Dual citizenship in Greece: how to get in 2024
The Greek passport ranks among the world’s strongest. According to the Passport Index, it belongs to the 4th group of passports (out of 97) along with the passports of the USA and Australia, surpassing those of countries such as Estonia, Iceland, Cyprus, Malta, and many others. Greek passport holders have access to 126 countries and can move freely within the European Union; they can open accounts in European banks, study at European universities, and travel through borders closed for tourist crossing.
Dual and second citizenship
The practice of obtaining a second (and subsequent) citizenship is widespread among residents of many countries of the world. This is largely attributed to the strengthening of intercultural communications and the digitisation of technologies: now anyone can choose a comfortable environment for living, regardless of their place of birth and work. The number of interethnic marriages is increasing; there are trends towards investing in foreign real estate and obtaining an international education. All of the above leads to simplified procedures for obtaining a second citizenship as well as to heightened interest in this topic.
It’s important to understand the difference between dual citizenship and second citizenship: dual citizenship occurs when two countries have mutual agreements in place. In this case, both countries consider a person a citizen of the country in which they are currently located and recognise their status with regard to each other. In the case of second citizenship, each country ignores the fact of citizenship from the other country and the passport holder is considered under the system of whichever of the two countries they are currently in.
Grounds for obtaining Greek citizenship
There are several ways to obtain Greek citizenship. At first, it is important to determine which path is the most relevant to your situation, as this will affect the procedures and the list of necessary documents.
- 1. Birthright. Children born to a Greek parent are automatically granted Greek citizenship, even if the other parent is a foreigner. Additionally, if a child was born in Greece to both foreign parents, but has lived in the country for over 5 years, they are also entitled to Greek citizenship.
- 2. Ethnic roots. According to Greek legislation, descendants of ethnic Greeks, upon presentation of the relevant documents, have the right of return to their historical homeland. Repatriation programmes are primarily designed for applicants with direct blood relations. The file review process may take up to 2 years. If a positive decision is made, the applicant for a Greek passport based on ethnic origin receives an entry visa, which, upon crossing the border, opens the way to Greek citizenship. After obtaining a passport, there is no requirement for permanent residence in the country, knowledge of the Greek language and culture.
- 3. Marriage to a Greek citizen. If you marry a Greek citizen, you can also apply for a passport under certain conditions. In particular, if you and your spouse have been living together for three years in Greece, share a common household, and own property, you’ll have the right to apply for a Greek passport. Additionally, having children together can increase your chances of obtaining citizenship.
- 4. Naturalisation. Obtaining a Greek passport on the basis of naturalisation is possible if a person possesses a residence permit in the country. The duration of permanent residence in Greece that is necessary for obtaining citizenship may vary from 7 to 12 years. An important step in obtaining citizenship by naturalisation is passing an interview at the Greek Ministry of the Interior, which includes taking a test on knowledge of the language, history, and culture. It’s also necessary to demonstrate knowledge of the political and economic trends as well as of the geography of Greece, to prove one’s interest in the country. In addition, the applicant must have a good credit history, no serious infectious diseases, and no criminal record for the past 12 months. Upon a positive decision, the new citizen’s name will be published in the government newspaper of Greece and the oath of allegiance to the country must then be taken.
The Golden Visa and residence permit by investment programme aims to expedite the naturalisation process, allowing individuals to obtain a passport after only 7 years of living in Greece. Individuals can receive permanent residence in Greece by investing at least 250,000 euros in Greek property in peripheral regions of the country or at least 500,000 euros in tourist regions. There is also an option of investing at least 400,000 euros in Greek bank deposits or securities.
- 5. Refugee status. Refugees in Greece have the opportunity to obtain refugee status by providing evidence of political repression, persecution, and threats to life in their home countries. However, it is difficult to obtain this status in Greece due to the active provision of such status in the past to immigrants from neighbouring Asian countries, which led to the infringement of Orthodox traditions. Refugees can obtain citizenship in Greece after 6 years of residing in the country.
As you can see, there are several strategies for obtaining Greek citizenship. For those who do not have an ethnic connection to Greece, obtaining a passport will only be possible after acquiring a long-term visa, residence permit, and permanent residence in the country (in that order).
How to get dual citizenship in Greece
The growing interest in the possibility of acquiring a Greek passport is primarily driven by the interest in Greek real estate. Beautiful white villas on the coast of the azure sea are strongly associated with luxury, prosperity, and independence. The existing Golden Visa programme has enabled foreigners to obtain Greek residence permits by investment for years. This programme is the first step toward eventual naturalisation and acquiring citizenship in Greece.
Usually, when buying real estate, investors consider the quality of Greek infrastructure: private schools and other educational institutions, developed transport systems and tourism clusters, which can generate rental income. The key motives for investing in Greek real estate are the following:
- obtaining a residence permit and citizenship;
- preserving capital;
- securing the status of a resident in the European Union.
To obtain dual citizenship in Greece, a person must be over 18 years old, have no criminal record and have not previously been deported from Greece. The following steps are required:
- Getting a residence permit and later a permanent residence. The first step in the process of obtaining Greek citizenship is to have a legal way to stay in the country for an unlimited amount of time. The process begins with applying for a long-term visa in one’s home country and obtaining a residence permit in Greece. The basis for a residence permit may include studying at a Greek university, investing in real estate or securities, marriage to a citizen of the country, or an employment contract. The permit needs to be renewed each year, and after 5 years, one can apply for permanent residence.
- Actual residence in the country within the specified period. Throughout the entire duration of your residence permit, it is necessary to remain a tax resident of Greece and spend the majority of your time living in the country. This demonstrates that your financial and personal interests lie with Greece.
- Filing an application with the Greek Ministry of the Interior. After residing in Greece for 7 years, if there are factors demonstrating one’s competence as a future Greek citizen, an individual should collect all necessary documents and submit them in person to the Greek administrative authority for review. The review process can take from 2 months to several years.
- Testing for language and culture knowledge. Before applying for Greek citizenship, one must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the nation’s history and culture, as well as its political and economic trends. It is important to achieve proficiency in the Greek language. The citizenship exam consists of two parts: a written test and a personal interview, which evaluates your degree of integration into Greek society. Upon successful completion of the exam, the applicant receives a certificate for presentation to the Ministry of the Interior.
- Waiting for a decision. The Greek Ministry of the Interior informs the applicant about either positive or negative decisions regarding the issuance of a passport.
- Oath of allegiance. If the decision is positive, the name of the new citizen is published in the government newspaper. Then, the applicant must take an oath of allegiance to Greece; the passport can only be issued after that.
The following documents are required to apply for citizenship:
- Application for citizenship;
- Declaration of desire to acquire Greek citizenship;
- Copy of a residence permit;
- Copy of a passport;
- Birth certificate;
- Certificate of no criminal conviction;
- Certificate of good health issued by a Greek clinic;
- Tax records for the last few years;
- Proof of income;
- Certificate of registration of the right to real estate;
- Real estate purchase and sale agreement;
- Business registration certificate and employment contract;
- Other documents that prove ties to Greece;
- Receipt of payment of duty.
All documents issued in the applicant’s country of origin must be apostilled and translated by a certified notary translator.
Taxation in Greece with dual citizenship
Greece has agreements to prevent double taxation with over 50 nations of the world, including the USA and the UK. This means that the amount of tax paid by the resident in one country can be deducted from the tax due in the other country. It is important to consult with the relevant authorities in your home country to fully understand the details of your particular situation and any tax obligations you may have.
In Greece, the obligation to pay taxes varies depending on whether an individual is a resident of the country or not. If a person resides in Greece for more than 183 days a year, they are considered a resident of Greece and must pay all necessary state taxes, including taxes on income earned abroad. On the other hand, if a person is not a resident, they only need to pay taxes on income earned in Greece from any source.
Greece has a progressive tax system, which means that as your income increases, so does your tax rate. Income tax in Greece in 2023 remains high, which is regulated by the EU government’s stabilisation programme for the Greek economy. The minimum tax on income below 10,000 euros per year is 9%, and it increases by approximately 10% for every 10,000 euros of income beyond that threshold. The maximum tax rate is 44% on income above 40,000 euros per year. Taxes on income from real estate rentals are charged on a separate scale, starting from 15%. Income from the sale of real estate is fixed at 15%.
Thus, obtaining a Greek passport is available not only through repatriation, but also through naturalisation after a certain period of residence in the country, with sufficient integration into the local community, adoption of local culture and customs. One of the first steps in obtaining citizenship can be investment property, which can provide the basis for obtaining a Greek residence permit.
Tranio’s experts are prepared to offer guidance and full support to clients interested in obtaining Greek citizenship by real estate investment.Leave a request