Starting a business in Crete

This Starting a Business in Crete Page is from the Completely Crete Making a Living in Crete section.

If you’re thinking about starting a business in Crete – perhaps a bar, restaurant, club or shop – then you really need to do your homework first to make a success of your enterprise.

Crete real estate agents advertise businesses for sale and rent on this the largest of the Greek islands.

Check out our Crete Estate Agents pages for the very latest businesses for sale.

Or if you’re thinking about investing in Crete property and getting into the buy to let market then check out our Buy to let Guide for more information about the rules and regulations about letting out Crete property.

Whatever your business in Crete aspirations, you’ll need a good lawyer, local accountant, patience and determination!

Greek bureaucracy has a formidable reputation, and this isn't helped by the fact that things have to be conducted in a very foreign language. However, bureaucracy in many other countries can be just as bad.

Nevertheless, starting a business in Crete is not for the faint hearted. Those who dream of owning a beach bar, lazing the days away under blue skies and sipping your own carefully crafted cocktails may have a rude awakening! Long hours, hard work, stamina and tolerance of sometimes "crazy" bureaucracy are called for.

If we haven’t put you off owning a business in Crete then read on….


Before you part with any cash be certain that you can get the necessary licences to commence your business in time for when you when you planned to open, if at all.

Residency Permit

According to EU law EU citizens do not need a resident’s permit to take up residency in another EU country. Greece and Crete, however insists on people having a Residency Permit if they plan to stay for more than 4 months, despite this being illegal under EU law.

You will need residency permit if you plan to start a business in Crete.

To get a residency permit you will need to go along in person to your local Crete police station and take at the very least a copy of your passport and 4 Passport Size photographs. For more on what might be required see our Residency Permit page.

Also see our own personal experience of getting a Residency Permit in Crete.

Tax Number

If you want to buy or start a business in Crete you will need a Tax Number (AFM). Your lawyer or accountant can help with the process or you can apply yourself in person at your local tax office.

To get a Tax number you will need a copy of your passport and a copy of your Birth Certificate and marriage certificate plus originals. For more on how to get a Tax number see our how to get a Tax number page.


You’ll need a good English speaking Crete lawyer too to help you through the process. Check out our Lawyers in Crete list that covers the prefectures of Chania, Rethymno, Iraklio and Lasithi.


You will need a Crete accountant to ensure you are aware of your liabilities and that any due taxes are paid.

Health Care Booklet

For any business dealing with food and drink the business owner and staff must undertake a series of health checks and obtain a health book.

To get a health book will require you to undergo, at your expense, medical tests and checks. For more on what you’ll require to obtain a health care booklet ask your lawyer and/or consult KEP (Greek version of Citizens Advice Bureau).

Health Insurance

Once you register a business in Crete or register as self employed you are obliged to make monthly contributions to the National Insurance fund for the self-employed. Registering with TEBE, OGA or another insurance fund (not IKA national insurance) depends on the type of business being started.

This health insurance covers you and your family for basic health requirements.

See your lawyer in Crete or accountant for further details.


When employing a worker, you are obligated to provide a proper work contract and employer certification, so employees can get their Tax number (AFM) and sign up for IKA.

Income Tax

The following advice comes from the British Embassy in Athens:

"Income tax is payable by all persons having income arising in Greece, regardless of nationality or place of residence. The total income acquired in the immediately preceding financial year is subject to income tax after the deduction of allowances and exemptions provided for. There is a bilateral taxation convention between the United Kingdom and Greece whose object is to avoid double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect of taxes on income, however, according to the Convention, persons are obliged to submit their tax declaration to the local tax authorities IN THEIR COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE irrespective of where his/her income arises. For example: a pensioner living in Greece on his/her U.K. pension must submit a declaration to the local Greek Tax Office. The Ministry of Finance will then, upon request, issue certificate for use with the UK Tax Authorities stating that the pensioner in question has been taxed in Greece. More information can be obtained from the Board of Inland Revenue, Somerset House, London S.W.2, and locally from the Greek taxation authorities or Ministry of Finance."


If you do decide to open a business in Crete we wish you the very best of luck!

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