Living in Greece

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

Food & drink taxed 13 percent in Greece ’til December 31

Coffee & eating out now taxed at 13 percent in Greece.

As of August 1, 2013, VAT on ready-made food and some non-alcoholic beverages consumed at or ordered as takeaway at eating and drinking establishments was lowered from 23 percent to 13 percent through December 31. However, if tax evasion continues, it would be raised again to 23 percent on January 1, 2014.

Food served at restaurants, cafes and hotels, and non-alcoholic beverages purchased everywhere, are normally taxed 23 percent effective September 1, 2011.

Ahead of the EU-IMF audit, the government announced in August a number of hasty and contradictory measures that raised value-added tax (VAT) on holiday packages and proposed that tourists wear bracelets to get a reduced rate. It was eventually decided that all-inclusive vacation packages would remain at 13 percent, but a 10-percent tax hike would be assessed on ready-to-consume beverages and make takeaway and tavernas a luxury.

Greece charges the highest tax in the eurozone and second highest in the EU for eating out.

Restaurateurs, struggling for survival, want the rate lowered to 6.5 or 9.0 percent and say they will not collect the tax or pay the state its share. Many business owners absorbed the VAT increase to keep customers happy but fear this will lead to layoffs since operating costs remain high. They were right.

As of September 2012, stats show that 4,000 restaurants and cafes have shut down, and 30,000 employees lost their jobs since the VAT hike. In a 2013 poll, some 93 percent of households said they cut back on dining out and ordering takeaway food.

Government promises of tax reform and lower rates never materialized, partly because Greece has seen four different cabinets since November 2011 and remains without an elected government. A coalition took power in June 2012.

*Article updated August 1, 2013

All beverages taxed 23 percent. — Image/


All ready-to-consume non-alcoholic liquids with sweetener, carbonation or flavoring are taxed at 23 percent, no matter where they’re purchased. It’s fairly straightforward.

Included (taxed 23 percent): Carbonated plain/mineral water, iced/hot coffee, flavored drinks, frappe, fresh or packaged fruit or vegetable juice, granita/slush/icee, hot chocolate, smoothies, soda, sport drinks, iced/hot tea.

Alcohol, wine and beer are already taxed at the higher rate as of January 1, 2011.

*Beverages consumed at or ordered for delivery are temporarily taxed at 13 percent through December 31, 2013.

Not included (taxed 13 percent): Plain, non-carbonated table water.

Milk, chocolate milk, tea leaves, tea bags, dried chamomile flowers, coffee beans, plus the powdered form of coffee, tea, chocolate, Nescafe, Nesquik and Ovaltine are considered raw ingredients and therefore do not fall into the ‘ready-to-consume’ category.


Any meal or food item that is considered prepared, packaged and/or ready-made is normally taxed at 23 percent to the final consumer, though there are exceptions noted below. It is not a restaurant tax, as it also applies to cafes, hotels, convenience stores and supermarkets.

Food items that are considered raw materials continue to be taxed at 13 percent. Using my own words, I would describe the category as portions of food that have not been assembled into a ready-to-consume form/unit.

Included (taxed 23 percent): Ready-made food from restaurants, tavernas, cafes, takeaway and delivery, fast-food chains, snack bars, hotels and supermarkets. For example, pizza, souvlaki, sandwiches, tyropita, spanakopita, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, meals out, Chinese food delivered to your home, catering for weddings, room service at the hotel. Plus, plastic containers of sushi, green salads with fixings and dressing, ready roast chickens and pre-packaged sandwiches at supermarkets.

*Prepared food from restaurants, tavernas, cafes, takeaway and delivery, fast-food chains, snack bars and hotels are temporarily taxed at 13 percent through December 31, 2013. It was hoped that this measure would encourage consumers and help small business owners, but only 1 in 10 eating and drinking establishments lowered prices.

Not included (taxed 13 percent): Bread and baked goods (pastries, cookies, croissants, cakes, bougatsa, bagels, donuts, koulouria, sweets) purchased at bakeries; ready-made, prepared or packaged food sold at educational (public/private schools, colleges, universities), medical facilities (hospitals, clinics, etc.) or social welfare institutions.

Cans of tuna, containers of yogurt and ice cream, ready-made taramosalata, deli meats, cheeses, loaves of bread, packages of spinach, jars of olives, bags of potatoes are considered portions of bulk materials or raw ingredients. Yes, some of them are packaged and could be eaten ‘as is,’ but they have not been ‘assembled’ into a ready-to-consume form/unit, so they are still taxed 13 percent.

It is possible to be charged two rates of VAT at the same location, depending on what items you are purchasing.

Meals in Holiday Packages

The tax applicable to meals and food/beverages in a vacation package will be charged according to whether it includes breakfast, half board (two meals daily) or full board (all meals inclusive).

Breakfast only: 5 percent of package price × 23 percent
Half board: 15 percent of package price × 23 percent
Full board: 30 percent of package price × 23 percent

Food and drink in a mini bar are taxed according to whatever category in falls under. Hotel accommodation, vacation rentals and camping will continue to be charged at the low rate of 6.5 percent.

VAT rates for Greece as of 2013

See “Value-added tax (VAT) rates in Greece” to see what items and services are taxed at reduced and standard rates. It is updated as changes are announced.


Products not affected by the VAT increase may also go up, as business owners often use the opportunity to raise prices and blame the government, much as the euro was blamed after 2001.

I noticed price increases on dairy products, flour, deli items, tomato sauce and legumes in August.


Από σήμερα στο 23% ο ΦΠΑ για την εστίαση” — Ta Nea
Είδος πολυτελείας από την Πέμπτη το σουβλάκι και ο γύρος” — To Vima
Σεπτέμβρης – φωτιά στα νοικοκυριά” — Ta Nea
Τι προβλέπει η αύξηση του ΦΠΑ στην εστίαση” — Kathimerini
Ακριβαίνουν από 1ης Σεπτεμβρίου εστιατόρια, delivery, χυμοί, καφές, αναψυκτικά” — To Vima
«Θα αποδίδουμε τον ΦΠΑ για όσο ακόμη αντέξουμε…»” — Ta Nea
ΦΠΑ εστίασης: Χωρίς διακρίσεις τα τουριστικά πακέτα” — To Vima
Lowering VAT to 19 percent” — Eleftherotypia
Tax exemptions and increases under revision” — Kathimerini
VAT hike shuts down restaurants” — Kathimerini

Clarifications (finally) published October 6 by the Ministry of Finance via Enet

Reference for English-speaking readers; not used for my article

Gov’t fudge over VAT on catering” — Kathimerini
VAT on holiday packages stays at 13 percent” — Kathimerini
VAT circular adds confusion” — Kathimerini

The Author

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

  • 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.

Please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.


  Kat wrote @ September 2nd, 2011 at 14:58

Great, I look forward to paying even MORE for things here… This is such a pity. Thanks for putting all the info together.

Kat Reply:

I know, right? Lots of confusion out there, and I saw that English-language outlets didn’t cover all bases. A pleasure to publish information that’s appreciated.

Nice to see you again.

  ShanKat wrote @ September 3rd, 2011 at 08:51

What a drag. Sugar has also shot up this year.

Great info, as always.

(bunch of Kats ’round here!)

Kat Reply:

Yes, sugar also.

Bunch of Kats is not a bad thing, as long as we’re not in a grade-school classroom and forced to choose alternative names. ;)

  Rachel wrote @ September 3rd, 2011 at 11:18

Here we go again. l saw lurpak butter (small pack) priced at 4.20 euros and cereal is now up to 5 euros a box!! This Island (Lefkas) is out-pricing itself.

The cost of living just keeps on rising.

Thanks for all the updates!!

Kat Reply:

So true.

There used to be a reasonably priced butter at AB for 1.44 for 250g, but it was discontinued as far as I can tell and we’re left with the more expensive French and Greek brands. Minerva sometimes has a ‘doro’ included, and it’s good to buy then.

Cereal is expensive. Some people buy cheaper ones at Lidl, but they’re not as good.

  Maria wrote @ September 5th, 2011 at 09:38

This is soo exciting . . . as if we aren’t already living in poverty!!! Thank god for Greece and its wonderful government! LOL this is all ridiculous!

  ShanKat wrote @ September 12th, 2011 at 21:39

LIDL has Greek butter for 1.11! It’s usually just under 1.50. I cook and bake with it, it’s fabulous. Unsalted, rich and creamy. Like buttah.

Kat Reply:

Next time I find a Lidl, I’ll take a look. Good tip for all of us sick of paying more than 2.50. I’m verklempt ;)

  Tetiana wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 10:48

I would like to check the source of this statement “Greece now charges the highest tax in the eurozone and second highest in EU for eating out.”
May you help me with that?

Note from Kat: If you work for Kyiv Post, I suppose you’re a journalist as I am, with the credentials and ability to research and independently verify anything I said. Why must I spoon feed you information?

  Jason wrote @ February 15th, 2012 at 11:04

Time to move to Canada. Lots of jobs here, no young people want to do any of the lower paying jobs here. They are all waiting to make the big money. Lots of jobs like housekeeping for hotels.

Kat Reply:

No young people in Greece want to do housekeeping or ‘dirty, difficult’ jobs here for the same reason, so I doubt they’d want to do them in Canada.

  Rob wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 16:06

Many thanks for the your simplified report on the property tax it was well delivered and made it so easy to understand. I wonder if you could answer he same with this Imputed tax that they are now putting forward, I hear different things. My personal cirumstances is that I joint own a house in greece I only spend at the most 4 weeks holiday there each year, I dont let or earn any income from the property or from the country and I have no car or boat. I do file my tax return each year. I read they mention 3000 to be transferred into our greek bank per property owner does this apply to both me and my wife etc, I wont continue with all things I have read etc, maybe you could put a simplier reply. Many thanks Rob

Kat Reply:

You hear different things because nothing has been implemented and is subject to change. In general, I do not dispense tax advice for the three reasons given in “2011 Tax deadlines for Greece.”

The property tax law alone took 3000 words and dozens of revisions, and I did it voluntarily without payment. I am a journalist keeping this website as a side project, and it would be impossible for me to learn 1000 tax laws, keep up with daily changes, and then apply them to a person’s specific situation with respect to nationality, residency and cross-border laws. Consult an accountant or tax lawyer.

  Suzy wrote @ March 31st, 2012 at 20:41

Thanks for your work. I’m travelling to Greece in June for a few weeks and like to stay as current as possible on what’s going on.

  Younan wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 10:18

Comment 1:
I searched to find my name to let all people visit your website seen your harsh and tough way to reply me but of course you delete it.
Any way I just want to inform you that I applied for Greek nationality throw some friends “lower” in Athens and its worked and now I am Greek citizen ship not as you mentioned me I cant have Greek nationality although my father was Greek born in Greece but the only problem for me that I born after my mother got divorce from my father 4 month later.
I cam from Legal marriage records in Greece & all my paper was with me but you were so tough now I can tell you that all what you mentioned was wrong and thanks God I DID NOT FLOOW YOUR WORDS AND WHAT YOU HAD SAIED TO ME.
Just when I tolled you usually you answer people very quick but you delay to answer me so may be you are in vacation you start to show your ugly way of answering me.
What I mentioned was good intended to you to shown you are active person + good wish for you to enjoy your time at that vacation.
Now bye for ever because I did not trust in your word & I was right thanks God.

Comment 2:

Comment 3:
Throw your website you said I can’t have Greek nationality throw my father because just I had born after my parents got divorce 4 month’s later.
So throw you website I learn or know nothing also I gave to you all the details & that was your answer to me.

Kat Reply:

None of your comments were removed. All six seven are published.

I gave answers based on the information you told me; if you left out or misstated some details, there’s no way I can know that. I also said that you were free to verify my answer with authorities, just as I told you were you free to consult authorities directly when you complained that I did not answer fast enough. Instead of understanding I was giving you options, you became offended and accused me of sending you elsewhere.

Because I didn’t answer you in one day — which you expected, but I never promise anyone — you assumed I was on vacation. I haven’t taken a vacation in 5 years. I am not obliged to offer this website or help anyone for free.

You were aggressive, demanding and called me names, and I still answered your questions and treated you politely. You are free to tell people whatever you like, but it is through my website’s articles that you learned it was possible to apply for Greek citizenship through your father.

I wish you peace.

  Christian wrote @ July 17th, 2012 at 06:02

Do these taxes apply to tourists in Greece? Vacation planning for September 2012. I had seen somewhere on Google that tourists are only charged 6.5%. Is this true?

Kat Reply:

Read the last paragraph in the section, “Meals in Holiday Packages.” You can also see, “VAT rates for Greece.” There aren’t separate rates of taxation for residents and tourists.

A new government took power a few weeks ago. There’s no way to predict what the VAT rate will be in September, but my articles are consistently updated.

I work full time and run this website, update its 300+ articles, curate the Twitter feed and answer questions in my unpaid spare time. Please choose one method of contact for future questions.

  Djurdjina wrote @ September 1st, 2012 at 21:47

Your question was transferred to, “Unemployment benefits in Greece.”

  Arnuld wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 06:18

Ouch! Now that’s a real biz killer. I was planning on visiting Greece come summer in my country… this won’t have a positive impact to the tourists though.

  Teddy wrote @ October 12th, 2012 at 20:16

I am a Greek-American high school graduate spending 2.5 months of my gap year in Greece. I would just like to sincerely thank you for everything you do.

It’s incredible. It’s a masterpiece. I love your no-bullshit attitude, respect for conflicting cultures, your dedication to the country of Greece, and to world travelers in general.

Parting question: What was Greece like before the crisis? It’s been very educational for me to live in a country in distress, but I wish I could have experienced my family’s country in better times.

Again, thank you infinitely!

Kat Reply:

That question isn’t simple to answer. ‘Then’ depends on when someone lived here and what one (selectively) remembers; and ‘now’ depends on how far someone has come, challenges faced, financial/social status and expectation of life. I try not to compare, though I realize nostalgia is a Greek word and many Greeks still live in this mythical time. The only thing I can suggest is to read books, though (again) they’re written from that author’s perspective. It’s subjective.

Throughout my life I’ve been known as someone who speaks frankly, without PR but with mindfulness. It’s a blessing and a curse.

I appreciate your kind words, and thank you for taking the time to say hello and share your thoughts. Enjoy your time in Greece.

  Lowdog wrote @ November 9th, 2012 at 02:10

I am an American – I can’t help it, I was born here. When will these types of measures be implemented in America.

  Philip wrote @ July 22nd, 2015 at 16:22

I’ve just noticed that Carrefour Marinopolis in Kissamos have started charging 23% VAT on fresh meat whereas it was 13% before the hike. The same day I went to a local butcher who charged 13%. Ain’t right is it?

Kat Reply:

No, it’s not. Unless it’s a prepared meal, it’s supposed to be 13%, same as the butcher.

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