According to data from Statista, there are now more than 3 million self-employed professionals in Poland. Like in many other countries, many people are turning away from the 9–5 and embracing the freelance lifestyle instead.
There are many reasons for this: increased flexibility and a better work-life balance for one. Young people in Poland are also realising that their earning potential could be much higher as freelancers.
Especially in fields such as IT, freelancers increasingly work remotely for clients in countries such as the US and the UK, further expanding the potential for finding well-paid freelance work.
If you’re living in Poland and thinking about going freelance — or you’re a freelancer looking for a new place to call home — there are a few rules and regulations you need to understand.
In this article, we’ll run through the requirements for working as a freelancer in Poland, both for Polish citizens and foreigners. We’ll also share some information on recent changes to tax laws in Poland and how these could affect freelancers.
Requirements to work as a freelancer in Poland
As in all countries, there are certain requirements that you need to meet if you’d like to begin working as a freelancer in Poland. These are the same whether you’re a Polish citizen, a citizen of another EU state, or a third country — with the caveat that non-EU citizens need to apply for a freelance visa before they can begin work. We’ll discuss the freelance visa in more detail below.
To work as a freelancer in Poland, you’ll need:
A PESEL number
The PESEL is a national identification number that is assigned to every Polish citizen at birth. If you’re a foreigner living in Poland, you’ll need to acquire one becore you can work as a freelancer. You’ll also need it for other formalities like opening a bank account, registering with a doctor, and preparing your annual tax return.
Since 2018, all foreigners staying in Poland for more than 30 days are required to officially register their address with the Polish authorities — and you can get a PESEL number at the same time. It’s a relatively simple — and free — process that just requires you to fill out a form (in Polish), and provide a document that proves your identity.
You can find out more about PESEL numbers and how to obtain yours on the Polish government’s website.
REGON and NIP numbers
All business entities in Poland — including individual entrepreneurs, obtain a REGON number, which is an entry in the national business registry. Individual entrepreneurs are automatically assigned a REGON when registering with the CEIDG (below).
In addition to the REGON, you’ll also need an NIP, which is a 10-digit tax identification number that you need to pay taxes on your income in Poland. Again, this will be assigned automatically when you register as a business.
To operate as a sole proprietorship in Poland, you need to register with the CEIDG — the Central Register for Information on Economic Activity. You can do this by filling out the CEIDG-1 form, either online, in person, or via registered mail. There’s no cost to register with the CEIDG.
The CEIDG form asks for information about you and your business, and you must complete it both when you start a business and when there are any changes, such as suspending or restarting your activity.
A bank account
If you’re coming to Poland from abroad, you’ll also need to open a bank account to accept payments from clients and make purchases related to your business. The requirements for opening a business account vary from bank to bank, but you’ll usually need:
- An ID card
- Your certificate of registration in the CEIDG
- Proof of your REGON and NIP numbers
Different types of freelance contracts in Poland
If you decide to work as a freelancer in Poland, there are three main types of contract that you might come across: the umowa zlecenie, the umowa o dzieło, and the B2B contract.
Umowa zlecenie (contract of mandate)
The umowa zlecenie is a common type of contract between freelancers and their employers in Poland. With this type of contract, the employer usually pays costs like social security, disability and health insurance, which can be a huge advantage to a freelancer.
Freelancers working under an umowa zlecenie are usually required to submit timesheets to their clients to receive payments.
The B2B contract is a relatively new legal contract in Poland. It’s an agreement between two business entities — in this case, a freelancer and a client. This type of contract is most often used in the IT world, though it’s starting to become more common for other high-paid, skilled roles too. With a B2B contract, the freelancer is responsible for paying their own costs, such as social security contributions.
A B2B contract also makes it easier for freelancers to work for clients in countries where salaries are higher, without leaving Poland. For example, many IT professionals live in Poland but work under a B2B contract for companies in Scandinavia, Germany or the UK. Since the cost of living in Poland is relatively low, this can be an attractive benefit for freelancers seeking a better quality of life.
Umowa o dzieło (contract for a specific task)
The umowa o dzieło is a much less common type of freelance contract but is nonetheless one you might come across as you begin working in Poland. The main difference between this type of contract and others is that the basis of the contract is the result of the work completed, not the work itself. This means that a freelancer will be hired to complete a specific task, and will be paid on the basis of that being complete, rather than for the hours they have worked.
With an umowa o dzieło, the employer does not have to pay social security contributions and other such costs for the freelancer.
Non-EU citizens: The Freelance Visa
If you come from a country outside of the EU, you’ll need a work permit to work in Poland. The freelance/entrepreneur visa is a special visa meant to help freelancers to establish their businesses in Poland. It’s a temporary residence card that’s valid for two years and can be renewed before expiry.
To apply for the visa, you’ll need to provide:
- Proof of your accommodation in Poland, such as a rental contract
- Documents proving that you can support yourself financially while in Poland
- An employment contract
The whole process can take anywhere between 10 and 60 days.
The Polish Deal: Recent Changes to Tax Law
A new tax package proposed in November 2021 has changed how taxes work for freelancers and other workers in Poland. Known as the ‘Polish Deal’, the package includes a number of changes to tax and social security laws, and has caused controversy among both freelancers and employees.
Here are the main changes that freelancers in Poland should be aware of:
1. Changes to the calculation of health insurance contributions
Prior to the Polish Deal, health insurance contributions for freelancers (as well as employees, contractors and pensioners) were deductible from income tax. Most freelancers previously paid health insurance contributions on a lump sum basis, paying PLN 381.81 (EUR 84) per month.
Under the new rules, these charges are no longer deductible and are paid proportionally to income. This means that freelancers must now pay a flat 9% of taxable income in health insurance contributions, in addition to their income tax. For many freelancers, this represents a significant loss of income.
2. Changes to tax thresholds
The Polish Deal also introduced changes to various tax thresholds, for both employees and freelancers:
- The annual tax-free allowance has been raised from PLN 8,000 (EUR 1,764) to PLN 30,000 (EUR 6,620). This allowance also applies to those in the higher bracket, who were not previously entitled to a tax-free allowance.
- Income up to PLN 120,000 (EUR 26,476) is taxed at 17% under the Polish Deal (instead of the lower rate of 32%). Previously, this rate applied only to income under PLN 85,525 (EUR 18,870).
Good news or bad news for freelancers?
The effective increase in health insurance costs for freelancers will no doubt mean a significant increase in cost for many. However, the increases in the tax thresholds do go some way to compensating this difference. In the end, whether you’re better or worse off as a freelancer in Poland following these changes to tax law will depend on your income bracket.
You can learn more about the Polish Deal and the changes it represents in this article from PWC.
Consider Poland for your new freelance base
With friendly locals, vibrant, well-connected cities and well-developed infrastructure, Poland is a great place to live. Many worry that the changes introduced by the Polish Deal mean that freelancers may be slightly worse off in terms of their health insurance contribution.
However, the cost of living in Poland is still far lower than in many other European countries. This means that running your freelance business there could still be a smart financial choice. And, depending on your income level, the adjustments to tax thresholds introduced could even mean a net gain for some freelancers.
If you’re looking for a new base to run your freelance business from, why not consider a buzzing hub like Warsaw, Kraków or Gdansk?
Find out more about freelancing in Poland here
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