- How to obtain Greek passport?
- Why Become a Greek Citizen?
- Greek passport requirements
- Fees and Documents
- Visa-Free Countries for Greek Passport Holders
- How to Apply for a Greek Passport by Naturalization and by Marriage?
- The process of obtaining Greek citizenship
- The cost of obtaining Greek citizenship
- The cost of The Greek Citizenship Exam
- Dual citizenship in Greece
- Comparison of Greek, Portuguese and Spanish passports
Why Become a Greek Citizen?
The entire world knows Greece as the cradle of European civilization. The country boasts a mild Mediterranean climate, delicious cuisine, lavish farms, and spell-binding landscapes. There are many sites from the UNESCO World Heritage list. While some people live on the Greek inland, others choose to stay on the islands, like Corfu, and enjoy the azure sea. Greece is a superb alternative to Spain for those who plan to immigrate and is great for those who no longer want to live in northern countries.
The Greek government recognizes the popularity of the country by offering foreigner naturalization. Yet the State is also quite protective and does not open the road to citizenship to anyone, so there are eligibility requirements. Greece only offers passports to its existing nationals. Unless you can prove you are Greek by descent it is very unlikely that you will ever get a passport. Greece also does not support a citizenship-by-investment program, like some other European countries. Instead, the government runs a special Golden Visa program. It offers a residence permit in exchange for buying shares in the country's real estate, which is a marvelous start for naturalization.
- Immigration law in Greece
- Residence permit in Greece
- How to get permanent residence in Greece
- What do you need for greek dual citizenship?
- In which countries can I get a second passport for an investment?
Greek passport requirements
There are four main cases in which a person will be eligible to apply for a Greek passport:
if they are Greek by descent;
if they have an established connection with Greece by way of studies or marriage;
if they are financially independent people;
if they are participants of the Golden Visa program.
It is only in the first case that an applicant will not have to spend any amount of time in the country. Provided they can prove their Greek origin, they join the ranks of other Greek nationals. Those who fall under any of the remaining three categories will be naturalized. This means that they retain their original nationality, while also becoming citizens of Greece. Below we go over each case.
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Greek citizen by descent
To claim Greek citizenship by descent, a person must prove that:
his or her ancestors were Greek by birth, or
born in a legal union where one of the parents was Greek.
Official registrars provide such records. Yet, as Greece had its own share of political turmoil, it may be hard to obtain such records for ancestors who emigrated from the country. Moreover, they could have changed their name. So, the quest for establishing their Greek identity becomes even more complicated. The government's stance is firm: the identity of the Greek ancestors — a grandparent, for instance — must be proved by official sources.
If you are considering this option, it is best to first consult an official advisor. This person will evaluate the prospects of your application. Perhaps they will help to save money if this is an unlikely case.
Established connection with Greece
This opportunity is open to children who study in a Greek school and have completed 6 years of education. Or, their parents are foreign nationals who have been Greek residents for no less than seven years. A similar option is open to students of Greek universities — such as the University of Athens — who finished their degrees.
Financially independent people
This option is open to foreign residents who can prove that their income in their home country exceeds 2,000 euros a month. They have to apply for a residency permit which is valid for 2 years and subject to extension. It is possible to apply with the spouse — a wife or husband — and/or children. The monthly income will have to be higher in this case: by 20% for the spouse and by 15% for every child. Although this option seems viable, in practice this kind of residency permit is hard to obtain. Each application is thoroughly reviewed by the officials.
Golden Visa program
The Golden Visa program was introduced as a Greek alternative to citizenship-by-investment programs. Participants can buy shares in Greece real estate (e.g. a hotel), open an account in a Greek bank, or purchase a plot of agricultural land for a period of 5 years. At this time, they are not allowed to withdraw the money. In return, the ownership means that they get a residence permit for themselves and their entire family. This includes a spouse, their children, the parents, and the in-laws. They cannot live in any EU country they wish, except their home country and Greece. Yet they can travel in Europe throughout the Schengen zone.
Should they wish, they can move to Greece immediately and lay down roots there. Or, they can stay in their country of residence. After 5 years they obtain an indefinite leave to remain. This is followed by 2 years when they must stay and live in Greece to be fully eligible for Greek citizenship. After 2 years they finally get naturalized. They receive a Greek passport and can travel and work anywhere in the EU.
This scheme is open to any foreign national who has the funds to participate in the Golden Visa program. The program implies the €250,000 participation price
Fees and Documents
To sum up, a person who is likely to qualify for a Greek passport and citizenship must suit the following requirements:
be over 18 years old;
have a clear criminal record;
have not been deported from Greece;
have resided in the country for seven years.
Under certain circumstances, the applicant may have to wait less. Normally, the waiting period lasts three years on the following occasions:
an applicant is a spouse of a Greek national and has lived in the country in the last three years;
an applicant has a small child who holds a Greek passport;
an applicant is a refugee or has been stripped of citizenship by his native country;
an applicant is a native citizen of an EU country.
Below is the list of mandatory documents for citizenship application:
a copy of the passport;
application for naturalization;
statement of desire to obtain Greek citizenship;
credit history for a specified period;
insurance policy number;
a copy of Greek residence permit;
a birth certificate.
Other documents may be provided upon request from the officials. Some documents will need to be translated into Greek, notarized, and apostilled, e.g. a birth certificate. Other documents and other paperwork must be registered or witnessed by the Greek nationals or government services. The residents of the European Union must have a permanent residence certificate issued by Greece's Immigration Department. The Statement of desire to become a Greek citizen must be witnessed by two Greek nationals.
SSpeaking of fees, the application may cost as much as 700 euros; in case of resubmission or expiration, the applicant will have to pay 200 euros. There are a lot of hidden costs, e.g. translation, notary, and apostille services for any documents in the foreign language. An applicant must be able to speak Greek, to know the country's history and culture, and to take part in the country's political life (e.g. during elections). So, in the case when the person does not know the language and customs of the country, they will have to pay for lessons, so make an appointment with a tutor if you’re not fluent in Ελληνικά (country’s official language.) Several months after the documents were submitted the applicant may have to attend an interview or take a test. Travel expenses and perhaps a test fee will also rest with the applicant.
All the documents and payments are sent to the Decentralised Administration Department of Civil State in the applicant's native country. The application may be considered for one to four years. It makes sense to turn to a professional counsellor who will be able to advise on the best option and help save time and money.
Visa-Free Countries for Greek Passport Holders
The analyst firm, Henley & Partners, ranked the Greek passport sixth in terms of travel freedom in 2018. The document paves the road to any country that is a member of the European Union — you can visit it visa-free. Brexit has set no barriers for Greek travelers either: they can spend 90 days on the British soil without a visa. Altogether, Greek passport holders can travel to 174 countries globally with a Greek biometric ID card on their hands.
While the applicant for a Greek passport is awaiting the official decision, they, as a potential migrant, cannot move to another country for work or use social benefits in another EU country. However, he can enjoy travelling within the Schengen zone. He has full access to medical services and can open an account in a European bank. If the application is successful, and the person is naturalized, he can enjoy the EU social benefit schemes. He can reside and work in any European country. Most importantly, he can transfer citizenship by inheritance to his children and grandchildren.
How to Apply for a Greek Passport by Naturalization and by Marriage?
If you live long enough on the territory of Greece or even get married to a Greek citizen, you can legally become a citizen by naturalization. You can become a legal Greek citizen if you:
Lived legally in the country for at least seven years.
Legally lived in the country for at least three years, provided that you are married to a Greek citizen, or have a child in common with him.
Have legally lived in the country for at least three months, provided that you are a refugee or recognized as a stateless person.
The process of obtaining Greek citizenship
If you follow all the requirements and do not have any restrictions (like criminal records), the next step in obtaining Greek citizenship for you is filling out the application. Besides the application for naturalization, you will need some other documents, such as:
A “Declaration of Naturalization” of the municipality where you live.
A registration certificate or a permanent residence permit for citizens of the European Union is provided by the immigration departments of the Greek Police.
Your native passport (In a physical form, not a digital copy.)
A birth certificate. Please note that the birth certificate must be certified and translated into the Greek language.
Personal tax audits for the last couple of years.
Any other documents that can confirm your attitude towards Greece and the Greeks.
You should apply for the application at the Directorate of Civic Status of the Decentralized Administration of the area where you reside.
The cost of obtaining Greek citizenship
Without money, it is impossible to become a Greek citizen. Apart from renting or buying a place to live — no matter if it’s a large house or a miniature flat — you should also pay for the application for citizenship and other fees.
If this is your first time obtaining citizenship in this country, your fee would cost 700 euros. You may also pay for consultation, notarization, and other services that can help you get Greek citizenship successfully. If you are applying for the second time, the fee would cost 200 euros. Stateless people and refugees who want to obtain Greek citizenship must pay only 100 euros, whether it is the first, second or the third time applying.
To obtain citizenship by naturalization under the Golden Visa program, you will need to buy a property worth at least 250,000 euros. Or you need to create a deposit in a Greek bank, purchase government bonds, shares of Greek companies, or invest in local investment funds for a total amount of at least 400,000 euros. Also, if you need to pass a special Greek exam before obtaining citizenship, you have to pay 150 euros for it.
The cost of the Greek passport
If your application is approved, then you have to get a passport. Getting a physical passport from Greece is also not free. The applicant should pay the following fees:
€84.40, if the applicant is over 14 years of age.
€73.60, if the applicant is under 14 years of age.
Pay attention that all the fees should be paid by cash in US dollars only. In case the passport application is rejected, the money you paid for the fee is refundable. It counts as a minus of 5 euros in USD from the total cost of the fee.
Passport Photo Requirements for Greece
An important step in obtaining a Greek passport is taking a photo of its future holder. Random photography is not acceptable because it must follow specific requirements.
The size of the photo must be 35 mm x 45 mm.
While taking the photo, the person needs to look straight at the camera lens without smiling. The face must be neutral and without any emotions.
The photography must be taken on a white background. Other colors are not acceptable.
It needs to be a recent photo taken no longer than a half year ago.
The person should take off any accessories such as hats, scarves, and glasses.
The cost of The Greek Citizenship Exam
In 2021, the Greek government launched a special exam for everyone who wants to obtain Greek citizenship by naturalization. It has 20 questions about the Greek language, history, economy, culture, and geography. To pass this exam, the person should get a minimum score of 80%. It costs 150 euros.
Dual citizenship in Greece
Under Greek nationality law, dual citizenship here is legal and fully allowed. There is no need for you to get rid of your native citizenship if you want to get the Greek one. All Greek citizens are allowed to hold dual citizenship without any special conditions — you can be a Greek citizen, while also retaining a passport of UK, US, etc.
Comparison of Greek, Portuguese and Spanish passports
|Visa free access||142||143||144|
|Visa on arrival||37||37||38|
|Residence permit for investments||from €250,000||from €280,000||from €500,000|
Greece is an enviable country for many, especially those who plan to retire in a warm, hospitable climate. The government recognizes the interest and considers each application very diligently. If an applicant satisfies all the Greek passport requirements, he will have access to over 174 countries worldwide and many social benefits and citizen programs in the EU.