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Greece

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 131 957 km2

Population – 10 767 709

Official Language – Greek

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

As an EU/EEA citizen, you can enter Greece simply by showing a valid identity card or passport. There is no entry visa requirement.

EU and EEA citizens have the right of free movement and access to the labour market throughout the European Union/European Economic Area. EU/EEA citizens may enter Greece to seek employment and stay for six months (three months and a further three months if they are looking for work).

EU/EEA nationals who wish to exercise a profession which in Greece is regulated by laws laying down the required qualifications and procedure for obtaining a licence, such as for lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, etc., must contact the competent body issuing licences to practise the profession.

For the purposes of travelling within the EU, forms which are common to all EU countries are issued by the competent authorities, e.g.:

  • U2 Portable Document, which allows unemployed people seeking job in another EU Member State to transfer their unemployment benefits for up to three months;
  • Forms E 411 and F 005, which concern family benefits;
  • U1 Portable Document, which is a certificate granted for the insurance and work periods and is used for purposes of receiving an unemployment benefit in another EU Member State;
  • Form E 205, which shows that the job seeker is insured in their country of origin, and is issued by the competent insurance body, e.g. IKA. The above administrative forms are issued by the last country of employment.

If you wish to stay in the country for more than three months, you must contact the police station of the area in which you are residing to obtain a registration certificate. A residence permit confirms your right to stay in the country as an employed person who is a citizen of an EU/EEA country. Essential requirements for residing in Greece are to be in employment or in possession of sufficient resources. If the conditions are met, a residence permit is issued for five years and may be renewed.

Each resident is given a personal tax registration number (AFM) for dealings with the tax authorities and another registration number (AMKA) for social security services.

Citizens of EU/EEA Member States can enter Greece freely and work without a special permit. EU citizens are issued with a residence permit for the pursuit of paid employment when they present a statement of engagement from an employer.

Dependent family members of an employed EU/EEA citizen enjoy the same rights as that person.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

Application

The document used by the applicant to enter Greece.

The official document certifying the existence of family ties. Evidence that both the applicant and his or her family members have health insurance and sufficient funds.

Three (3) photographs.

Advice: In order to have sickness insurance cover you must have with you the European Health Insurance Card from your country of origin.

LOOKING FOR A JOB

The Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) is the main body taking action on employment. It has employment promotion centres (EPC or EPC2) throughout Greece and staff to whom unemployed people can turn to find a job and receive guidance. They also organise active employment, self-employment and retraining programmes to improve the qualifications of unemployed people.

The OAED also has Greek EURES advisers who speak foreign languages and are specially trained. Their job is to help unemployed people find work in an EU country and to fill the job vacancies that employers in the European area have available. Similarly, they provide support and guidance to nationals of EU countries who are looking for work in Greece, informing them about the market and assisting them in their job search. They also provide information and act as an intermediary between jobseekers and employers as part of the European Jobs Network.

Unemployed people can also find work through private employment agencies which are authorised by the Ministry of Employment, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity and mediate in finding employment.

Mediation for finding employment does not entail any financial burden for employees. The cost for is borne by employers on behalf of whom the private employment agencies act as intermediate.

Newspapers are also an important source of information. Advertisements for managerial and specialist staff are usually both in Greek and English. Small ads papers and newspapers with employment pull-outs can be found at kiosks. Moreover, both on social media (in particular Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter) and on the Internet in general there are numerous websites, both private and public, advertising jobs in various sectors in Greece. Surfing the Internet and searching the ads are also popular ways of finding work in Greece. Both the OAED and private employment agencies have web portals or job search engines to provide information and assistance to jobseekers, who may also submit their CVs electronically via the above portals to a register which can be accessed only by employers. The EURES web portal is currently the most developed job search engine of its kind.

Certain universities, or other entities, often organise career fairs mainly for graduates and students in the last year of their studies, at which jobseekers can establish direct contact with interested employers.

Using social networks and asking friends and acquaintances whether they know of an employer who is looking for staff is often a good way of finding a job.

Searching specific companies’ websites for job vacancies corresponding to your interests and skills and then sending off your CV electronically is another good way of finding employment matching your qualifications.

INCOME AND TAXATION

The income of a natural or legal person from employment, a pension, an agricultural or business activity, properties, dividends, interest, royalties and appreciation of capital transfer is subject to tax in Greece. You must obtain a tax registration number (AFM) from the competent public revenue offices (DOY).

There is a single tax scale applicable to income earned from 01/01/2018 to 31/12/2018 from employment, a pension, business and agricultural activities. The tax rates range from 22% to 45% as follows: (a) 22% for income of up to EUR 20 000, (b) 29% for income from EUR 20 001 to EUR 30 000, (c) 37% for income from EUR 30 001 to EUR 40 000, and (d) for income above EUR 40 001 the tax rate is 45%. Income from agricultural activities is subject to a separate tax, while all other income is aggregated and taxed based on a single scale. The tax rates applicable to income from real estate range from 15% to 45%. Finally, a business tax of EUR 400 to 650 is levied on individuals with a business activity. Moreover, a special solidarity contribution is levied on natural persons’ income above EUR 12 000 on the basis of a scale ranging from 2.2% to 10%. In addition to the actual income, a tax may, under conditions, be levied on the imputed income, namely income that arises from application of the presumptions on maintenance costs and acquisition of assets. Legal persons and natural persons engaged in an agricultural or business activity are subject to a single tax rate of 29% and to advance tax payment of 100%. Advance tax payment means an amount equal to 100% of the tax arising only from business and agricultural activities, as well as from any difference of presumptions, after deducing any withheld and prepaid taxes. Exceptionally those who submit a tax return with income from business activities for the first time such advance tax payment is equal to 50%.

A tax reduction ranging from EUR 1 900 to EUR 2 100, calculated according to the number of dependent children, applies to the income tax levied on wage earners, pensioners and farmers. The reduction applies when taxable income does not exceed EUR 20 000. Otherwise, the applicable tax reduction is decreased by 1% of the part of the annual income over EUR 20 000. Moreover, there is a tax reduction for the same taxpayer categories, provided that during 2017 they have paid, using electronic payment methods (credit or debit cards, or e-banking), for purchases of goods or provision of services amounts that account for a specific percentage of their annual income, this percentage increasing depending on the income level. If the taxpayer does not cover the necessary amount, a 22% tax will be levied on the remaining amount. An exception from the obligation to earn the tax reduction through electronic payments for goods and services is granted to wage earners, pensioners and farmers over 70 years of age, those with at least 80% disability, those under judicial support on account of incapacity, as well as EU residents who are obliged to file tax returns in Greece and are subject to the tax scale applicable to wage earners and pensioners. Those categories of taxpayers must have made payments in cash equal to the percentage required and make the relevant receipts available to the tax office in order to benefit from the reduction in tax. Vulnerable social groups and special categories of taxpayers are fully exempted from that obligation. Note that the reduction in tax that resulted from expenses for medical visits, hospital care and medicines was repealed from 2018, which is expected to increase the tax burden on the taxpayers of these categories. In light of the above, the tax-free income allowance (salaries and pensions) is EUR 8 636.35 with no dependent children, EUR 8 863.64 with one dependent child, EUR 9 090.91 with two dependent children and EUR 9 545.45 with three or more dependent children.

Generally, tax reductions are provided for persons with at least 67% disability and special categories of taxpayers, such as victims of terrorist actions or war, or pensioners who took part in the National Resistance or the civil war. Moreover, donations give rise to a reduction in income tax of up to 10% provided that they exceed EUR 100 during the tax year and that the total donation amount does not exceed 5% of taxable income.

Taxable persons who are not resident for tax purposes in Greece do not qualify for tax allowance, save where their residence for tax purposes is in another EU or EEA Member State and (a) at least 90% of their income is earned in Greece and (b) they prove that their taxable income is so low that they qualify for tax exemption under the tax arrangements of their country of residence.

In addition to the taxes levied based on the annual tax returns, citizens must also pay other, direct or indirect, general or local taxes. More specifically, property owners are subject to a single property ownership rate (ENFIA). Also, a value added tax (VAT) of 24% is included in the price of most goods and services provided. However, certain goods and services, such as medicines and hotel accommodation, are subject to reduced rates of 13% and 6%. Excise duty is levied on heating oil and car owners pay a circulation tax that varies with the age and engine capacity of their vehicle. Taxpayers pay local taxes in the form of charges 

The annual earnings of salaried persons in the private sector (which are made up of 12 monthly salaries, a Christmas bonus, an Easter bonus and a summer leave allowance, are also subject to other deductions on top of income tax, namely deductions relating to health insurance, old-age pension insurance and unemployment insurance.

As of February 2019, the statutory minimum wage and the statutory minimum daily wage for full employment for all employees and workers throughout the country, without age discrimination, is as follows:

  • For employees, the minimum salary is six hundred and fifty euros (EUR 650.00).
  • For workers, the minimum daily wage is twenty-nine euros and four cents (EUR 29.04). Indicatively, the net remuneration of widespread professions are the following:
  • Senior executives and managers

EUR 1 522

  • Professionals

1 098

  • Technicians and other related professionals

1 007

  • Office workers

872

  • Service providers and salespersons

726

  • Unskilled workers

633

Under EU regulations, people who have worked in two or more EU countries are able to add together contributions paid in each state in order to qualify for a state pension. It is advisable to contact the social security ministry and the insurance provider in the country where you live and in the country where you last worked for more information.

COST OF LIVING

The cost of living compared to income remains quite high in Greece. The country is ranked 31st in the world in terms of consumer prices. With regard to restaurant prices, Greece is in 27th place. It is relatively cheap for residential rent where it ranks 88th. In terms of spending power it is in 51st place.

The cost of living is higher in semi-urban and touristic areas. In non-touristic areas the cost of living is lower because of the availability of local agricultural products, lower rents and lower expenditure on travel.

Here are a few examples of costs, on average:

Basic costs (electricity, heating, water, council tax) for an apartment of 85 m² EUR 150.00

Prepaid mobile charges per minute EUR 0.34

Monthly cost of internet connection EUR 26.94

Public transport ticket EUR 1.40

Starting fare for taxis EUR 3.40 with an 0.80 fee per kilometre

Unleaded petrol EUR 1.57

Pack of imported cigarettes EUR 4.20

Bottle of water (500 ml) from a kiosk EUR 0.5

Bottle of milk (1 litre) from a supermarket EUR 1.1

Bottle of wine (750 ml) from a supermarket EUR 6

Loaf of bread (500 g) EUR 0.80

Meal for 1 person in a restaurant EUR 10

Cappuccino coffee EUR 2.90

Local beer (500 ml) EUR 3.5

Drink in bar from EUR 5

Hot dog from EUR 0.90

Souvlaki (meat skewer) from EUR 2.00

EDUCATION SYSTEM

The educational system is subject to the general supervision of the Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs. At regional and local level, the regional directorates for education and the directorates for primary and secondary education respectively implement the national education policy and are also responsible for the supervision of school units. Under Article 16 of the Constitution, education is a fundamental duty of the State and is provided free of charge to all citizens in public educational facilities irrespective of their level of education.

The Greek education system is divided into three levels:

  1. Primary education

For preschool education, there are nurseries and day care centres, which are subject to the supervision of the municipalities. Children are enrolled from the age of 6 months (or from the age of 2 months under specific conditions) until they reach the age of enrolment in compulsory education. Primary education includes nursery schools and primary schools. Children attend nursery school for two years.  They are enrolled at the age of 5 years (compulsory attendance) and at the age of 4 years (attendance becomes gradually compulsory within three years based on the new Law 4521/2018). Then they must attend primary school for six years, from the age of 6 to 12.

  1. Secondary education

Secondary education comprises two levels of study. The first level is compulsory and corresponds to Lower Secondary School, which lasts three years and covers the ages from 12 to 15. The second level is not compulsory and is divided into the General Upper Secondary School or the vocational educational institutions (Vocational Upper Secondary School – EPAL – and Vocational Schools – EPAS of the Greek Manpower Employment Organisation – OAED, for graduates who have completed at least the first class of Upper Secondary School). Attendance is for three years at General Upper Secondary Schools and for two years at Vocational Schools. Vocational education is followed by a traineeship of 9 months for Vocational Upper Secondary Schools (EPAL) and 2 years for Vocational Schools (EPAS).

There are also special nursery, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary classes for pupils with special educational needs as well as music, ecclesiastical and sports lower and upper secondary schools. For working pupils, there are Evening Upper and Lower Secondary Schools.

Alongside public schools, there are also private schools with the same curriculum, but the percentage of pupils attending such schools is quite low compared to the average of the OECD countries (around 5%). Also, despite the financial crisis, the percentage of early school leavers is still lower compared to the EU average (6% compared to 10.6% in the EU in 2017 for pupils aged 18-24), while the percentage of early school leavers in primary education is almost zero.  However, the percentage of young people of the same age group who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) is rather higher compared to the average of the OECD and EU countries (23% compared to 15% and 14% for 2017, respectively).

  1. Higher education

Higher education is the last level in the formal education system.  Admission is based on annual written examinations. Undergraduate studies usually last for 4 years, while postgraduate studies are for one to two years and doctoral studies last for at least 3 calendar years. Higher education includes the University sector (universities, polytechnics, School of Fine Arts) & the Technological sector [technological  educational institutions (ATEI)] and the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE). The Hellenic Open University also offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses, which does not require any examinations, but the payment of fees.        

Non-formal education/training:

Non-formal education is education provided outside the framework of the formal education system by public or private institutions and can lead to the acquisition of nationally recognised certificates. The main institutions offering such education are:

  • Vocational training institutes (IEK), which provide initial vocational training to graduates from non-compulsory formal secondary education,
  • lifelong learning centres, which provide continuous vocational training, general education for adults, career guidance and lifelong counselling, and
  • colleges, which provide non-formal education and training.

Lifelong learning for adults is provided by vocational training centres (KEK). The KEK provide special training programmes for unemployed people. Most of the programmes are funded by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity and the European Social Fund (ESF).

DOATAP (Hellenic National Academic Recognition Information Centre) is the competent body for the recognition of degrees from foreign universities and technological institutes and for the provision of information relating to higher studies abroad and in Greece.

RECOGNITION OF DIPLOMAS AND QUALIFICATIONS

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

USEFUL LINKS

http://www.kep.gov.gr/portal/page/portal/kep - Services Centre for Citizens

http://www.mopocp.gov.gr/main.php - Ministry of Education and Religion, Centre in Help of Citizens

http://www.doatap.gr - Recognition of Diplomas and Qualifications

 

 

 

 

 

 

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