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Poland - Banking

Although Poland has been part of the European Economic Area (EEA) since 2003 and joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, it is not one of the 19 countries that are in the Eurozone. This means that Poland does not use the Euro. Some businesses in tourist areas and near the border with Germany will offer prices in Euros. However, the currency conversion rate is usually poor so you will pay more in Euros than you will in the local currency.

The currency used in Poland is the Polish Zloty. Each zloty can be divided into 100 grosze (gr). The denominations in circulation are:

• notes - zl10, zl20, zl50, zl100, zl200
• coins - zl1, zl2, zl5, gr1, gr2, gr5, gr10, gr20, gr50

Using a credit card in Poland should not be a problem, and nor should using VISA/Maestro debit cards. You may come across remote, small businesses which do not accept them, but the majority of businesses will especially in the cities.

Cash is still widely used across Poland, and ATMs should not be hard to find as there are almost 23,000 of them in the country. Look for the “bankomat” sign. Cash machines which have a bank logo on them will not incur withdrawal charges above those specified in the terms and conditions for your bank account or credit card. There are a number of private cash machine networks in operation too, which will make a charge to your card for using the service. You should be advised on screen that the transaction will incur a fee and what the fee is; it should then be shown clearly on your bank statement.

If you need to change cash from one currency to another, it is best to find a “Kantor”, or exchange kiosk. These are privately run businesses which will usually give a better rate than at the bank and much better than at a hotel. You should be asked for your PESEL card (which has your national identity number) or your passport if you want to withdraw cash in a non Polish currency or exchange it for zloty. This is to deter money laundering by criminals.

Personal cheques are not used in Poland. Travellers cheques can be cashed in a bank but you must have valid identification documents with you.

The same tax structures in Poland apply to those who were born in the country and those who move there. Poland has tax treaties with more than sixty countries, including the US, which determine that an individual should not have to pay tax twice, to two separate countries.

VAT is charged on the purchase of all goods and services.

Additional excise taxes are charged on specific goods, including alcohol, cigarettes and petrol (gas).

Companies who have been incorporated or have their headquarters in Poland are subject to Corporation Tax. Polish and EU laws protect businesses located in Poland regardless of who owns the business; these include laws protecting intellectual property, bankruptcy and competition law. Full repatriation of capital, after-tax profits and dividend earnings is guaranteed so that foreign shareholders are encouraged to invest in Poland.

In September 2016 Moody’s published a report maintaining a stable financial outlook on Poland’s banking system. GDP growth was expected to remain sound, with lending growth expected to continue.

All banks in Poland are government regulated. The Polish Financial Supervision Authority supervises the following areas of the Polish financial industry:

• banking
• the capital market
• the insurance market
• the pension market
• supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates
• electronic money institutions
• payment institutions and
• payment service bureaus
• cooperative savings and credit unions.

Banking hours are different according to the bank and its branch location. Most branches open at 9am or 10am, which is after the normal 7am start for manual workers and 8am start for office workers. However, many bank branches will stay open until 6pm on a weekday which means the working public can do their personal banking after they finish their shift. Shops will often stay open until 7pm, shopping centres until 8pm, and some international supermarkets (which also offer internet grocery shopping with delivery to home) will stay open all night.

Whilst most shops will open at the weekend, including Sunday trading until 3pm, banks will close for the whole weekend. Banks will also close for the public holidays: New Year’s Day, January 6th (Epiphany), Easter Sunday and Monday, May 1 (Labor Day), May 3 (Constitution Day, Corpus Christi Feast, August 15 (Assumption), November 1 (All Saints Day), November 11 (Independence Day), December 25 and December 26 (Christmas).

There is a range of Polish banks offering current and savings accounts, as well as a number of international banks offering similar services. Citibank, known in Poland as Citi Handlowy, have a website and a call centre in English, though some people feel the charges are high. Millennium bank is popular for its customer service levels, and again the website is available in English. Mbank was the first fully internet-based bank in Poland and their call centres employs English speakers.

All banks will have a variety of fees and charges, although some will waive them if you pay in a certain amount each month or maintain a minimum balance. Typically the internet-based accounts will have lower costs. Some banks offer multi-currency accounts. Be warned that you will face steep charges for presenting cheques into your account.

Do not go overdrawn without the bank having authorised it, as the penalty costs will be significantly higher if you do so. It is possible to take out a loan with a bank, even as an expat. The bank will often expect you to have been banking in Poland for a couple of years previously, but each bank will assess the situation differently.

You will need to take your passport as proof of identity when setting up an account. Your are supposed to give proof of your home address in Poland. There is anecdotal evidence of PO boxes being accepted, but banking processes have been strengthened in the past couple of years. The bank must satisfy the regulators that you are not a money launderer. Your debit card and internet setup will be posted to your address, and you will then ring to activate the card.

There are a few banks which work with expats who will allow the bank account to be set up in advance of arrival in the country, but many bank accounts will only be available to those already living in Poland. Some expats arrive at a bank branch to open an account and are told that they do not have permanent residence cards so cannot be accepted. If this happens, ask the clerk to check with the manager or with Head Office to make sure this is correct.

If you wish to open a business account in Poland, there are a number of steps that must have been completed before you make an application:

• Own your own company
• Pay taxes in Poland, including social security and income tax
• Register the company for VAT

Read more about this country

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