Over the past few years in Poland, the process of interaction with the authorities has been slowly moving online. This is especially true when it comes to accounting and tax reporting.
If we do not have a valid certified electronic signature, we cannot send our company’s:
- Annual financial report;
- CIT-8 tax report form,
What about sending it the old way in an envelope? It is not possible anymore. The Polish tax authorities (Poland’s internal revenue services) — Urząd Skarbowy (US) won’t accept it.
It won’t count, and we will be facing a fine for failing to submit the relevant documents.
Having a qualified electronic signature is essential if we are planning on conducting business activities in Poland.
Furthermore, a qualified digital signature is an affordable alternative for those foreigners, who for a number of reasons cannot obtain the so-called ePUAP verified (trusted) profile.
For instance, if they do not have a PESEL number — national polish identification number.
The problem of the unavailability of ePUAP services is that when we register our profile, we must provide a PESEL number in order to verify identity.
This automatically makes access to this service difficult for those who operate a business in Poland and live outside the Republic of Poland, since PESEL numbers are issued only to foreigners who actually live in Poland.
You can obtain the PESEL number automatically when registering your address of residence here in Poland, however, if we live abroad and are not planning on residing in Poland, this may constitute a problem.
That is why we can use an alternative solution — the verified electronic signature.
Once we obtain it, we can use almost every service, that is currently available in Poland online, in particular:
- sole-trader registration;
- company incorporation;
- filing your PIT returns;
- submitting documents through S24.
If we have a signature, we can sign the necessary documents electronically in the same way as we sign them using our ePUAP profile.
Having a qualified digital signature, we can also submit documents under the state platform — biznes.gov.pl.
Differences between EDS and ePUAP Profile
If they are somewhat similar what is the difference?
Well, as we have already mentioned, the main difference is that the trusted (verified profile) is not available to all foreigners.
You have to understand that from every point of view it is a completely different type of service, despite some initial similarities.
ePUAP is basically a platform, through which we gain convenient access to government services. We can use any browser of our choice to log into the platform on our desktop or any mobile device.
Think of it as a solution similar to your online banking or any other similar platform: Payoneer, PayPal – you log in, you gain access to a number of options or services.
However, additionally, you can use your ePUAP profile to confirm your identity online, virtually acting as an alternative to e-signatures. You can use it to login on a number of government-run websites and sign documents.
If you ever saw a “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook” buttons, using ePUAP is similar.
EDS is merely a certified electronic signature, it is not a platform. You do not get access to any platforms when purchasing a digital signature issued by a Polish Certified Centre.
EDS is merely a way to confirm our identity, a virtual signature that confirms, that we are in fact who we are who we claim to be.
Furthermore, ePUAP is a government-run solution, while Electronic Digital Signature are issued by private companies, that were certified beforehand.
The use of EDS, on the other hand, requires a special digital certificate or a key. We need a special two-factor authentication security device, such as a hardware token for example (USB for instance).
We would also require special software. Some EDS may not work on all operating systems, therefore when choosing a signature, please make sure it supports your system (for example macOS or Linux).
Obtaining EDS in Poland
As we indicated above, qualified signatures are goods and services that are provided in the territory of the Republic of Poland by private firms, and not state bodies.
You can get a qualified signature from one of the certified representative companies in Poland.
A special body – the National Certification Centre – Narodowe Centrum Certyfikacji (NCCert), working with NBP, is responsible for providing such licenses and certificates to the Republic of Poland.
Currently available on the market the following solutions from companies that have received the necessary NCCert certificates:
- Sigilium Sign 4 (PWPW)
- Sigilium Sign 5 (PWPW)
- Szafir 2.0 (Krajowa Izba Rozliczeniowa)
- proCentrum SmartSign (Asseco Data Systems SA)
- PEM-HEART 3.9 (CenCert)
A full list of companies that currently have NCCert certificate and provide qualified EDS services can be found directly on the website of the National Certification Centre.
We can use any qualified signature that has been issued by a similar certified representative company in other countries of the European Union.
However we should mention it once again, the EDS itself the other software or hardware necessary for the formers proper operation are offered by private companies.
Their prices are regulated by the market, and not by administrative fees, provided by the applicable Law.
When choosing a suitable solution, remember that the price of a qualified signature depends on:
- the service company itself;
- certificate validity period (the business model of such firms works on the basis of a subscription, we buy a certificate for a period of 1-2 years),
- type of device used for signature (memory card reader, USB token or pcmcia)
Szafir Electronic Signature
One of the most well-recognized e-signature available on the Polish market is the Szafir 2.0 signature provided by the Polish National Clearing House – KIR.
As we said, since the business model of such firms works on a subscription basis, we can purchase the Szafir signatures with a validity period of 1 or 2 years.
Once the period of their validity runs out, we will have to purchase another certificate (for another 2 years for instance) if we are planning on continuing using the e-signature.
Documents signed with this signature always have the Xades file extension.
This is a format that is promoted by EU government bodies and is also recommended by the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration (MSWiA).
You can get the full information and order the Szafir 2.0 digital signature directly on their official website — elektronicznypodpis.pl.
Once ordered your Szafir 2.0 EDS, has to be picked up in person, at the pick-up-point of our choice. We can find the closest one to our home, by using the search function on the website.
Please do remember, that there is no way to confirm your identity online — the only way is to do it in person at one of the certified points, by providing them with a valid ID-document, that confirms our identity.
How to use the Szafir 2.0 EDS
Once you have confirmed your identity and received the EDS you purchased, you start signing documents digitally.
First of all, you have to install the required software on your computer. Szafir 2.0 supports Windows as well as other systems such as macOS or Linux.
- open the installed software on your computer (Windows, macOS or Linux);
- insert the received card into the card reader (we will find them in the kit we purchased);
- press the podpisz (sign) button and select the document that we want to sign on our computer;
After selecting the necessary documents, enter the PIN number in the field provided. Done.
Now we can register a business in Poland, submit our PIT returns or accounting documents to the respective authorities. We can even sign private documents.
We hope our information was helpful. Take care!