How do you employ a foreigner from the European Union in Poland?

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The combination of ongoing development of European integration and shortages on the domestic labour market is encouraging Polish entrepreneurs to draw on the potential of employees from the European Union. Although employing people from within the EU is considerably more straightforward than recruiting from outside this area, the process is still connected with certain formalities. So what should an entrepreneur do to take on an employee from other European Union country?

Who is a foreigner?

Despite the fact that according to the Art. 9 of the Treaty on European Union every citizen of a Member State is a citizen of the European Union, a citizen of another EU state is, in the light of Polish law, still a foreigner.

Pursuant to Article 3(2) of the Act on Foreigners of 12 December 2013, a foreigner is anyone who does not have Polish citizenship.

Interestingly, it’s worth adding that for a person with multiple citizenships, the Polish “citizen” is not a foreigner.

Being a national of an EU country entails considerable privileges, which member states are obliged to comply with under European Union law. They also concern the employment of workers in countries other than their own, which will be discussed below.

EU citizens in Poland

To work in Poland, a foreigner must first come to Poland from their home country. Article 45 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union guarantees freedom of movement for workers  within the EU. The provisions entitle workers to: 

  • seek employment in another member state;
  • work in another member states without obtaining a work permit;
  • reside in another member states for employment purposes;
  • remain in another member state, even after the employment relationship ends, provided that the conditions laid down by EU law are fulfilled;
  • be offered equal treatment as the nationals of a given member state in terms of access to employment, working conditions and social and tax advantages.

This freedom is expressed in the executive regulations of European institutions, on the basis of which member states create national regulations.

In Poland, this freedom is ensured by the Act of 14 July 2006 on entering, staying on and leaving the territory of the Republic of Poland by EU citizens and their family members (to simplify: ‘Act on Staying’).

According to its provisions, a citizen of another EU state may enter the territory of Poland on the basis of a valid identity document (Art. 9(1) of the Act on Staying), and if the citizen takes up employment in the country, he or she is entitled to the right of residence (Article (16)(1)(1) of the Act on Staying).

If the stay lasts longer than three months, the foreigner is obliged to register with the governor competent for the location of the stay; the governor then issues a relevant certificate (Article 20, 27 and 39 of the Act on Staying).

The provisions described above also apply to foreigners who are nationals of the States of the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland (Article 2(3) of the Act on Staying).

Employment of EU citizens in Poland

The Act of 20 April 2004 on Employment Promotion and Labour Market Institutions (referred to as the ‘Act on Employment Promotion’ for the sake of simplification) regulates the employment of foreigners.

According to its provisions, a citizen of another EU state, an EEA state or one that has entered into a relevant agreement with the EU and its members (e.g. Switzerland) is entitled to perform work within the territory of Poland (Article 87(1)(7–9)).

This means that the employer does not have to complete additional formalities related to the employment — those necessary for the employment of a Polish citizen are sufficient (i.e. those included in the Labour Code, social insurance regulations and so on). In particular, it is not necessary to obtain a work permit, which concerns other groups of foreign workers.

How to find workers among EU citizens

An employer looking for workers from the EU may be assisted by the EURES network. This is a European Employment Services network comprising domestic labour offices and other regional, national and international organisations from member states of the EU, EEA and Switzerland.

The network provides services related to job placement in the EU, and offers consultancy regarding the mobility of workers, making it easier for employers to find suitable candidates, and for employees to find employment.

In Poland, the system is coordinated by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, and the services it provides can be used in powiat (district) and voivodship (regional) labour offices.

These services include, among others, placing job offers in the EURES system, thus making them available in all countries in the network), and offering access to the CVs of employees interested in working abroad.

You can find more details about EURES on the following website: 


If an employer is interested in taking on a foreign worker, it is worth looking among the citizens of the European Union. The main benefits of this solution are that it allows you to avoid the responsibilities connected with recruiting from other countries, and that you can also use the EURES network for help.

Although employees from the countries outside the EU can find less beneficial working conditions and salary satisfying, the necessity to comply with numerous formalities connected with their employment can make their recruitment less attractive.

When making a decision, an employer should consider various circumstances and, ultimately, choose a cost-optimal solution.

If you find this article helpful and if it broadened your knowledge, please share it. I’ll be grateful!

Arkadiusz Szczudło

Arkadiusz Szczudło

Jestem adwokatem, Partnerem Zarządzającym w kancelarii Creativa Legal, wiceprezesem fundacji Creativa Education, mentorem i twórcą internetowym. Specjalizuję się w prawie nowych technologii oraz prawnym wsparciu biznesu – w tym w szczególności e-commerce i biznesu online. Jestem ekspertem w zakresie prawnych aspektów technologii blockchain.

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