The hotel sector is particularly important for the Greek economy, being an economy which relies heavily on tourism revenues.
The legal process for buying a hotel in Greece was once rather complex and slow; however, due to recent legislative changes the process and the supporting documents needed for Hotel licensing have been simplified.
Here we shall analyse the legislative environment that Greece now has with regard to hotel acquisition, renting and construction.
The most important relevant legislation includes Law 4276/2014 (Government Gazette 155A 30-07-2014), which concerns the licensing process, Government Gazette 146B 22-01-2015, which lists the supporting documents and finally the Ministerial Decision 17352/2018 – Government Gazette 4822 / Β / 30-10-2018, which indicates the criteria for classification of stars of the various hotel units.
Vis-a-vis the simplification of the procedure, the Greek authorities now ask for the submission of one single file and only one authority is competent to process such file (the EOT authority- National Organisation of Tourism) whereas in the past various authorities were implicated, something that used to create a lot of frustration and loss of precious time for foreign investors.
Process for buying a hotel in Greece
For this reason, the whole procedure consists of the following steps:
- Application – responsible statement of the entrepreneur or the legal representative (in case of a company) in which the complete details of the applicant (natural or legal person) as well as the VAT number and the Tax Office to which it pertains must be indicated. Application standards exist in Government Gazette 146B 22-01-2015.
- VAT registration with the Tax Office of the place where the hotel is located.
- Title deed or professional lease agreement in the case of a leased unit or concession.
- Building Permit and copies of the accompanying architectural design plans (floor plans-facades). These documents must also indicate the stores of health interest to be licensed and the swimming pools that may exist. At the same time, a responsible statement is submitted after an original signature and seal by the competent engineer EPI of all the above architectural plans that the accommodation has been erected and meets all the technical specifications provided for the accommodation of the category (of each case) stars.
- Responsible statement by the entrepreneur in a separate responsible declaration form stating that the accommodation meets all the operational specifications provided for the accommodation of the category (of each case) of stars.
- Technical report of location, area, existing infrastructure and description of the wider environment of the plot / land with original signature and stamp of the competent diploma or graduate engineer, as the case may be.
- Fire safety certificate (for accommodation of at least 20 beds and for all tourist camps), which covers the entire existing building installation, which is issued by the relevant fire service and has a duration of eight (8) years.
- Certificate of proper operation of the sewerage system of the accommodation from the Directorate of Hygiene of the relevant Regional Unit or certificate of diploma or degree in mechanical engineering or electrical engineering or energy technology with documentation of technical data regarding the adequacy of the disposal (for facilities that are not connected to the sewerage network). In case of connection to the relevant sewerage network (eg EYDAP), a photocopy of the last paid bill is sufficient. If the accommodation is environmentally licensed, a responsible statement of the engineer AND the entrepreneur is submitted that: “the conditions provided in the decision of environmental approval or in the original environmental commitments for the management and disposal of liquid waste are met”, while if the accommodation is not environmentally licensed, “The conditions laid down in the building permit for the disposal of liquid waste are met”.
- Decision approving environmental terms (AEPO) for projects or activities that fall under category A ‘of Annex VI of the Government Gazette 21 B / 2012. This is required only for large hotel installations, not for small hotels.
As can be seen, the above procedure for obtaining an operating hotel license and relevant supporting documents, as well as the required fees, are collected in one single file, which is submitted to the locally competent Regional Tourism Service. In order for the Tourist Accommodation Operation Special Mark / Operation License to be issued, the file is checked for completeness and the authority does not have the right to reject the file if all legal requirements are met.
Finally, an on-site review is carried out by the Directorate of Hygiene, which checks whether the Tourist Accommodation (hotel) really meets the specifications of the legislation.
This refined and more agile hotel acquisition procedure has been an important development that has permitted many international hotel groups to invest in the hotel market in Greece since its introduction.