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Working and Living

One of the pleasant privileges of being an EU national is that you are free to work and live in any EU member state for an unlimited period of time. Quite a few EU nationals take advantage of this privilege: Crete in general and the area of Malia in particular attracts thousands of people every year who come here to extend their summer holidays with a short term seasonal job. Others plan ahead and take on a job for the whole season. Others still, charmed by the Cretan way of life and the sunny Mediterranean climate, decide to settle permanently and start a business of their own or are employed in another way. Some also choose the area of Malia as their retirement base.

RESIDENCE PERMIT

EU nationals who intend to stay in Greece for more than 3 months need to obtain a residence permit, for which application must be made within 3 months of arrival date in Greece.

To apply for a residence permit you have to go to the nearest police station, which is in Hersonissos, or to the Immigration Bureau in Iraklio. Take with you a copy of your passport, 4 photographs, proof of a health insurance ( your EHIC card or IKA health book) and proof that you are financially self-supportive by way of a bank exchange slip, a fixed address (no hotel) and revenue stamps, which are available at the street kiosks.

Allow 4 to 6 weeks for formalities to be handled; in the meantime you have to take a health examination at a public hospital that has to be endorsed by the local public health office. You have to take this endorsement to the police station or to the Immigration Bureau, where you will be handed your permit, which is valid for a term of 5 years.

Non-EU nationals can apply for a visa extension, which is a permit that allows you to stay in Greece for up to 6 months. You have to apply at a Greek consulate abroad or at least 20 days in advance at the Immigration Bureau in Iraklio. Take with you a copy of your passport, 4 photographs and proof that you are financially self-supportive by way of a bank exchange slip.

WORK PERMIT

EU nationals do not need a work permit, only a residence permit. Collect 2 forms at the Department of Employment: one employment application that you have to fill in and one form that your employer has to fill in. After these have been approved and supplied with revenue stamps, you take them to the nearest police station, which is in Hersonissos, or to the Immigration Bureau in Iraklio to support your application for a residence permit.

INSURANCE

EMPLOYMENT: SOCIAL INSURANCE / IKA
Legally, if you are working for an employer, he must pay IKA for you, which covers you for anything that happens to you during working hours, medical and otherwise. It is not in your interest to be employed without an IKA contribution. IKA contributions cost your employer around 30% of your salary, but nowadays most employers go legal as fines are heavy.

If you are employed full-time, you’ll collect about 20 to 25 stamps a month, according to the deal you make with your employer. IKA will send you a statement every 3 months with your amount of IKA stamps for the previous 3 months.

An IKA health book entitles you to free medical treatment at any doctor under the IKA scheme plus free hospital treatment. Prescriptions given under this scheme have a personal contribution of 25% at any pharmacy. To apply for an IKA health book a minimum of 50 stamps of IKA contributions are required. For a health book application, take your statements from IKA with you that show your contributions, a copy of your passport, 2 photographs and your EHIC card.

If you are seasonally employed and you have paid your IKA contributions for 2 successive years with a minimum of 100 stamps a year, you are eligible for unemployment benefit the following winter. For an application go to OAED in Iraklio, carrying your tax return for the previous year, an IKA statement of the contributions you have paid for the previous 2 years, your IKA health book, your passport, your residence permit and a statement from your employer, confirming when you stopped working.

Your claim will be processed and usually after 2 months you’ll receive your first benefit, which you have to go and collect. This is usually an amount of around 320 Euro monthly.

SELF EMPLOYMENT
If you have decided to set up a business of your own, it is advisable to contact an accountant to help you find your way in the jungle of bureaucracy, where the papers, stamps, signatures and queues are endless.

The most important thing for you to obtain is a tax number (AFM, pronounced as Ah Fee Mee). Without an AFM you cannot set up your own business. To apply for an AFM you have to show your passport plus birth certificate with both your parents’ full unmarried names, your residence permit, proof of being self supportive, a fixed address where you intend to open your business, your registration at TEVE and your registration at the Chamber of Commerce.

TEVE is a Greek Insurance Scheme for self employed people, which covers you and your family for basic health requirements and – if paid long enough – provides for a pension later in life. TEVE costs between 180 and 300 Euro a month.

For your application for an AFM you have to go to the tax office (‘Eforia’) in Hersonissos with all the papers mentioned above. Once you have an AFM number, you must prepare receipt and invoice books with your AFM printed on them. The tax office also determines which VAT rate (FPA, pronounced as Fee Pee Ah) you are to pay for each kind of transaction. VAT returns are to be filed every 2 months. You will usually be required to submit a yearly tax return to Greece. The total income acquired in the previous financial year is subject to income tax after the deductions of allowances and exemptions provided for.

NOTE: If the business of your choice requires a diploma or a license, for instance hairdresser or English teacher, then you have to have your diploma translated into Greek by an authorized translator.

USEFUL ADDRESSES AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS

IKA, Dimokratias 39, Hersonissos, tel. 28970-28217
Tax Office, El. Venizelou st. 176, Hersonissos, tel. 28970-24857
Immigration Bureau, Iraklio, tel. 2810-241902
OAED, Knossos Av.& Nathena, Iraklio, tel. 2810-323964

ACCOUNTANTS

Vassilis Hristou, Sarandaporou, Malia, tel. 28970-33443
Manolis Albadakis, Pav. Zahariadi st. Malia, tel. 28970-32506
Kostoula Petraki, Mih. Zahariadi st. Malia, tel. 28970-32164

LAWYER

Adonis Bidzarakis, El. Venizelou st. Malia, tel. 6944-881476

REAL ESTATE AGENT

Giakoumakis Real Estate Agency, El. Venizelou st. 79 Malia, tel. 28970-33180