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Earning a Living on the Greek Islands

Members from all EU states are free to find work and set up businesses in any member state. The only areas where you can be excluded in Greece is from joining the army and the police and from taking a government job in the sectors of security and administration. Any ‘regulated’ qualifications that you hold from tertiary education at home or from your professional life there will be recognized in Greece under EU law.

Hotels, Bars and Restaurants

If you are fluent in Greek, you will have no problem in finding work even on the islands, where much of it is seasonal. English speaking staff is always in demand during the holiday season in the many island hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants. Most of them will post an ad in their window stating the work available. Be prepared to work long hours for low pay and often if you are not accustomed to the heat, then you may find the work conditions overbearing. The benefit of these jobs is that you can supplement your income with generous tips.

Tour Operators

Many of the leading tour operators recruit both locally and in the UK for a variety of jobs aimed at looking after their guests. Recruitment generally starts in the November before the season begins and the most common jobs available are for tour reps to look after guests for the duration of their stay in the resort, children’s reps to organize activities for children holidaying with the company and transfer reps who accompany guests to and from the airport. Many tour operators have local offices open during the season where you can ask about work. The pay is in line with local rates of pay, although if you are recruited and employed out of the UK you may be paid at a higher rate than someone employed locally.

Real Estate

The slowdown in the global property market has restricted vacancies in this field somewhat, but developments are still going up across the islands aimed at luring foreign investors and English speaking agents are most in demand. It is best to send your CV directly to an agent if you are searching for work and enclose a covering letter explaining what you are looking for. Most jobs in real estate pay a small basic salary with generous commission on sales.

Teaching English

Some islands like Crete, have plenty of private English language schools aimed at the local Greek population in particular teens studying hoping to get into tertiary education. Most organizations will expect you to have a university degree yourself and if you have the internationally recognized TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, all the better although this is not prerequisite. You can apply directly to the language schools when you arrive or look in UK newspapers like Tuesday’s Guardian or the Times Educational Supplement, which often contain ads from language schools on the islands.

Transferable Skills

You may be fortunate enough to have a skill like a riding instructor or a plumber, which may be sought after on one of the islands and this will enable you to seek employment with those businesses looking to hire. There are many sites on the internet offering jobs in Greece and its simply a matter of trawling through to look for suitable work.

Documentation and Taxes

You will need to apply for a residency permit and your employer must also provide a contract and employer certificate for you to apply for a tax number, known as an AFM. This number is a one off, lifetime number, which is something like a national insurance number. You will need it if you intend to buy a vehicle or property or to register with Greek utilities such as water and electric and to apply for your residency permit. If you are going to rent property yourself you will also have to give the landlord details of your AFM number. You need to present this number to the IKA who will insure that you are covered for state healthcare. Your employer is obliged to register you with the IKA and pay part of your National Insurance contributions with the other part being deducted from your salary at source; your employer's share is 28.06% of your total wage and your share is 16%. You are not required to file an annual tax return if you are employed as the onus is on your employer to deduct tax at source and pay it to the tax office on a monthly basis.

This year (2012) has seen a change in the tax system and a Greek individual is taxed at a rate of 18% - 45%. Exemptions are given to taxpayers with certain types of income.
The standard rate of corporate tax in Greece is 20% for accounting periods ending after 31.7.2011. For Greek partnerships the tax rate is 25%. Pension and salary income the first EUR 12,000 are tax exempt. Details courtesy of