Work in Athens
If you are employed by a private organization in Athens, they will guide you through the process required to start work. If however you are interested in starting your own business in Athens, even as a freelancer, there are a number of necessary steps to take.
Establish a company
To begin with, these are all the forms of companies and enterprises in Greece:
There are Individual enterprises (this is ideal for freelancers or sole traders), General Partnerships (G.P./O.E.) (associations of two or more (natural or legal) persons, whose partners are jointly responsible against third parties for the company’s obligations), Limited partnerships (E.E.) (A variant of general partnerships which differs on the personal responsibility of individual partners), and Joint ventures (a company without a legal personality which acquires legal capacity and bankruptcy ability when registered at the General Commercial Registry).
In addition, foreign companies may establish an office or a company in Greece under Office/company of Law 89. It should be noted that foreign shipping companies do not fall under this category but are regulated by Office/company of Law 27/1975.
There are also three types of Capital Companies in Greece. Limited Liability Companies (E.P.E.), Private Capital Companies (IKE), and Companies Limited by Shares - Société Anonyme (S.A.)
To find out more about each type of enterprise and company as well as the procedures, time and cost required for setting up your own company in Greece you can visit Enterprise Greece’s detailed guide here.
The company name is formed either by the name of one or more partners or by the object of the business activity or by other verbal indications and it can be partially or entirely written in Latin letters. The company name must include written out in full the words “Ετερόρρυθμη Εταιρία” or the acronym “Ε.Ε”. For its international transactions, the aforementioned words are expressed as “Limited Partnership” or/and the acronym as “LP”.
Procedures, time and cost required for setting up a company in Greece
A company is typically established in Greece in two (2) working days. Once the application for the establishment is submitted, the one stop shop service (YMS) has to examine, within the same or at the latest within the next working day, the submitted documents and data and, if all the requirements set by law are met, to complete the establishment procedure. The establishment can be automatically done through the electronic one-stop shop service (e-YMS) through the portal: https://eyms.businessportal.gr
To find out more about cost, documents and procedures visit here
Forms of Companies/Enterprises
Α. Individual Enterprise (Sole Traders/Freelance Professionals)
This form of enterprise is easy to set up and gives high flexibility and initiative to the entrepreneur as regards to the enterprise decisions, the type of activity involved, the selection of the adopted technical methods and, up to a point, the volume of production. On the other hand, the entrepreneur is wholly responsible for any liability for taxes and debts in general. There is no minimum capital requirement. Establishing an individual company requires pre-approval of the company name and the distinctive title by a relevant confirmation of the competent, depending on the type of the business activity, chamber of commerce (L.2081/1992, A’154). Moreover, it requires insurance with the competent obligatory insurer for all self-employed professionals, craftsmen, traders and motorists (https://www.efka.gov.gr). The next stage includes the declaration of the commencement of the business activity at the nearest tax office (D.O.Y.) to the company’s address. An individual company must then register at the competent chamber of commerce upon a relevant application signed by the undertaking.
Β. General Partnership (G.P./O.E.)
A general partnership is defined by law to be the association of two or more (natural or legal) persons, whose partners are jointly responsible against third parties for the company’s obligations. The liability of the partners for the company’s debts is unlimited meaning that partners are liable not only up to their contributions, but also with their individual property. The legal framework for General Partnerships in Greece (L. 4072/2012) was recently amended by Law 4541/2018, A’ 86). A general partnership is a company with legal personality. A general partnership acquires its legal personality by its registration with the GE.MI. meaning that the publicity of a general partnership is inherent in the acquisition of legal personality.
General Terms: For the establishment of a general partnership and the draft of the partnership agreement the contracting partners must be natural or legal persons and they must keep all the elements of the partnership agreement required by law. Special Terms: Partners must pay out their common contributions, i.e. any contribution in cash or in kind and labor contribution, even intangible assets, such as commercial loyalty. Partners must also determine a legitimate common company purpose with an intention of partnership and follow the publicity formalities set by law.
C. Limited Partnership (E.E.)
A limited partnership has the same characteristics with a general partnership, since it is a variant of it. The main difference between a limited partnership and a general partnership is within the scope of responsibility meaning the existence of partners with or without limited personal responsibility and the limitation of the management of the limited partners. A limited partner who has paid out its contribution to the company is not responsible for the partnership’s debt. In the opposite case he is responsible up to the amount of his contribution. The same general rules applying to a general partnership must also hold for a limited partnership. The legal framework for limited partnerships in Greece (L. 4072/2012, A’86) was recently amended by Article 10 of Law 4541/2018 (Α΄93).
Legal personality and publicity A limited partnership has legal personality and pursues a commercial purpose. At least one of the partners (limited partner) must have limited liability, while another one of the partners (general partner) must have unlimited liability. The publicity for a limited partnership is done by its registration at the GE.MI. and on its website as a constitutive publicity.
Capital and Partnership parts There is no minimum capital requirement set by law for the establishment of a limited partnership. Partners must pay out their common contributions in cash, in kind, in labor etc.
Setting up a foreign company in Greece
Foreign companies may establish an office or a company in Greece with the purpose of providing services, namely consulting services, centralized accounting support, quality control of production, procedures and services, preparation of studies, designs and contracts, advertising and marketing services, data processing, receipt and supply of information and research and development services to their head offices or to their affiliates that are not established in Greece, via bank remittances. For more information please visit Enterprise Greece’s detailed guide here.
G.E.M.H. The General Electronic Commercial Registry (Geniko Emboriko Mitroo-G.Ε.ΜH.), is Greece’s main registry for all companies – a central updated database of all businesses with the aim to aid those doing business in Greece.
Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce Τhe Chambers of Commerce has a pan-hellenic membership of almost 900.000 businesses. The UHC communicates relevant information material to Greek businesses such as financing possibilities, available financing tools for businesses, various community and national developments and restructuring programs, partnership opportunities, technology, innovation, etc. The Chamber network mostly addresses SMEs which constitute the majority of Greek businesses.
Athens Chamber Of Commerce And Industry ACCI has a mission to assist the Government in the fields of commerce, industry, services and general development policy, but also represents its own members in all matters regarding business policy. It also represents, supports and promotes entrepreneurship by informing its members about developments in critical financial and business issues and provides free information and consulting services to its member companies.
The Athens Chamber of Tradesmen (E.E.A.) is a Legal Entity whose members engage in commercial activities with regards to the provision of services. The Chamber is an advisory and consultative State body with the purpose to inform, protect and develop its tradesmen members (250,000) within the context of the overall development of commerce and the interests of the national economy.
Start up Guide
There is an official guide and startup database meant to guide those who are interested in finding more and investing in Greek startups. Created by the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism and the European Social Fund StartUp Greece, is a digital information and networking space aimed at giving way to a new generation of entrepreneurs in Greece, bringing together people and ideas and changing the country's perception of doing business and entrepreneurship. The website combines an online entrepreneurship community with a knowledge and information database specialized in the field of doing business. The database includes public and private funding initiatives, procedures, laws and regulations as well as entrepreneurship, innovation, and mentoring events. For more info https://elevategreece.gov.gr/startup-database/