Shipping & Mail Forwarding to Greece

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Clearance Process
Imported goods are not legally entered until after the shipment has been released by Greek Customs. Greek Customs may pull any shipment at any time for review or investigation, which could result in clearance/delivery delays. NOTE: In addition to the Customs Department, importers should contact other agencies when questions regarding particular commodities arise. For example, questions about textile products should be forwarded to the Ministry of National Economy.

The Importer of Record or a licensed Customs Broker may account for goods. According to the Importer of Record's profile FedEx GTS Greece will either provide notification upon arrival of shipments to the Importer's designated Customs Broker or clear and advance payment of any duties and taxes levied for the shipments on behalf of the importer.

Note: A Customs (entry and payment processing) account can be established at any customs office and by the importer himself for his shipments or by FedEx for all its customers. Currently only FedEx's account is being used. An air waybill may be used for qualifying standard clearance procedure merchandise (samples and low value shipments) arriving by air, but all other merchandise must be presented with a commercial invoice that contains all the data requirements of Greek Customs Department.

If it is desired to postpone the release of the goods, they may be placed in FedEx's cage in a bonded warehouse until the documentation has been obtained for appropriate release. If the goods are not released from Customs within 5 days, they are reported to the Customs Office warehouse and abandoned or sent back to the origin at shipper's expense.

Most imports enter under MFN Rates (Most Favored Nation) rates. The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) lays out the rules for the utilization of preferential duties granted for imports from developing countries. Furthermore, the EU has entered a number of agreements with European and overseas countries which provide for preferential customs treatment of certain products of those countries. In order to be able to benefit from these lower tariff rates the goods have to be accompanied by certificates of origin as set forth in the agreements. In addition to import duties, imports are subject to other minor surcharges totaling less than 1 percent.

Relative high tariffs apply to textile, automobile, consumer electronics, cereal, meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and tobacco.

Document Requirements
Several different forms of documentation may be required for shipments to Greece. Exporters are required to present two commercial invoices, one bill of lading and three copies of a certificate of origin for all shipments. Other certificates are necessary for exporting pharmaceutical goods, perishable foods, live animals and some medical goods. Some of the documentation required may be: Import Licenses

Certain products require special documents: food products need a certificate of health in Greek; electric materials and construction equipment/machinery need a certificate of conformity to EU directives; grapes, alcoholic beverages and tobacco need a certificate of authenticity. Certificates of origin may also be required if the origin can in any way be attributed to a country subject to quantitative or other restrictions

Importers apply for import licenses at the Ministry of National Economy or the respective agency that controls the commodity. A commercial invoice that includes freight and insurance, the C.I.F. price, net and gross weight, and an invoice number must accompany the license application. Customs accepts commercial invoices by fax. The license, once granted, is normally valid for six months but may be extended if adequate justification is provided.

Goods that are shipped to a Greek customs area without proper import licenses or declarations are usually subject to considerable delay and may run up substantial demurrage charges. Prior to making shipments, exporters should ensure that the importer has obtained the necessary licenses.

Sanitary Certificates - Animal and Plant Health Inspections certificates are required from the importing country for the importation of living plant material, including plants, plant products and seeds into Greece. Health inspection requirements also govern the importation of animals and parts of animals, including meat products, skins, hides and similar products, marine mammals, fish, crustaceans, or mollusks and parts thereof. New-to-market food products require a special approval that is granted by the General State Laboratory. Products complying with the Food Code do not require a special permit to be imported and marketed in Greece, with the exception of seeds, meat and poultry products, nuts, and dairy products. In order for a seed variety to be imported into Greece it should be listed in the European Variety Catalog. If not, it must be registered in the national Catalog of Greece, which requires tests taking 2-3 years, depending on variety and species.┬ Certain certificates required by the EU must accompany seeds. Most of these certificates are obtained by providing the proper documentation to Ministry of Agriculture.

Pharmaceutical Certificates - Pharmaceutical imports require a special approval that is granted by the National Pharmaceutical Organization. New-to-market food products require similar approval by the General State Laboratory.

Bills of Lading - No special regulations

Certificates of Origin - Certificates of Origin are required for the importation of any Textile products valued at over 45 Euro. Exceptions from this requirement include marked and mutilated samples; luggage made up of textile materials, canvas bags, and bona-fide gifts, personal effects. A Certificate of Origin is recommended to be provided for every commodity subject to import licensing and /or quota restrictions from some origin countries and is required for all textile products imported into Greece that originate in Hong Kong, Macao, or Singapore regardless of the value.

Certificate of Origin Form A - A Certificate of Origin Form A may be required for goods under formal entry claiming preferential duty or exemption under the various agreements of Generalized System of Preferences. It should be produced at the time of entry and must be in the possession of the Importer at the time of entry. Origin of the goods must be detailed on the commercial invoice.

EUR 1 form Import - An EUR 1 form may be required for goods under formal entry claiming preferential duty or exemption under various bilateral agreements by the European Union countries and some specific countries or groups of countries. It should be produced at the time of entry and must be in possession of the Importer at the time of entry. Origin of the goods must be detailed on the commercial invoice.

EUR 1 form Export - An EUR 1 form┬ from the European Union to some countries is used to claim preferential duty or exemption under the various agreements as per the above paragraph.

Quotas - Quotas have been assigned by the European Union to specific countries for specific products, which allow for the controlled importation of specific products.

Commercial Invoices - Invoices are required for all dutiable shipments relating to commercial transactions between companies and companies, companies and individuals, regardless of the value. Commercial invoices should show freight, insurance and similar charges as separate items when applicable, regardless of the INCOTERM used on the transaction. It must be in Greek for export shipments or accompanied by a translation. It can be in any official language for import shipments and, if required by customs, must be accompanied by a translation.┬ A party who is knowledgeable of the transaction, must furnish translation, if requested.

Specific invoice details are required for a number of commodities including the following:

  • Textiles - the fabric breakdown, whether knit or woven and, for clothing articles, the gender

  • Marked/mutilated samples - the words "mutilated samples" or " marked samples, not for resale" as applicable

  • Software on CD's and floppy disks - The value of software must be shown separately from software support

All acceptable non-document shipments require a commercial invoice on company letterhead. Electronic invoices are not accepted.

Dangerous Goods Certification - Some goods will, in addition to the standard documentation noted above, require DG certification. Examples: Perfumes, Liquor, Chemicals, etc.

Air Waybill - An air waybill or carriers certificate (naming the consignee for customs purposes) is required as evidence of the consignee's right to make entry.

Declaration of Antiquity - A declaration must be shown on the invoice for goods over 100 years old. The statement must include the words " circa date" followed by the year of manufacture whether known or estimated.

Customs Valuation
All goods categorized, as non-document commercial goods shipped to Greece must have a proper value declared and proper description provided which should convey the shipper's intent related to the goods as well as any special processing requirements that exist for the goods shipped. Everything has a value, whether or not a transaction took place. Failure to properly document value of any goods will result in delays and or additional fees as deemed necessary in addition to warehouse fees.

Import Duties
Import Duty Rate
Greece, like most member states of the European Community, bases its Harmonized Tariff Schedule on the TARIC (Integrated Tariff of the European Community) which is issued by the Commission and the Member States for the purpose of applying Community measures relating to import and exports, and-when necessary- to trade between member sates. The TARIC also serves as a basis for the working tariffs and tariff file of Greece and other Member States.Greek customs values shipments at C.I.F. prices. Import duty rates are divided into two classifications: Most Favored Nation (MFN) and General. Import duties are calculated on ad valorem basis, i.e. expressed as a percentage of the value of the imported goods. There are three primary entry types for importing into Greece:

  1. Standard clearance procedure

  2. Simplified clearance procedure

  3. Simplified declaration procedure

The first two procedures apply to all shipments regardless of value; the third one applies to shipments of commercial samples valued below 45 EUR or gifts valued below 23 EURO and/or to negligible value shipments below 22 EURO and provides Duty and Tax relief.

Below is a summary of the new rules for EU deminimis value that enter into effect December 1, 2008:

  • A commercial shipment below 22 Euros: no duty and no VAT collected.
  • A commercial shipment between 22 Euros and 150 Euros: no duty but VAT is collected.
  • A commercial shipment over 150 Euros:duty and VAT are collected.

Under strict enforcement of unfair trade laws, Customs will assess antidumping duties or countervailing duties. Antidumping duties are assessed on imported merchandise sold in Greece (EU) at less than the normal price of goods in the manufacturer's home market (also called fair market value).

Excise Duties
Excise duty rates may also be applicable on certain items such as alcohol and tobacco. For further information, please contact the Greek Customs Office.

Excise taxes are assessed against certain commodities, which are normally identified as "luxury" goods. The excise tax is normally assessed against tobacco products, perfumes and alcohol products but can also be assessed against other goods as deemed by Greek regulations. A 12% admissions tax is applied on all motion pictures.

Additional Duties
Countervailing duties are assessed to counter the effects of subsidies provided by a foreign government for merchandise exported to Greece resulting in artificially low prices that are detrimental to Greece and other European Union member states industries.

Watch Duty Rate
Watches imported into Greece are subject to classification and duty assessment based on a per item basis. The actual duty and the final rate of duty are determined based on the classification of the watch at the time of entry processing with customs.

Import Taxes
In addition to duties, goods imported into Greece are also subject to a value-added Tax (VAT) which is generally charged at one of three rates:

  1. The rate of 18% applicable to certain pharmaceutical products, movie pictures, hotel and restaurant services, transportation services, agricultural services, street cleaning services, entertainment services, building and construction services, medical services and funeral services.

  2. The standard rate of 8%, applicable mostly to┬ the sale and imports of human or animal foodstuffs, water, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals for animal use, medical and health products, mopeds, vehicles, personal dwellings.

  3. The reduce rate of 4% applicable to books and newspapers.

Customs Fees
Invoice Fee
Customs in some situations will assess additional fees based on the invoices provided for a shipment. The fee is usually levied if they deem them necessary as part of the terms of entry due to the size of the shipment and the related large number of invoices provided by the shipper for his goods.

Examination Fees
Additional fees can be assessed on some commodities to cover the expense of performing the examinations and or testing required as a condition of the goods entry into the commerce of Greece. Commodities affected: cosmetics, drugs and medicines, artwork.

Exchange Controls

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)
Technical barriers or non-tariff barriers to trade, as they are sometimes known, can cause many problems for exporters looking for new markets for their products. These barriers can be in the form of regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that these barriers do not create unnecessary obstacles. To obtain further information on Technical Barriers to Trade as well as Notifications on Technical Regulation and Conformity Assessment Procedures, go to the EU website.

Consular Fees

The importation of certain classes of merchandise may be prohibited or restricted to protect the economy and security of Greece and other EU member states, to safeguard consumer health, well being, and to preserve domestic plant and animal life. Some commodities are also subject to an import quota or a restraint under bilateral trade agreements and arrangements. In addition to Customs requirements, many prohibited or restricted imports are subject to laws and regulations administered by other Greek Government agencies for which the Greek Customs Department is the enforcer. These laws and regulations may, for example, prohibit entry; limit entry to certain points; restrict routing, storage, use; require treatment, labeling or processing as condition of release. Customs release only takes place when the additional requirements are met. These requirements apply to all importation types, including shipments made by mail. The exporter should make certain that the Greek importer has provided proper information to (1) permit the submission of necessary information concerning packing, labeling, etc. and (2) ensure that necessary arrangements have been made by the importer for entry of the merchandise into Greece.

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