Working in Greece
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Greece was hit hard by the global financial crisis and has been the subject of the largest bailout ever pulled together. The government continues with austerity measures and faces challenges in implementing unpopular reforms in the country. At times, delays and reluctance to institute further cuts and to meet public sector reform targets have meant that the lenders have withheld bailout fund payments.
However, recent indicators suggest that the rapid decline has been halted and that investor confidence is beginning to grow.
There may still be opportunities for UK graduates but knowledge of Greek will be essential, as will be an acceptance of the perilous state of the Greek economy.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, tobacco processing, metal products, mining, petroleum.
- Recent growth areas: manufacturing, retail, tourism.
- Industries in decline: export, shipbuilding.
- Major companies: Hellenic Petroleum, ANT1 Group, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Intracom, Vodafone Greece, ANEK Lines, National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Attica Group.
What’s it like working in Greece?
- Average working hours: the usual week is 40 hours.
- Holidays: minimum 20 days per year, 24 for those working a 6-day week.
- Tax rates: foreign residents employed in Greece are only taxed on Greek income. Income tax rates are progressive, ranging from 22% to 42% (in 2013). The first €12,000 of income is tax exempt. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
Application forms and CVs are the typical methods of application, although many Greek companies use application forms instead of a CV.
CVs, when requested, should usually be typed and two to three pages long. A photograph is not required, but is welcomed. Greek CVs are very detailed and usually in chronological order. For graduate jobs, all companies require at least a first degree, and a masters will increase your chances. Practical experience is considered very important. Your knowledge of foreign languages should be stated.
The covering letter should be short and formal in style. Covering letters are typed and should be signed. Include referees and their contact details if requested.
Interviewing is the primary selection method in Greece and it is common to undergo two or three interviews for a job.
Get more applications and CV advice.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), UK qualifications are usually recognised by an employer.
There are many websites and search engines that will help you find work in Greece, including:
- Kariera – in Greek;
- EURES – European Job Mobility Portal – maintained by the European Commission, provides information about job vacancies, living and working conditions, and labour markets in Greece, as well as a CV-posting service for jobseekers.
- A small number of employment agencies are advertised in the Greek Yellow Pages, available in both English and Greek.
Greek language newspapers can be accessed on Dolnet or as follows:
- Chrysi Efkairia – classifieds paper and online.
- European Economic Area (EEA) nationals have the right to set up their own business in Greece, but it is important to check whether any special registration is required. Try contacting the Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) office, for this information.
- Many job vacancies are filled informally by networking with friends and relatives. Also, try LinkedIn.
- If you are a member of a professional association or union, they may have contacts with counterparts in Greece.
- Speculative applications are an important way of finding employment because most Greek companies are rather small and do not have a large personnel department. Word of mouth is still a very important medium for job hunting in Greece.
Getting work experience
Temporary work experience is an excellent way to learn more Greek to equip you to apply for employment or postgraduate study in Greece.
Work placements and internships
Organisations that can help you find internships or work placements include:
- AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales). AIESEC Hellas has strong links with employers. Every year they organise job fairs, events and placements for foreign students.
- IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience).
- Europlacement – searchable database of Greek internships in a variety of sectors.
- Intern Abroad – search for international internships.
- International Voluntary Service (IVS) in Britain.
Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 and covers student exchange, work experience and volunteering opportunities. Both under and postgraduate students can study abroad for 3 to 12 months. Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for work experience students to learn new skills or languages, as well as volunteering in different countries for between 2 weeks and 12 months.
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a popular option for UK graduates wanting to work in Greece. The main recruitment agency is Anglo-Hellenic Teacher Recruitment. Jobs are usually seasonal.
UK graduates often find jobs in tourism, most commonly by going to Greece and making enquiries in cafés and hotels, etc. Vacancies are also advertised in the Greek press or check Jobs Abroad for examples of typical openings. Work in tourism is usually seasonal.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
Do you need a visa?
Most EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit but citizens of non-EU countries may be required to have these documents.
Nationals of most of the European Economic Area (EAA), including Bulgaria, Romania, Norway and Iceland, have the right to live and work in Greece without restriction and without a work permit. They, and their families and immediate dependents, have the same rights as Greek nationals in terms of pay, working conditions, access to housing, vocational training, social security and trade union membership.
British passports holders are permitted to stay in Greece for up to three months and until the last day their passport is valid. Any longer than this and you will need to apply for permanent residency.
British passports holders are permitted to stay in Greece until the last day their passport is valid.
If you are from a non-EU country you should apply in person in the Greek Embassy in the country where you are for a National Visa. If you are in the UK, more information and forms are available online via Embassy of Greece.
How do you become a permanent resident?
If you are an EU national and intend to stay for more than three months, you should apply for a residence permit within three months of your arrival, either at your local police station (astynomia) if you are living outside Athens, or at any Aliens Department Office (grafeio tmimatos allodapon) if you are living in Athens. After five years’ continuous residence, you can apply for a permanent residence certificate.
Non-EU nationals who want to stay in Greece for 90+ days also need a residence permit (this includes permission to work). Applications are made at the municipality office or town hall (dimarchio) at least two months before the expiration of the entrance visa.
Living in Greece
- Cost of living: compared to the average income, the cost of living remains quite high. It is higher in the semi-urban and tourism areas than the more agricultural areas.
- Internet domain: .gr
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Health: the national health system is operated by the Social Insurance Institute (IKA). You must obtain a health booklet from your local IKA office as soon as you start work. The booklet has to be presented on all visits to a doctor or hospital. If you are an EU national, you should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK; this will entitle you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Greek nationals, but it does not cover you for medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature, so take out appropriate insurance.
- Type of government: republic
- Laws and customs: rowdy or indecent behaviour is not tolerated and can incur heavy fines or prison sentences. Some fancy dress costumes can be considered as offensive.Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to long terms of imprisonment. Carry a copy of your passport or other photo ID at all times. Obtain a receipt for goods purchased; buying pirated CDs or DVDs can lead to imprisonment.
- Emergency numbers: 112 – emergency (general); 100 – police; 166 – ambulance; 199 – fire department.
- People: 98% Greek with a very small Muslim minority made up of Turkic people, Pomaks and Muslim Roma.
- Major religion: Greek Orthodox