Remember the time when you made up your mind to leave your home country and move to Greece? How long did it take just to make up your mind? The thought gives you bellyaches and sleepless nights that you can leave the streets and sounds of your hometown, where you have grown up, made friends, learned how to ride a bike and how to play your home country’s ultimate favorite sport. If you manage to go past that phase, the thought of where to go and how to survive there thumps you down. Though Greece is a beautiful place to live an entire lifespan, still, for some odd reason, if you made up your mind to leave it behind and move back to your home country or another new country, I am sure you will need some effort to forget the charm of this beautiful country. Besides that, you might want to be sure that you leave the country with loose ends left behind. Simplest of examples, your bank may continue to send correspondence to you at your Greek address where you no longer live, meaning a vital communication may not reach you in time or not reach you at all. Even if you are an ex-pat in Greece, you may have some tax liabilities or other responsibilities which may become loose ends / remain unaddressed with you going away without proper planning and execution of this mega move.
So we take it you have decided to exit Greece for the long term, and you know where you are going. Next step, let us talk about a few essential things you should be mindful of / do before you leave the country. These tips will help you plan everything in a timely and effective manner.
Your Leaving Greece To-Do List
Give Your Notices On Time
Big or small, there are so many services or assets that you are availing on a recurring charge or rentals basis. When planning your exit from Greece, you should plan to give notices to each one of those entities or persons on time.
Your Employer In Greece
If leaving Greece means leaving your current job in Greece, it will be a good idea not to close this door behind you. i.e., leave your employer on good terms, so you can talk to them about joining back in case you make up your mind to come back again. Discuss with your employer why you want to move out of Greece and how this will mean you will have to resign from the company as well. Always try to finish your current assignment on this job before leaving so the employer does not have to find a replacement. Still, often you are on an ongoing task that needs to be handed over to your replacement. Does that hand over comprehensively? Most importantly, check with your HR on what is the proper process your employer has to resign from your job and completely follow that process.
Deregister Your Business
If you are a freelancer or single owner of a business, you will have to deregister your business for VAT purposes. Deregistration can be complex or lengthy; hiring help in this regard may be a good idea. To avoid additional tax liability, you must deregister your business appropriately and at the right time. Besides tax liability, it is ethical to inform the authorities of closing down a business. Below is a link to a government website that can be a starting point for understanding what are the steps of deregistration: https://www.gov.gr/en/sdg/taxes/vat/register-for-vat-purposes/how-to-cancel-registration
Unenrolling From Your University
If you are on a student visa in Greece and studying at a college or university, see your educational institution’s administration and/or admissions office. The relevant office will be able to tell you how you can unenroll from the institution and whether you will get any fee refunds or not. Unless you have no choice, it may not be a good idea to leave behind your in-progress degree program. Consider negotiating with your educational institution to transfer your credits to another institution where you are going. Of course, you will need the institution in your new country to agree to this credit transfer.
Usually, house leases are for three years in Greece, and if you leave Greece before your house rental lease expires, you will have to give your landlord at least one month’s notice. If you fail to give ample notice, the lease is not expired yet, or you have caused some damage to the property, your landlord might end up keeping full or part of your security deposit. You could try making the process smooth by suggesting an alternate tenant live in the property once you leave, but accepting this proposition is entirely at the landlord’s discretion. When leaving the house, small things like a fresh coat of paint, fixing a leaking tap, and other minor fixes are the landlord’s responsibility, so you are legally not required to do all these expenses. But again, you leave the property before the lease expires so that the landlord may deduct these expenses from your security deposit. It is wise to keep a break clause in your lease agreement, allowing you to terminate the lease earlier by giving an agreed duration’s notice. Otherwise, Greek law is strict on this matter and requires the tenant to pay the rent till the end of the lease period, even if you (the tenant) want to leave the property earlier than the end of the lease agreement. When giving your lease termination notice to the landlord, it is always a good idea to take his signature on it and keep a copy of it with you (and give one copy to the landlord) to avoid issues in case the landlord tries to change his mind.
Cancel Contracts With Service Providers
Now that you have already moved on in your head, while the focus may be on planning your move to the following country, the other side of the coin is that you have to close your engagements in Greece as per the standard process of your different service providers. You should be canceling your ongoing contracts, so make a list of all such contracts to make sure you get all of them. Depending upon how good / what type of customer service each service provider has, you may need to go down to their customer service centers or offices, write down an application, get it approved by a few officers, and then submit it for cancellation of the contract. While in other cases, it may be as simple as filling out a simplified form on a service provider’s website, and they will do the rest. It would be good if you collected information about canceling contracts early on. Some require notification when you move out of the country; some can be informed a few days earlier, while others can be handled even after you leave. Let’s talk about a few important ones here.
When moving out of the country, you would also move out of your rented property. Hellenic Electric Distribution Company of Greece issues connections in the customer’s name, so you will have to get your electricity service disconnected; whoever moves in next can get it resumed in their name. To initiate disconnection, you must complete a “request for service disconnection” at a local DEH office a few days before they leave the property. There is no provision to initiate disconnection requests online or via phone. To ensure that you do not pay extra on electricity consumed after you move out, you can request an electricity supply company for an appointment to check your meter reading or provide a meter reading in person. You can take a picture of the meter with its current reading for your record and produce it later to settle the bill. You will have to show this picture if you receive an excess electricity bill. Once the service has been disconnected, a final bill is issued and sent to the new address. The amount due is based on actual consumption minus the amount paid when signing the contract. A refund is provided if appropriate.
Home Internet And Mobile Phone Contracts
As you are moving out of your home in Greece, you need to cut off your internet connection, whether it’s landline or broadband. Suppose you are going for a short period. In that case, you can temporarily deactivate your internet connection for a minimum of 6 months, whereas some service providers even offer more time if you are moving for a more extended period; we suggest you get your connection disconnected after paying your bills.
Usually, in most cases, you need to provide evidence of leaving the country. Either you can show your return ticket, proof of deregistration of yourself, or similar. You can visit the service provider where you got your prepaid sim card and get it disconnected or cancel the sim, which is activated for four weeks or so.
If you have been staying in Greece for the longer term, you would indeed have multiple insurances (normally, Greeks do have those). The essential insurances that everyone usually has while living in Greece are personal liability insurance, home insurance, health insurance, car insurance, and for non-residents, ex-pat insurance. You must cancel all these primary insurances to save yourself from deductions. For health insurance, you usually need to provide evidence that you are leaving Greece by showing them a letter or other proof of leaving Greece to terminate your health policy. Other secondary insurances, including pets, travel, and bicycles, should be canceled before you leave greece. Some insurance policies work as an investment in your well-being, and on maturity, it pays you back a decent sum. For such insurance policies, you should initiate the cancellation process a few weeks in advance; that way, you will have time to negotiate a better closure deal with your insurance service provider.
While leaving Greece, you should keep your bank account for at least two to three months. As you will need it for pending payments of electricity bills and phone connection bills from your side. Some pending payments from your landlord or reimbursement from your insurance claim will also be deposited in your bank account. So you should keep your bank account for at least some period. You can get that money back in your home country with money transfer agents at minimal charges. While we suggest keeping your bank account open, let us talk about the flip side of it as well. Many banks require physically going to a branch, paying the closure fee, and perhaps signing some forms, and then only they close your account. In such cases, you should go to a branch while in Greece and negotiate how to fulfill closing requirements but only initiate the closure process after a certain period. Some ex-pats like to keep the account open for a longer duration in the hope that they may return someday; however, bank charges, keeping a minimum balance, and a policy to freeze inactive accounts may be some things that you might want to consider if you decide to keep the account open.
Gym And Other Memberships
Whether you live in Greece or any part of the world, health has always been of primary importance for anyone. To maintain a good healthy life, most people prefer going to the gym or other social activity-based clubs, where they can keep themselves active and healthy. Greeks are generally conscious about their physique and look, so they go to the gym or join such clubs. Once they are out of their struggle phase, most ex-pats try to adopt going for a healthy activity too. Once you decide to leave, you should inform your gyms and/or clubs and request to close your membership. Many such clubs have their fee set up as auto debit from your account or on your credit card. Leaving the membership as is may mean you will get charges deducted from your card or account even though you do not utilize that membership anymore.
Deregister Your Kids From School
Greece’s educational system comprises different stages. The first and formal education is its primary stage which comprises six years of education. Then comes the second stage, which is further subdivided into two categories, the first one, compulsory, is Gymnasium, and the second one, non-compulsory, is Lyceum. Then comes the third stage, which is higher education. Up to 15 years of age, every child gets compulsory education, primary and secondary first stage. If you have to quit during this time, you must inform the concerned authorities, so your child gets a proper exit from the school. Similarly, you also need to get your child deregistered from any extracurricular private classes, language courses, or tuition centers “Frontistiria” that he or she is taking. If your child is enrolled in some professional degree program, you should get the credit hours transferred to your home country’s university or college.
Deregister Your Address
EU citizens who meet the requirements of living in Greece, like having a job, not putting a burden on the social security system of Greece, etc., can stay longer than three months. Non-EU citizens can only stay for up to 90 days (3 months) if they have an appropriate visa. All ex-pat residents who plan to stay longer than 90 days must appear in person to police authority and register their residence. This, among other details, requires giving your address to the authorities. Having said that, there is no official process to register your address. On the counter side, there is no obligatory requirement to deregister either. While other European countries like Germany and Denmark require registering and changing your address if you move to a new address, you are off the hook for this requirement in Greece.
Deregister Yourself At Taxation Office
Remember, when you entered greece, you were supposed to get an AFM number, a personal tax identification number needed to open your bank account and pay taxes. This Arithmos Forologikou Mitroou Greece is a whole nine-digit tax number assigned to every citizen for dealing with greek authorities. This is needed before starting employment, opening your bank account, paying taxes, etc. So you need to cancel, contact concerned authorities, and submit your documents of departure to provide evidence.
Check The Possibility Of A Greek Pension Refund
Public funds and pensioners’ contributions during service tenure support the Greek pension system. A combination of years in service and years of residence in Greece calculates the pension of any person. So if you have been working in Greece, you must have contributed towards the Greek pension fund. While you can try for it, there is no guarantee that you will get your pension refunded if you leave Greece. The best way to find out is to contact EFKA and explain your scenario to them.
Reclaim Your Driving License
In case you have a license issued from a non-EU country that is a member of the Vienna Convention, you can use this license in Greece as well; however, that is only till you get your residence processed in Greece. Once you get your regular residence in Greece, you should immediately get your Greek driving license so you can drive carefree in Greece. To get your Greek driving license, you will have to contact the Transport and Communications Department office near your residence. Along with other required documents, you will submit your driving license from your previous country. When you leave Greece, if you want your original license back, you simply return your Greek license and get your previous license.
Sell Your Car
You are at a stage when you should sell your car. In order to sell your car, it should pass the roadworthiness test. These tests are usually carried out on Kendro Techniko Elengho Ohimaton (KETO). If the vehicle passes the test, you are all set to sell your car. But if some maintenance is due, you need to get the repair done and reappear in the test again after 20 days. In order to sell, all vehicles should have the latest Technical Control Certificate along with a valid Exhaust Emissions Control Test Card.
Get Your Mail Forwarded
Once you are ready to move out of your residence, you should use a mail forwarding service. Hellenic Post is Greece’s national postal services company that provides mail forwarding services. You will have to visit one of their service centers, and you can get a mail-forwarding package that suits your needs. If you have more than a few of the steps we mentioned above, you will receive some correspondence after you move out of your address. One typical example is bank correspondence if you keep your Greek bank account.
Plan Your Moving Out
Since you will be moving out of your apartment (or house), there are specific steps you need to take regarding that too.
When moving out, there can be many things you bought during your stay in Greece that you are not carrying with you. You will have to sell those or dispose of them appropriately.
You can quickly sell your furniture on online platforms like xo. gr, Facebook groups or pages, eBay, and many other platforms. On the other hand, if you want to take your furniture and other items with you, there are plenty of freight forwarding services that you can contact and ask for a quote. This is also something you should be doing earlier than your move date.
Renovating Your Apartment
When you plan your move out, you should dig out your inventory list and any documentation or pictures for the handover of the apartment to you. In case you see that the apartment is in a worse situation than when it was handed over to you, you might want to make a comparison of the cost between renovation and the security deposit deduction. If you think getting the renovation done will save you money eventually, go ahead and get it renovated.
Handover Of Residence To The Landlord
You should contact your landlord for an appointment to hand over the residence back. Your landlord would want to conduct an inspection and make the inventory comparison from when it was handed over to you. All this is regular no matter which city or country you leave your rental property in. Just be sure to collect written and picture evidence of the handover so there are no surprises later.
Do Your Tax Refund After Leaving Greece
When you leave the country, remember to make your last tax declaration at the end of that financial year. This may trigger some refund which can be easily collected if you still have a bank account in Greece. It is not an automatic process, though, you will have to submit your tax declaration for that last year, and then only you can get your refund.
Leaving Greece With Unpaid Bills
As we have repeatedly mentioned above, you need to plan your exit from Greece meticulously and well in advance. When taking the flight out, you should not have any unpaid bills. Well, that is not a good idea no matter which country you move out of. Depending upon how big the sum is and who the party is on the other side, you may have to face financial and legal issues or problems when traveling in the future.
Companies like mobile service providers, social clubs, or any sizeable services provider may even engage a collections company that will annoy you to the best of their capability.
It is strongly advisable to avoid being defaulted during your stay or after leaving the country.
Leaving a country can be a very exciting or saddening experience, and leaving just by catching a flight out is never an option. You would want to avoid ending up in a mess with this move. Always spend a reasonable amount of time planning and then executing your move. You should start the planning months in advance and make this move as smooth as possible. I hope this will help you in making your move as smooth as possible.