Could Santa Claus buy real estate in Poland?
As everyone knows, Santa lives in Lapland. But what with the wave of inward investment in Poland, what if he decided to pull up stakes and move his establishment to property acquired here?
Santa Claus is a resident of Lapland, a region that covers four different countries—Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia—but it is traditionally accepted that December’s most welcome guest hails from Rovaniemi, Finland.
In principle (that phrase had to get in somehow) acquisition of real estate in Poland by a foreigner requires a permit. The permit is issued by the minister for internal affairs, assuming the minister of defence does not object. In the case of agricultural land the minister for rural development also must go along. As Santa Claus is a natural person without Polish citizenship, he clearly qualifies as a foreigner for purpose of the Act on Acquisition of Real Estate by Foreigners.
Before a permit could be issued, it would have to be determined whether Santa’s acquisition of real estate in Poland would pose a threat to defence, security, public order, or public health. Low-flying sleighs could endanger air traffic. And what if the sleighs were used not for presents but to drop subversive literature?
Santa would also have to demonstrate ties to Poland, but given how many long for his yearly visits that requirement should be a breeze.
The minister for internal affairs could also set special conditions before permitting St. Nick to buy property here—who knows, he might have to promise to deliver gifts in Poland two or three times a year.
Fortunately for Santa, as a citizen of Finland—a member state of the European Economic Area—he is generally exempt from the permit requirement and can freely acquire real estate in Poland.
But even then, if his taste for Christmas trees got him interested in woodlands, he would still have to get a permit—Finn or no Finn. This is because the exemption for citizens of EEA countries does not apply to acquisition of agricultural land or forest land for a period of 12 years following Poland’s accession to the European Union—that is, until the 1st of May 2016.
Łukasz Filipek, Real Estate & Construction Practice, Wardyński & Partners