Tourist Visa to Greece

What is a tourist visa

The most common type of diplomatic document is a travel visa. It allows people of all ages and walks of life to visit a country of their choice.

So, do you need a visa to travel to Greece? In this article, we will tell you about the requirements for Greek tourist visas. Greece is a member of the EU and has varying requirements for entry depending on a visitor's country of origin. At present, it operates a visa-free regime for 90 countries. However, by the end of 2022, this will have changed, according to the EU latest policy.

Eligibility for a travel visa for Greece

Before we go into details on what citizens can visit Greece and what is required to obtain a Greek visa, let us consider what kind of travellers will generally be allowed to enter the country.

A prospective tourist must:

  • have a good intention to travel;

  • be able to bear all necessary and unforeseen expenses;

  • provide reasons for returning to their home country;

  • exhibit a good character (e.g. provide a clear criminal record);

  • be in good health;

  • have a genuine purpose and the proof thereof (e.g., an itinerary).

Provided that you satisfy these criteria and are eager to prove it during a personal visit to a Greek consulate, read on to find out about the visa requirements for this country.

Who needs a tourist visa

At present, citizens of over 90 states can travel to Greece without a visa, and the nationals of other 150 countries must obtain a Schengen visa prior to their visit. By the end of 2022, however, the ETIAS visa waiver will have come into force in Greece. This means that citizens of some countries that presently enter Greece without a visa will have to fill in a special application form online ahead of visiting the country. If the ETIAS application is successful, this electronic travel authorization will be linked to a traveller's passport and allow the eligible citizens to travel to Greece and the Schengen zone. It will be valid for 3 years and allow the stays for up to 90 days. The programme is open to travellers with dual citizenship.

Nationals not eligible for ETIAS but who presently travel to Greece visa-free will need to apply for a Schengen visa, which will allow them only to visit Greece but not other EU/EEA states.

Meanwhile, the following requirements are applicable depending on the traveller's country of origin. The majority of people, especially the citizens of most African and Asian countries, Russia, and the CIS countries, will have to apply for a Schengen visa to travel to Greece. Yet, there are certain countries that enjoy visa-free entry.

EU/EEA countries and Switzerland

Currently, citizens of these areas do not need a visa to visit Greece as tourists. Furthermore, if any of these states is a part of the Schengen Zone, their citizens do not need to apply for any kind of visa to travel, study, or work in Greece. They are free to move between the EU states provided they have a valid ID.

The Schengen Zone

Citizens of these countries are exempt from the visa regime and can freely enter Greece.

The USA

Citizens of the United States can travel to any Schengen member state, including Greece, without a visa. They can stay in the country for up to 90 days. This does not mean, nevertheless, that no travel documents are required at all.

Where and when to apply

You can check online whether your country belongs to a visa-free zone or not. Now let us look at where you need to go to submit a Greek visa application, and what time period you should allocate to receive your visa on time.

In general, there are 3 options:

  1. A travel agent. You simply provide the documents and let professionals do the job for you.

  2. A local Greek consulate or embassy. This is the most traditional means of getting any type of visa. Its main drawback is the insufficient or vague information about requirements, which unfortunately often results in visas being denied or delayed. If you go down this route, make sure you clarify everything that is unclear prior to submitting an application.

  3. A visa application centre. You may be surprised to know that some embassies actually outsource their visa services to such centres. Bear in mind, though, that, depending on the time you plan to travel, these centres may be overcrowded and overwhelmed with applicants, leading to delays and even possible errors.

Fees and extra expenses

As with most visas, applicants have to pay a service charge and a visa processing fee upon submitting their application. These payments are non-refundable and can be made by card or in cash. Below is a rough estimate of the service tariffs:

  • Adults: €60;

  • Children aged 6 to 12 years: €35;

  • Children under 6 years of age: free.

As for a Schengen visa fee, it depends on the traveller's country of origin. For example, a traveller from South Africa may pay more or less than a traveller from Russia. To determine the visa fee, contact your local Greek embassy or consulate. Average fees are:

  • Adults: €80;

  • Children aged 6 to 12 years: €40;

  • Children under 6 years of age: free.

Please bear in mind that neither service charge nor visa fee guarantees permission to enter. None of these can also be refunded if the application is unsuccessful.

Tourist Visa Requirements

In this section, we shall go over the document pack for visa-free travellers. As we said, although they do not require a Schengen visa, they must still provide other documentation to obtain entry to the country.

A valid passport

A valid identification card must satisfy the following criteria:

  • it is valid for no less than 3 months beyond your intended return to your home country;

  • it is in good condition (not torn or otherwise spoilt);

  • it is not past its expiry date (usually 10 years).

Proof of accommodation

No country's officials want their tourists to sleep in the subway. Naturally, they want to know precisely where you are going to stay during your visit. The following may sufficiently prove this:

  • a hotel reservation;

  • a print-off from a room booking website (e.g. Airbnb);

  • a rental agreement;

  • an invitation from a friend or a family member with whom you are planning to stay on your visit.

Proof of financial independence

This is another mandatory requirement, for staying and travelling in the country may lead to both expected and unforeseen expenses. Officials want to know how you are planning to cover them, so it may be a good idea to enquire about the living costs and calculate your travelling budget. The following can prove your financial sustainability:

  • recent bank or credit card statements;

  • payslips from work.

Itinerary and Return Tickets

Travellers are advised to have these two documents to prove the following:

  • travelling is indeed their sole or primary purpose;

  • and they definitely plan to return.

Insurance

We will look at insurance requirements later on, however, be aware that valid medical insurance is obligatory to travel in the EU. Its validity period must be as long as your stay in the country.

Finally, please remember that depending on the time you choose for your trip document requirements and fees may change. Make sure you contact your nearest visa centre or consulate for updates.

Documents for non-exempt countries

Generally, most of the above-mentioned documents are also required for citizens of non-visa-free states who must apply for a Schengen visa. However, certain changes and special conditions are applicable.

A valid passport

In addition to the known requirements, this time a passport must have two blank pages for a visa stamp or sticker.

A Greece Schengen application form

No matter how seasoned a traveller you are, pay attention to the following:

  • fill out the visa form completely, correctly, and accurately.

A tip: write down all the data you are providing on all forms to make the information consistent.

A Schengen cover letter

In this letter for a tourist visa, you will need to explain why you want to visit the Schengen zone, the places you are going to visit, your accommodation in each of them, etc. You must also provide your travel dates.

Two passport-size photos

These must be no older than 3 months, for details see below.

Previous Visas Copies

This is required for travellers who have obtained Schengen visas before.

Insurance

The medical or travel insurance must cover the full length of stay. For other conditions, see below.

Proof of financial independence

As above, however, be prepared for additional scrutiny as you are considered a totally "foreign" visitor.

Proof of accommodation

Same as for visa-free entrants.

An itinerary

If you are only travelling to Greece and back, then you need to provide a detailed plan of your activities during your stay. However, you may be entertaining the idea of visiting another Schengen country for which you have a visa. In this case, you will need to show what other places you wish to visit and the purpose thereof.

A return ticket

This will act as proof that you are going to go back to your home country and not to become an asylum seeker or an illegal immigrant.

A clean criminal record

This document provided by your country's officials will demonstrate that you pose no threat to the country or its residents.

Further documents may be required to prove your status, but check with the embassy or consulate for updates.

Employed applicants

  • a valid contract of employment;

  • an employer's written permission to take a leave from work;

  • the bank statements for the past 6 months;

  • an Income Tax Return form;

  • recent payslips to prove both sufficient funds and employment.

Self-employed applicants

  • a copy of a business license;

  • an Income Tax Return;

  • the bank statements for the past 6 months;

  • a letter confirming the self-employed status written by a solicitor, an accountant, or another responsible entity.

Students

  • documents that prove the student's status (e.g., a letter from an educational institution for existing students, or a proof of enrollment at an institution for prospective students);

  • a proof of sufficient funds, e.g. a work contract or bank statements (for working students) or a letter from a sponsor.

Please note that if a student is sponsored (e.g. by their parents), they will need to provide relevant documents that prove the parents' ability to support them.

Also, if you wish to study at a Greek educational institution, you must apply for a student visa.

Retired Travelers

  • documents that prove the retired status;

  • pension statements for the last 6 months.

Tourist Visa Insurance

Travelling to a foreign country may occasionally result in unforeseen circumstances. In many Schengen countries public healthcare is available, so visitors to Greece must obtain travel insurance prior to their trip. This is done in order to alleviate the burden on the health system in case of unexpected issues.

Travel insurance must satisfy the following criteria:

  • provide coverage of at least €30,000.

  • be valid in all 26 Schengen countries;

  • cover most emergency expenses, including a return to one's home country for medical reasons, urgent treatments, or death.

If you expect to get an extended Schengen visa, you should obtain travel insurance that lasts for 12 months.

Visa Photo Requirements

Photographs are normally submitted as part of any application. However, in the case with visas, there are strict requirements that must be obeyed, otherwise, you risk having your application turned down. The following specifications apply:

  • photos are 3 months old or less;

  • size: 35mm wide x 45mm tall;

  • taken against a white background;

  • printed on quality glossy paper (not matte);

  • have no creases or marks;

  • facial expression is neutral;

  • the applicant looks straight into the camera;

  • the face takes up to 80% of the frame;

  • both eyes are open and not covered by reflective glasses, hair, or glares;

  • forehead and chin are well visible;

  • headwear is permitted only for religious purposes and must not cover any part of the face.

Underage Visa Requirements

This section is for those who travel to Greece as a family with small children. First, bear in mind that each child must have their own application, filled in and signed by both parents. Apart from all standard documentation, the following is also mandatory:

  • an application with both parents' signatures;

  • a child's birth certificate;

  • if a child is eligible to travel alone – a notarized parental authorization signed by either both parents or guardians;

  • if a child is travelling with only one parent – notarized permission from another parent;

  • if another parent is absent (divorced, dead, ill, etc.) – a relevant official documental proof;

  • copies of both parents' IDs.

Adult photo requirements apply to children older than 5 years. For younger children, neutral facial expression and a direct look into the camera are not mandatory, and they need not occupy the centre of the photograph. Babies (1 year old or younger) may have their eyes closed in the photo.

Visa Processing Time

Once your application has been submitted, and you paid your fees and attended the interview with the immigration officer, it takes around 15 calendar days to process the documents. The following events may delay the visa being issued:

  • a peak season when there is a high demand for tourist visas to Greece;

  • political events or epidemics;

  • new travel laws and regulations.

In 2022, there may be some delays in visa processing due to the implementation of ETIAS. Make sure you have collected all necessary documents, carefully fill in your application, and submit it well ahead of your journey, to avoid delays and complications for your travel.

Green Card Holder Requirements

The United States Green Card holders have not yet obtained US citizenship. As a result, they are not eligible for visa exemption if they wish to visit Greece. The visa requirements will depend on their country of origin. For the purposes of this article, we assume that a Green Card holder is not a European citizen. The good news is that, should a visa be required, the holder can apply for it at their nearest Greek embassy or consulate in the USA. There is no need to travel back home to get a visa.

On another hand, if someone is visiting the US as a tourist (on a B1/B2 visa) and wishes to travel to Greece, they must return to their home country to submit a visa application. The Green Card holder's conditions are not applicable in this case.

FAQ

While we have covered most topics related to obtaining a travel visa to Greece, here are some frequently asked questions.

Can I travel to Greece on a Schengen visa?

Yes. In fact, since Greece is an EU member state and has operated a Schengen Visa regime since 2000, this type of visa is the one you must apply for, unless your country is eligible for a visa-free entry.

Does a tourist from the USA need a tourist visa to travel to Greece?

No, but the US tourists must provide other documents to enter the country.

Can I work in Greece on a tourist visa?

No, to work in Greece you must obtain a work permit.

How long is a tourist visa for Greece?

This kind of visa lasts for up to 180 days, and you can spend up to 90 consecutive days in the country. Multiple-entry visas can also be issued for up to a 5-year period.

What countries need a tourist visa to travel to Greece?

Citizens of over 150 countries require a visa to enter Greece as tourists. Please enquire at your local Greek visa centre, embassy or consulate, or check online resources.

Can I apply for a visa upon arrival in Greece?

No, the country explicitly prohibits issuing visas upon arrival. If you wish to travel to Greece, you must obtain a visa beforehand.

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