So at last you own a dream home in Greece. Open a bottle, invite the neighbours round! Well, before all that you have to deal with the utilities in Greece and pay a few bills. If you imagined that Greece is blighted by bureaucracy, you would be right. But the good news is that there is always someone to help you.
Written by Diana Giannoulis, of Corfu Home Finders.
The simplest way is to get your lawyer to do it all for you. He or she will send someone from their office to change the name on your electricity bill, water bill and phone bill. However, they will charge you for this, so unless you are really short of time you could consider doing it yourself.
When setting up payments, ask your bank to issue you with information so that you can register for online banking, which is available in English. They also have customer service advisors who are fluent in English.
If your income is in pounds but your expenditure is in euros, speak to Smart Currency Exchange about how to pay your regular bills reliably and cost-effectively.
The first bills you have to organise are your annual tax return and property tax. You will need an accountant for this. You MUST do an income tax return every year when you own a property. However, it’s nothing complicated if it is purely your own holiday home, just a standard procedure. Your accountant will work it out, and tell you what, if anything you owe, and when to pay.
Before you go to any utility company offices make numerous copies of your passport, you will invariably be asked for at least one.
The property tax (ENFIA) is calculated by the tax office, and your accountant will also advise you regarding payment of this. It is calculated on between €3 and €6 per square metre of build, plus a tiny amount for the land. Taxes can either be paid in one full payment, or in regular payments over five months.
You will need to change the electricity, water and phone/wifi bills into your name, and this does involve a bit of legwork. Before you go to any utility company offices make numerous copies of your passport, you will invariably be asked for at least one.
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You will need to go to your local DEH (electricity company) office. Take with you your passport, a copy of your property purchase contract, an electrical plan of the property (any local electrician will organise this for you, (approx. €150-€200) and a copy of the last electricity bill of the previous owner.
In Corfu where we are based, you need to go to the DEH office early in the morning, (take your coffee with you!) and take a coupon from the machine and wait your turn. It can take some time, but it can be done. Once the bill is in your name, you can arrange to pay by direct debit from your bank, via online payments or through the DEH website with a credit card. See how to open a Greek bank account here.
The electricity bill contains a percentage which is for local community charges – the lower your electricity bill, the lower this charge will be. The bills come bi-monthly and are calculated on a four-month period. The first bill will be enanti (estimate) and the second will be a katharistiko accurate bill. The power company come and read meters, but you can also supply your meter reading via phone or internet.
To transfer the water bill to your name is less complicated. You visit the local DEYAK office, with a copy of your passport, sale contract, and water bill from the previous owner. Bills are issued every three months, but meters are only read periodically, so several bills might have just the standing charge, and then there will be an actual bill. Again, you can arrange a direct debit from your bank for payment once the account is in your name.
The main landline supplier is COSMOTE, who supply both land and mobile phones and internet. Various packages are available, from basic phone and internet, to complete packages including satellite TV. Bills are every 2 months and you can register on the Cosmote website so that you can check and pay online. One registration account can cover landline, mobile and Cosmote tv if you decide to take this.
Wifi is available virtually everywhere, and speeds vary according to location. You can order all services by phone, but will need to visit the Cosmote store to sign agreements.
There are several suppliers, including Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind. They just need a proof of ID in order to purchase a ‘pay as you go’ package. A range of packages is available for phone and wifi. Top ups are available at many stores, but also can be purchased online on the relevant websites.
There is a choice of Greek terrestrial channels, showing many films in English. There are two satellite suppliers – nova and cosmote tv which are the equivalent of UK Sky TV. Both are subscription channels with a range of packages. Many people now watch UK and international channels via internet as an alternative to subscribing to a satellite channel. You can read more about watching British TV abroad here.
It is worth noting that all these companies do have English speaking staff available, and frequently if you call the customer service numbers you can choose the option for an English speaking advisor. Similarly, DEH, nova and Cosmote websites have an English option.