If you’re planning a move or even a long visit to Greece, you’re probably picturing zipping around the islands in one of the European country’s famous tiny cars. While buying a new car or bringing your existing car with you is an option, Greece’s used car market is massive, with vacationers even occasionally finding a better deal on a second-hand vehicle than getting a rental.
It’s no surprise that the market is appealing, but there are things to consider when you’re eyeballing your transportation around Greece. For instance, if the car is too big you’ll be all but unable to navigate mountains on the mainland or the tiny paths on any of the islands. If you don’t know how to drive a car with manual transmission, you may find you have few options - if any.
As such, it’s increasingly common for new Greek residents to choose motorcycles and mopeds over traditional cars, though those come with limitations as well. Speeding through alleys on the islands isn’t any fun in the rain.
While you’re weighing your options, it’s a good idea to be armed with all the information you need. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about where to find a vehicle, the buying process, how to register your car, and any special laws or duties you’ll encounter in Greece.
If you’re planning to ship your car to Greece, you’re in luck. It’s a common shipping destination, so the cost of shipping is relatively low compared to shipping to other European countries. From the US, for instance, you can expect to pay somewhere between $1,300 and $3,700 depending on what type of vehicle you have and what shipping method you choose.
The most commonly recommended shipping method is container transport. Shipping in a container means your car is protected from the elements during its journey, and is kept relatively safe from any other outside factors that could result in dings or scratches. Even more appealingly, shipping in a container means you can usually get away with sending more than just your car - you can ship any of your other belongings that fit in the container with it as well. If you do choose to use your container for multiple items, it’s important to make sure nothing will shift as the container is moved, and to check in with your shipping company about how much the added weight costs. You shouldn’t struggle finding a company that will work for your needs, many new startups offer competitive options to get your stuff from one country to another. Shop around and you should find something.
Hire a translator. Unless you speak Greek, not knowing the language will be a major setback in the buying process, especially if you’re looking at used cars.
Make sure your paperwork is in order. If you’re an EU citizen, you’ll need to get a tax file number from a local tax office. If you’re not an EU citizen, you’ll need a residency permit. While some dealerships will allow you to buy a car without it, most dealerships will require you to have one.
Bring your residence permit, tax file number, ID, rental agreement to the dealership.
Consider bringing cash. Some used car dealerships don’t accept card payments.
Pick a car and make your purchase.
Pay VAT and road tax.
As is the case anywhere, there’s a wide range in car prices in Greece. A brand new Toyota Corolla, for instance, will cost about €18,800, while used car prices are at an all-time low. You may be able to snag one for as little as €800 if you don’t plan on needing it for long.
From there, you’ll need to worry about gas (about €1.40 per litre), inspection (~€50) and insurance, which will vary a lot depending on how old your car is, what make and model, and where your regular parking space is. That being said, Greek car insurance for that new Toyota Corolla will run between €110 and €250 a month depending on how comprehensive an insurance package you want.
If you’re looking to buy a new car or motorbike, the best idea is to decide what make and model you want and then head straight to that car brand’s dealership or their website.
If you’re looking for a used car or motorbike, however, it’s a good idea to browse online first.
The top 5 new and used car websites in Greece are:
How you’ll pay for your car will come down to where you buy it. Many used car dealers will only accept cash, while many new car dealers will only accept a credit or debit card.
In case you need to pay for your car from an account abroad - and if your dealer will allow it - it’s a good idea to use TransferWise. While transferring from abroad is possible through other services and banks, most markup the exchange rate to make extra profit. TransferWise will give you the real mid-market exchange rate, the same one you find on Google, and only charge a fair and upfront fee. No matter what provider you choose, it’s important to find out what the exchange rate really is by using an online currency converter.
If you’re buying your car from a dealer, you won’t need to worry about registering; the dealer will take care of the paperwork and registration for you. If your registration isn’t handled by the seller, you’ll need to head to the vehicle registration office with the following documents in hand:
- Original passport (not just a copy)
- Certificate of ownership
- Original driver’s license
- Greek residency permit (if you aren’t an EU citizen)
If you don’t yet have your permit, you’ll need to get that. Here are the documents you’ll need:
- Copy of mortgage or rent documents
- Copy of earning statements or tax returns
- Signed declaration that you have never sought Greek residency before
- €25 (in cash)
Driving a car in Greece comes with some extra laws and restrictions you may not have thought about. It’s a good idea to read up on the law thoroughly to make sure you’re not breaking any traffic rules while you’re driving in Greece.
Greek law requires you to have:
- A fire extinguisher
- A first aid kit
- A high visibility jacket
- A warning triangle
- A headlamp adjustment
- A portable breathalyzer
It’s important to remember that the legal limit for alcohol when driving in Greece is just 0.05%, a big decrease for British and American drivers. If you’ve had your license for fewer than two years, that limit decreases to 0.02%. So watch what you drink before you get out on the road.
Driver’s licences issued in the EU or EEA are accepted. However, if your driver’s license is issued outside of this area - you’ll also need a valid International Driving Permit (IDP). You can typically get your IDP at the same place you got your license. For US citizens, for example, you can get yours at the DMV.
While roadside assistance is pretty common in Greece, you’ll want to find a local company that can be there quickly no matter which island you’re staying on. It’s recommended that you search for a provider in your area, and then keep their number in your vehicle.
Even if you don’t speak Greek, it’s a good idea to keep a few helpful words under your belt, such as the following:
|New car||Καινούργιο αυτοκίνητο|
|Used car||Μεταχειρισμένο αυτοκίνητο|
|Car insurance||Ασφάλεια αυτοκινήτου|
|Roadside assistance||Οδική βοήθεια|
|Driver’s license||Άδεια οδήγησης|
|Car accident||Αυτοκινητιστικό ατύχημα|
With that, you’re ready to get started. No matter whether you prefer a used or new car, a moped, a van, or a motorcycle, you’re sure to have plenty of options.
Good luck buying your car in Greece!