Greece is famous for its cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes, mild climate and friendly people, which makes it popular among those who want to move to other country, whether to do business or make profit from renting out real estate or for their retirement. According to the Quality of Nationality Index, the Greek passport is among Top 20 countries of the world.
Here are other benefits of being Greek:
- Possibility to travel to over 170 countries without visas
- Ability to open an account with a European bank
- High level of personal security
- High standard of schooling
- Great healthcare and unpolluted environment
- Relatively low real estate prices
- Tax advantages
Although it’s a difficult, time-taking and bureaucratic process, it’s still possible to get the Greek passport and enjoy all of its benefits.
Types of Greek citizenship
There are different options to become a Greek citizen:
- by descent
- by marriage
- by military service
- by naturalization
- through investment
Let’s get to each of them in detail.
Citizenship by Descent
Citizenship by descent is granted upon meeting the following conditions:
- Your mother or your father is Greek, which can be confirmed by municipal records. But in case your parents are not married and only your father is a Greek citizen, you will have to pass the paternity test or present affidavit of acknowledgement of your birth from your father.
- You were born on the territory of Greece, and at least one parent had been legally resident in Greece for at least five years.
- In case you were adopted by a Greek citizen.
- If your grandfather or your grandmother were born in Greece or were naturalized.
Citizenship by Marriage
Getting married to a citizen of Greece after 1984 doesn’t give you the right to apply for the Greek passport, only for a permanent resident status.
However, if any of your ancestors got married to a Greek national before 1984, he or she is eligible for applying for citizenship, even if he or she isn’t alive anymore, and all this makes you a Greek descendant, therefore you can apply for a Greek passport by descent.
Citizenship by Military Service
Another option to get a Greek passport is by enlisting in the Armed Forces of Greece, if you have Greek ethnicity, even as a volunteer, or enter a military academy in the country. On the day of your official enrollment you obtain the citizenship automatically.
Another way is to become a monk in any Agion Oros monastery, which also entitles you to get the Greek citizenship.
Citizenship by Naturalization
Obtaining Greek passport by naturalization is not easy compared to many other counties. Since 2012, this option is only available for people of Greek origin or those who got their residency under Golden Visa program.
In this case, it requires seven years of permanent and legal residence in Greece to be able to apply for Greek passport. This term might be reduced to three years, if:
- The applicant is married to a Greek citizen and they have a common child;
- The applicant has a minor child of Greek nationality;
- The applicant is a refugee.
Considering everything stated above, without having Greek ethnicity the only way to obtain a Greek passport is to get a residency by investment first, and then after seven years to apply for the citizenship. The Greek Golden Visa Program is amongst the most popular ones in the world due to the following advantages:
- The amount of investment required is relatively low.
- Under the Program, your family members automatically become eligible for the residency as well. It includes the spouse, children under 21 years of age if they are not married or even under 24, if they are a student.
- There are no requirements to live in Greece to get the residency renewal, however you are allowed to live and invest in this country.
Types of Investment
Investors can purchase real estate for a minimum of €250,000 or choose a Real Estate Lease or Timeshare option with the same investment threshold.
Most of the investors choose the purchase of real estate because of the potential income that having a property in Greece brings. The real estate object can be residential or commercial, located on the Greek mainland or any of the islands. There is no requirement to invest in a single property worth €250,000: an investor can choose to buy several real estate objects, with the combined value of €250,000. Joint ownership is allowed, too. For a couple, the minimum amount is the same, but in all other cases it’s €250,000 per investor.
Steps to Apply for a Greek Golden Visa
- You need to enter Greece and make your investment.
- Collect all the required documents, namely:
- Application form
- Recent, passport-size pictures of you according to Greek requirements
- Valid passport and its copy
- Proof of having paid the relevant government fees. The fee for first-time applicants from non-EU countries is €700. The fee for the second and following applications is €200. In total, all the costs might amount up to €15,000
- Medical insurance
- Confirmation of any type of income
- Clean criminal record
- Proof of investment
For purchasing real estate: a contract purchase, with indications of the price, method of payment and all the details about the property, as well as Land Registry certificate.
For renting a hotel or tourist establishment: a contract for at least five years, Land Registry certificate, National Tourism Organisation certificate.
- Additional documents might be requested
Note: all the documents must be translated to Greek by Translation Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens or by an attorney from the bar association and bear the Apostille.
- Submit the documents to the Alien and Immigration Department and wait for their decision. It usually takes from 40 to 90 days.
- If the decision is positive, you need to submit your biometric information personally in Greece.
- Obtain you Golden Visa with validity of five years.
During these five years you can live both in and outside of Greece, there are even no requirements for days that the investor should spend in the country. After that you can keep renewing your Golden Visa indefinitely by providing proof that you still maintain the investment.
However, in order to obtain citizenship, you need to live in Greece.
As was already mentioned above, after seven years of residence, an investor can apply for the Greek passport. However, to do this, one should keep in mind the following factors:
- You must actually live in Greece and pay taxes there. Minimum stay for 7 years – 6 months per year.
- You are liable for tax in Greece if you spend more than 183 days per year in the country.
- You should check the information if your country of origin allows having dual citizenship.
- Proof of at least basic knowledge of the Greek language and culture.
Contact our team of friendly and knowledgeable experts here for a free consultation to equip you with the most up-to-date advice on all aspects of citizenship.