Get that money in Greece! An easy guide to open a bank account for foreigners.
So you landed your first job in Greece! First of all, congratulations! Fun times ahead in an amazing country that is renowned for the culture, the endless nightlife, delicious food and the ever-changing landscapes! The bureaucracy is, well, less amazing. But no worries, in this comprehensive guide we will walk you through the process of opening a bank account in Greece as a foreigner, including the types of accounts available, the required documentation, and some practical tips to make the process smoother.
Why Open a Bank Account in Greece?
Before we dive into the details of the process, let’s see first why it is actually a good idea to open a bank account in Greece.
Having a Greek bank account makes managing your finances in Greece a bit smoother. You can pay bills, receive payments, and access various financial services in pre-established steps through your e-banking.
2. Because your employer requires it:
Well, not much to argue here, right? It is often the case that institutions or large corporations have an agreement with a specific bank and your salary will be deposited there so that makes it obligatory for you to have an account in this bank. The good news is that normally the HR department will try to make this process as easy for you as possible.
3. Residency Requirements:
If you’re planning to reside in Greece and always depending on your country of origin, some residency permits may require you to have a Greek bank account as proof of your financial stability while living in the country.
4. Property Ownership:
If you are planning to invest in a property in Greece a local bank account is actually essential as it gives you the best capacity in managing payments, mortgages, and property-related expenses.
5. The Eurozone:
As Greece is part of the Eurozone, you can conduct transactions within the Eurozone very easily. What is more, if your national currency is weaker than the euro it is financially beneficial for you to receive your payment directly in Euro than basically paying for the conversion rates.
Types of Bank Accounts in Greece
So what types of Bank Accounts are available and what suits you best?
1. Personal savings account:
This is a basic account that allows you to deposit and withdraw money. It’s suitable for your everyday banking needs.
2. Current account:
Similar to a savings account, a current account often comes with a debit card as well as a checkbook.
3. Fixed-term deposit account:
This type of account will offer you higher interest rates but you would need to lock your funds for a specific period.
4. Non-resident account:
This one is designed specifically for foreigners, allowing you to manage your finances in Greece without the need for Greek residency.
5. Business account:
This type of account is obligatory if you plan to start a business in Greece.
How can you open a bank account in Greece?
Brace yourself and let’s do this! As you are new to the country we would advise you to start this process sooner than later.
1. Choose a Bank:
You need to make a list and research various Greek banks to find one that aligns with your needs and preferences. Make sure to check for hidden fees or transactional fees as they can have quite a substantial difference in the long term.
Some popular banks in Greece include Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.
2. Gather all the necessary documents:
Ensure you have a folder with copies of all the necessary documentation.
Typically you would need:
Don’t forget your passport and just in case keep a couple of copies with you as well! It is the most important document for your identification.
b. Tax Identification Number (TIN):
The bank will request a Greek Tax Identification Number, known as “AFM” (Αριθμός Φορολογικού Μητρώου). You will get this number if you have a legal job in Greece and an employment contract. Don’t worry! You can apply for an AFM at your local tax office or your local KEP office (ΚΕΠ: Κέντρο Εξυπηρέτησης Πολιτών).
c. Proof of address:
You will need to have at hand a type of document that proves your address, for example, an electricity bill or a water bill, or a rental agreement registered in your name.
d. Proof of income:
Some banks may require a proof of income, such as pay stubs or a letter from your employer. In the case that the bank account is requested by your employer with the purpose of salary payment, then this step is simplified as you will be provided by the HR department with all the necessary documents.
e. Residence permit:
If your country of origin is not within the European Union, you would probably need a residence permit or a similar document, depending on the bilateral agreement of Greece with your country.
3. Schedule an appointment:
Especially after the pandemic, a drop-in to a bank account is a no-go for most cases. Make sure to call in advance and book an appointment. Just make sure to confirm the documentation requirements or any additional steps you might need to take.
4. Complete the application:
You will be given an account application form. Ensure that all the information you provide is accurate and double-check the details. Be extra careful that the phone you provide is valid, as it will be used for any online transactions you might need to complete in the future.
5. Make your first deposit:
To activate your account, you will probably be asked to make an initial deposit. As the minimum deposit amount varies from one bank to another, make sure to ask in advance, prior to your appointment
6. Receive the account details:
After completing the necessary paperwork and making the initial deposit, the bank will provide you with your account details. Make sure to keep all these documents safe as you will probably need to bring them with you in a future appointment. They typically include an account number, a debit card, and access to online banking services which will either be provided to you on the spot or sent to your official address via post office, depending on the bank.
Opening a bank account in Greece as a foreigner can definitely be a bit of a hassle… Nonetheless, it is a very significant step in establishing your financial presence and security and operating smoothly on your day-to-day. If you have the right documentation, quite a bit of patience, and a decent understanding of the local banking system, you will manage without any inconvenience. Keep calm and get that money rolling in!