Greece is a country of unique interest, both for someone who wishes to visit the country as a tourist but also for someone who wishes to make the most of the country’s potential by investing as an entrepreneur.
Tourism constitutes one of the main industries of the country and the adjacent to it business activities, such as ho.r.e.ca and recreation seem also to be blossoming respectively.
In case you wish to get further involved in Greece, you would definitely need – at least – one active bank account. Something like that would presuppose the prior possession of tax registration number [in Greek called “A.F.M.”] which would further got you into more responsibilities regarding obligations towards the tax authorities of the country.
The situation as described here is not as complex as it may seem in the first place; besides, those kinds of business activities would have been more or less the same regardless of the EU country at hand. In Greece for quite some time there had been the issue of capital controls that had caused tremendous problems, however the good news is that it’s been more than seven months by now that all relevant bans and restrictions have seized to exist, thus offering a respective boost to the troubled, but still promising Greek economy.
Opening a bank account in Greece
First of all there is no legal restriction with regards to a foreigner opening a bank account in any banking institution in Greece. Perhaps there are some restrictions imposed to certain types of accounts, still there is no such total ban to be imposed with regards to opening any bank account in any bank. What you will definitely need, is a tax registration number already in place, which the only way to be issued is via a relevant financial state authority, and by submitting a relevant application while also attaching thereto a number of supporting documents.
Furthermore you will also need to deposit a sum of money as a relevant fee in order to get things started and in the long-run concluded, a fee which is not to be defined in advance and which fundamentally relates to the policies of every single bank and the way it generally does things. For instance, procedurally speaking, it should be noted that the banks do nowadays provide for the opening of a bank account via an online procedure, which in any case should be favored in any case, and thanks to which certain of the necessary steps of the procedure can be followed in order for the preferred outcome to be concluded at some point by the applicant in person, but then again, this is something to be discussed further down this presentation.
Necessary documents in order to have the bank account properly opened
Bureaucracy has always been part of the problem in Greece, however these last few years there has been a tremendous and honest effort by all involved parties, be them state authorities or the actual financial and banking institutions themselves, to overcome many of the barriers related to practices of the past, and the results have been most encouraging.
The opening procedure: traditional approaches, but what about online processes as well
As it has already been noted, in order to have an account opened, a certain application form needs to be filled in, by also forwarding all relevant supporting documents; usually you would also need to proceed forward by depositing a certain small amount of money to that certain account so as to confirm its proper way of operation.
It is also a fact, that at least all systemic banks which shall be further discussed further down, have been introducing the procedure of opening a bank account online by going a step further and beyond the traditional way of opening a bank account via the appointment of a proxy thanks to a special notarial deed, or of a document of relevant power issued, for instance, by a consular authority.
However it also needs to be made clear that in any case, either online or via a proxy, the procedure in each and every case remains the same and shall be concluded only by you being actually present, given that the bank considers it necessary to have your personal signature received, and – even more so – they need to confirm certain sensitive details with the applicant himself/ herself in person and not by some other third party, or remotely.
Necessary documents regardless of case
Either online, or via a proxy, or even in person and real time the following documents need to be presented regardless of the banking institution you have decided to work with in order to have a bank account opened in Greece:
    • Valid passport
    • Address the way this stems either from a lease agreement or an already issued account number by an energy provider be it an electricity one, a water one and so forth and so on
    • Tax registration number as issued and already registered in a Greek state authority
    • Details of registration with a tax state authority abroad, by also being able to provide all these necessary documents provided for by the foreign authorities
    • Documents concerning payment, definitely in all those cases where there is a labor agreement in place with an employer from abroad
    • Most possibly and in case the opening of the bank account does not relate to employment purposes in Greece, documents which prove your solvency, while it is also possible that a necessary Personal Statement of Attestation may be signed accordingly to that very end
Counter-values, fees and other expenses
In light of the aforementioned, first of all there is a certain discussion on the charges related to the use of a system of electronic payments or money transfers, all of which constitute policies that undeniably form part of the way all banking institutions of the Greek finance foundation operate.
Those charges are to be expanded to all those activities such as the withdrawal of money from an ATM, money transfer from one bank to the other, even more so, money transfer in terms of inner EU market. In order to avoid to the fullest extent such charges, which on a case-by-case basis could turn out to be particularly onus, it might have been better if you could check in advance, if the bank with which you are about to do business with sustains own branches, or at least some kind of partnership with a network that has a local store operating somewhere nearby.
Please bear in mind that there are –definitely- some charges in relation to international money transfers and transactions, whereas there are also some foundations that sustain natural stores and facilities in various cities in Greece, as the case is with HSBC and ProCredit Bank, even though it has to be noted, that after the crisis which the country had been experiencing for quite some years, nowadays many of them have not yet re-started their business which had been postponed for quite some time.
Finally, it is always good to know that in case of money withdrawal from an ATM station which does not form part of the bank’s own network with which you have been working with, but from an operating machine of a different banking institution or company which in any case, however, provides such services of the sort, there will be a charge of some sort of which it’s good to be aware in advance, because in certain cases it might as well happen to be quite burdensome.
Banking institutions doing business in Greece
Last but not least, allow us to briefly refer to the largest banking institutions currently operating in Greece, which also seem to have quite an extensive circle of activities in the neighboring countries of SE Europe. Therefore the so-called systemic banking institutions in Greece read as follows:
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