Though banking, money and taxes in Greece have been a delicate matter for a number of years, things have been returning to normal since the economic crisis has stabilised. Nevertheless, financial matters can be tricky to navigate in a foreign country – here's a rundown of what to expect.
Money in Greece
The currency in Greece is the euro (EUR), subdivided into 100 cents. Currency is available in the following denominations:
Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR
Coins: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 EUR and 2 EUR
Banking in Greece
There are several reputable local and international banks in Greece. The most prominent local banks are Alpha Bank, Eurobank Ergasias, National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank. Though some international banks ceased operation in Greece during the financial crisis, there are still several with a presence in Greece, such as HSBC and Citibank. Many expats open a Greek bank account for local use while maintaining their foreign bank account for international transactions.
Mobile and internet banking in Greece are commonly available. It's possible to pay by card for most transactions, although some smaller businesses and restaurants may only accept cash, so it's a good idea for expats to keep some cash on them, especially outside of cities and away from major tourist destinations.
Opening a bank account
Opening a bank account in Greece is fairly easy. Before this can be done, however, expats will need to apply for a Greek tax number, called an AFM (Arithmo Forologiko Mitro). To get an AFM number, expats will need to bring their passport to their closest tax office and fill in the relevant form. Once the application has been processed, the tax office provides a document stating the applicant’s nine-digit AFM number.
Once they have their AFM number, non-resident bank applicants will need to present proof of identity. This could be in the form of a passport, national identity card or driver’s licence, though some banks are more specific about what forms of identity they accept. A recent utility bill as proof of address may also be necessary, as well as proof of income, such as recent payslips or an employer's letter. Finally, expats will need to pay a deposit. The amount varies between individual banks.
Credit cards and ATMs
ATMs are widely available in most areas of Greece. Many of them, especially in larger cities, have options available for doing one’s transactions in English. In more remote areas, however, ATMs are more likely to only use Greek.
The most commonly accepted cards are Mastercard and Visa – Diner’s Club and American Express are less likely to be accepted. For the most part, there should be no issues when using cards with either a chip or a magnetic strip.
Taxes in Greece
Most expats will find that they need to obtain an AFM number fairly swiftly upon arrival in Greece as this number is needed in order to take up employment, open a bank account, and make big purchases such as cars or homes.
In most cases, income generated in the country will be taxed by the Greek government. Social security contributions account for a significant portion of this tax, although employers are required to cover a part of this. Expats buying property will also have to pay real estate tax.
Due to the complex nature of tax in Greece, it is highly advisable to consult a bilingual tax advisor who has experience in expat tax matters.