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Exchanging and Sending Money

If you buy property on a Greek Island or make it your permanent home, you will at some stage need to sort out the whole issue of transferring, exchanging and sending money. There are various methods for doing this and you need to shop around to ensure that you get the most favourable rates of exchange with the lowest fees.

Greek Currency

Greece is part of the Eurozone and therefore the national currency is the Euro. You need to ensure that you have access to or carry Euros as no other currency is accepted. Exchange rates are uniform throughout the country and you can make simple transactions at all banks or exchange bureau. Greek banks open from 9 am until 2 pm but each one has an ATM point should you miss the opening times. If you travel to Greece with your own local currency and exchange it there, make sure the note denominations you carry are not large. Traveller's checks are widely accepted almost everywhere in the tourist resorts, but trying to pay with high denomination checks will prove difficult and in these cases, it is best to exchange them at a bank first. Forget about personal checks even if you can draw them on a Euro account, they really are part of the dark ages of banking now!


This is the best way to get money in Euros from your own bank account at home. Every city and town has them and all you need to carry with you is your debit card. The benefit of this system is its convenience because you don’t have to carry around large amounts of cash or queue at banks to change currency. If you live on one of the islands and your income is paid into a UK bank account then it is also a convenient way to access the amounts you need to pay bills and shopping. You need to keep a record of what you spend to check against your bank account and keep the ATM receipts to prove what you have spent. It is also wise to check that your island has an ATM e.g. Some ATM’s also limit the amount you can draw in any one day regardless of the amount of money you may hold in your account. You should be aware that there is a fee for ATM withdrawals and it can be as much as 2 Euros per transaction regardless of the amount you withdraw and you also need to be aware of the rate of exchange you will get by checking on the board at the bank.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted except in small local shops and restaurants particularly those in small towns. Even though credit card signs may be displayed on the doors of an establishment it is wise to check first because many are left overs from the previous owner. You will be subject to a fee when you use your credit card, which covers the currency exchange – it is usually about 3%, but you need to check with your credit card company to find out the exact fee.

Importing and Exporting Cash

Greece abolished exchange controls in 1990 leaving no restrictions on the import and export of monetary funds. All EU nationals can open bank accounts in any member state and can import or export as much as they wish in any currency. You will have to prove to your bank that the transaction is legal by declaring the origin of the funds e.g. if they come from the sale of a property you need to show the bill of sale or final contract to prove this. If you take more than 10,000 Euros through customs you must declare this and present them with a Greek tax certificate showing you have paid taxes in Greece. If you are non-resident in Greece you must provide some form of proof that the money was declared upon your arrival in Greece. If you are bringing money into the country to buy a property you need to transfer it into a Greek bank account in your name and they will provide you with what is known as a ‘pink slip’, in the banking world an exchange certificate, which you need to give to your accountant when you file your first tax return. The slip will exempt you from paying tax on the money in Greece.

International Money Transfers

Regardless of the amount of money you intend to exchange, it is wise to use a company that specialises in currency exchange because they can provide better rates than most people’s first choice – the High Street bank. Many of these companies exist and they can be located and compared on the internet and some will negotiate on fees and rates where large transactions are concerned – some of the leading brokers include Halewood (Tel. UK 01753-859159, Foreign Currency Direct (Tel. UK 0800-328 5884, www.currencies.co.uk/welcome) and Moneycorp (Tel. UK 020-7808 0500, www.moneycorp.com).
You must monitor exchange rates if you are planning to transfer large amounts as they can rise and fall at the drop of a hat and consequently cost or earn you thousands. You should also ensure that if you are sending large amounts to the Greek Islands for property purchases for example that you are given the commercial rate of exchange and not the tourist rates, this will also save you money.

Bank-to-bank transfers are easy to arrange through the international SWIFT electronic transfer system. You need to make sure that you have account details and numbers as well as the SWIFT transfer number – your bank will provide you with all of these details. SWIFT transfers take around two days to clear with transfers between international branches of the same bank taking less time – often as little as a few hours. When you have money transferred to a bank in Greece, make sure that you give the name, account number, branch number and the bank code; if money is ‘lost’ while being transferred, it can take weeks to locate it.

A telegraphic transfer is one of the fastest and safest methods for transferring cash taking as little time as 15 minutes to complete. Western Union (www.westernunion.com ) and Moneygram (Tel. UK 0800-666 3947, www.moneygram.com) specialize in these areas but some of their fees are very high at around 7 to 10 per cent of the total amount transferred. American Express also has a service whereby you can transfer funds to Amex offices in Greece in as little as 15 minutes.
It is also possible to obtain a Giro postcheque issued by a European post office, which can be cashed as long as you have a guarantee card but this can only be done for amounts up to 130 Euros.  This method takes around four days for funds to arrive.

A bankers draft is another way of sending funds but certainly not the best partly because the draft is sent by registered post and if it its mislaid, stolen or lost then takes six months to rectify the situation. In Greece such drafts have to be cleared as personal cheques adding to the inconvenience. Another transfer method to avoid is the personal cheque drawn on a foreign account, which can take up to a month to clear.