Here’s is the latest advice from the Foreign Office. Find out all you need to know about travelling to Greece.
Take plenty of this to Greece
Greece update: Current July 22
What’s the official advice? Here’s what the UK Government advises:
“Banks in Greece reopened on 20 July. Only limited banking services are available. The Greek government continues to limit withdrawals using cards issued by Greek banks to €60 per day. These daily amounts can now be withdrawn cumulatively on a Friday (€300 on 25 July and €420 on each subsequent Friday).
You can withdraw cash using your UK card up to the daily limit imposed by the Greek banking system (usually €600), or the daily limit imposed by your card issuer – whichever is the lower amount. The system for paying with debit and credit cards for retail transactions continues to function. Western Union has suspended the transfer of money to and from Greece.”
What the latest ‘bail-out’ means for Brits in Greece
Greek MPs have agreed to the demands set out by Euro finance bosses in order to inject more cash into the debt-ridden country, but how could this affect tourists?
One thing’s for sure, with the deal in place, Brits heading to the country’s islands will be paying higher taxes on food and accommodation.
Prior to the deal, Greek Islands enjoyed lower VAT and tax rates to help lure the tourists who are so essential to the country’s economy, but that’s about to end as the Greeks implement the tax hikes demanded by Eurocrats in Brussels.
The deal will see tax on dining increased from 13% to 23%, while the levy paid on hotel rooms and fresh food will double to 13%. For a family of four, this could add more than £10 to an evening meal, while accommodation costs and other prices will also rise. These increases will come into effect almost immediately – so make sure you pack extra euros.
Additionally, the VAT discount of 30% offered to promote tourism on the country’s islands will be axed, but remotest islands will be allowed to keep it until 2016.
Greeks will also be subject to a luxury tax rise, which will include swimming pools. It’s possible this could lead to increased rental prices for tourists staying in villas and appartments with pools or those hiring boats.
All about money
Withdrawals are still limited for for locals and remain at €600 for tourists. However, many cash machines could become empty.
The UK Government continues to advise that travellers should take enough cash to cover their trip. It is unlikely that travellers will be able to swap sterling for euros in Greece, so please take the currency with you.
It’s also likely many smaller service providers – such as cafes and bars- will continue refuse to accept credit cards for fear of losing the money to banks.
Here is the current overview on spending in Greece.
Cash: The advice is simple here – take as much of this as possible. It’s the only sure-fire method of payment that’ll be accepted in Greece over the coming weeks. When buying your cash, ask for small denomination notes as large notes may be difficult to break in Greece; go for €5, €10 and €20 notes.
How much money will I need? Andrew Brown, from Post Office Travel Money, says his company estimate a couple will spend an around £500 in cash on a fortnight’s holiday on things such as meals out, drinks and snacks. This figure increases to £700 for a family. The estimate does not include days out, accommodation or buying goods.
Taking unspent euros out of Greece… Currently, there are no restrictions on non-nationals taking unspent euros out of Greece at the end of your stay.
This could change of course, so while tourists are being told to take ‘bundles of cash’ it would only be sensible to create a carefelly thought out budget and limit cash to what you’ll need to cover the holiday along with some extra for emergencies and delays
Travel association Abta has also updated its advice telling holidaymakers to check how much cash their travel insurance will cover. Several insurance companies – such as Aviva – have increased this amount. Check your company is one of them.
ATMs: Don’t rely on withdrawing cash; locals are still limited to the amount they can withdraw, so many will have daily queues and even run out of cash. Foreign cards aren’t subject to these controls – you can take up to €600 a day – but being a Brit won’t get you to the front of the queue or reserve cash for you.
Credit cards: In theory you should be able to use credit cards, but the reality is likely to be very different. With Greek banks on the brink, many service providers will not want to take electronic payment.
Currency cards: These will suffer the double-whammy of being limited for cash withdrawals and being turned down by retailers who don’t want ‘electronic funds’.
Is it safe to buy euros: Yes.The risk of an exit from the euro now seems to have been averted. In any case, an exit from the currency would not be instant, with many experts looking at a timescale of around 18 months before any separation would take place. You can choose not to buy Greek euros for added reassurance; see our guide below.
Travellers’ cheques: These aren’t widely used and may not be accepted.