Immigration. Travel. Living.

Banking in Greece

Flag of Greece on Island

It’s no wonder why there are thousands of tourists trooping into the country, settle for a longer period, and apply for citizenship. If you are an expat planning on moving, relocation, or traveling to this part of Europe, or you plan on starting a business in the country, then you must have a Greek bank account.

If you’re planning on relocating to Greece for the short or long term as an expat, you’ll need a local bank profile. Opening a Greek savings profile back in the days was very rigid, and some procedures were subject to high levels of control due to the level of fiscal crisis that the country experienced, it was very difficult for expats to open bank accounts and even obtain a credit card.

Today, there have been a lot of positive changes in the system. Plus, the good news is that these restrictions are being removed by the government. Since the economy is getting back to its feet, there‘s no need for a long process, making it much easier for expats and non-residents to open a  Greek bank account and even obtain credit cards.

Greek banking system

The Greek banking system is not what it used to be, it has taken quite a hit in recent years due to harsh recession, poor policies, and economic downturn. More than a dozen international banks have left the country because of these setbacks, and many smaller banks either shut down or merged with the larger ones.

The largest banks in Greece are Piraeus Bank, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece, and Alpha Bank. There are also some international banks still operating in Greece such as HSBC and Citibank. Many foreigners & tourists living in Greece have at least two accounts: a foreign account [personal profile] for their international transactions and a local account [Greek profile] for day-to-day business throughout their stay.

brown wallet

Can I open a bank account as a non-resident of Greece?

Yes, you are allowed to open a bank account as a Greek non-resident. There is no legal restriction that restricts non-residents from having access to financial institutions. Although the bank will decide which profile type [like current, foreign currency, and external accounts] will be available for you.

You must, however, possess a local tax number also called AFM [Arithmo Forologiko Mitro]. You must carry your Arithmo Forologiko Mitro with you when you are ready to open your account. You can collect your AFM from any tax office in Greece.

You can even open an account before arriving in Greece using an overseas branch of any Greek bank or via a foreign bank operating in Greece. However, your signature must be ratified before your account will be activated.

Requirements for non-residents 

You must be over 18 years old before bank account opening in the country. You’ll also be required to provide proof of identity, e.g. your passport, your local address. Travel documents, certificates, and bank statement from your home banks that confirm your identity.

Documents you’ll need

Once you get your AFM, you need to come with other supporting documents to activate your account. To open an account in Greece, you would need to bring along the following documents:

  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Recent utility bills.
  • Proof of occupation.
  • Arithmo Forologika Mitro
  • Last Tax Return or P60 or P45.
  • NI number, if displayed on the tax return.
  • Proof of address
  • Bank statement
  • Recent mobile/landline phone bill.
  • Passports photograph
  • Marriage certificate

All the documents listed above must be certified by the Consulate of Greece in the country of your residence. If any of your documents are written in English, the bank may dispense with the official translation in the Greek language. But if the documents are written/typed in another language, you’ll have to translate all or some of them for the legal department of the bank to easily review them.

If you have an attorney, lawyer, agent, or friend in the country, he/she can help you open the account on your behalf, but you’ll have to be present in any of the branches for biometric capturing and activation. This simply means that all Greek banks will always want to meet new customers face to face at least once.

Opening your Greek account cannot be completed without your presence. The agent or attorney can only submit your details or assist you in the initial stages but not the actual opening/activation of the account.

How to open a bank account in Greece

Once you’ve selected your preferred bank, you must choose the account type that suits your need. There are savings, investment, students, time deposits… Once you do that, it gets easier. you can even complete most of the procedure online from the comfort of your home.

Once you filled the form online or in the bank, go to any of the bank branches to register your signature samples and upload your biometrics. Like banks all over the world, Greek banks take a step forward when it comes to security. You’ll always receive an SMS or OTP before any transaction is completed on your account.

Most Greek banks provide a debit card [ATM card] for cash withdrawal for current and savings accounts and your checkbook. Both debit cards & cheques issues outside Greece are valid and can be used for purchases. Greek banks don’t give loans to non-residents.

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