How to Open a Bank Account in Greece

Whether you find a job in Greece, apply for a temporary or permanent residence permit, or even come to the country as a student, you will have to open an account in a Greek bank. This page explains in detail how to go about it and which documents you will need for this purpose.

Note: even if you do not reside in the country, you can still open a Greek bank account, and the process will be pretty much the same as described in this article.

Preparing the Documents

The first step is to collect the papers required for the purpose. You will need the following documents to open a bank account in Greece: 

  • Your passport or identity document;

  • Your birth certificate in case your identity document does not show your patronymic name.

You will need your patronymic name too. Many countries use it, but they do not require you to enter it in application forms if the name is not used in your home country. Not so in Greece, though: they do want to see it in the documents you submit, and your patronymic name will be part of your identity in the bank's database. If your ID document does not show it, you will have to include your birth certificate in the package. 

Proof of your telephone number (cell or landline)

You will need a Greek telephone number in any case since it will be part of your identity in the bank, and it will be used for online banking transactions too. It means that if you do not reside in the country, you will need to get yourself a Greek SIM-card somehow and provide proof of both your Greek and your actual numbers. A phone bill in your name or a copy of the number registration form will do the job. 

Your Greek tax number

Whether you are employed in Greece or not, you will have to get yourself a Greek tax number, called AFM. No bank will let you open an account without it, and the rule applies even if you do not reside in the country at all. There are three ways to apply for AFM:

  1. If you are in the country, visit the nearest branch of the Internal Revenue Service.

  2. If you are not in the country, go to its official website, but keep in mind that it is all in Greek.

  3. If you need help or have questions, you can contact the nearest Greek Consulate. 

Proof of your residential address

Any utility bill or a copy of your rental contract will suffice to confirm your residential address as long as it is in your name. In case it is not, you will have to ask your landlord or housemate to give you a certified letter of confirmation that you do, in fact, reside at the address. In that case, you will need a utility bill or a copy of the rental contract in that person's name. 

Proof of your income

The source and the country of your income are irrelevant for the purpose of opening a bank account.

  1. If you have a job, a copy of your employment contract showing your position, salary and work address will do, although they might ask you for your recent pay cheque as well.

  2. if you are unemployed or have your own company, they will probably want to see your recent bank statements. You might also have to provide a copy of your tax number in your home country.

  3. In the case of income in a third country, you will need to have a copy of your tax number in that country (if applicable) and any proof of your legal status there. 

Note: all documents will have to be translated into Greek and certified by a notary. And it is better to have them all with an apostille as well, just in case.

Selecting a Bank

The next step is to search the internet for some information about banks in Greece in order to decide which one you would like to open account with, although you can do it while you are preparing the documents. There are five large banks in the country, one of which is online, and plenty of small ones to choose from. 

Note: in most cases of employment in Greece, your employer decides which bank you must open an account with, and you do not have a say in the decision. And if you find another job after that, your new boss will tell you which bank you must relocate to.

The list below shows the most popular banks in 2022 (the large ones are in bold), followed by our general comments on some of them: 

  • Piraeus Bank;

  • National Bank of Greece;

  • Alpha Bank;

  • Eurobank;

  • HSBC;

  • Attica Bank;

  • Bank of America;

  • Optima Bank;

  • ProCredit Bank;

  • Aegean Baltic Bank;

  • Pancreta Bank;

  • Viva Wallet.

 

  1. Piraeus Bank is a Greek-based financial MNC. It has consistently ranked first in the country in terms of deposits and loans over the past seven years. Favoured for its comparatively low annual percentage rates and special services for small-to-medium businesses, it has about 4,500 branches and 1,400 ATMs in Greece and across Europe.

  2. National Bank of Greece is the fourth-largest by loan assets and the second-largest by deposits financial institution in the country, with over 1,500 ATMs and nearly 400 branches in Greece, Europe, Australia, the UK and parts of Africa.

  3. Alpha Bank has numerous branches in Southeastern Europe and one in London. It is the second-largest bank in the country, with nearly one thousand ATMs and several hundred offices across Europe and the UK.

  4. Eurobank has over 600 offices in Greece alone and about one thousand ATMs across the world. With its stocks controlled mainly by the Toronto-based Fairfax holding company, Eurobank provides multiple advanced services, such as online banking, electronic wallets and mobile apps.

  5. HSBC is one of the most commercially successful financial institutions in the world. This British MNC has 15 offices in the two largest cities in Greece and is by far the most favoured option for online banking in the country.

  6. Attica Bank is the fifth-largest financial institution in the country, just outside our bold-type range. It has over 50 offices across the country and seems to be doing increasingly better lately, so you may well see its name in bold in our next publication.

  7. Bank of America is the world's eighth-largest financial institution as well as the best bank in the world in 2018, according to the FTSE 250 Index. It has over 4,500 branches and more than 16,000 ATMs across the continents.

  8. Optima Bank is one of the youngest banks in Greece, founded just three years ago. Yet, it has already opened about 25 offices, most of which are located in Thessaloniki and Athens. Optima is a good choice if you are seek a Greek broker for lucrative investments in the country.

  9. ProCredit Bank is part of a German holding company that focuses on banking services in Eastern and Southeastern Europe as well as some countries in South America. Its current credit rating stands at BBB, according to Fitch Inc. It has several branches in Thessaloniki. 

Visiting the Bank

The final step is to go to the bank, and you must do it in person. Which means that if you are not in the country, there will be one more preliminary step for you, namely applying for a visa. Contact the nearest Greek Consulate to enquire which documents you need for the purpose and how you should go about it. 

Note: you can complete the entire application procedure online in some banks, but you will still have to go there in person at the end in order to sign your name, even if you open an account in an online bank, like HSBC.

When planning your week, you may safely assume that one visit will be enough. But considering that Greek banks only work until lunchtime, you may want to plan two days for your trip to Greece, unless you fly early in the morning. Business hours are from 08:00 to 14:00, Monday to Friday.

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The table below shows the days when public offices are closed in Greece:

  • 1 January
  • 6 January
  • The 7th Monday before Easter
  • Friday at Easter
  • Monday after Easter
  • The 6th Monday after Easter
  • 25 March
  • 1 May
  • 15 August
  • 28 October
  • 25 December
  • 26 December

Summary

  1. Apply for a Greek tax number.

  2. Collect the required documents and have them translated and notarised. Ideally, have an apostille issued for all of them as well.

  3. Complete the application process online if you decide to do it that way. Otherwise, skip the step.

  4. Apply for a Greek visa in case you are not in the country. Otherwise, skip the step.

  5. Get yourself a Greek SIM-card and have the acquisition documented and certified.

  6. Visit the bank, bearing in mind the business hours and the dates of national holidays.

  7. When it is all over, go to the nearest koutouki, order a Greek platter and a bottle of Retsina, and congratulate yourself on surviving a visit to a Greek bank.

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