Greece Market Entry

Greece Market Entry

Subchapters:

  • Market entry
  • Forms and conditions of operation on the market
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Issues of intellectual property protection
  • Public procurement market
  • Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
  • Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
  • Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
  • Fairs and events

Market entry

Distribution and sales channels, use of local representatives and other factors affecting sales

Entering the Greek market is not easy, as there are traditional trade ties with partners such as Italy, Germany and France, and strong competition from, for example, China, which operates the largest Greek port in Piraeus. The offer must therefore be thoroughly prepared and presented in a high-quality manner.

A specific feature of the Greek economy is the above-average share of small and medium-sized enterprises. Only about 3% of Greek businesses employ more than 10 employees and 40% of retail businesses are family-owned with one employee. The fragmentation of the trade network results in relatively small opportunities for direct trade ties. Foreign suppliers prefer the use of sales representatives, exclusive importers, or local offices. The expansion of digitization and internet sales during the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened electronic forms of trading. However, the Greek tradition of personal contact with the supplier remains.

According to cheeroutdoor.com, the most effective way is to sell through a local representative or exclusive importer. The choice depends to some extent on the nature of the goods. The most common is an exclusive representation for the whole of Greece, with the representative based in Athens. It is advantageous if it has a branch for northern Greece with headquarters in Thessaloniki and also for Crete. In any case, it is recommended to establish personal contact and maintain it (trips to Greece and partners to the Czech Republic). Although this increases costs, practice shows that without building a personal bond it is difficult to succeed in the Greek market. It is not recommended to use representatives in Greece to cooperate with Cyprus.

Import conditions and documents, customs system, export control, domestic market protection

The conditions for importing goods to Greece correspond to the international standard and are similar to the conditions for importing to other EU countries. Export control is handled in a similar way. When importing goods from the EU, documents common in trade with other EU member states are used, and the goods are not subject to customs duties or restrictions. There are some non-tariff barriers to trade, especially technical regulations, which are gradually being adapted to EU regulations, but it is necessary to verify them before the considered realization of the supply.

Particular attention should be paid to the following sectors:

  • live animals – veterinary certificate (including vaccination certificate),
  • meat, fruit, seed, wood, plants, plant products – phytosanitary certificate,
  • used cars – special national taxes and fees,
  • pharmaceutical products, washing powders, dental preparations, cosmetics, insecticides – certificate of analysis,
  • when importing alcoholic beverages, an analysis in the Greek Central State Laboratory is a condition for the import permit, which officially determines both the composition and, above all, the alcohol content, which determines the amount of excise duty.

When labeling the goods, it is necessary to observe the Greek inscriptions printed on the packaging or at least stickers in Greek, the sales license number and other common information with possible instructions for use for more complex goods. Greece has taken over the EU directive on the responsibility of the producer for the product (EC No. 85/374) and therefore the importer can request the appropriate certificates and special insurance from the exporter.

For imports from non-member countries, customs protection is within the standards set by EU membership in the WTO. Imports from these countries to Greece are carried out under similar conditions as imports to the Czech Republic.

Forms and conditions of operation on the market

For doing business on the Greek market, you can choose a business with a full presence in Greece in the form of a joint-stock company (Greek abbreviation AE), a company with limited interference (Greek abbreviation EPE) or a public company (Greek abbreviation OE and EE) or a business with a partial presence in Greece.

In all cases, it is necessary to register with the local tax authority and the chamber of commerce and industry (similar to a chamber of commerce). Chambers of commerce and industry operate at the district level, they maintain a commercial register (Greek abbreviation – GEMI. ) and within them there are offices whose task is to assist in the establishment of companies, where not only all information but also the necessary assistance can be obtained.

A list of chambers with contacts is available on the Union of Hellenic Chambers portal.

Support for investments and trade is provided by the Enterprise Greece – Invest & Trade agency, which has the task of assisting in investment activities and establishing businesses in the territory of Greece.

Marketing and communication

Greeks traditionally place more emphasis than Central Europeans on product image. Without smart marketing that adds a stamp of exclusivity, it is difficult to succeed. Thanks to the effects of the crisis, the price also plays a role.

Television advertising remains the most effective form of promotion, but it is gradually being replaced by advertising via the Internet and social networks. The importance of promotional flyers and advertisements is declining. For advertising and advertising aimed at the professional business and economic public, we can recommend economic printing, where advertising can also be published in English and is also published in electronic form. There are also a number of trade journals.

For example, we can recommend:

economic daily NAFTEMPORIKI, e-mail: [email protected]
prestigious political-economic daily KATHIMERINI,, e-mail: [email protected]
MEAT PLACE (meat market), e-mail: [email protected]
DAIRY News (milk, cheeses, animal production), e-mail: [email protected]
AgroNews (agricultural issues) and Beer & Brunch supplement (beer), e-mail: [email protected]

A number of companies, including established global consulting offices (e.g. agency ICAP Group ), deal with marketing.

Promotional material, catalogues, calendars imported in large quantities are subject to value added tax (reduced rate applies: 13%). Samples without an actual commercial price and those marked as such in accordance with international conventions can be imported without payment of VAT.

Issues of intellectual property protection

Intellectual property issues such as its registration, protection and recognition are dealt with by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (Greek abbreviation AEPI ).

The rights of authors and their relatives are represented in Greece and abroad by the Hellenic Copyright Organization, which is the only competent body in this area. It protects the rights of authors of all original intellectual products having a specific form, such as songs, books, programs, etc., without the need to first register authorship, as is the case with inventions or trademarks. In most cases, proving authorship is a problem and the subject of litigation. The protection of intellectual property is governed by Act 2121/1993 as amended in 2018.

Public procurement market

A number of tenders related to the supply of goods are conducted electronically. The participation of a Greek agent or other entity is not required, however, it can be recommended especially with regard to the knowledge of local conditions and the Greek language, which is necessary for participation in the tender procedure.

The condition of at least 30% share of Greek subcontractors in large tender offers was officially canceled under EU pressure from 1/1/1998, but it is good to continue this trend as far as possible, as it can significantly facilitate the penetration of the Greek market. A condition of tenders is often also the provision of service services, where again the agent’s participation plays a significant role. The legislation is largely harmonized with EU legislation.

A comprehensive electronic gazette informing about announced or ongoing public tenders is not available. Major tenders are published in the official EU journal and appear in electronic form on the European platform TED-Tenders electronic daily. The Greek official government portal for the publication of decrees and information on the course of public tenders , promitheus.gov.gr, is only available in Greek and orientation requires knowledge of specific information such as the contract code number, etc.

Contracts of national importance are tendered by individual line ministries, e.g.:

  • Ministry of the Environment – large ecological and energy projects
  • Ministry of Infrastructure y – infrastructure projects of national importance such as road corridors and highways, bridges, contracts for civil aviation and urban transport
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Ministry of Health
  • Fire department

Smaller contracts are tendered by relevant public authorities and organizations, e.g.:

  • metro – public joint-stock company Attiko Metro SA – all contracts related to the operation and expansion of the Athens and Thessaloniki metro lines
  • State energy companies – public joint-stock company DEI SA – construction of new public power plants, innovations and orders for existing power plants, lignite mines, distribution network projects, etc.

Domestic and foreign entities can participate in public tenders directly or through an agent. A number of tenders announce that they are intended only for EU countries. The clause on the manufacturer of the supplied goods is modified by the tenderer and is specified in the tender documents. Fees for most tender documents are relatively low even for large infrastructure tenders (approx. 1 to 2 thousand CZK). Most of the tender documents for smaller contracts are free and many of them can be downloaded directly from the Internet, but most of them are not available in English translation. Submitted offers (often with a required bid bond and performance bond or bank guarantee) must usually be in Greek. Only technical data and drawings can usually be submitted in English. All foreign language documents must be accompanied by their official translation into Greek.

The selection evaluation committee proceeds according to the normal rules for evaluating bids. If the tender is canceled for various reasons, the contents of unopened envelopes are not disclosed. The decision-making process is closely monitored by competitors, and in case of suspicion of non-transparency, it is possible to file a protest. In the case of large contracts, this is handled by a special so-called “interministerial commission” composed of professionally competent entities (ministries, etc.) and representatives of political parties represented in parliament. The breakdown of the procedure of the tender selection committee often significantly advances the implementation of tendered projects, but it is an objectifying element. After the selection of the winning entity, within 10 days of the invitation, the latter must sign a contract regarding the intentions of their offer and also present a performance bond usually worth 10% of the offered price excluding VAT (Greek abbreviation FPA).A capable representative/lobbyist is essential to the success of a bid.

Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes

Payment conditions are similar to those in the Czech Republic, and similarly to the Czech Republic, the saying “trust, but verify” applies. Practical instructions on how to check a partner can be found on the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Athens. Commercial law and regulations regarding commercial operations correspond to French law. There are frequent changes in the regulations, which must be constantly monitored.

Greece acceded to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of June 10, 1958 (the Czech Republic acceded to the convention by MFA Decree No. 74/1959 Coll.). It follows that foreign arbitration awards (including Czech ones) are enforceable in Greece under the conditions specified in the convention. In disputes where the debtor is a Greek company and it is therefore customary to initiate proceedings before the competent Greek court, the low efficiency of the Greek court system and the increased costs of Greek law firms should be expected.

Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory

Entry and stay in the territory of Greece

Like the Czech Republic, Greece is a member of the EU and the Schengen area, which makes traveling between the two countries as easy as possible. Citizens of the Czech Republic may enter the territory of Greece on the basis of a valid passport or identity card. The travel document must be valid at the time of entry into the Greek territory and upon leaving it. The ID card serves as a travel document only for its holder. The current conditions for traveling to Greece are available on the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Athens.

For stays longer than 3 months, EU citizens should apply for a residence permit, which is issued in the form of a card. The application for a residence permit is submitted to the department of the foreign police according to the place of residence.

Drivers must have a valid driver’s license, technical license and green card. Greek authorities do not require an international driver’s license.

Health care
Upon presentation of the European Health Insurance Card, a citizen of the Czech Republic is entitled to free necessary and urgent health care in Greek state hospitals or polyclinics administered by the Unified Social Insurance Office (EFKA). A co-payment (i.e. payment in cash) for medicines must be taken into account. Rescue service – phone (+30) 166

Sales hours
Sales hours usually start at 9 a.m. Due to the tradition of midday rest, the retail trade alternates between “short” days (Monday and Wednesday until 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) and “long” days (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday until 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a break between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. ). On Saturdays, shops close at 4 p.m. In supermarkets and large retail chains, sales are open all day – on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Shops are closed on Sundays. Shops in tourist zones and some minimarkets remain open.

Working hours
Working hours are 8 hours. In ministries, the most common working hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The private sector usually starts around 9 a.m. and does not end before 5 p.m.

Road traffic
Traffic in urban agglomerations and recreational zones tends to be dense and the usual Central European rules are not always applied. Local customs include, for example, the creation of additional lanes on roads, driving in the opposite direction in one-way traffic or the minimal use of turn signals and, conversely, the frequent use of a sound signal (horn). There are a large number of single-wheeled vehicles on the roads, weaving between cars from all sides. It is therefore necessary to keep these road users in mind at all times. In contrast to the practice in the Czech Republic, priority is given to a vehicle entering a roundabout, unless it is regulated by a sign (stop sign). Road traffic rules tolerate (i.e. only fine) alcohol consumption up to 0.2 ‰ for professional and new drivers and up to 0.5 ‰ for other drivers. Drivers usually do not give way to pedestrians at crosswalks,

Several companies take care of the operation of highway sections and the collection of tolls, and the situation surrounding fees is more complicated than in other European countries. Motorway tolls are collected from drivers every time they pass through a toll gate. For frequent trips, it is advantageous to use one of the systems for automatic toll payment. It is recommended to check the current amount of tolls directly with the traffic manager, depending on the chosen route, or on the tolls.eu website.

EU citizens can use their vehicle with a national number plate on the territory of Greece as part of a tourist stay for a period of 6 months. If they legalize their stay in Greece for the purpose of work and long-term stay (marriage, study, etc.), they must immediately change the national license plate on their vehicle to a Greek one.

Security
Greece is generally considered a safe country and there are no special security risks. There is an increase in crime in the form of pickpocketing and other property crimes. The attention of thieves is concentrated on touristic places with a large number of people, means of public transport (Athens metro) and things left unattended on the beach. Thefts in accommodation facilities are also recorded. It is recommended not to leave valuables and documents in the motor vehicle, carry only small amounts of cash with you and always keep larger amounts of money in hotel safes, possibly in several places and always separately from other documents and credit cards.

Additional warnings and recommendations
It is recommended not to underestimate the local climatic demands and to follow the general principles of preventing accidents and injuries (i.e. follow the drinking regime, protect yourself by wearing suitable headgear, use protective sun creams, etc.).

Free camping outside designated campsites is strictly prohibited. It is forbidden to make a fire in the wild, as there is a risk of fires. It is also prohibited to collect dry firewood in forest stands. Violation of the prohibitions is prosecuted.

It is not recommended to travel to militarily sensitive areas and it is forbidden to photograph military or other strategically important objects.

Transportation and possession of drugs is punishable by long prison terms.

Exceeding the rules for the protection of animals and plants can result in high fines and criminal penalties.

The export of any objects of historical value is prohibited and the violation of this prohibition is severely punished, except in cases where an authorized dealer (antique dealer) has issued a certificate for the export of antiques. The use of metal detectors without a permit is also prohibited.

Scuba diving is only possible with a special permit and only in certain areas.

Only men are allowed to visit the monastic “Holy Mountain” Athos (Agios Oros) (women are not allowed to enter). The visit permit must be requested in writing about six months in advance. Foreigners apply directly to the pilgrims’ office in Thessaloniki to obtain an entry permit.

Detailed instructions for the trip to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Athens can be found on the website of the office.

Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic

As a Member State of the EU, Greece does not apply any restrictions to EU citizens. Therefore, if a citizen of the Czech Republic decides to stay and work in Greece for a long time, they must apply for a so-called residence permit for EU citizens (name of the document: Adeia diamonis ipikoou kratous melous tis Evropaikis Enosis / Residence permit for a national of a member state of the EEC). The application for a residence permit is submitted to the department of the foreign police according to the place of residence. On its basis, one can work freely and enjoy the same rights and obligations as any Greek citizen. To issue a permit it is necessary to submit:

  • valid proof of identity
  • 3 photos
  • health insurance
  • proof of accommodation or rental agreement
  • employment contract

Health insurance must be resolved with the relevant insurance company in the Czech Republic, or contact the Unified Social Insurance Office ( EFKA ).

The economic situation of Greece and high unemployment limit the offer on the labor market, an important prerequisite for getting a job is knowledge of the Greek language.

In case of complications and problems caused by incorrect application of European law by administrative authorities (e.g. problems with obtaining European E301 forms), contact SOLVIT – The EU Internal Market Problem Solving System.

Fairs and events

Participating in an international fair or at least visiting it in Greece is a very good opportunity to get to know the competition and establish personal contacts with potential customers. Considering the orientation of the Greek economy towards tourism, international tourism fairs and equipment for hotels, cafes and restaurants have a tradition and a high level. Food fairs and agricultural technology and equipment fairs are interesting. The offer of quality international fairs is expanding.

A presentation of the main trade fair administrations and their events is available on the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Athens.

Greece Market Entry