Expat Essentials

Panos Lianos: Here’s what non-EU citizens need to know before moving to Greece

Moving to sunny Greece might sound like a dream. Relaxing in the sun, living at a slower pace and enjoying the outdoors is something that is easy to imagine while lying on your couch during lockdown ….

Here are examples of two common ways non-EU citizens can enter the country. 

Visas and residence permits 

Step 1 – The Visa

If you wish to move to Greece, you will first need a visa. These are issued by the Greek Consulate where you reside, and are known as long-stay visas (or type D visas). 

There are more than 40 different types of long-stay visas. They range from visas for migrant workers to investors to those who wish to join a monastery. Once you have  a visa in your passport, you can travel to Greece and continue with getting a residence permit.

Step 2 – The Residence Permit

Upon your arrival to Greece, you should quickly start on the application for your residence permit. The documentation needs to be submitted to the municipality where you are staying. Once that is approved, you will be able to stay for a period of time corresponding to the type of permit for which you have been approved. 

General Visa information

Applicants for a long stay visa must submit their documents at the Greek Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence. The basic documentation you can expect to submit is:

  • a completed application form, along with a recent color photograph 
  • a passport valid for at least three months after the expiry date of the visa you will be issued. (It is safer to just make sure your passport will be valid for at least a year after the visa expiry date.) 
  • a police report showing a clean criminal record 
  • a health certificate showing that you aren’t  suffering from communicable diseases (as defined by the World Health Organization
  • travel insurance, valid for at least a year, which covers any repatriation expenses for medical reasons and emergency medical and/or pharmaceutical care

This covers the basic requirements. However, extra documentation is needed for the specific type of visa you require. Also keep in mind that the consular authority has the right to request any additional information as they see fit. 

Investor Visa (aka The Golden Visa) and residence permit

There are many types of visas for those who wish to invest in Greece. There are provisions for the granting of visas and residence permits through the purchase of Greek Government bonds, investments in Greek enterprises, for those starting their own business in Greece and several other cases. 

One of the most common ways to gain residency is through the purchase of real estate in Greece. The value of the property cannot be lower than 250,000 euros. The applicant must show proof of payment and present the deed of the property, along with an array of other documents.

Once in Greece, it will be time to apply for the residence permit. This will be valid for 5 years and can be renewed an unlimited amount of times. Spouses and dependants can accompany the applicant, however, employment is not allowed for anyone issued this type of permit. Work through the creation of a business is possible, but that is beyond the scope of this article. 

Many people opt for hiring professionals when applying for an investor´s permit. There isn’t much information available in English, there might be obstacles at the Consulate, and there can always be something that one overlooks. For example, the payment must be made in a certain way and failing to do so could result in the application being rejected. 

Student Visa and residence permit

If you wish to travel to Greece and study at the same time you can apply for a student visa. Along with the general documentation, you will have to submit a letter of acceptance from the institution where you plan to study. Caution is needed when selecting an institution because not all of them are approved by the Greek government, especially  certain private institutions. Make sure to check with the nearest Greek Consulate prior to registering for any studies.

Upon arrival to Greece, an application for a residence permit must be issued. They are valid for a year and are renewed for the duration of the individual’s studies. 

Conclusion

Getting long-term residence is a rather complicated process, but one that many manage to accomplish. It is important to remember that laws can change without warning  and that the authorities have the right to ask for almost any information they deem necessary. Additionally, applications can be turned down for any number of reasons. However, if you follow the procedures carefully and double-check requirements frequently, you will probably be successful.

Good luck! 

About the author:

Panos Lianos is a writer and a teacher. He has spent 20 years in the Greek Foreign Service, having served in the United States, Japan and Latvia.

He now writes for the EETimes, Pappas Post and Cities of the Future, with a focus on trends in technology and how they affect society.

Panos is a lifelong student of philosophy, and how the wisdom of the past relates to today. He thinks therefore he is.

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