Overseas Business Risk – Poland

Information on key security and political risks which UK businesses may face when operating in Poland

Political and Economic

Poland emerged into the global market place 20 years ago, transforming itself from a command economy into a free market. The private sector (almost 80% of GDP) is now the main driver of economic activity.

The key takeaways for companies wanting to visit the market are:

  • Just two hours from UK by plane

  • Low risk market with same EU market regulatory network as the UK

  • Significant opportunities for UK companies in a number of key sectors.

  • Resilient economy which has seen growth throughout the global economic crisis

  • Largest consumer market in newly joined EU countries, springboard for regional expansion

  • Politically stable, pro-business government


Poland has enjoyed uninterrupted growth since 1992. GDP per capita went up from 49% of the EU25 average in 2004 to 61% in 2009. In 2008 GDP grew by 5% and despite the global economic crisis in 2009 it went up by 1.7% – Poland was the only EU country to record positive growth in 2009. Growth in 2010 reached 3.8% y-o-y. Industrial output continues to grow rapidly, the growth of construction and assembly output accelerated. Production capacity utilisation has been rising steadily.


Poland attracted some €7.34 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2010 compared to c. €8.4 billion in 2009. 85% of FDI came from EU countries (mainly from France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Sweden) and 15% from the rest of the world (mainly from USA, South Korea and Japan).

Trade Profile

For more information on British-Polish trade, visit ten things you didn’t know about British Polish trade.


To find out about flight costs and travel options visit UKTI Poland’s making your money travel further in Poland page.

For the latest UKTI Poland news, events and business opportunities follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and join the British Embassy in Poland on Facebook.

Bilateral relations between the UK and Poland are excellent, and Poland also maintains strong relations both to its west with the rest of the EU, and to its east, particularly with the Ukraine. Civil society is very active, especially in the areas of crime reduction and good governance.

The Polish Ministry of the Economy website (in English) covers a wide range of economic and business areas, including information on doing business in Poland, economic statistics, trends, foreign trade details, inter-EU trade and a breakdown by industry and sector.

More information on political risk, including political demonstrations is available in FCO Travel Advice.

Bribery and Corruption

Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.

In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.

In 2011, Poland was ranked 41 (ranked 41 in 2010) out of 180 countries in the Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI).

Corruption has significantly reduced in recent years through a combination of law enforcement action and political will. The Polish Anti Corruption Bureau has been set up and reports of corruption are now far less common than even four years ago. Public willingness to confront the problem has also led to a reduction in opportunities for corruption. New laws give the person in receipt of a bribe immunity from prosecution if they report it to the authorities and assist in the prosecution of the bribe giver.

Visit the Business Anti-Corruption portal page providing advice and guidance about corruption in Poland and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them.

Read the information provided on our Bribery and corruption page.

Terrorism Threat

There is a low threat from terrorism in Poland

Read the information provided on our Terrorism threat page.

Protective Security Advice

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure also provides protective security advice to businesses

Read the information provided on our Protective security advice page

Intellectual Property

Poland adheres to all EU laws regarding copyright and intellectual property and the local branches of international watchdogs monitor breaches that may occur, including downloading of illegal software which mostly concerns the music/film industry. Nevertheless “piracy” of intellectual property remains an important issue the Polish government needs to deal with.

Read the information provided on our Intellectual Property page.

Organised Crime

Tobacco and Alcohol Smuggling

Poland has a large logistics industry and a history of producing innovative smugglers. These combined with the ready availability of counterfeit products put Poland at the forefront of European tobacco and alcohol smuggling. Cigarettes are the commodity being smuggled in the largest quantities and the UK is the destination where the profit is highest due to high tax rates. Counterfeit cigarettes also make up a significant proportion of the goods seized by customs at national borders, some produced within Poland and some manufactured outside the EU.

Tough action by the Polish Police has undermined many organised crime groups’ effectiveness. In previous years it was common to have to pay a crime group to run a business, but such practices are now rare. If you encounter any issues in this area you should, as with instances of bribery and corruption, contact the Polish Anti Corruption Bureau.

As in the UK, businesses should still be cautious when shipping goods through Poland as hijacking of heavy goods vehicles still takes place, especially where high value goods are being shipped. Caution should also be taken in securing premises where goods of value are stored. Businesses in Poland make extensive use of security guards in even the most innocuous locations and business premises. In such cases, a reputable company should be used as organised.

Read the information provided on our Organised crime page.

More information is available on overseas business risk in a range of markets.

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Countries: Poland
Topics: Insurance & Risk
Export Action Plan