Overseas property

Greek citizenship by descent in 2023

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In recent years, ethnic Greeks living abroad have been given the opportunity to return to their ancestral homeland and apply for Greek citizenship through special government programmes. Since its inception, the citizenship by descent programme has been a resounding success, with thousands of people from all over the world taking advantage of it. However, it has become particularly popular in recent years, with the number of applicants set to rise in 2023.

This rise in popularity is not surprising when you consider the many benefits that a Greek passport offers. Not only does it allow you to cross EU borders that are closed to tourists, but it also allows you to stay in the country without time limits. You do not have to give up your current citizenship to obtain a Greek passport as long as your country of origin allows dual citizenship.

Repatriation laws in Greece

The Greek diaspora is one of the oldest and most established ethnic communities in the world with its members living in various countries around the globe. They are united by a rich history, language and culture that have been passed down through generations. At different historical stages, the reasons for the emigration of Greeks included wars, ethnic conflicts, and the instability of state structures in the area of the Balkan Peninsula. Today, Greek communities can be found in countries such as the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Russia and the CIS countries. According to the Greek Reporter, the number of people who belong to the Greek diaspora worldwide is estimated at around 5 million, while the population of Greece itself is around 11 million people.

The Greeks living outside of Greece are distinguished by a strong ethnic identity, a commitment to preserving family ties with other members of Greek communities worldwide, and respect for their own culture and language. The Greek Orthodox Church is also an important unifying institution for the Greek diaspora, serving as a source of spiritual and social support. In recent decades, as Greece has become a prominent member of the European Union, its influence on the lives of diaspora members has increased considerably. More and more ethnic Greeks are taking part in Greek government programmes aimed at introducing young people to Greek culture and promoting subsequent repatriation.

Return to the Homeland Programme

The process of repatriating Greeks living outside of Greece began in the 1920s, when more than 1.5 million new citizens, who were Greek by blood, settled in Greece. The government provided assistance in finding housing, financial support, and resources to learn the language and culture, while also helping the newcomers to integrate into Greek society. A second wave of migration took place in the 1970s and 1980s, when some 330,000 people returned to Greece, many of whom did so for political reasons. The third wave followed the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, when more than 150,000 Greeks from the former USSR countries returned home under a reunification programme.

The direct right to repatriation and acquisition of Greek citizenship by descent is regulated by Law 3284/2004: Ratification of the Greek Nationality Code. The primary criterion for participation in the programme is proof of blood relationship with ethnic Greeks, including parents or other relatives. If the applicant’s relatives do not live in Greece, documentary evidence of their ethnicity is sufficient to qualify.

Conditions for participation in the repatriation programme

In order to participate in the Greek Repatriation Programme, the candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Have proof of Greek ancestry on either paternal or maternal side;
  • Be over the age of 18;
  • Have no criminal record in the country of residence;
  • Have not been previously deported;
  • Have at least a basic understanding of the Greek language and culture;
  • Be able to provide evidence of intended place of residence in Greece (e.g., provide a lease or purchase agreement).

How to get Greek citizenship by descent

The repatriation programme involves obtaining a Greek passport after moving to Greece. In order to participate in the programme, the applicant must comply with formal procedures and pass the following stages:

  1. Collect documents confirming kinship with ethnic Greeks. These include birth certificates, marriage certificates, and ID cards that indicate Greek nationality. In some cases, you may need to consult archival sources to locate or recover documents confirming your nationality.
  2. Submit the documents to the Greek embassy in the country of residence. The documents are then checked and forwarded to the relevant Greek authorities for consideration. The general secretary of the province decides whether or not to grant Greek citizenship. The decision process can take from 1 to 4 years.
  3. Obtaining an entry visa. If the decision to grant Greek citizenship is positive, the applicant will receive a visa in their foreign passport. This visa will allow them to enter Greece, where they will be granted citizenship upon crossing the border.
  4. Getting a passport. The applicant submits the necessary documents to the Greek Ministry of the Interior in order to obtain a passport. At this stage, it is necessary to take an exam to demonstrate a basic understanding of Greek culture and language. The passport is issued within a few months of the application.

Thus, by participating in the Greek repatriation programme, applicants can become Greek citizens within a period of 1 year, without incurring any fees or expenses. The Greek passport occupies a leading position in the world passport rankings (fourth group, according to the Passport Index). Citizens of the country have the opportunity to open accounts in EU banks, move freely across international borders within the European Union and have the right to reside in Greece and even relocate their closest relatives to the country. At the same time, obtaining Greek citizenship by descent does not obligate you to live in the country; you can keep your usual place of residence.

Documents required to obtain Greek citizenship by repatriation

In order to participate in the repatriation programme, individuals must submit the following documents:

  • An international passport, along with copies of all of its pages;
  • A birth certificate;
  • An application for Greek citizenship;
  • A long-term lease or purchase agreement for a residence in Greece;
  • A declaration of tax payment;
  • A valid health insurance policy recognised in the EU;
  • A certificate of no criminal record;
  • Documents confirming Greek ancestry.

All documents must be apostilled in the country of residence, and also translated by a sworn translator in Greece.

Tranio’s team of professionals specialise in identifying suitable properties in Greece for individuals wishing to participate in the repatriation programme. We also provide assistance with all related paperwork required to obtain a residence permit and citizenship. Our experts are available to answer any questions you may have regarding this process.

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