Start a business in Greece

Updated 2023-05-14 12:50

Starting your own company or being self-employed in Greece is not easy for non-locals, let alone for non-EU citizens. To become self-employed, you must have already had a residence permit in Greece for one year before you apply and a formal business plan (in Greek, approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs). In some instances, you will need to prove you have a certain amount of capital to start your business and invest in Greece. However, provided you follow the right processes and have the correct documents, it is possible to set up a business in Greece as an expat successfully. 

Obtaining a Greek Tax Identification Number

Several requirements will need to be met to start a business in Greece. Firstly, you will need to hold a Greek Tax Identification Number known as TIN, which is sometimes referred to as AFM (ΑΦΜ). You will also need to know your Taxis Net login details, as the application is made online on the Taxis Net platform. When submitted, these details represent the applicant's e-signature.


What are the initial procedures for starting a business in Greece?

Applicants for the creation of a business, as mentioned above, must know their Tax ID (TIN), as well as their login credentials for the tax platform (Taxisnet) AADE or ΑΑΔΕ.

If you do not have a Tax ID and credentials, you will need to book an online video conference via my AADE live (the Greek Tax authorities), so you can receive them. Afterward, you will be asked to fill in your relevant information on a digital form. Then you will be given the option of a date and time for an appointment with a representative independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE). You will have the green light to start your business once you have TIN and access credentials for your Taxisnet account.

What forms of legal business can be set up in Greece by expats?

Several business types can be legally set up in Greece by expats:

  • A PLC (Public Limited Company)
  • An LLC (Limited Liability Company)
  • A PC or Private Company
  • A General and Limited Partnership (ordinary partnership or with shares)
  • A Civil-Law Cooperative under law 1667/1986
  • Civil-Law Association pursuing economic objects under article 784 of HCC and article 270 Law 4072/2012
  • A European Economic Interest Grouping under Council Regulation through (EEC) no 2137/1985
  • A European Company under Council Regulation (EC) No 2157/2001
  • A joint venture under Article 293 through Law 4072/2012

What is the process for setting up a business in Greece?

Once you have decided on the form your business will take — PLC, PC, etc. — you will need to use the Greek Government's platform to set it up. The business founders/creators then need to enter the details that were referred to them previously, i.e., their Tax ID number and Taxisnet credentials, to be authenticated.

Personal details and electronic signatures are only completed by the applicants/founders, which allows them to sign for the articles or statutes that apply to the businesses they want to form.

Through applicants inputting data on the business portal platform, articles of association/statutes are formed. For those unfamiliar, articles of association specify the company's operational procedures and purpose and are usually part of a bigger document that also sets out how company directors are to be appointed and how the bookkeeping will be formulated.

In essence, the system provides digital articles of association and statutes and also creates the first registration act (which is the incorporation of the company). This is completed within the General Commercial Register, better known as the GEMI, which is the authority for registering businesses in Greece.

Once you have registered through the GEMI (General Commercial Register), you will receive a GEMI number. At the same, the newly formed company is simultaneously registered with Greece's Tax authorities AADE, and the company will receive its tax identification number (TIN). What's more, it will also be registered with e-EFKA, the social security institution, where the employer will be provided with an Employer Register Number. EFKA fees are paid monthly and start at 167 euros minimum. Finally, with these processes completed, your company can begin trading in Greece.

Expanding a business or creating a branch or subsidiary in Greece

If you want to expand your business or create another branch in Greece, documents must be deposited by a representative authorized by the company to the relevant department of the General Commercial Register.

For example, if you have an EU company, you would require the following:

  • Company articles of association or statutes,
  • a certificate of good standing (which means the company is fully registered to the state and all relevant fees have been paid),
  • a formal decision by the company to open a branch in Greece,
  • a designated representative or country manager who is responsible for the activities of the branch in Greece.

The documents that are required by an EU company wanting to establish a branch in Greece must be notarised and have an apostille stamp. If you have further questions about establishing a branch in Greece, it is best to contact a representative from e-YMS (e-ΥΜΣ) who can provide you with the most updated information on business creation and setup. The Greek Business Portal lists various regional contacts for e-YMS.

The company is then registered through the nearest GEMI department to where the company offices are situated.

The company incorporation can be done in person at the nearest GEMI department or notary public, i.e., a lawyer with public authority and judicial power from the state. Such lawyers can be found by searching online for your nearest Notary public.

What documents are required to set up a business as an expat in Greece?

EU citizens must have a valid passport or ID card to set up a business in Greece.

Third-country nationals (non-EU citizens)

If the applicants intend to create a private company or limited partners in a partnership, they will need the following:

For applicants who intend to be general partners in a partnership, the documents required are as follows:

  • A valid passport, or travel document, along with a visa where applicable
  • A residence permit or certificate confirming submission of residence permit application. Additionally, the purpose of the residence permit must allow independent economic/business or investment activity – that is befitting of the current regulations. It can be helpful to double-check with a lawyer before you submit your permit application to check that the purpose you are applying for will allow economic/business activity. Moreover, the whole application can be made by a lawyer for a charge.

Business ideas for expats in Greece

Language tuition

As an expat, there is a multitude of business opportunities you could pursue in Greece. One thing is for sure Greeks love learning languages, and they recognize the importance that speaking an additional language can have on their professional outlook/career aspirations — this is integral in Greece as the country is reliant on its Tourism sector. Therefore, as an expat, teaching your native language is a good first point of call if you are thinking about starting a business in Greece. Language tuition can be done online or in person, and you can also decide your hours by working on a freelance basis. A good example of this is Italki which allows tutors to allocate their own hours and schedule lessons around their availability. Lessons are taught online through Italki's online video platform or can be taught through Skype. Otherwise, there is also the option to start an in-person language tuition business; of course, you would need to rent a commercial building. To put it in perspective, if you wanted to rent a commercial office in the center of Athens, you would be looking at a cost of between 1,300-1,700 euros for 160m² space, depending on the area.

Technology and freelance work

As with the rest of Europe, the tech market is growing, and there are lots of avenues for jobs in web design and software development. Along with this type of work comes the freelance and also the remote aspect, which might appeal to some expats more, especially those who want to travel and discover more of Greece while continuing to work. Like language tuition, freelance work is a good option for expats looking to start a business in Greece. You can find many websites with opportunities for freelancers offering translation, web design, content writing, editing and photography services. The suggestions on these websites might inspire you to create your own business idea,

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In the past few years, Greece has seen a huge growth in startups. To illustrate this in the wider context of South-eastern Europe, Greece has attracted the most venture capital – drawing in 40% of the total funding to the region. In 2022 alone, 19 Greek startups were bought, and it is estimated the Greek Startups combined are worth 5 billion as an industry.

As an expat, there are many ways you could create your startup in Greece, such as a company offering management services for owners offering their properties for the short-term rentals market on sites such as, Airbnb, and Expedia. You could also consider the challenges you faced as a newcomer in Greece. Is there any guidance or advice you could pass along to prospective expats considering Greece? If so, setting up an information services or consulting company could be the best idea for a business in Greece. Although you do not necessarily have the expertise, you can connect individuals or businesses to other businesses or provide information to meet your client's service requirements. This way, you may assist companies not just in Greece but all other the world.

Tourist guides

With tourism still being an anchor of the Greek economy, a tour guiding company might suit an expat well in Greece, especially considering the plethora of historical sites dotted throughout the mainland and the islands and the vast number of tourists visiting Greece every year. This gives the freedom as a tour guide to be self-employed (with a private business) or as a company where you can employ other guides (who can cater to other languages).

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.