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Import regulations and customs duties  - Distribution - Transportation of goods - Standards - Patents and brands

Import regulations and customs duties

In accordance with its European Union membership since May, 1st of 2004, Poland applies the European Union trade policy like for instance antidumping or anti-subsidy measures. The European Union import regime applies to Poland. If Poland has adopted the main part of the EU regulations on May, 1st of 2004, some transitional measures have been granted to the country regarding some EU rules like for example freedom of movement for workers or cabotage inside some countries. Moreover, Poland has negotiated a transitional period up to 2008 during which marketing authorisations for medicinal products granted under national legislation not compliant with EU law will continue to be valid in that country, but not in the rest of the EU. Poland has also negotiated a transitional period for marketing authorisations for medical devices. For further information about each candidate country’s compliance with the acquis, please consult the Enlargement of the EU Guide to the Negotiations published by the European Commission.

While the European Union has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, some products need import licenses. There are some restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations in the import and in the export of farm products, to favour the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.

When being introduced in Poland, some products must be "CE" marked in respect to the European Directives adopted on the basis of the New Approach and the Global Approach. For further information, please consult the Guide to the Implementation of Directives based on New Approach and Global Approach.


Customs duties
Since its accession to the European Union on May, 1st of 2004, Poland has adopted the EU Common External Tariff. Consequently, trade with Poland is totally free from customs duties, provided that the country of origin of the goods is one of the other 24 EU Member States. Nevertheless, when introducing goods into Poland, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.

When the country of origin of the goods which are exported to Poland is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).

The duties for non-European countries are relatively low, especially for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food-processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, PAC) still know protective measures.

In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.

For further information, please consult the information document published by the European Commission about the impact of EU enlargement on customs policy.


Import taxes
There are certain excise duties on a large number of products (others than those already connected with excise, i.e alcohol, tobacco and fuel) such as motor vehicles for which the rates generally applied are other than Ad valorem.

>> To get further information on VAT rates, please check the list of VAT rates applied within the European Union

>> More detailed information on excise duties is available concerning alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, energy products on the European Commission website.


Regulations governing payments
There is no exchange control in Poland. Exchange transactions are supervised by the Exchequer.


Poland is the largest country in central Europe both in terms of area and population. Poland's geographical location gives it a strategic importance. It is situated mid-way between Paris & Moscow and between Stockholm and Budapest. It has borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia. It has important ports that are linked to the North Sea, thanks to the Baltic Sea. Moreover, it is a favourable place for the export of goods to the old Soviet republics with which Poland continues to maintain business relations. Poland, a member of the European Union since 1st May 2004, began a liberalisation process that has led to the arrival of a large number of foreign investors in the country. There are many opportunities available now; Polandís market being nearly 50% larger than that of the Czech Republic or Hungary.
The low income level of the Polish people (a net average of 540 euros per month) explains why they are so price conscious.

The Business to Consumer (B to C) market

Within just a few years, the distribution sector has practically turned private, and the number of retail outlets has increased considerably. However, these days, the sector remains de-structured with small businesses in rural areas being predominant as hypermarkets are not yet established there.
On the other hand, large foreign groups have set up themselves in the big cities, and out of 900 supermarkets, 432 are of foreign origin. Some of them are:
- Real belonging to the Metro AG group with 27 stores.
- Hypernova (group Ahold) with 27 stores.
- Tesco with 37 stores,
- Auchan, Geant and Carrefour (with 19, 17 and 14 retail outlets respectively).
Amongst the discount stores, the following stores are present:
- Biedronka,
- Plus discount,
- Leader Price, ...
The modern distribution network (consisting of hypermarkets, supermarkets and discount stores) had a market-share of 35% in the food business in 2004. One can assume that this trend will continue in favour of discount stores and small shops in small Polish cities.
It is estimated that in10 years time Poland will have a distribution system identical to that in western countries.

Nevertheless, the specialised distribution sector has not been able to escape growing internationalisation:
- in the D.I.Y. sector, there is Leroy Merlin, Castorama...
- in the electrical home appliances sector, Ikéa, Conforama...are present
- in the sporting goods sector there is Décathlon and Go sport...

The Business to Business (B to B) market
After the fall of the Berlin wall, Poland turned itself into a market economy and has taken numerous steps to attract foreign investors. This role has been given to PAIZ (Polish Agency for Foreign Investment), which provides information about rules and regulations to companies interested in exporting. This agency also facilitates establishing contact with professional organizations and the authorities. In 2004, FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) reached 6.159 billion dollars. However, bureaucratic administration and lack of infrastructure hinder Poland's development.
To enter this market, it is very important to have personal contacts as well as to attend various fairs and exhibitions. The method of representation in Poland depends on the level of investment: if one wishes to only sell one's products, having just a representative will suffice. If one wishes to make long-term investments, the franchise system can prove to be a good medium for penetrating the market. At the end of 2003, there were 167 franchise systems ( a growth of 35.8% over 2002), with 11,730 actual franchise outlets.


Transportation of goods

By road
The public road network extends over 235,000 km of asphalted roads, of which 45,000 km are classified as main roads, 300 km are highways and 260 km are freeways. This infrastructure is managed by the Head office of the Public Roads (GDDP) which is under the Polish Ministry of Transport (Ministerstwo Transportu i Gospodarki Morskiej-MTiGM).
Since European TINA program was launched in 1996 (Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment) for the integration of Poland to the TransEuropean network, the motorway network extends over a little more than 300 km with the opening of the Katowice-Cracovie axis. Several projects are in progress, especially the construction of the Gdansk - Bratislava and Berlin-Moscow motorway axis. In 1999 the Road traffic represented 50% of the goods transported or 350 million tons.

By rail
The rail network extends over 25300 km, of which 11,500 km are electrified. The rail network is administered by the national company of railroads: the PKP (POLSKIE KOLEJE PANSTWOWE). It is the third European rail network in terms of importance of infrastructure, the second for the volume of transported goods and the first employer of Poland.
The international lines (Intercity) offer excellent opportunities but the regional lines are in a bad state. Modernisation is necessary in the fields of roadsigns and equipment given that about 40% of the goods traffic is handled by rail transportation (in 1999, 190 million tons of freight were transported by rail).

By sea
The main ports of Poland are Gdansk and Szeczin-Swinoujscie. Major improvements of these ports was carried out in the last few years with the aim of European integration. In 1999, 6,500 tons of freight were handled by Gdansk. This port also recorded an increase of 73% for exports and a freight handling rate of 4800 tons in the same year.

By air
The main airports of the country are Warsaw, (Okecie), Cracow and Poznan. The national airline company, the LOT, was privatised in 1997. LOT made important investments in order to modernise the fleet and to improve the services to conquer the market of air transportation in Eastern Europe.


The Polish organisation for standardisation is the Polish Comitee for Standardisation (PKN), that is directly under the Polish Prime Minister. However it is independent from the administration due to its private status.
Certain imported products, wherever they come from, have to comply with some recent technical regulations before they are allowed.
The European technical standards are required.

Patents and brands

The organisation in charge of the protection of intellectual property in Poland is the Urzad Patentowy RP. It is a member of the European Patent Office (EPO).
Poland is a part of the WIPO (world intellectual property organization) and is a signatory to the agreement of Paris for the protection of industrial property. They signed the PCT (Patents Co-operation Treaty) and as regards to trademarks, they are part of the agreement of Madrid and the agreement of Nice on the international register of trademarks.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Law on Inventive Activity October 19, 1972, as amended on April 16, 1993 20 ans :
Trademark Law on Trademarks January 31, 1985 10 years, renewable for a further 10-year period :


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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