Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Greek citizenship by enlistment in the military

According to Article 4 of the Greek Citizenship Code:

1. Aliens of Greek ethnic origin, admitted to military academies as officers or non-commissioned officers of the armed services or enlisted in the armed services as volunteers, in accordance with current regulations, lawfully acquire Greek citizenship from the time of their admittance to such institutions or from their enlistment.

2. Aliens of Greek ethnic origin who enlist as volunteers in time of mobilization or war, in accordance with the current regulations, may acquire Greek Citizenship by petition to the Secretary General of the Prefecture without any further formalities.

3. Those receiving promotion to officers, whether in the standing Armed Services or in the reserves, acquire the Greek Citizenship without any further formalities.

4. The military oath taken by the persons mentioned in paragraphs 1, 2, and 3, substitutes for the oath of the Greek citizen.

5. The children of aliens of Greek ethnic origin, who acquire Greek Citizenship in accordance with the previous paragraphs, are entitled to become Greek citizens at the same time their parents acquire Greek citizenship provided they are minors (under the age of 18 ) at the time of their parents’ petition to the Secretary General of the Prefecture.
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Have a question?

The preceding text is quoted directly from an English translation of the old Greek Citizenship Code, and there were no amendments announced in the new, 52-page Greek Citizenship Code that took effect May 28, 2010.

I do not know anyone who has acquired citizenship by this method, and I do not represent the Greek military or Greek government, so I cannot interpret its meaning or answer questions.

Go to the Mandatory Military Service in Greece article and retrieve the contact information from there to inquire directly, as each case is uniquely different. The other option is to consult directly with the Greek consulate/embassy if you are outside Greece. Do not consult a forum, listen to rumors from friends/relatives or lawyers advertising themselves on the Internet, or you risk getting misleading information.

*Article last updated January 4, 2012

Related posts

Greek citizenship by claim of Greek ancestry, origin or descent
Greek citizenship by naturalization
Ways to get Greek citizenship


  Michael wrote @ February 27th, 2008 at 04:26

Is this to say that if a Greek-American volunteers for Greek Military service he is granted Greek citizenship?

I’ve never heard of this. Does it have to be during times of war? It’s hard to imagine Greece involved in a war these days!

Athens is beautiful, I love the photos.

  Kat wrote @ March 4th, 2008 at 19:41

If you’re of Greek origin, you already have the right to claim citizenship through an ancestor born in Greece and will be assigned mandatory military no matter what.

  Figgy Smalls wrote @ May 29th, 2008 at 10:26


First, THANK YOU for providing a clear and concise forum that has all of the convoluted policies of that beautiful country in one place, and in plain English!

I have a question I hope you can answer:

This column states:

“Greek military officers speak Greek, so enlisting conscripts speaking another language will not be accommodated.”

I am a Canadian born male, who’s Father is Greek (born in Athens) and lives in Greece. I want to apply for citizenship, but unsurprisingly do not want to set foot on a Greek military base. I have no problem paying out my service of 3 months, but really really wish I didn’t have to serve a 45 day tour of hell.

I speak absolutely no Greek except for the ability to order souvlaki. Does this lack of fluency preclude me from serving if I were to obtain citizenship and stay for longer than 6 months?

I imagine your answer will be a gray area, much the same as every law and regulation in the Hellenic Republic. More than likely the above statement means I would have the worst time out of anyone during my tour. Visions of the fat kid from Full Metal Jacket come to mind…

It’s looking like the age of 45 will be my only salvation.


  Kat wrote @ June 6th, 2008 at 01:20

I think you must have read the Mandatory Military post already referenced above? If not, you can click the link and go there now.

I’m sure you guessed that no accommodation or exemption will be made because you don’t speak Greek. One man I know speaks limited Greek and is ready to serve, but they keep turning him away with hopes he will learn Greek; the bad thing of course is he is stuck in limbo — doesn’t have the resources to learn Greek, not allowed to serve, and not allowed to work as Greek employers won’t hire him until he’s served.

Many of the exemptions that were made in the past no longer apply, and the military started cracking down on dodgers and re-examining everyone’s papers a few years ago for forgeries and fake excuses. If you had a connection in the military, you could be assigned to a somewhat cushy post or be shown leniency. That’s the only thing I can think of outside of waiting until you’re 45. Sorry!

  masomn wrote @ January 12th, 2009 at 22:20

I have a very ancient Greek ancestry and always considered myself Greek, but my family has completely lost its Greek heritage. maybe someday i will return to my roots

  Manolis (Mitch) wrote @ February 9th, 2009 at 06:18

The stratologiko grafio in Rhodes told me if I wanted I could serve in the army for 40 days with 10 days adia because i am 44 years old or wait a few months until i’m 45 and not go…

I had to send my pistopitiko mitroa arenon to the consulate which then sent my monimos katikon exoterikou directly to the stratologiko grafio in Rodo. When that was done I called them December of 2008 and they said dont bother going to the army because you will be 45 in April 2009. Just wait till Jan 2009 and apply for a katastasi stratou at any KEP. Which I did and I am currently waiting for my final paperwork from the army.

  Alex wrote @ June 19th, 2009 at 14:44

My brother is three months shy of 42 years of age. He came to Greece and his Certificate of Foreign Residency was stolen and reported to the police. After waiting and waiting for the certificate to be reissued he was informed that he no longer was considered to be in that category of Greeks living abroad and was told he must serve the whole required service whatever that was. Secondly, he was also labeled a draft dodger cause supposedly he hadn’t showed up for service. To make a bad situation even worse the army added a year or so..and was not given the right to even buy it off. Now, he has come to Greece again, he wants to stay, but he doesnt want the fines, the jail time etc. Secondly, he wants to get a Greek ID card, but is too afraid to go to the police station as he was told that they do an army check on the males and that his status as an evader will get him arrested. Do they actually check things like that? I thought things had changed here but it seems that for every one step forward, we take a dozen back. Do you know the answers to these questions? Your help is highly appreciated.

Kat Reply:

If your brother stayed 6 months in any one-year period in Greece, then his permanent resident abroad certificate would have been revoked, no matter what the reason was. To answer your questions:

a) They do check things like that. If this is his first tautotita (and it sounds like it is), he’ll need to go to the police station to make an appointment and fill out a dilosi, which they use to check his background in preparation for his appointment. If his background is clear and he brings all the right documents on the scheduled date, he’ll be issued the ID straight away. If not, he’ll be told why he won’t get one. (See “Greek national ID or tautotita“).
b) I don’t know if he’ll be arrested because everyone I know has served military time. Greece, as you know, operates on rumors and I won’t contribute to them.
c) He can’t legally stay in Greece beyond 90 days. If he does and doesn’t want to get caught, he’ll only accomplish this by completing no transactions here (no ID, no phone, no purchases, no bank account, no social services, no taxes) and not working. That’s a bit like being a prisoner, and his record will remain unclean until he makes things right.

There’s a very easy way to determine if he was indeed called up for service and labeled a draft dodger. Call the military recruiting office. If he gave a valid address, a letter would have been sent to notify him of mandatory conscription. It’s his responsibility to keep track of these affairs or correct outdated addresses. I’m sorry to say that I don’t see how his situation is an example of a dozen steps back. Greek bureaucracy has been this way for decades, and he opened the door to consequences by not following the rules, no matter how arcane or ancient they are.

  erm02 wrote @ July 17th, 2012 at 18:49

Question 1:

I was wondering if I serve in the army for 6 months as a volunteer can I acquire the greek citizenship ? I’m australian with no greek origin.

Thanks 🙂 Enjoy Greece’s summer

Question 2:
Sorry to bother you again but I couldn’t find the article above related to my question. I DON’T any greek origins but I would like to enroll as a volunteer in the military so would I be eligible to get a greek citizenship ?

Thanks 🙂

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
Answers are in the article above. Please take a look.

Answer 2:
Yes, that’s the point. The article above does NOT apply to you because you’re not of Greek origin.

Greek men born in Greece as Greek citizens serve one year in the military. There’s no way Greece (or any country in the world) would give Greek citizenship to a non-EU, non-Greek citizen with no connection to Greece for only serving 6 months.

  John wrote @ September 17th, 2014 at 20:45

Thank you so much for translating this. I just want to make sure about the term “ethnic Greek origin”. As long as I can establish some sort of ancestry (ie, *all* of my maternal great grandparents were born in Greece, I have numerous relatives living there, etc), am I considered “ethnic Greek origin” according to their law? I hope this isn’t a silly question, but a lot of people seem to have their own definition of ethnic origin and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Greek government has its own interpretation. :\

Thank you in advance,

Kat Reply:

The requirements for staking a claim via origin, ancestry or descent are very clear. See “Greek citizenship by Greek origin, descent or ancestry.”

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