How to verify Polish freight forwarding company – formal requirements

Thanks to transport portals and platforms, it is quite easy to find a company that provides forwarding or transport services. However, in this case, we usually limit ourselves to contacting the selected forwarder via messenger, e-mail or telephone. Lack of a direct visit to the company’s headquarters increases the risk that we will outsource transport to a dishonest or even non-existent company, which may have dire consequences. At best, the contractor will not pick up the shipment, however, the situation will be much worse when the transported goods will be damaged or the contractor will disappear along with our shipment. Fortunately, thanks to publicly available and free information on the Internet, the risk of incorrect selection of a contractor can be significantly reduced. So what information should we check before we start cooperation with a Polish company? How to evaluate and check the shipping activity in order to be sure that we have made the right choice? In this episode, we present what formal requirements a forwarding company should meet in order to operate, and how to check these requirements.

First of all, make sure that the shipping company with which you intend to cooperate really exists. To do this, check one of two sources:
– Central Register and Information on Economic Activity (CEIDG) – in a situation where the company is registered as a sole proprietorship or civil partnership.
– National Court Register (KRS) – for corporations, that includes limited liability company and joint-stock company. KRS is only in Polish language.

In both databases, one can verify the name of the business entity and its Tax Identification Number (NIP). Furthermore, you can find information about company’s activity profile based on PKD codes. The PKD codes inform about the scope of the company’s activity – e.g. the forwarding activity corresponds to the PKD code 52.29.C. One can investigate if the forwarding or transport prowess is dominant for the company’s profile, or perhaps only one of the many areas that the company deals with. While, for example, forwarding activities may be related to consulting or IT activities, e.g. when the company additionally provides consulting services for the forwarding industry or sells software), the wide profile of services provided by the company, e.g. forwarding, real estate, trade, construction, may cast some doubts – it is not known what the company does and what its specialization is. It may prove that the company deals with everything that brings any income, without paying much attention to the quality of the services provided.

In addition, the KRS allows you to check, inter alia, whether the company is bankrupt, and who represents it. On the other hand, in CEIDG we can find equivalents in the form of data about the owner of the company and its status: active, suspended or closed. In the above-mentioned databases may also contain information
about special permits, e.g. a license for brokerage in the carriage of goods.

Another important piece of information is to check whether the company is an active VAT payer. This information can be verified on the website of the Tax Portal (in Polish language only). Why is information on the taxpayer’s status important? One of the principles of VAT is neutrality, meaning that the burden of the tax is borne by the final consumer, not the entrepreneur. Therefore, it is generally accepted that VAT is charged on sales and deducted VAT incurred on purchase. However, in order for such a “chain” to fulfill its task, the entrepreneurs participating in it should be registered as VAT payers. Therefore – in case of doubt – it is worth making sure that the seller issuing the invoice is a registered entity.

In addition, the company should have a regulated legal situation in the field of its activity. The company should first of all have a license to perform road transport in the field of brokerage in the carriage of goods. Additional permits will be needed for the transport of certain cargo type, e.g. waste or dangerous goods. Unfortunately, in practice, so far offices provide information about entrepreneurs with a long delay (calculated in years) to the National Electronic Register of Road Transport Entrepreneurs (KREPTD). Therefore, there is often a situation where a company has the required licenses and yet does not appear in the registry. Therefore, this register is not very useful at present and it is worth checking whether the information on your licenses is not already included in the CEIDG or KRS entries. Alternatively, you can check if the license scan is posted on the company’s website or simply ask the company to send you the scan.

In conclusion, we check the shipping company in the following databases
– CEIDG (sole proprietorship or civil law partnership) or KRS in other cases
– Tax Portal (https://www.podatki.gov.pl/wyszukiwarki/).
– National Electronic Register of Road Transport Entrepreneurs (KREPTD) (usually not up-to-date)

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