—Updated on Monday, June 29 at 5:35 p.m.—
The government of Canada is advising visitors to Greece to bring enough cash to cover unexpected to travel expenses in the wake of the country’s deepening financial crisis that took a dramatic turn Sunday.
Authorities in Greece announced yesterday that all banks in the country will be closed from June 29 to July 7, 2015 and capital controls, including maximum €60 daily ATM cash withdrawals, have been imposed on locals until further notice. The decision came after the European Central Bank (ECB) said it would not boost the amount of emergency loans to keep Greek banks afloat. Banks in the country are not expected to reopen until after a national referendum that will ask voters to accept or reject the latest bailout measures offered to Greece by the ECB, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
The capital controls do not apply to foreign tourists, provided their debit/credit cards have been issued abroad, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson said Monday in an email to MoneySense.
“The Embassy of Canada in Athens confirmed that there have been no reported restrictions to Canadians attempting to withdraw funds from ABMs, and that Canadians were in fact able to withdraw the maximum daily amount of cash allowed by their financial institutions,” Nicolas Doire said.
Earlier in the day, Canadian authorities updated their travel advisory for Greece.
“Expect long lines at ABMs and a shortage of hard currency throughout the country,” the notice states. “Plan to have more than one means of payment (cash, debit cards, credit cards) and ensure that you have enough cash to cover unexpected travel expenses.”
Most hotel websites, including Booking.com, Hotels.com and Expedia.ca, will allow you to pay for accommodations via credit card in advance of your departure which should reduce the amount of cash you’ll need on hand upon arrival. Same goes for rental cars and select ferries between Greek islands.
Reader Tyrel Burton left a message on our Facebook page from the small island of Milos saying that while banks were closed, it was business as usual at local establishments with bank and credit cards being widely accepted. Burton said he followed the news leading up to his arrival in Greece and decided to take out an extra money at the Heathrow airport in London “just to be safe” despite the costly foreign exchange fees. “Glad we did, as it just took the ‘pressure’ off any potential cash issues,” he wrote.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said Monday “it stands ready to assist Canadian citizens should the situation in Greece deteriorate.”
Remember, if you plan to enter or leave the EU with €10,000 or more in cash (or its equivalent in other currencies) you must declare it to the customs authorities. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the webpage of the European Commission on cash controls.