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Doing Business with PolandFootnote 1 – Incentives for Foreign Direct Investment

Poland has been successful in improving its business environment over the past decade (e.g. Global Competitiveness Report, World Bank’s Doing Business). This improvement is reflected in recognition of Poland as one of the top prospective location for foreign investors (not only in the CEE region but in Europe as a whole) and continuous inflows of foreign capital into Poland. In fact, between 2004 and 2015, the stock of Foreign Direct Investment in Poland has increased from $ 41.4 billion to $ 143.8 billion. There are several reasons why foreign companies view Poland as an attractive location for their investment:

There are many opportunities for foreign companies to obtain financial support for projects in Poland both from European Union Funds and domestic sources. Various sources and types of support may be available, depending on the scope of the project. Therefore, when considering a new investment in Poland, it is important for each case to be analysed individually and the Polish Investment and Trade agency (PAIH: is providing such information and support to investors along with several consulting firms such as EY.

Regional aid for new investments

Regional aid is the most popular type of aid for companies carrying out investment projects in Poland. It is granted only for “initial” or “new” investments, which are generally defined as investments related to:

The maximum level of aid a project can receive depends on the size of the company and where in Poland the project is to be located, and is calculated as a percentage of the higher amount of:

The percentage is the so-called “maximum aid intensity” applicable in a given region where the project is to be located.

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Source: Doing Business with Poland, EY:

Additional restrictions apply for calculating levels of aid for so-called “large investment projects”, i.e. projects exceeding the expenditure level of EUR 50 million – such projects are eligible for “adjusted aid amount” (i.e. aid lower than the amount which would normally arise from the calculation: regional aid intensity x eligible costs)Footnote 2.

Aid available for a given project is calculated on the basis of either investment costs or employment costs. Companies applying for aid are entitled to choose the higher of the two amounts as the basis for calculating the aid pool.

If the aid pool is based on investment costs, expenses eligible for aid may include:

Regional aid available in Poland can be granted in different forms, such as:

Different types of regional aid can be combined together. The only limitation is the aid intensity level set for the region where the investment is located. This rule applies only to aid granted for a single investment and it is possible to receive new aid for other investments project in Poland.

Special Economic Zones

Companies investing in Poland are able to benefit from CIT exemption for business activities conducted within SEZs. SEZs were created in the mid-1990s and cover selected parts of Poland where companies can operate on preferential terms and conditions. This type of support is also a type of regional aid and is available based on a SEZ permit until the SEZ ceases existence – which at present is set for 31 December 2026 for all 14 SEZs. There are 14 headquarters, one for each of the SEZs (see map), while each SEZ consists of several sub-zones located in different places, not necessarily adjacent to each other.

To note that the SEZ regulations are planned to be amended in 2018.

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Source: Doing Business with Poland, EY:

The amount of support available in SEZs is calculated in the same way as other types of regional aid, i.e. according to the map of regional aid intensities. However, in this aid scheme there are no cash payments (as with EU and domestic grants) – the benefit provided in form of CIT exemption.

The support is granted for a new investment or costs of new jobs created. Therefore, the maximum aid available is calculated according to the map of regional aid intensities (and based on investment or employment costs). Afterwards, this aid “pool” is utilised as CIT exemption in relation to income generated on business activities carried out by an investor in the SEZ area and listed in the SEZ permit. The investor can utilise the aid pool until the end of the SEZ’s existence.

To benefit from CIT exemption the investor must obtain a permit to operate in a SEZ. The permit specifies the conditions which the investor must meet, e.g. the value of the planned investment, the intended level of employment, and deadlines by which all the obligations set out in the permit must be met. The SEZ permit also specifies (by reference to Polish statistical classifications) the activities to be performed in the SEZ which qualify for CIT exemption. Revenues from activities not explicitly mentioned in the SEZ permit are taxable on standard rules.

According to regional aid rules, generally the investment activities can be started only after the SEZ permit is issued. Moreover, only investment costs borne (invoices paid) and new jobs created after the SEZ permit is issued may be treated as eligible for state aid.

Investors can locate their investments (business activity) in the area already covered by SEZ status or they can apply for a SEZ border extension to cover private land where the planned investment is to be located. In the latter case, the investor has to fulfil specific criteria. The SEZ extension process takes at least 6 months as it requires an amendment to the Council of Ministers Resolution.

There are no calls for proposals in SEZs. Companies can submit an application at any time during the year. A decision to extend the SEZ and/or issue a SEZ permit is taken within a formal negotiating procedure.

Government grant

The government grant (Multi-Annual Support Programme – MASP) is a regional aid scheme financed by the Polish government and dedicated to supporting large investments considered vital to the national economy. It has recently been prolonged to the year 2023, however, some changes to the Programme were introduced in 2017.

Support within MASP may be granted to:

As a rule, support cannot be granted if the local unemployment ratio is lower than 75% of the national average, unless:

Support may be based on a two-year employment costs of new staff hired or eligible investment costs. Depending on the type of eligible costs there are different entry criteria for projects.

Support based on two year employment costs of newly created jobs: support can be granted to entrepreneurs meeting the following entry criteria:

“Significant” investments mean investments with eligible costs of at least PLN 750 million and creating at least 200 new jobs or with eligible cost of at least PLN 500 million and creating at least 500 new jobs.

The level of support based on newly created jobs ranges from PLN 3,200 to PLN 15,600 per job, depending on a specific set of criteria. In the case of investments in voivodships: warmińsko-mazurskie, podlaskie,świętokrzyskie, lubelskie, podkarpackie, the above level of support is increased by 20%.

Support based on eligible investment costs: support can be granted to entrepreneurs fulfilling the following entry criteria:

“Significant” investments mean investments with eligible costs of at least PLN 750 million and creating at least 200 new jobs or with eligible cost of at least PLN 500 million and creating at least 500 new jobs.

The level of support based on eligible investment costs ranges between 2%-7.5% of eligible investment costs, depending on a specific set of criteria. In the case of investments in voivodships: Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie, Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, the level of support is increased by 5 p.p. of eligible investment costs up to the level of 12,5%.

Having fulfilled the entry criteria, projects are evaluated against additional detailed criteria, including:

There are no calls for proposals. Companies can submit applications at any time during the year.

Cash grants from EU funds

In the case of companies registered in Poland, cash grants from EU funds can be obtained for R&D, including:

In order to be eligible for a cash grant from EU funds, applications have to be filed within calls for proposals. Calls for proposal can be tracked on:

When applications are submitted they are thoroughly evaluated in accordance with specified criteria. The assessment process takes approximately 3-5 months and covers a formal and content evaluation. In the content evaluation, the application has to be awarded a minimum number of marks to secure the right to the grant. However, in the most popular aid schemes, the minimum number of points can be insufficient to actually receive the grant, due to the limited budget and high competition; if this is the case, cash grants go to applicants with the highest scores.

State aid for Research and Development

State aid can be granted for R&D projects that carries out:

Eligible costs of R&D projects include mainly operational costs (e.g. remuneration, depreciation, external R&D services, materials) while in the case of R&D infrastructure the eligible costs include investment expenditures.

The maximum support for large companies carrying out industrial research and development works is 65% and 40% of eligible costs respectively (provided that certain conditions are met). Support for R&D infrastructure is calculated according to the map of regional aid intensities. The maximum level of aid a project can receive depends on the type of the project. In the case of R&D projects the value of aid is calculated as a percentage of eligible costs, whereby the percentage depends on the specific category of research and development works within the project outlined above.

In the case of R&D projects expenses eligible for funding may include:

In the case of R&D infrastructure projects expenses eligible for aid may include:

R&D Tax Relief

Entrepreneurs conducting activities in the area of research and development (except from those, who pursue SEZ activities) may benefit from an income tax relief. Part of the following costs related to R&D works may be additionally deducted from the tax base:

Small and medium entrepreneurs may additionally deduct the costs of obtaining a patent for an invention:

As the R&D tax relief is not considered as state aid under EU regulations, the definitions of micro, small and medium entrepreneurs outlined in those regulations do not apply.

Real-Estate Tax (RETAX) exemption for new investment projects

It is possible to benefit from support in the form of real estate tax exemption. This source of support is available based on resolutions of City or Commune Councils where the investment is to be located. As a rule, the resolutions are issued based on a general regulation. The RETAX exemption applies to land and buildings and structures erected in relation to a new investment within the area of the City or Commune.

RETAX exemption may be available in the form of either regional aid or de minimis aid. In order to benefit from the RETAX exemption the following conditions need to be met:

Conditions of RETAX exemption depend on particular city council in each location and therefore may differ. However, the maximum value of potential RETAX exemption:


Embassy of Canada in Poland
Tel.: (48 22) 584 3360


Footnote 1

Government of Canada has prepared this report based on primary and secondary sources of information.  Readers should take note that the Government of Canada does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information contained in this report, nor does it necessarily endorse the organizations listed herein.  Readers should independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the information

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Footnote 2

Basic formula for calculating the adjusted aid amount is as follows: maximum aid amount = R × (A + 0,50 × B + 0 × C), where:

  • R is the maximum aid intensity applicable in the area concerned established in an approved regional aid intensity map and which is in force on the date of granting the aid, excluding the increased aid intensity for SMEs;
  • A is the initial EUR 50 million of eligible costs;
  • B is the part of eligible costs between EUR 50 million and EUR 100 million; and
  • C is the part of eligible costs above EUR 100 million.

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