Opening Bank Account in Poland
- Company incorporation in Poland
- Limited Liability Company
- Joint-Stock Company
- Registered Partnership
- Limited Partnership
- Business Partnership
- Representation office in Poland
- Branch in Poland
- Subsidiary / SPV in Poland
- Shelf Company
- Opening Bank Account
Opening bank account in Poland – introduction
One of the most important steps of launching your business in Poland, just after registering the company, is opening a corporate bank account. In 2023, Poland had 30 commercial banks running, and most of them offer accounts for corporate clients. The banks offer – not only the bank accounts, but also commercial loans, factoring, debt management and investment advisory etc.
Without a properly working corporate bank account, the company in Poland cannot operate and run it s business. It is simply impossible to pay remuneration to the employees, settle with tax office and with ZUS (Polish public insurer), receive payments from contractors and more. Thus, it’s vital to open a bank account as fast as possible, and on good terms.
As easy as it may sound, actually in Poland opening a corporate account for a foreign investor is not a piece of cake. The reason is the AML regulations, which obliges commercial banks to impose a more strict internal policy of opening accounts for aliens. Due to this, banks (and other financial institutions are obliged to commence KYC (Know Your Client) procedure before starting a relationship with a corporate client.
It is worth to mention, that each bank has a different approach to the KYC procedure. Such differences can make a lot of confusion for foreign investors, so in many cases an assist of a corporate lawyer, who is able to assist with preparing necessary corporate documents, filling up bank forms and to prepare answers for bank’s questions.
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Overview of bank account providers in Poland
As for the current year, there are almost 30 commercial banks operating in Poland. The main players on the banking market in Poland are:
- PKO Bank Polski
- Bank Pekao SA
- Santander Bank Polska
- ING Bank Śląski
- Bank BNP Paribas
- Bank Millenium
- Alior Bank
- Bank Handlowy (Citi)
Most of above banks have comprehensive corporate bank accounts offer, well working online banking platforms, which include mobile banking applications with English interface (and sometimes with some additional languages like German or Czech), and offer 24/7 client support via landline.
There are many lesser banks, with smaller customer base and thus, those tend to have smaller offer and less facilities for the clients. Nevertheless, it is possible to open the account in such entities, but due to the above mentioned, it is advised to strike a chance with a well known bank. Sometimes smaller banks may reject banking application from a foreign investor, as they tend to not have experience with such clients, which require more complex KYC process and sometimes complex support after setting up the account.
Other bank account providers
There are plenty of other financial institutions, which also offer accounts for corporate clients, ie. Wise, N26, Conotoxia, Monese, ZEN.com, Skrill. These offer mostly multi-currency accounts for commercial clients, including online currency exchange service, which tend to have better exchange rates than the ones offered by commercial banks.
The main disadvantage is that running account on such platform may cost significantly more than an account opened in commercial bank, and the funds accommodated on such accounts may not be guaranteed by Banking Guarantee Fund, a Polish public institution, which grants reimbursement of funds accommodated on account in case of bank’s insolvency.
In addition, most of the alternative bank account providers do not offer facilities / tools that might turn important for you – e.g. special tax payment transfers, split-payment mechanism options, listing accounts on white list in Polish Tax Office. This can bring significant disadvantages.
How to open a bank account in Poland?
Step 1 – submit an application
There are the main channels to submit the account application:
- in person in the bank branch,
- through the landline,
- via online form.
Generally speaking, the best option is to visit the bank branch in person and submit the application there. Because the bank officer is able to verify all required documents in person, the process becomes significantly faster. Unfortunately, it may be disadvantageous for the investor to arrange such business travel to Poland especially, if a travel from a very distant country is required.
If it is not possible to visit Poland to submit the application, a direct call to the bank’s landline allows to make an initial enquiry to the bank assistant, who will later direct the case to the bank’s regional product manager. Usually, regional product manager contacts with the client through e-mail (and sometimes phone) in order to obtain required documents. In most instances, scans are enough to complete the process, but later on a visit may be required to show original copies of corporate documents (and passport). The other parts of the process are filling up bank forms and answering questions about business profile of client, which are being submitted by the manager.
Lastly, some banks offer to submit the application through an online form. It’s generally a convenient option from the perspective of a client, but one should keep in mind, that additional questions may still be asked, and the bank most probably will require to submit corporate documents of the client to back up the application with some evidence.
Step 2 – complete KYC (Know Your Client) requirements
After the step of submitting application on opening corporate account, the KYC procedure is being started. It is mandatory for all residents of third countries, including the member states of European Union. Only the companies with Polish share capital and board members are allowed to skip this procedure.
As a word of introduction, in this procedure banks verify their future customers in order to prevent money laundering, financial frauds and financing terrorism. In order to comply with anti-money laundering regulation, banks need to gather a set of information and documents, which verify the profile of bank’s client.
The process may become even more strict, if the company is a start-up, meaning that it had been formed recently, it has no financial records, no official contracts, lacks a real office and doesn’t have any employees. Because such state of the company makes the relationship very uncertain for the bank, so some documents regarding the shareholders, management board members may be needed, as it will prove, that the person or entities related to the start-up are reliable business partners.
Usually required documents for bank account opening
In most cases, the banks demand the following documents:
- Articles of association,
- Share transfer agreement (if applicable),
- Resolutions on appointment of new management board,
- Notification on beneficiary owner of the company,
- Passport or nation ID scans for the board members.
In case the main shareholder of the company is a foreign entity (ie. parent company), the process may become more complex, as the bank will most probably require all documents which can prove the ultimate beneficiary of the company incorporated in Poland. When a country of incorporation of a parent company has access to the beneficiary registry, and it is possible to obtain corporate documents (ie. excerpt of the company from commercial registry, articles of association, shareholder certificate – depending on the country of incorporation) to prove the final beneficiary of the company. Otherwise, the possibility of opening the account will be very limited.
Q&A prior to bank account opening
In the process, bank will surely ask several clarifying questions in order to better understand the nature of your business. Some of the questions may concern:
- business activities, which company is going to conduct,
- products or services offered by the company,
- contractors of the company,
- sources of income,
- declared income in the current/upcoming year.
On the other side, opening account for a company which already operates in Poland for some time gets a lot of easier, if the company operates in a stable way. Banks may ask about financial statements of the company to check, whether the turnover included therein proves the company’s financial liquidity.
Risk factors in bank account opening
There are a couple of factors, which are related to the companies, which are deemed as “risky” for the banks. If one of them occurs, the bank may raise its awareness and ask some more clarifying questions, or in the worst scenario reject the application due to the high risk of opening account.
- risky scope of business – ie. trading metals, fuel, luxury goods, weaponry, dual-use goods, tobacco products, gambling,
- business activity focused on financial markets, including trading cryptocurrencies,
- using real estate as a mean of commercial activity,
- complex shareholding structure, which makes it difficult to find the ultimate beneficiary,
- people or entities related to the company origin from a high-risk country, eg. listed on FATF high-risk country lists (https://www.fatf-gafi.org/en/countries/black-and-grey-lists.html),
- company is planning to conduct transactions with contractors from high-risk countries.
It is worth to stress out, that above list of risky factors is just an enumeration, as those factors may changed by the banks in a meanwhile.
Step 3 – Providers decision
In cases of non-residents, the final decision is always being issued by Compliance Department of bank’s HQ. In case of negative decision, there is no possibility to appeal, the case is just closed. Almost always, the bank won’t disclose the reason standing behind its decision.
Step 4 – Signing of the bank account agreement
In case of positive decision, the bank informs the customer about the result and invites him to sign the bank account agreement and any other required attachments, such as signature specimen card. Very few banks allow to sign the agreement in the mobile banking application, without need to visit the branch, as it is done by entering authorization codes from the text messages from bank. The rule is, that the visit is mandatory.
Step 5 – Activation of your bank account
In most cases, the account will be active in 1-2 days from the day of signing the bank account agreement. Sometimes the account may be active at the same day.
Time required to open a bank account in Poland
Depending on the pace of KYC procedures, ie. how many documents and answers will be required, the pace of correspondence between customer and the bank, how many risky factors are arising in the case, the final decision may be issued in between 2 weeks to even 3 months.
When the bank account is ready – what to do?
It is important to remember, that after opening a corporate account, the company should notify tax office about it, so the account can be whitelisted as a VAT account. It’s important to comply with this obligation, as the punishment for receipt of payment on non-whitelisted account amounting over 15.000 PLN may strike upon your contractor, which includes:
- impossibility of including this transaction (or part of it) as a deductible expense,
- risk of being jointly and severally liable with your contractor for tax arrears, if the company won’t regulate its tax obligations.
The same goes with your company paying on your contractor’s non-whitelisted account, so it’s important to proof check you contractor before making any settlements.
Another thing that should be kept in mind is that the AML regulation still applies to the opened accounts, and the client should be wary, that any transaction that may raise suspicion of bank will be blocked, until proving the bank with explanation and justification of said transaction. A simple example would be to make a transaction to any country, which is being treated as a high – risk country (ie. United Arab Emirates), or to receive one.
Bank account opening in Poland – FAQ
What are major banks providing bank accounts in Poland?
Major bank account providers in Poland are: PKO Bank Polski, Bank Pekao SA, Santander Bank Polska, ING Bank Śląski, mBank, Bank BNP Paribas, Bank Millenium, Alior Bank, Bank Handlowy (Citi).
How much time is required to open a bank account in Poland?
Typically foreign investors required from 2 weeks to 3 months to open a bank account in Poland.
What are the stages of bank account opening in Poland?
1. Submitting Application
2. Completing KYC
3. Obtaining Providers Decision
4. Signing Bank Account Agreement
5. Activating Bank Account
Is presence in required to open bank account in Poland?
It is recommended but not required. Most usually it is possible to open a bank account remotely, although this usually takes slightly more time.
What documents do I need to open a bank account in Poland?
List of documents is individually defined by each bank. However most usually the following are required: Articles of association, Share transfer agreement (if applicable), Resolutions on appointment of new management board, Notification on beneficiary owner of the company, Passport or nation ID scans for the board members.