Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

How to start a business in Greece

papers.jpgPhoto from assignmentdesk.net

When asked by the World Bank, Greece reported that it only took 15 steps and 15 days to start a business. In reality, however, there are up to 18 steps and each has other steps that could extend the processing time to months or years, unless connections and bribes are used to speed the process.

This post combines the steps disclosed to the World Bank, official documentation translated to English and the real-life experiences of myself and other Greek, EU and non-EU citizens who started businesses in the past 15 years.

If you’re looking for EU and American businesses already operating in Greece, see the category “Jobs in Greece” or take a look at links in the right column.

*Article last updated September 13, 2014. Seeking someone who used the so-called “one-stop process” to share his/her experience.

Is it a good idea to start a business in Greece?

A collection of real-life stories from business owners in Greece, who talk about pros and cons.

You can find more stories in ‘Comments’ from readers who shared their personal experience.

Introduction

Information and research in this article pertain to the bureaucracy required of everyone interested in being self-employed in Greece and/or opening a business.

It does not — and never will — cover individual industries or all types of businesses and operating permits/licenses, nor advise you on how to maintain, grow or close a business. Why? Because this would require writing a full-length book in need of constant updates as laws change. It’s also impossible because every business is uniquely different.

  • If you’re searching the Internet for information on what business to start in Greece, that’s an indication you do not know the market and have a difficult road ahead in a crisis climate.
  • If you cannot complete the process yourself or have trouble with the language, it is recommended you screen, consult and/or hire an accountant, lawyer or other business adviser to help you for a fee.

The point of being in business for yourself is to assume control of all associated risks, joys, successes, responsibilities and (that’s right) problems, hassles and the unknown. If you’re unwilling to do that, update your CV and get a job at a company that did.

Cost of starting a business in Greece

The cost of starting a business depends on countless variables, such as location, type of business, rental or purchase of property and equipment, bank loans, rate of interest, lawyer and accountant fees, cost of materials, your tax bracket, the industry, and whether you’re an EU or non-EU citizen. Some fees and tax levies are calculated using a percentage, as illustrated in the table under “Overview.”

When the World Bank did its annual “Doing Business” survey, Greece was found to have the highest official start-up costs in comparison to all other EU countries, the United States, Canada and Australia at 23.3 percent of GNI/capita. See “Doing Business in Greece vs. other countries” for details.

Rules for non-EU business owners

Americans, Canadians, Australians and other non-EU citizens interested in opening a company or being self-employed in Greece must meet the following qualifications as the first step. If you are an EU citizen, go ahead and skip to the next section.

Investors: For non-EU citizens seeking to start a company:
a) Proof of €300,000 minimum capital;
b) Creation of at least 10 new jobs, of which 30 percent must be given to Greek citizens; and
c) An application and business proposal submitted in Greek proving that the business will “contribute to the growth of Greek economy,” which must be reviewed and approved by the Greek Ministry of Interior.

Partnering with a Greek or other EU citizen does not absolve you from these rules. The only way you can get around this is to make your Greek/EU partner the sole owner or be a dual citizen with the EU. See, “Acquiring EU citizenship through ancestry or naturalization.”

Self-employment: If you are not an investor with the intention of employing workers, but looking to be self-employed or a legal freelancer or consultant in business for yourself, you must:
a) Hold a Greek residence permit for one year in another category — i.e., a permit as the spouse of a Greek/EU citizen, or a permit as a salaried employee, or a permit secured by independent financial support from outside Greece. See “How Americans/non-EU citizens can get a permit to move, live and work in Greece.”
b) Deposit €60,000 in a Greek bank account; and
c) Submit an application and business proposal in Greek proving that the business will “contribute to the growth of Greek economy,” which must be reviewed and approved by the Greek Ministry of Interior.

If you do not qualify, or cannot get around these requirements by becoming an EU citizen, you cannot open a business as a non-EU expat in Greece.

For non-EU investors and self-employed entrepreneurs who deposit the necessary capital, have the right permit and submit proposals in Greek, rejection or approval could take up to one (1) year or more, and renewal of the permit requires proof of ongoing minimum investment of €60,000. Currently, the only way to get fast-track approval within three months is to:
a) put up an initial investment of €200 million, or
b) put up an initial investment of €75 million, create 200 jobs of which 30 percent must be given to Greek citizens, and invest a minimum of 1 million a year for three years in technology and innovation.

Because of stringent rules, corruption and heavy bureaucracy, investors of all nationalities — including Greeks — sometimes opt for another country (see, “Who really steals jobs from Greeks?“), and those seeking to take part-time side/freelance work end up accepting money under the table.

Business Licenses & Pre-screening

If opening a bar, restaurant or club, you will need a license issued by the city or municipality where the business will be located.

A limited number of licenses are issued per year and there may be a waiting list, so it is wise to consult the municipality’s Mayor’s office or City Hall about securing the necessary licenses before starting the steps below and renting or purchasing property. Otherwise, you risk paying costly expenses on a non-operating business. Some use connections to speed or skirt the process, as described in, “Greece, where connections are everything.”

There are also permits required for playing music, placing tables and chairs outside, using umbrellas, parking spaces, and safety. Owners and employees serving food or drink must also get a paper from police that certifies their age, clean criminal record and disease-free, non-HIV health status.

On February 24, 2009, it was agreed that no further licenses will be issued to entertainment venues or eating and drinking establishments in Kolonaki, Gazi and Pangrati until February 21, 2011. See “No new licenses for bars, eateries and clubs in the center.” The ban on new licenses was extended to December 31, 2011, while the City of Athens examines the impact of new businesses on traffic, garbage and noise pollution, after which there were several elections and no decision announced.

Aside from business licenses and permits, persons providing services (i.e., food/beverages, hairdresser, health care, sales, security, etc.) must submit an application for a professional license, which must be done in Greek at the government portal ‘Hermes‘ or at a KEP Citizen Service Centre.

*Some information in this section comes from specific, first-hand experience of a Greek citizen.

Employers in Greece wishing to hire non-EU employees

In February 2008, the ministry of interior announced minimum annual income requirements that apply to all employers in Greece seeking to employ non-EU workers.

  • A private employer or small business owner is required to show an annual income of €24,000 or more before hiring non-EU citizens.
  • Companies must show a yearly profit of €60,000 before opening positions to non-EU workers.

Because tax evasion is widespread and the Greek economy is struggling, this measure is seen as discriminatory.

Overview

All new business owners regardless of nationality or industry will be required to complete the following steps. Self-employed complete steps #4 and #10-15. It is assumed that non-EU citizens have deposited their capital and had their proposals in Greek approved by the Interior Ministry by this point.

There is no handbook in any language for opening, closing or doing business in Greece. This article is the most comprehensive step-by-step guide available for free since 2007 and combines first-hand experience from business owners of many nationalities.

# Description Days Cost (€)
1 Get approval of the company’s name from Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1 33
2 File company documents with Athens Bar Association 1 10 + levy %
3 Sign Articles of Incorporation before a notary public 5 up to 1320
4 Deposit capital in a bank 1
5 Pay capital tax to the Eforia-DOY 1 1%
6 Get a stamp from the Lawyers’ Pension Fund 1 0.30
7 Get certification by the Lawyers Welfare Fund 1 5.80
8 Submit Articles of Incorporation and register with Court secretariat to get a register number 1 5+
9 Submit Articles of Incorporation summary for publication in Official Gazette (FEK) 26+ 272
10 Register at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1 147 + 2.4%
11 Register with OAEE (was TEBE), OGA, etc. 1
12 Get an AFM (tax no.) for the business 1
13 Commission a vendor to make a stamp/seal 1 40
14 Have the Eforia punch company receipt books and accounting log 1
15 Notify Manpower (OAED) within 8 days of hiring a worker 1

The government elected to office on October 4, 2009 announced it would revise criteria and simplify the process of securing business licenses and permits in 2010, but nothing was officially passed into law before they left office in November 2011.

Notes for each step

It is general knowledge that anyone partaking in Greek bureaucracy will need to have identification, several photocopies of various documents, passport-sized photos, the ability to speak/read Greek and a lot of patience. Offices are located in different parts of a city and revisiting the same office (i.e. eforia/tax office) within a process is common.

Many employ a Greek-speaking attorney or accountant to assist, though some manage well on their own as I did. Finding a patient friend with a car or hiring a taxi driver for the day is sometimes a solution to public transportation delays, parking and finding a taxi on demand. I also recommend carrying spare change, an office kit (pen, pencil, liquid paper, stapler, paper clips) and a map book.

These notes are provided as a supplement to the steps listed in the table above and are based on first-hand experience.

Step 1: Forms must be filled out in Greek, and you will be given a certified document when approved.

Step 2: All applicants pay €10 for certification of an attorney’s signature on the draft. A levy must be paid when a company’s capital exceeds €29,347, and the percentage depends on the bracket.
a) 1% up to € 44,020
b) 0.5% from € 44,020 to € 1,467,351
c) 0.4% from € 1,467,351 to € 2,934,702
d) 0.3% from € 2,934,702 to € 5,869,405
e) 0.2% from € 5,869,405 to € 14,673,514
f) 0.1% from € 14,673,514 to € 29,347,028
g) 0.05% from € 29,347,028 to € 58,694,057
h) 0.01% on capital exceeding € 58,694,057

Step 3: Found normally by recommendation of a lawyer, the notary public examines and certifies the articles. Fees vary widely.

Step 4: The minimum capital requirement is said to be € 18,000, which could be lower or higher depending on your citizenship as mentioned previously and the type of business being opened.

Step 5: Capital tax must be paid at the eforia within 15 days of signing the Articles of Incorporation at the notary public or a penalty will be assessed. Depending on the amount, the eforia may request that a payment check be drafted at your bank, then signed and certified by two tax officials at the eforia before going to the cashier for a receipt.

Step 6: The Lawyer’s Pension Fund in Athens is at Pireos and Sokratous Streets. * All municipalities have a local office.

Step 7: The Lawyer’s Welfare Fund in Athens is at Harilaou Trikoupi and Navarinou Streets. * All municipalities have a local office.

Step 8: To complete this step, you will need two copies of the Articles– one certified and one simple. See, “How to certify a document in Greece” if you need help.

Step 9: A portion of the 272 euro fee must be paid to the eforia and another portion to the National Printing Office; both issue receipts, and these must be taken to the official Government Gazette or Fyllo Efimeridas tis Kyverniseos (FEK), which will give you a protocol number. Publication of your Articles will take  30-60 days.

Step 10: To register at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, you need:
a) Notarized copy of the Articles stamped by the eforia, the Lawyers’ Pension Fund, the Lawyers’ Welfare fund
b) certification of prior approval of company name (from Step 1)
c) an original of the Government Gazette containing the published summary of the Articles of Association (it is acceptable to file the protocol number, then replace it with the published issue)
d) * Note: My experience is that the Chamber will ask for proof of your personal AFM and official registered address at the eforia, in addition to proof of insurance, which means steps 10 and 11 should be reversed unless you have an existing policy.

Step 11: Registering with OAEE (TEBE), OGA or another insurance fund (not IKA) depends on the type of business being started. Typically, you will be asked to fill out a form, provide photocopies of your identification, previous insurance coverage, proof that you are opening a business and the location (lease), and pay a deposit and the first months’ fees. An OAEE (TEBE) office will normally require that you deposit the money at the post office or other payment location, then bring back the receipt; I have no specific info on OGA or other types.

Step 12: The Etairia Periorismenis Efthinis (EPE) must issue approval to commence operation within 30 days of submitting the Articles of Association to the Court. The statement is filed with the eforia, along with:
a) Certified copy of the company’s official Articles
b) two original copies of the Government Gazette, in which the Articles were published
c) lease agreement or agreement for the free assignment of use of the office space, certified by the eforia
d) certificate from the Chamber of Commerce that you have registered
e) certification from the relevant social security fund that you (and your partners) have registered for insurance or have an exemption
f) photocopy of the receipt of payment of capital tax (from Step 5)
g) photocopy of your identification
h) proof of an individual’s AFM
i) authorization letter from the EPE administrator to the individual who will file taxes/docs at the eforia (owner, accountant or other)
j) completed application forms provided by the eforia

After submitting the above documents, the eforia provides the EPE with a certificate for the commencement of business operations and the AFM for your business.

Step 13: A self-inking rubber stamp (sfragida) can now be commissioned from any local shop with the company name, address, phone and AFM. It is necessary for issuing official receipts/invoices, submitting tax forms and all transactions pertaining to your business at the eforia. You’ll need it immediately for Step 14.

Step 14: Purchase an accounting log and receipt books at any office or school supply store, and use the company stamp to imprint the accounting log and every single page of receipt books. Now they are ready for the eforia to punch, and a document pertaining to what was punched is issued. (You can now use them for any company-related or freelance transactions when money changes hands)

Step 15: When hiring a worker, you are obligated to provide a proper work contract (Anaggelia Gnostopoihsis oron Atomikis Symbasis Ergasias) and employer certification (Bebaiosi Ergodoti), so employees can get an AFM, sign up for IKA and apply for a residence/work permit (if applicable).

More information

For more information on joint ventures, partnerships, statements, securing the proper certificates, how to start an S.A. in Greece, and fees and documentation required by the Chamber of Commerce, see “Starting a Business” from Ermis, offered in English, French and German.

The EU has a section called “Setting Up a New Business — Greece” for EU citizens. Unfortunately, the majority of information is in Greek.

A non-profit organization called Hellenic Organisation of Small & Medium Enterprises (EOMMEX), operating under the ministry of finance, claimed to assist and support interested parties in everything needed to set up a business in Greece, but has since shut down. The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says it offers a “One Stop Shop.” Note that this may be an exaggeration of services.

Business grants

Greece does not generally offer grants to entrepreneurs wishing to start a business, though there are some indications this may change with the economy in need of stimulus.

For new businesses: Most grants for news businesses seek to encourage entrepreneurship amongst an underrepresented sector, such as women or green businesses.
— An EU-funded program called ESPA is, unfortunately, plagued with bureaucracy and few people have received assistance because the money was diverted elsewhere. See “ΕΣΠΑ 2007 – 2013” in Greek with a limited English version.
— TEMPME/ΤΕΜΠΜΕ currently has 90 million available for green development in the industries of tourism, recycling and sustainable energy. See “Ταμειο Εγγυοδοσιας Μικρων και Πολυ Μικρων Επιχειρησεων” in Greek only.

For existing businesses: There are grants available from the Περιφερειακού Προγράμματος Ενίσχυσης Μικρών και Πολύ Μικρών Επιχειρήσεων (Regional Assistance Program for Small and Very Small Enterprises) to those with an established business, should the owner wish to renovate or improve a business that contributes to the local Greek economy. Periods during which owners can apply are announced in Greek by the Greek media and government-affiliated websites.

Eleftherotypia compiled a list of current loan and subsidy programs on offer in 2010, but all are in Greek. See “Subsidies and loans for businesses in Greece.”

Other risks in doing business in Greece as a foreign company

Should your company be a brand name multinational from abroad, homegrown and successful, or perceived to represent wealth and westernization, it may also be a target for bombings and vandalism that have increased in frequency. Wealthy business owners have also been held hostage and released only upon payment of large ransoms.

This is a small sampling:

22 Mercedes torched at dealership in affluent suburb” – Eleftherotypia (January 2010)
Athens bomb targets McDonald’s” — Reuters (July 2009)
Large bomb hits McDonald’s” — Kathimerini (April 2009)
Two Citigroup branches bombed in Athens” — Bloomberg (March 2009)
Wife pays €30 million for release of Greek shipping tycoon” — Times (January 2009)
Automotive businessman in Thessaloniki kidnapped” – Kathimerini (Oct 2008)
Royal Dutch Shell targeted in southern Athens” – Reuters (Oct 2008)
Bodyguard of shipping tycoon survives car bomb” – Kathimerini (Sept 2008)
Bombs detonated at luxury car showroom, research institute and German-owned businesses” – Kathimerini (July 2008)
Kidnap Inc.” – Forbes (June 2008)

Greece vs. other countries

An article called “Doing Business in Greece vs. the EU, USA, Australia and Canada” is a straightforward comparison based on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2008 report that evaluated vital elements in setting up a business, then ranked economies according.

Other articles of interest include, “Examples of jobs and salaries in Athens” for real-life case studies of Greek and non-EU business owners.

Sources

2008 Doing Business Report from the World Bank
What Greece’s new 3386/2005 immigration law says” – Ethniko Idryma Erevnon (from 2005, but little has changed since this major reform)
Creative youngsters shun bosses and go it alone” – Kathimerini ‘K’ magazine
Νέο καθεστώς για τις άδειες των εμπορικών κέντρων” — Ta Nea
Record high red tape” — eKathimerini
Fast Τrack για θέσεις εργασίας” — Ta Nea
Νέες άδειες για μπαρ στην Αθήνα” — Eleftherotypia
Γάμος με ψηφιακά παράβολα” — To Vima
— Official documentation I collected then translated from Greek to English, plus personal notes taken over 5 years
— Experiences of Greek and EU citizens from 1985-2011
— Experiences of non-EU citizens who started businesses before the 2005 rules came into effect, including myselfblog counter

In the News

EU to fund young, Greek entrepreneurs” — FT
500 Gas stations forced to close” — Ta Nea (July 2010)
Business owners in Greece amongst world’s most highly stressed” — Kathimerini (April 2010)
More than 400 hotels across Greece now for sale” — Kathimerini (April 2010)
10,000 Businesses in Greece forced to close in 2009” — Kathimerini (January 2010)
Corporate tax lowered to 20 percent on all profits as of January 1, 2011” — Reuters

Related articles

List of eforia/tax offices in Greece
How to certify a dilosi, photocopy or document in Greece
How to get an apostille

The Author

Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”

  • Livingingreece.gr was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites/forums run by people without credentials.
  • @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 15 years experience.

Note: If you run a competing website distributing information or news about Greece, please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.

Updates pending
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_21/11/2011_415818
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_23/11/2011_416157
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_12/12/2012_474192
http://www.tovima.gr/finance/article/?aid=490744

203 Comments

  PanosJee wrote @ October 26th, 2007 at 20:08

we suck ! unfortunately i faced too much bureaucracy when starting my business and because of delays of tax service we got a fine that we were late ! also avoid starting something in August and being in a hurry! just forget it !

Kat Reply:

P – Doesn’t it suck sometimes to own a business? I’m glad I never need to pay FPA, fill out the same form different ways depending on who is manning the desk or get audited ever again.

  A wrote @ October 27th, 2007 at 02:05

I cannot believe that you accumulated all this information. It is amazing.

Kat Reply:

A – Someone should benefit from years of adversity 😉

  The Scorpion wrote @ October 27th, 2007 at 09:09

After reading all of this, it reminded me of something the American Steve Martin once said:

Do you want to be a millionaire and NEVER pay taxes???

FIRST STEP: Get a million dollars..

  graffic wrote @ October 27th, 2007 at 16:16

One nice thing to import from abroad: the “only office”. I don’t know how to translate it but in fact is a service to start your own business and all the papers are done there, they tell you what you need (usually a lawyer will be helpful) and that’s all. Even my friends open business when they have a new idea in order to sell it… what I can say. Should I become politician to change this? will someone vote me?

🙂

Kat Reply:

G – KEP exists to help Greek/EU citizens, but the quality of info for non-EUs is still poor and the whole process could be simplified if some of these offices were located in the same bldg…or even the same municipality.

  NJ Greek wrote @ October 31st, 2007 at 17:28

Thanks for posting this; I’d seen the “official” report at doingbusiness.org but it’s good to get a personal view as well.

It’s also worth thinking about “intangible wealth” (http://www.reason.com/news/show/122854.html) in addition to bureaucracy and corruption.

Though the “Reason” article did not say specifically, I’d expect Greece to rank towards the lower end of the list.

Kat Reply:

NJ – I saw the article, but since it didn’t mention Greece as you said, I never referenced it. Corruption is another post for another day. As it is, this post was quite long, and I find it’s better to not overload readers. But you’re correct — corruption, bribes and several other factors are essential things to consider when setting up shop in a country.

  Julia wrote @ March 7th, 2008 at 23:20

How do I translate my U.S. cosmetology license? This way I can make it Greek and rent it as an adeia Askiseos Eppagelmatos Kommotikis?

Kat Reply:

Translations are covered on the Translations post on this site, and foreign university degrees must be examined and recognized for a fee at DOATAP (http://www.doatap.gr). However I do not know anything about cosmetology licenses. You should inquire directly with DOATAP or KEP, who might have better information for you.

  jayne wrote @ March 24th, 2008 at 13:09

am hoping to open bar & restaurant in porto rafti athens but dont know much about taxes on building and rates etc can you help

great website has helped me a lot please keep it running

jayne from england x

Kat Reply:

J – Everything I know is contained in this article. Beyond that, I only know what papers are needed to file quarterly and keep books (which most people give to accountants to handle), how to issue receipts and close a business (also a huge pain); at this time, I have no plans to do articles on those topics. If you are an EU citizen, it will be much easier for you, guaranteed. I know someone who opened a bar last year, however he’s Greek and got it done through connections built over 10 years.

As I say in the article for restaurants and bars, it’s important to first check with the mayor that there are licenses available, seek out and look at potential locations in person, then consult with an accountant and/or lawyer to get a sense of the tax burden. Building and renovation rates vary widely.

I’m glad this website has been helpful, but to be honest I don’t know how long I can go on since I earn no income from it and it takes a lot of free time.

  Pat wrote @ April 10th, 2008 at 09:46

hi there. got referred to this blog by my greek co-founder. As a point of reference, in the USA being self-employed is equivalent to being unemployed… in other words you can decide not to work and be “unemployed” or say you are working on your own but not yet making an income in which case you are “self-employed” 🙂

Incorporating and starting a legal business but not one requiring special permitting (such as a restaurant) is also pretty easy. File some documents with State of California. Send in your $800 every year. File tax returns as needed. That’s it.

Kat Reply:

P – Hi again! The first 3 months of paying TEVE/OAEE (insurance) would exceed the $800 you mention, which is the reason many do not leave their status ‘open’ in Greece, if they’re not making money. It’s not at all the same in time, expense, bureaucracy or transparency.

  simon gilliat wrote @ July 8th, 2008 at 19:57

hi…thanks for the advise been a big help..but also alot to take in…im an EU Citizen wanting to set up a watersports business in Tsilivi Zante..specialising in jetski hire and day trips to kefalonia…would this be pretty straight forward?… Theres only 1 other watersports company and have read 1 bad review after another about the way they opperate..so plenty of business to go round…but will only be opperating May through to Oct…does this make any difference to setting it up..paying taxes etc….

Kat Reply:

S – Hi there. As an EU citizen, you’ll have a much easier time setting up the business in comparison to a non-EU citizen who must first submit a business plan and come up with 60,000 euros cash. But as I say in the article, you will still be obligated to go through the 15 steps and their sub-steps mentioned above all done in Greek over many months (in the table, you’ll see a minimum of 44 working days, but I assure you it will be longer). Whether it’s straightforward or not really depends on how you define that word, what kind of bureaucracy you’re used to, how much patience you have, bribes and connections, your fluency in Greek and if you employ an accountant or lawyer to assist you. Forbes published a survey a week ago on the best places to do business in the world, and Greece placed 110 out of 121 in ease of red tape.

It doesn’t matter if your business is year round or seasonal, you are required to file tax papers year round whether or not you earn income. If you don’t, you’ll be assessed a penalty.

I’d like to add this article. Essentially, a Spanish conglomeration is upset that their 2.5 million for renewable energy isn’t being used, and investors are turning away from Greece because of its burdensome bureaucracy and corruption and fleeing to Romania and Bulgaria, two countries that GR falsely views as inferior.

Greece: Missing the investment train

Follow-up comment to Simon: I see you’ve been asking the same question in different forums after taking advice here, except you reference non-EU citizens, though I’m not sure why when you told me you were an EU citizen. In any case, my articles are based on exhaustive research, official documentation, first-hand experience of non-EU/EU/Greek citizens (including myself). If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to go straight to authorities (not forums, where I see people dispensed inaccurate information) and please do not waste my time or the time of readers who were kind enough to provide you with insight.

  FMS wrote @ July 8th, 2008 at 20:30

Simon: NOTHING in Greece is straightforward, not one solitary thing! If you think of the worst bureaucracy in the UK, France or Germany — multiply it by 10, and then add insults, illegality, corruption etc by state officials… That will give some idea of what to expect.

Sometimes, people get lucky and just don’t find this, but I describe the typical case.

  KT wrote @ July 10th, 2008 at 21:56

I agree with FMS that nothing in Greece is straightforward. It might be a good idea to go live in Greece for a while and then see if it is worth investing your money!!

  Vana wrote @ September 15th, 2008 at 00:30

Hi,
Any idea what happens in Greece if your profession is not regulated.

I am greek, however I have been in England for many years. I would like to return to Greece and I would like to have my own job as a hypnotherapist/psychotherapist. I have a diploma in Hypnotherapy. This is not a regulated job (no-one in Greece knows what it entails), and that is where the problem lies, as most of the Greek people think it is illegal if it is not regulated and I will not be able to get a tax code and the greek local government will shut me down. I managed to find some useful information on the Ministry of Education website (I am including a couple of links below).

Anyway, I would like to be a hypnotherapist in Greece and I would like to be legal. I am still searching for answers.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Vana

http://www.ypepth.gr/en_ec_category8073.htm

http://www.ypepth.gr/el_ec_page652.htm

Αναγνώριση Επαγγελματικών Δικαιωμάτων

Kat Reply:

V – It’s an excellent question, however I am the wrong person to ask. You are correct in saying that if your profession is not recognized, people tend to think it’s illegal. People in Greece still think chiropractors are quacks and acupuncturists are suspicious, though both professions have been legitimate for decades or centuries in other countries.

Personally, I think your next step is to contact one of the authorities listed on the pages you referenced and speak to someone with very specialized knowledge. I wouldn’t count on the Greek Consulate in this case or a lawyer who will likely take your money in exchange for only general information you already found on your own.

  Medy wrote @ September 19th, 2008 at 04:41

Hi! I have been reading your blog for a little over a year now and have learned sooo much from you! Thank you!

I have a quick question which does not seem to be directly referred to in your posts regarding existing businesses and Greece. Specifically, my employer is thinking of setting up a “representative office” of an American firm in Athens. There are other offices abroad, but none in the EU currently.

My question to you–would Greece tax and regulate such legal entities differently? Is there even such an option in Greece, and if so are the procedures involved in setting up different?

Thanks in advance for all of your help!

Kat Reply:

M – Another good question. If you’re setting up a branch, franchise, subsidiary or representative office in Greece, it is still considered new to Greece. The plus is that you’ll likely have an easier time getting approval if you’re a non-EU citizen and this is a multinational or recognized name from abroad, though you’ll still go through the same procedures for startup and conducting business. The only thing that can change procedures is bribes and connections.

Tax questions should be posed to an adept accountant in Greece, and regulation needs to be addressed by a lawyer specializing in corporate law. You typically find these people through referrals, not the phone book or the Internet.

  Val wrote @ January 5th, 2009 at 21:43

Good luck to anyone starting a business in this climate of uncertainty. A UK friend managed to open her business ( dog grooming) in Athens with lots of help through the beaurocracy three years ago. Alas, she has decided to let it go as these days, pooches are first on the list for economies. She DID it tho, with some helpful people at the local employment office. So it is possible so don’t give up if you want to set up Greece’s first hypnotherapist /water ski hire!

Kat Reply:

V – Yes, it is possible. I did it as a non-EU citizen and so have many of my friends. I never said it was impossible, and I never said to not do it. The point is, it’s heavily bureaucratic even when you’re Greek, and it requires a lot of money (or some tax dodging), a lot of patience, a lot of time and Greek language skills, unless one has friends to help, an attorney or an accountant.

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