Greece

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 11 April 2014.   It contains updated information in the Summary, under Safety and security: Terrorism (on 10 April 2014 a car bomb exploded outside the Bank of Greece building in central Athens. No injuries were reported). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Greece.

Greece overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Greece.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Protests against economic and political developments in Greece continue to occur. Rioting can break out in Greek cities with little warning. Australians are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Areas in Athens that have mainly been affected by demonstrations and riots include Syntagma Square, Monastiraki and Omonia.
  • Strikes occur frequently in Greece. Air, sea and rail transport services and taxis have been disrupted by industrial action. Strikes by air traffic controllers can occur with little warning. You should monitor the media and be prepared to change your travel plans in case of disruptions. In the event that you are affected by transport disruptions, you should contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for assistance.
  • If you intend to hire cars, quad bikes, motorcycles, jet skis or engage in adventure sports such as bungee jumping, talk to your travel insurer to check if these activities are covered by your insurance policy, and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as if you are not licensed for those vehicles in Australia). Read more at our Travel insurance page.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • On 10 April 2014, a car bomb exploded outside the Bank of Greece building in central Athens. No injuries were reported however buildings in the vicinity sustained damage.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate for the most up to date information.

Greece is party to the Schengen Convention, along with 25 other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Greece without a visa in some circumstances. For further information read our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention. Australians may, for a fee, apply to extend their stay in Greece at a local Kentro Allodapon (Aliens Centre).

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the EU carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

Australian citizens born in Greece should note that they may encounter problems entering Greece on travel documents that use place names (for example, place of birth) not officially recognised by Greece. There have been cases where Australian passport holders have been denied entry into Greece on this basis, particularly when attempting to enter Greece from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Groups opposed to the Greek Government, Greek institutions and Western commercial and diplomatic interests have bombed government, commercial and other buildings in Greece on several occasions. This included bomb attacks at several locations in Athens in January 2013 and a serious attack on a government building in 2010. Such attacks have resulted in injuries, and further attacks cannot be ruled out.

On 10 April 2014, a car bomb exploded outside the Bank of Greece building in central Athens. No injuries were reported however buildings in the vicinity sustained damage.

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Protests and strikes against recent economic and political developments in Greece occur frequently. Air, sea and rail transport services and taxis have all been disrupted by industrial action. Strikes, including by air traffic controllers, can occur with little warning. We recommend you monitor the media and be prepared to change your travel plans in case of disruptions. In the event that you are affected by transport disruptions, you should contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for assistance. For information on possible disruptions to flights you can contact Eleftherios Venizelos airport information on +30 210 3530000.

Australians are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Areas in Athens that have mainly been affected by demonstrations and riots include Syntagma Square, Monastiraki (tourist area) and Omonia.

Rioting can break out with little warning in Athens and other Greek cities, including Thessaloniki. Australians should be particularly vigilant during days of national or commemorative significance, as the likelihood of civil unrest may increase.

Crime

Crime, including pickpocketing and bag snatching occurs in tourist areas and on public transport. Australians should exercise particular caution around tourist attractions in central Athens and the islands.

You should be cautious when walking alone and avoid, where possible, secluded areas after dark. Tourists have been the victims of serious assault, including sexual assault, in Athens and on the Greek Islands.

Money and valuables

Before you travel, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as through credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Greece.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible. In Greece, report the theft of your passport to the Australian Embassy in Athens on +30 210 8704067. You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

In recent years, people have been killed as a result of accidents and poor safety standards on regional buses and ferries. Use of reputable bus and ferry operators may reduce associated risks.

Driving in Greece can be hazardous due to aggressive driving practices and poorly maintained roads and vehicles. For further advice, see our road travel page.

A valid Australian driver’s licence and an international driver’s licence are both required to legally operate a vehicle in Greece. Drivers’ licences should be valid for the type of vehicle being driven, including for ‘quad’ motorbikes, mopeds, scooters and other similar motorised transport.

When travelling by motorcycle or motor scooter, both the operator and any passengers must wear a helmet. Failure to do so is illegal and could invalidate your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.

If you intend to hire cars, quad bikes, motorcycles, jet skis or engage in “adventure sports” such as bungee jumping, talk to your travel insurer to check if these activities are covered by your insurance policy, and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as if you are not licensed for those vehicles in Australia). Read more at our Travel insurance page.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Greece, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

You must carry identification documents, such as a clear photocopy of your passport, with you at all times. It is recommended that your original Australian passport be kept in a safe location.

Driving offences attract heavy penalties.

Penalties for all drug offences, even for possession of small amounts, include heavy fines and imprisonment.

Possession of offensive weapons, such as knuckledusters or knives with a length of 10 cm or more, can lead to imprisonment.

It is illegal to photograph military installations and military personnel.

Penalties, including heavy fines and prison sentences, apply for indecent behaviour, including nudity.

Smoking is illegal in indoor public places and can result in fines of up to 500 euros.

The export of Greek antiquities is subject to strict customs regulations. Penalties for illegally exporting antiquities range from large fines to prison terms. Further advice can be obtained from the Greek Ministry of Culture or the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Be aware that all areas of Greece enforce a public quiet time between 3 pm and 6 pm for siesta. Police may be called to enforce this custom.

Information for dual nationals

Australian /Greek dual nationals should be aware the Greek Government introduced a new series of passports in 2007 and old style Greek passports issued before 1 January 2006 ceased to be valid from midnight on 31 December 2006. Greek/Australian dual nationals should ensure that they travel on the new series of Greek Passports and/or a valid Australian passport. Holders of old-style Greek passports issued before 1 January 2006 should contact the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate if they wish to obtain a new Greek passport.

Australian/Greek dual national males, or those of Greek descent born outside of Greece, could be subject to compulsory military service and other obligations. Under the Greek Military Penal Code there are penalties for non-compliance. Adult male travellers who hold, or may be eligible for Greek citizenship, are strongly advised to seek further information and advice from the nearest Greek Embassy or Consulate, well in advance of travel.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in Greece varies from adequate to international standard. Private hospital costs are expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident, particularly when in a remote country area or on a Greek island, medical evacuation to Athens, or to another destination with the required facilities, might be necessary. Costs could be considerable.

Mosquito-borne and other insect-borne illnesses (such as tick-borne encephalitis and Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever) have been reported in Greece, especially during spring and autumn. We encourage you to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Outbreaks of food-borne diseases (including hepatitis and brucellosis) occur from time to time. We recommend you avoid raw and undercooked food, and avoid unpasteurised dairy products.

Where to get help

In Greece, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian Embassy, Athens

Thon Building, Level 6
Cnr. Kifisias and Alexandras Ave.
Ambelokipi
Athens 115 23 GREECE
Telephone: +30 210 870 4000
Facsimile: +30 210 870 4055
Website: www.greece.embassy.gov.au

Limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian passports, may be obtained from:

Australian Honorary Consul, Thessalonki

28 Archeologikou Mouseiou Street
Thessaloniki 546 41 GREECE
Telephone: +30 2310 827 494
Facsimile: +30 2310 827 494

If you are travelling to Greece, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Greece is in an active seismic zone. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic activity, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

Bush and forest fires often occur during the summer months in Greece (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested regions. In the event of fire, updates in English are available from local authorities by calling +30 210 324 8098.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice and obey instructions of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.