Living in Greece

How to move to Greece

Living in Greece

Living, working and acquiring property in Greece

Here are some pages for foreigners (i.e. non-Greeks…we are all foreigners here) who are contemplating living or working here or who are thinking of buying some property with the intention of spending more time than just the odd month or two in Greece.

We have asked people who live here for the benefit of their experiences, culled information from official EU web sites and put together much of my own experience in these pages.

Greece Weather

Greece
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humidity: 29%
wind: 5m/s SSW
H 19 • L 17
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Weather from OpenWeatherMap

Greece Weather

Booking.com

Peter Reynolds

Greece is an immensely beautiful but often frustrating country for students, professional people, interested travelers and the retired, planning an extended or long term stay. Western culture, evident in Athens and the few other big cities, contrasts starkly with the much simpler relaxed eastern approach to life in the country and on the islands.

INFORMATION FOR E.U. CITIZENS WISHING TO LIVE IN GREECE

The EU Treaty lays down the principle of the right of citizens of the European Union to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, subject to certain conditions.

Every citizen of the European Union who intends to reside for more than three months in another Member State is required to have a residence permit. This document, which serves only to confirm the right of residence enjoyed by all Union citizens, is issued on presentation of certain documents, which vary according to the circumstances of the person making the request.

Information on formalities in Greece


If you intend to stay in Greece for more than three months, you must apply for a residence permit to the Aliens Office or the police station for your place of residence within three months of your arrival. The application will be processed by the responsible Alien Registration Office.

Failure to submit an application, together with the other supporting documents, for a residence permit is punishable by fines.

Documents required

When applying for a residence permit, you must produce a valid identity card or passport, three passport photos, and a medical certificate issued by the responsible health services. Depending on your status during your stay in Greece (employee, job-seeker, self-employed, retired, not working, student), you will also be required to produce various documents:

– Employees must produce a declaration from their employer stating that they are to be employed and indicating the nature and duration of the work; the declaration must be certified by the Labour Inspectorate.

– Persons setting up in a self-employed capacity must provide evidence of their status, such as membership of a professional or trade union body, a VAT number or registration in a trade register.

– Service providers must produce supporting evidence. Employees and the self-employed may not be asked for evidence of their resources.

– If you stay in Greece after working there as either an employed or a self-employed person, you need to show that you fall into one of the following categories:

(a) when you stop working, you have reached pensionable age under Greek law, have worked for at least the last twelve months and have lived in Greece on a continuous basis for more than three years;
(b) you have lived in Greece on a continuous basis for more than two years and have stopped working as a result of a permanent disability. 
If this disability is due to an occupational accident or illness entitling you to a pension paid in full or in part by a Greek public body, no residence requirement applies;

In both these cases, no period of residence is required, and the requirement that you have worked for at least the last twelve months ceases to apply, if your spouse is a Greek national or lost Greek nationality as a result of marriage;

(c) after living and working in Greece on a continuous basis for three years, you have taken up work in another Member State while retaining residence in Greece, to which you return daily or at least once a week (border worker).

You have two years in which to exercise your right to reside in the country as from the time when one of the above-mentioned changes occurs.

· If you are retired and previously worked in another Member State or if you are an economically inactive person, you will have to prove that you have health insurance and adequate resources. Your resources are considered to be adequate if your income is at least equal to the minimum social security pension.  If you are a student, you will have to prove that you are enrolled in a recognized educational establishment for the principal purpose of following a vocational training course there and that you are covered by health insurance. You will have to give an assurance that you have sufficient resources, by means of a declaration or by such alternative means as you may choose that are at least equivalent.

· Members of your family who also have a right of residence (the guide “Living in another country of the European Union” explains which of your family members enjoy this right) must produce, in addition to the documents generally required (identity card or passport, passport photos, and medical certificate), the following:

– a document proving their relationship to you;
– a declaration by yourself stating that you are in possession of living accommodation suitable for your household; you are not required to produce a rental contract;
– if the family members are not nationals of a Member State, a visa (where required);
– documents proving that the persons concerned are dependent on you (this does not apply to your spouse and children under 21);
– if you are retired or not working, evidence that your resources are sufficient for you and your family and that all members of the family are properly insured;
– if you are a student, evidence that all members of your family are properly insured.

The right of residence of members of your family derives from your own right of residence.

Further information

Once your application for a residence permit, together with the other supporting documents, has been received, you will be given a certificate of receipt, stating the purpose of your application.

A decision on whether to grant your first residence permit must be taken within six months of your application being received.

Residence permits are valid for a limited period (see guide “Living in another country of the European Union” for details). Accompanying members of your family who are nationals of a Member State of the Union will be issued with residence permits that have the same period of validity as your own. Accompanying members of your family who are not nationals of a Member State will be issued with residence permits that have the same period of validity as your own and which are subject to Greek law.

There are no special formalities to comply with if you change residence within Greece. If you obtained a residence permit as an employee, for example, this does not prevent you from changing status during its period of validity, e.g. by setting up in a self-employed capacity.

You may renew your residence permit by carrying out the same formalities as when you first applied (indicating any change in status), except that this time you do not need to produce a visa, medical certificate, declaration that you have suitable accommodation, or proof of your ascendants’/descendants’ relationship to you. If you are employed, you need not have the declaration of employment from your employer certified by the Labour Inspectorate. You should apply for your permit to be renewed when it expires. If at the time the permit is renewed you have been involuntarily unemployed for more than twelve months in succession, renewal may be limited to a stated 
period, which may not be less than one year, and the authorities may refuse to renew your permit again if you are still unemployed when it next expires.

Residence permits are issued and renewed on payment of an amount equal to the charge paid by Greek citizens for the issuing of identity cards. 


III. Appeals

If your application for the issue or renewal of a residence permit has been rejected or if a deportation order is served on you, you must be notified of the relevant decision and the reasons underlying it, except where considerations of state security prevent this. The grounds for refusal are set out in the guide “Living in another country of the European Union”.

The decision is open to appeal; you have the same rights of appeal as Greek nationals in respect of administrative decisions.

You cannot be refused a residence permit purely on the grounds that the identity documents with which you entered the country have expired.

How to proceed

A decision to refuse to issue or to renew a residence permit has to be taken by the Ministry of Public Order, and will give a date by which you must leave Greece. Except in emergencies you must be given at least 15 days’ notice in the case of a refusal of a first residence permit and 30 days’ notice in the case of a refusal to renew or withdrawal of a residence permit. If you so request the decision will be referred to the special committee which the Greek legislation provides for in such cases. You have to make the request within 8 days of being informed of the decision. There is no special form required for such requests. The committee submits its report to the Ministry, which has to take another decision within 30 days of the day on which you made the request. The fresh decision can be challenged by appealing to the supreme administrative court, the Council of State.

A decision ordering your deportation has to be taken by the Ministry of Public Order after first consulting the same special committee. The decision will give a date by which you must leave Greece. You must be given at least one month’s notice, except in emergencies. Here too you may appeal to the Council of State.

Your must lodge your appeal within 60 days of being informed of the Ministry’s decision (90 days if you are outside Greece). You must be assisted by a lawyer.

You may be given free legal aid on certain conditions, and you may be assisted by an interpreter.

Community legislation

Employees (Regulation 1612/68 and Directive 68/360); the self-employed (Directive 73/148); retired persons who remain in a Member State after working there (Regulation 1251/70 and Directive 75/34); retired persons who worked in another Member State (Directive 90/365); economically inactive persons (Directive 90/364); students (Directive 93/96); measures taken for reasons of public policy, public safety and public health (Directive 64/221).

National rules

Law No 1975/1991 (published in Greek Government Gazette (FEK) 184A) Presidential Decrees 525/83 (FEK 203A/31.12.83), 499/87 (FEK 238A/31.12.87), and 278/92 (FEK 14A/28.08.92).


IV. Useful addresses in Greece

The town hall in your area will be able to tell you to which Aliens Office or police station you should apply for a residence permit.

The telephone numbers of the Aliens Offices in Attiki (Attica) are as follows:


Athens: +301 642.71.36 – 642 41 32 FAX 642 71 36 – L Alexandras, 173 Athens
Amarousio: +301 603.29.83-4 FAX 603 29 80 – Ath. Diakou 14 Pallini
Glifada: +301 960.13.40 FAX 964 86 65 – Karaiskaki 23, Glifada
Piraeus: +301 412.86.07 FAX 412 86 07 – Ir Politechneiou 37, Piraeus
Elefsina: +301 554.74.27 FAX 556 06 58 – Ir Politechneiou 18, Elefsina
Lavrio: +3292/25265 – Danoukara 5, Lavrio


Rights and obligations of residents


Greece

The right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in Greece


1. Who is entitled to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament?

Persons entitled to vote must be nationals of a Member State of the European Union who are over 18 years of age, are entered on the electoral roll in their municipality in Greece and have not been deprived of their right to vote either in Greece or in their home Member State. Persons entitled to stand as candidates must meet all the requirements for persons entitled to vote and be over 25 years of age.

No one may vote or stand as a candidate both in Greece and in his home Member State in the same elections.


2. What must I do in order to be able to vote?

You must apply to be entered on the special electoral roll in the municipality where you reside.

Your application, which should be dated and signed by you, must contain a formal declaration indicating:

– your full name, the full name of your father and, if you are a 
married woman, the full name of your husband;
– your date of birth and sex;
– your occupation;
– your nationality;
– that you have not been deprived of the right to vote in your home Member State;
– your place of residence in Greece, where you intend to exercise your right to vote (prefecture, municipality or community, parish, street and number);
– that you are not entered on the electoral roll of another municipality in Greece;
– where applicable, the constituency or municipality in your home 
Member State on the electoral roll of which you were last entered for the elections to the European Parliament;
– valid proof of identity (identity card, passport, etc.);
– the date when you took up residence in Greece;
– that you will exercise your right to vote in Greece only.

Your application must be accompanied by a photocopy of your identity card, two recent passport photographs and, if the electoral rolls are drawn up on a parish basis, a certificate issued by the police indicating your address, with street, number and parish. 

Greek voters are also required to submit this certificate.

Your application must be submitted by you personally or by a duly authorized representative, outside the period between the date of the announcement of the election and polling day, to the mayor, president of the municipality or prefect of The Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation is responsible for notifying the authorities in the home Member States so that they can take action to prevent anyone from voting or standing twice.

EU citizens who have been entered on the electoral roll remain registered as long as they reside in Greece and satisfy the conditions for exercising the right to vote.

Since voting is compulsory in Greece, EU citizens who are on the electoral roll must exercise their right to vote (as must Greek nationals).

Applications for removal from the electoral roll must be presented in writing by the voter in person, outside the period between the date of the announcement of the election and polling day, to the appropriate office in the prefecture where the voter is normally resident. Applications must contain all the particulars necessary to establish 
the identity of the voter, the reason for the application, the electoral roll, and the applicant’s roll number. The office notifies the applicant by letter that his name has been removed from the roll.


3. What must I do in order to be able to stand as a candidate?

Lists of candidates wishing to stand for election to the European Parliament can be presented only by political parties or by a coalition of parties. No list may contain more than 25 candidates. For each list, a deposit = must be lodged. The deposit is returned if the party or coalition obtains at least 3% of the votes or 
at least one seat. The application to stand as a candidate must be presented to the court of jurisdiction within 14 days of the beginning of the pre-electoral period.

When submitting his application to stand, the candidate must alsosubmit a formal declaration stating:

– his nationality and address in Greece;
– that he is not also standing as a candidate in the elections to the European Parliament in another Member State or in Greece on the list of another party or coalition;
– where applicable, the municipality or constituency on the 
electoral roll of which he was last entered for elections to the European Parliament in his home Member State;
– the date when he became a citizen of a Member State of the Union;
The candidate must also provide:
– a certificate from the competent authorities in his home Member State stating that he has not been deprived of his right to stand as a candidate there or that no such disqualification is known to them. In the absence of such a certificate, the application to stand as a candidate will be declared invalid;
– a photocopy of valid proof of identity (identity card or passport).

Fourteen days before polling day the First Division of the Supreme Court announces the candidates whose candidacy has been duly submitted by the parties. Candidates who are rejected have no right of appeal.


4. Contact points

Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation, Elections Directorate, Evaggelistrias 2
10 183 Athens
Tel: 3223 736 – 3251 137 – 3231 824 – 3232 829
Fax: 3247 366 – 3232 766

The town hall in your place of residence.


5. National rules

Council Directive 93/109/EU laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals was transposed by Law No 2196/1994 (Greek Government Gazette 41A/22.3.1994) and by Presidential Decree No 60/1994 (Greek Government Gazette 49 A).

Greece for Americans (& other non EU citizens)

This has been written from an American point of view and a few aspects are only relevant to US citizens. However, most of this information applies to all non-EU citizens.

Practical Requirements, things that must be faced:

1) Americans are allowed to enter and visit throughout Greece up to three months on presentation of a passport. The laws for staying beyond three months changed in July of 2001; not all details have been clarified.

2) If you intend to stay beyond three months, that is, if you wish a residence permit (it allows you to leave and enter at will after the initial tourist three months), the best advice is to visit the nearest Greek Consulate and get the specifics; while the requirements are not onerous, they are also not routine and they are new.

Americans must have fingerprints taken by and a statement from the FBI that is not wanted. It is our understanding (other Americans are in the US at this moment trying this out), that the FBI does this for a small fee ($15 or so) but it takes a month. To whom the FBI addresses their “clearance,” the proper wording and so on are yet to be confirmed. Thus, ask the nearest Greek Consulate what you should do.

What you need to bring from the United States are: 1) the FBI clearance 2) a statement from your health insurance company saying that they cover you in Greece 3) something that proves that you have an income from outside of Greece (from a bank, your retirement system, from wherever you will be getting your money and

Here, you must get a statement from a government hospital or clinic that you have no communicable diseases It might pose a problem at a large state hospital but was easy, fast and routine at our clinic (on Skiathos, the clinic does this for a fee of about 17.00 each).

Although the procedure we are describing is new, we assume that any of the following are OK to prove outside income, ask at the nearest Greek Consulate: a) a dollar bank account in Greece (easy to set up, open an account with an American check-it may take a month to clear, and you have a Greek dollar account) b) enough pink slips (see below) c) a statement from your bank, company, pension fund, whatever the source of your funds.

4) Working requires a different permit (in addition to the residence permit) and the procedure to gain this is more complicated and usually, the help of the employer is essential.

Many Americans tend to believe what they see on TV. This is, of course, a major mistake. As a world leader, the US is the subject of criticism and insults of all sorts. Anti-Americanism is institutionalized in Greece to a great extent because of US support of the military dictatorship (1967-74). Every year on November 17, the anniversary of a student uprising against the dictatorship, there is a huge march on the US Embassy. This is not a good time to show up in downtown Athens wearing an American flag. Various other political groups use the US as a whipping boy and their rhetoric is often grim.

On the other hand many, perhaps most, Greek families have American relatives. Most know a lot about the US and admire much of our culture for the right reasons. In spite of the headline-grabbing news, most Greeks tend to be pro-American on a personal level. In the thirty plus years we have lived and visited Greece, under dictatorships, transitional governments and democracy we have had one negative remark aimed at us: just after the fall of the dictatorship, we were walking through Monastiraki (part of old Athens) when a merchant hissed and spit on the ground saying: “Kissinger, ptui.” 4) Greece is as safe as one can get in this world and far safer than any southern or midwestern state or most US cities. There is a crime but it is rare and seldom aimed at Americans unless they are really stupid about, for example, flaunting money in public, leaving doors unlocked, etc. Common sense actions lead to far greater security than one would get anyplace in the US. It is a non-concern.

Attitudes, Cultural Differences:

Depending on where you are from, Greece will hit you in different ways. Big city folk will recognize the bustle and hustle of Athens and Thessaloniki; country folk will feel at home (in the offseason) in places like Skiathos. That is, they will at first but this first impression is almost always incorrect.

1) What appears to be often is not. There is lots of “orderly anarchy” or “anarchistic order.” There are reasons for this and it may take a lifetime or so to get a real handle on it. Having said this, you are not expected to act in any special way, not only are you a foreigner, you are an American and, of course, you don’t understand! There is much to observe, learn and enjoy.

2) Greek is a challenge. “Myriads agonize over its grammar and panic as they synthesize its glossary. Stop, pause, no problem; organize your enthusiasm and the mechanics will turn to logic; the dilemma of dialect will harmonize and the crisis meander to a phenomenal, authentic, charismatic climax.”

The underlined words above are all Greek! This is not to say that Greek is easy for English speakers. On the other hand, it is logical and there are lots of overlapping words. Greeks appreciate a foreigner’s attempts to speak and understand. On the other hand, there is always, always, someone around with good English and if you want to practice your Greek, the reply will often be in English. Language is not a problem and can be an interesting focus.

3) Wherever we have lived in Greece, we have traveled extensively to other places. This remains true on Skiathos. When traveling on the mainland, we rent a car in Volos (a city 85 minutes away by Flying Dolphin) by telephone. The rental agent meets us at the dock, we sign papers, give him money and drive away- perhaps a five-minute deal. Car rentals are reasonable; depending on size something in the neighborhood of $30/day for four or five days in the off-season.

The Peloponnesus is different in many ways from northern and central Greece. The Kyklades (Mykonos, etc.) have a beauty that is completely different from the beauty of the Sporades (Skiathos, etc.). Crete falls into a category by itself. In brief, being an internal tourist is enough to keep one busy for many years.

4) Health and related matters. Doctors are highly trained, many in the US and many speak excellent English. Volos has the nearest hospital. The island has a clinic. Of course, avoiding hospitals is the best plan, anywhere. The tradition of nursing as a profession is not well developed and hospitals depend on families for much care. With that exception, the rest of health care is at the least competent and usually highly so. The same goes for dentists and pharmacists. Our pharmacist on Skiathos is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Marcia’s doctor in Volos was associated with our New York medical group for five years before returning to Greece a couple of years ago. Pharmacists have or can get whatever you need. Most drugs do not require a prescription. Costs are, by US standards, reasonable.

Skiathos village is the only place in Greece we know where the public water supply is not drinkable as it tends to the brackish. It is safe, just not palatable. Bottled water is available and there are several municipal taps offering spring water for drinking (that’s where we get ours).

5) Skiathos and all of Greece have four clear-cut seasons. Except in the mountains, winters tend to be moderate. Very hot summers, warm and delightful autumns, and springs. Most of the year is comfortable. It is a great walking country.

6) TV, cinema. Off the air, TV is limited to five stations or so depending on your antenna and location. They often have English-speaking films and shows. Satellite dishes are available (about Î53.00/month or $53.00) and they offer scores of choices. There is no cinema in the winter on Skiathos. Those in Athens and other cities commonly offer American films with Greek subtitles.

Economics, money, practical things:

1) Exchange: there is no black market in dollars and there is only a slight difference in exchange rates among banks and moneychangers. Hotels usually charge a hefty service charge. Merchants often give the going rate but sometimes charge a lot; that is, there are vast differences among merchants in services offered. There is a huge difference (15% or so) between what you get in the US and here. Bring some cash and after clearing customs, change $100 or more for taxis and incidentals at one of the several banks in the terminal.

2) ATMs and credit cards. Our card does not work in all of them but it does in the National Bank of Greece’s ATMs and they are all over. The fact that our card does not work in some is not amazing, the fact it works in any is. “The Teachers’ Federal Credit Union of Suffolk County, New York” issues our card. Hardly a major player in international finance! Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and other credit cards are widely used but not universally. Most taverns, small hotels, etc. still cash only.

3) Cash and travelers’ checks. We long ago gave up on travelers’ checks, there is a charge to cash them and not all places will do it. Cash is acceptable at banks and exchanges. We usually bring a thousand dollars or more in hundred dollar bills for our initial expenses and in case of banks go on strike, etc.

4) Checks. Our retirement income is automatically deposited in our New York bank. We deposit a check in the National Bank (a dollar account). After three or four weeks, the check clears and we can withdraw in dollars or euros. The initial cash horde keeps us going until the check clears. It is simple and has the advantage of providing “pink slips.”

5) “Pink slips.” No this is not something Freud would like to talk with you about. They are the official receipts that prove that you have legally imported dollars into Greece. Without them, you cannot get an extension and remain in the country. Without them, you cannot buy a car or anything else of substance. They are pink and slips and each should be saved. They are not automatically given, ask for them (Greek for pink slip is “pink slip.” With a dollar account, you get one each time you withdraw euros [dollars enter Greece via your personal check and then you exchange them at the time you withdraw euros]. ATMs do not automatically provide pink slips, but that can wait. In order to get pink slips from cash, you must declare the cash on arrival at the airport; look for an office on the way to baggage claim.

If you wish to buy a car or property in Greece and are not employed here, you MUST import sufficient funds (via a bank account or pink slips) to cover this cost and KEEP the pink slip as proof.

It all sounds cumbersome and bureaucratic. There is a lot that is cumbersome and bureaucratic in Greece. Exchanging money is an exception. ATMs, personal checks, cash-this trio insure fluidity.

6) Shopping. Large supermarkets are found in cities but islands and country areas continue to offer small shops with limited choice. Bakeries and fresh bread abound. Most everything is available and what, if anything, to bring from home is a personal matter found through experience.

7) Prices. This is a difficult one. If you attempt to live solely as you might in the US, prices are high. Fresh fruits and vegetables come from nearby and are usually great. Iceberg lettuce and stalk celery, for example, are luxuries. The range of foods available used to be narrow but because of prosperity and the EU, it is now wide and includes many American items or their equivalents. Generally, food is fresher (because it is seasonal and doesn’t travel as far) than in the US.

8) Buying a car, house, boat, etc. We bought a used car from a car rental agency and the transaction took maybe ten minutes. Our car insurance comes through the National Bank and there is a yearly circulation tax paid at the National Bank (here), all routine. The sellers take care of the paperwork for things like cars and boats.

Buying a house is different. Key is proving that you brought the money in from outside the country. This is where pink slips are essential. Otherwise, it is assumed that you got it by working here and therefore owe an income tax. Solution? Ask around and get a good lawyer and accountant. The single major difference between buying a house here and in the US for us was that much of the transaction was in cash (for the lawyer, taxes, notary, translator) meaning that we had to withdraw (giving the bank in Athens a couple of days notice to get it) some $15,000 in drachmas and carry it around Athens. The largest denomination of drachmas was a 10,000 note so, at that time, it meant almost 500 notes! Real estate under a very high value is not subject to a property tax. Rather there is a hefty one-time tax at the time of purchase based on cost and location. Local government is supported through high taxes on utilities, meals and most everything else.

Getting a good lawyer, notary and account is essential. Ask around and ask again. Geoff is the best place to start on Skiathos.

What do you DO?

The range is enormous and pretty much up to you and your pocketbook:

-Travel within Greece and Europe. To Americans, these places are far away and expensive. Greece is in Europe and close to Asia and Africa- all a short plane or boat ride away. There is enormous variety within Greece and repeat visits to its various corners always reveal new aspects. Off-season, it is easier to enjoy.

-Greece and history are synonymous. Museums and sites abound. Even with minimal interest, there is much to see and usually, the site is in a perfect spot for a picnic, photography or simple admiration of nature.

-Many English-speaking foreigners live in Greece and have a variety of organizations. On Skiathos, there is the Garden Club and the International Women’s Club. Foreigners in Greece all share their “foreignness,” although EU common citizenry is developing before our eyes. Being “foreign” is an asset as one can never be a full participant and as observers, we get to appreciate what is going on without the burden of more than minimal responsibility.

-Geoff has outlined a wide variety of activities available on Skiathos and nearby. Athens is an 85-minute Flying Dolphin plus a two-hour bus trip away (sounds worse than it is, the bus is modern, air-conditioned, comfortable and makes a stop mid-way). Olympic Airlines has flights in the summer, thirty minutes and limited service October-April, stopping in Skyros (it depends on the wait there, about 65-70 minutes). There are reasonable hotels in Athens where one can spend a few days to enjoy the sights with a few tourists. (A reasonable hotel means: clean with heat/air conditioning and breakfast included for under $60 night/double. If you need a bar, more extensive breakfast, swimming pool, doorman, etc. they are available for around $140 night/double.)

-It appears as if the Internet was made for Americans living in Greece. not only can you communicate cheaply and easily, but you can also order all sorts of things for delivery in the US or here. Flowers for birthdays anywhere in the US or books delivered to the post office sometimes with a minimal customs duty, usually not. Skiathos has several providers with varying levels of service and cost.

-Finally, Greece is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Most Americans know about a Greek restaurant and Greek salad and the Acropolis. Also, didn’t democracy start in Greece?

There are very close American-Greek ties. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of modern Greek history, much less the full five thousand years of it. Below is an attempt to put into a page or so, some perspective on the past fifty years. Don’t be concerned if there are references that mean nothing to you. This is a place with a complicated past and it takes time to comprehend. Another interesting activity for Americans!

Greece is different from Western Europe and the US

It is difficult to accurately “grasp Greece” for reasons including a history as long as any, and the fact that the Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Reason, Age of Discovery, the Industrial Revolution all passed Greece by. A look around reveals the Classical Age of 2,500 years ago; the importance of Byzantium (300s to 1453+) is obvious (e.g. old & new churches). Only traces of the crusaders can be found. Little remains of 365 to 456 years of Turkish occupation but its legacy is pervasive and important: food, language, attitudes. There isn’t enough time to summarize even the key forces from pre-antiquity to today, so the focus here is since World War II, only the past 55 years.

Greece suffered (deaths, refugees) from World War II, proportionately more than any other nation except the Soviet Union.

A Few Other Forces/Changes/Influences on Modern Greece

-Military dictatorship: 1967-74 -Near war with Turkey: ’67, ’74, ’76, ’84, ’86, ’87, ’95 over Cyprus, oil, etc. -FYROM “threat”, 1994-today -Kosovo- 95% of Greeks strongly opposed action; yet Greece fulfilled its NATO obligations! -Conservatives & Communists join to form a government-1989! -EU, 1981, Euro Group, 2000 -The world communications (TV, WWW) revolution -Emigration & tourism- -1st “socialist” government, 1981 -Current borders established only in 1947 -British & US “occupation,” 1944-1990 (Truman Doctrine- 1947), ‘only’ one base remains today -Plus: Relations with Orthodox churches, Western Christianity & ‘ traditional friends’ (Russia & Serbia), deep problems with education & state bureaucracy, pollution & gridlock, ecology vs. growth, & on & on.

These are a few of the issues, forces and serious questions facing Greece over the past 55 years. Greece IS different from the rest of Europe and the US!

Despite near war with Turkey seven times in the past 35 years and continuous tensions, a new era of “SEISMIC DIPLOMACY” may have begun: Greece and Turkey, devastated by earthquakes in 1999, responded with significant aid to the other, lives were saved and the aid mutually appreciated, there is hope.

Final note: the “savior” of modern Greek democracy was Konstantine Karamanlis, he was born a subject of the Ottoman Sultan in 1907 in Thessaloniki, then a major city of the Ottoman Empire as well as a key Jewish city with about half its population Ladino-speaking Jews.

TAXATION IN GREECE

There is no specific Community legislation on the direct taxation of individuals. However, you should be aware that, as a general rule, national tax provisions must respect the fundamental non-discrimination principle of EU law. Thus, nationals from one Member State who are living in another Member State should not be taxed at less favourable rates than nationals from the country in which they are living. On the other hand, Member States are allowed to 
distinguish between non-nationals who are resident for tax purposes and non-nationals who are non-resident for tax purposes.

INFORMATION ON TAXES IN GREECE

Income tax in Greece

If you are resident in Greece, you are taxed at progressive rates on your worldwide income earned in a calendar year. You may also be eligible for certain tax allowances, depending on your family situation, which are taken into account when calculating your taxable income as well as the amount of tax you are liable to pay.

If you are employed, your employer will deduct income tax from your wages, daily allowances or other remuneration. This amount is credited against your total tax liability for the year, which is calculated on the basis of your yearly income tax return. If more tax has been deducted than you actually owe, you will receive the difference in the form of a rebate.

Your annual income tax return should be sent to your local tax office (County Department of the Ministry of National Economy) in March or April of the year following the year in which income was earned. You will be informed in May or June of the amount of tax that has been assessed as payable. In the case of married couples, the husband must 
file a tax return on behalf of his spouse. Each member of the family is assessed separately.

A tax deposit of 50% of your total tax bill for the current year is sometimes required, but not if your only income is from salaried employment and if you own your own home.

Your tax bill is payable in three equal instalments. You are, however, eligible for a 5% reduction on your total tax bill if you pay all your tax by the date on which the first payment is due.If you are resident in Greece, you also have to include income earned in another Member State in your tax return. If this income has already been taxed in the other country, you will be credited for that in your tax assessment in Greece.


Double taxation agreements

Greece has signed double taxation agreements with 11 other Member States (that is, all other Member States except Ireland, Portugal and Spain).

Member States that are party to these agreements share their right to tax income and to give tax allowances. Double taxation is avoided by crediting the tax paid in the other Member State against the tax due in Greece. If the tax authorities of another Member State ask you for proof of your residence for tax purposes in Greece, the Ministry of 
Economic Affairs can issue you with a “certificate of residence for tax purposes”.


HOW TO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHTS

If you have a complaint concerning your tax treatment in Greece, you may take your case to the state courts.


USEFUL ADDRESSES

For further information or clarification as to how you are assessed for tax, you should contact your local county office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (Public Economic Services department – D.O.Y).

Questions on double taxation of income should be addressed to:(Ministry of Economic Affairs)
(Income tax department) (Section D – Double taxation agreements) Panepistimiou 20
Tel: (+301) 36 31 545
Fax: (+301) 36 04 825



Type-approval and Registration of Motor Vehicles



GREECE: TYPE-APPROVAL AND REGISTRATION OF A PRIVATE CAR

I. INFORMATION ON COMMUNITY LAW
Before registering your vehicle, the authorities will check whether it is type-approved. In addition, if the vehicle is not a new one, they may require it to undergo a roadworthiness test. The registration procedure is not harmonised at Community level. In other words, different procedures are applied and different documents required in 
the various Member States. However, national rules must comply with a number of principles under Community law. This Factsheet gives you some general information on these rules, and more details on the type-approval and registration procedures applied nationally.For further information on the legal principles applicable under Community law, please refer to the Commission Communication on the type-approval and registration of vehicles previously registered in another Member State, as set out in OJ C 143 of 15.5.1996. 


  1. If you are moving
    If you are moving to a different Community Member State, you must register your vehicle in that country as soon as possible after arrival and, at any rate, within six months of moving. You should have no difficulty in getting your vehicle registered provided you follow the set procedures.

  2. Type approval
    Type-approval procedures are carried out by national authorities to ensure that a vehicle complies with the technical characteristics (for example, safety standards) required by law. Vehicles that have been type-approved are issued with a Certificate of Conformity. Type-approval procedures have already been harmonised across the EC for 
    individual vehicles (i.e. those with seating for no more than eight passengers) since 1 January 1996, but in certain cases, national approval procedures remain. You can find out whether your vehicle has undergone EC or national type-approval from the car documents or from the manufacturer. If your vehicle is a model which has obtained EC 
    type-approval, the Certificate of Conformity issued by the Manufacturer is valid in all Member States of the European Community, and the national authorities must accept it.If your vehicle has obtained national type approval, the authorities in the country in which you are applying for registration may refuse to accept the national Certificate of Conformity only (a) if it can be shown that the vehicle represents a serious hazard to road safety or 
    the environment, and (b) the decision is properly justified. The fact that your vehicle may have technical characteristics which differ from those prescribed by the national rules in the country in which you wish to register it does not, in itself, constitute a sufficient reason for refusing type-approval and registration. At any rate, the 
    type-approval procedure may not cause you unreasonable delay or excessive cost, nor require you to obtain information which is already available in the documents at your disposal.
    3. Roadworthiness testing
    Roadworthiness tests are designed to check on the physical condition of your vehicle. The authorities in the country to which you are moving may require it to undergo a roadworthiness test in order to check its physical condition. Under Community law, though, such checks may be imposed on an imported vehicle only where they are also 
    required for national vehicles. In addition, such tests may not be stricter for imported vehicles than for vehicles of national origin.
    4. Registration formalities
    Registration procedures have not been harmonised by the EC, so it is up to each Member State to specify the documents required for vehicle registration purposes. These documents may not duplicate information 
    already given in any documents submitted for roadworthiness tests or for type-approval. 


    4 Formalities and contact points in Greece

    Roadworthiness tests

    The first test for new private cars and new goods vehicles with a gross weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes takes place four years (give or take one week) after the vehicle first entered into service, except in the Prefecture of Attica, where you will receive notification of when and where to report from the Directorate for Motor Vehicle 
    Roadworthiness Testing of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Subsequently, the test is carried out every two years (give or take one week), except in Attica, where the frequency is every three years (give or take one week).

    Tests are carried out by the Roadworthiness Test Centre (KTEO) in your local prefecture. In the Prefectures of Athens and Thessaloniki, you should telephone the number 167 for an appointment.

    In the Prefecture of Attica, you should telephone the number 180 to obtain details of test programming and of the documents you will be required to produce as well as other information.

    Cost of the test

    If you present your vehicle late for its first test, you will be 
    charged an additional fee.

    You will need to produce the following documents:

    (a) the vehicle’s registration document;
    (b) proof that you have paid road tax;
    (c) a road tax disc;
    (d) your identity card;
    (e) where appropriate, the certificate issued after the previous test.


    Documents required for registration

    For second-hand vehicles:

    1. the type-approval certificate, certificate of conformity or registration document issued by the Member State from which you come;
    2. your driving licence;
    3. proof that you have paid road tax and customs duties;
    4. a document indicating the identity of the vehicle’s owner; 
    5. a test certificate issued by the KTEO.

    If the vehicle is brought in from a non-EU country, a certificate concerning exhaust emissions is also required.

    For new vehicles:

    1. the type-approval certificate;
    2. your driving licence;
    3. proof that you have paid road tax and customs duties; 
    4. a document indicating the identity of the vehicle’s owner.

    Type-approval

    In the case of new vehicles, the type-approval certificate is issued by:

    Ministry of Transport and Communications
    Directorate-General for Transport
    Directorate for Motor Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing
    Xenofondos 13
    T.K. 101 91 – Athens
    Tel. No:+30.1.3254515
    Fax :+30.1.3231054

    The registration document for new and second-hand vehicles is issued by the transport and communications authorities of your local prefecture.

 

 

Rights and obligations of residents

The right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in Greece.

1. Who is entitled to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament?

2. What must I do in order to be able to vote?

3. What must I do in order to be able to stand as a candidate?

  1. Who is entitled to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament?

    Persons entitled to vote must be nationals of a Member State of the European Union who are over 18 years of age, are entered on the electoral roll in their municipality in Greece and have not been deprived of their right to vote either in Greece or in their home Member State. Persons entitled to stand as candidates must meet all the requirements for persons entitled to vote and be over 25 years of age.

    No one may vote or stand as a candidate both in Greece and in his home Member State in the same elections.


    2. What must I do in order to be able to vote?

    You must apply to be entered on the special electoral roll in the municipality where you reside.

    Your application, which should be dated and signed by you, must contain a formal declaration indicating:

    – your full name, the full name of your father and, if you are a married woman, the full name of your husband;
    – your date of birth and sex;
    – your occupation;
    – your nationality;
    – that you have not been deprived of the right to vote in your home Member State;
    – your place of residence in Greece, where you intend to exercise your right to vote (prefecture, municipality or community, parish, street and number);
    – that you are not entered on the electoral roll of another municipality in Greece;
    – where applicable, the constituency or municipality in your home Member State on the electoral roll of which you were last entered for the elections to the European Parliament;
    – valid proof of identity (identity card, passport, etc.);
    – the date when you took up residence in Greece;
    – that you will exercise your right to vote in Greece only.

    Your application must be accompanied by a photocopy of your identity card, two recent passport photographs and, if the electoral rolls are drawn up on a parish basis, a certificate issued by the police indicating your address, with street, number and parish. 

    Greek voters are also required to submit this certificate.

    Your application must be submitted by you personally or by a duly authorized representative, outside the period between the date of the announcement of the election and polling day, to the mayor, president of the municipality or prefect of

    The Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation is responsible for notifying the authorities in the home Member States so that they can take action to prevent anyone from voting or standing twice.

    EU citizens who have been entered on the electoral roll remain registered as long as they reside in Greece and satisfy the conditions for exercising the right to vote.

    Since voting is compulsory in Greece, EU citizens who are on the electoral roll must exercise their right to vote (as must Greek nationals).

    Applications for removal from the electoral roll must be presented in writing by the voter in person, outside the period between the date of the announcement of the election and polling day, to the appropriate office in the prefecture where the voter is normally resident. Applications must contain all the particulars necessary to establish 
    the identity of the voter, the reason for the application, the electoral roll, and the applicant’s roll number. The office notifies the applicant by letter that his name has been removed from the roll.


    3. What must I do in order to be able to stand as a candidate?

    Lists of candidates wishing to stand for election to the European Parliament can be presented only by political parties or by a coalition of parties. No list may contain more than 25 candidates. For 
    each list, a deposit must be lodged. The deposit is returned if the party or coalition obtains at least 3% of the votes or at least one seat. The application to stand as a candidate must be presented to the court of jurisdiction within 14 days of the beginning of the pre-electoral period.

    When submitting his application to stand, the candidate must also submit a formal declaration stating:

    – his nationality and address in Greece;
    – that he is not also standing as a candidate in the elections to the European Parliament in another Member State or in Greece on the list of another party or coalition;
    – where applicable, the municipality or constituency on the electoral roll of which he was last entered for elections to the European Parliament in his home Member State;
    – the date when he became a citizen of a Member State of the Union;
    The candidate must also provide:
    – a certificate from the competent authorities in his home Member State stating that he has not been deprived of his right to stand as a candidate there or that no such disqualification is known to them. In the absence of such a certificate, the application to stand as a candidate will be declared invalid;
    – a photocopy of valid proof of identity (identity card or passport).

    Fourteen days before polling day the First Division of the Supreme Court announces the candidates whose candidacy has been duly submitted by the parties. Candidates who are rejected have no right of appeal.


    4. Contact points

    Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation,
    Elections Directorate,
    Evaggelistrias 2
    10 183 Athens
    Tel: 3223 736 – 3251 137 – 3231 824 – 3232 829
    Fax: 3247 366 – 3232 766

    The town hall in your place of residence.


    5. National rules

    Council Directive 93/109/EC laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals was transposed by Law No 2196/1994 (Greek Government Gazette 41A/22.3.1994) and by Presidential Decree No 60/1994 (Greek Government Gazette 49 A).

 

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