Property buying guide for Greece
Article 4 of 6
Greece
Residence

Visas, residence permits and citizenship in Greece

A number of Greek legislative acts, including Law No. 4146 of 2013 regulate staying in the country, obtaining a residence permit and Greek citizenship.

Visas

Greece is part of the Schengen Area; therefore nationals of some non-EU countries must have a visa to enter.

Residence permits

A residence permit in Greece can be obtained through:

  • purchase of property;
  • strategic investments;
  • economic independence;
  • business;
  • study at a local university;
  • work; or
  • family reunion.

Residence-for-investment

Greece’s "golden visa" is among the most cost-efficient ways for one to obtain a Greek residence permit. To qualify, an investor must buy one or more properties in Greece above €250,000 or purchase a hotel or tourist furnished apartments subject to a timeshare contract. The golden visa programme was launched in 2013, and since then over 4,000 people have received residence permits in Greece.

Advantages of the Greek golden visa programme include:

  • The lowest barrier of entry among countries with similar programmes, such as Latvia, Malta, Portugal and Spain.;
  • A permanent residence permit if the applicant owns the property (subject to renewal every five years).
  • No residence requirements (if the investor resides in the country less than 183 days per year, he/she does not qualify as a Greek tax resident).
  • Residence permits issued to all family members of the applicant (spouse, children under 21 years old, parents and grandparents of applicant and spouse).

In most cases, getting a Greek residence permit for investment (purchase of property) requires an investor to first visit Greece three times on any type of visa. The entire procedure takes three to six months, depending on the time needed to process property transaction documents and how prompt the applicant is in doing so.

During the first visit to Greece the investor has to choose the property, sign a preliminary agreement, apply for a tax number, open an account with a Greek bank and appoint a lawyer.

Step 1

The buyer arrives in Athens to choose the property. The buyer appoints a lawyer who will check property documents over the next month. This includes verifying the seller’s ownership certificate and searching the mortgage registry to find out whether the property has any encumbrances and tax arrears. The lawyer will also provide legal support for the payment of property purchase taxes.

Although unnecessary at this stage, Tranio, however, recommends appointing a lawyer as verifying the title clearance requires, at least, a good command of the Greek language.

Step 2

While the lawyer is verifying documents, the buyer and seller sign a preliminary purchase agreement and the buyer puts down a deposit of about 10% of the property price.

Step 3

The buyer receives an individual tax number. At this stage, a lawyer’s support is necessary as the buyer will have to fill in an application form in Greek. The procedure takes several hours.

Required documents:

  • passport and a copy of it;
  • marriage certificate (if a tax number is also issued to the applicant’s spouse).

Step 4

The buyer opens an account with a Greek bank. Before that, the lawyer has to carefully check the package of documents. The applicant is required to be present when submitting the documents. The procedure takes 1–2 days.

Required documents:

  • passport and a copy of it;
  • copy of a tax return or a tax resident certificate, or a three-year personal income tax certificate (apostilled and translated into Greek or English by a certified translator);
  • letter of employment (translated into Greek or English);
  • copy of an electricity bill (translated into Greek or English); and
  • certificate confirming that the investor has a registered telephone number (translated into Greek or English).

Step 5

The buyer transfers the funds covering all purchase costs to the Greek bank account. The buyer can transfer funds for the purchase directly from a Russian bank account, but a Greek bank account will still be needed in the future, as it would be used to pay taxes, management company fees and utilities.

Step 6

The buyer issues a power of attorney to a lawyer who will sign the purchase agreement on behalf of the buyer once verification of the title clearance is complete (this takes a few weeks). The buyer then wires money from the Greek bank account to the seller’s account. It takes 1–1.5 months for the transaction to enter the mortgage registry and for the property to be registered with the land registry office (the relevant documents will be needed to apply for a Greek golden visa).

Costs:

  • Ownership transfer tax: 3.09% of the property value.
  • Registration tax: 0.475% to 0.775% of the transaction value.
  • Notary fees: 1.2% of the transaction value.
  • Legal fees: 1.5% of the property value.

During the second visit to Greece, which should happen 1.5 to 2 months later, the investor should apply for a residence permit.

Step 7

The investor collects the documents necessary for the Greek residence permit application. A lawyer must be involved at this stage. The applicant submits a package of documents to the Directorate of Foreign Citizens and Immigration of the Decentralized Administration at the location of the property. If the principal applicant is the registered owner of the property in Greece, then his/her family members do not need to be present.

Required documents for the principal applicant:

  • passport copy (certified copy with a certified translation into Greek and an apostille affixed*);
  • two colour photographs (4x6 cm, digital versions accepted);
  • receipt confirming that the stamp duty has been paid (this can be done online);
  • real estate purchase agreement;
  • certificate confirming filing of the real estate purchase agreement with the mortgage registry; and
  • insurance policy covering the cost of hospitalisation and medical care in Greece (in Greek).

Required documents for the principal applicant’s family members:

  • passport copy of each family member(certified copy with a certified translation into Greek and an apostille affixed*);
  • insurance policy covering the cost of hospitalisation and medical care in Greece (in Greek).
  • marriage certificate and birth certificate of any children (certified, with a certified Greek translation that is apostilled*); and
  • two colour photographs of each family member (4x6 cm, digital versions accepted).

Costs:

  • Stamp duty: €500.
  • Legal fees: about €1,000 per principal applicant and €500 per family member.

The investor will receive a certificate confirming the submission of documents. It is valid for one year, during which its holder may legally stay in Greece.

The third visit to Greece, which happens 1–2 months later, is for the investor to submit his/her fingerprints

Step 8

When the residence permit is approved, the investor and his/her family members have to return to Greece to have their fingerprints taken. This is not required for children under 5 years old.

Tranio’s partners in Greece can help the investor organise the filing of documents and taking of fingerprints in one day. This way, the number of mandatory visits will be reduced to two – the first visit is necessary to open a bank account, the second visit, one month later, will be for a residence permit application and to take fingerprints.

Step 9

A few weeks after the fingerprinting, the residence permit will be ready. Applicants do not need to collect it in person, and can send their passports to their lawyers, who can pick it up on their behalf.

This residence permit does not entitle the applicant to be employed in Greece, but allows investment activities.

How to obtain Greek citizenship

Any person born in Greece qualifies for Greek citizenship if one of his/her parents is a Greek citizen or if his/her parents are not Greek citizens but have resided in Greece for more than five years.

Can a non-EU national qualify for Greek citizenship? Proficiency in Greek and residence in Greece for at least seven years are prerequisites for Greek citizenship. EU citizens must have stayed in Greece for three years to qualify for Greek citizenship. A spouse of a Greek national can qualify for Greek citizenship after staying in Greece for three years if they have a child.

*An apostille is applicable for documents issued by member states of The Hague Convention. Otherwise the documents are subject to legalization.

Property buying guide for Greece
Article 4 of 6
Tranio’s managers offer advice on buying real estate in Greece
Ekaterina Macyuk
Real Estate Expert Tranio in Greece
+44 20 3608 1267
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