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Living in Greece
Information for British nationals living in Greece.
The British Consular Network in Greece offers consular support and assists British citizens who face serious difficulties such as hospitalisation, detention or death of a British national overseas or instances where a British national overseas is the victim of a serious violent crime.
There has been no change to the rights and status of UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.
Greece travel advice
You can receive email alerts on the current situation in Greece or how to stay safe by signing up for Greece travel advice which is updated on a regular basis. This way you will be kept up-to-date with official Embassy advice. Alternatively, you may follow the British Embassy Athens on Facebook and/or Twitter which will also keep you up-to-date.The Travel Aware campaign has tips on how to stay safe and healthy abroad.
Our consular guide
Information on the kind of help we can provide to British nationals who find themselves in difficulty overseas is set in our publication Support for British nationals abroad: A guide.
Registering with the Greek authorities
All EU nationals must apply for the new “Registration Certificate” (Veveosi Engrafis) after they have spent 3 months in Greece. It is obligatory. For more information on applying for a Registration Certificate or a Permanent Residence certificate in Greece, please click below:
PDF, 260KB, 4 pages
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Healthcare in Greece for residents
There are many public / private hospitals and medical centres of varying standards around Greece. The level of nursing and after-care may differ from what is normally available in the UK. If you live and work in Greece you will need to obtain a Social Insurance Number - AMKA in Greek. It is essential for those who plan to work, to be insured, obtain medical and hospital care or receive a pension or benefits. You can get an AMKA number through your local KEP office (Citizens Service Centre, Greek version only).
The main Greek Social Security organisation is called EOPPY – National Organisation for Healthcare (formerly IKA). EOPPY provides the basic medical services to Greek National Insurance contributors and has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service. Information can be obtained by contacting your local EOPPY office or by visiting the EOPPY website.
You can find out more about how to plan for your healthcare if you are going to live abroad on a permanent basis on the NHS website.
If you are in receipt of a UK old age state pension, request an S1 form (previously E121) from the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999. If you are in receipt of an exportable DWP benefit you can request an S1 form the office which pays your exportable benefit. It is your responsibility to keep the Overseas Healthcare Team or office which pays your exportable DWP benefit up to date with any changes in circumstances which may affect your entitlement to an S1 (E121). When received, register the S1 form with your local INSS office, before you register with your local GP surgery and obtain a medical card.
Under normal circumstances, the person who receives a pension is entitled to name his/ her spouse as a dependent and this renders the dependent person eligible to apply for an S1 form from the Pensions Services and therefore obtain a separate health booklet.
As from the 1st July 2014, early retirees are no longer able to apply for a residual S1 form based on national insurance contributions. The NHS Choices website has more information about this change.
If you are a worker seconded to Greece, or the family member of someone making UK national insurance contributions, contact HMRC to see if you have entitlement to an S1 form.
If you are coming to study or are currently studying in Greece as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK.Our travel advice also has general information about Healthcare in Greece.
Healthcare in Greece for tourists
Visitors to Greece should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles the holder to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. The EHIC does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment.
Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Greek nationals. We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling abroad. Read our travel advice for more information about Healthcare in Greece.
The UK basic state pension is payable in Greece. To find out when you reach State Pension age, use the State Pension Age Calculator.
Under EU regulations, customers should claim their state pension in the country they last worked in. If you live but have not worked in Greece, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre (IPC). If you live in Greece and last worked here, you should make your claim through your local EOPPY office in Greece. Time worked in all EU countries can be added together when claiming a pension.
If you are moving to Greece from the UK you should inform the International Pension Centre of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments. Furthermore, to enable a pension to be paid directly into a Greek bank account, a form must be obtained from the Pensions Service. This needs to be completed by the pensioner giving all his/her Greek bank account details and sent back to the Pensions Service who will then make the necessary arrangements. For information on medical benefits you can contact The Pension Service.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it is important that you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped. You will need to get it signed by a ‘witness’ and send it back, as instructed on the form.
Check the list of people who can witness a life certificate. This is now the same as the list of people who can ‘countersign’ a passport photo, although they don’t need to live in the UK, or have a British or Irish passport.
Driving licences and driving in Greece
British nationals can drive in Greece provided they hold an appropriate valid “European Union format” British driving licence and passport. Find out more here about driving licence recognition and validity. The Motor Insurance Bureau in Greece has a department serving foreign drivers who hold Residence Certificates.
Under EC Directive 80/1263/EEC, the holder of a driving licence issued in a member state of the EU (unless the licence bears an indication that it was granted in exchange for a non-EU licence) has the right to exchange it into the corresponding licence of the new country of residence without taking a driving test.Relevant information can be found on the Ministry of Transport website. The exchange is also possible through any KEP office (Greek version only). The previous licence must be surrendered to the licensing authority. EU Directive 91/439/EU (implemented in Greece on 01/01/97) states that such a change for persons holding the EU pink common-format driving licence is not obligatory. A Greek driving licence remains valid until the holder reaches the age of 65 years, after which an application for extension is required.
Our travel advice has general information about road travel in Greece. If you want to hire a vehicle, boat, quad bike or moped, check if it is roadworthy or seaworthy and if there is a full insurance cover. It is illegal to drive a quad bike or motorbike without a helmet, insurance or a valid driving licence. Alcohol and drugs can make you less vigilant, less in control and less aware of your environment. Any incident involving alcohol or excessive drinking may invalidate your insurance. If you drink, know your limit - remember that drinks served in bars are often larger than those in the UK and the drink driving limit is lower than the UK. A criminal record will be with you for life.
Temporary import of cars by tourists
Visitors from other EU Member States, whose cars are registered in that EU state, are free to drive their vehicle in Greece for a period of six months without customs control. The vehicle registration document and proof of ownership is required. Travellers should at all times be able to prove to the authorities when the vehicle was brought into Greece. To qualify for a second period of tax free circulation: either both the vehicle and the owner should be out of Greece for at least 185 days or while the owner is away, the vehicle can remain at a sealed area designated by the Customs authority.
The entitlement to circulate a vehicle on foreign plates is strictly personal, consequently only the wife/husband or children may use the car in addition to the owner. After the expiry of the period granted by the customs authorities, the person concerned will be required to either:
- re-export the car
- seal it with the customs for a period of at least 6 months (but no more than 24 months) after which time, provided the owner can show that he/she has been out of Greece for at least 6 months during this time, another 6 month circulation period may be granted, or
- clear it through customs
Failure to conform to the provisions of Greek Law as above may result in the Greek Customs imposing fines for each extra day after the expired period. Such fines can be very steep and the vehicle may be confiscated. Under such circumstances, the vehicle will not be released to the owner unless he agrees to clear it through customs or export it from Greece. Further advice can be obtained from the Directorate for the Supervision and Control of Cars (DIPEAK): 32 Akti Kondyli St, Piraeus 185 45, Tel 210 4625 884, FAX 210 4625 182.
Permanent import of vehicles – Change of residence certificate
European Union nationals, resident in another European Union state for at least two years, who decide to transfer their place of residence to Greece, are exempt from VAT and Registration currently levied in Greece on:
- cars (owned and used privately)
- pleasure craft
- mobile caravans
Within one month from the date of importation, owners of such vehicles must appear in person at the nearest Customs Authority to request exemption from payment of registration and VAT. The owner will then be granted special Greek registration plates. Vehicles entering Greece are also required to undergo a test at a Vehicle Technical Control Centre (KTEO). A vehicle imported under the above regulation may not be transferred, leased, pawned or lent, nor its use assigned in any other manner without prior approval of the customs authorities. In the event of transfer, lease, pawning, lending or assignment of the use of such a vehicle before the lapse of one year, the total amount of tax due shall be collected.
A full list of requirements and more detailed information is available through the Greek Ministry of Finance:
Director of Customs
Ministry of Finance,
40 Amalias St
Athens 105 62
Tel 210 324 5552 / 210 324 5587
From 1 January 1993 EU nationals visiting Greece may freely import and re-export personal effects and are not subject to any customs controls or other formalities at points of direct entry from another EU Member State. However, for vehicles, please see the above paragraph. The Greek Embassy in London provides information on moving residence to Greece.
It is important that you retain the services of a competent lawyer to assist you in any purchase and we recommend a lawyer works independently of other parties involved in the transaction. British Embassy’s. There is no Legal Section in the British Embassy and Consular staff are not legally trained; therefore we are not able to advise you on legal matters, interfere in private disputes over property, or other issues. However, we can provide you with a list of English-speaking lawyers. Please note the disclaimer.
Britain has a double taxation agreement with Greece to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. The text of the current agreement can be found on the HMRC website.
The Greek tax regulations are complicated and differ depending upon personal circumstances. As an Embassy we are unable to become involved with tax matters, as we do not have the specific or relevant expertise. The International Economic Relations Directorate also has some useful information.
In addition, you may wish to approach an accounting office for further information and an explanation of the necessary tax to be paid in your case. As each personal situation will be different the Greek Tax Office should also be in a position to explain the exact requirements according to their regulations. You may also find it useful to contact the UK authorities specialising in taxation agreements within the EU. Information can be found on the tax section of GOV.UK.
Information on registering for a tax number (AFM – pronounced aa-fee-mee) can be found on the ERMIS website (Greek version only). Once you have an AFM number you are required to submit a yearly tax return in Greece, regardless of income.
Employment in Greece
A good knowledge of the Greek language might assist you to find a job, however be aware that Greece has a high rate of unemployment. For advice on finding job within the EEA (European Economic Area), you may refer to the Universal Jobmatch, and EURES.
EU Nationals, by virtue of Article 52 of the EC Treaty, have the right of self-establishment in Greece, for example they may work as self-employed persons. However, in some areas, as in self-employed teachers, the Greek authorities may require that an applicant satisfies certain qualifications and requirements. Consequently, anyone wishing to set up as a self-employed person in Greece should consult the Greek authorities regarding their eligibility before doing so.
Relevant information can be found on the EU Work related rights website.
Jobseeker’s Allowance (Unemployment Benefit)
You will find information on transferring your unemployment benefit abroad at the Your Europe website. The Greek Manpower and Employment Organisation - OAED (Greek version only) provides information on Greek unemployment benefits.
You may be able to claim benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.
The Ministry of Education (Greek version only) provides information on the documentation required to register a child at a Greek school. The Europa.eu website has information on starting school in another EU country. The Council of British International Schools and the Ministry of Education provides contact details of foreign schools in Greece.
Children can register throughout the school year, although early registration is advisable. Introductory classes operate at some schools provided a sufficient number of students apply. Certain schools may offer special work with foreign children, but this depends largely on available resources.
There are no introductory classes for secondary education students. Students will be admitted to the class corresponding to their level of education on production of their official school certificates, which must be officially translated.
Check out our Living in Greece checklist (PDF, 1.05MB, 3 pages)
Useful contact details
General Register Office
If you need copies of birth, death or UK marriage certificates, you can make an application online on the General Register Office (GRO) website and the certificate will be posted to you in Greece.
Information on voting and being elected in Greece can be found on the Greek Ministry of Interior website (Greek version only). General information on elections in the EU can be found at Your Europe and at About my vote website for voting in the UK.
Non-Greek nationals do not have the right to vote in the Greek General Elections.
Citizen Service Centres (KEP Offices)
There are Citizen Service Centres (KEP in Greek) throughout Greece which you may visit. These centres offer information and services which vary from central to regional and local level. Telephone 1500.
ERMIS is a Greek Government site for central information and e-services hub to citizens and businesses 24 hours a day.
For information on your rights, travelling, education and living within the European Union visit EUROPA.EU.
The Greek Ombudsman
The role of the Ombudsman is to liaise between the Greek public administration and citizens as well as to receive complaints from citizens regarding the Greek public service.
Teaching English as a foreign language
Criminal Records check from the UK
For certain job roles, you may be required to supply a criminal records check from the UK. More information on Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS) can be found here.
Criminal Records check from Greece
If you were born outside of Greece you need to make an application at the Penal Records Department of the Ministry of Justice. You can find information here.
Cemetery Acting Administrators
For general and administrative enquires relating to the Phaleron War Cemetery and the Athens Protestant Cemetery you may contact the Acting Administrators below:
|Phaleron War Cemetery, Manolis Tsoulos||Athens Protestant Cemetery, Nikos Tagaroulias|
|Tel: +30 210 981 2036||Tel: +30 210 991 1128|
|Mobile: +30 6974 555 679||Mobile: +30 6977 002 256|
Disclaimer Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this information which is not exhaustive. Definitive information should be obtained from the Greek authorities and the British Embassy and British Consular Network in Greece cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions.
Published: 27 May 2013
Updated: 29 September 2014
- Update to healthcare for early retirees and pensions information.
- Information added on changes to EHIC rules and health cover for early retirees.
- a contact information has been added under 'Useful Contacts'
- Updated the information on life certificates for UK state pensions.
- First published.
Related guides: Notarial and documentary services guide for Greece