How to open a shipping company (freight transport)

Service Business

A transport company deals with the transport of goods by motor vehicles (including vehicle combinations consisting of a motor vehicle and a trailer or semi-trailer). As part of road transport, the entrepreneur may also provide brokerage services in the transport of goods. Licenses or permits, as a rule, do not only apply to road transport performed with motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a permissible total weight not exceeding 3.5 tons in road transport of goods and non-profit road transport of goods. Otherwise, the entrepreneur must meet certain conditions. Below we suggest how to open a transport company.

How to open a shipping company - prerequisites

Entrepreneurs who are wondering how to open a transport company, first of all, should know that activities in the field of goods transport services, as well as in the field of brokerage in the transport of goods, are regulated activities. This means that their performance requires meeting certain conditions and obtaining appropriate permits or licenses.

The future owners of the transport company may not be convicted by a final court judgment for intentional crimes:

  • penal fiscal,

  • against security in communication, property, economic turnover, credibility of documents, environmental protection (i.e. they must have a good reputation).

In addition, they may not be prohibited from carrying out economic activity in the field of road transport.

Below are the conditions that must be met by an entrepreneur who wants to set up a transport company. Should:

  • have a permanent and real seat,

  • have a certificate of professional competence,

  • obtain a permit to pursue the occupation of road transport operator,

  • obtain a Community license or a license for road transport in the field of brokerage in the carriage of goods (depending on the place where the services are provided),

  • have the financial capacity that will ensure liquidity in running a transport company.

In a situation where the entrepreneur wants to provide services only in the field of brokerage in the carriage of goods, he must also obtain an appropriate license and a certificate of professional competence.

Determining the PKD number for the transport company

Depending on the specifics of the services offered, PKD numbers may be as follows:

  • 49.41.Z - road transport of goods. This class includes:
  1. transport of goods by means of road transport adapted to the transport of logs, livestock, frozen or chilled goods, heavy goods, bulk goods, including tanker transport of milk from farms, cars, waste and secondary materials, excluding their collection and disposal,
  2. Rental of trucks with a driver.
  • 52.29.C - activities of other transport agencies (PKD number for the facility dealing with the brokerage of goods),

  • 52.24.A - reloading of goods in sea ports (loading, unloading and reloading of goods and passengers' luggage in sea ports),

  • 52.24.B - reloading of goods in inland ports (loading, unloading and reloading of goods and passengers' luggage in inland ports),

  • 52.24.C Reloading of goods at other reloading points.

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How to open a transport company - acceptable forms of business

Running a transport company in Poland is allowed in any form of business, except for a partner company. The most common choice is a sole proprietorship, i.e. entering a natural person into the Central Register and Information on Economic Activity.

How to set up a transport company?

Economic activity in Poland can be conducted, inter alia, in the form of sole proprietorship, civil law partnership and commercial companies, regulated in detail by the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code.

Commercial companies are divided into companies:

  • personal partnerships (general partnership, partnership, limited partnership, limited joint-stock partnership)

  • capital companies (limited liability company and joint stock company).

If you choose to operate in the form of a partnership or a capital company, registration should be made in the National Court Register kept by the district courts having jurisdiction over the registered office of the company being created.The required forms are available on the website of the Ministry of Justice and from the courts. On the other hand, sole proprietorship and civil law partnership must be registered through CEIDG.

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The best form of taxation for a shipping company

After choosing the form of activity, the entrepreneur must decide on the form of taxation of the transport company. They can choose between taxation according to general rules, flat tax and lump sum on recorded revenues. It is not possible to tax the activities of a transport company with a tax card.

General rules may be profitable when the entrepreneur does not expect to exceed the first threshold of the scale, i.e. PLN 85,528 of income. Then he pays the tax in the amount of 18%, and if it exceeds the above-mentioned amount, the tax amount increases to 32%. However, when settling accounts on general principles, the entrepreneur has the right to benefit from the allowances provided for in the act.

The flat tax deprives such privileges, but guarantees a permanent taxation of 19%.

In the case of a lump sum, the transport of goods is taxed at 5.5%, but the taxpayer taxes his revenues (without reducing them by costs).

How to open a transport company - with or without VAT?

If the entrepreneur does not plan to exceed the turnover in the amount of PLN 150,000 in the tax year, he may take advantage of the subjective exemption from VAT.

After exceeding the above limit, he will be obliged to register as a VAT payer on the VAT-R form. It is also worth considering remaining an active VAT payer when companies are the recipients of services. Most of them are VAT payers who want to be able to deduct VAT.

ZUS contributions of the transport company

At the latest 7 days after setting up a transport company, the entrepreneur should submit the form to the Social Insurance Institution:

  • ZUS ZUA - if it is to be fully insured,

  • ZUS ZZA - if it is to be subject only to compulsory health insurance.

When establishing a sole proprietorship, the entrepreneur may pay preferential ZUS contributions. Thanks to this, for 2 years he will pay reduced social contributions to the ZUS account. During this time, there is also no obligation to pay contributions to the Labor Fund.

Company account of a transport company

An entrepreneur who has a company account is obliged to inform the competent tax office and the Social Insurance Institution about it. However, the regulations do not explicitly stipulate whether the entrepreneur is required to set up a separate, company account. If he wants, he can use his private account - but he must be its sole owner.

Housing conditions for a transport company

The provisions of the Act of September 6, 2001 on road transport impose an obligation on the entrepreneur to have a real and permanent seat, as well as an operational base.

The operational base is understood as:

  • a place equipped with appropriate technical equipment,

  • technical devices enabling carrying out transport activities in an organized and continuous manner.

The exploitation base must include (to choose from):

  • parking space,

  • place of loading, unloading or

  • combining loads,

  • maintenance site or

  • vehicle repairs.

Facilities built specifically for a road transport company must meet a number of construction, sanitary and occupational health and safety requirements.

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Obtaining a permit to practice as a road transport operator

The application for a decision authorizing the performance of the occupation of road transport operator shall be submitted to the staroste or the Chief Inspector of Road Transport, competent for the seat of the entrepreneur. The latter, however, can only take place when the entrepreneur is applying for a Community license and has not applied to the starost for the issue of the permit to pursue the occupation of road transport operator.

To obtain a license, an entrepreneur must meet the following requirements:

  • have a real and permanent seat in one of the Member States,

  • enjoy a good reputation,

  • have appropriate financial capacity,

  • have the required professional competences.

Requirements that must be met by a driver who runs a transport company

Drivers working in a transport company must also have appropriate qualifications, because a driving license alone is not enough.

An entrepreneur or other entity engaged in road transport may employ a driver, if the driver meets the following conditions:

  • is 18, 21 or 23 years old (depending on the driving license category required),

  • has the appropriate driving license to drive a motor vehicle,

  • there are no health contraindications to work as a driver,

  • there are no psychological contraindications to work as a driver,

  • obtained an initial qualification or an accelerated initial qualification,

  • completed periodic training.

Marketing of the transport company

The basis of good marketing for a transport company is, of course, a good website. It is worth including all the necessary information, such as the offer, price list and photos of cars. Competition in the transport industry is very strong, so it is worth investing time and money in an effective advertising campaign.

In addition, personal contact is very important, so it is worth taking part in trade fairs, exhibitions or industry conferences where you can meet potential partners, present your offer and establish further cooperation.