For banking in Greece you absolutely need a personal tax number (AFM). We were pleased as Punch to get our Greek tax number (AFM) so we could get a mailing box, now we needed to open a bank account. So we went to the bank and duly presented our hard gotten tax forms and duly presented them, together with our passports, to the helpful young lady and asked if we could please open a current account. She studied the tax forms and said that she was sorry but since according to the tax forms we were self employed we would require further evidence of our income. We explained that we weren’t self employed. That’s not what it says here she responded you will have to go to the tax office and get these details changed. Our hearts instantly filled with dread. Another trip to pay homage to the fuehrer. Bollocks!! At least the tax office is closed every Friday so we can get ready over the weekend.
Duly downloaded some translation software and the English-Greek and Greek-English dictionaries that go with it so we could write down in Greek that we were not working. Irene is a housewife and I am retired police officer. Not difficult to translate methinks.
Housewife – Οικοκυρά
Policeman – αστυνομικός
Easy peasy so far. Back to dictionary
retired 2 [re'tired rɪ'tɪə(r)d]
adj. απόμερος, συνταξιούχος
Oh dear. Eeny meeny miny mo. Picked the first one and duly added it to the document to present to the fuehrer on Monday.
So Monday arrives, we are happy to be prepared with all our paperwork and new found Greek language skills for the ordeal ahead. We queue for ages with the locals regularly jumping in front us for our audience with the fuehrer. He looks at us with disdain. What do you two want? He asks in a tone to strike fear in hearts of lesser mortals. Not me! I proudly march up, sit down, present our paperwork pointing out the problems we had at the Bank and asked him to amend the details according to the beautifully translated word document. He looked somewhat bemused and asked if I knew what I had written. “Of course” I replied puffing my chest out pride. “Irene is a housewife and I am a retired policeman” daring him to call my local BIG policeman friend. He shrugged his shoulders changed our details and handed our new tax forms to us without saying another word. Yee Haaaaah. Victory number 2 in the battle against bureaucracy.
Off we trot to our young lady friend in the bank and hand over our new papers. She examines them and informs us that I am now a pensioner. No problems with that.. handed over proof of my pension. Irene is unemployed and had to sign another form to confirm that and the process was under way. While waiting for her to complete all the paperwork I told her about our adventure with the fuehrer and showed her my translation. Oh dear she smiled. Here comes that sinking feeling again. It says here she responded that you are a shy policeman. Retired as in shy and retiring.
Oh bollocks!!!!! My mind raced back to visualise the fuehrer leaping around with glee telling all his comrades about how he’d got one over on the shy policeman, leaving them rolling on the floor laughing their asses off.
Bank accounts now opened and lesson two learned. Pride always comes before a fall!!! Ho Humm!! Oh…… and reverse translate to check you have got the correct meaning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So to open a bank account in Greece you need a tax number - ΑΦΜ. As to how to get a post office box that is another Cretan experience that also required determination on our part, and of course a Greek tax number.