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Financial services for foreingers in Poland – how does it work?
Opublikowano: 5 października 2015

Provision of financial services to foreigners in Poland is on one hand determined by the relevant acts of law and on the other hand, by financial istitutions’ trying to ensure easy access to financial products and services for non residents.

The Foreign Exchange Law distinguishes between non-residents and non-residents from third countries. This disctinction regulates the terms and conditions of providing financial services to non-residents in Poland. In the narrow terms of the Foreign Exchange Law, a non-resident is a natural or a legal person whose domicile or  registered premises are outside of Poland, who is creditable and can acquire rights in their own name. A  non-resident from third countries is a natural or legal person whose domicile or registered premises are located outside of the European Union.

Financial services for non-residents who are nationals of the European Union countries are provided according to the basic principles of the common European market. Ever since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, as a member it is obliged to guarantee the free movement of workers, goods, services and capital (so called the EU Four Freedoms). These Freedoms are what largely contributes to an increase in and facilitation of the access to goods and services within the Union.

The free movement of capital means in practice that the citizens of the European Union can, without any  obstacles, use financial services in the member countries. For example, let’s have a look at the process of opening one of the most basic banking products – a personal account. Banks can manage individual and shared accounts both in PLN and in foreign currencies on behalf of the residents and non-residents as defined by the Foreign Exchange Law. Opening an individual account for a non-resident is a similar process as in the case of a resident – in principle, the only requirement is to submit a document confirming identity. Differences are visible in the case of shared accounts, which is regulated by the Tax Law. The owners of a shared account can only be of the same residency status. It means that a shared account cannot be managed on behalf of a resident and a non-resident or non-residents from different countries. If a resident and a non-resident want to use one account, then a proxy access to the individual account should be set up. In such case, an account has one holder (resident or non-resident) who is the single taxpayer. The other person uses the account as a proxy. In case of a change of residency status by one of a shared account owners which will cause the status to be different for the two holders, the holders are obliged to transform the shared account into individual accounts. A non-resident can submit a certificate of residency to avoid double taxation.

In justified cases, it can happen that in order to open a bank account, a person holding a status of a non-resident under the Foreign Exchange Law can be requested to submit in one of the branches a document, such as a current official document relating to the registered premises of the non-resident, including main details of the  non-resident and information about the non-resident’s legal status. Most often, however, the bank practice does not pose additional requirements for non-residents wising to open an account.

The provision of services to the clients who are non-residents from third countries can lead to additional  requirements. A great example: a regulation of FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), which obliges banks and other financial institutions to inform American tax authorities about accounts managed on behalf of American taxpayers. FATCA aims to ensure that natural persons and subjects with tax liabilities in the USA fulfill their obligations. It means that a client – non-resident will be obliged to complete so called FATCA test, the purpose of which is for the client to be granted an appropriate FATCA status.

Lastly, it should be said that no matter which act of law constitutes the grounds for the provision of financial services to non-residents in Poland, all financial institutions should simultanously consider the ultimate best
interest of a person, regardless of the residency status.


Kaja Skrzyńska

Kaja Skrzyńska,
Current Accounts Department,
Millennium Bank

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