Prerequisites for operating a branch of a foreign company in Greece
Kosmidis & Partners, lawyers
Partnering international businesses in Greece
The branch of a foreign company in Greece
The requirements for operating a branch of a foreign company in Greece are regulated in Art. 50 S.A. Companies Act (Law 2190/20) and in Arts 57-58 of the Greek Limited Liability Companies Act (Law 3190/55). In order for a foreign company to operate a branch, a tax reference must first have been applied for to the tax office having jurisdiction over the branch and an application to establish a branch office filed with the prefecture at the branch’s future domicile before commencing business. The documents required for this are as follows:
- The foreign company’s articles of association/shareholder’s agreement, furnished with an apostille.
- Extract from the foreign company’s register of companies, from which ensues, inter alia, a company limited by shares’ minimum capital of 24,000 euros (with apostille).
- Certification by the body having jurisdiction for the company’s seat that the founding or share capital is fully paid up.
- Certification by the body having jurisdiction for the company’s seat that the company has not been wound up or there has been no official application for winding up.
- Resolution by the foreign company to establish a branch in Greece, stating the company’s object, its seat (municipality and address) and the branch’s style.
- Notarized appointment of a representative and person authorized to receive writs/accept service for the foreign company in Greece (a total of one person can be appointed).
- Resolution by the company limited by shares on the composition of the Supervisory Board/Board of Directors, appointment of the Managing Director in the case of the limited liability company, stating the respective people’s names and positions, and a resolution on the appointment of the company’s representatives.
- Business and postal address in Greece for the branch.
- Company resolution on the object of the branch in Greece, as well as on the branch’s name if this differs from the foreign company’s name.
- A certificate of existence and clearance certificate from the tax office competent for the foreign company (from which the tax reference there also ensues) with apostille.
- Official translation of all documents into Greek.
Tax reference of foreign company’s branches
In Greece the foreign company’s branch will receive a separate tax reference, under which it can then commence business operations. The foreign companies limited by shares and limited liability companies must keep category III business accounts.
In the amending law of April 2010, Greek legislation has now introduced an annual tax of 15% on property located in Greece where offshore companies are concerned. This occurred to combat tax evasion, as much property in Greece belonged to offshore companies, with the consequence that the owner of the offshore company was not taxed in Greece for the assets and the income therefrom. As a result of the high tax introduced on offshore companies’ property, these are no longer of any practical value in the context of tax savings models.