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 January 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

185 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.

  sarah wrote @ March 1st, 2009 at 22:17

This website has helped me out SOOOO much and I cannot thank you enough!

I was wondering if you must go through the same sort of process you posted above if you plan on giving private language lessons. Obviously you would be self-employed, but would it be considered a business? All of the people I have met who do this for a living do so illegally (without claiming their income or paying TEVE.) Also, after reading Vana’s comment, I am curious as to what sort of qualifications one would need to do so. (If anyone has had experience with this, advice would be greatly appreciated!) Finally, I read above that non-EU spouses of Greek citizens must wait a year to have TEVE. Do they ALSO need to have been a salaried worker with IKA over this time period? I always see these requirements lumped together and it has me confused. Any additional information would be very appreciated!

Sarah

Kat Reply:

S – First, a few clarifications. Nowhere in the article does it say a non-EU citizen must wait a year to have TEVE (which is actually OAEE). Nowhere does it say you must be a salaried worker with IKA for a year. It says that a non-EU citizen must “hold a residence permit for one year.”

Is being self-employed considered a business? Absolutely. It’s being in business for yourself. If it wasn’t considered a business, it wouldn’t be included in this article. What’s the difference between a company and being self-employed? See the section “Additional rules for non-EU business owners.” It’s clearly spelled out.

The majority work under the table because once you wait a year, get done depositing 60,000 euros, getting a plan approved, paying 19 percent taxes/your expenses/OAEE (300 euros) — not to mention the time spent on bureaucracy — it’s almost not worth it.

If you’re married to a Greek citizen — which I know you are — you’re covered by his insurance as his wife. He should know that. How do I know he has insurance? Well, proof of insurance is required for your permit — and if you don’t have any, then acceptance of your papers was based on his, along with his income since you are not legitimately employed. I don’t see any “requirements lumped together.”

Vana has a specialized profession. Teaching English is not specialized. However, if you want to freelance legally as a private tutor or teach classes at home, you are required to get a license from the Ministry of Education. What’s required? You, your husband or a relative/friend will need to call and find out, and you are free to call the eforia and anywhere else to verify what I’ve quoted you from law or ask further questions. If you decide to work for a school as an ESL teacher, non-Greeks need to prove proficiency in the Greek language and Greek history to obtain an ELT certificate. See “Common jobs for non-EU citizens.”

  Germaine wrote @ March 2nd, 2009 at 19:12

I am very impressed with your website and with you and your life experiences. This site is invaluable I see.

I don’t see anything mentioned (unless I missed it) about what happens if your business doesn’t do well and you have to shut it down. I hear that this is when you PAY! I am thinking of opening a business in Corfu based on my husband’s ornamental ironwork, but if it doesn’t go well due to the current world financial crisis, I want to know what I might be getting myself into.

Thanks in advance!

Kat Reply:

G – Hi, and thanks for your inquiry. Yes, that’s a real concern. Bureaucratically, closing a business is sometimes more difficult than opening one. Financially, if you have a physical business and it closes, you will still be responsible for debts to vendors, outstanding bank loans and liquidating your assets. Many people I know (some sharing their stories on this website) lose a great deal of money and pay debts for several years, sometimes abandoning items/property because they cannot sell them. If you manage to sell the business to someone else, then of course you’d negotiate the price (hopefully) high enough where you get enough cash from the buyer to pay off debts in your name and walk away. The World Bank “Doing Business” survey found that an insolvent business in Greece only recovers 44.9 cents to 1.00 dollar, which is quite bad since the OECD average is 74.1 cents.

  James wrote @ March 2nd, 2009 at 19:59

Hello I am British, and i am considering buying a business on the island of Zante. A Beach Bar. The previous owner has had it for three years and reckons he is selling due to family matters home in the UK? I have found that to be quite a common reason for people to be selling their businesses abroad… which i appreciate to be very genuine in some cases, but on the other hand it’s very easy to come up with little questions asked about it, nevertheless.

For example, if the business has been run badly? Or it has created a bad rep with local councils? Or has outstanding bills, i.e. sewage rates, council rates, etc? The law? Or even just blatantly been avoiding paying a genuine tax bill. Are these taken on with the business when sold to new owners?

Are there ways of getting on the right side?

You might think i ask these questions in arrogance, as it may look like i’m assuming the people there to be hard work. this isn’t the case.

People complain about other countries being difficult, but not everybody knows how to work with certain people and they burn their bridges before they start.

Any help to this matter would be wonderful.

Thanks

Kat Reply:

Hello J – These are very legitimate concerns, and you should not feel bad about raising these questions. I will tell you what I know based on Greek, EU and non-EU business owners I know.
- You can only know if the business has been run badly by checking their statements. However, some owners/accountants cook their books, so you never know if you’re looking at a real or “fantasy” situation.
- Checking a business’ reputation is done by asking around, but I suspect you need to do this in person or have someone you know take a wide poll in order to rule out the extremes (e.g., friends & enemies).
- Outstanding bills is a real concern. An owner could show you an older “paid” bill but his current balance could be huge, and you’d need to inquire directly with the utility company. I know someone who bought a business and afterward found out that 1.800 euros was owed. Of course, the ex-owner claimed it wasn’t his problem and felt no remorse in lying.
- There are inspection agencies at which you can inquire about violations, but I don’t know to what extent this exists or happens on Zante.
- In order to close a business or change owners, it’s required that the current owner clear his account (which is in his tax number) with the tax office, before a new business or owner is declared. You can make a direct inquiry with the local tax office, but the owner should have no problem accompanying you for the changeover if he’s legit and has nothing to hide.

Many people hire attorneys/accountants or do something as simple as take a Greek speaking friend they trust. It’s essential, especially if you don’t read/write/speak Greek yourself because all transactions/docs will be in Greek.

And if you don’t have the power of local knowledge or language, other senses are sharpened to the point that good ol’ fashioned instinct can play a role. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t.

  Germaine wrote @ March 8th, 2009 at 12:32

Thank you very much for the info and taking your time to be so helpful. If I may take advantage of your generosity a little more, I just would like to clarify your response. I didn’t think about those financial issues, like debts to vendors and such, upon closing the business, so I can add that to my business plan. But people gave me the impression that we would have to pay the government a “fine” for closing the business. Maybe they just misunderstood the debts or does the government expect payment of taxes from the liquidation of assets whether we were able to liquidate them or not? I didn’t see those stories you mentioned of others and the problems the incurred. You have so many interesting things that I kept getting sidetracked, plus I have 6 children who make sure to sidetrack me all the time. But I will check them out.
Thanks again.

Kat Reply:

G – I and the people I know who closed businesses were not fined for doing so. Regarding taxes: Mine were paid up, and I had nothing to liquidate. Whether my friends sold their businesses outright at a price that covered or partially covered their debt, or they couldn’t sell and had equipment, furniture and unsold products, they had accountants sort out those affairs. I recommend consulting with the eforia, a business lawyer or an accountant, who can dispense advice specific to your questions and affairs since it sounds like you’re plenty busy already!

  Demitris wrote @ March 9th, 2009 at 00:04

James brings up some very important questions. If I can elaborate further having close to 20 years experience in the retail industry, predominantly outside of Greece. The fact that the owner of this bar is selling his business within 3 years should raise a red flag. His reasons could ofcourse be genuine but I urge you or anyone else considering buying any business to take the time to investigate that business closely.

Sadly financial statements cannot be trusted these days. Best thing for you to do if it is at all possible is to visit Zante. Ask around & see for yourself if this business is indeed performing. If this bar is not performing to satisfactory levels but you find that there’s still good potential you can ofcourse bargain with the owner to sell it to you at a more reasonable price.

  A wrote @ March 12th, 2009 at 22:34

Is there no concept in Greek acquisition transactions of purchase price adjustments? that is, some portion of the payment for the business is made after the closing (and the sale is subject to a lien in favor of the seller) so that the seller bears the risks of the representations about the business not being accurate? This would mean, for example, for a business that has a volume sales revenue, a calculation of full payment based on the prior and forward looking sales term, with a portion paid 12 or 18 months after the transfer, etc. I agree with prior statements that there is no effective “due diligence” in Greece because nothing is confirmed as true, bookwise.

Kat Reply:

A – Payments and terms range widely depending on the type of business, type of loan, what sellers/buyers agree, etc. My experience is most sellers take whatever money they get and disappear, if they misrepresented the business.

  James wrote @ March 18th, 2009 at 15:56

Thank you for the answers given by everybody, they are a great help to me.

What can anybody tell me about Residency/ N.I no. how do i go about getting these? Do i need one/both to own run a business from Greece.

In the deal that i plan make with the existing owner (he is also british), we are talking of maybe a staggered payment scheme. There will be terms and conditions which could affect the final payment for the business, can the documents be written up by a british solicitor or does it have to be someone from greece? .

Kat mentioned about the Languge barrier, this i have been worried about, only when signing the business over and clearing the idea of no outstanding debts.
I happen to know a guy quite well who has a property company situated in Kos, he is also Greek. If i were to use the people he uses to help me with the transactions, would this be enough to hopefully secure this deal safefully, or do i need somebody there with me throughout the whole transaction, speaking there for me. I was hoping if i using his people that opperate in the same region as Zante this would help?
Is it a close knit between the professional people on the Islands would they know each other and be able to help with the transaction via telephone/email? A bit of an open question to ask, i know there is no specific answer to this, but any thoughts on this appreciated.
Perfect scenario would be for my friend to accompany me, he is also an accountant, he might offer but im not in a close enough situation to ask him.

Thanks again

James

Kat Reply:

J – a) You need a residence certificate or bebaiosi engrafis (technically not a permit) if you are an EU citizen planning on being in Greece for more than 90 days. I’m not an EU citizen, but found this information by doing a Google search: “Greece: Residence permit for EU citizens
b) Yes, you need to show you have insurance. It can be your EHIC.
c) If the business is located in Greece, you need to have papers drawn in Greece. Your citizenship and that of the owner are irrelevant.
d) It’s up to you whether you want to use people you sort of know or cooperate with his. There’s no guarantee your interests will be served by using his.
e) Being as you don’t know anyone on Zante, and they likewise don’t know you, there is no relationship. And sometimes being close knit is not always a good thing if competition prevails over cooperation or affairs go sour.

Part of the joy (and pain) of owning a business is you’re the boss. You’re on your own. That means, you make decisions, you take control and you need to enlist the assistance of competent people (lawyer, accountant, translator, etc.) to advise you properly from start to finish, according to your needs and goals. Good luck!

Note to everyone: This article was written as an introduction to starting a business in Greece based on official documentation and first-hand knowledge gained over 11 years. Separate articles may be offered in the future about maintaining or closing a business, but there is no way I can cover every situation or every industry, especially in a country where rules are flexible and implementation of laws are optional. There is absolutely no substitute for having a team of carefully screened professionals hired specifically to help you succeed.

I welcome commentary and advice from people who have specific knowledge or experiences in starting, owning or closing a business in Greece. Conjecture and what’s applicable in other countries is (unfortunately) not helpful.

  Kate wrote @ April 4th, 2009 at 23:53

This web site is very interesting. Im EU citizen and im looking for all information to set up Recruiting Agency in Athens. Im wondering about that 60.000 euros as a deposit is that amount same to everybody who want open one person business?

Where can i find some information about tax system for Recruiting Agency?

Thank You for Youe help.

Kat Reply:

Answer to your first question is already in the article. Please read it again. For tax information, consult with the eforia-Greek tax office (contact info found on this website at “List of DOY eforia Greek tax offices“) or a Greek accountant (yellow pages or recommendation from someone you know).

  Demi wrote @ April 10th, 2009 at 09:53

Can someone please help me with this!!!!! What would be required to open an independent Travel Agency in Greece?

Kat Reply:

As I said above, there’s no way that I or anyone can cover every single industry and business. My article is the most transparent, accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive step-by-step help available for free, and I don’t know anyone who will hold a stranger’s hand through the entire process from start-up to operation without a fee.

If you’re going to be a business owner in Greece, it’s essential to start being proactive. There’s no substitute for an experienced team of professionals (accountant, attorney, adviser) hired specifically to implement your business plan, which I assume you’ve drawn up based on market research, tourism stats, competition and location. If you can’t afford to hire anyone or don’t have a plan, then you need to do what many before you did and manage by winging it. Best of luck to you.

  grecophil wrote @ May 24th, 2009 at 23:05

I would like to set up a resteraunt on an island. How do I start?

Kat Reply:

This question has been asked (Jayne) and answered previously. Please take another look.

  James wrote @ May 29th, 2009 at 11:24

Hi.
I’m considering opening a business here and this is invaluable.

Thank you

  Ed wrote @ July 13th, 2009 at 14:38

First of all, my congratulations on putting together such a superb resource. I cannot begin to imagine the effort required to keep it going.

For that reason, I’ll keep my question short: I am an EU citizen, and I am thinking of moving to Greece with my wife in a couple of years. For the climate, to be honest (living in Northern Germany since 2000).

I am a self-employed translator (> 3 years), solvent (i.e. no debts, no house, no kids and with some modest savings) and was wondering whether the capital deposit you mention in Step #4 would also apply to me. Either the 60,000 or 18,000 you mention. Links are fine, rather than a long explanation!

Thank you very much in advance for your time.

Ed

Kat Reply:

Hi Ed, I appreciate the compliment and acknowledgment, which I know are sincere and heartfelt. This website is an investment based on 11 years of experience, meticulous research and constant mining. Unfortunately, plagiarists don’t respect that.

To your question. As an EU citizen, you are free to start a business in Greece as an independent contractor without the capital deposit. The bureaucracy is still the same, however, which will continue beyond start-up and need to be done in Greek. An accountant can help, if you prefer.

  KD wrote @ July 24th, 2009 at 23:02

Regarding step 4 and the capital of 18,000 euro as minimum– forgive me if you answered this, but I am not clear on it yet. If I understand correctly, to start a small business as a non-EU cit., I would need 60,000 euro in a Greek bank account, but in step 4 it says the minimum is 18,000. Do you know what this is based on? In other words, what are the circumstances in which someone would have to have only the minimum, and what are the circumstances in which someone would need more?

Kat Reply:

In the section for non-EU citizens, the heading says “Additional rules” so everything in this section — including the 60,000-euro deposit — is in addition to the steps listed, as the first paragraph states.

The 18,000 euros in Step 4 is an estimated figure for capital needed for start-up — property, fees, equipment, insurance, etc. The sentence contains the phrase “is said” and does say it could be lower or higher.

The 60,000 euros is a deposit in a bank account required of non-EU citizens by the Greek government before the business even opens. Can the 18,000 euros (or whatever amount is necessary) eventually be withdrawn from this account as capital for start-up, after the ministry approves the business plan? Yes.

  Elliott wrote @ September 17th, 2009 at 18:01

First,
Thank you for the very informative article, my aunt works for the ministry and she could only repeat what you mentioned, no new info.

Second I thought this website might help, it’s the official website of the EU on starting/setting-up a business (according to EU legislation) in Greece. http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/business/starting-business/setting-up/greece/index_en.htm

One small question I’ve spent countless hours trying to find a list of young entrepreneur schemes in Greece…. and have come up pretty empty-handed. Do you know any good websites or places to find info for young entrepreneurs?

Once again thank you for the article and for the hours it must have took to write it.

Kat Reply:

Unless your aunt has set up a business herself (no lawyer, no accountant), I doubt my article is similar to her knowledge since mine combines the real-life experiences of Greek, non-Greek EU and non-EU citizens over several years and includes information that isn’t available anywhere else.

Thank you for the link. However, I knew of it and don’t include it because Greece does not follow EU legislation.

As I say above in the article, Greek media announces programs and deadlines to apply. Your aunt should also know if there are young entrepreneur schemes, being as the government funds them, often with assistance from the EU. On September 18, Ta Nea ran this article “«Έφτιαξα επιχείρηση στα 25 μου».” This is the reason I encourage people to read newspapers for tips and announcements; it takes a lot of time for me to update more than 300 articles on a revolving basis and I cannot cater to specialized requests.

  Ak wrote @ October 2nd, 2009 at 09:33

hi,
your website is very interesting and you have deep knowledge about business in athens.
i want to set up a business in greece. set up a trading company. i have offices in india and china and i can import things from both of countries. i can import garments, jewellery , furniture. establishing my company as agent company to source the products and deliver it to the wholesaler or shopkeeper..

what do you think about it?

Kat Reply:

It does not matter what I think; it only matters if you can meet the requirements to start a business as a non-EU citizen:
a) 60,000-300,000 euros cash deposit;
b) business proposal in Greek, approved by the Interior Ministry;
c) extensive bureaucracy;
d) annual profit of 24,000 euros.

Please read the article above and decide whether you’d like to proceed.

  Richard wrote @ January 2nd, 2010 at 14:55

Hi just came across this website I am writing to you here because I wish to take a business idea I have to Greece and further into European countries.The business I have is in waste management utilising composting worms in special mechanised bedding systems to process the organic waste streams and then turn the waste into highly valuable soil and plant conditioners.I have a strong financial backer from Switzerland who can help me with EU funding etc etc and all of the relevant red tape hassles.

I am also from Australia. I am not greek, but I understand and like the people.I have a wife and a 3 year old daughter and I am willing to come over to Greece but I am equally apprehensive about the lifestyle. can you maybe get in contact with me for a possible skype chat thanks

Kat Reply:

Certainly, this service is needed in Greece, where the composting rate is a dismal 2%. Also great that you have financial backing and can partner with an EU citizen, but it will not absolve you from rules written specifically for non-EU citizens, and you will need a Greek speaker on your team if your Swiss backer cannot manage. Whatever bureaucracy you’re used to in Australia, you need to multiply it by 10 (as commentator FMS said above) and add foreign language and a completely different business culture to get even a small sense of what it’d be like. Please read the article above and explore some of the links I’ve provided.

Nothing in the article and comments is meant to scare you. It is meant to inform you, so you are properly prepared and not surprised by what lies ahead.

In “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me,” I state that I (unfortunately) do not offer personal consultation due to the number of requests I get and my own full-time professional and personal commitments. I also do not show preferential treatment to anyone, thus offering the same information to everyone via this website, which I create and manage in my spare time.

Thank you for stopping in!

  pogor wrote @ January 5th, 2010 at 01:56

Hello Kat,

First I must say how amazing you are! I’ve been leaving living in Greece for 10 years now and I know very well how much strength, time, effort and everything was needed to collect and write down all the information you present here.

I also admire the tremendous amount of kindness and patience you show in answering all kinds of questions and dealing with different kinds of people. I know I wouldn’t.

One more thing… why did you disable “right click”? I think it want help you stop those who really want to copy something from the site. I think it only stops us who usually right click on links to open them in a new tab of doing so.

Best regards and best wishes for 2010!

Kat Reply:

Hello, and thank you for your kind words and leaving a comment.

Regarding the portion you requested I delete, I am not perfect but be assured that I write articles from first-hand experience and meticulous research. The requirements for non-EU citizens opening businesses in Greece used to be much easier, but it all changed several years ago.

I disable right click due to continued abuse and plagiarism. All I asked in return for my hard work in
providing this free guide is that people show a little respect to me and this website by following my copyright policy; and the Greek Consulate, Greek media, a few embassies, forums, travel websites and dozens of fellow expats can’t seem to do that after repeated, written warnings. I realize it doesn’t solve everything, but it’s better than nothing.

Clicking normally opens a link, just as well as right clicking.

  Dirk wrote @ February 1st, 2010 at 14:23

Hi, congratulations with your excellent and clear site! and a big thank you for doing all this in your free time and provding people wih very valuable facts and insights! I have encountered many of the things you have mentioned and it was good to know that it wasnt just me being frustrated and amazed at how things work here in Greece. I am in the very early stages of wanting to set up a business here in greece, but I am looking for investors. Do you know about a website to contact investors or any other links?

Kat Reply:

Most people meet investors by networking in person or get introduced through established friends and contacts. Other prospective business owners secure their own financing by applying for grants, or take a loan with banks, relatives, etc. I don’t know anyone who has found investors via a website without meeting face to face. I mean, would you loan a great deal of money to a stranger you’ve never met? Therefore, I have no links.

All the best and thank you for stopping in.

  Europebird wrote @ February 13th, 2010 at 00:05

Hello,

thanks a lot for the time and for the work you invested into this page. I hope you can answer one of my questions. Since I have a registered company in UK, according to EU rules, I should be able to supply companies based on a project contract. I am a consultant. So, do you think, it is realistic, to live here and do the work from here, and invoice it from the UK?

And the second question: What about the e-commerce possibilities? Do we have any option to use this channel to do business in Greece in cooperation with other EU country and invoice it from abroad?
Thanks a lot for your time and for your answer in advance.
Wish you the best
Gabriel

Kat Reply:

For the record, that’s three questions and you didn’t say where ‘here’ is, so I had to look up your IP address. So:
a) Yes, I know other people who do this, but I don’t know under what circumstances or how they file taxes;
b) I know EU citizens who are selling/trading via the Internet;
c) that’s a question that must be answered by combing EU rules and particular laws in the country or countries concerned.

Understand that I’m not an EU citizen and never will be, so there’s no way for me to acquire first-hand knowledge on what you’re asking. The rules I follow are much harsher.

  Moris wrote @ March 30th, 2010 at 15:29

Hello, i’m a non-EU passport holder married to a Greek citizen. I’ve been living in Greece for 3 years now, with a valid residence permit, which i acquired through my wife when i arrived. I’m opening a small restaurant of my own. I already received my pre approval which makes me half way there. Now i’m asked to prove that i’m allowed to be self-employed. So i have 2 questions:

1) Where can i find the article that says that i’m allowed to start my own business as a non-EU member married to a Greek citizen?

2) At what point will i be asked to show the deposit (18000 or 60000) in my bank account?

I’d like to thank you in advance, and any additional information or advice would be highly appreciated.

Kat Reply:

1. I’m not sure what article you’re looking for. The above article consists of 2700 words, my 12 years experience, the experiences of several business owners I know, translation of official documents from Greek to English, information from the World Bank, plus 3 years of continuous news updates in Greek/English. That’s pretty much what I have to offer for free. I have other knowledge pertaining to the associated permit, maintaining and closing a business, but I have no immediate plans to publish it publicly.

2. As the article above says, non-EU citizens are required to show 60,000. They’ll let you know when to deposit it.

Your wife is Greek and can therefore make some calls or search the Greek version of gov’t websites. I also recommend assembling a business team (legal adviser, accountant, translator) to assist you if you are not prepared to handle them for some reason.

  Marz wrote @ April 17th, 2010 at 23:14

hi, all the information here is wonderful. As an Australian who came to greece and opened a business in 2004, I give this advice: DONT DO IT!!!

For the first year my business was very successful, and I suppose that was my downfall. You see, Greeks (not all, but most) don’t like to see foreigners succeed in their country. I had people con me, rob me, government officials harass me all because they could get away with it and I was a stupid gullible foreigner. I was far from gullible, but what do you do when you get a whole town that stops buying from you because “you make enough money and we should spend our money in a Greek shop”? Or when you have the tax office saying, “Oh you owe this much money, pay me 5,000 euros and it will go away.” Never mind that you have already paid.

I lost everything in Greece and regret every single day that I was there, except when I met my husband and he was clever enough to move to Australia with me. Until he died, but that’s another story.

Kat Reply:

Hi Marz, I’m not sure how to respond because everything you say is true, which I know from my own experience and watching friends of all nationalities (including Greeks) struggle with the same ills. People are quick to blame the government and bureaucracy, and there’s a degree of truth to that. But humans are responsible for their actions, behavior and attitudes; that’s something the government cannot fix.

I’m glad you and your husband escaped. He may be gone now but at least you found each other and shared the time you did. I try to remember to count small blessings because those are the things that make life worth living. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. :)

  john wrote @ May 9th, 2010 at 15:47

wow. after reading all this i dont know if i want 2 open a business in greece,i want 2 open a fishing and hunting shop but don’t know what licenses i would need or where 2 start, can u point me in the right direction?

Kat Reply:

1) Where to start: See table in “Overview” and the “Notes for each step.”
2) What licenses are necessary for a hunting/fishing business: I regret that I don’t know as I and no one I know has ever opened one in Greece. You could look under “More info” to see if one of those links helps you.

Beyond the free step-by-step directions I compiled above, which are the most detailed available based on laws and first-hand experience, I am unable to provide more personalized consultation. All best.

  Notkat wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 23:31

You are sooooo far up your own bottom.

You DO get it wrong sometimes like all of us. Please don’t suggest that everything you say is right and everything anyone else says is wrong because life isn’t that straightforward.

Thanks for the info . . . but cut the pedantry!

Kat Reply:

In my “About Me,” I state that I am a lifelong student who absolutely does not know everything and I welcome corrections. And when I don’t know, I say I don’t know and don’t guess.

Also, in “Warning and Disclaimer” and many places on this website, I say that “results may vary” because that’s life and that’s Greece.

Thank you for spending three hours on my worthless website. :D Pedantry? That word alone makes me sad because I think I know who you are. Seek professional help.

  Rustam wrote @ July 17th, 2010 at 10:21

Hello,

I found your website 1,5 year ago.
It is always helpful for me, and I am keep coming back here every time I need some information.

Kat Reply:

I’m glad you find the website helpful, and thank you so much for your faithful readership.

I received the story you told me via a different comment, and I regret that what’s happening to you is very common. If you look at commentator ‘Marz’ above you, she describes the same thing type of discrimination and harassment, which eventually caused her to lose her business and leave Greece. It was not during an economic crisis. Some of the people I help via this website also attack me. But please don’t think it only happens to non-Greeks.

Many of my Greek friends who own successful/surviving businesses, and do things right (like you), spend a lot of time doing ‘damage control,’ defending themselves against false complaints, slander, physical attacks and vandalism by fellow Greeks that have hurt their reputation, business and profits. Unfortunately, you can see worse stories in Greek news all the time. That doesn’t make it right, I know. But because of its everyday occurrence, it’s very difficult to convince large media companies to run the story.

So what can be done? I want to tell you something positive, but I’m afraid I don’t have realistic solutions for you because legal action is costly, not swift and doesn’t always work, as implementation is lax and few are prepared to take responsibility for anything. Edo Ellada.

If there’s a way I can work you into a story, I will email you. In the meantime, I can publish your story here with your permission but I need to remove the personal details to protect your privacy.

  Kimberly wrote @ July 18th, 2010 at 15:04

Hi,

I have thought about living and opening a business in Greece for only about 16 years. Got sidetracked to Germany and have a permanent residency permit to live in Germany. I am American with my dad’s side of the family being German (grandparents and uncles immigrated to the US in 1927). I am writing all of this as I have read your info on getting a visa to live in Greece. Is the permanent residency enough to get the visa for Greece? Or should I try the German ancestry connection ?

Thanks :-)

Kat Reply:

To clarify: You need a visa to enter Greece, visit temporarily, then leave. You need a permit to stay and live/work in Greece.

Permanent residency was earned by meeting eligibility and requirements under German law. As stated in, “How Americans and other non-EU citizens can get a permit to live and work in Greece,” residency and permits are not transferable. Germany and Greece are both in the EU, but they’re still different countries so you start from nothing under Greek law unless you have the special EU-wide status. To understand if you have this status, you need to ask German authorities because I don’t know what permit you have or what it entitles you to do under German law.

However, if you intend on starting a business in Greece, it makes more sense to stake a claim to German citizenship no matter what permit you have. See, “Acquiring EU citizenship by ancestry or naturalization.” Otherwise, as it says above in the article, you will be required by law as a non-EU citizen to submit a business plan in Greek to the Greek government for approval, then come up with 60K capital as a deposit before being allowed to open. Why make your life more difficult by doing the latter? It doesn’t make sense.

  Rustam wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 14:57

Hello,

I found your website 1,5 year ago. It is always helpful for me, and I am keep coming back here every time I need some information.

I am a resident of United states and I am EU citizen of Lithuania. I have two businesses in Rhodes island. I’m only 26 y.o. but I’m very risky person. I prefer to work a lot rather then partying on the beach parties.It’s already a second season I have studios and apt in the south of Rhodes for rent. I rent the building and doing a business there. It doesn’t take all of my time, because I’m trying to control all it online (reservations, bookings, and etc.

So took a huge risk this season again and borrowed the money for second business in Rhodes Medieval Town. I believe it’s green transportation and useful for all residents and tourists. A few greeks tried to do it before, but it didn’t work out. I did it right way and the business have a chance to grow up, but the started to be jealous an giving me a hard time. Of course there are many residents saying I’m doing a very good for Rhodes! No motor, no OIL, no GAS – ECO GREEN.

But there are some strange Greek people which are giving me a hard time. Calling all institutions, tourist police, municipal police. Gathered together and signed 58 people that I’m disturbing tourist and so on…

But the hidden motive is that when Segway passing in the street people pay their attention on it and don’t look at the goods shops are selling. They believe in that. Of course those years of recession in economy are not the best for Greece, but this is not my fault.

So the point is that I probably need some public attention. There is only one guy who is intiating all that people.

Two weeks ago I even send him an official letter from a lawyer. Because he was frightening me to make me problems, keep saying me that I’m not Greek, I have to leave. Go away, go home. Harassment because of my nationality. Discrimination because i am not Greek.

So he keep calling the police for nothing everyday. Customers are shocked every day. I’m in finance trouble because of him.

So what happened two days ago, my girlfriend was gliding by (it’s officially legal by KOK). Tourist police came and took us both to the police station. After they told that 58 Rhodians believe in that we are disturbing people. Not giving the way. But there is not one signature of a tourist saying that we cause them a problem. Then they took us to a court right away. Prosecutor told my girlfriend to sign that she has to come on a court in December 3rd. We usually at this time in Miami. So. They didn’t gave us any document saying what we are doing wrong. They didn’t gave any proof of unsatisfied tourist. Even a “fake” witness signs copy… Nothing at all. And also the prosecutor told that we not aloud to ride a Segway just because he told…. Nothing else…

In my opinion they are good friends all of them. They are Greeks and they trying to throw me away. Somebody already called Athens distributor and asked if they aloud to buy and to do the same business I do in Rhodes. Of course Athens called me and told me all situation.

So here is my story… If you have any offers or any ideas how should I act.. Please send me an email.
So what do you think if we make an article about that?

Rustam

  Serena wrote @ August 23rd, 2010 at 18:48

would you plse help me: I am Italian, my boyfriend and I would like to open a small bar in Samos. We do not have too much income, so we should ask for some loans: do you think it is possible to get loans in this period of crisis? How much money do you think we may need to start such a business? Is it possible to import coffee and coffee machines directly from Italy (maybe this question should be posed to Italian companies producing coffee). Do you recommend any contacts for this kind of information?
Thank you very much!!!
This site is very useful!

Kat Reply:

Most of your questions are answered above or with common sense.

As it says in the article, the amount of money you need to start a business in Greece depends on rental/purchase and location/size/age of the property, what furniture/equipment/supplies you purchase, insurance costs, interest rates of loans, cost of employees…hundreds of variables. Every business is different. There’s no way anyone can give you a set cost; you need to figure it out.

Whether you can get a loan depends on you and the bank. What do I mean? You: How much you want to borrow, the risk associated with your business, how well-researched and concrete is your business plan, your previous credit background, if you own property or have collateral. The bank: Where you apply, if they are granting loans, what interest rates they offer, terms of repayment. With the economic crisis and thousands of businesses closing (not an exaggeration), I can assure you that Greek banks are only interested in loaning money to people who can pay it back. Greek newspaper Ta Nea said that 8 of 10 loan applications are rejected by banks, in “Κόβουν 8 στα 10 δάνεια.” You need to approach Greek banks and inquire. Fortune-telling is impossible.

Whether you can import something, how much and the fees associated would depend on Greek customs. Do ask them.

If you’re serious about owning a business and being boss, you need to find solutions and answers on your own or hire a lawyer, accountant or other consultant to assist you. Knowing how to speak, read and write Greek will be mandatory, unless your boyfriend is Greek and you trust him.

Good luck.

  Estee wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 12:52

I just stumbled onto your website and have been reading about everything for the past 3 hours,
Alot of your information is extreamly helpfull.

I am an South African citizen who came to Greece about four years ago and coming and going untill I met my husband. We have been happily married for two years now. And most of my paper work went pretty smoothly, so so far we havn’t had any problems or red tape.

So my question is this: My mom has taken ill and she and her husband would like to join us here in Greece. We would like to open a small bussiness a street vending like bussiness and have them come and help us with it.

Firstly can I obtain such a bussiness license. It will be for a customized trailer that we will be selling food from and then be able to move it around following the busy spots. If that is even allowed? Well I cant really tell you the idea cause it is actually very cool and no one has it anywhere in Greece. I also read that maybe these type of licences are not issued any more? Is that true??

I know all the procedures for visa’s but because Im married to a Greek citizen do my parents qualify for a residence permit allowing to work a little?? And can someone like me obtain this kind of licence? or do I still have to follow all the points that you layed out?

I just need a little insight and any info will help.

Kind Regards
Estee

Kat Reply:

Most of the insight and info you wanted was already available. And for the record, that was five questions not one.

1. Moving around selling food, is that allowed? Yes. Mobile cantinas or canteens in Greece have been around for decades, and I’ve seen a photo exhibition in Athens dedicated to only this. It’s not a new idea, so it’s wrong of you to say, “no one has it anywhere.” Unless you’ve been everywhere in Greece and have done extensive market research, it’s dangerous to make sweeping statements like this.

2. The only licenses not being issued to non-EU citizens are those for street vendors, aka, vendors who legally sell produce (laiki agora) or other products (knockoff purses, sunglasses, souvenirs, etc.) on the street. I don’t see how that applies to you.

3. Do your parents qualify for a Greek residence permit to work a little? In a word, no.

a) You being married to a Greek citizen entitles you to bring your parents here as you are married to him and they are completely dependent on you. That means they cannot work, and your husband must show sufficient income to support them as long as they have a residence permit here.

b) In the above article’s section “Employers in Greece wishing to hire non-EU employees,” you cannot hire your non-EU parents because you are not an existing business earning more than 24,000 euros profit per year.

4. Can you get a license? I think a better question to ask is, “Are you allowed to open this business?” There’s no point wondering if you can get a license when you haven’t been approved to open a business by the Greek government.

5. Must you follow the points? Yes. As it says above, you must meet all requirements listed in the section: “Rules for non-EU business owners.”

Good luck.

Follow-up: We are strangers, that’s true. Regardless, I offered my help simply because YOU asked, and I spent nearly an hour writing a response based on my 13 years expertise, plus knowledge of laws governing visas and first-hand experience holding a number of permits. It cost you nothing; it cost me time I could have otherwise spent on someone or something else, such as paid work, my friends/family, a new article for everyone.

If you are unwilling to accept the truth or easily upset by challenging news, you and your husband are free to do independent research or hire a lawyer who may tell you everything you want is possible, only to leave you with the same answers I gave, after he takes quite a lot of your money.

I made no assumptions about you; I only know what you told me, and nothing I stated was an opinion. I also do not consider Greece “a strange country,” as you called it.

  Michelle wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 17:21

Well i have to admire you for this effort, kindness and generosity of spirit. You don’t often find people to work so hard and give so much for no money.

Just a quick question, myself and my husband are Greek citizens, i moved here 6 months ago from Australia. We want to import costume jewelery from Egypt. We are planning to rent a showroom/office and sell as wholesalers.

Do you recommend that if we want the least hassles is it better to get a logistics company or accountant to do the work involved in starting a small import business? And do you know how complex and involved starting this kind of business is?

Thank you very much

Kat Reply:

I recommend finding out as much as possible about the process, then deciding whether you’d like to handle it yourself or hire someone. Some people don’t have a choice but to handle it themselves at the risk of making errors; others want to learn, even if errors are made, because it gives them power/control over that aspect of their business. Tax laws change a lot in Greece, which is why many opt to have an adept accountant handle those affairs.

As I say in the “Introduction” section of this article, there’s no way I can cover every industry, and every business is uniquely different. Therefore, I cannot advise you on how complex or easy it would be in your specific situation; also, my definition of easy or complex may be completely different than yours, even if I could.

  kuhu wrote @ September 6th, 2010 at 12:59

I want to launch a website targetting sale/ purchase of houses and property. is there any separate procedure to register it. I am a Non E.U. citizen. what all would be required to start this website in Greece legally. please guide

Kat Reply:

As it says in the article under “Introduction,” there’s no way I can dispense customized advice and instructions to cover every industry and business. Part of owning your own business in Greece is assuming control and responsibility for every aspect. All best.

  michael wrote @ October 7th, 2010 at 15:06

Excellent work.

If you are interested in any consulting/advice work for “financial-capable” non-eu citizens, let me know.

I have too many people coming to me for advice, which I can’t provide (and wouldn’t want to!).

Kat Reply:

Hi Michael,

Dispensing sound advice does take a significant amount of time, research and patience, which many do not realize.

At the moment, my plate is full but I sincerely appreciate the offer and will keep it in mind should my professional and personal commitments take a different direction.

All best.

  sarah wrote @ October 16th, 2010 at 14:40

can someone help me, im looking for a company called wood navigatgor ltd they are supposed to be based in athens, i dont seem to be able to het in touch with them, can anyone help me track this company.

Kat Reply:

As people already told you in the forum, it’s not a real company. If you can’t readily find a company’s registration or address, that’s a sure sign it’s a scam, especially since they’re promising you lots of money to work from home without demanding serious qualifications.

  abdul wrote @ October 23rd, 2010 at 15:28

Hi,

I have been in Greece for half of my life and operate a small internet shop, opening before the introduction of the 60,000 law.

Many cannot or do not have to pay for 60,000 deposit. In this case, the only and easiest way to open a business for non-EU citizens is to transfer from one owner to your name, so for example if you have a Greek pat, after he or she opens a business they can transfer everything to you.

I know some people who only lend money to the other and put into the bank account to show the authority, but if you have limited residence permit that will be your end because they will not renew your permit until you show the proof of your tax and business, including the 60,000 deposit.

It is better to have five-year permanent permit so that you will have peace of mind, and that type of permit will last through the 99 steps and many years until you get to the end so only 6 months remains to the expiration date.

Greek people do not go to jail by stealing or killing, they go to jail because they do not pay taxes which are very complicated, and you will be surprised how easy it is for a small shop to give you trouble and find yourself pay 10,000-20,000 euros a year.

Remember, if you are a foreigner do NOT use the same accountants/logistis used by all foreigners because they are there to kill your business and not help.

Note from Kat: The last sentence of this comment was deleted because it encouraged tax evasion.

  rosie wrote @ November 29th, 2010 at 08:26

Thank you for this great website! I am in Greece on an island at the moment, and myself and a friend of mine who is english and who lives here permanently, are considering buying a property and converting it to a business. I am australian and would like to know how it all works, re permits, visa and if you buy a property do you get a residency permit straight away.

You may have already answered the above questions in your links- i haven’t been able to see anything re buying a property and what status that gives a non eu member in greece.

I would greatly appreciate any information that may help me.

Thank you again for your dedication and patience and for this!

Kat Reply:

Buying property in Greece does not qualify a non-EU citizen for a residence permit. I say this in “How to get a residence permit for Greece based on independent means” and discuss it with commentator Christophoros on July 4, 2009. Please take a look.

Other options in getting a permit to live in Greece are discussed in “How a non-EU citizen can get a permit to move, live, work in Greece” (a link offered above).

As explained in the article above on starting a business in Greece under “Rules for non-EU business owners,” a non-EU citizen must hold a residence permit for two years, have 60,000 euros and a business plan approved by the interior ministry. Partnering with an EU citizen does nothing to erase these rules.

  Anton wrote @ December 6th, 2010 at 06:06

Hi Kat,

Let me start by pointing out how brilliant this service is, thank you for all the effort and advice.

I am a Greek national, living in the UK for the last 15 yrs. I am ready to make my next career move and that will be either in Cambridge (UK), Eindhoven (Netherlands) or Zurich (Switzerland). Where it really gets complicated is that I have also been considering to join a small company in Greece (EE or soon to become OE).

I would like to know whether I would have to pay full insurance (TEVE, TSMEDE) and whether there will be tax exemptions given that I will be already paying insurance and taxes in my country of residence.

Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Warm regards,

A.

Kat Reply:

Hi Anton,

Unfortunately, you did not provide enough info for me to be specific, and it sounds like you haven’t made a definitive decision yet, so my answer will reflect that.

Greek citizens are obligated to file taxes no matter where they live in the world, but there are often double taxation treaties between countries that allow you pay tax in one country and this satisfies the other. You would only pay tax in both countries if there is no treaty. Exemptions? A tax accountant in the target country can better answer that since you will be filing your tax return outside Greece. You could also pose questions to an adept accountant (recommended) or the expatriates offices on Metsovou in Athens. The phone number is listed in “DOY, eforia, Greek tax offices.” Tax laws are complicated in Greece, and the slightest misinterpretation can cost you handsomely.

If you’re planning on working a salaried job outside Greece and working freelance for a Greek company without a branch in the country you choose, you need to check with the country of choice regarding insurance and how they view such matters. I do not see a reason you need OAEE (not called TEVE anymore) since you’ll be working remotely and not living here, which means you can set up a self-employed status and cut receipts from wherever you take up residence. I know Greeks and EU citizens who set up a business in the UK or elsewhere in the EU, then legally process all money, issue receipts and pay taxes without using the Greek system because it’s easier, quicker, less bureaucratic and sometimes less expensive.

All best.

  mike wrote @ January 3rd, 2011 at 07:40

i am a greek canadian born and lived abroad all my life before moving to greece last year,finally finished my mandatory millatary service.and i wanna open myself a business that i could do it from home.my cliental wont be from greece. and i wont have any employees.now my question is if can do it without opening a corporation.

here are my needs.

-have a business name so i could have my cliental send me a check, i dont want them having to write it to my name
-a bank account correspond to the business name so i could deposit the checks

well in toronto i was able to be self employed and oblige to do my taxes at the end of the year..would i be able to that here…thx in advance, any advice will do

Kat Reply:

As the article says above, the instructions apply to both self-employed entrepreneurs and companies with employees.

If you intend on declaring a DBA business name and completing legal transactions under that name, you are obliged to declare a self-employed business status either in Greece or somewhere else in the world. I do not see how you can do one and not the other, same as in Canada.

If you look at the answer I gave to the commentator above you who asked relatively the same question about filing taxes, I say that a Greek citizen must declare taxes no matter where he/she is in the world. So you can do that here in Greece, since this is where you are permanently resident; or wherever you decide to open a self-employed status and file your business name, if it’s not in Greece.

  Ann wrote @ January 11th, 2011 at 18:38

My advice to anybody thinking of starting a business in Greece, after owning one for 30 years is DON’T. The only way we managed to keep the business running was we exported goods, otherwise it would have been impossible to make a profit if you want to run an honest business. Otherwise you will pay commission to all public departments of 30%. The only honest public service that I have found is the Police Forensics Dept. I take my hat off to them, they are a jewel in an extremely shabby crown.

Nothing works here, invoices and cheques if not paid, may as well be thrown away as courts and solicitors are corrupt. I have seen and heard everything here, and the whole business of corruption could be cured overnight. Throw them in prison, Doctors, High ranking civil servants, MPs, judges etc and all the population will tow the line. Corruption starts from the top, not the bottom. Greeks are people, tell that to Papandreou, not apples.

Don’t forget that if you open a Company here in Greece you cannot take the TEVE pension. This is not the same as other EU countries. You have to either sell (expensive tax) or give your shares away. This is also expensive, with more tax and very expensive solicitors and accountants fees.

Kat Reply:

Hi Ann,

I cannot disagree with your frank advice based on first-hand experience as a business owner in Greece.

There’s a saying I’m sure you’ve heard: The fish rots from the head. All owners face the same sort of burdensome bureaucracy and corruption. But as people can see from other comments above, a number of non-Greek foreigners needed to overcome obstacles of discrimination, jealousy/envy and nationalism to succeed or decide to close the business and leave. I commend you for hanging in there and being creative, while remaining honest. That’s a difficult and rare thing in Greece.

Thank you so much for saying hello and sharing your experience. Hope to see you again!

  denise wrote @ January 20th, 2011 at 20:18

Hi Kat. I congratulate you on your site, especially the bit about the new tax laws/receipts. Will you be updating this article? I am told from reliable sources (as reliable as one can expect here) that starting 15th February, the dimos will no longer be responsible for issuing permits for shops such as cafe, bar, bakery, etc, that is, anything that needs an adeia.

Reply to Ann, above, regarding TEBE. I have never heard of such a thing. In theory, even if I don’t complete my minimum 15 years as a shop owner, the years I paid in will go towards my pension in the USA (where I worked a number of years; I am an Italian citizen). Greece has a reciprocal agreement with USA, Canada, Australia due to the high number of emigration there. the agreements are different, however, for each country.

In practice, and given the volatile nature (I’m being kind) of our present economy, who knows if the money will be there, as TEBE pays out 40% more than it collects each month.

thanks again Kat..don’t stop!!
sincerely,
Denise

Kat Reply:

Hi Denise,

I am already in the process of updating this article but found someone plagiarizing it while doing research, so that needs to be resolved before I can continue.

Regarding Greek business permits, I know there is a reshuffle of offices and responsibilities happening at the moment under the Kallikratis plan. However, I read thousands of news articles daily and heard nothing specific, which could mean one of three things: It’s not true, it’s true and isn’t being widely published, and/or the information is embedded in one of those multi-page, jargon-filled government circulars.

I will not be covering the various permits because I do not cover them now and have no interest in starting, as it would only add to this already long article and open me to more questions to answer at 2 a.m.

Thank you for your encouragement and for stopping by!

  Nektarios wrote @ February 6th, 2011 at 00:15

Great job! I wish i had read this stuff BEFORE moving here. I am a Dental Technician trying to get my license here for the past 8 years. It is a “closed field” that will not be opening soon because the licensing board gets paid off to keep new Lab owners locked out. My father can’t retire because we spent 200,000 dollars opening a Lab that will close if he retires, because we are using his license.

Kat Reply:

Hi Nektario,

There’s a lot about the job market and Greece that isn’t discussed because of transparency issues and because those who tell the truth are labeled anti-Greek or traitors. I know too well the latter. Even in private circles amongst friends and families, there are important things left unsaid.

My friend Mike sold off his home and successful business in Florida, his wife quit her managerial job and they pulled their children out of good schools to move to Greece because his parents oversold the quality of life and never disclosed the difficulty in doing business here. It wasn’t malicious. They just really wanted him here. After four years of struggling and seeing no improvement and all their savings drained, his wife went back to the USA with their children.

I admire you for hanging in there, but I empathize in knowing it’s a difficult, frustrating road. At the crossroads of knowledge, you’re confronted with feeling too invested to give up and at the same foolish for plodding on.

When I do an article on closed professions, I’d very much be interested in your story if you care to share it with me. In the meantime, I wish you and your father the best.

  Makia wrote @ February 14th, 2011 at 19:38

I wonder if you can help in a business matter. With my fiance we own a property in top locality and would like to rent it as self-catering apartments plus offer some services. Now I’m a bit hopeless because we are right on the start and quite do not know where to begin. Do we need to know anything specific? Is there any source you can recommend us to get to the picture?

Thanks a lot
Makia

Kat Reply:

So after reading the 3500 words above based on real-life experience and documentation compiled over 13 years, you don’t know where to start? I’m speechless.

1. You need to open an independent business status using the steps outlined above because you’ll be operating a business.

2. As I say in the ‘Introduction,’ there’s no way I can cover specifics of every type of business and industry because it would demand writing a book. Being in business for yourself means being proactive and figuring things out yourself as I and many others did before you, or hiring someone to help you. I am not available for personal consultation.

3. I do not recommend a source. The official EU and Greek government websites are incomplete and inaccurate, and 90 percent of other information sources offering advice on starting a business in Greece copied their information from me.

Good luck.

  Christine wrote @ March 1st, 2011 at 13:09

Kat, your solid information was a bit too much to swallow ‘in one go’. I’ll need another day or two to re-read and finish all (my) loose ends. But I wanted to thank you so much for your sharing your knowledge, your links and most of all your attitude. I will probably have questions. But now I feel so much better that someone has winkled out so many of the answers and will not BS if the answers don’t exist. I know that in many cases here in lovely Greece that oft used excuse is, in fact, the very truth.

Kat Reply:

Hi Christine, I realize it’s a lot to digest but when you consider that I often translate dozens of pages from Greek to English, then combine it with notes I collected over 14 years and update it all with relevant news from the dailies to produce 3500 words, it’s not so bad in comparison. ;)

It’s nice to know someone appreciates the information and my approach to dispensing it. There are some who would rather see me sugar-coat things or present only the cheery positives, but I think it’s more important to be practical and straightforward. I don’t know everything and say so, and Greece is a ‘results may vary’ country, so all I do is the best I can.

I have ideas for 300 additional articles, and people would still have questions so it’s OK to have a few of your own. All best, and thank you for stopping by! Hope to see you again.

  Jem wrote @ March 18th, 2011 at 16:13

As always, your page is one of the first I reference for all things Greece! I happened to stumble upon a part-time job recently and will start working soon. Although I have met with the company, I’m afraid I don’t understand the Greek employment system very well and as many of my friends here have never been employed or they are salaried, I am still confused about some issues.

I was told by the employer that if you make less than 5,000 euros a year then you don’t have to keep books as a freelancer (they will issue me receipts as they pay me). Can you shed any more light on the legalities surrounding this?

I don’t need IKA as I’m already insured and I don’t need the work experience/proof for future employment, but I do want to go about this legally and I don’t want to rely solely on the company for information.

Any information you could direct me to would be appreciated and as always, thanks for all the insight!

Kat Reply:

You did not provide enough information for me to give a customized response, and my answer will reflect that.

First, some background:
a) As I explain in “FAQ: Greek work and/or residence permits,” part-time work doesn’t qualify you for IKA even if you needed it.
b) Salaried workers in Greece with an earned income as low as 3,000 euros/annually must file a tax statement. I have no idea where the “5,000 euros” figure came from, but ALL self-employed workers were required to file a tax statement previous to 2011 regardless of income. I don’t think that changed with the crackdown on tax evasion. However, I disclose on this website that I’m not a tax expert and reforms make it difficult to stay updated, so it’s best to consult a very adept accountant about your situation and get a second opinion.
c) In order to be a legal freelancer/self-employed person, you must open a self-employed status and pay OAEE (hasn’t been TEBE for years, though people insist on calling it that), as detailed in the above article. I know you said you are otherwise insured, but the right way to do it is to pay OAEE and make contributions.
d) Assuming you are a non-EU citizen without dual EU citizenship, you must hold a residence/work permit in another category for at least one year before opening a self-employed status as explained in the section above called “Rules for non-EU business owners.” I understand you don’t own a physical business but you would be in business for yourself. If you’re an EU citizen, you can open the self-employed status right away. If you accept money from an employer without opening a self-employed status, that’s illegal and tax evasion.
e) You may not need the experience/proof for future employment, but making social insurance contributions and having your own ensima also determine the pension you receive later in life. I see nothing wrong with that, no matter how young or old you may be.

Unless something drastic changed since I was last a freelancer, you would issue receipts to the employer out of books from the eforia/Greek tax office. The employer doesn’t issue you receipts. All they do is provide you with a income statement at the end of the year to file with your tax statement. And in addition to issuing receipts, you’re responsible for keeping books, filing statements at the tax offices and paying taxes on a regular basis. You are subject to audit at any time, and risk penalties if filings and payments aren’t done on time.

Assuming you’re in Greece because you married a Greek/EU citizen and are on his insurance policy, I would think he’d have a special interest in helping you sort this out. All best.

  K. Willis wrote @ March 19th, 2011 at 21:51

Hi

Just thought I would add some info.

I am a British Citizen and I am currently in the process of opening a business in Greece, no big stumbling blocks as yet but my accountant has informed me that the TEBE registration will be the most difficult part.

They are now asking for evidence of the first date you started paying National Insurance in the UK, this means getting a statement from from the UK listing all your contributions, the tricky part is this currently may take up to 3 months to complete.

So do in plenty of time.

Thanks for all the information, nice to have from a trusty source :-)

Kat Reply:

Hi K,

That’s good to know, but don’t be scared of OAEE registration (not TEBE anymore, though people still call it that). It should go fine as long as you have the right documents, and it sounds like you have an adviser so that’s in your favor.

Thank you for giving back to the website and adding insight I wouldn’t otherwise have. All best! :)

  PJ wrote @ April 27th, 2011 at 22:55

Hello Kat,

I would like to compliment you on this excellent article, it is one that I have come back to time and time again. Having lived between Athens and Thessaloniki since 2007 (admittedly I fled to London for a year in 2009) I fell in love with the culture and people, well the ones not offering me unsolicited advice anyways, and made Thessaloniki my home. I must admit that I am one of the lucky few people that has a secure income well above my expenses and working for my fiancees family business (saying no to my future father-in-law would be detrimental to my health…) has provided me with a lot of opportunities. A few months back I was asked to open a new business division under my name which would own and operate existing hotels and beach bars and clubs. Remembering your article I quickly printed it out and went on my way, foolishly thinking that I could achieve everything with my basic Greek. After 3 weeks of complete despair and anguish I went back to my father-in-law ready to get ripped a new one. What he then told me left me kicking myself for weeks to come, accountants can achieve all the steps above in 3-7 days! After all is said and done I paid approximately 2000 euros for all the paperwork and accountant fees, which I find to be very reasonable.

Having read damn near all your articles I must say I am very impressed to see how you have accomplished many tasks which I think most expats and foreigners in Greece (myself uncluded) could never have achieved.

Regardless, keep up the good work and if you ever find yourself in Thessaloniki or Halkidiki in the summer drop me a line so that I can buy you a drink for all your achievements!

Kat Reply:

HI PJ,

Smart to not cross an in-law.

I do say in the article and in comments somewhere that hiring a lawyer, accountant and business consultant are possibilities. However, I didn’t do it that way and everyone’s preference and experience is different, so I could not recommend it or quote prices. I appreciate you adding that information.

As of April 4, there is supposedly a one-stop way of opening a business in Greece, and I intend on posting an article to help people take advantage.

You and other readers should know that I am not special, gifted or accomplished; I am humbled by my experiences, not boastful or made arrogant by them. What I managed to do comes from circumstances, principles, sheer will and probably stubbornness. Something like Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Women are like teabags. You never know how strong they are until they’re squeezed.”

I choose to share what I know as a way to encourage and help others, and I admire you for giving it a go. Being proactive is a great quality, especially in Greece.

Thank you for your kind words, the offer of a drink and for saying hello. It’s always nice to “meet” long-time readers.

  Steve wrote @ May 26th, 2011 at 23:38

Fascinating insight – thank you – really appreciated. As an EU citizen already paying tax in the UK on a work pension, can I be self employed living in Greece and pay the income tax in the UK? Do I still do those steps above?

I should have used an example. If I work in villas owned by UK citizens (painting / garden etc) and they pay me in the UK – e.g. bank to bank – am I self employed in Greece?

Kat Reply:

I recommend going to livingincrete.net and reading info on Greece written from a UK citizen’s perspective, since that is more relevant to your situation.

  Paul wrote @ July 1st, 2011 at 01:58

I am interested to find out info about the option of starting a tourism related business on the island of Kos.
I do not understand, speak or read Greek. How can I find this info in English?
Thanks
Paul

Kat Reply:

The above article about starting a business in Greece is in English, no?

My answer:
a) Read the section called, “Introduction”;
b) Read the second paragraph under “Overview”;
c) Read what PJ did, two comments above yours;
d) Go in person to a KEP Citizen Service Centre and hope that someone speaks English.

  rana wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 07:52

I m from pakistan and interested to run a business in Greece I want to know that how can I handle the registration problems from Pakistan and what r the expenditure.

Kat Reply:

See the sections, “Cost of starting a business in Greece” and “Rules for non-EU business owners.”

Note to All: If people keep asking questions without reading the article, I will close this post to comments.

  Vasiliki wrote @ July 19th, 2011 at 01:56

Hi Kat,
You mention on your “about me” page that you are publishing a guide on living/working in Greece (set to come out in 2011). Is this guide available yet? If not, is there any way to pre-order? I think it would make a great gift for a few friends of mine.

Thank you!
Vasiliki

Kat Reply:

Hi Vasiliki,

It was drafted in 2009-2010, then the crisis hit and the publisher and I also agreed that it might be best to wait with the new citizenship code and laws governing permits. For the moment it’s on hold, and I cannot disclose anything further due to confidentiality. Nevertheless, it’s sweet of you to ask.

Btw, I think of your comment on “everyone’s ferry experience being the same, except today you pay a lot more money” each time they raise prices. It’s so true! Nice to see you here again. :)

  Skeax wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 13:59

The single biggest obstacle for anybody thinking of starting up a small business is the fact that at least one partner/owner must be registered with a pension fund (usually TEVE, the most expensive), and start paying monthly contributions. In other words, before you take in a single euro, you are committed to paying some 5K euro per year – irrespective, of course, of whether you actually make any money at all. It would make sense to give new small businesses a 2-3 year holiday from pension fund contributions. Failing that, lots of people will continue to run little family-size businesses illegally – the cost of going legitimate would bankrupt them.

Kat Reply:

You’re right. That’s the single biggest obstacle for a Greek or EU citizen. The only way around is to start and stop TEVE/OAEE, and it requires opening and closing one’s independent status so it’s not a viable, pain-free option.

The biggest obstacle for a non-EU citizen is getting the ministry to approve the business plan, after gathering the capital up front and holding a different residence/work permit for two years previously.

Something’s got to give because the public sector is unsustainable, and the private sector is suffocating. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Always good to get honest input from people with first-hand experience.

  Christina wrote @ August 14th, 2011 at 15:29

wow. quite a wealth of information – many thanks for putting it all down in one reference document!

One quick question, which I haven’t seen the answer to, so apologies if it is included in your lengthy article and I missed it. I was thinking of setting up a campsite on an island (I own the land already), any clues as to which Ministry/Govt authority I have to go to for permits etc? I assume all the other points listed in your article about starting a business, tax payments etc apply, but I was not sure about actual permits for land use etc. Any tips gratefully received!

You mention the April 4th one stop way of opening a business – you were going to write an article, did I miss that? Thanks again!

Kat Reply:

Your first question is answered in the section ‘Introduction.’ You also didn’t provide enough information for me to give helpful direction.

Assuming you are an EU citizen and intend to operate the campsite to host tourists for profit, I seem to recall that the EOT has something to do with issuing licenses and approval. I’m fairly sure there are permits needed to operate a business on your land and build anything.

I have not done the one-stop article for reasons listed under ‘Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.’ It will be linked when finished, or I’m happy to link an existing article written by someone else but so far no one has done one.

  Shamshair wrote @ September 2nd, 2011 at 14:01

Kindly confirm if I can form a Limited Partnership trading company (3 partners: 1 Greek, 2 Pakistani). If yes, what is the step by step procedure.

Thanks and regards

Kat Reply:

It’s obvious you didn’t read the article.

Take a look at the section, “Rules for non-EU business owners” to determine if you can start a company. From the information you gave, my guess is ‘no.’

The step-by-step process is already detailed above, and I do not provide personal consultation.

  Jawanda wrote @ September 3rd, 2011 at 12:18

Hello !!!
im new in Greece i want open business here. plz help me out how to register company in Greece. how much cost to open new company .

Kat Reply:

Unfortunately, you can’t just start a business in Greece because you want to. Read the article, paying particular attention to the section ‘Rules for non-EU business owners.’ Good luck.

  Antonia wrote @ September 6th, 2011 at 10:40

Comment 1:
I am seriously considering moving from San Diego to Greece in the Spring 2012. My parents live in a village in the Peloponnese, not a great place for any work options, however, I want to be closer to them – they are in their 80′s. I saw the information about the Westin Navarino – very close to them – and how long it took to build the place and all the permits, etc. I am not surprised. I had the misfortune of dealing with a customs official many years ago….lots of stamps and waiting in lines, etc.

It took me almost two years to obtain my Greek passport/citizenship. I hold a TESL/TEFL certificate. I am also an esthetician and massage therapist. I would appreciate any information or insights about locating work – Athens area preferably.

I have enjoyed reading your blog. It is honest.

Thanking you in advance.

Comment 2:
I know that the future is rather bleak to say the least for relocation. I will certainly investigate the licensing reciprocity. I am forever the optimist, so I am making as many contacts here in the states as possible before my relocation.
I will read the August 16 post for ‘common jobs for English-speaking…..’
Thanks again and I will continue to read your posts and insights.
Regards, Antonia

Kat Reply:

Comment 1:
I answered a similar question about TESL/TEFL opportunities on August 16 at, “Common jobs for English-speaking foreigners in Greece.” You skirted the legalities by being a Greek citizen, but my comment still applies. Even assuming you speak Greek, estheticians and massage therapists were never in great demand and even less now that the majority of households admit to cutting back either because they are affected by austerity or expect to be. Plus, you should look into whether additional licensing or having your credentials recognized is required to practice here. I do not offer free personal consultation beyond the 300+ articles on this website and Twitter feed.

The worst of the recession has not hit Greece, which I talk about in “Should I move to Greece?” and many compare the climate as post WWII as salaries are cut, taxes raised, businesses shutting down and unemployment hitting new record highs.

I can certainly understand you wanting to be here as your parents age, and it’s not an option for them to relocate. All the best.

Comment 2:
There’s nothing wrong with being an optimist, but the Kathimerini says that to be an optimist in today’s Greece is to be blind. We are living in unprecedented times and circumstances.

  robert wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 12:34

it took me 14 months and still i do not have my own business. every time they ask for new documents, papers i sent already, then photos, then photos of our children (live in holland), then birth certificates, etc.

to naxos to the office for asking how and when i can start to be insured? every 2 months i paid the bills and in the end they told me at oaee on naxos that i was not insured all that time.

in my opinion; they stole my money and give nothing back in return, no business and no insurance.

after 10 months i stopped paying and was again on naxos to ask, what to do now?

when you bring us that, that and that, than you get your book and you will be insured.

i paid all the costs, the bills of the oaee and now i stopped my business and lost all the money, for nothing…

is that normal or is stealing money allowed by this kind of organisations.

p.s. i went to a laywer to get back my money, which takes years and again a lot of money.

what can i do to get back this money?

Kat Reply:

Technically it’s not stealing money if you willingly continued the process. No one held a gun to your head to pay, and it was your responsibility to check if transactions had been completed correctly or if something more was needed for your insurance and for your business to open and operate. If you didn’t understand the language or the process of opening a business in Greece, you could have consulted an accountant or lawyer to help you at any point in the process, not only when you ran into trouble.

OAEE decides whether to refund the money, and you must speak to a supervisor at the Naxos branch about how to do that or if it’s even possible. I recommend taking a Greek with you.

I understand your frustration, but this is how it is in Greece and I cannot help you further.

  Viktoria wrote @ February 1st, 2012 at 19:38

Hi there! Id like to ask if it is necessary to undergo all this long process of establishing a new company in Greece, if I /as a EU citizen/ am about to rent a hotel in Crete and run it. Meaning I will not become an owner but only run the rented hotel. Is it still necessary to follow the standard procedure of starting the business or is there maybe some simplified alternative? I am already running a business /in different branch/ in other EU country, could this somehow be helpful to make starting a business in Greece easier? Many thanks. Vic

Kat Reply:

Many EU citizens process transactions and income earned in Greece through their existing registered businesses elsewhere to avoid the complicated bureaucracy, but I do not know how that’s done since I am a non-EU citizen and am unfamiliar with the laws governing tax and labor in Slovakia. I would start by making inquiries in SK.

  Kathryn Angelise wrote @ February 3rd, 2012 at 13:51

Comment 1:
Kalimera!
I am trying to find out if it is possible to legally work from home here in Greece. Nobody here seems to be able to help, so I am hoping you can. Yours Hopefully

Comment 2:
Sorry, more info. The business is a Travel Agency. I am a British passport holder.Lived in Greece for last 25 years, have ‘adeia paramonis’ and married to Greek National. Ideally want to be based in Greece and all taxes declared in Greece, but am wondering if I would be better off with business registered in UK, with branch ( home based ) in Greece.The wall I am hitting is that EOT tell me that I need office space, TEBE, and guarantee at Bank, Stamps from Tax Office etc etc etc……………accountant seems to think that you can open agency without all that? Trying to research this via Greek Government site is like wading through treacle. Hope this makes it a bit clearer?

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
If you gave them as little information as you gave me, it’s no wonder they didn’t know the answer. In order to answer your question, I need to know:

a) What citizenship you hold
b) Do you have a residence permit (if not a Greek citizen)?
c) Do you live permanently in Greece (more than 185 days a year)?
d) Do you already have a business/freelance status open in your name?
e) If yes, in what country?
f) What work are you doing?
g) Will you be collecting income in Greece or outside Greece or both?
h) What country do you intend to declare your taxes? Greece or ?

Answer 2:
If you want your business to be Greek-based, then you need to do all the papers with EOT, pay for TEBE, register with the chamber, open a status at the eforia, declare an office space (it’s possible to use your home by signing certain papers), etc. That’s how you open a business in Greece. There isn’t any way around it because your agency relates to tourism.

In my opinion it would be easier to open a business in the UK since you’re a UK citizen, the procedures are clear, bureaucracy is straightforward and people are helpful when you make an inquiry. Start with the UK on how to process transactions in Greece and pay taxes via the system there, and see if it would accomplish what you want. If not, only then would I proceed with opening a business in Greece.

Your accountant should have been able to give you these simple answers, which I provided to you for free as a journalist and ordinary resident. You’ll find no useful information in English on official gov’t sites and very little clear information in Greek, which is why my website was started.

  josh wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 06:43

Hi,

I am curious what the difference is between starting your own business, i.e. investing 300,000 Euros and being self-employed, i.e. depositing 60,000 Euros in a Greek bank.

I am interested in starting a business in Greece as well as potentially opening a branch office in Greece for an existing business. I am a non-EU citizen.

Could you help me out?

Thanks

Kat Reply:

Quoting directly from the article above, in the section “Rules for non-EU business owners”:

“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.”

vs.

“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…Deposit €60,000 in a Greek bank account.”

I do not provide free consultation beyond the 4000-word article and 300+ other articles on offer for the reasons stated above and in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.” All best.

  Dionisis wrote @ March 2nd, 2012 at 22:40

Yes we all have seen all these problems that the beauraucracy can cause. It is all true and difficult but things are getting better.

  josh wrote @ March 20th, 2012 at 05:12

Hi, and thank you again for your work. Do you know of any Microfinance Institutions in Athens for lending to people who wish to start a business?

Kat Reply:

Because of the crisis, banks are cautious about taking on any new business. Microfinance is an advanced concept in Greece, and I know of none.

Per the article above, I’d like to remind you that in order to start a business in Greece as a non-EU citizen, you must have already lived/worked in Greece with a residence/work permit for 2 years in another category AND have a business plan in Greek approved by the ministry AND already have adequate capital. The only way around is to have dual citizenship with the EU.

If you do not have dual citizenship with the EU, I know of no institution in Greece that will give you a loan because you have no legal or existing relationship with the country.

  Stacey wrote @ March 27th, 2012 at 03:44

Question 1:
Great website!

Would it be more beneficial to buy into an existing / established business? (with the name and insurances etc already setup) and then change the details into the new owners name?

Do you know if this is possible in Greece? do you know what other issues would arise from going down this path?

Question 2:
Thanks for the above answer. I am not an EU citizen however I have the ability to become one. My Dad was born in Greece and currently living in Australia as a resident.

However, I don’t want to become a greek citizen as i don’t want to do national service. I’m a 30 year old male.

Generally speaking, do you see any problem getting my Dad (Greek Citizen) to set up a company, with the intention of me manage it. Would this make the process easier? What problems could you foresee with this scenario? (i understand i would need to get a residency)

Thanks again

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
You didn’t provide enough background information to customize an answer.

If you are a Greek/EU citizen, you can buy a business, but things aren’t simply transferred. You need to open a tax status with all relevant agencies in your name, qualify for and purchase your own insurance, etc.

If you are a non-EU citizen, you need to hold a residence permit in another category for two years and still have approval from the ministry to go forward in taking up that business.

I know people who purchased business from existing owners, and feedback is mixed. Many owners are dishonest about outstanding debts (tax, legal, utilities, vendor invoices, rent, licenses) tied to the business’ name and accounts, even forging documents and receipts as “proof” of solvency to fool new owners and lawyers combing through every possible channel to confirm such.

You can consult with lawyers, accountants and relevant staff in the public/private sector for more information on other possible issues.

Answer 2:
I’ve covered this topic before with other males of Greek origin who want to come live/work in Greece but not do national service.

You cannot come to Greece as an “Australian citizen.” Why? Because you’re of Greek origin and you have the option to claim Greek citizenship. It is an unavoidable birthright through your father.

Residence/work permits are only for non-EU citizens of no Greek/EU origin as explained in “FAQ: Greek permits.” You won’t be able to go around this because the application specifically asks where your parents were born, and a routine record search will find your dad’s registration in Greece. Any attempt to get residency this way will be denied.

Your father was obliged to register you in his oikogeneiaki merida when you were born, so authorities are aware that you are of conscription age and a draft evader. You do not need to be a Greek citizen to be conscripted; you must only be of Greek origin as explained in “Mandatory military service in Greece.” If you look at Comments attached, you’ll see plenty of men flagged for service even though they live outside GR and don’t have Greek citizenship.

Evading draft and visiting Greece is allowed as long as you remain a permanent resident abroad and do not attempt to live here for 185 days a year or work a single day. You will lose that status and be conscripted once that’s no longer true.

Your father can purchase a business but to hire a purely non-EU citizen (aka, not you), he would need to to: a) Be operating an existing business, b) hire a number of Greek citizens, c) show an annual profit of 24,000 or 60,000 euros through tax statements, as explained in the article above.

Greece is well aware of males aged 19-45 trying to dodge draft, which is why there are so many ways to get caught.

  chris wrote @ April 12th, 2012 at 14:14

very good all this,i just want to say if anyone is intrested to buy an already bussines in greece,please contact with me,we just open again for this summer,we will close at the end of octomber,is a coffee bar the most famous in this place.we need to sold it because personal reasons. sorry for my bad english

  AK wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 12:15

Hi! First of all i would like to thank you for all the hard work you have been putting in this blog and offering such useful information for free to all of us

Some background info:

I am a Greek National (with completed National Service) who has been working all around the world for a huge multinational British Engineering Consulting firm for over 10 years.

It turns out that the company is looking to setup a Business Process outsourcing centre and one of the options currently evaluated is my home country, Greece.

The business setup in Greece would employ around 60 people as a starting point with an aim to tripple this within 4 years. We will be conducting no business transactions in Greece, we will be bidding for no work in Greece and we will be asking for no loans or financing by any Greek bank. The setup will be a Design centre delivering packages of work for projects all around the world.

We will be maintaing a minimum working capital of around 200 k Euro in a Greek bank for monthly overheads and admin costs. The Greek office will be invoicing monthly the mother company in England an amount to cover the local salaries only (although the amount the mother company will be charging our Clients could be even up to 10 times that).

I am nominated to head these operations

The queries:

- I understand that no Professional Body (e.g. TEE) are allowed to fix a minimum nominal remuneration for its members any more. The minimum salaries are defined at Gov level depending on age range (25 around 650 euro). Is my understanding correct?

- Does it make any difference (taxation, potential government/EU subsidy, company start up speed) if we set up the company in smaller towns far away from core Business centres?

- If some of our staff from the Middle East were to spend a year in Greece in order to train the Greek personnel, would we face major challenges with visas and auditing? This staff (3-5 people) would be seconded temporarilly

- Would we need to register with the Professional Body for Engineers (TEE) as a company even if we are not going to be conducting any engineering consultancy work for the Greek market? Please note i am already registered with TEE.

Thanks a lot in advance for any of the queries you are in a position to help with.

Apologies for the long email!

Kat Reply:

- Legal minimum wage is set by the government for the private/public sector, but collective agreements are still made and individual employers have the right to award salaries as they see fit so long as they don’t violate any laws. Unions no longer have influence after the law was changed. The minimum wage is not 650 euros for under 25 workers or for over 25 workers. See “Salaries in Greece.”

- Depends. The question is vague and I don’t have enough information to give an informed answer. Best to consult a lawyer, accountant or other business consultant. I do not offer these services.

- Anyone who is not an EU citizen is obliged to get a residence/work permit and/or visa depending on their nationality and length of stay, as explained in “How non-EU citizens can move, live, work in Greece.” Challenges? There’s no way I can predict the future with the information provided.

- You’re already a member of TEE, so you’re more qualified to answer this question than I am. The easiest way to find out is to call them.

  Zafer wrote @ May 22nd, 2012 at 17:37

Dear …,

We are planning to open a business branch in Kos Island, it will be a limited company which has been formed in UK, and the share holders will be sharing %10 Greek Citizen, %10 Turkish Citizen, %10 Turkish Citizen, %70 Turkish Citizen.

As far as all reading these, the handicap is to high to over come but if you know what you are doing you will be able to open your branch.

But if you can not be able to get your permission from the government that will be a big problem

I have 2 questions,

1 If you comply the regulations, and employ 30% of your labour from the greek citizens, will they really allow the rest to be from other countrie like EU or non-EU citizens

2 and how short you can cut the bureacracy to minimum

Kat Reply:

1. Supposedly, yes. EU citizens, no problem. Non-EU citizens, you can’t just hire anyone — each candidate must still meet eligibility requirements to apply for a residence/work permit.
2. You can’t.

  Maria wrote @ May 29th, 2012 at 15:36

I read in an above comment you made on April 28, 2011, “As of April 4, there is supposedly a one-stop way of opening a business in Greece, and I intend on posting an article to help people take advantage”….

Has Greece made it a one-stop way, and have you posted this article? I remember reading about this last year, maybe on kathimerini, however, I never saw any follow-up articles.

Thank you as always for your help.

Kat Reply:

I never created a different article, and I haven’t updated this one for two reasons:
a) I hear that it’s not one-stop by any stretch of the imagination;
b) someone promised to contribute first-hand experience to combine with official documentation I gathered because, as I’m sure you know, what’s written never matches what happens in real life.

I closed my business years ago and have no intention on starting another, so the information cannot come from my life.

If someone would like to share their first-hand experience on using one-stop business services, please leave a comment and get in touch.

  Eddie wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 16:58

What a fabulous and informative website!!

I am a Greek citizen wishing to start a small import business in Greece. What rules would apply to me. I am not residing in Greece – my family reside there.

Many thanks

Kat Reply:

If you don’t live in Greece, you cannot open a business in your name in Greece. Your family would either need to open a business in their name, or you need to open a business in your current country of residence and research how to do business with Greece — cross-country laws, regulations, restrictions, taxes, etc.

  Nav wrote @ July 10th, 2012 at 19:16

I’ve recently started reading your website and have read many of the articles here as in the near future I would like to start my own business in Kefalonia. Having read what many other contributors have written and researching my plans on other websites I am left with the following questions.

Do you think that the culture of corruption that so obviously exists in Greece is a nationwide problem or is it worse in certain places?

Are there certain areas of business which are more susceptible to said corruption?

Do you think that the culture will ever change? Surely it’s one of the things that has helped bring the country to it’s its knees.

Apologies if any of my questions have been answered anywhere on your site, I obviously haven’t come across them, yet.

Finally thank you for such an informative website, which must be a real labour of love. It has already become a valuable resource to me.

Many thanks and kind regards,

Nav

Kat Reply:

Answers, in the order of your questions:
a) It’s nationwide.
b) It’s widespread.
c) No, because it is cultural, habitual and historical. The crisis is a symptom, not the root cause.

  asimenia wrote @ November 14th, 2012 at 21:00

Hi
Great site – maybe you or someone on here could answer a wee question for me. I already have a business in Greece (clothes shop) but I want to close it and open on the internet. I have all the papers and licences etc etc TeBE – you name it I have it. My accountant is flummoxed with my wish to sell via the net and keeps going on about
δελτιο αποστολης as I will be send the items (obviously) – however I don’t think I need this as I will be sending the items by courier (cash on delivery) He’s making the simple task of changing to ecommerce rather daunting as he’s suggesting I get a computer which prints out these consignment slips – I already have a cash till and do not want to shell out further money.
Any ideas …. anyone …. please!!!
Thanks
asimenia

  kim wrote @ February 22nd, 2013 at 20:28

I wish to operate a UK based company here in Greece. What do I need to do here,and it still be worth my while. Do I need a liscence to trade and where would I apply for this?

Kat Reply:

There’s no way I or anyone can properly advise you given so little information. Everything I offer for free is contained in the 4000-word article above. Please hire an accountant or consultant to answer questions specific to your business, if unable to proceed on your own.

  David wrote @ February 23rd, 2013 at 17:51

Hi

My partner and I are off to Rhodes for 6 months in April. We have been 15 times so are familiar with the island. It is my intention to set myself up as a sole trader so that I can sing in the hotels etc. I have sufficient interest but have concerns about the best way to get the necessary documents. We used an accountant in Rhodes to get us our AFM numbers back in October, so they are already in place. The same accountant has however been somewhat unclear as to what is necessary and what is not necessary with regard to the business. He originally quoted me between 800 and 1000 euros for the setting up, which included registering with the chamber of commerce, a commencement certificate, and receipt books and so on. In my probing with him by email he is now quoting me 500 to 600 euros for the paperwork and commerce requirements plus 1000 euros to run the business with another 1000 to 1500 euros at the end of the year for returns etc.As I only expect to earn about 5000 euros at the most this all seems alot. Can you help me with the minimal requirements and how best to go about it please. I have a greek friend at home here who would be happy to help me with tax returns online. It all seems very protracted and difficult to get the required legallity without seeming to spend a fortune.

Kat Reply:

In my opinion, 500-600 euros to set up your business and complete the initial paperwork is quite reasonable, especially if you don’t speak the language and have never navigated bureaucracy on your own.

All the free assistance I’m willing to offer is presented in the 4000-word article above, plus answers to other questions posed previously. All best.

  Sanya wrote @ March 23rd, 2013 at 13:12

hi all

In these years of crisis Greece has changed many legal ways of making your own business (for the better i think) so you don’t have to go to million of little offices and get a million of little stamps, now it can be only one stop: KEP!

Here is one website in English which i think could help us all :)

Note from Kat: This only applies to a small category of people, not everyone wishing to start a business in Greece. As I say in the article, the “one-stop” method is greatly exaggerated.

  Sava wrote @ April 27th, 2013 at 18:24

Does an individual starting a self-employed business automatically become tax resident in Greece?

Kat Reply:

No one can answer that question without information about residency, citizenship, source/level of income, etc. Consult an accountant on issues specific to your situation.

  John wrote @ May 25th, 2013 at 09:26

I am a American living between Europe and USA. I am interested in moving to Greece. I am considering two options but I am a bit unclear with what is written in your article. When opening a cosulting office, there is a 60,000 euros ongoing investment needed. Is that addition to 60,000 initial deposit or does that deposit need to be maintained? Can that be reinvestment of initial investment?
Another option is to use my funds, but being an American I will need 2000 euros per month as a proof and also purchase of private healthcare plan. Where can I find more information on healthcare plans offered in Greece and their costs?

Thank you,
John

Kat Reply:

1. As it says in the article above, it’s 60,000 initial investment and (quoted directly) “renewal of the permit requires proof of ongoing minimum investment of €60,000,” which usually means another 60K. The first hurdle is getting approval of your proposal written in Greek.

2. I intentionally do not provide info on healthcare plans in Greece because people often mistake this for endorsement and advertising (which I won’t do), and the list would be impossible to keep current in this economic climate. I already give hundreds of hours of my unpaid free time to maintain 300+ articles and the Twitter news feed. Be aware that this “visa and residence permit for Greece” does not allow you to work.

  Gianluca wrote @ June 5th, 2013 at 10:56

Question 1:
Hi everybody!
Really nice site/blog! We are a couple of italians (one of us was born in greece and speaks greek) willing to open a small restaurant in Paros and we are wondering wich kind of company should we establish in order to start our business. Plus: is there any one-stop-shop available in the island of Paros?
Thank you for your kind attention

Gianluca e Massimiliano

Question 2:
Thank you very much for your answer Kat,
I already wrote an e-mail to the Κέντρo Εξυπηρέτησης Πολιτών of the island of Paros but i didn’t receive any answer yet that is the reason why I looked for some additional info on the web. I asked them what kind of service are available on the island and which ones should be done elsewhere in Greece in order to have an idea of the time needed to perform all the necessary steps. Your guide, up to now, is the more complete available that is the reason why I asked.
Warm regards
Gianluca & Massimiliano

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
The so-called one-stop shops are handled by KEP Citizen Service Centres. If one of you is born in Greece and speaks Greek, I’m a bit surprised you didn’t already know or were unable to do a simple Google search.

Also, as it says in the article section “Business Licenses and Pre-screening” where KEP is mentioned (again), there are a lot of separate licenses and permits needed to open a restaurant or cafe. I doubt you’ll be able to get all of them in one stop.

Answer 2:
Many gov’t staff do not answer email, so you may be waiting a very long time.

  Mehmet wrote @ June 18th, 2013 at 23:27

Comment 1:
I have a website where I write about Greece in turkish. (mostly touristical infos)

I would like to take some basic parts of this article and translate it to turkish for my visitors by mentioning livingingreece.gr at the end of the post as source.

Is that ok for you?

Comment 2:
When I was writing that post, there were 27 countries which are members of EU (I don’t know if something changed after I post!) So I don’t think I should have source you on this.

Regarding the alignment of the list, I might have been inspired only in one point (Reunification part) but no worries, that paragraph will be excluded soon. Please keep an eye on my blog.

The rest, I must say, I have already experienced all of them on my own. There is only one bureaucracy in Greece and thats the same to everyone. Doesn’t mean I cannot write about it because someone else had already done! So once again, no need to source.

I do definately respect your experiences however, I have to say that the experiences you had (I can say about the paper works) in 15 years, I had most of them in 2 years. (Schengen and national visas, and marriage/investor/student permits)

Finally, I never claimed to be journalist. I don’t know how you get that but I never had purpose to make money from my blog.

So I wish you good on what you do and leave my “thank you”s. I’ll decide on my own if they are mine or not.

Comment 3:
So this is gonna be my last comment cus I don’t want to continue this chain. I just couldn’t find a direct way to contact you.

You claim what I do is plagiarism which is debatable (And I don’t accept). But there is also something as bad/pitty as plagiarism is that you edit my reply and publish it like that.

You must already know as a “journalist” that this is not ethic!

Nothing more to add!

Comment 4:
Additional note to my last reply;

“No other comments will be replied anymore and be ignored from my side since there is no objectiveness”

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
In this case it’s definitely NOT ok because I can see you already plagiarized me for ‘useful’ articles.

For example, on November 27, 2012 in “Yunanistan’da oturma/çalışma izin belgesi” the first three paragraphs are copied directly from the first two paragraphs and 1-4 of ‘Background’ in my article “Residence & work permits for Greece” (in addition to having the same title). It goes on to explain Schengen and national visas, and marriage/investor/reunification/student permits, identical to my article in the same order except with less detail. I am given no credit or link, and I never gave permission to translate, reuse or rewrite.

Did you think I wouldn’t notice? Or have you forgotten you copied me?

Please remove it and write your own article without any of my information. I don’t want anyone reusing or making money from my hard work and personal experiences.

There’s a big difference between a professional journalist with 15 years experience navigating bureaucracy in Greece (me) and a blogger with two years experience (you). Find your voice and earn credibility. Otherwise the success and ‘thank you’s you get from readers are not your own.

Answer 2:
My articles are updated on a rolling basis, which you apparently didn’t notice, so 27 EU member states (first sentence), Big 15 (a term frequently used to refer to members before the expansion), 17 euro members (so far), 26 Schengen states. Greece and 26 other members, plus EFTA countries. There’s no difference.

Took inspiration? Seriously, you did a lot more than that. You copied word-for-word the title, the first two paragraphs (words of sentences are in the same order and structure) and 1-4 of background info (in the same order); separated visas into Schengen/national and then proceeded to explain the same types of permits (in the same order) and describe them the same way using details only found on my website. That’s not a coincidence.

Of course lots of people can write on the same subject in their own words, starting with a blank page with their own research, translations and experience, that’s fine. That’s not what you did. What you did is plagiarism, plain and simple. See “Types of plagiarism.”

Copying other people’s work is copying another person’s voice and expertise, which is why the article on your blog looks and sounds exactly like mine, even though you’re not me. That’s my point.

If you truly acquired experience and expertise in 2 years equal to my 15 years, you shouldn’t need to “take inspiration” from me on residence/work permits or ask if you can translate basic parts of my starting a business in Greece article. The fact you did tells a different story.

Answers 3 and 4:
I didn’t edit your reply. All I did was remove the Wikipedia link you quoted as your source for knowing there are 27 EU countries and, supposedly, proof that you didn’t copy anything. Not just ridiculous, but you should be embarrassed and thank me for removing it. Nothing unethical about deleting links.

There’s no objectiveness because you refuse to accept responsibility for your actions based on factual evidence. There’s nothing to debate. You can rearrange and reword the article all you want and claim you did nothing wrong, but I have screen shots that prove otherwise.

Thank you for not replying or visiting again. I can block you if that would help, as you seem to keep coming back. Would be just lovely if you stopped “taking inspiration” and reusing/translating information from my website, especially since you claim to know more than me.

  LDJ wrote @ July 6th, 2013 at 10:19

I have read most of Kat’s great article and skimmed the posts. Can’t really find anything about dealing with other local greek business owners.

We have opened a nice restaurant in a small holiday village at an island and the neighboring restaurants are killing us- because we are different and because they are jealous. They spend so much time on others business instead of being focused on their own. They are working hard on getting us closed down.

Any experience in that direction? And advice.

We would not like to sink to their level with turning problems into the townhall and police but is that the only way they understand?

Kat Reply:

Discussion on Greek business owners can be found in ‘Comments’:
– Marz on April 17, 2010
– Rustam on July 24, 2010
– Ann on January 11, 2011.

It has nothing to do with the crisis. It’s cultural.

There’s no article or advice on how to handle local owners because it would be impossible to cover all industries and areas in Greece. Jealousy/envy is human nature and competition is universal, no matter what business you own or where you’re located.

  Danijela wrote @ July 9th, 2013 at 01:03

Hi,
I find this site very helpful and would like to contribute with my experience. I am a non-EU national and I got a job at NTUA as a researcher. Because of the crisis, it is ordered by the state that all researchers that are not permanently hired have to be freelancers and in that way get their salaries from the university. In this case, one is a freelancer, is registered with insurance company of freelancers, pays the freelance tax etc. , but all those requriements stated in this article for the non-EU nationals (one year of previous Greek residency etc.) do not hold. Generally, the procedure for a non-EU national to do research in Greece is super simple – there is no need for a work permit and the only thing needed for the residence permit is a host agreement with the university. Hope this info would be useful to someone! :-)
Danijela

Kat Reply:

Thank you for sharing your experience.

There are different rules and processes for different categories of freelancers and professions, and it’d be impossible to cover them all and keep the info updated as they change on a regular basis.

When you say ‘super simple,’ are you speaking from first-hand experience in submitting residency permit papers yourself? I ask because most people who say this actually had the institution, university or company handle their bureaucracy.

  Adel wrote @ July 22nd, 2013 at 14:37

Hi,
I have been accepted in a Greek university (Eu-full granted scholarship) to my PhD and have a temporary job as researcher at the university.
l’m willing to hire an accountant to finish my work permission and other tax stuff . I’m going to meet her tomorrow and I have some questions concerning the salary and is it paid by month or by mission or not fixed. Another important question,in my homeland, we used to bargain for the salary, it’s totally normal and acceptable. Is it acceptable here or rude ?
regards

Kat Reply:

Giving me a few hours notice to answer isn’t enough time, as I work 9-9 every day and run this website in my unpaid spare time.

I’m sure you figured out what to do. All we can do is our best.

  camille wrote @ August 5th, 2013 at 05:52

I actually have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it just me or does it look like like a few of the remarks come across as if they are written by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are posting at other online sites, I’d like to keep up with you. Could you make a list the complete urls of all your social pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  Robert wrote @ October 9th, 2013 at 19:04

If my wife (American citizen) wants to start a small business how much money is she required to have to start a small one employee business ? Thank you.

Regards,

Robert

Note: Portion of comment/question pertaining to residence permits was transferred to “Work and residence permits for non-EU citizens.”

Kat Reply:

Capital required for non-EU citizens to start a business in Greece is already covered in section ‘Rules for non-EU business owners.’

  Karen wrote @ October 25th, 2013 at 18:06

Hello – we are currently researching all aspects of running a not-for- profit art related venture in Greece. We have found a lot of helpful information so far regarding residency and personal taxation for EU citizens. However, we are having some difficulty in finding information regarding taxation for a non profit enterprise in Greece.
We understand that taxation is different for a non profit venture but so far have had no luck in finding out how we would register as a non profit enterprise, the legalities of doing so and an estimate of how long this may take.
We understand that you may not know this information yourself and are certainly not expecting you to do our research for us but we were wondering if you could suggest where we might find this information. Thank you very much for any helpful input

Kat Reply:

As I say above and on all tax articles, I recommend consulting an adept accountant and/or lawyer who can advise on issues specific to your business, entity or personal situation. These are extremely complex issues that are in constant flux with new laws and amendments being passed on a rolling basis. Even the information you found could be outdated.

  Richard wrote @ November 19th, 2013 at 16:00

I am an EU Citizen and wish to start a business in Greece with my wife a non-EU citizen who will have a resident permit etcetera. Do the EU citizen rules apply to us both or do we have to go down the non -EU route?

Kat Reply:

EU citizen rules apply to you; non-EU citizen rules apply to her. The only way around non-EU citizen rules is to put the business in your name only.

  Workshop wrote @ January 14th, 2014 at 15:11

Hello,
I recently acquired Greek citizenship through my family – but grew up in the U.K. and U.S. – your website has been hugely helpful to my husband and daughter and I as we have negotiated our way through the red tape. Two of us are now legally here and able to work. The third still waits…and waits…for her papers. Thank you.

Anyway – I write to ask if you know of any specific legislation and/or licenses for festivals. An American colleague and I are looking into running a roving annual music festival in Greece – the first edition is to be held on Santorini, where I reside. Is the venue responsible for the licenses (for alcohol/tables/food/music/etc.) – or is the body running the festival responsible? It’s so far been impossible for me to find out. Any leads on this would be extremely helpful. Thanks again.

Kat Reply:

There are definitely licenses involved, but I don’t know who would be responsible for securing them or how. As I say above in the article, each case is different. One place to start is the local KEP Citizen Service Centre. The other thing I would do is ask around and see if anyone has first-hand experience, then take notes and model what they did. All best.

  Limbu wrote @ February 13th, 2014 at 00:43

Im planing planning to open fast food take away in corfu island and Im non Eu citizen but Eu family member. Is there any way to register business on in my name? And in order to register business it will take so long time? If you have any suggestion please.

Thank you and hoping for positive response.

Regards
Limbu

Kat Reply:

Your question is already answered in the article above. See section, ‘Rules for non-EU business owners’ and several previous comments concerning the same issue. All best.

  Sam wrote @ February 19th, 2014 at 22:37

Your comment was moved to, “Should I move to Greece?

  Lance wrote @ March 1st, 2014 at 18:45

Hi
My partner (Greek) and I (UK) started to set up a shop in Rhodes in premises owned by Greek’s family.
I was working on self-employed basis. For many reasons the shop did not open and we now plan to rent it out. However, I have been told by Bookkeeper in Rhodes that I need to pay some Euro 1200 to ‘close the business’ – as we did not actually trade do you think this is correct?
Thanks

Kat Reply:

There are typically fees and (often) penalties to close a business. It has nothing to do with whether you actually sold, traded or provided services/products.

There’s no way I (or anyone) can determine if this is correct based on so little information, as multiple factors and confidential details are involved. If you don’t trust your bookkeeper, go directly to the tax office or consult a different accountant/lawyer.

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