You may have birthplace of philosophy in mind when you’re relocating to Greece, but the fact is that even though the ancient Greeks had wisdom, in modern Greece they have lived for the present. Entire generations have eluded the tax inspectors – or paid them off. Unemployment soars -16.5%. Consulting the internet to ascertain where the day’s strikes are likely to be is an essential part of life just now. The worst thing in the air is the loss of hope for ordinary people.
Greece entered the EU in 1981 and has been a member of the Schengen area since 1992. The capital city is Athens and the currency is the euro. There are over 2 000 islands as well as the mainland.
Greece is one of the cradles of European civilisation, whose ancient scholars made great advances in philosophy, medicine, mathematics and astronomy. Their city-states were pioneers in developing democratic forms of government. The historical and cultural heritage of Greece continues to resonate throughout the modern world – in literature, art, philosophy and politics.
Although Britain is not a member of the Schengen area, and therefore customs formalities apply, because we are members of the EU, there is little of consequence to concern the average Briton moving to Greece from the UK.
There are no restrictions. There is free import of goods bought from the EU with some restrictions on the amount of alcohol and cigarettes. Medicines for personal use only. Items made from gold or other precious metals must be declared at customs on arrival. You may bring windsurf boards and bicycles in duty free, one piece per person for personal use only.
If you want to import firearms you must contact the airline first and declare them to the police for registration and police licence in order to clear customs.
Cats and dogs require their own pet passport, microchips, rabies vaccinations within 1 year, but not closer than 21 days from departure, and up-to-date routine vaccinations. The transporting carrier must be advised before any shipment. If you intend to bring the pet back to the UK you must ensure the rabies vaccinations are kept up to date. For further information and other pets contact the Ministry of Agriculture (www.minagric.gr).
As a member of the EU you do not require a residence or work permit, but you do need to register at the local aliens bureau (found at police stations) in the area where you live. They will issue a residency certificate, free of charge. This will be done the same day – but may take all day to do it, and may be difficult to obtain. EU citizens residing in Greece for 90 days or longer and who do not register will be subject to a fine. However, it is very rare that this certificate is ever requested. Some Greek authorities are not even aware that this certificate exists. In many cases, the tax identification number (AFM) is used as proof of residency. You will need two copies of each of the following:
After five years of continuous residence, or following marriage to a Greek national, you can apply for a permanent residence certificate.
There are several sites where you can get information about expat clubs, news and communities. These three sites will give you a taste of what is available.
Sadly, at present, the most important websites are the ones telling you when and where the next strike action is to be. Hopefully this will change soon.
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