The first step to creating a business in Greece is to choose one of the company types regulated under Greek law. There are quite a few available legal forms, with five of them dominating the market. They can be divided in two groups: a) personal companies, which resemble partnerships, and b) capital companies.
An association of two or more natural/legal persons that form a company with a separate legal personality. The “personal” element in this type of company is strong, with the default rules stipulating that participation in the company is not transferable and that all the partners have the right to manage the company (if not otherwise agreed). Major company decisions are taken unanimously by the partners and they are all jointly and unlimited liable with their individual properties for the company’s debts. There is no minimum capital requirement.
A variation of the general partnership. The main difference is the existence of at least one limited (and one general) partner, whose liability for the company debt is limited to his participation in the company and does not extend to his individual property. Such a partner is not allowed to participate in the company’s management and representation.
Introduced in 2012, it is the newest and most flexible company form. Since 2020, establishment procedures are carried out exclusively online. A P.C. can have one or more partners and its capital is divided in parts (shares). There is no minimum capital requirement and partner contributions can be capital (monetary or in kind), non-capital (e.g. labour) or guarantees for company liabilities. Partners are not liable with their individual property for the company’s debts. Management and representation is performed by the directors, who must be natural persons, but not necessarily partners. In case no directors are appointed, the default rule stipulates that all partners collectively manage the company.
In this company, the capital is divided in shares and there is a minimum capital requirement of 25.000€. Despite what the name suggests, bearer shares are no longer allowed. The company is managed by the shareholders’ general meeting and the board of directors’ (usually 3-15 members, under certain conditions can be a single member). Decisions are made by absolute majority of the present shares for the meeting or of the present directors for the board (quorums apply). Shareholders are not liable for company debts.
This company type resembles the French S.A.R.L. and the German GmbH. The main difference of this company form is the double majority rule which applies for partner assembly decisions (absolute majority of partners, who also represent an absolute majority of the capital) and the fact that every amendment of the articles of association must be made by notarial deed. For the rest, there is no minimum capital requirement, there can be a sole or multiple partners, who are not personally liable for corporate debts.
|Single member possibility|
|Member liability||UNLIMITED||LIMITED PARTNER: ONLY CONTRIBUTION||LIMITED TO CONTRIBUTION||LIMITED TO CONTRIBUTION||LIMITED TO CONTRIBUTION|
|Decision making body||PARTNERS||PARTNERS||PARTNERS’ ASSEMBLY||SHAREHOLDERS’ MEETING||PARTNERS’ ASSEMBLY|
|Decision making *||UNANIMUS||UNANIMUS||ABSOLUTE MAJORITY OF TOTAL SHARES||ABSOLUTE MAJORITY OF PRESENT SHARES||DOUBLE ABSOLUTE MAJORITY OF PARTNERS & CAPITAL|
|Management & Representation *||EVERY PARTNER INDIVIDUALLY||LIMITED PARTNERS EXCLUDED||DIRECTOR(S) OR PARTNER(S) COLLECTIVELY||ABSOLUTE MAJORITY OF MANAGEMENT BOARD||DIRECTOR(S) OR PARTNER(S) COLLECTIVELY|
|* unless otherwise provided in the articles of association.|
In order to establish a company in Greece, all partners/shareholders (and directors) need to have a Greek Tax Identification Number (AFM). Moreover, an account to the tax authority’s online platform is required for the use of the electronic one-stop shop for company formations.
For non-residents, the competent authority for the issuance of the above is the Tax Office for Residents Abroad. The needed documents are: a clear photocopy of your ID or passport and an application form filled out with your personal and identity information. Moreover, for persons not permanently residing in Greece, the appointment (by notarial deed) of a tax representative in Greece is mandatory.
The tax number and relevant account details are issued on the day of the appointment with the tax authorities (availability of appointments varies, usually within 7-14 days).
If all the information in this graph is provided, including the Tax Identification Numbers of the founder(s) & director(s), the company can be established on the same day. This of course means using the standard/model articles of association provided by the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and using the founders’ tax platform accounts and usernames.
For establishing a company with customized articles of association, a power of attorney will be needed and it will take longer than when using the standard ones (2-4 days), as it cannot be done via the electronic one-stop shop.
As an EU Member State, Greece has adopted accounting and auditing rules in accordance with the relevant EU Regulations and Directives. In general, different financial reporting obligations apply depending on various factors of a company, such as its annual turnover, number of employees and assets. Stricter rules, such as mandatory audits, usually apply only for public interest companies and large enterprises.
Taking into consideration the size and type of your company, our office can recommend trusted accounting offices and firms, with which we have a long-standing cooperation, in order to help you comply with the applicable laws in your specific case.