How to get Greek citizenship

Every year, thousands of people from around the world are trying to receive European citizenship. Often, Greece is their favourite destination. It has affordable investment residency and a growing economy. A hospitable climate and millennia-rich culture make the country a great place to retire.

The Hellenic Republic welcomes ethnic Greeks and their family members, as well as investors and skilled workers. It allows holding dual citizenship and offers all the perks of being an EU national. Learn how to get Greek citizenship with this comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide.

Pathways to Greek citizenship

Greek nationality law follows the principle of jus sanguinis. It means that anyone born to a Greek citizen parent is also entitled to citizenship. Ethnic Greeks and their descendants can apply, even if their parents aren't citizens.

Can you receive a Greek passport, if you don't meet the heritage criteria? Sure. There are two popular ways to become a naturalized citizen. First, you can live in the country for 7 years and pass the exam. EU nationals, refugees, spouses, and parents of Greek citizens need only 3 years.

The second way is residency through investment. It requires you to invest at least €250,000 in the Greek economy. Living in the country is optional. You will have all the rights of a regular resident for a period of 5 years. It's a great first step on the path to citizenship.

And best of all, Greece lets you have dual citizenship if your country of origin permits that.

1. Through descent

If you have Greek heritage, the easiest way to get Greek citizenship by descent is through recognition of your status by the authorities.

You get citizenship automatically, if:

  • your father or mother had Greek nationality at the moment of your birth;

  • you were born in Greece to parents who resided there for 5 or more years;

  • you were born out of wedlock to a Greek mother;

  • you have grandparents or great grandparents, who were citizens, and can prove it.

Extra Greek citizenship requirements exist, if:

  • you were born abroad, and your family lived in Greece for 5 or more years. You qualify after completing 6 years of elementary education in a Greek school.

  • you were born out of wedlock to a Greek father. You need a recognized paternity test.

The application process

Are you a person of Greek descent living in the Hellenic Republic? Visit your local Municipal Authorities. You need to provide them with your Certificate of Registration.

If you live in any other country, contact a Greek consulate or embassy first. They will tell you what to do. Do you know the location of the nearest consulate or embassy? Visit the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Documents and forms

The good news is that all Greeks born abroad pass on their citizenship to all their descendants. Are you able to establish a Greek ancestor and provide necessary documents? Great! Claim your ethnic inheritance and become a Greek in the eyes of the law.

The authorities will inform you what documents you need in your situation.

Most cases include:

  • your personal birth certificate;

  • passport and some photographs;

  • your parents' marriage certificate;

  • a special application form;

  • documents that record birth, baptism, or marriage of your Greek ancestors;

  • Military or Municipal registration records of your Greek ancestors;

  • a police certificate with a clean criminal record;

  • any other documented evidence that can support your Greek heritage.

Translate all documents into Greek first and notarize them. Did you fail to qualify for some reason? You can still become a citizen through the process of naturalization. Consult with the respective authorities. They will show you the proper course of action.

2. Through residence

If you plan to reside in Greece for a long time, you can become a naturalized citizen after completing certain requirements for Greek citizenship.

To go through the process of naturalization, you must:

  • live in Greece for 7 years and more;

  • be a taxpayer;

  • have a clean criminal record.

You can get naturalized faster, if:

  • you are an EU national;

  • your spouse is a Greek citizen and you have children together;

  • you have adopted a child of Greek nationality;

  • you are a documented refugee or a stateless person.

In these cases, you need only 3 years of permanent residence in Greece to apply. Any unmarried children of naturalized citizens receive citizenship automatically. They must be under 18 years of age.

You may be disqualified if you have been convicted for intentional crimes in Greece or abroad. Especially, if you have served a prison sentence of more than 6 months (or 1 year for some types of crimes). If that's your case, check with the authorities to discuss the possibilities of your situation.

If you were expelled from the country, or have no proof of residence, you will not be able to get naturalized.

The application process

If you live in Greece, contact your local Municipal Authorities. You must provide them with a naturalization statement. Include other documents that show your ties to the country.

Are you outside of Greece currently and wish to apply? Get in touch with the nearest consulate or embassy. Visit the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find their location.

Documents and forms

Similar to receiving citizenship through descent, you have to prove your ties to the country. You have to prove that you are a law-abiding resident and taxpayer. You may include your spouse, both your parents and all underage children in the application.

Consult with the authorities to learn what kinds of documents you need in your situation.

Most cases include:

  • a proper residence permit;

  • or a residence certificate issued to an EU national;

  • or a refugee/stateless person card;

  • place of residence permits for family members of a Greek citizen;

  • your naturalization statement;

  • Social Security Number;

  • your passport or another travel ID;

  • your birth certificate;

  • lodging a declaration of income or tax returns statement for the previous financial year.

Don't forget to translate, notarize and validate all necessary documents. You may consult a lawyer before making an application.

3. Through investment

Hellenic law allows you and your family members to receive a residence permit for 5 years if you make a substantial investment into the economy. The Greek Golden Visa program is very popular. It can become the first step on your path to citizenship.

Golden Visa has several investment options:

  • buying a real estate for €250,000 + VAT;

  • signing a 10-year lease with a hotel in Greece;

  • investing €400,000 in a Greek business, government bonds, shares of a real estate company;

  • depositing €400,000 into a bank account in Greece.

Buying real estate, property, or a timeshare for €250,000 and more is the most popular and one of the least expensive ways to get EU citizenship through investment.

The criteria for eligibility are:

  • being over 18 years old;

  • having a clean criminal record;

  • making a sizable investment into the Greek economy;

  • having health insurance from a Greek-based provider.

Benefits of the investment program:

  • one of the cheapest EU Golden Visa programs;

  • visa covers your closest family members;

  • travel visa-free in the Schengen Zone;

  • you don't have to live in Greece;

  • rent out or lease your real estate;

  • access Greek healthcare and education services;

  • you don't have to visit Greece to renew the visa as long as you keep the property;

  • available within one or two months, faster than most other European programs;

  • allows to own a Greek business, receive profits and dividends from it;

  • you can apply for citizenship after 7 years of residence and paying taxes.

To apply for citizenship, you must live in Greece and pass the exam, showing your knowledge of language and culture.

The application process

Visit a consulate or embassy to get an entry visa. Gather all the necessary documents for making an investment. Enter Greece and make a deal with a property developer. Get proof that you are a property owner. Visit the Alien and Immigration Department in the local municipality, where you have bought a property. Submit your papers and wait for the Golden Visa application to be processed.

Documents and forms

Consult with lawyers and property investors before making a decision. Hire a professional service to help you with the paperwork.

In most cases, you will need:

  • a proper application form;

  • your passport (plus copy) with an entry visa;

  • recent photos of yourself;

  • receipts for paying government fees;

  • a health insurance contract;

  • your bank statement;

  • a purchasing contract (if you buy property);

  • a Land Registry certificate;

  • or a timeshare contract (if you lease a hotel);

  • a National Tourism Organization certificate;

  • or documents that show your investment in a company.

Contact the relevant authorities first to learn what documents you need in your situation. You will have to translate, notarize and validate your papers before making an application.

Taking the exam

You are required to take a Panhellenic exam before a decision can be made about your status. There are two options: the written and the oral exam. The written exam is taken twice a year, in May and November. You will receive a score that corresponds to your knowledge of the Greek language, geography, and history. The passing rate is 70% and above.

Those who pass the written test receive the Certificate of Adequacy of Knowledge for Naturalization (PEGP). As of 2021, the fee to take the exam is €150. If you fail, you can participate the next time. After passing the exam, you will have an interview at the General Secretariat for Citizenship. Then a final decision will be made.

You can access your PEGP results at a government website.

Exemptions:

  1. People over 62 years of age, with disabilities or learning impediments. They are allowed to take an oral exam instead.

  2. Those who have attended a Greek school or university and have a degree of education don't need to take PEGP at all.

Your citizenship got denied

Sometimes the applicants receive an unfavourable reply from the authorities. What should you do if your application got rejected? Don't worry. If you apply as a person of Greek ethnicity, you probably haven't provided all the necessary evidence. Gather those documents and try again or follow the naturalization route.

Did you apply for Greek citizenship as a resident and got rejected? The authorities will explain your options and the course of action you need to take when you get your notification.

Alternatives to citizenship

Can't become a citizen of the Hellenic Republic yet? There are still many opportunities that allow you to live, study and work there. Visit the nearest consulate or embassy. Learn about your visa options and requirements there.

Some options you might consider:

  • get a short term student or working visa;

  • extend or convert it to a residence permit;

  • apply for long-term residence;

  • permits are issued for 5 years and can get extended indefinitely;

  • try applying for citizenship again after some time.

Benefits of getting Greek citizenship

The Greek passport is one of the best in the world when it comes to freedom of travel and work. It allows you to visit 186 countries without a visa (as of 2021). It has all the benefits of a European Union passport, which means that you can travel, work and study as long as you like in most European countries. You can also vote in all EU-related elections.

Conclusion

Becoming a Greek national is easier if you can prove your heritage. Another popular option is naturalization. The Golden Visa investment program is one of the most affordable among other European states. Consult with the authorities and lawyers first to learn about your options.

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