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April 13, 2006

Getting a Greek tax number

TaxnumberIt seems you can't breathe in Greece without quoting your tax number, and we didn't have one. We'd already found out we needed it to get a phone line installed, and we also needed it in order to get the electricity bill changed from our landlord's name into ours.

Fortunately he offered to meet me in town and go to the tax office, which was an absolute godsend, as I'm not sure I would have been able to find the correct office in Chania, let alone know what form to fill in.

The tax office is an unassuming block on Tzanakaki, just by the main branch of the National Bank in town. Inside it is like something out of Gormenghast - all nooks and crannies with little booths and offices with little handwritten signs. It looked like a nightmare, and even my landlord went to the wrong place first of all. Eventually we found the right place, which was a large office on the first floor.

To get your Greek tax number you'll need a photocopy of your passport, and you need to fill in form M7. It is entirely in Greek, so you'll need to learn to recognise a few words like father's name and mother's name. The information you need is basically your date of birth, your parents full names, your passport number and your address in Greece. You'll need to be able to write this in Greek including the postcode. You'll also have to write your nationality in Greek as well. Fortunately my landlord filled it all in for me - I wouldn't have known where to start. There was a lot of confusion about my parents names as well. In Greece they always seem to write surname, forenames, which I got all wrong. Also, it doesn't help if your folks have full names which include letters that don't exist in the Greek alphabet!

It certainly put one thing into perspective. Local councils in the UK get a lot of "political correctness gone mad" mud thrown at them for the lengths they go to in order to provide material in languages other than English. With nothing here in any language except for Greek, on my own I would have wasted an awful lot of their time to-ing and fro-ing with the form if I hadn't had a Greek speaker with me.

Our landlord also filled in form M1 - I wasn't sure what that was, it seemed to be some kind of sponsorship form where he had to give his tax number. I guess we'll find out about that when we go back to get a tax number for Claire. Badly translating the tax certificate I received later on it appears that he stood in for my relatives.

You have to take a ticket to queue like at a delicatessen, and we got served reasonably quickly despite there being about thirty people ahead of us when we arrived. My landlord obviously knew the trick of getting the ticket first, and then looking around for the forms to fill in.

It is quite a relief to have got it, as after the OTE experience I could see that this was going to become a regular stumbling block, and wasn't sure what to do about it. Our landlord and lady have been so kind to us, I think we have been very, very lucky. On the other hand, I don't know that having the ability to pay tax in two countries is anything much to celebrate.

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