The good news is that for many people, it is possible to get Greek citizenship. The bad news is that it’s a complicated and bureaucratic process! But, don’t stress – we’ll cover Greek nationality, Greek citizenship, and how to get a Greek passport.
Why Should I Apply For Greek Citizenship?
The Greek passport ranks in the top ten in the world. You can travel to 186 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival. Greek nationality also gives you EU nationality, so you are free to travel, live and work in all other member countries.
If you are a naturalized citizen of Greece, you may be able to have dual citizenship. This depends on your country of origin.
Men who have Greek nationality are liable for military service. This is also important to bear in mind if you have sons that will join you as citizens in Greece.
How to get Greek Citizenship
There are three standard ways to attain citizenship in Greece:
- Descent or birth.
- Residency by investment.
In addition, there are allowances for monasticism and if you are stateless or a refugee.
Greek Citizenship by Descent
You can use this option if you are applying from a foreign country. It is also a route if you have legal residence in Greece.
There are 1.4 million Americans that have Greek heritage. If you are one of them, applying for citizenship may be possible. You are well on your way to a second passport and enjoying the benefits of life in Greece.
Greek law states that citizenship is an inherent right if your parent is a Greek citizen. In this case, you don’t need to apply for citizenship per se, but for recognition of your inherent citizenship. You will need to register in the records of a Greek Municipality (a Demotologion), and you can then apply for a Greek passport.
Are you Eligible?
You are eligible to pursue citizenship by descent if:
- You are the child of a Greek mother or father. Your parent must be registered in municipal records.
- You were born in Greece and at least one parent had been legally resident in Greece for at least five years.
- If your parents are unmarried at the time of your birth, you’re recognized as a Greek citizen if your mother is a Greek citizen. If your father is a Greek citizen, you must present proof of paternity. Either a paternity test or affidavit of acknowledgement of your birth from your father is essential.
- If you were adopted by a Greek citizen when under eighteen, you have Greek citizenship.
- Third-generation descendants. You are eligible to apply for citizenship if you have a grandparent born in Greece or who was naturalized. Your parent may have to go through the naturalization process before you can.
The legal situation regarding your citizenship application also depends on your birth year and whether your parents were married. We recommend you seek guidance through experienced lawyers. Getting the right information from the start of your process will save you time and money.
Obtaining the Certificate of Registration
Once you have your approval of citizenship, you will need to get your Certificate of Registration. You will need an appointment at your nearest consulate, and you have to take:
- Your passport and your birth certificate and your christening or baptism certificate and (if applicable) your marriage certificate.
- Passport photo.
- Birth certificates and baptism certificates of your children (if applicable).
- Parents’ marriage certificate. You need to show if this was a civil or religious marriage. You may also need to show which religious denomination certified the marriage .
- Parents’ birth certificates and, if applicable, death certificates.
- Parents’ municipal registration as Greek citizens.
- Documents related to any divorces that have taken place.
- Evidence of clean criminal record.
- All certificates must be “apostilled” or notarized by the Greek consulate.
- Foreign marriages must be listed in the “Special Registry” in Athens.
- Documents related to any name changes.
Your completed application will go to the appropriate Municipal Office in Greece, along with the €150 fee. It can take two years or more to get the Certificate of Registration.
Greek Citizenship by Naturalization
Greek citizenship by naturalization is one of the most stringent in the world. From November 2012, this route is only available to people who have Greek origin or residency by investment.
If you do have Greek origin and wish to move to Greece, you can apply for your citizenship by naturalization. You can do this after seven years of permanent and legal residence in Greece.
This time reduces to three years if you:
- Are married to a Greek citizen and have a child with him/her.
- Have an underage child that holds Greek nationality.
- Are a refugee or stateless person.
Step 1. Declaration of Naturalization Application
- Submit a declaration that you want citizenship to the municipality of your permanent residence.
- Sign your declaration in the presence of the municipality mayor or any other authorized officer. In addition, two Greek citizens should be present as witnesses at document signing.
- You will receive a copy of your declaration and the citizenship by naturalization application form.
Step 2. Application for Naturalization
You will need:
- Your completed citizenship application form.
- A valid copy of the declaration statement you submitted to the municipality.
- Your birth certificate from your country of origin. If you can’t provide your certificate of birth because you are a refugee, you can submit a document showing you are an asylum seeker.
- Proof or valid copy of your Residence Permit.
- A copy of your travel document, such as passport or other travel document that can prove your identity.
- A record of your statement of income or tax return for the last financial year.
- Your AMKA number (Social Security Number).
All documents not in Greek must be authenticated and translated into Greek by recognized translators.
The cost is around €700, and the processing time can be up to four years.
Greek Citizenship Requirements
You won’t be eligible if you:
- Are under 18 at the time of your application.
- Have a conviction, or you’re under a deportation order.
- Don’t have the required number of years of permanent and legal residence at the time of your application.
- Can’t speak Greek and have no knowledge of Greek culture.
You will undergo an interview with the Naturalization Committee to prove your fluency. If you are attending a Greek university, that’s another way to prove your language proficiency.
The requirements for demonstrating fluency in Greek and knowledge of Greek culture are under review. The authorities may be introducing a written examination in the near future.
Greece Citizenship by Investment
As with many other countries, Greece has an investment program for foreigners. Although the system is not strictly citizenship by investment, your investment grants you residency, and then you can apply for citizenship by naturalization.
The minimum investment of €250,000 is the lowest requirement of any similar scheme in Europe. There are two investment options: purchasing real estate, or general investment.
Investment in Real Estate
- At least €250,000 investment in property.
- The property can be residential or commercial.
- It can be on the Greek mainland or any of the islands.
- You can invest in multiple properties as long as the combined investment is at least €250,000.
- You can have joint ownership. For a couple, the total investment is €250,000. Any other joint ownership should consist of €250,000 per investor.
- There is a timeshare option also. This involves an investment for at least ten years.
Investment into the National Development and Economy
You need to invest at least €250,000 into a project or business with this option. Your investment should support job creation, local production, innovation, etc. Anything to benefit the local economy.
Conditions of Investing
You need to make your investment before applying for a visa. You will then need:
- Evidence of your purchase.
- A clean criminal record.
- A health certificate from a Greek professional.
- Medical Insurance that can cover your entire stay in Greece.
The process takes around 40 days from submitting your application to receiving your Residency Permit.
You will then need to complete the residency period requirement before applying for citizenship.
The initial residence permit is valid for five years. You can extend it if you demonstrate that you have kept up the investment. You will need to reside in Greece for at least 183 days each year.
Fees for Investing
The cost is around €15,000, which covers the purchase fees and application fees. New property purchases carry a tax of 24%, and this does not count towards your investment amount of €250,000.
You are liable for tax in Greece if you spend more than 183 days per year in the country. Depending on your country of origin, it is advisable to be clear about the tax implications on your income. Seek advice prior to any decisions you make.
A major advantage of an investment route for living in Greece is that you can also apply for your family to have residency. They can also eventually obtain citizenship and a passport. The costs involved, as well as the advantages and limitations, depend on your circumstances. We strongly advise you to seek advice from a specialist before moving forwards.
Application for a Greek Passport
The National Passport Center handles passport applications. You can submit your application in person at your local police department or at a Greek Consulate.
Once you have applied, you will receive a receipt which you will need to take with you when collecting your passport.
- Passports are valid for five years if you are 14 or over.
- For children under 14, they are valid for three years.
- A standard passport costs around €85, and a child’s costs around €74.
Documents required to apply for a Greek passport:
- Application form.
- Previous passport, or identity document.
- Color passport photograph, less than one month old.
- Police identity card issued in the last 15 years, with municipal registration number on reverse. Alternatively, you can submit a Certificate of Municipal Registration issued during last six months.
- If you are a male between 19 and 45, you’ll need a Type B Certificate for military service deferment. This certificate should be no more than six months old.
You will need to undertake a sworn statement stating you have no outstanding criminal convictions, proceedings, or deportation orders.
The Benefits of Greek Citizenship
Greece is an alluring country, rich in history and culture, with a beautiful climate and geography. If you have Greek ancestry, then this coveted citizenship may be something that is great for you! For others, investing in this country may be a great opportunity. As always, we are here to help with detailed advice relevant to your Greek citizenship goals.