Annual financial statements in Poland: This is how it’s done
21 Nov 2019
Since October 1, 2018 the submission of annual financial statements in electronic form is mandatory for companies in Poland – this also applies to foreign companies that have a branch in Poland. The document must be available in XML format and provided with a qualified electronic signature in accordance with the XAdES standard. This sounds rather trivial in theory, yet it may turn into some kind of a challenge in practice. Learn more about the details and how you can fulfill this requirement.
Digital financial reporting – Who is affected?
In short, this affects all companies registered in the Polish Commercial Register, the National Court Register KRS (Polish: Krajowy Rejestr Sądowy), unless they are exempted from the obligation to file annual accounts for any reason. It does not matter whether it is a Polish company or a foreign company with a subsidiary in Poland. The latter concerns around 150 companies headquartered in Austria, for example.
The relevant legislative amendment has been in force since March 15, 2018 and – after a transitional period of several months – made mandatory since October 1, 2018.
Digital financial reporting – What is needed?
There are a few points to consider when submitting your annual accounts in electronic form in Poland. Here is a brief overview of the procedure:
- The annual financial report must be prepared with a fixed, logical structure, i.e. in XML format. The abbreviation XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language” and describes a file format for the display of hierarchically structured data, which can be exchanged platform-independent between computer systems. This sounds more complicated than it is: XML files can be generated effortlessly from standard accounting software or from programs such as MS Excel.
- The annual financial report or the content of this XML file, respectively, must be available in Polish language; bilingual versions are not permitted as original documents. However, a translation of the report may be submitted as a separate file.
- The XML file must include a qualified electronic signature. This point can turn out to be rather tricky in practice – read more in the section “How to sign annual financial reports”.
- The annual financial report and all other necessary documents must be submitted via the Polish eKRS portal (link to the portal). Registration on this portal is done with an e-mail address and password, and subsequent authentication by means of a qualified electronic signature or via the ePUAP profile (more on this in the section “How to sign annual financial reports”). The registered person must own a so-called PESEL number as well in order to submit the documents (PESEL stands for Powszechny Elektroniczny System Ewidencji Ludności, English: Universal electronic population registration system).
The PESEL number is automatically assigned to foreigners who register for a stay of more than 30 days in Poland, otherwise it must be applied for.
How to sign annual financial reports
This question raises the main problem with the electronic submission of annual financial reports in Poland. Basically, two options are given for this:
- Use of a qualified electronic signature
- Authentication via the ePUAP trusted profile (ePUAP stands for Elektroniczna Platforma Usług Administracji Publicznej, English: Electronic Platform of Public Administration Services)
The second option represents an administrative hurdle which in some cases cannot be overcome. While the mandatory PESEL number can also be applied for by foreigners without permanent residence in Poland, the ePUAP profile must be initially authenticated – at a Polish municipal office, at the tax office or via the online banking system of selected Polish banks. In practice, however, this can hardly be achieved without residence in Poland.
This leaves the option of using a qualified electronic signature. The challenge here is of a more technical nature: attaching a corresponding certificate to an XML document is not a straightforward task. So far, there was only the cumbersome possibility of working with signature cards designed specifically for this purpose.
Annual financial statements in Poland – Solution
The change in law regarding the submission of annual financial statements in Poland has also posed a challenge to some XiTrust customers who have a branch or subsidiary in Poland. XiTrust has therefore developed a web service that enables signing of XML documents with the qualified remote signature, i.e. using the “Handy-Signatur” or xIDENTITY. As a result, customers of XiTrust can easily meet the decisive requirements when it comes to digital financial reporting in Poland.
If you are interested in using this web service and would like to sign your financial statements for Poland by qualified remote signature, do not hesitate to contact us – we are happy to help!
A note on the side: According to a principle of the EU-wide applicable eIDAS regulation, a qualified certificate issued in a EU member state must also be recognised in all other EU countries. After consultation with the Polish Foreign Trade Centre of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, we were assured that the certificates used – issued by the Austrian trust service provider A-Trust – would be accepted as valid in any case.
Additional information on this subject (in Polish language) can be found here.