Living in Greece

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

Summer jobs in Greece FAQ

Santorini beach bar

Finding a summer job in Greece has changed little in the past 10 years, but the job climate for illegal jobs has changed significantly with new laws, stepped up enforcement, recession and expansion of the EU to include Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia, Romania and Croatia.

Anyone interested in working in a bar, cafe or club on a Greek island or even seaside on the mainland should read, “Getting a summer job in Greece,” in addition to this FAQ.

* Article last updated on November 9, 2014

Are there summer jobs in Greece for Americans?
Are there summer jobs in Greece for Canadians?

Are there summer jobs in Greece for Australians?
Are there summer jobs in Greece for _______ ?

In a word, ‘no.’ Specifying nationality in jobs ads is illegal, and jobs are not listed like that.

Have you ever seen a job in the United States, Canada or Australia advertised like this: “Jobs for Italians” or “Jobs for expats only.” I haven’t. So if you’re looking for a job in Greece, you are competing against everyone. Searching for “Jobs in Greece” is more accurate. (Use links in the next column for that)

The only time I’ve seen nationality specified is when an employer wants Greek or EU citizens, and this is because they are seeking candidates with authorization to work in the EU, aka, they don’t want non-EU citizens. It might even be more subtle, such as “British English native speakers only.”

For more information, see “Common jobs for foreigners in Greece: Myth vs. reality.”

Can an American find a summer job in Greece?
Can a Canadian find a summer job in Greece?
Can an Australian find a summer job in Greece?
Can a ____ (non-EU citizen) find a summer job in Greece?

Yes and no.

Yes, if you’re only looking for illegal work, low wages, working conditions that range from poor to mediocre, and don’t mind being fired for any reason, deported or fined.

No, if you’re looking for legal work and a permit to stay in Greece.

Why is it considered illegal if I work for the summer in Greece as an American/Canadian/Australian/non-EU citizen?

Because all Americans, Canadians, Australians and other non-EU citizens in Greece with only a Schengen or national visa are not permitted to work legally. You can only work legally if you have a work permit. See, “How Americans/non-EU citizens can live and work in Greece” if you are unfamiliar with work visas and permits.

Why won’t an employer give me a permit to work in Greece?

In a nutshell, getting a Greek residence/work permit is an expensive and lengthy process taking several months that involves getting approval from authorities, issuing a work visa through the Greek consulate/embassy in your homeland and putting up a huge deposit to hire you. It’s simply not worth all of that bureaucracy and expense for summer work, when there are plenty of other workers to hire without need for a permit.

It must also be proven that no Greek or EU citizen can fill this vacancy, and this is why you must be hired and given a permit. For bar work or casual summer jobs, there is no basis for authorities to approve this. Even for regular non-summer jobs in Greece, this rarely happens.

A Greek newspaper published official stats that showed no new permits were issued to Americans in 2007, only renewals. In December 2010, stats showed the number of non-EU citizens in Greece with residence/work permits dropped 10 percent to 460,000; it dropped further in 2011 and 2012 as thousands voluntarily returned to their countries of origin.

Is it easy to get a summer job in Greece?

It was much easier to get a summer job 10 or even four years ago, than it is today. But it also depends on your qualifications, what you’re willing to accept and your definition of ‘easy.’ If you think a job is going to drop out of the sky without making sacrifices, then no.

Also, maybe you heard, Greece is in its fifth year of recession and this is expected to continue until 2020, with unemployment at a record-high 27.8 percent overall and 64.9 percent amongst youth aged 15-24. The current government has no reason to import workers and is cracking down on illegal workers and tax evasion, with half the population wishing to go abroad and  legal Albanians leaving Greece.

It’s less likely an employer will hire someone illegally with stepped-up enforcement and fines, and unemployment is still rising.

Why is it harder now?

Several reasons:

a) The EU has expanded to include Eastern European nations. That means there are plenty of workers who are already legal and are willing to accept wages lower than most Americans, Canadians or Australians would. There are a number of illegal workers from Asia and the Middle East who are working here for as little as 23 euros a day under deplorable conditions, and EU citizens being tricked into working for 1 euro a day on farms.

b) Fines and penalties for employers hiring illegal workers have increased and now include jail time. Thus, unless an employer is absolutely sure he/she won’t be caught or has connections or money to bribe officials, it’s simply not worth the risk.

c) A new law was passed in December 2007 requiring certain American and other non-EU citizens to provide proof of financial means when applying for a visa or when entering Greece. See, “Non-EU travelers to Greece need 50 euros a day.” This is an attempt to cut down on the number of Americans, Canadians and Australians who work illegally in Greece every summer and overstay their visa.

d) Enforcement has stepped up. Since 2008, police checks occur daily and weekly, and I know a greater number of people who have lost their illegal jobs or simply weren’t hired and had to go home.

e) The Greek government is in favor of tightening borders and immigration, and the EU sent highly trained Frontex guards in November 2010 to help. Since their arrival, border migration has decreased by 40 percent.

f) Any non-EU citizen caught working illegally in Greece or anywhere in the EU may be jailed for 18 months before deportation as of January 2010, according to a new EU directive.

g) It’s not as cheap to live in Greece as it used to be. A lot of people hear stories from relatives and friends who were here a decade ago when it was relatively inexpensive to live here, and how great it was to work on an island, go to the beach every day, go to work and party every night. You can still do that, it’s just more expensive since Greece entered the euro zone, and a lot of people find that it’s harder to make ends meet while salaries have decreased. Plus, if you overstay your visa, it will cost you between 600-1200 euros in fines — that’s more than most people earn in a month. See, “Overstaying a visa in Greece.”

h) Employers can get students from Greece or somewhere else in the EU to work for cheap, without legally paying IKA contributions to employ them, which not only saves money but bureaucracy and fines.

Greece is in its fifth year of recession and up to 900 legal workers lose their jobs every day.

Where do I look for summer jobs in Greece?
How do I find a job in Greece?

Typically, you would search a number of classified ads and any normal methods you use back home. There are a number of links in the next column to get you started. The best ads are in Greek.

Preferably, you would show up in person on the island or location of interest and interview on the spot with an employer because quite honestly, he/she will want to see what you look like.

There’s no way to know exactly where to go because there might be a ton of jobs in one place this week, but by the time you get here next month, they might all be gone. That’s why it’s best to show up early in the season, not in June or July.

How do I find a well-paid summer job in Greece?

If there were one way or one employer, wouldn’t we all be doing it?

Summer jobs in Greece are notoriously low paid, unless you currently work at the year-round location and/or have connections to the boss. Newcomers will have a difficult time even finding employment, let alone a job with a decent salary.

Are there a lot of summer job classified ads this year?

Like every year, there are a great number listed. But of 1,000 ads, only a few may be in English. The majority are in Greek newspapers, which basically means they are all legal jobs for anyone who can speak Greek and has authorization/permit to work in Greece. This reflects what I said earlier about the job climate being different due to laws, enforcement and fines.

The few ads in English almost always want someone speaking both Greek and English and are nearly always jobs that Greeks don’t take because the position, company or salary is undesirable. They depend on the desperation and willingness of foreigners who need money and will accept substandard working conditions.

Where can I find ads for illegal jobs?

Illegal jobs won’t be advertised in regular newspapers unless employers who place them want to be visited by the Financial Crimes Squad. Some employers post in unknown forums and see who comes to them, but I question the quality of these jobs.

Most employers with illegal jobs wait for candidates to come see them in person.

Should I post in a forum?


Why not?

Because getting a summer job, or any job, requires that you apply for open vacancies offered by bars, cafes and hotels that are actually looking for people.

Good employers don’t have time to search forums for candidates, write down everyone’s name, address and phone number, then spend the time and money on an international call to give you a job. They figure if you want the job badly enough, you will take action and the initiative to contact them. If you don’t, there are plenty who will.

If employers do have time to troll forums for candidates and call you, I would seriously question the character of the employer and the quality of the job.

Are you saying I shouldn’t answer a job for Greece advertised in a forum?

No, I’m saying you shouldn’t post your own details asking for a job. There’s nothing wrong with answering an ad from someone who says they have a job vacancy.

Do you know anyone who has gotten a summer job in Greece by leaving their name, phone number or email in a forum?

No. Not a single person in the 15 years I’ve been here.

Everyone I know who got a summer job in Greece has applied to an ad by phone or showed up in person.

I know people who were promised jobs via email or phone, but then showed up only to find the employer had hired someone else who was physically here in Greece  and willing to work for cheap. As there were no contracts or anything legally binding the employers to keep these promises, these people then had to find work somewhere else or go home. Most ended up going home when funds ran out because they had no backup plan or savings and had come too late to find anything else.

Is speaking English enough?

Sometimes, sometimes not.

Some hotels or bars with a predominantly English-speaking clientele don’t mind if you can’t speak another language, or if you’re applying for a position in which you have very little contact with customers, i.e., IT technician, barman taking orders only from waitresses who all speak English, DJ, etc.

It’s helpful if you speak some Greek because Greeks go on vacation in summer and are not required to speak English in their own country.

Most people I know who got summer jobs in Greece very easily are multilingual. Nikos was hired immediately because he spoke German, and Kos is a popular destination for Germans. George speaks English, Greek and Italian and was hired immediately on Skiathos. I worked in Rhodes for a summer speaking mostly English, but sometimes Greek, Spanish and French. The only person I know who didn’t speak another language and had no experience ever working in a bar/restaurant was a girl who had enormous bre@sts — you can draw your own conclusions from that.

See, “The importance of speaking Greek in Greece.”

Will a summer job come with accommodation?

There is a trend to not offer it anymore, but it depends on what you find and if there is room to negotiate. Alex and I both had accommodation and food included with our jobs, but George and Nikos did not. Christy got food, but still had to pay for her own apartment.

Is it easier for women to find summer jobs in Greece?

Yes, especially if you are under 30 and attractive.

Some ads specifically state an age limitation because younger women are perceived to be easily controlled and more willing to accept certain conditions and lower pay, while also appealing to men of all ages.

Men find jobs too, so don’t be discouraged by this news.

I’m planning to be in Greece in June, can I still find a summer job?

Like I’ve said before, all of the good jobs are secured through connections or advertised and gone by April or May. But it’s not impossible if you’re not picky.

I encourage everyone to read:

1. Getting a summer job in Greece
2. One day on the island of Ios
3. Non-EU travelers need 50 euros a day
4. Overstaying a visa in Greece

* Further questions will not be answered at this time, as 20 of the most popular ones were addressed above with first-hand experience and wisdom so you can make educated decisions instead of finding out the hard way. Thank you.


  Annis wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 00:48

Hi Kat, I found your web site very interesting and you give answers for almost everything, but i still have a question to you. Is it possible for an American citizen to work as an intern (student) only for the summer season? Does he/she has to do the whole procedure with work permit etc? Which way do you think is easier to get a work permit these days?


Kat Reply:

Hi Annis,

I welcome questions that haven’t already been answered on this website, and I have ideas for at least 200 more articles and that still wouldn’t cover everything!

If you are only coming here as a student intern, you need to apply for a student visa that would entitle you to live in Greece without working for whatever duration you’re granted without need for a residence permit.

If you plan to work here for the summer, the student visa also entitles you to apply for a residence/work permit to work part time (not full time) for wages as long as you are a student and have permission to be here. It cannot be converted to a full residence/work permit for Greece. Why? Because as I explain in “How to get a permit to move, live, work in Greece” and “FAQ: Greek work and/or residence permits,” your original reason for being in Greece was to be a student.

The easiest way to get a work permit for Greece? How can I answer that question in this age of austerity and record-high unemployment amongst young, highly qualified, multilingual people who already live here? Greek/EU citizens and non-EU citizens with permits are leaving Greece to find work, and it’s expected to get worse in 2011. Work permits in Greece are only granted to non-EU citizens when a Greek or other EU citizen cannot fill the vacancy, and even then employers prefer to leave the position open than put up with the extensive red tape.

The easiest way to work and live in the EU is to claim EU citizenship through an ancestor, if you have one.

  liddy wrote @ May 17th, 2011 at 09:29

ok so i am an australian citizen with a uk working visa. if it’s a uk company that wants to employ me in greece for the summer, is this legal?

Kat Reply:

A UK work visa entitles you to work in the UK. It does not apply to anywhere or anyone outside UK borders. If they’re telling you it’s legal, they don’t know the law or are trying to get you to work illegally.

If you want to work in Greece, you need to get a work visa and work permit for Greece and this is rarely done for summer jobs because of the bureaucracy and cost involved. Unemployment is at a record high, and there is no reason to import workers when Greece has plenty who are authorized and ready to work.

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