Kinga Ziemnicka, Łukasz Śliwiński

Maintaining and storing Polish company accounts outside Poland

Under recently amended provisions of the Polish Accountancy Act, authorised entities outside Poland may maintain and store accounts of Polish companies—but only in compliance with Polish accounting requirements.

Under recently amended provisions of the Polish Accountancy Act, from 10 April 2010 authorised entities from member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Association or countries that have signed an agreement with the European Community and its member states governing the freedom to provide services may maintain and store accounts of Polish companies.

Nonetheless, the company must ensure that the books can be made available to appropriate institutions at its registered office or at another place approved by the institutions if requested to do so.

Under the Accountancy Act, the accounts must be maintained in the Polish language and in Polish currency. This requirement also applies to other records inseparably linked to the accounts, including documentation approved under the accounting policies in force at the company and descriptions of computer systems.

However, for the internal purposes of the company there is no obligation to translate transaction documents as they are produced, which means that accounting documents issued in a foreign language may be recorded without being translated. However, accounting documents in a foreign language must be translated into Polish at the request of inspectors or auditors if required, e.g. for a tax audit. Generally, for the needs of external entities, certified translations are recommended.

It is also possible to book transactions in a foreign language, as long as the entries can be translated into Polish at any time.

Legal requirements regarding the currency of entries in accounting books mean that transactions cannot be recorded only in foreign currencies. The most common practical solution to this issue is simultaneous booking of data in PLN and the foreign currency (especially in the settlement account), which makes it possible to present accounting records either in PLN or in foreign currency, as needed.

A bilingual record-keeping system may also be used (accounting reports can then be generated by the system in whatever language is selected), or a system using abbreviations or codes for business operations rather than giving the full description of each operation. In that case, the company must maintain a list of abbreviations or codes with Polish descriptions. Accounting documents generated automatically by the accounting system (interest notes or the like) should also be available in Polish (unless they take the form of an abbreviation or code).

In some situations, the possibility to maintain and store accounts of Polish companies by entities outside Poland may be convenient for foreign owners of Polish companies, but they must nevertheless comply with the accounting requirements for Polish companies.

Kinga Ziemnicka and Łukasz Śliwiński, Corporate Law practice, Wardyński & Partners