Greece represents an attractive destination, chosen by investors to enter the regions of Southeast Europe and the Middle East. In its region, Greece is a country that is a member state of the European Union and the European Monetary Union. This provides Greece with monetary stability and stable exchange rates. Those who want to open a company in Greece can be encouraged by the fact that the registration of a business can be completed in a period of 10 days, as long as all the requirements imposed by the local institutions are met.
Types of Companies
Company formation in Greece starts with choosing the type of company which can be open in accordance to the company registration requirements, draft the company’s articles of association or the memorandum of association, chose a registered office and elect an accountant for the company. We offer all the above mentioned services, but one can also benefit from additional services.
Register a Greek Anonymos Eteria (AE)
The most common form of entity for large businesses in Greece is the public company limited by shares or the AE. At least two corporate bodies or individuals must establish this form of business with a minimum share capital of EUR 25,000. The capital of this company type is divided into shares, which can have a nominal value of minimum EUR 0,30 and maximum EUR 100.
The management of the Greek AE is performed by the general meeting of shareholders which will appoint the body responsible for the daily management decisions, which is the board of directors. One must know that the Greek AE can have a capital that can be increased in various moments and the shares of the company can be transferred or traded on the local Stock Exchange. The liability of its members is limited by the contribution to the capital.
Incorporating a Greek Eteria Periorismenis Efthynis (EPE)
Those who want to open a company in Greece as a small or medium-sized company can opt to register the private limited liability company – the Greek EPE. This company type does not have any capital requirements and it can be set up by at least one investor (known as shareholder), who can be a natural person or other corporate body.
In the case in which the Greek EPE is set up only by a single shareholder, then the company’s name has to reflect this reality; in this particular case, the company must be named “one person limited liability company”, a name that has to appear at the end of the selected company name.
The management of the Greek EPE is assured by the general meeting like in the case of the public limited liability company which will appoint an administrator for day to day decisions. The liability of the members is also limited by the contribution to the capital.
When opening a Greek company as an EPE, one should know that the company’s director does not have to comply with any residency requirements, as it can be imposed by the national law of other countries. It is also necessary to know that the EPE can be used for almost all business sectors, but there are certain limitations for specific sectors, and this means that the investors will not be able to register an EPE if they want to enter market sectors such as banking, insurance, stock exchange, leasing and others.
Opening Greek partnerships
Another way to open a company in Greece is to register a Greek general partnership, a company type that needs at least two members. There aren’t any capital requirements and the partnership can be set up based on an agreement that is signed by its founders.
It must be noted that its founders (or members) are fully responsible for the debts of their company. They also have the right of receiving company profits in the same amount. If you want to open a company in Greece as a general partnership, our incorporation specialists can help you.
The corporate law in Greece prescribes another type of partnership, the limited partnership, that is set up by a general partner who has unlimited liability for the company’s debts, and a silent partner (or more), who is liable for any debts only to the extension of the capital participation of the said person.
Only the general members can take decisions concerning the partnership and can claim profits, while the silent partners are limited in these activities. In the case in which the partnership is liquidated, the general partner can be more exposed, as he or she can pay the debts with his or her personal assets, due to the fact that the member has unlimited liability.
Besides the company types presented above, foreign investors also have the possibility of registering branch offices, subsidiaries and representative offices. From the three of them, the Greek representative offices cannot perform any commercial activities while the rest of them can, but only in accordance with certain rules (the branch office is fully dependent on the parent company, while the subsidiary has its own level of independence).
How to choose a branch office or a subsidiary in Greece
Foreign investors who want to expand their business activity in a foreign country will generally opt to register a branch office or a subsidiary, the latter actually being incorporated as one of the legal entities prescribed by the national law. The decision on Greek company formation in this case must be established based on the management system the foreign company wants to apply here.
While a branch office does not have a legal entity, the subsidiary is incorporated as a separate company from its parent company, incorporated by shareholders who are entitled to various management decisions for the activities of the subsidiary. In a branch office, the company’s funds will be exclusively obtained from transfers done by the parent company.
As a general rule, if the investors decide on registering a subsidiary, the main company types for which the investors will opt are the AE or the EPE. Although the EPE is a very popular way to start a business in Greece, one should know that foreign investors will generally prefer to incorporate the Greek AE, as this business form is designed for large companies which can be listed on the stock market and this is an important advantage for companies with a reputable and solid business activity.
Investors should know that the registration of a branch office can have lower costs, given that this entity does not have capital requirements. Its management falls under the supervision of a legal representative that is appointed by the parent company, while if the company operates as a subsidiary incorporated as a AE, then a board of directors of at least three members is necessary (and if the company is registered as an EPE, one administrator is necessary).
The process of company formation in Greece
In the beginning of the company incorporation process in Greece, the entrepreneurs must be aware that all the entities registered in Greece must have a unique name so it’s advisable to check the desired name at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry which will issue an evidence of name uniqueness.
After the investors obtain this document, they have to file the documents with the local authorities involved in the incorporation of the company. After this step, the company’s articles of association are signed in front of a Greek public notary. When depositing the company’s minimum share capital, the initial deposit must be transferred into a corporate bank account that can be opened at any local commercial bank.
All the above documents must be delivered to the secretariat of the court of first instance, which will raise a registration number. The company’s articles of association with be sent to the National Printing Office, and then, published in the Greek National Gazette (a summary version of the document is required). At the same time, an application for registration at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry must be delivered.
When registering the company, the notarized articles of association, the certificate which states the approval of the company name (which is issued by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry), and the copy of the Official Gazette presenting the summary articles of association have to be submitted. This way the newly formed company is registered for the specific taxes and the social security contributions.
After these steps for company formation in Greece are completed, one has to obtain a company seal, which is used for sealing various company documents and records. For documents such as company invoices and account books, the company has to obtain a special company stamp from the Tax Authority.
The last step for company incorporation in Greece consists in notifying the Manpower Employment Organization, an obligation which must be performed within 8 days since hiring the first employee; the step can be completed via e-mail or phone. If you need help in order to open a company in Greece, our team of consultants is at your disposal.
How we can help you
If you are considering forming a business or you need expert help with company registration in Greece, LegalGenius™ is ready to assist you with its skilled team of lawyers, consultants and tax experts. We are committed to making the process as stress-free and streamlined as possible for you, and we will take care of all your document preparation and administrative tasks regarding the registration forms, payment of government fees, local address registration, banking support, etc., whilst always keeping your exact objectives and unique vision in mind throughout the process.
Please use our Company Formation Wizard if you would like to set up your registered company in Greece or if you would like to know the costs involved prior to proceeding with our exceptional services. For other queries and special requests for complex or customised company formation services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org