Citizenship of Greece - a complete guide (2023)

Contents

  1. Pathways to Greek citizenship
  2. 1. Through descent
  3. 2. Through residence
  4. 3. Through investment
  5. The application process
  6. Taking the exam
  7. Your citizenship got denied
  8. Benefits of getting Greek citizenship
  9. Conclusion

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.

Do you want to get Greek citizenship for an investment?

Our managers will answer all your questions.

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;

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  • 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.

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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;

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  • 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;

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  • 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;

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  • 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.

FAQs

How do you qualify for Greek citizenship? ›

There are five ways to become a Greek citizen:
  1. by descent and ancestry, if one of your parents is a Greek citizen,
  2. by declaration, if you have Greek heritage or a Greek adoptive parent,
  3. by marriage to a Greek citizen,
  4. through investment,
  5. by naturalization.

Is it easy to get citizenship in Greece? ›

Yes, you can become a Greek citizen by investing in Greece and obtaining a Golden Visa. However, unlike residency, you cannot apply for Greek citizenship without actually living there and paying taxes. You must live in Greece for at least seven years before being eligible to apply for citizenship.

Can I get Greek citizenship by great grandparents? ›

Greek Citizenship by Ancestry

As you already know, Greece also recognizes that the descendants of its citizens – to the third generation – are also eligible to become citizens. In other words, not only your parents can qualify you for Greek citizenship, but also your grandparents and great-grandparents.

Can I get Greek citizenship if my grandfather was Greek? ›

Any person of Greek heritage born outside of Greece has the legal right to obtain Greek citizenship through a parent or grandparent born in Greece. Non-EU citizens are more likely to use this option because it allows them to live and work in the EU, whether in Greece or elsewhere.

Can a US citizen have dual citizenship with Greece? ›

Nationality law of Greece is based on the principle of jus sanguinis. Greek citizenship may be acquired by descent or through naturalization. Greek law permits dual citizenship.

How much does Greece Citizenship cost? ›

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.

Can I live in Greece as a US citizen? ›

If you wish to stay in Greece for longer than 90 days within a 180-day period, you should apply for a visa at Greek Embassy or Greek Consulate prior to your arrival in Greece. Visas may be issued for property owners, students, employment, athletes, coaches, etc.

Do you need to speak Greek to get Greek citizenship? ›

Proof of at least basic knowledge of the Greek language and culture.

Can I just move to Greece? ›

Relocating to Greece

The government is encouraging expats to buy property in Greece and to invest in the tourism industry. Every foreigner needs to get a residence permit. However, EU citizens do not need a visa to enter the country and stay for less than three months.

Can I get a Greek passport if my grandmother is Greek? ›

Greek emigrants and their direct descendants (e.g. children and grandchildren) may apply for Greek citizenship in some circumstances. The key requirement is that a grandparent was born in Greece. The relevant parent(s) or grandparent(s) do not need to still be alive. Greece is a member of the European Union.

What are the benefits of Greek citizenship? ›

Benefits of getting Greek citizenship

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.

Who was excluded from citizenship in Greece? ›

The social groups excluded from Athenian citizenship included enslaved people, formerly enslaved people, and foreigners living in Athens.

Can I get Greek citizenship by investment? ›

An investment of €250,000 is required in real estate in Greece making the Greek programme the lowest investment level of any real estate residency visa scheme in Europe. The property, which can be located anywhere on the Greek mainland or the islands, can be either residential or commercial.

How much money do I need to retire to Greece? ›

How much money do you need to retire in Greece? A couple needs about 2000€ monthly plus rent to live comfortably in Greece. The rent varies depending on the location and size of the abode.

Will I lose my U.S. citizenship if I become a citizen of another country? ›

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship.

Can you lose your American citizenship if you live in another country? ›

No Longer Can One Lose U.S. Citizenship By Living in Another Country. At this time, no penalties exist if a naturalized U.S. citizen simply goes to live in another country. This is a distinct benefit of U.S. citizenship, since green card holders can have their status taken away for "abandoning" their U.S. residence.

What is the most powerful passport? ›

According to the 2023 Henley Passport Index, Japan is the world's most powerful passport.
...
The most powerful passports in the world
  • Australia, Canada, Greece, and Malta.
  • Hungary and Poland.
  • Lithuania and Slovakia.
Jan 19, 2023

Can Americans buy property in Greece? ›

Can Foreigners Buy Property In Greece? Yes, they can. There are no restrictions as to who can purchase property in Greece, yet EU citizens or residents are considerably more advantageous in the process.

How long can a US citizen stay in Greece? ›

Greece is a party to the Schengen Agreement; therefore, U.S. citizens may enter Greece without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

Does Greece tax US Social Security? ›

While you work—If your work is covered by both the U.S. and Greek Social Security systems, you (and your employer, if you are employed) would normally have to pay Social Security taxes to both countries for the same work.

Is it cheaper to live in Greece or USA? ›

Cost of Living

Prices for daily essentials (food, transport, etc.) are at least 20% cheaper than in the U.S., and costs to rent an apartment can be as much as 70% less. Throughout Greece, you'll save money by using public transport, avoiding touristy areas, shopping at local markets, and eating out where the Greeks do.

Can I use my US license in Greece? ›

U.S. citizen tourists/temporary residents with stays less than six months with a valid United States driver's license can drive in Greece with their U.S. license. For stays more than 185 days in Greece: A Greek license may be required.

What is the Greek citizenship language test? ›

The Exam. The exam required for citizenship is a written one called “Panhellenic.” They hold the test twice a year. Additionally, the test basically evaluates your command of the Greek language and your knowledge of its geography and history. The minimum rate to pass the exam is 80% of the maximum score.

Which country is easiest to obtain citizenship? ›

The Easiest Countries To Get Citizenship: The Ultimate Guide
  • Malta.
  • Antigua and Barbuda.
  • St. Kitts and Nevis.
  • Turkey.
Jan 10, 2023

Can you live in Greece if you only speak English? ›

Many people speak English, and you rarely need to speak Greek. However, if you learn even a little Greek, you'll find that Greeks appreciate you trying to communicate in their language.

Can a US citizen retire in Greece? ›

Yes, US citizens can easily retire in Greece. As an American citizen, you can enter Greece without a visa for 90 days and apply for a residence permit during this time while in the country. However, if you plan on staying longer than 90 days, you need a Greece Visa.

What are the cons of living in Greece? ›

Living in Greece, Cons
  • Difficulties in finding work and low wages.
  • Critical economic situation.
  • Language not easy to learn.
  • High level of corruption.
Dec 2, 2022

Is Greek a strong passport? ›

The Greek passport is ranked eighth most powerful in the world measured by the number of countries their holders may visit visa-free, according to the annual study released by the Henley Passport Index recently, according to greekreporter.com.

How long does it take to get Greek citizenship? ›

For the renewal of your residence permit, you are not required to stay in Greece for a certain period of time. You can put your property on rent post-purchase. You will be eligible to apply for citizenship after seven years. High quality of education, healthcare, and life in general.

What is the 7 years law in Greece? ›

Children are required to stay and study in Greece for 6 years in a row before turning 18 years old. They can then apply for citizenship after they turn 18 years old. Adults are required to live in Greece for 183 days/year for 7 years.

Where can I live with Greek citizenship? ›

The Greek passport allows the holder to reside and work in all the countries of the European Union. A Greek passport can be issued only for a Greek citizen who is registered with a Greek Municipality.

What is a Greek citizen called? ›

Instead Greeks refer to themselves as “Έλληνες”— Hellenes. The word “Greek” comes from the Latin “Graeci”, and through Roman influence has become the common root of the word for Greek people and culture in most languages. In English, however, both “Greek” and “Hellenic” are used.

How do Greek people look? ›

Greeks are generally described as "olive skinned", not exactly brown, not the paler white either but you could also find both of these too. It's a mediterranean complexion found in Greeks, Spaniards and Italians. You can find both darker and light-skinned Greeks (and not just cause of mixing).

Do Greek citizens need a visa to visit USA? ›

United States visa for Greek citizens - does Greece need a visa? Greek who wants to travel to the US is now part of the US Visa Waiver Program which means that they are qualified for a US ESTA. This document allows traveling into the United States of America using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

Can I get residency in Greece if I buy a house? ›

Yes, you can. However, the house you're going to buy should be €250,000 minimum to be able to qualify for Greece residency.

Can I live in Greece if I buy a house? ›

Unlike the restrictions imposed by other EU countries, in Greece any type of real estate gives the right to obtain a residence permit. The only condition is that value of such real estate should exceed 250,000 euros.

Is Greece golden visa worth it? ›

The Greece Golden Visa Program – also known as the Greece Investment Visa – is a perfect option for those who seek to obtain an EU residency and access the world at large, as the program provides incredible advantages, from access to a thriving real estate market and high returns on investment, to visa-free travel ...

Is it hard to get a residence permit in Greece? ›

On average, obtaining a residence permit takes 2-3 months. A residence permit can be issued on the basis of starting a business, investing in local companies, buying real estate, etc. Greece requires a small list of documents and offers attractive conditions.

Which is the fastest citizenship in Europe? ›

MALTA: easiest & fastest citizenship by investment

Usually, the process takes around 18 months. Malta citizenship by investment is the fastest in Europe. It's among the easiest countries to get a passport – but only if you can afford it.

Which are the 5 hardest countries for obtaining citizenship? ›

17 Hardest Countries To Get Citizenship: 2023 Edition
  • Qatar.
  • Vatican City.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • Bhutan.
  • Saudi Arabia.
  • Kuwait.
  • Switzerland.
  • China.

Can an American get a Greek passport? ›

ATTENTION: Only Greek Citizens are entitled to apply for a Greek passport. American citizens of Greek background who do not hold Greek citizenship as well (Greek citizenship is proven through the registration of a person in a Municipality in Greece) are not entitled to a Greek passport.

What is the number 1 passport in the world? ›

This year sees Japan crowned number one for the fifth consecutive year, with Japanese citizens now able to visit 193 destinations out of 227 countries visa-free. South Korean and Singaporean passports are tied for second place with a visa-free score of 192.

How long can I stay in Greece with a US passport? ›

Greece is a party to the Schengen Agreement; therefore, U.S. citizens may enter Greece without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

What is the cheapest Greek island to live on? ›

Lefkada. We mentioned the island Lefkada on our list of the cheapest places to live in Greece and it's indeed one of the most affordable islands in the country. That's due to it being less popular among tourists, making it hard to beat when it comes to prices.

Videos

1. A Guide To Obtaining Dual Citizenship in Greece | PN Lawyers
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