Living in Greece

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

Ways to get Greek citizenship

Who is eligible for Greek citizenship? With the 52-page Greek Citizenship Code passed March 2010, there are eight ways to acquire Greek citizenship, which is the first step to applying for a Greek passport and Greek national ID/tautotita.

However, the Greek government froze all applications for foreigners of no Greek origin as of November 2012. An official revision promised by early 2014 was drafted in November 2014, but nothing more has been done and politicians — including neo-Nazis that Greeks elected to Parliament — are in no hurry to revise the law.

Only persons of Greek blood (jus sanguinis) can obtain citizenship at this time, as it had been previous to 2010. Read the section “Challenge to the New Greek Citizenship Code,” which follows the bulleted list.

  • By Birth in Greece to a Greek mother and/or father: A child born in Greece to at least one parent who was a Greek citizen at the time of the child’s birth acquires Greek citizenship.
  • By Birth to Non-Greek Parents who are Long-Term Residents of Greece: A child born in Greece to two non-Greek parents acquires Greek citizenship, if both parents are legally living in Greece with the proper residence/work permits for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years. Deadline to apply is within three (3) years of a child reaching age 18. *Still Frozen
  • By Attending School in Greece: A child of long-term residents living in Greece can obtain Greek citizenship if he/she lives legally with the proper residence permit and has attended primary/secondary school in Greece for at least six (6) years before age 18, approximately. Deadline to apply is within three (3) years of a child finishing his/her six (6) years of schooling. *Still Frozen
  • By Recognition: For minors under the age of 18 born out of wedlock, then legally recognized by a Greek national born in Greece.
  • By Adoption: For minors under the age of 18 who were legally adopted by Greek nationals/citizens.
  • By Naturalization: For foreigners of no Greek origin who have long-term residency in Greece. *Marriage to a Greek citizen does not grant Greek citizenship or a Greek passport to a non-Greek spouse; he/she must go through the naturalization process after three (3) to seven (7) consecutive years legal residence in Greece, proving fluency in Greek and earning a certificate in ancient Greek history/culture. Click the link to see all of the requirements. *Still Frozen

Laws are not retroactive. You cannot apply for Greek citizenship under today’s laws based on birth to immigrant parents or a period of schooling/residence that occurred in the past if you no longer live in Greece.

There are no other ways of getting Greek citizenship unless the government bestows an honorary citizenship. This is usually reserved for humanitarian reasons or for athletes, artists or other world citizens who are Philhellenes that have done extraordinary things to promote Greece.

*Article last updated January 2, 2015, but answers in ‘Comments’ reflect a specific case or whatever laws were in effect at the time.

Warning

Embassies have posted outdated English-language versions of the Greek citizenship code, which is why I did my own translation and update this website on a rolling basis.

Also note that official websites, expat forums/websites, lawyers and government sources in different countries have plagiarized my articles without permission, which violates copyright and the law. Therefore, you are not necessarily getting confirmation from different sources.

Be careful who you trust.

Challenge to New Greek Citizenship Code 3838/2010

A supreme court ruled certain sections of the new Greek Citizenship Code ‘unconstitutional’ in February 2011, namely those that grant Greek citizenship via attending school in Greece and birth in Greece to non-Greek parents with long-term residency, plus lowering the residence requirement for Greek citizenship via naturalization from 10 of 12 years to only seven (7) years and lowering the fee from 1500 euros to 700 euros.

The court was scheduled to issue a final decision at the end of 2011, but ex-PM George Papandreou — the man who ordered overhaul of Greek citizenship laws — stepped down November 2011, and the Council of State upheld “some sections” were unconstitutional in November 2012. Even before this ruling, the government that took power in June 2012 said they would change them again. This is not surprising since nationalists and fascists now sit in Parliament.

Many municipalities refuse to accept applications, though they are lawfully required to keep taking them under the current law. If this happens to you, contact the Greek ombudsman.

On November 30, 2012 the minister of interior froze all procedures pertaining to granting Greek citizenship to persons of non-Greek origin. Therefore, until the ban is lifted, it is not possible for anyone to acquire Greek citizenship, a Greek passport or Greek ID unless they are of Greek descent/origin/blood.

On February 5, 2013, Greece announced that all non-Greek foreigners granted Greek citizenship under the 2010 reform may lose their voting rights and, possibly, their Greek passports and Greek IDs.

On October 15, 2013 the Ministry of Interior said that a new Immigration Code (Κώδικα Μετανάστευσης) under 4151/2013 had been drafted and would impact citizenship to foreigners, but this was never debated in Parliament or officially published into law.

On February 14, 2014, the government stated that the new immigration bill does not and will not address Greek citizenship for foreigners, and all non-Greeks and the Greek diaspora can no longer vote in elections.

On November 18, 2014, it was announced that a bill had been drafted to replace or unfreeze parts of the 2010 Greek citizenship law that would apply to 50,000 non-EU immigrants in Greece. However, similar to 2013, nothing has been debated or passed into law.

Only 1,358 non-Greek children have secured Greek citizenship as second-generation immigrants born in Greece and 1,295 by attending school as of end of December 2011; another 7,700 applications are pending or have already been rejected. Fears of 200,000 to a half million non-Greeks “becoming Greek” and impacting elections are fictional.

A majority 90 percent, or 200,000 applications in the queue, belong to foreign-born Greeks staking a claim via ancestry or descent.

Acquiring Greek citizenship as an investor

Citizenship cannot be acquired by simply being an investor, only through the methods listed above. Residence permits are granted for a duration of three years should a business be approved by the Ministry of Interior and started in Greece. However, citizenship would still require a non-EU citizen to go through naturalization.

Special visas and residency permits were discussed November 2012 and circulars published in May 2013 for certain categories of homeowners. See “How to get a visa and permit for residency in Greece.” In November 2014, the interior ministry discussed granting Greek citizenship to non-EU citizens who purchase a home valued at a minimum of 250,000 euros. However, nothing has been drafted or passed into law, and the government was dissolved in December 2014.

The prime minister mentioned the possibility of offering Greek citizenship to an elite class of millionaire investors during his May 2013 trip to China, but (again) nothing was done and similar promises have been made in the past and never kept.

You CANNOT get Greek citizenship by buying a home or owning a business. Beware of lawyers and real estate websites using misleading information to promote services and lure clients.

Marrying for Greek citizenship

Citizenship is not transferable, so it is not possible to acquire Greek nationality/citizenship and a Greek passport by marriage alone to a Greek citizen. The wife or husband must claim Greek citizenship by being of Greek origin/blood/ancestry or live in Greece for many years and go through the naturalization process described in ‘By Naturalization’ from the first section above.

Important note for men

Men who are under the age of 45 and interested in acquiring Greek citizenship should see the category “Military service” to determine their lawful, mandatory obligations.

Dual citizenship

Many countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, allow dual citizenship under the right circumstances. Americans can see, “American and Greek dual citizenship” for details. Other nationalities should consult directly with governmental authorities or officials, not forums, lawyers advertising on the Internet, friends or relatives.

Sources

Greek Citizenship Code prior to 2010” (in English, brief/informal translation)
Greek Citizenship Code from 2010“: ΦΕΚ 49, 3838/2010 (in Greek and ruled unconstitutional)
English translation of the new Greek Citizenship Code (created on my own time, not available to the public)
Court questions legality of new Greek citizenship code” — Kathimerini
Ιθαγένεια στους μετανάΣτΕς με…ελληνόμετρο” — Eleftherotypia
Η απόδοση ιθαγένειας και ο όρος του αίματος” — Kathimerini
Greek citizens in Turkey expelled in 1962” — Queens Gazette
Greek citizenship up, ruling looms” — Athens News
New Greek citizenship law has little impact” — Kathimerini
Foreigners still fighting for right to Greek citizenship” — Global Post

Related Posts

How to get a Greek passport
How to get a Greek national ID or tautotita

Shortlink: http://bit.ly/greekcitizenship

Discussed but not implemented
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=467606
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_25/08/2012_458259
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=483806
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_14/11/2012_470017
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=483908
http://www.naftemporiki.gr/news/cstory.asp?id=2259859
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=487284
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=489320
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=491753
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=493951
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=496838
http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=341590
http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=497506
http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.politikh&id=346584 *
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_27/02/2013_484682

107 Comments

  sophia wrote @ July 7th, 2008 at 12:08

Hello, I have a greek mother (DOB.10-09-1944), a greek cypriot father (DOB. 29-11-1940) and a greek husband (DOB 27-12-1968). I have a greek tautotita, but apon what basis can i apply for a greek passport? and how about my two children also?

any information would be much appreciated as i want to return for a long term stay with my children to Greece and would like to have a greek passport for all of us.
many kind regards, sophia

Kat Reply:

Answers to your questions are contained in the links of this article and “Greek passport.” I get the feeling you did not read carefully, OR use either of the ‘Search’ or ‘Categories’ functions in the 2nd column, OR take a look at the articles under “For Greek citizens” in the 3rd column. In the future, redundant questions will be deleted as stated in my policy, “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.” Best of luck to you. 🙂

  Niki wrote @ July 15th, 2008 at 18:17

My father is a Greek and mother Nigerian; i was born here in Nigeria and would love to have a Greek passport. Do i stand a chance because i am 19 this year? what can i do to obtain my passport?

Kat Reply:

Did you look at the links in the article? The answer is in the second link of the article OR in the comment above yours OR in the 3rd column under “For Greek citizens” OR in the 2nd column under “Greek passport.” Please read and search more carefully or yr question will be deleted next time, as per my policy. Good luck.

  vicky wrote @ November 4th, 2008 at 21:54

I was born in the US both my parents were born in Greece, as was my husband, how to I obtain a tautotita? Any shortcuts?

Kat Reply:

Answers are in, “How to get a Greek national ID or tautotita” and “Greek citizenship by claim of Greek origin,” which (according to my stats) you looked at for a total of 11 minutes. No shortcuts, unless you have connections. Please read them again more carefully or a future question may not be published or answered, per my policy.

  FMS wrote @ November 4th, 2008 at 22:49

Poor Kat 🙂 But people really appreciate your ability to comprehend the mess in Greece and guide them through it. I think it is not just a matter of laziness that they don’t read everything on the site, it is also a sense of helplessness.

Kat Reply:

To a point I sympathize. However, many of these people are Greek, speak Greek and/or have people to help them. I collected this information alone, as a non-Greek not speaking fluent Greek, then took it one step further by translating everything, writing it out in English and sharing it for free. All they need to do is read and help themselves. The alternative is to learn Greek and waste days or weeks as I did when no transparent info was available.

  Christos wrote @ March 20th, 2009 at 09:37

I d like to ask an interesting question, having read all the documents about getting a Greek Citizenship and passport: I am a Greek Cypriot, born in Cyprus by Greek Cypriot parents and have Cyprus citizenship. Would i qualify for Greek Citizenship based on ethnicity?

Kat Reply:

That’s a good question, and thank you for asking. The law says very clearly that at least one parent or your grandfather must be of Greek origin AND be born in the country of Greece. So the answer is yes if your parents or grandfather was born in Greece; but it’s no if they were not. If you would like to verify my answer, please call the Greek embassy or consulate nearest you.

  Olga wrote @ March 31st, 2009 at 18:56

I am in Greece at the moment and want my citizenship- I am able to by birth. Where do I go to get all the paper work done? I am asking everyone and no one seems to know.

Kat Reply:

You could have found the answer by looking at the article in front of you or the same answer I gave both Niki and Vicky above your comment. The instructions and addresses are in the second link, “Greek citizenship by claim of Greek origin.” If you followed the first link attached to “Birth,” it would have also led you to the same place. Articles for Greek passport and tautotita are also on the website. Please read more carefully next time.

* If redundant questions and laziness persist, the option to ask questions and leave comments will be closed on this post.

  Lukas wrote @ July 28th, 2009 at 11:00

Hallo,

Ich bin in Österreich Wien geboren.
Bin jedes Jahr seit ich geboren bin im sommer in Griechenland von Kreta,Zakyntohs,Kefalonia…
Jetzt bin ich 18Jahre alt und EU BÜRGER (Austria) ich will in Griechenland wohnen und leben. Wie bekomme ich den GR Reisepass sowie Staatsbürgerschaft?
Kann ich meinen EU Führerschein von Austria nach Griechenland umschreiben?

Bitte um Antwort

Kat Reply:

If you have Austrian citizenship, it’s not necessary to get Greek citizenship or a Greek passport to live in Greece. Also, your Austrian driver’s license is fine to use in Greece without swapping. Therefore, you are free to move here without restriction and burdensome bureaucracy.

  nurgul wrote @ September 4th, 2009 at 01:33

hi my names nurgul..im married with my husband in england.He has got greek passport and i have a turkish passport.we have been married about 4 years and we live in london.i just wondering “can i apply greek passport” thank u very much

Kat Reply:

The answer is already in the post above. Follow the link under “By Naturalization” and see if you qualify for Greek citizenship, since you must have citizenship to get a Greek passport. It takes a lot more than being married.

  Shlomi wrote @ October 17th, 2009 at 11:00

would be grateful if you can write me back to my e mail (want to ask you something about greek citizenship)

Kat Reply:

As I state in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me,” I only answer professional inquiries and legitimate emergency cases; I do not offer personalized consultation due to hundreds of people seeking my help every day, which is the reason I started this website. Questions have already been answered on this site in 99.9% of cases, and all articles on Greek citizenship are freely available (aka, not password protected).

Based on your IP address, I predict you’re a non-EU citizen who needs to follow the naturalization link in the article above, which is the same thing I told other commentators before you. Thank you and good luck.

  ghobo wrote @ October 15th, 2010 at 22:57

Hi
-what are the requirements for Greek citizenship?
-we have some clients for that .
-how much is your fee?
thank you

Kat Reply:

The way it works is I research, translate, write, edit and update all the information on this website for free, and then you and your clients follow the instructions to help yourselves. I am not a lawyer or public service employee, nor do I pretend to be one. I’m a journalist.

If you or someone else is interested in staking a claim to Greek citizenship, you/they must qualify and meet all requirements.

  Robin wrote @ October 21st, 2010 at 23:29

Comment 1:
I need help! My son would like to visit his birthplace in Greece, but I’m afraid he will not be able to leave until he has served in the Greek military. My husband was in the USAFE when we lived in Greece and our son was born in Athens, August 1988. My husband and I were born in the USA and are US Citizens.

I have tried contacting the Greek Consulate in Chicago, IL about my son visiting Greece, but they do not respond to my phone calls, emails, or mail. Upon my son’s birth, I was told he has dual citizenship both Greek and USA. I am concerned that my son will have to serve in the Greek military if he visits Greece. Should I be concerned that this will this happen to him? Is my son considered a dual citizen? Can he safely visit Greece or will he need to renounce his Greek citizenship? Will he need formal papers to visit Greece so he will not have to serve in the military? Your help is appreciated! Thank you.

Comment 2:
Thank you for your reply Kat! Your information is appreciated as I had just about given up on letting my son travel to Greece. My congressman has also been looking into this for me, but he is finding the process of getting any answers as difficult as I had. I’m feeling more comfortable with my son’s upcoming visit to Greece. Two days after my son was born in Athens, my husband and I had to go to register his birth at the Greek Republic Registrar’s office of Amaroussion. Why do you think I was told my son had dual citizenship?

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
You didn’t provide enough information for me to give you a customized answer, and my answer will reflect that.

As it says above in “By Birth,” a child born in Greece to two parents of no Greek origin does NOT acquire Greek citizenship/nationality. This was the law when your son was born in 1988.
— If you and your husband are not of Greek origin, your son is not an American/Greek dual citizenship holder.
— If you or your husband are of Greek origin, your son is a Greek national but only has Greek citizenship if you registered his birth here and applied for it. I’m sure you would have remembered because there are several steps necessary, done in different buildings and all in Greek.
And from what I understand, you did not live in Greece long enough for him to qualify for Greek citizenship under the new 2010 law.

Possibility of being drafted by Greek military:
— If you and your husband are not of Greek origin, your son is in no danger of being drafted by the Greek military.
— If you or your husband are of Greek origin, your son is in danger of being drafted by the Greek military. You can read more at, “Mandatory military service in Greece.”

Assuming your son is of no Greek origin and has an American passport, he can visit Greece/Schengen for 90 days in any 180-day period, which is explained in “Countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece.”

Answer 2:
Why? There’s no way for me to know without interviewing the person who told you this. Unless you or your husband are of Greek descent, it’s impossible for your son to legally have Greek citizenship by birth alone in 1988.

For the past 12 years, Greeks have been telling me I can get Greek citizenship just by getting married. That’s not true either.

Rumors and misinformation persist because many don’t do proper research or want to admit “I don’t know.” Part of the reason I started this website was to disseminate accurate info based on translations of official documentation and first-hand experience. Quite simply, I was tired of being misled.

  Katetsus wrote @ November 24th, 2010 at 00:24

Hi,
I have a question regarding the Greek law for citizenship.
I have a non-EU passport.
I was born in Greece in 1985 and lived there with my parents for 3 and half years.
There is a law which says that I had to live there for 5 years, in order to obtain the Greek citizenship.
I wonder if there is anyway for me to fullfil the remaing 1.5 year or anything else that would help me get the Greek citizenship.
Thanks

Kat Reply:

There is no law that says you must live here for 5 years. As stated above in the article, the new law says your parents must have lived here legally for five (5) full years for you to qualify for Greek citizenship by birth in Greece.

Since you are over the age of 18, didn’t attend school here and are of no Greek origin, your only option is to qualify for Greek citizenship is via naturalization, which says you must live in Greece for several years, speak Greek and meet a number of other requirements detailed in “Greek citizenship through naturalization.”

  MIDO wrote @ November 29th, 2010 at 04:25

I and my mother a Greek nationality and I am born in 1978. What are the papers required to obtain the Greek citizenship and I hold Egyptian citizenship, and baptism is the note that I am a Muslim

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.