Ease of Doing Business Rank: 40
Poland is a Central European country. The Baltic Sea lies to the north, Germany and Czech Republic to the west, Slovakia to the south and Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east.
The official language of Poland is Polish, spoken by 97% of inhabitants. Other languages used in Poland include German, Ukrainian, Russian, Lithuanian, Armenian and Romani languages.
Additionally, 33% of Poland’s population speaks English, 26% speaks Russian and 19% speaks German.
The 2019 population estimate is 38.64 million.
Warsaw is the largest city with 1.76 million residents. About half the remaining cities have populations under between 100,000 and 1 million. There are countless cities, towns and villages with populations under 100,000.
The top industries in Poland are energy, manufacturing, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, agriculture, food processing, glass and textiles.
The Times Higher Education World Rankings includes five Polish universities in the top 1,000 in the world.
The Legatum Prosperity Index ranks Poland’s education system 24th out of 149.
The most common type of business entities in Poland are sole trader, limited liability company and joint stock company.
The overwhelming majority of businesses are limited liability companies.
Poland offers a foreign tax credit to avoid double taxation.
The country also offers 14 Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Companies apply for tax incentives and the amount depends on the value of the investment expenditure or the costs of new employee wages for two years and a point system.
Regions establish aid levels and consider the enterprise size. They may grant a tax exemption for 10, 12 or 15 years, depending on the location.
Poland also offers tax relief of up to 100% for qualifying costs related to research and development. Incentives vary based on company size and the type of costs incurred, but may include employees’ wages and social contributions, commodity and raw materials purchases and scientific research and expertise.
Companies may also qualify for a deduction for payments on research equipment, IP protection and the amortization of intangible assets and fixed assets, with some exceptions.
Businesses operating in a Polish SEZ may also qualify for a further deduction for operating costs not covered by an SEZ permit.
This year, Poland introduced the Innovation Box program which reduces tax on income derived for IP rights to 5%. It applies to R&D and subcontracting on patented inventions with rights granted for up to 20 years. This incentive is offered in addition to existing R&D tax relief.
The principal cities for business are Katowice and Warsaw.
Katowice is the industrial and transportation center of Southern Poland. Warsaw is the regional financial hub and capital city.
Poland includes 16 UNESCO World Heritage sites including outstanding castles, palaces, memorials and military sites.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine southeast of Kraków is a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and chambers which demonstrate the development of salt mining from the 13th to 20th centuries.
The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is an imposing, restored Gothic brick-built castle on the banks of the Nogat River. It is a UNESCO site since it clearly demonstrates the Teutonic Order state in Prussia during the 13th century and embodies the conflict of late medieval Christianity.
The Museum of the Second World War is a state cultural institution in Gdansk which recounts the dark history of the Nazi occupation, concentration camps, the Holocaust and the Poles’ role in defeating the Germans during World War II.
The Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau is where more than a million Jews, and many Poles and Roma died during the Holocaust. The camp was liberated by Soviet troops in 1945, preserved, and is now open to visitors.
Wilanów Palace in Warsaw is one of Poland’s most important monuments. Established in 1805, it holds much of the country’s royal and artistic heritage within Warsaw Old Town.
The Palace of Culture & Science located in Warsaw was a gift from the Soviet Union, completed in 1955. It is the highest building in the city and was built by Russian workers as a symbol of socialist power.
Poland also has many areas of natural beauty. The most notable is the Białowieża Forest World Heritage site on the border between Poland and Belarus. This forested region covers a massive area near the Baltic and Black Seas. It includes the largest population of European bison in the world.
Many tribes lived in the region for centuries, but the first documented ruler appeared in the 10th century when he converted to Christianity and the country became a member of the family of Christian kingdoms.
By 1025, the ruling duke was crowned King of Poland and the Polish Kingdom began. When the Polish male line of royal succession ended, the daughter of the Polish monarchy married the Grand Duke of Lithuania. He converted to Christianity and Poland and Lithuania created a dynastic union which lasted for more than 400 years.
By the 15th century, the German Christian military Teutonic Order threatened Lithuania and Poland. However, they resoundingly defeated the mercenaries in one of the largest battles of medieval Europe: the Battle of Grunewald in 1410. The win led to strong national pride and great resistance to the German and Russian Empires.
The country entered a “Golden Age” in the 16th century and culture, arts and science flourished. They adopted a policy of religious tolerance and expanded territorially.
Lithuania and Poland formed the Republic of Both Nations in 1569. It operated as a democracy run by nobility with elected kings.
From the mid-17th century onward, the union began to decline due to internal strife and wars with the Swedes. By the 18th century, the Republic was in crisis. The king introduced reforms and a constitution, but the country continued to struggle.
Russia, Prussia and Austria invaded Poland, divided the territory and ended Poland’s independence in 1795. However, Polish nationalism persisted.
Poles fought Napoleon and organized the November and January Uprisings during the 19th century. Polish musicians, scientists and inventors continued to make strides, despite oppression.
The onset of World War I marked the return of Poland after 133 years. The Second Polish Republic was established in 1918.
Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and later the Soviets entered the battle. Poland was divided between the two powers. Many Poles joined Allied forces and fought Germany. The Polish underground resistance tried to liberate Warsaw from German occupation.
The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was the largest single resistance effort during World War II, but the Poles did not fare well. Soviet forces temporarily halted combat operations. The Germans regrouped and defeated the resistance, and razed the city in reprisal. Many Poles lost their lives and the country was in ruins.
After World War II, the Soviets controlled Poland and created the communist People’s Republic of Poland. Poland’s borders changed radically, blending traditions and cultures.
In 1978, a Polish pope was elected. Two years later, the first mass independent trade union in the communist states was formed. Eventually, this led to a loss of Soviet control over Eastern Europe.
In 1989, the Third Polish Republic held its first elections and the country became a liberal parliamentary democracy. Today, they have the sixth largest economy in the European Union under a democratic government.
Most inhabitants identify as Polish (96.9%). The remaining populations claim Silesian (1.1%), German (0.2%), Ukrainian (0.1%) or other (1.7%) ancestries.
According to the 2011 census, the majority of Polish are Catholic (87.2%), followed by Orthodox (1.3%), Protestant (0.4%) and other religions (0.4%).
According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business, Poland is the 34th best country in the world for conducting business.
The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates Poland 46th globally and states, “Challenges include deficiencies in road and rail infrastructure, a rigid labor code, a weak commercial court system, government red tape, and a burdensome tax system for entrepreneurs.”
World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings rate Poland 33rd for ease of doing business in the world.