Written by Skopa - Zanganas & Associates Date 06 Jun 2023

The Startup Legal Environment in Greece

This Article was drafted by our Commercial, Tech, and Data Protection Law Department as part of the International Tech Law Association's (ITechLaw) initiative to create a global "Startup Legal Playbook" for Lawyers and Business Owners. This Article constitutes the "Greek Chapter" of the abovementioned publication.

You may access the full publication of ITehcLaw's "Startup Legal Playbook", containing chapters for 39 Countries/Jurisdictions, here.



Greece follows the Civil Law System. The system relies on its core, on the written legal codes governing the fields of public, private, and criminal law respectively. The legal codes are updated at regular intervals. The core legal codes are complemented by a complex system of statutes and legal acts, governing and regulating more specific legal issues and sectors of law. Such legal statutes and acts are updated constantly. European Regulations, which are directly applicable in all member states, constitute the third and final part of the Greek legislative ecosystem. The main jurisdictional layers, in terms of subject matter, are the following:


  • Greek public law governs the relationship between individuals and the Greek state and is enforced by administrative bodies and administrative courts (i.e. public procurement contracts, fines imposed by public bodies/authorities, disputes against public authorities). In most cases, decisions are initially made by internal instruments/departments of the competent public body. Such decisions may then be disputed in the administrative courts. Greek administrative courts consist of three jurisdictional layers: i. administrative courts of first instance, ii. administrative courts of appeal, iii. The Council of State (Supreme Administrative Court). The core legal codes, governing Greek Public Law, are the “Administrative Code” and the “Code of Administrative Procedure”.


  • Private law governs relationships between individuals, regardless of their nature. Thus, private law covers numerous cases and sectors of law, from family law to commercial and corporate disputes (i.e. employment disputes, contractual liability disputes, land disputes etc.). Greek Civil Courts consist of four jurisdictional layers: i. Small claims court, ii. Civil Courts of First Instance, iii. Civil Courts of Appeal, iv. The Supreme Court. The main legal codes, constituting the backbone of private law, are the “Greek Civil Code” and the “Greek Civil Procedure Code”. The main legal codes are then supplemented by hundreds of other laws governing specific fields or issues. (i.e. employment laws, Corporate Laws, e-commerce laws etc.).


  • Criminal law is mainly codified in the “Greek Criminal Code” and the “Greek Code of Criminal Procedure”. Some sectoral laws may also include criminal provisions or penalties for specific actions (i.e. data protection law, Intellectual Property Law, Competition Law). Greek Criminal Courts consist of four jurisdictional layers: i. Magistrate Courts, ii. Criminal Courts of First Instance, iii. Criminal Courts of Appeal, iv. The Supreme Court.


Even though the Greek Civil Law System relies on written legal statutes, codes, and acts, Greek Courts are competent to interpret the meaning and application of such statutes, codes, and acts. As such, case law of the Greek Courts also plays a vital role in developing the Greek legal system.









Companies and Enterprises in Greece fall under three main categories: i. Individual Enterprises (Sole Traders/Freelance Professionals), ii. Personal Companies, and iii. Capital Companies. For most start-up businesses and business models, the capital companies are the most appealing and relevant category since they generally provide limitation of the shareholders’ liability and several ways for corporate capital to be raised by or invested in the start-up. The three most relevant capital company/corporate types for start-ups, looking to start their business in Greece, are the following:


  • Company Limited by Shares - Société Anonyme (S.A. /A.E.)

It is a capital company with legal personality, which is responsible for its debts with its own assets. The company’s capital is divided into shares. A company limited by shares is a commercial company, even if its purpose is not the exercise of a commercial activity. Shareholders own shares of the company which are either registered or bearer shares. Shareholders are not personally liable, and their liability is limited to the amount of their investment.

Main features & Facts:

  1. Minimum capital of 25.000€ required for establishment.
  2. Contributions of the members can be in cash and in kind. However, in kind contributions are exclusively limited to assets which can be objectively valued. As such, provision of labour, services, or expertise may not be legally contributed against capital.
  • The S.A. is the only corporate structure, under Greek Law, which may potentially be listed in the stock exchange.
  1. Increased administrative costs due to complex corporate structures and strict tax compliance requirements.
  2. Increased transparency obligations.
  3. Increased credibility with creditors and other stakeholders, due to the increased applicable transparency obligations.



  • Limited Liability Company (Ltd / E.P.E.)

A Limited Liability company is a commercial company by law, even if its Articles of Association do not state that it does pursue commercial objectives and irrespective of the business purpose actually pursued by its directors and partners. A limited liability company is liable for its debts with its own assets. The personal liability of the partners cannot be engaged and liability is limited to the amounts contributed by each partner in return for portions of participation.

Main features & Facts:

  1. No minimum capital requirement.
  2. Contributions of the shareholders can be in cash and in kind. However, in kind contributions are exclusively limited to assets which can be objectively valued. As such, provision of labour, services, or expertise may not be legally contributed against capital.
  • Specific form/notarial requirements apply to specific corporate actions, such as the transfer of capital portions.
  1. Dual majority requirements (majority in absolute number of partners and majority in terms of capital percentage) apply for decisions of the General Assembly to be valid.


  • Private Capital Company (PCC / I.K.E.)

The newest and most flexible corporate structure. IKE is a private capital company which has capital and the liability of its members for the company debts, except for members who participate in the company with guarantee contributions, is limited.

Main features & Facts:

  1. No minimum capital requirement.
  2. Contributions of the members can be in cash, in kind, and in guarantee. The only corporate structure allowing in kind contributions related to labour, services, or expertise. For that reason, it is really popular amongst start-ups with business models based around tech development or IP.
  • Lower administrative and tax compliance costs.

All of the abovementioned corporate structures may be established by a sole owner/shareholder.
All of the abovementioned corporate structures must be registered in the Greek Business Registry (GEMH) and comply with, varying degrees of, transparency obligations.

Foreign start-ups, may also explore the possibility of beginning their business activities in Greece by establishing a Greek branch of their main company. Branches do not possess a separate legal personality. However, they may acquire a Greek tax number and legally conduct business in Greece. In some cases, establishing a branch may be a way for start-ups, established in other countries and following specific business models, to test the business environment in Greece before fully committing to the Greek market.








Foreign Investment Restrictions: In general, Greek law welcomes foreign investments, however restrictions are in place in specific market sectors and industries which are considered strategic for the country’s national interests. In most such cases, there is an upper limit of 49% in the ownership share which can be owned by a foreign investor. Some examples in which such restrictions may apply are the defense industry, and the mass media sector.

Restrictions Related to Working Visas and Residence Permits: Some pre-seed or seed funding-stage startups may face restrictions, related to visa or residence permit requirements, when establishing themselves within Greece. More specifically, although foreign company owners/shareholders are not subject to any visa requirements, for a non-EU/third-country resident to directly manage a company established in Greece, s/he must possess a working visa. Working visas may be issued for members of the board and administrators of companies in Greece, provided that the company employees -at a minimum- 25 people in Greece. Day-to-day management may be carried out, without additional visa requirements, by EU citizens. Additionally, the 25 employee limit to issue a working visa does not apply when the company is established as a Greek Branch or a subsidiary of a foreign entity.




I. The following IP rights can be registered:


  • What is protectable? Any sign, including sounds, and product shape or packaging, provided that it is able to distinguish between products and services of different companies/businesses and that may be represented in a form which allows the public to understand the object of the trademark protection.
  • Where to apply? Trademark applications are filed with either: i. the Greek Industrial Property Organization (ΟΒΙ- Οργανισμός Βιομηχανικής Ιδιοκτησίας), ii. the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), or iii. the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under the Madrid System, depending on the territories in which trademark protection is sought (Greece, EU, Other Countries of the Madrid System). The application for a Greek Trademark may be filed online via the Greek Industrial Property Organization (http://www.obi.gr/en/ ). The procedure is similar to the one followed for the granting of EU Trademarks before EUIPO. The trademark application is reviewed by an OBI reviewer and, if the application includes all the required information and no absolute grounds for refusal apply, the trademark is published on the website of the Greek Ministry of Development and Investments. A three month-long opposition period, during which third parties may oppose the trademark, follows the abovementioned publication of the trademark.
  • Duration of protection? Registered trademarks are valid for 10 years from the date of registration. The protection may be renewed for further 10-year periods for a fee.
  • Costs? Application fees for Greek trademarks, for one class, begin from 100€ for electronic applications and from 120€ for hardcopy applications. Additional fees apply for the protection of additional classes of products/services. The abovementioned fees correspond to the administrative fees collectible by OBI and do not include attorney legal representation/consulting fees.



  • What is protectable? Inventions which are novel, inventive/not obvious, and are suitable for industrial application.
  • Where to apply? Greek Patent applications can be filed with the Greek Industrial Property Organization (OBI).
  • Duration of protection? The term of protection is, in any case, a maximum of 20 years from application and must be maintained by annual fees, following the second year of protection.
  • Costs? Application fees for Greek patents range between 500€ and 667€. The abovementioned fees correspond to the administrative fees collectible by OBI and do not include attorney and technical consultant legal representation/consulting fees.


Utility Model

  • What is protectable? Any three dimensional object of specific shape, such as a tool, device, utensil or component/accessory, which is novel, suitable for industrial application, and able to solve a specific technical issue.
  • Where to apply? Utility model applications can be filed with the Greek Industrial Property Organization (OBI).
  • Duration of protection? The term of protection is in any case a maximum of 7 years from application and must be maintained by annual fees, following the second year of protection.
  • Costs? Application fees for Greek utility models amount to 150€. The abovementioned fees correspond to the administrative fees collectible by OBI and do not include attorney legal representation/consulting fees.



  • What is protectable? The external, complete or partial, image of a product, which derives from specific and distinctive characteristics such as the outline, the colour, the shape, the format, and the materials of the product and/or its decoration.
  • Where to apply? National designs may be registered with the Greek Industrial Property Organization (OBI).
  • Duration of protection? Registered designs are valid for 5 years from the date of registration. The protection may be renewed for further 5-year periods for a fee. The maximum term of protection is 25 years.
  • Costs? Application fees begin from 130€. The abovementioned fees correspond to the administrative fees collectible by OBI and do not include attorney legal representation/consulting fees.


II. The following IP rights cannot be registered:



  • What is protectable? Original literary, artistic, or scientific works of any form are protected by copyright. Software, source code, and specific novel type of databases may also be protected. Copyright protection is automatically granted upon the creation of the work. However, since no registration is required and the extent of the protection is usually decided in Court during disputes, the copyright owner should take measures to prove his ownership and the date of creation of the protected work. The Greek Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) provides a tool for right owners to register their work for the purpose of proving their ownership and date of creation. The creator of a work possesses, as a rule, both the right to be recognized as the creator of the copyrighted material (moral right) and the right to financially exploit the copyrighted work (financial right). Even if the financial right is transferred or licenced, the moral right remains with the original creator.


  • Duration of protection? Copyright protection ends 70 years after the creator of the work has passed away.




Trade Secrets

  • What is protected? Trade secrets are explicitly protected under Greek Law. Trade secrets refer to any business information, method, or technology which has commercial value derived from it secrecy. For business information to be considered trade secrets and be protectable, the following requirements must be fulfilled: 1. The information must be secret and not widely known, 2. The information should have commercial value due to its secret nature, 3. The owner of the information must have used reasonable efforts and put in place reasonable measures to keep the information secret.
  • Duration of protection? Trade secrets protection can last as long as the information actually remains a secret.
  • How to keep trade secrets secret?  In most cases, companies will have to implement a system of internal policies, procedures, technical measures, NDAs, and contractual clauses -extending both to internal (i.e. employees) and external stakeholdersto ensure that all reasonable measures to keep the information secret are in place and -where possibleto specify the estimated value of the trade secret for the company.










GDPR applies directly in Greece since the 25th of May 2018. Greek Law does not provide for extensive or extreme particularities and derogations. Thus, data controllers and processors in Greece have to comply with all the principles, provisions, and obligations of the GDPR.

However, both: i. Law 4624/2019, which sets out implementation measures on the GDPR’s opening clauses and integrates EU Directive 2016/680 into Greek law; ii. Law 3471/2006, which integrates EU Directive 2002/58/EC into Greek law, sets out rules for the protection of the confidentiality of communications and cookies/trackers, and regulates data protection in the telecommunications sector, and iii. Several other laws regulating specific sectoral data protection/privacy issues, include national derogations and legal particularities which apply to specific scenarios.

Additionally, while they constitute guidance instruments and do not directly have legally binding effects, the opinions and instructions of the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) provide invaluable insight on how the legal framework is enforced in specific situations and in-depth rules for specific processing activities are often, de facto, set out through them.

Some of the most notable specificities of data protection legislation in Greece are the following:

  • In-depth instructions and rules for the legal use of CCTV systems in different scenarios are introduced through an instruction of the HDPA. Additionally, the law provides that CCTV systems may be used in the workplace exclusively for purposes related to the protection of people and property.
  • Specific rules apply to data processing in the context of remote working. Carrying out a DPIA for such purposes is compulsory for employers.
  • Under Greek law, the processing of personal data in the workplace falls within the scope of the data protection rules, even when the processed data is not a part of, or intended to form a part of, a filing system. In such cases, Greek law is stricter than EU law, since it even extends to oral communications.
  • The age for legal child consent in relation to personal data processing in information society services in Greece is 15 years.
  • A prohibition is in place for the processing of genetic data for life and health insurance purposes.
  • A no-call list is in place for phone call marketing and promotions.
  • Cookies and similar technologies may only be used with the users’ explicit consent. Cookies which are strictly necessary for the proper and safe functioning of the website may be used without consent.
  • Explicit consent is required for marketing communications through e-mail, SMS, and/or messaging applications. Consent is not required if a previous business/client relationship exists between the controller and the recipient of the communication. An opt-out option must be included in any such marketing messages.
  • The HDPA expects Controllers to use only one legal basis for each processing purpose. This means that – contrary to what may apply in other EU countries – a controller may not legally use more than one legal basis (ie, both execution of an agreement and legitimate interest) for the same processing purpose.
  • Sectoral or case specific rules may apply in areas such as:
  • Banking
  • Stock Exchanges and brokers
  • Insurance
  • Legal Services
  • Occupational Doctors
  • Digital Governance


The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) is understaffed but follows a strict approach to the protection of the rights and freedoms of data subjects. Heightened enforcement action on the part of the HDPA and an increase in the number of the number of civil data protection lawsuits filed by individuals can be noticed in Greece with each passing year. The HDPA has issued several decisions based around the mishandling of data subject requests, lack of transparency, and non-compliance with the obligation of data protection by design. HDPA has not issued, following the ECJ’s “Schrems II” ruling, any decisions imposing fines related to international data transfers to date; however, it is highly probable that this will change within 2023.












  • An employment agreement must be in place between employers and employees. In general, mandatory law provides for the limits of what can be agreed within the employment agreement and what is a mandatory right of the employee or obligation of the employer. Labour Law in Greece has traditionally been strict and protective of employees. After the recent (2021) amendment in Greek Employment Law, employment agreements may, in some cases, provide for more flexible working regimes, following an ad-hoc negotiation with the employee.
  • Collective agreements or works agreements are recognized and encouraged by Greek Labour Law. Many sectoral collective agreements are already in place.
  • A number of specific labour laws provide for additional obligations for employers who employee a big number of employees. For example, the obligation to hire an occupational doctor and a safety officer, as well as the obligation to establish whistleblowing channels are applicable to employers with more than 50 employees.


Work for hire regime:

  • Patents: Greek patent law provides that patents created by employees belong, by default, exclusively to the employee. However, if the employee used resources and information of his/her employer to develop the patent, the employer is entitled to 40% of the patent and possesses priority licensing rights to the patent, provided that he renumerates the employee accordingly. If the employment agreement exclusively mentions that the employee is employed with the purpose of developing the patent, the patent belongs exclusively to the employer. However, the employee is entitled to additional proportional renumeration when the patent is exceptionally profitable for the employer.


  • Copyright: Greek copyright law provides that that copyright ownership of a work created by an employee in the course of their employment belongs by default to the employee. If the employment agreement provides that such works belong to the employer, the employer automatically gains ownership of the part of the property rights which is deemed necessary for the purposes of the agreement; the moral right always remains with the employee.


Employee tax deduction and social security: Every employer must deduct and remit income tax installments to the Greek Tax Authorities on behalf of their employees. Employers are also obligated to pay part of their employee’s social security fees.

Remote Working: Special rules, such as the obligation of the employer to cover equipment and other remote working costs, the obligation to establish a remote working policy, as well as transparency and employment agreement-related obligations, apply when an employer uses remote working regimes (either fully remote or hybrid).



  • Mutual termination of the employment agreement may be agreed between the parties.
  • The employer may unilaterally terminate the employment agreement for “just cause”. The bar for an employer to establish just cause, under Greek Law, is very high. All employees generally have a right of notice and of payment in the event of termination, unless they are terminated for “just cause”.
  • Employees may terminate the contract unilaterally. It is common practice for a prior notice obligation to be included, for the employee, within the employment agreement.

Contractors: Companies may also engage independent contractors to perform services. The distinction between an employee and a contractor is a question of fact, and is not determined by what the parties agree to call themselves. Factors taken into account in this determination will generally include control over the time, place and manner in which services are performed, ownership over tools and equipment, ability to subcontract/hire assistants, existence of additional employers/clients on the side of the contractor etc. Where the courts decide that a contractor is not independent, s/he possesses the same labour law rights as any other employee.

When engaging independent contractors, it is crucial for a comprehensive agreement, reflecting the actual agreement of the parties and governing all risk, intellectual property, commercial, and competition issues to be established between the parties.












The Greek Consumer Protection Act (Law 2251/1994 as amended) is the centerpiece of Greek Consumer Protection Legislation. This legislation is complimented by a number of Civil Code Provisions, and sector specific laws or laws ruling specific business practices, such as the Presidential Degree for the provision of e-commerce services.

In general, Greek Consumer Protection Legislation is strict and provides specific rights to the consumers through mandatory law provisions, which cannot not be overturned or ignored through the use of contractual or terms of service provisions. Under Greek Law, the definition of a consumer exclusively includes natural persons not operating under their business or professional capacity.

Some of the main practices and issues which are explicitly regulated within Greek Consumer Protection legislation, are the following:

  • Transparency/Information Provision Obligations: Sellers of products or services are required to provide consumers with information relating to the provided product/service and the consumer rights that are granted to them by law. The level and content of the provided information varies depending on the medium through which the sale is concluded (in-store sales, e-commerce sales, door to door sales etc.).
  • Extensive Obligations Relating to Online Sales: A comprehensive set of consumer protection obligations are in place for companies selling their products online. Such obligations may include transparency obligations, the provision of a right to withdraw, active for 14 days following the sale of a product, to consumers in distance selling contracts, and due diligence and information provision obligations for the providers of online marketplaces.
  • Warranty rules: A 2-year seller warranty is provided directly by law. Product manufacturers or sellers may offer commercial warranty on top of that.
  • Product Safety, Consumer Health, and Child Protection Provisions: A number of obligations relating to the protection of the safety and health of consumers of products are in place. Children protection rules also apply and a general ban on the sale of products which may create risks for the mental, psychological or moral development of underaged consumers is in place; products , targeted to children, which may incite violence and/or racism, and products which promote or contribute to addiction of any kind -such as gambling or drugs- fall within this category.
  • Advertisement and Commercial Practices Restrictions: Extensive rules to restrict misleading advertising or other misleading, illicit, immoral, or aggressive business practices, acts, and omissions are in place. Consumer-facing start-ups should ensure that new and proposed commercial practices are in line with these rules.

It should also be noted that Greek consumer protection laws have been recently updated to tackle issues created due to the rapid development of new technologies. Due to that, sets of rules for developers and importers of consumer IoT, AI, and 3D printing products are currently in place.

Last but not least, companies operating in Greece should keep in mind that the consumer protection and transparency provisions of EU’s recent Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act directly apply to companies operating in Greece.












Terms of service in Greece are only enforceable when the consumer has been transparently informed about their provisions before the conclusion of a sale. Companies should try to ensure that measures to prove that a consumer had access and read the terms of service (such as tick-boxes for online sales or signature lines for offline sales), prior to entering into the contact, are in place. Predetermined terms of service shall be drafted in a transparent, easily understood, and precise manner. When an international company makes online sales to Greek consumers, its Terms of Service must be available in Greek.

Any terms or agreements which were specifically negotiated supersede the provisions of the general terms of service. The law provides that, when in doubt, Courts shall interpret predetermined terms of service in a way that favors consumers.

Any term of service provision which may result in the disruption of the obligation balance between the seller and the consumer are illegal and void. Examples of such terms, directly mentioned within legislation are, inter alia, the following:

  • Terms providing the seller with an unreasonably long deadline to accept the consumer’s offer/order.
  • Terms restricting the sellers liability, beyond what was agreed and/or what is provided for by law.
  • Terms introducing unreasonably short deadlines for the consumer to terminate the contract or for unreasonably long deadlines for the seller to terminate the contract.
  • Terms which allow for the automatic renewal of the contract for extensive time periods, if the consumer does not terminate the contract in time.
  • Terms allowing the seller to unilaterally change or terminate the contract without a specific, sufficient, and just cause.
  • Terms which attempt to pass the liability of the seller or importer of the products exclusively to their producer.

It should be noted that Greek Court case law, requires a much higher standard of proof for business clients to validly claim that terms of service are invalid, compared to the one required for consumers.










Strategic Investment Legislation: Recent strategic investment legislation provides benefits for strategic investments which take place in Greece. The purpose of the legislation is to provide incentives for strategic investors to invest in Greece and to reduce investment risks and uncertainty for such strategic investments.

Different grades of strategic investments are recognized under the law. In most cases, for a beneficiary to fall within the scope of the legislation, an investment of at least 75.000.000€ is required. However, investments in specific market sectors, such as RnD or biotechnologies, and investments related to digital transformation or the provision of Cloud Computing Services, may be considered “strategic” starting from 20.000.000€.

Benefits for strategic investments may include fast-track procedures for obtaining permits, licensing and approvals by Public Bodies and authorities, investment subsidies, and tax incentives.

National Startup Registry: An official record of startups operating in Greece has been established under Greek Law. Companies which fulfill the eligibility criteria may apply to be included in the Registry. Members of the registry gain access to benefits such as targeted state-funded financial support measures and networking opportunities. Additionally, under Greek law, Angel Investors are only allowed to invest in companies which are included in the National Startup Registry.

Additional Rules for Online Marketplaces: Various legal provisions have introduced additional rules for Online Marketplace service providers. Such rules include Know Your Business Costumer (KYBC) obligations applicable during the onboarding of seller/businesses in the Marketplace, rules relating to advertising in the Marketplace, and rules concerning the transparency of recommender and ranking systems and algorithms used in the Marketplace.

Regulation of specific markets: Additional rules and regulatory frameworks are in place for companies wishing to operate in specific market sectors, such as fintech and investment services, gambling, telecommunications, and energy.

Strict jurisdiction: Greek Courts are rather strict when it comes to the protection of employees, consumers, data subjects and other protected groups of the population. For businesses, the risk of non-compliance in these fields of law is rather high. It is thus recommendable to focus on these topics first, when rolling out a business in Greece.






Disclaimer: This is a general reference document and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The application and effect of any law or regulation upon a particular situation can vary depending upon the specific facts and circumstances, and so you should  proffesionally consult with us or any other competent lawyer regarding the impact of any of these regimes in any particular Instance. We accept no liability for errors or omissions appearing in this publication. Please note that corporate law is dynamic, and the legal regime in the countries surveyed could change.


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