Foreigners buying property in Poland generally do not face any significant hindrances on their home-buying journey.
Finding Poland’s real estate advisor, Marek Królikowski, has been pondering over the issue of foreigners buying property in Poland.
Over to Mr Królikowski then for this guest post:
The goal of this article is to inform both EU and non-EU citizens, who are planning to make an investment in real estate in Poland, of their legal rights. I will also provide some advice with regard to purchasing real estate on the primary and secondary markets. Finally, I will make foreigners aware of the importance of checking the Polish land register before making their final decision on a property.
Who is a Foreigner according to Polish Law?
In line with Article 3 of the Act of 12 December 2013 on foreigners, a foreigner is anyone who does not possess Polish citizenship (1).
However, we can consider the definition of ‘foreigner’ from a more legal position:
2. a legal person with a registered office abroad;
3. a company without legal personality of persons who do not hold Polish citizenship or a registered office in Poland, and which has its registered office abroad. This registered office was founded in conformity with the legislation of the foreign country;
4. a legal person and a commercial company without legal personality, that is based in Poland, and is controlled directly or indirectly by persons or companies listed in points 1, 2 and 3 above.
However, to do this article justice, it’s important to go beyond the aforementioned definitions of a ‘foreigner’. Namely, the rules for foreigners buying property in Poland vary according to whether they have citizenship of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes EU countries, or not. Swiss nationals are also in a privileged position when it comes to buying real estate in Poland.
Do EEA/EU/Swiss citizens have the same status as Polish citizens when it comes to purchasing real estate in Poland?
Citizens of EEA countries, which includes member states of the EU, and Switzerland can freely purchase real estate in Poland.
Therefore, citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who are members of the EEA, can also buy property.
This property may be in any form, be it a house, apartment, plot of land or forestry and agricultural real estate (subject to certain conditions pertaining to how large the real estate is).
EU citizens don’t face any restrictions when it comes to buying real estate. It doesn’t matter whether their intentions are to live in, conduct business in or rent out a property.
What about foreigners buying property in Poland who are non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals?
Non-EU citizens are able to buy a property without a permit in the following cases:
- Independent flat – Consisting of rooms, kitchen, bathroom, possibly a basement and an attic – to meet basic housing needs;
- Garage or a share in a unit intended for a garage;
- Houses and detached buildings – But only a foreigner with a permanent residence permit or a Permit for Residence of a long-term EU resident, who has lived in Poland for at least five years after obtaining these permits;
- Real estate belonging to a community property – In other words, a category of matrimonial property regime which assumes joint ownership of property acquired by spouses if specified by the law or contract. This point only applies to a foreigner who is both married to a Polish citizen, and has been living in Poland for at least two years on the basis of a permanent or a long-term EU residence permit.
Are foreigners better off buying a property in Poland on the primary real estate market (rynek pierwotny) or secondary market (rynek wtórny)?
As things stand, there are over 3500 “recommended” developers listed on the most popular Polish property portal, Otodom. This is obviously a lot. I presume that most foreigners buying property in Poland don’t have so many connections in the area they plan to move to. Therefore, it might be an absolute minefield for them to separate the reputable developers from the more dishonourable ones.
Buying a pre-construction apartment or apartment under construction might turn out to be a very stressful choice for the vast majority of foreigners. Besides worrying about the credentials of a developer, let’s not forget all the fitting and installation work that has to be done once construction work has been completed.
I’m not saying that buying a property on the primary market doesn’t have its advantages. Overall, however, my experience has taught me that most foreigners who buy properties on the secondary market are satisfied with their choice.
Accessing the Polish Land Register electronically
It’s possible to check the current ownership and legal status of a property via the electronic land register (rejestr ksiąg wieczystych). Let me give some tips as to how you can do that:
1. Head to the Polish land register on the Ministry of Justice website: https://ekw.ms.gov.pl/eukw_ogol/menu.do
2. Viewing the land and mortgage register for a specific property is possible only after providing its individual number. If you have one, click on the option below:
3. Enter the number in the spaces provided. In the first space, there is a drop-down option for the place in which the real estate is located. Click WYSZUKAJ KSIĘGĘ in the bottom right hand corner.
4. Click the following option for the most up-to-date version:
It should now be apparent to you that each land register consists of four sections:
Section 1 – Designation of the estate (including the parcels); basic information about the premises; list of property rights
Section 2 – Ownership – Details of the owner(s) of the estate or the holder of perpetual usufruct
Section 3 – Information regarding rights belonging to other parties. Ideally you want to see BRAK WPISÓW (no entries) here
Section 4 – The type and amount of the mortgage charged against the premises, if any
Just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to foreigners buying property in Poland
The topic of foreigners buying property in Poland obviously goes much deeper than the short advice guide I’ve provided above. Nevertheless, I plan to explore the issues mentioned in this article in much greater detail in future posts.
Many thanks to Marek for writing this post. If you’re interested in buying an apartment in Poland, either for yourself or to rent out, check out these two posts: