the submission of the application for a residence permit, the income was not lower than 12 times the average gross monthly remuneration in the national economy of the voivodship in which the company has its registered office.

The company may either meet the abovementioned condition or demonstrate that it hires at least 2 employees for a period of 1 year preceding submission of the application. It is worth noting that this concerns a full-time employment contract for an unspecified period of time.

Moreover, members of the company’s management board cannot be punished for violations connected with the Act on Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions.

The content of the application for a residence and business permit in Poland

A foreigner who intends to be a management board member or a shareholder of a Polish company must indicate his or her personal data in the application. In particular, such a person is obliged to provide information regarding his or her occupation and educational background.

The application must include details of any criminal conviction and information concerning criminal and misdemeanour proceedings against a foreigner. A foreigner must also enclose information about judgments issued against him in court or administrative proceedings.

A foreigner who intends to be a shareholder or management board member in a Polish company must also provide an appendix with information about the company while submitting the application. It is very important that the company itself completes this appendix, not the applicant. It should indicate the company’s name, its registered office and the legal foundation of business activity. Moreover, the company’s number of the entry in the National Court Register should also be specified.

The appendix should provide information regarding the work that will be performed by a foreigner. Especially, when it comes to the position in which he or she will be employed. A permit obtained for the purpose of performing a function on the company’s management board entitles one to work as a member of the management board. Undertaking a different job requires a separate work permit. It is very important to note that if a foreigner fails to do that, the voivode may revoke the originally granted permit.

The appendix should specify the working time as well as the amount of remuneration. The company should determine the scope of responsibilities for a given position and indicate the period of time for which they want to employ a foreigner.

The applicant should enclose four recent, colour photographs with dimensions of 45×35 mm as well as two copies of a valid travel document.

The application should include documents that confirm the authenticity of the abovementioned data. The applicant shall submit original documents or their legalized copies. If documents are in a foreign language, the applicant is obliged to provide their translations prepared by a sworn translator.

Application fee for a residence and business permit in Poland

The application for a residence and business permit is subject to a fee in the amount of 340 PLN. A foreigner who applies for such permits is required to submit a relevant payment confirmation together with the application.

How long does it take to receive a decision?

A decision concerning residence and business permit for a foreigner is issued within 60 days. The time frame begins from the date of submission of the application or from the moment of its completion if there were formal deficiencies.

Foreigner as a board member and shareholder of a Polish company and permission to acquire shares or stocks of a Polish company

Finally, it is worth mentioning that foreigners may need a permit to acquire stocks or shares of a Polish company. This is a case when a foreigner wants to acquire stocks or shares of a company that owns a property on the territory of Poland. Obtaining such permission will be necessary if, as a result of this transaction, the company will be controlled by a foreigner.

Using professional assistance will allow you to deal with the permit procedure in a quick and efficient manner. Our experts will provide all the necessary assistance at every stage of the proceedings. We encourage you to contact our law firm! Should you be interested in forming a company in Poland or a Polish branch of your company check out our services

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Jakub Chajdas

Partner / Attorney-at-law
Accounting