by Piotr Kopec
The issue of real estate acquisition by foreigners in Poland is governed by the Polish Act of 24 March 1920 on the acquisition of real estate by foreigners with subsequent changes.
Who is the foreigner?
Under the Polish law when it comes to the acquisition of real estate, the notion of ‘foreigner’ is understood as follows:
1) a natural person not having the Polish citizenship;
2) a legal person having its seat abroad;
3) a partnership of the persons referred to in above having no legal personality and with its seat abroad, created in compliance with foreign law;
4) a legal person and a commercial partnership having no legal personality and with its seat in the territory of the Republic of Poland, which is directly or indirectly under the control of the persons or partnerships mentioned above.
When is it necessary to have such a permit?
The general rule is that the acquisition of real estate by foreigners in Poland requires a permit issued by the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs.
It must be stressed that also acquisition of shares by a foreigner in a commercial company or partnership with its seat in Poland requires a permit of the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs, if as a result of such acquisition a company or a partnership which is an owner real estate Poland becomes a controlled company.
Under which conditions the permit should be issued?
The Polish Minister of Internal Affairs should issue such a permit if a foreigner proves that acquisition of real estate does not pose a threat to security of the State or to the public order as well as the foreigner proves that there are circumstances which confirm his/her ties with Poland.
The circumstances which confirm a foreigner’s links with Poland may particularly include having Polish nationality or being of Polish origin; a marriage entered into with a citizen of Poland; holding a permit for a temporary stay or permanent stay; membership of a managing body of the entrepreneurs in Poland and carrying on economic or agricultural activity in Poland in accordance with the provisions of the Polish law.
It should be borne in mind that the area of real estate acquired by a foreigner to satisfy his living needs may not exceed 0.5 ha, and in the case of acquisition of real estate for the purposes of conducting business needs should be justified by the real needs arising from the nature of the activity.
Permit for the EU citizens.
Foreigners who are citizens or entrepreneurs of the countries European Economic Area or of the Swiss Confederation are not required to obtain a permit. Until 2016 there were some exceptions to this rule connected with transitional period since joining EU by Poland.
Other cases when the permit is not required.
The Polish law provides also for some other exceptions when the permit is not required to purchase the real property in Poland by a foreigner. Among them the most essential ones are:
– acquisition of an individual living accommodation or premises with a garage,
– acquisition of real estate by a foreigner who has resided in Poland for at least 5 years since obtaining a permanent stay permit,
– acquisition of real estate by a foreigner who is a spouse of a Polish citizen and who has resided in the Republic of Poland for at least 2 years since obtaining a permanent stay permit,
– acquisition of real estate by a foreigner if on the day of acquisition he/she is entitled to statutory succession,
– acquisition of real estate by a foreign bank and a mortgagee at the same time.
Acquisition of real estate by a foreigner contrary to the provisions of Polish law is invalid. In the case of acquisition of real estate contrary to the provisions of the Polish law, the court shall decide on the nullity of the acquisition.