Buying Property in Greece After Brexit

On January 31, 2020, Britain withdrew from the EU after a referendum. It has affected thousands of UK citizens living in Greece or planning to move abroad. The withdrawal coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has introduced yet another set of rules. Still, Greece continues to be a popular destination for tourists and property buyers.

Are you planning to relocate to the Hellenic Republic in 2022 and beyond? Are you worried about buying property in Greece after Brexit? Are you thinking about visiting friends and family members living there? This guide will provide you with the answers to these and other popular questions.

Visiting Greece after Brexit

The Greek tourism industry is on the rebound after the lockdowns. Both the mainland and the islands have a lot to offer to families and tourists travelling solo. Let's take a look at the new requirements for UK citizens visiting Greece.

Even after Brexit, UK nationals have the right to travel to Greece visa-free. The rules for the EU Schengen area apply to visiting Greece, as well. To cross the border, you need to have a valid passport that will not expire in 6 months or more. UK citizens and their family members can stay in Greece for up to 90 days during a rolling 180-day period. If you have other purposes than business or travel or plan to stay longer, be ready to gather more documents.

Before You Go

Before packing your suitcases you should file the official Passenger Location Form. You can complete your PLF online.

You can include your family members in a single PLF form. Non-relatives must file their forms separately. If you fail to do so, you will have to pay a €500 fine. You can be banned from boarding a plane, ship, or other transport. The Greek authorities will not let you enter the country without that form.

After you have submitted the form you will get a QR code delivered to you via email. Keep it with you at all times. You will have to show it to the authorities and the passenger carrier company.

Travel Documents Checklist:

  • valid IDs (including your family members),

  • PLF QR codes,

  • UK passports issued before Brexit are valid if they have not expired,

  • duration of your stay (included in the PLF),

  • purpose of your visit (included in the PLF),

  • return tickets,

  • proof of having funds for your travelling and staying abroad,

  • valid vaccination certificates (including children 5+ years old),

  • or COVD-19 recovery certificates,

  • or negative PCR tests (within a 72-hour window),

  • or negative rapid antigen tests (within a 24-hour window),

  • Emergency Travel Documents.

The Greek authorities might ask you to take another COVID-19 test upon entry. They will also require you to wear a mask. If you test positive, you will have to spend 5 or more days in self-isolation. Children under 5 years of age do not have to be vaccinated or tested. Your passport should not be older than 10 years. It should also not expire while you are staying in Greece. You might need to renew your documents before you decide to buy a tour.

Living in Greece after Brexit

If you are planning to move to the Hellenic Republic to study or work, you will need all the documents listed above. Also, you will have to provide a residence permit and a relevant visa for working or studying. The same rules apply if you are going to engage in business activities for a period longer than 90 days. Short business trips are visa-free.

If you were a resident of the Hellenic Republic before January 1st, 2020, your rights are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. In this case, living in Greece after Brexit requires getting the new biometric proof of residence.

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Does the Withdrawal Agreement Apply to You?

A UK citizen is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • they have proof of work or self-employment,

  • they have proof of study, health insurance, and enough funds for their stay,

  • they are a documented permanent resident,

  • they have sufficient income and a health coverage plan.

To receive the new biometric proof of residence you will have to contact your Regional Police Directorate. You can apply for this document at the Aliens Department. If you were living in Greece for less than 5 years, you will receive a 5-year biometric permit. UK citizens that have proof of residence over 5 years will receive a document that allows them to stay permanently. It can be renewed every 10 years.

Working in Greece After Brexit

Greece continues to be a popular destination for work. In most cases, you will need a short-term or long-term work visa, and proof of your qualification. There are some short-term work-related activities that do not require you to obtain a visa. You must complete them within the 90-day limit.

  • If you are looking for a job and travelling to Greece for an interview with your potential employer.

  • If you are a shareholder invited to a board meeting.

  • If you are planning to meet your customers, colleagues, vendors, or contractors.

  • If you are looking to sign a contract.

  • If you are attending a trade fair, conference, or a team-building program both as a guest or a speaker.

If you are looking for long-term employment, you will need to submit a criminal records check. There are some criminal offences that might prevent you from entering Greece and seeking employment. Be sure to check them with your local authorities in the UK.

All prospective employees are subject to the Greek criminal records check. To get it you can apply through a Public Prosecutor's Office, a First Instance Court, or the Ministry of Justice. Don't hesitate to ask your employer for instructions.

Lawyers, teachers, doctors, and some other professionals need to get their qualifications recognized. Check the list of regulated professional activities in Greece before scheduling a job interview.

Buying a House in the Hellenic Republic

UK citizens looking to invest in property, buy a holiday home or a timeshare won't have much trouble with these activities even after Brexit.

If you plan to stay in the UK and visit your holiday residence in Greece from time to time, you simply have to buy a house. There are no additional rules and regulations that apply after Brexit.

When buying a holiday home, investment property, or permanent residence, think about its value. Greek islands remain a prime destination for property buyers. But they vary in terms of accommodations, infrastructure, and popularity among investors.

While the locals prefer to buy property close to the mainland, many British move to distant islands like Corfu. The island of Crete also has a large community of British expats. These two destinations should be at the top of your list. Of course, you can buy a house anywhere you want, but the closer you move to Athens, the more expensive real estate becomes.

You can get a relatively cheap 3-bedroom townhouse for €150,000 if you stay away from the most expensive areas. You should be looking for property in the range of €250,000–400,000 if you plan a serious investment. Buying real estate for €250,000 grants you a permanent resident status and is one of the requirements of the Golden Visa program. You can find a nice furnished villa with a small plot of land on Crete for this price.

Getting a Mortgage

Getting a bank loan to buy property in Greece is challenging for a foreigner, but not impossible. There are two basic options: receiving a loan from a British lender or getting a mortgage in Greece as an expat. In both cases, you need to have a spotless credit history, proof of earnings, and be able to pay the mortgage back before you retire.

There are many British lenders that provide "overseas mortgages". You need to deposit at least 25% of the property's value before getting a loan. It should be valued by an accredited expert. You will also need a comprehensive life insurance policy, and proof of paying taxes.

Getting a loan from a Greek lender is more difficult. The EU rules and exemptions no longer apply to you. You will have to provide a 30–40% deposit depending on the bank. You will also need to apply for Greek citizenship, have a local bank account, an international health plan, and proof of paying taxes.

Moving to Greece

Greece is a great place to retire or leave with your family. It has a great environment, many historical places to visit, and affordable quality health care. If you are a permanent resident of the country, you have life-long healthcare rights as long as you buy a health plan with comprehensive coverage.

Retired UK citizens can get their UK pensions in Greece and also claim local financial benefits and tax exemptions if they qualify.

You will have to get a driving permit in addition to your UK driving licence. Obtaining an International Permit from any British post office is also an option. It allows you to drive in European countries.

Conclusion

British citizens living in Greece after Brexit may face a few challenges. But since the Hellenic Republic is committed to their well-being, obtaining new documents is not hard. Whether you are going on a tourist trip or retiring to Greece, follow this guide to get answers to all your questions.

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