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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Cost of starting a business in Greece

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

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

Rules for non-EU business owners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Licenses & Pre-screening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employers in Greece wishing to hire non-EU employees

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

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

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

Overview

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

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

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

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

Notes for each step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information

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

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

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

Business grants

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

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

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

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

Other risks in doing business in Greece as a foreign company

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

This is a small sampling:

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

Greece vs. other countries

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

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

Sources

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

In the News

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

Related articles

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

The Author

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

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

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

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

203 Comments

  Kat wrote @ February 15th, 2011 at 01:43

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.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.