Commercial legislation, company legislation and limited liability company legislation define the procedures relating to the formation of a new company in Greece.
The most recent regulation concerning the formation of a company in Greece is Act no. 3853/2010, entitled "Simplification of procedures for setting up single-member and limited liability companies and other provisions", published in Government Gazette 90A dated 17.06.2010.
The objective of the Act is for companies to be set up within a day thanks to the creation of the General Register of Enterprises.
Legal forms of businesses
You must first decide on the legal form of your business based on the following options:
- sole traders (one person);
- corporate companies (two or more people linked by a corporate relationship).
There are four different types of corporate companies:
Business plan and evaluation
The Business Plan is a key tool for every business activity in every step of its development (from its launch to the end of the company's activities).
To succeed, a new business needs a sound commercial strategy and secure financing.
Some standard requirements to be completed when setting up a business are the same as when opening a branch.
While start-up procedures differ depending on the type of business, they do include certain common stages.
Registering a company
Once you have chosen where the company will be based, the natural (sole trader) or legal persons (corporate company) must register with the local Chamber of Commerce.
You can locate all Greek Chambers on the website of the Central Union of the Hellenic Chambers. Membership application forms are available on the website of each Chamber.
The business premises must be established for the registration of merchants, professionals and craftsmen (sole traders) with the competent insurance body.
Any employer recruiting an individual registered under the ΙΚΑ-ΕΤΑΜ insurance scheme, must become registered under the IKA-ETAM Employers' Registry. The Public Administration National Gateway allows for online submission of the required applications.
Obtaining a Tax Identification Number
You must then apply for a Tax Identification Number at the relevant Tax Office. The addresses and contact details of tax offices located throughout the country are available on the website below:
Transactions between citizens, enterprises and the different services of the Ministry of Finance can now be carried out through the TAXISNET service (via the online submission of periodical or annual VAT return statements, as well as the submission of quarterly summary tables for intra-community acquisitions/supplies (VIES) or through TAXISphone.
For certain profession categories the issuance of a Licence to Practise is essential for the commencement of any business activity. Examples of professions falling under these categories include those relating to electrical appliances and equipment, cars, motorcycles, aircrafts or professions relating to telecommunication facilities.
The majority of licences to practice a profession as well as special operation licences are issued by the competent Directorates responsible for business activities in the various prefectures. The same authorities are to inform the company on whether or not a special permit is required for its operation, as well as on the required supporting documentation.
The addresses and contact details of Prefectural Administrations operating throughout Greece are available at the address below:
Information on the types of business activities interested parties can carry out in Greece may be obtained from the National Statistical Service of Greece.
Guides and practical advice on the preparation of a business plan are available through different public bodies. The National Observatory for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, which has developed and offers a free "Tool for the Write up & Implementation of a Business Plan", provides a useful source.
The Centres for Business and Technological Development (KETA) provide information to entrepreneurs looking to set up a new business. More specifically:
Interested parties may access the website of the General Secretariat for Commerce and Consumer Protection to obtain useful information on the steps required to set up a new company, be it a public limited company, general partnership, limited partnership, or limited liability company.
One-stop shop services are available through the General Secretariat for Commerce of the Ministry for the Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping.
The Services Directive: Points of single contact
The Services Directive is a European law that aims to make life easier for businesses that wish to provide services in the European Union – in their home country or abroad. The Directive defines the rules that apply to entrepreneurs wishing to establish a business or perform temporary services in the EU/EEA area (the 27 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). It obliges member states to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, simplify formalities for businesses and make public administrations more efficient.
For the implementation of the Directive, each member state had to set up ‘Points of Single Contact (PSC)’ , e-government portals which help businesses complete their administrative procedures on-line. The PSCs provide comprehensive information on all administrative matters related to setting up or expanding a services business in a given country. This includes for example:
- Which licences, notifications or permits do I need to obtain to start a business (at home or abroad)?
- What do I need to do when I want to offer my services abroad on a temporary basis?
- What do I need to do to apply for a licence? Which authority is responsible?
- Are the licences subject to a fee? What kinds of deadlines apply?
- Which acts and decrees apply in my sector?
- What do I need to do to establish, for instance, a restaurant or a shop? Or to work as a tour operator in another country without actually setting up a company?
- Where can I turn for personalised advice and further information?
With the PSCs, you n o longer need to approach various authorities one by one!! The PSC allows you to find all relevant information and to send in your online applications to the responsible authority through one single contact point, the PSC. You can complete your administrative formalities electronically through the PSC. Just contact the PSC of the country that you want to do business in.
All PSCs are part of the European EUGO network; through a central website you can easily access all PSCs in Europe. Of course, the services of the PSCs are optional. You may always address yourself directly to the relevant authorities, too.