Doing Business In Greece

Visa Information

The list of countries whose nationals can stay in Greece for up to three months without a visa includes Australia, Canada, all EU countries, Iceland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA. Other countries included are the European principalities of Monaco and San Marino and most South American countries. The list changes – contact Greek embassies for the full list. Those not included can expect to pay about US$20 for a three-month visa.
Visa extensions
If you wish to stay in Greece for longer than three months, apply at a consulate abroad or at least 20 days in advance to the Aliens Bureau (210 770 5711; Leoforos Alexandras 173; 8am-1pm Mon-Fri) in the Athens Central Police Station. Take your passport and four passport photographs along. You may be asked for proof that you can support yourself financially, so keep all your bank exchange slips (or the equivalent from a post office). These slips are not always automatically given – you may have to ask for them. Elsewhere in Greece apply to the local police authority. You will be given a permit that will authorise you to stay in the country for a period of up to six months.
Most travellers get around this by visiting Bulgaria or Turkey briefly and then re-entering Greece.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication

. Relationships are the linchpin of business dealings since Greeks prefer to do business with those they know and trust.
. They maintain an intricate web of family and friends to call upon for business assistance since they can be confident of their trustworthiness.
. Nepotism is not viewed negatively and it is very common for relatives to work for the same company.
. Greeks prefer face-to-face meetings rather than doing business by telephone or in writing, which are seen as too impersonal. 
. It takes time to develop relationships: this can be done in the office, over extended lunches, dinners, and social outings. 
. Never say or do anything that can be construed as challenging the honour or integrity of a business colleague.
.  Under no circumstances should you publicly question someone's statements. 
. Greeks do not like people who are pretentious or standoffish.
.  Although business is relaxed, it is also serious. Acting informal before a relationship has developed is considered discourteous. 
. If your Greek business colleagues become quiet and withdrawn, you may have said or done something to upset them. 

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Appointments are necessary and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance, although it is often possible to schedule them on short notice. 
. Confirm meetings one day in advance by telephone. 
. Many businesspeople eat lunch between 1 and 3 p.m., so this is not the optimal time for a meeting.
. Quite often it is not until the third meeting that business is actually conducted. During the first meeting your Greek business colleagues will want to get to know something about you as a person. The second meeting is used to develop trust and mutual respect. By the third meeting, business may begin. 
. Have printed material available in both English and Greek. 
. Meetings are often interrupted. Several people may speak at the same time.
. Greeks will deviate from agendas. They view agendas as starting points for discussions and will then follow the discussion to the next logical place.
. Although some business people speak English, it is a good idea to hire an interpreter. 

Business Negotiation

. Forming a personal relationship is critical to developing a successful business relationship. 

. Companies are hierarchical. Greeks respect age and position. 
. Business is conducted slowly. You will have to be patient and not appear ruffled. 
. Demonstrate how your product or service enhances your colleague's reputation. 
. Do not lose your temper or appear irritated during business discussions. 
. Greeks are skilled negotiators. They quite enjoy haggling. 
. Decision making is held at the top of the company. 
. Imposing a deadline on reaching a decision may end the negotiations. 
. Contracts are often quite simple since the personal relationship dictates that accommodations will be made on either side should the need arise. 

Business Dress

. Business dress is as in most of Europe. 
. Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits. 
. Women should wear either business suits or tasteful dresses, preferably in dark or subtle colours. 

Business Cards

. Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual. 
. Have one side of your business card translated into Greek. 
. Present your card so the Greek side faces the recipient. 

General Business Hours

Banks are open from 8am to 2pm Monday to Thursday, and from 8am to 1.30pm Friday. Some banks in large towns and cities open between 3.30pm and 6.30pm on weekdays and 8am to 1.30pm Saturday.

Post offices are open from 7.30am to 2pm Monday to Friday. In the major cities they stay open until 8pm, and open from 7.30am to 2pm Saturday.


In summer, the usual opening hours for shops are from 8am to 1.30pm and from 5.30pm to 8.30pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 8am to 2.30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Shops open 30 minutes later during winter. These times are not always strictly adhered to. Many shops in tourist resorts are open seven days a week.


Department stores and supermarkets are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, from 8am to at least 3pm on Saturday and are closed on Sunday.


Periptera (street kiosks) are open from early morning until late at night. They sell everything from bus tickets and cigarettes to razor blades and shaving cream.


Restaurant hours vary enormously. Most places are normally open for lunch from 11am to 3pm, and for dinner between 7pm and 1am, while restaurants in tourist areas remain open all day. Cafés normally open at about 10am, and stay open until midnight.


Bars open from about 8pm until late, while discos and nightclubs don’t usually open until at least 10pm; it’s rare to find much of a crowd before midnight. They close at about 4am, later on Friday and Saturday.