There are a number of opportunities for buying or starting a business in Crete; popular businesses include bars, tavernas, shops or a hotel/apartment complex.
Local Crete estate agents advertise businesses for sale on the web so that’s a good place to start your search, and there are also business listings for sale on our website forum
Whether you are setting up a business from scratch or purchasing an existing business, it is vital that you employ the services of a Greek lawyer and a local accountant to advise you on the legalities, liabilities and taxes.
Opening your own business takes time and determination – finding premises, registering the business at the chamber of commerce, the tax office, the national insurance office and applying for operational licences (if required) - but it can be achieved with the help of a local lawyer and accountant who will guide you through the whole process.
Most small businesses in Crete manage to make a steady income but don’t expect to make a small fortune and be aware that the economic crisis has forced many small businesses to close.
The tourist orientated businesses in Crete resorts close during the winter months and rarely do small summer businesses make enough money to see the owners comfortably through the winter months when they close. Generally the most successful businesses are those that are in a position to cater to the needs of tourists and locals with a year-round clientele.
Professionals and tradesmen must register with the appropriate professional or trade organisation to operate legally in Greece. For help with getting qualifications recognised and translated go to any KEP Centre (citizens service centre) or lawyer. In many trades a course and an exam in Greek must be undertaken, irrespective of whether you have the equivalent or higher qualifications from another country, in order to legally work a trade in Greece.
You should use the services of a local accountant to register, and you will need his services year-round as a self employed individual to deal with national insurance contributions, VAT and taxes.
Due to the hassle and expense for tradesmen and professionals to become legally self employed many non Greek tradesmen and professionals practice their trade 'off the books', particularly amongst the expatriate community, but be aware that it is illegal to practice a trade or business without being registered and you will find yourself on the wrong side of the Greek tax authorities.
Once you register a business or as self employed you are obliged to make monthly contributions to the National Insurance fund for the self employed, OAEE / TEBE (pronounced Te-Veh), or TAE – the Merchants fund.
Running a bar or taverna can mean very long hours and hard work with little time to enjoy the lifestyle that you are probably moving for.
For any business dealing with food and drink the owner and staff must undertake a series of health checks and obtain a health certificate / book.