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Inheritance of a real estate property in Poland by a foreigner

Foreigner can become a real estate owner in Poland not only by purchasing one but also for example by inheritance. In such a case, if a foreigner is to become the owner or perpetual usufructuary of real estate in Poland, it is necessary to consider whether the Minister's permit should be obtained for the validity of the acquisition.

In principle, a permit is not required for foreigners from the European Economic Area and Switzerland in case of each purchase of real estate: sale, exchange, donation, merger, acquisition of shares or stocks, including inheritance situations.

However, in certain cases, the permit is also not required from a foreigner from outside the European Union, e.g. from Russia, China, the United States. This applies in particular to the purchase of real estate by inheritance or a  legacy ‘by vindication’ by persons entitled to the statutory inheritance.

The lack of permit in case of inheritance therefore applies to persons who are in the circle of heirs under the Act in accordance with Polish law (e.g. spouse, child).

Thereby, for instance, the son of a U.S. citizen would not be obligied to have a permit to inherit real estate property in Poland from his father.

Additionaly, permit is not requaired for purchasining residential unit outside a frontier zone by a foreigner from outside the EU. Thereby, foreigner from outside the European Union inheriting real estate property in Poland which is not in the circle of statutory heirs (e.g. a cohabiting partner) will inherit a residential unit in Warsaw without a permit.

However, when it comes to necessity of possessing a permit, the testamentary heir must apply for a permit within 2 years of the opening of the inheritance, otherwise the real estate will be acquired by the legal heirs. This also applies to the legatee accordingly.

If a foreigner from outside the European Union inherits shares in the company which owns the real estate, the necessity to apply for a permit within a two-year period should also be considered.

Therefore, if a Brazilian find out that he has become a shareholder in a Polish company because he inherited such property from his relative, he should examine whether the company owns real estate in Poland, and then consider applying for a permit to acquire it. Otherwise, it may turn out that due to not applying for a purchase within 2 years, the real estate will fall to somebody else.

Szczecin, Berlin, Poznań
18 October 2018

Ewa Kosowska-Czapla
Attorney-at-law/ Restructuring adviser