Living in Greece

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

How Americans/non-EU citizens get a permit to live and work in Greece

Want to live and work in Greece? If you’re already a citizen of the 28 EU member states (except Croatia) or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, no problem. These citizens have the right to live and work in Greece without restriction.

If you’re an American, Canadian, Australian or other non-EU citizen with plans to immigrate, be aware that Greek residence/work permits are involved in living and working in Greece.

Before packing up your things or looking for a job, it’s important to understand what options are legally open to you. Greece and the EU are not open to everyone, just as your own country is not open to everyone.

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

Author’s note

Be patient and take the time to read this article and the comments carefully, as it will provide you with a full explanation and answer many questions based on official documentation and real-life experience.

It was a one-of-a-kind article when first published in April 2007 and is still updated with the latest information. Official, consular and expat INFO websites and forums have plagiarized this post and now offer similar (outdated) versions.

Be careful who you trust.

Background information

Greece categorizes its residents into four distinct groups and ranks them accordingly:

1) Greek citizens born and raised in Greece and never left;

2) repatriated Greek citizens from abroad — those born in Greece but left;

3) non-Greek EU citizens (Romanian and Bulgarian citizens can work/live in Greece without a permit as of January 1, 2009; Croatian citizens must still secure a work permit and are restricted until at least July 2015);

4) non-EU citizens — nationality is unimportant, whether you’re Canadian, American, Australian, Albanian, Chinese, Filipino, Georgian, Russian, South African, etc. It is a myth that U.S., Canadian and Australian citizens have an easier time, but white non-EU citizens do rank higher than non-whites and men have higher status than women.

Unemployment in Greece is the highest in the EU, and alarmingly so for university educated people between the ages of 25-35, with women, immigrants and the disabled particularly affected. The demand is for uneducated, unskilled workers, and connections and cronyism prevail; this is not expected to change in the next 20 years, if ever (see “Value of a university degree in Greece“).

Of the EU’s original Big 15, Greece ranks next to last in salaries (only Portugal ranked lower) at 10-25 percent of an American/Canadian salary for the same job on average; there is a  minority of people securing high salaries, though most are through connections and cronyism. See, “Monthly salaries of EU countries” for a chart. The salary gap had been closing on the strength of the euro, but Greek salaries have been going down for the past 2-3 years and the EU-IMF are demanding they be lowered further.

In addition to low salaries, quality of living is not on par with cost of living, with the quality falling lower and cost of living in Greece getting higher. It is not the cheap paradise it once was in the 1990s. Consumers in Greece often pay double the cost of groceries compared to cities such as Brussels, Stockholm, New York and London. See, “Salary vs. Cost and Quality of Living of EU countries.”

Most young people speak some English, though all public sector services and applications, 95 percent of classified ads, help lines and more than half of websites are in Greek only. See, “The importance of speaking Greek in Greece.”

There are approximately 1 million non-EU immigrants in Greece according to the last census. However, only 537,237 have residence permits as of February 2013, even though the majority have been here an average of seven (7) years and qualify for long-term EU-wide permits. The immigration reform of 2007 changed little or nothing, and Greece and France tightened border controls and immigration laws in 2008 as promised. Police sweeps now occur daily and weekly instead of monthly and seasonally.

If you are a non-Greek of any nationality, you will also face everyday discrimination and diminished chances of securing work as explained in, “Should I move to Greece?” This is especially true for non-whites, regardless of citizenship.

Schengen VisaEntry – Visas for Greece

To enter the country, you need a visa. The Greek consulate/embassy in your homeland issues two types of visas:

Type 1: Schengen:

The first type is a Schengen visa, which is valid for passage and/or entry to countries that have signed the Schengen agreement, and includes but is not limited to Greece. See, “Schengen countries” if you do not know what they are.

a) Sticker-free: Citizens of some non-EU countries enjoy visa-free travel to Schengen, meaning they are not obligated to apply at the Greek embassy/consulate for a visa sticker and can visit and stay in the Schengen zone (including Greece) temporarily for up to 90 days total within a 180-day period. Americans, Canadians and Australians all enjoy visa-free/sticker-free travel to Greece. Please see, “Countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece” if you want to see if your country is on the list.

* If you are immigrating permanently to Greece or have a job lined up, check with the Greek embassy/consulate if you need a type D visa. Most do not, but some applicants absolutely do.

b) Sticker: Non-EU citizens from countries not on the visa-free list must submit an application at the Greek embassy/consulate in their homeland for a visa and have a sticker placed inside their passport in order to enter and temporarily visit the Schengen zone. Validity can be as little as a week to up to 90 days. Please see, “Countries that require a visa to enter Greece.”

When applying at the Greek embassy/consulate in your homeland, staff will determine the appropriate type of visa, exceptions (countries you cannot visit), and the correct number of entries (one, two or multiple) specific to your needs and eligibility.

Type 2: National:

The second type is a national visa, which is good only for Greece and no other country. These types of visas are issued to those seeking to study, conduct business or potentially immigrate only to Greece OR to those who for some reason do not qualify for a Schengen visa.

All must submit an application and have a sticker placed in their passport by the Greek embassy/consulate in their homeland. The type of visa you receive and the length of its validity will depend on:
a) your eligibility (background, past overstays/fines/blacklist/deportation, other citizenships, family ties, current employment…); and
b) why you are seeking to visit or stay in Greece (i.e. study, work, retirement via independent means, spouse of EU citizen…), thus giving it a further classification of work visa, tourist visa, stay visa, student visa.

Both types of visas (Schengen and national) depend only on your citizenship and passport. The citizenship and passport of your husband/wife/partner/child/parent have no bearing on your visa, your passport or your citizenship, even if he/she is a Greek or EU citizen. In some countries, such as the United States, the citizenship of a spouse/fiance(e) is relevant when applying for an immigrant visa for permanent migration.
— Greece does not have spouse/spousal or fiancé(e) visas.
— There is no such thing as an ancestry/ancestral visa for Greece.
— There is no such thing as a residence/residents visa (temporary or permanent) for Greece.
— There is no such thing as a seasonal work visa for Greece.
— There is no such thing as an open work visa for Greece. A work visa must be sponsored by a specific employer for a specific position that cannot be filled by a Greek/EU citizen.
— There are no visas and permits for gay/lesbian partners of Greek/EU citizens.

There are only national and Schengen visas, as I state above. A visa is for entering, visiting and exiting; a permit is for working and staying in a country, both during and past the validity of a visa.

Upon entry to Greece at the airport or other border crossings, or even when applying for a visa at the Greek embassy/consulate, you may also be asked to produce proof of sufficient funds to support yourself according to a law passed in December 2007. See, “Non-EU travelers to Greece need 50 euros a day.” Even if you are not technically a traveler, Greek authorities have the legal right to question and request evidence of financial means from any non-EU citizen they suspect will overstay, work illegally, be a burden or is attempting to flee their country to Greece.

Lastly, having a Schengen or national visa means that you were granted the right to enter, visit certain countries for the time specified and leave. It does not allow you to stay in Greece and it does not give you the right to work at any time. See, “What’s the difference between a visa and a permit?” if you require further explanation.

Any work you take without first applying for a work permit is considered illegal, and authorities have the right to assess a fine or deport you if you are caught. A penalty of up to 1,200 euros and five (5) years blacklisting may also apply to anyone staying past the validity of their visa. The EU has also drafted a law to sentence illegal workers up to 18 months in jail before deportation as of 2010. See, “Overstaying a visa in Greece” for details.

Moving, Living and Working in Greece

To stay in Greece beyond the validity of your Schengen or national visa and live and work legally in Greece, you need a permit. Your spouse or child and his/her citizenship are irrelevant, even if he/she is an EU/Greek citizen; it only depends on what citizenship you possess and, often times, if you are of Greek origin/descent.

There is no such thing as a green card for Greece; ‘green card’ is a term used in the United States and does not apply outside its borders.

Bottom line is: If you are a non-EU citizen without dual citizenship with the EU or Croatian citizen, you need a permit to work in Greece at any time and/or stay and live in Greece past 90 days.

EU passportPhoto from

Ways around getting a permit for Greece

Before covering the lengthy and often expensive bureaucratic process of getting a permit for Greece, there are two ways around it:

1) Claim Greek citizenship through an ancestor

Having Greek citizenship would entitle you to live and work not only in Greece, but the entire EU. If you are of Greek origin/descent and have a mother, father, grandfather or grandmother born in Greece, you can claim Greek citizenship. If you were not born in Greece, do not assume you have Greek citizenship since your parents or grandparents must have staked a claim for you and been issued a citizenship certificate. Being registered in an oikogeneiaki merida is not enough.

See, “Greek citizenship by claim of Greek origin or ancestry.”

2) Claim citizenship through an ancestor born in an EU country

Staking a claim to citizenship through an ancestor born in any of the current member states of the EU (except Croatia until July 2015) or EFTA countries Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, would give you the right to live and work in Greece or any EU country without a permit. There are often no residency or language requirements, and applications for repatriation are processed more quickly and usually without a fee.

See, “Acquiring EU citizenship through ancestry.”

If either of these situations apply to you, stop here, use the links I provided and follow the instructions in starting the process to citizenship. This is the easiest, fastest and most pain-free method to living and working in Greece and the entire European Union without restriction.

Greek permit
Adeia diamonis – May not be reused

Introduction to Greek residence and/or work permits

Should the previous section on ways around through Greek or EU citizenship not apply to you, your only legal path to Greece is through a permit. How do you get a permit for Greece?

There are dozens of permits, though a revision to the Immigration Code announced on October 15, 2013 will reduce the number to only 19, after it’s been officially published and passed into law in 2014. I cover the most common ones since the majority of us are not Olympic athletes, politicians, diplomats or famous.

All permits require that you have the appropriate visa to enter Greece, then apply for the permit in Greece within 30 days of arrival. Failure to apply for the proper permit before your visa expires will require a lawyer, bribes, connections or that you exit and re-enter Greece again. See, “Overstaying a visa in Greece.”

All of these permits apply to non-EU citizens of no Greek origin (descent). Why? Because if you are of Greek origin, you have the option to apply for Greek citizenship as explained above — it is a privilege to which you are entitled, whether you want it or not.

How to get a permit for Greece

1. Be the non-EU spouse or child (under 21) of a Greek/EU/EEA citizen

Should you be the non-EU spouse or dependent child (under 21) or dependent parent of a Greek or EU/EEA citizen (except Croatia), an EU directive grants family members both residence/work permits and rights on par with other EU residents. Options open to you are:

a) Residence/work permit card for non-EU family members of a Greek/EU national (First filing; validity of 5 years): If this is your first time residing in Greece and have never held a permit before, or you already possess a permit on your own accord (work, self-employed, business owner) as a single person and you marry a Greek/EU citizen, this permit applies to you.

You need to prove you entered the country legally (stamp in your passport, appropriate visa, etc.), provide a health certificate and attend an interview at the Perifereia where a board will ask questions in Greek and examine whether your marriage and family relationship is legitimate or simply an attempt to get a permit. If the non-EU citizen(s) is/are unemployed, proof of health coverage (private or via the Greek/EU citizen) and tax statements will be requested.  Being married to a Greek/EU citizen does not guarantee a residence/work permit, as I know several people who were denied. If approved, the permit is valid for five (5) years, good only for Greece (not EU-wide) and has no application fee. Click, Regular residence/work permit for an American or other non-EU family member of a Greek or EU citizen to see all of the requirements.

It used to be that residence/work permits were separate with separate bureaucracy at separate locations; now they have been fused into one permit with one process at one location since most people need both. The work permit is given for free whether you need it or not.

Being the divorced non-EU parent of a half EU child does not entitle you to a permit if you do not already live in Greece. Rights trickle down from parent to child, not the other way around. The only time a divorced non-EU parent can hold a Greek permit is: a) the parent is already living and residing in Greece with a valid permit, AND b) during those years, the child with Greek citizenship grew up, came of age and still lives in Greece AND c) the parent has sufficient financial means or work to stay in Greece.

b) Permanent residence/work permit card for non-EU family members of a Greek or EU citizen (Renewal; validity of 10 years): If you already held the initial five (5)-year permit listed above, you will automatically be renewed for 10 years in a permanent status if you can prove your family relationship is valid and continuing, and you have financial means to support yourself. It is good ONLY for Greece (not EU-wide), and there is no fee to renew. Click “Permanent residence/work permit for non-EU spouse and children of Greek and EU citizens.”

* Should you change countries, it will help to show your permit from Greece, but you will be expected to apply for a new permit in the new country. Permits are not transferable as they are wholly dependent on whether you have a valid, existing family relationship in the country you live. All EU countries have measures to prevent fraudulent marriages and “fake spouses” who marry only for papers.

* There are no permits for hetero$exual fiance(e)s. There are also no permits for gay/lesbian partners married in another country. This violates an EU directive and Greece has been warned, but it will be years before the European Commission can force Greece to comply. For example, it took 5 years for Greece to implement EU-wide permits that should have been done in 2003.

2. Be the non-EU spouse or child of a non-EU citizen living/working legally in Greece for two (2) years

This permit applies when all family members are non-EU citizens and is known as a Family Reunification permit. Should you be a non-EU spouse/child of a non-EU citizen who has already been living and working legally in Greece for two (2) years with the proper permit, you can be brought over and reunified if (s)he can show an annual income of at least 8,500 euros, plus 1,700 euros (20 percent) for a spouse and 1,275 euros (15 percent) for each dependent. You must prove you legally entered Greece with a Schengen or national visa, and apply for the permit before that visa expires. To see a story of (mistakenly) getting this permit, see “Thanks to Greece, I’ve been reunified with myself.”

* There is no such thing as a family reunification visa for Greece, only the appropriate Schengen or national visas described above.

3. Be an investor

Non-EU citizens wishing to start a company with employees are required to have:

— A minimum of 300,000 euros in capital,
— a business plan in Greek approved by the Interior Ministry
— at least 10 jobs of which 30 percent must be given to Greek citizens.

The permit is good for three (3) years. Partnering with a Greek/EU citizen does not absolve you from these rules. See “How to start a business in Greece” for details.

In November 2012, there was discussion of allowing non-EU citizens purchasing a home to be granted residence permits but no laws were passed and this measure is not being implemented.

With such strict rules and the debt crisis expected to last through 2013 or longer, many are opting for other countries.

4. Be a self-employed entrepreneur

Non-EU entrepreneurs wishing to be in business for themselves (self-employed) must have already held a residence permit in Greece for one year previous to application by:
a) submitting a formal plan in Greek that proves your business will contribute to the Greek economy and
b) depositing 60,000 euros in a bank account as evidence of solvency.

If you manage to jump those hurdles, you will be required to prove an annual investment of 60,000 euros at each renewal. See, “How to start a business in Greece” for more details.

5. Retire/live in Greece supported by independent means

Non-EU citizens, unrelated to Greek/EU citizens and of no Greek/EU origin themselves, who would like to retire or otherwise live in Greece on funds from outside Greece are welcome to apply for a special entry visa at the Greek embassy/consulate in their homeland, then get a residence permit upon arrival in Greece if they can show a minimum of 2,000 euros/month. It is not a work permit and good for one year. See, “How to apply for a visa and residence permit for Greece.”

6. Be a student at a university in Greece

If you are accepted to a semester abroad or a full degree program at a university in Greece, you can apply for a visa to study. Should you be here for more than a semester abroad (more than 90 days), you would be able to apply for a permit that allows you to work part time.

However, when your course of study is finished, this permit cannot be converted to a regular residence/work permit if you find an employer to hire you full time. Why? Because your original visa and permit were based on a course of study, not work. For the employer to hire you, they would be required to go through the process described in the next option.

7. Find an employer to sponsor your work visa and permit for Greece

It is not impossible, but this option is amongst the most difficult and expensive, as it involves several steps, government approval, a significant monetary deposit (by you or your potential employer) and a period of waiting in your homeland.

The unemployment rate in Greece hit a record-high 27.8 percent overall and 64.9 percent for youth aged 15-24 (the highest in the EU), Greeks of all ages are leaving in desperation to find work abroad, Albanians are going home, and many expats are leaving after 15-20 years due to deteriorating quality of living. Greece has no need to import workers.

To illustrate how rarely unmarried Americans of no Greek origin are hired and approved to work in Greece, there are less than 2,200 existing work permits at this time, which includes non-employees (investors, self-employed, visiting consultants and students) not just employees. The majority of these permits are renewals, meaning we have all held them for years.

If you think 2,200 is a lot, remember that there are 1 million non-EU citizens in Greece, of which less than 520,000 have permits.

Assuming you like those odds, how do you get sponsorship from an employer in Greece for a work visa?

a) Find an employer in Greece willing to hire you while still in your homeland

This is the most improbable situation unless you have connections or otherwise know someone in advance, as few (if any) would hire a stranger, put up a deposit and muck through months of bureaucracy without ever having met or interviewed a potential employee. An employer prefers to hire candidates already in the country.

If you have a friend, potential spouse or relative willing to hire you, new laws passed in February 2008 require private businesses to show an annual profit of 24,000 euros and companies an annual profit of 60,000 euros before hiring non-EU citizens.

*Greece does not have a migrants work program.

b) Come to Greece on a tourist visa, find an employer to sponsor your work visa and permit, then go home

Once you and your potential employer have met, interviewed and found a good fit, you are required to go home. Why? Because in order to be issued a work permit, you need a work visa (not a tourist visa). And in order to be issued a work visa, you must go home to wait for the potential employer to complete the paperwork, submit it to OAED (Manpower Employment Agency in Greece) and interior ministry, prove that there is not a single Greek or other EU citizen who can do this job, justify why you should be hired instead, then put up a deposit of several months salary (or ask you to do it).

When/if it is approved, the official work invitation letter and work contract will be sent from Greece to the Greek embassy/consulate in your homeland, which will invite you to interview on their premises and hopefully approve and issue the visa. The process from start to end could be up to a year.

*If a non-EU citizen told you that he/she never had to go home and applied for a work visa once inside Greece, it’s not possible. They either have dual citizenship with the EU or are working illegally.

c) Seasonal work through the embassy/consulate

Another way is to find seasonal or regular non-embassy jobs — IT, teaching, unskilled labor positions — posted by a dozen Greek embassies/consulates located mostly in eastern Europe that work in conjunction with OAED Employment Agency. The good news is these jobs are pre-approved and ready to go; the bad news is all jobs are listed in Greek, wages are usually low, and few employers participate in the program because the government is slow (or refuses) to return their deposits. America, Canada and Australia are not and never have been participants, as many of the jobs are of the dirty, difficult and dangerous type. See, “The jobs Greeks won’t take.”

*If you’ve thought about working for an embassy/consulate, teaching English or working at a bar for the summer, see “Common jobs for English-speaking foreigners in Greece” to learn the difference between myth and reality.

d) Be a high-ranking executive or board member at a company in your homeland with a branch in Greece, and have them transfer you

Most of these transfers are approved, especially if you are from a big company like Coca-Cola that contributes to the economy, and/or earn a large salary that will continue to be paid from your homeland and not burden Greece. Typically, an employee’s non-EU family members will be allowed to accompany him/her as long as income requirements are met. See, “Greek work permit for high-ranking executives from abroad.”

If after five (5) years you are still a non-EU citizen of no Greek/EU origin not married to a Greek/EU citizen, and have held a residence/work permit in Greece with gainful employment, you would be eligible for a long-term EU-wide residence/work permit on par with being an EU citizen no matter what your profession, as long as you meet a number of other requirements. Click “Non-EU citizens seeking a long-term EU-wide residence/work permit” to see all the requirements.

Illegal Work in Greece

Illegal work is a reality, but exact figures cannot be quoted because workers often stay quiet to avoid being fired, and employers stay quiet to avoid being fined and jailed. This code of silence leads to other abuses, i.e., no insurance, poor pay, extra hours without compensation, no vacation, no pension contributions.

You also risk being fired once a qualified candidate with legal standing can replace you or your employer gets scared, and you will not be entitled to collect unemployment or lodge a formal complaint at the labor union.

Greek authorities have raised fines and penalties assessed to employers using illegal workers, and police are more stringent and frequent in their immigration checks since 2010. Illegal workers are hired less frequently and fired more often, as a result.

The EU also drafted a law effective 2010 that can sentence illegal workers up to 18 months in jail before deportation, plus the EU border-monitoring agency Frontex opened its first European regional office in Athens, Greece in October 2010 as a show of commitment to local authorities. Illegal immigration has since dropped 40 percent.

EU blue cardImage from

Permit options now closed

1. Non-EU street vendors have been denied the right to start and renew their licenses

Despite the fact it is discrimination and against EU directives, this law has not been overturned for several years.

2. Legalization drive (amnesty or regularization) for illegal workers already in Greece has ended

In the past, Greece has reluctantly acquiesced to legalizing undocumented illegal workers from non-EU countries who are already in the country and issuing them permits. However, most drives of this sort are announced without established parameters or have requirements that are impossible and/or expensive for many to fulfill, usually involving ensima (insurance stamps costing thousands of euros) and legal entry dates from years ago (i.e., before December 2004). The last legalization drive ended October 31, 2007, and there are no plans for any in the future. To get a sense of past requirements, see “Residence/work permit for undocumented workers in Greece.”

3. EU Blue Card program

The European Commission proposed in October 2007 a “blue card” program, resembling the USA’s green card, and sent a draft to all (then) 27 member states for input and approval. Many member states immediately expressed disapproval and the intent to opt out, and there is a clause in the legislation that allows each EU member state to set or ban quotas, which many are expected to do under current economic conditions.

On May 25, 2009, legislation for the EU Blue Card directive 2009/50/EC was finalized and the program was made mandatory in mid-2011.

However, the euro crisis has changed implementation of the program and Greece is notoriously slow — sometimes taking up to five (5) years or more — and must be forced to implement directives by the European High Court. Further, the International Monetary Fund expects Greece to be in recession well after 2015.

When/if Greece recognizes and allows people to apply to the Blue Card Program, I will write an article and link it here.

About EU residence/work permits

Every EU member state has different rules and regulations in place for non-EU citizens wishing to live and work in their country. Many are not as stringent as Greece, while others more so.

A residence/work permit grants permission to stay in a country beyond a visa’s validity, a document or sticker given to someone who fulfilled requirements and legally lives and/or works under the laws and regulations of the country that issued it. If you move out of that country, you become a resident and worker of whatever country is your new home and must secure another residence/work permit under its laws and regulations. It is not transferable.

If you are a non-EU citizen not connected to a Greek/EU citizen with the coveted long-term EU-wide residence/work permit, this IS transferable and you may live and work freely throughout the EU, except in Denmark, Ireland and the UK. You must check with the new country before moving, as you may need to register, convert or give up certain rights upon arrival.

A new Greek Immigration Code (Κώδικα Μετανάστευσης) 4151/2013 was drafted in October 2013 and proposes granting EU-wide status to SOME long-term residents. But it is not official and existing laws are still in effect. Therefore, you must investigate what your current Greek permit allows you to do before moving or accepting work in another country.

Have a question?

I highly encourage readers to view ‘Comments’ on this post and other posts that were mentioned above in this article, as they contain answers to common questions and stories from people who were kind enough to share their experience.

It was necessary to close the possibility of discussion because too many readers asked redundant questions and/or refused to use the ‘Search’ options in the second column as per my ‘Questions‘ policy.


Απόφαση του ΔΕΚ για την ιθαγένεια υπηκόων τρίτων χωρών” — Kathimerini
— Documentation gathered over 14 years
— First-hand experience holding five of the residence/work permits mentioned above
— First-hand experience of non-EU citizens who agreed to share their story and documents with me, including CN, PM, CO, DD, MS.
— “Greece grapples with shadow of neo-Nazis — There’s no such thing as a legal immigrant” — FT
— “Only 460,000 foreigners in Greece hold a residence permit as of 2010” — Kathimerini

Related posts

“Residence-work permits
Jobs in Greece



  Tina wrote @ April 25th, 2007 at 23:36

This article just killed my dreams of living in Greece…well, it’s good information though, very detailed and realistic.

Kat Reply:

Tina, wait! I don’t want to be your dream smasher. There are ways for Americans and other non-EU citizens to live and work in Greece, as I said.

Here are a few ways:

1) You could come as a tourist and take illegal work without insurance; some people do this just for the experience of doing it and gain the boss’ good graces, then either go home or try very hard to find an employer willing to give you a work visa, go home and re-enter on the visa;

2) If you have been working for many years for an American company with a branch in Greece, perhaps they could transfer you if you can speak the language or have worked here before — your salary may decrease to reflect Greek standards, but at least you’ll be here;

3) Some employers hire out of desperation, and this could work to your advantage;

4) Some people come here, fall unexpectedly in love with someone Greek or European, get married and their legal issues are solved that way. They still need to go home and re-enter, but it all works out;

5) Some simply have connections or catch a lucky break.

All in all, a dream come true is not going to come to you, you have to go after it.

If you go after your dream, these are my suggestions:

1) Pay off your credit cards, but don’t cancel them in case you need them in an emergency,
2) defer student loans if you have them (you are not absolved from paying them),
3) save some money,
4) keep a presence back home with mail going to a trusted friend or relative,
5) be very open to taking work you wouldn’t normally do,
6) live your dream while you’re still young enough to recover and advance your life goals (travel, career, family, purchase a home, etc.) if living here doesn’t work out.

I’d like to also point out that there are many beautiful countries in this world outside the EU. This is not the only place to live and work.

I wrote the article and created this website because I want people to know the law, the bureaucracy involved and how working conditions are different. Essentially, I want people to have all of the information necessary to make informed choices and not be surprised. Sometimes surprises are good, sometimes not.

  Nikita wrote @ May 6th, 2007 at 12:34

Congratulations on the job well done with your website, it is very informative. I have been following your posts closely. Thank you for the wonderful information you have provided.

  K wrote @ July 17th, 2007 at 18:08

Thank you so much for your excellent site/blog. I’ve found so much invaluable information here.

  Deborah wrote @ July 19th, 2007 at 19:49

This web site is wonderful!

  mike smith wrote @ July 23rd, 2007 at 18:18

i like your site very much. it is quite informative and well designed. Thanks!

  Nikos wrote @ August 1st, 2007 at 14:41

Congrats- by far, the best source for problem solving, enjoying, counseling, advising Americans in Greece. Keep up the good work!

  Catherine wrote @ August 15th, 2007 at 23:18

You’re site is amazing and very informative! Great job!!

  Jessica wrote @ August 29th, 2007 at 08:24

Just found your website & enjoyed several posts including this live/work post. Thanks for all the info! Could I find wiggle room in the rules as an artist (possibly selling thru a gallery) supplemented by working remotely for a US company as an accountant? Would that scenario make me an entrepeneur? What kind of visa would that combo require? Thanks for all you help — I’m off to continue surfing your site!

Kat Reply:

Getting into a gallery requires some very inside connections, and then you compete with cheaper Eastern European artists who are willing to take less than you likely would.

Some people who have deals with a gallery take cash under the table, thereby skirting the need to get a self-employed status and cutting receipts. This would entail taking 20 percent of wholesale, give or take.

(The two previous statements are based on experience, not rumors. I have an artist friend who does this with connections he’s had for 15 years.)

I’m not sure why you’re mentioning a visa. Visas are for entering, visiting and exiting, not staying in Greece. Permits are for staying in Greece, as I already explained above.

A residence permit is required of non-EU citizens for stays beyond the visa’s validity period (i.e. beyond 90 days if it’s a Schengen tourist visa used by an American). There are dozens of different residence and work permits; therefore, I have no way of knowing which one you qualify for; I don’t represent the Greek government. But most are based on established work in the country, retirement with independent means, being an entrepreneur, consultant or student, residence supported with funds from outside Greece, being the spouse/child of an EU or Greek citizen. Options are listed above, and you can look under the “Residence-Work Permit” category for examples. My site is a starting point, therefore I encourage people to consult Greek authorities for advice pertaining specifically to their situation.

Note to readers: As per the “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me” policy, please use the ‘Search’ or ‘Categories’ BEFORE asking a question. I invested hundreds of hours and the trouble to write up a lot of useful information for everyone, the least you can do is take a look first. If I don’t publish your question or answer you via email, it means the answer is already on this site. Thank you!

  Christopher wrote @ October 9th, 2007 at 00:05

Hi Kat! You’re site has been so uber-useful, I can’t thank you enough. Just today I was offered a salaried position with IKA, paid vacation and bonuses, the whole shebang!!! Anyway, the company has never had any “fresh off the boat” (so to speak) Americans before – in other words, they’ve had Americans work before, but they all either had Greek citizenship or were married to Greek nationals – so the company is unsure about the exact process regarding the residence/work permit.

A preliminary document the company gave me today – all in Greek, of course :( – says I have to go get an AFM. I read about the AFM/Residence Permit catch-22…this frightens me. Anyway, I have to give it a shot, but I don’t know where I need to go to attempt to get the AFM (the document says “at the DOU of your area”) – is there a website where I can find the location of the office I need? I live in Tauros/Kallithea area, so I figure there’s one nearby, but beats me where it is or how to find it. Thanks a billion!

Oct 17
Hi Kat! So hurray for me, I ran into my first brick wall here in Greece. So, as I guessed would happen after reading your posts, my local Eforia said to get an AFM I first have to get a residency/work permit from my Dimos. So I went to my Dimos (Tavros), and they said to get a residency/work permit, I have to leave the country, get a work visa, and then re-enter. They won’t allow me to apply for any residency permit w/o first seeing a Greek visa in my passport.

So am I basically screwed? Or should I try going to a different Eforia and see if I have more luck (although I’m sure I’d have to provide an address and they’d see I don’t live in their area, so I’d figure I’d just be told to go back to the Eforia in my area)? I know you said people caught in the AFM-Residency permit catch-22 have had to bribe their way out….

Kat Reply:

The unfortunate part is getting an AFM and residence permit based on work requires that you exit the country and enter again with a work visa for Greece secured for you by the employer. This requires quite a bit of bureaucracy and a significant deposit on the part of the employer, and most do not want to bother when they can hire an EU or Greek citizen very easily.

  Marie wrote @ October 18th, 2007 at 04:44

Love the site. You have truly provided an amazing resource on all topics imaginable. Quick question for you…I am American, however my parents were born in Greece. I recently was added to my mom’s family list (oikogeniakh merida) at the Mayor’s office in the town she was born in. Now, I am not sure what comes next. Does this give me any sort of authorization to work in Greece or do I need to go through the work permit paperwork? Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

Kat Reply:

Hi there! Simply being registered in an oikogeneiaki merida doesn’t grant you the right to work or live in Greece if you yourself are not a Greek citizen. Therefore, as the article says, you need to have or get Greek citizenship since you have that option as a person of Greek origin; they will not allow you to get a permit as an American or other non-EU citizen. There are plenty of articles about those two subjects on this site in categories called “Residence-work permits” and “Greek citizenship,” and links were already provided above in this article.

Alternatively, you could ask your parents or call the Greek Consulate nearest your home to advise you.

  Maria wrote @ October 23rd, 2007 at 12:16

This website is very cool. I am glad I found it. I am going through the same problems finding a job, trying to make friends, I just moved back after being gone for 15 years. I love it here but its really hard …I am running low on cash so my only option is to go back to the USA and come back again and give it another shot ….

  Tania wrote @ October 25th, 2007 at 19:53

I have been following very closely with your site. I am a non-EU and I am in the situation in which I did manage to find an employer who is willing to sponsor my work permit/residence. I have also called the Greek Embassy in my residence country and they told me that the hiring company needs to provide a salaried/work contract in order for me to apply for a National Visa which serves as a long term visa. Upon obtaining the visa, and arriving in the country, the hiring company has to file for an IKA number and residence/work permit. My question is:

1. Once I am in the country with the National Visa , while my employer file for the IKA number and permit, am I allow to start work? And how long normally does the process take to obtain an IKA number and a permit.

2. Followed by that, there is also a need for an AFM number, which I understand that the employer will take care of it. How does this process take place?

Thank you for your help and I will continue to look through your site for more information.

Kat Reply:

The possible options/processes that apply to you are already described in this post.

A “national visa” is for third country nationals for transit between a non-Schengen to a Schengen country within 5 days; there is no such thing as a “long term visa.” There is, however, a type ‘D’ visa that is issued to people with intention to immigrate and gives the bearer the right to apply for a permit upon arrival in Greece. Visas are for entering/exiting; permits are for staying in the country.

Most employers do not apply for permits, IKA and AFMs for workers because identification and signatures require an individual to appear in person. The employer provides the work contract and letter, and the rest of it is up to you (as I say in the post); other commentators confirm what I say. The processes of getting an AFM and IKA are described in detail in other articles on this website.

To answer your question, it only took me 15 minutes to get an AFM, but people will tell you it varies widely because some tax offices want to see the residence/work permit before issuing one, and some municipalities want you to show your AFM before giving you a permit (Catch 22). It only took me a half hour to get IKA, but it varies widely.

It takes anywhere from 90 days to a year to get the permit as I mention in other posts, but the bebaiosi (blue receipt/certificate with photo) they give you for completing your file suffices to start work. Everything must be in place before you start work. You could technically work before that, but if the employer goes back on his word or you fail to finish your AFM/IKA/permit file, the employer is not obligated to pay you and you’ll have no right to complain or stake a claim…unless you find a kind-hearted person.

Please use the ’search’ and ‘categories’ options as I request in my “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me” section.

Good luck!

  Lia wrote @ November 30th, 2007 at 12:59

Thanks for a fantastic resource for all aspects of Greek life!


  Fadi wrote @ December 4th, 2007 at 16:11

Very informative site but I need to ask a question please

I am currently in Greece with student visa I applied to my resident permit and I have currently the blue paper, I found a job here with a professional company and they are welling to hire me, I applied for TAX number and I have it, the company gave me a paper that they want to hire me and I applied for the work permit a month ago. I have an official paper saying the I applied for the work permit but my employer don’t want to take any risk and hire me, he want to have the real work permit which according to the municipality will take long time, I am so frustrated and don’t know what to do or how to make things go faster. I appreciate any hint you can give me.

Kat Reply:

Fadi, I don’t make a habit of contacting readers by phone as this is a site that I run in my free time to help people and generates no income, so I removed your phone number to protect your privacy.

There a few things that don’t make sense in your inquiry, but I’ll get to that in a second.

First, a student visa entitles you to a residence permit, and that residence permit entitles you to get an AFM. That’s true. As a student, you are entitled to work part-time in Greece, but not full-time and not without IKA.

Second, according to Greek law and municipality documentation, a resident permit secured by a student visa cannot be converted to a work permit with a company. Why? Because your visa was a student visa, not a work visa. I’ll give you an example: I have a non-EU friend who attended university here in Greece for 4 years with a student visa, which allowed him a resident permit and to work. When he graduated, he found a stable job with a big well-known bank. The bank used their connections to try and convert his student residence permit into a regular work permit, could not do it, and he is back in his homeland without possibility to come back until the bank proves that the position cannot be filled by a Greek person. When they prove it, they can issue him a work visa to invite him back to Greece, then give him a work permit. It’s been one year and nothing happened. If you and the company are indeed trying to convert a student residence permit to a regular work permit, it’ll be denied at some point.

Third, you state that you already applied for the work permit and have an official paper (bebaiosi; blue paper with photo). This is where it becomes unclear. If you already applied for a work permit a month ago, you’re basically telling me that your employer has already given you a work contract and IKA, and therefore has already hired you since the official paper (bebaiosi for the work permit) is enough to start working and must be done within 8 days of hiring, which means you should already be working.

So either: 1) You didn’t get a work contact and IKA, and therefore didn’t apply for a work permit, which means he never hired you; or 2) your boss did give you those things (which means he already hired you), you applied for the work permit, have the bebaiosi (blue paper for work permit) and now the employer is telling you he wants to fire you. Also note that if you do not get IKA with your work contract, the municipality will not give you a work permit; you must have both.

What it sounds like to me is you never got a work contract and IKA, and you only have a residence permit based on being a student, and you’re working illegally.

No matter what the case, I can tell you very certainly that there is absolutely nothing you can do to make anything go faster in Greece unless you have connections to high authorities that can make calls on your behalf. The process can take anywhere from a few months to after the permit expires.

  Phillip wrote @ January 8th, 2008 at 22:39

Hi, thanks for all your information. This has got to be one of the best resources I’ve seen on this subject of working in Greece.

Well, my comment/question is…I’m wondering if the law on work permits for non-EU citizens changed recently, perhaps in 2006, to what it is now as you have listed on your web site.

Here’s why I ask…I’m an American, no family connections to Greeks, and currently living in Greece, on a work permit that I secured through a book publisher, which was applied for in Dec 2005, approved by OAED in Feb 2006 and issued in June 2006. Originally, I came to Athens in April 2005 on a tourist visa, worked under the table with this publisher for a few months, during which time they helped me extend my tourist visa (a 6-month extension), and they agreed to sponsor me. When we decided to file for the work permit, in Dec 2005, I was told (and was already under the impression from previous information I had read) that I had to leave the country, return the San Francisco (where I’m from), and wait until the process was finished. I was to be issued a work visa at the Greek consulate’s office in SF (which I was) that would allow me to re-enter Greece as a worker (as I did), and then get the residence permit, AFM, IKA, etc. (which I have all of those now).

I am really curious if the law did in fact change, because to tell you the truth, I would have much rather stayed in Greece back then in 2005 and never have gone back, but I had to, because it was the law. At least I thought so. Of course, knowing otherwise won’t take back those 9 miserable months I had to wait in the states for my work permit to be approved in Greece, but I’d still like to know!


Kat Reply:

P – Finally, someone who pays attention, has something to contribute and didn’t ask a redundant question!!! Hello and welcome! Thank you for sharing your story, in fact I think it helps for people to see the process and waiting time required of an American (non-EU) citizen being issued a Greek work visa and doing things the right way.

There was a delay in answering your question not only because of technical reasons and my own time constraints, but also because I wanted to research the law more thoroughly.

1) The law did not change: The law as written requires someone to be issued a work visa for Greece while still in their homeland. However, as you illustrated, it is difficult to find an employer willing to do this unless you come here and interview for the position. I know few employers in Greece who would choose to hire a non-EU citizen without hesitation, then go through the trouble of mucking through the bureaucracy to bring them over without ever meeting them.

2) If you were here before January 2005: There was a legalization process for undocumented workers (which I allude to in the article, and contains a link to a more detailed post) that non-EU immigrants could have gone through to get a permit without going back to the homeland and being issued a work visa if all these were true:
a) Proof they were here by December 31, 2004;
b) entered the country legally, but for some reason didn’t qualify or get a permit;
c) had gainful employment;
d) had insurance or could purchase it.
This legalization deadline was extended to October 2007 and the IKA ensima requirement lowered, but the December 31, 2004 cutoff was never changed to include arrivals after that date.

3) Loopholes: There are a number of loopholes or lucky breaks someone could catch made possible by municipal employees who overlooked or were not informed about certain requirements, which allowed some non-EU citizens to apply for a permit without having to return to the homeland and be issued a work visa.
a) If an applicant had everything but the work visa, the application was submitted anyway and the permit was issued;
b) If a municipal employee made an error in accepting or submitting paperwork (which is common at smaller municipalities, where employees don’t know anything about visa waivers or Schengen visas for Americans), higher authorities invited you by letter to apply for a permit anyway, as long as you had everything but the work visa;
c) Perhaps a previous presence in Greece, either an expired resident permit, old green card or any type of application that wasn’t processed fully could get you another bid at a permit;
d) Connections are used or a favor is called in by an employer

I know two non-EU citizens of no Greek origin, who secured permits as recently as 2007 without having a work visa or a previous presence in Greece. As I did not accompany them when doing the paperwork and they are not a long-time friends, I cannot speak intelligently or verify what took place to get it done; it’s very possible they are liars and/or braggarts. I secured my original permit many years ago without a work visa, without connections and without going through the legalization drive.

4) More enforcement: This is the main thing that has changed. While other countries reap the financial benefits of allowing well-to-do foreigners to reside or work in their country with or without permits, Greece has become more rigid and stepped up enforcement of the law, while the law gets more strict and less transparent (i.e., changes are never announced) and fines/penalties get stiffer for employers hiring illegals and/or mistreating workers. There are more immigration checks at workplaces where foreigners are typically hired (English language schools, bars, tavernas, hotels/hostels, etc.), and municipalities are less tolerant or more informed (not always, as mentioned above) when taking permit applications.

Although you waited 9 months for the process to run its course, I still think it’s an accomplishment for which you should be grateful and take pride because I can count at least 1,000 people who tried and never made it. Hundreds more are illegal workers here with no alternative to getting a Greek residence/work permit.

I hope that clears things up a bit. Cheers.

P.S. Are you saying this is not the best resource, but merely just “one of them?” ;)

  Damian wrote @ February 26th, 2008 at 21:23

Sorry if this is a bit redundant, but referring back to Phillip’s post of January 8 and your response, now I’m more confused than before!

I’m an American (no Greek origin) married to a Greek citizen, and “in the process” (for the last year now) of relocating to Greece. My wife and son have been here for over a year (my wife having returned from the US as a returning Greek ex-patriate) and I have been going back and forth as a tourist, winding down various affairs in the US and priming the pump to start my new life here in Greece, including looking for a job. I’ve recently accepted a job offer by a Greek bank to work as a consultant for them, and I’ve now got to apply for my residence/work permit (by the way, I’d really love to see your article on that subject, but it’s no longer available on the site – would you consider allowing me access to it? It would be for my own personal use). In any case, one thing is certain: in my many discussions – both in person and on the phone – with the Greek consulate in NY, I have been told over and over again that I must apply for my residence/work permit IN GREECE, and that I will not need to return to the US and get it from them.

Is this a different procedure because I am the spouse of a Greek citizen, or is this just the consulate not knowing what they are talking about (or both?…hey, this is Greece, anything is possible).

This is really topical for me, as I’m about to go to our lawyer here to get him to start the application process on my behalf, and I really don’t want to go through a lengthy exercise only to be told in the end that I have to go back to the US and do it all over again from there. I’d really appreciate your insights into this. By the way, in case it matters, I already have an AFM here (since I bought some land here some years ago), which used to be a non-resident AFM but was converted to a normal resident AFM a few months ago – even without my having a resident visa. Go figure.


Kat Reply:

Hi Damian, you and Philip are different cases, so don’t confuse your situation with his. As stated in my article, you apply for your residence/work permit in Greece before your visa expires as the spouse (family member) of a Greek citizen. I regret that I cannot show preferential treatment to anyone (it’s all or nothing when it comes to access), but it is quite easy and requires the fewest papers. A lawyer is quite unnecessary, however I suppose that’s a personal choice.

Phillip is American, of no Greek origin and not married to a Greek citizen (he says this in his comment). He came here on a tourist visa, found a job, exited GR and came back on a work visa and got his permit, which is the correct way to do it in his case.

There’s no such thing as a resident visa.

Mucho thanks for the nice words and recognition on your previous comment. :)

  Shari wrote @ March 1st, 2008 at 01:52

I’m really thrilled I “stumbled” across your site. It’s the best source of factual information I found on Non-EU persons trying to stay in Greece. I’m in a serious relationship with a Greek man and we’ve discussed this issue often. I have read and re-read your information on Naturalization: Marrying a Greek and the resulting years of waiting. In my case it would be 10years – from the date we married. Now, does this mean that during those 10 years, I need to return to the US every 3 months, so I do not over-stay my tourist status? Also, do I actually have to come back to the US or can I just go outside of the EU to another country? We would be grateful if you could clarify this finer point. Thanks a million and your site is going to be my “first go-to” for information on Greece. Thank you.

Kat Reply:

You didn’t read the article on Greek citizenship by naturalization correctly. It’s 10 of the last 12 years of residence; therefore it’s 12 years before you can apply.

Your question about visas and exiting every three months has already been answered with the article. There’s nothing to clarify.

If you are not already married, you must marry within 30 days of arriving in Greece then apply for a Greek residence permit based on being the spouse of a Greek citizen. He must meet insurance, income and residence requirements. It’s not automatic.

  Peter wrote @ August 31st, 2008 at 21:06

For someone that is considering moving to Greece in the near future, I have to tell you that your site is the most amazing and informative I have found on-line. It has anything and everything someone needs to be aware of and honestly, having gone through just about every category you have posted, one has to wonder if moving to Greece is worth it?? Obviously there is so much red tape one has to go through for just about anything, that it just amazes me that Greeks put up with it. Reading all these stories, really makes one thankful that they live in the U.S.

I am not sure if you are still in Greece and or have moved back to the states.

Maybe, I won’t move?? Although, I have a very close friend that I want to be with and having them move here is just about totally impossible without being illegal and not having the ability to work. I would be highly interested to know what your plans are for your husband when you move back to the states. As you probably know, we are experiencing an economic downfall and prices for just about everything increase just about everyday. I’m sure it’s still cheaper than living in Greece, but without being totally intrusive I was wondering what your plan of attack was??

I looked everywhere for your email address, but either I am blind and or it’s just not posted on your site. I just wanted to end this with saying thanks for having created this site to assist those that are contemplating a move to Greece!!


Kat Reply:

P – Hello, welcome and thank you for your kind words. I didn’t answer right away because I’d hoped that you might find the answers to your questions by reading other posts and comments, but it sounds like you didn’t.

Nowhere on this site have I stated that I’m moving back to the USA, so I’m not sure why you think this; my belief is that people make assumptions based on my nationality and forget that I earned the right to live/work in the EU. I suppose many Americans go back because they have family or somewhere to stay; I do not. My family is dead, there is no family home and I’ve been gone for 11 years so my career contacts are irrelevant. Returning as an American with a non-American fiance also means a large burden on me, which you can read about on the USCIS website.

I maintain a certain level of privacy because I value it and this site is only in small part about me. Its mission was and still is to make Greek bureaucracy more transparent for others and relay stories not covered in English and/or with a different perspective as a career-minded, single non-EU woman in Greece. If I tell my entire story about moving, living, working and leaving Greece, it will not be on this site and it will be in my own time.

The economic downfall is not confined to the USA, as you know; it’s everywhere. If you look at the Cost of Living Index, Greece’s cost of living is still rising even as notoriously expensive countries such as the UK, Switzerland and Sweden go down. It is still much cheaper to live in America than Greece, not just because of the strength of the euro, but also because of corruption, price gouging, consumer spending being fueled by loans and credit (without limits), cartels, monopolies, a collapsing SS system and a decrease in foreign investors, tourism and trading in Greece. However, even with all of these factors, people do still move here for their own reasons, see “Should I move to Greece?

If you look under “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me,” you’ll see the reasons I do not list my email address and why I do not start a forum.

  Milan wrote @ November 27th, 2008 at 02:46

first, thanks a lot for the site and the info provided. I’m not Greek, not an EU citizen, but got a good job offer in Athens (I thought it was just a decent offer before I read your article). Am thinking about moving to Athens. Actually, I have already made my decision, but not sure if I’m gonna live up to getting the work permit as I was informed it takes 6-12 months to issue the “metaklisi”.

My only option is to come as a tourist and work illegaly and I’m not sure now how smart is that… (what happens when you get sick and don’t have the health insurance?)

Is there any way to speed things up? To come to Athens as a tourist and then apply for a work visa?
Thanks again!

Kat Reply:

It’s better to wait for the metaklisi than to come to Greece illegally, as explained above. Not just to have insurance, but also to be legal and have rights. You cannot come to Athens, Greece as a tourist and apply for a work visa while here. You must apply for a work visa outside Greece and then enter the country, then apply for the work permit after arrival.

There’s no way to speed up the process.

  shaolin45 wrote @ December 2nd, 2008 at 11:27

Hey Kat,

I love your website, its very informative, But I have a few questions re: my situation, that I would like your help with:

I am coming to Greece in 3 weeks, and eventually (sooner than later) I want to move here, I checked around your website for a way to contact you, but it seems that this is the only way. Do you have some advice for me, as a Non-Greek American male to find a job, etc etc, I have ran around the, but its almost impossible to find jobs there. Thank you for your help in advance.

Kat Reply:

I’ve received all 3 identical comments. However, I encourage you to read “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me ” on the front page, which says that all comments enter moderation and are typically not published right away, especially if someone is requesting information from me that will require more than a quick answer, which is what you’re asking.

Since you cannot wait for a proper and more thoughtful answer, I’ll give you a general answer instead. Read:
1. Read the entire article above, particularly #7 under “How to get a permit in Greece” should you not qualify for EU citizenship via ancestry.
2. “Common jobs for English-speaking foreigners in Greece
3. “Job ads in Greece vs. other countries
4. “The importance of speaking Greek in Greece

Looking for a job as a non-EU citizen isn’t as simple as looking at ads on or anywhere because you need a work visa and permit. You can network, apply to jobs and interview all you want, but it still comes down to one thing: Convincing an employer that you are more qualified than any other EU citizen in Greece for that position for him/her to muck through mountains of bureaucracy, put down a deposit and sponsor you. Few if any employers want to do that, which is the reason you’ll see no one advertising “Will sponsor work visa and permit in Greece.” More likely, the ad will say “Must have authorization to work in the EU.”

I am not a job placement agency, lawyer or government agency. I’m a private citizen with a full-time career on two continents and personal obligations. Approximately 5-10 people want my help per day; (I don’t even talk to 5 of my closest friends per day!); and it would be a full-time job to provide private, individual counseling to every person who wants a job in Greece. I don’t have that kind of time. Instead I created and maintain this Web site to serve as a resource to share my experiences and what I’ve done to be successful here, plus the most current information in plain English from private notes and Greek translations I performed over 11 years. This is an investment I’ve made for the benefit of everyone, a free gift to all of you, if you want it.

Greece is also a ‘results may vary’ country as I’ve said many times. Just because I and approximately 2,000 other non-Greek, unmarried Americans have secured permits on our own, there are tens of thousands who did not.

  Mady wrote @ September 7th, 2009 at 12:26

I am an non-EU citizen married to Greek Citizen. Things arent going well for us due to personal differences. I am not sure, but I think we both are mutually planning for a divorce. She has her family lawyer who will be taking care of things.

To be honest, things have been pretty easy for me in Greece because of her regarding all bureaucracy issues. From our marriage, to my resident permit to getting IKA, AFM, etc. I can hardly speak greek. And as you know, without knowing greek, it’s impossible to get any of these issues done.

My problem is i am thinking about my situation after divorce. I read many articles in your site, which definitely gave me a clear picture on what are the issues for non-EU citizen. Honestly speaking i am scared. And thinking should i continue my stay in Greece or leave?

First thing is for sure i need to learn greek, if i want to apply for any sort of Visa or permit for my stay here. I dont want a work permit sponsored by my employer in any case, i just dont want to restrict myself to that company. I just need your advice what are my chances of getting a work permit which will entitle me for further stay. I am a software engineer, i am a regular tax payer. That’s all about me.

I would like to thank you sincerely for helping so many people around in greece and outside greece.

Kat Reply:

If your marriage lasted three years, you can keep your permit after the divorce. If this doesn’t apply to your situation, the only way you can keep your permit is by applying for one through your employer unless you:
a) open a business or self-employed status, see “How to start a business in Greece“;
b) have income of at least 2,000 euros coming from outside Greece, see “How to get a residence permit via independent means.”

Getting a permit through your employer does not mean you are tied to that one company forever. You can leave after the first year is over. See “FAQ: Greek permits.”

Learning Greek is a process and a commitment. Until then, you can enlist kindhearted people/friends to help you or hire a lawyer to handle your affairs. It’s not impossible.

  Mari wrote @ September 19th, 2009 at 08:14

I got married in Greece 2 years ago and after so long waiting for my husband’s residence visa in america, our relationship cooled down completely. He came to America and did not like it, so he went back to Greece. Can I apply for my Greek residence by myself ? I still love the country and want to move there. I still married.

Kat Reply:

You didn’t provide enough information to give you a proper answer…in any case.

Being married to a Greek husband who abandoned the marriage does not qualify you to move, live and work in Greece. Yes, you are technically still married but that’s only because no one has filed for divorce (as far as you know). If you try to apply for a permit as the spouse of a Greek citizen, they will ask for copies of HIS Greek ID card, HIS tax statement (which your name should be on), proof that you are on HIS insurance policy, plus a certificate from HIS depository verifying “family situation.” If he is willing to do this for you and you both attend/pass the interview with the immigration panel, then I suppose you can get the permit…but it isn’t right, and you may be caught.

The only way you could qualify for a permit by yourself is if you were married for 3 years and were residing that whole time in Greece, which you were not. You also do not qualify for Greek citizenship, again, because you do not live/work here, speak the language, etc.; it takes much more than being married to qualify.

If you are an EU citizen or can claim EU citizenship through an ancestor, you can move to Greece. If you are a non-EU citizen, the only way you can come here is by qualifying for a permit via the methods listed above in the article.

  Clinton wrote @ September 20th, 2009 at 22:20

I love your website! Thanks for the hard work.

You state “Bulgarian citizens can live/work in Greece without a permit as of January 1, 2009.” I am currently a resident (not citizen) of Bulgaria and am interested in living/working in Greece. Does this statement apply to someone in my situation? I’d appreciate any information you can provide, especially reference to the code/law involved if in fact I would fall under this provision.

Thanks for you time! I hope to hear from you soon.

Kat Reply:

No. As you said in your comment, there is a difference between a resident and a citizen. My article states ‘citizen,’ so this doesn’t apply to you if you are not a citizen.

The only time a non-EU citizen can transfer easily between EU countries as only a ‘resident’ is if he/she has a special EU-wide permit issued to those (without a connection to an EU citizen) who have been residing/working legally in one member state for a minimum of 5 years. I also state this in the article.

Further, if you are already in Greece (which your IP address shows you are), you cannot get a permit to live and work in Greece while in the country. You must be outside Greece, be issued a ‘D’ visa by the Greek Consulate/Embassy via one of the methods I listed and re-enter.

  Aesop wrote @ October 22nd, 2009 at 13:51

Thank you very much for wonderful information.

I am Japanese citizen, and recently married to a Greek man. However we didn’t know about applying for a residential permit as a spouse. By then my 90 days stay has been exceeded.

I am officially a wife of a Greek citizen but illegally staying in Greece!?

We have contacted many authorities, but the police can’t extend my visa because I am a wife of Greek man, saying everything is OK, meanwhile another authority says that they can’t process my permit because my 90 days period has been expired.

I am seriously trapped by the law.

Please help me.

Kat Reply:

Any immigration process involves visas and permits based on one’s citizenship; Japan (or any country) demands them, why wouldn’t Greece? It was your responsibility to check with the Greek Consulate/Embassy, or your (now) Greek husband could have made a simple phone call to any government office (nomarxeia, dimos, KEP, mayor’s office) to inquire. Getting married and being the “official” wife of a Greek citizen does not make you a Greek citizen or exempt you from following the law. Ignorance is not a legitimate defense.

As detailed in “Countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece,” you did not need a visa to enter Greece. However, because you are immigrating as a permanent resident and staying more than 90 days, you need a permit and the law says that process should have started within 30 days of your arrival. That means you needed to marry within the first 30 days to meet the deadline.

As it says in “Overstaying a visa in Greece,” you do not qualify for a visa extension for several reasons, and it has nothing to do with being the wife of a Greek citizen:
a) An extension implies there is something valid to extend. Your visa is expired.
b) A visa extension is only given to people who are temporary visitors. You are a resident.
c) Even if you had a valid visa and were a temporary visitor, you must have an extenuating reason to be in Greece (hospital, dying relative, car accident) and have significant financial resources to support yourself. You do not have an extenuating reason.

I see only three options to fix this:
a) You get a lawyer that can use his connections to find a loophole or bribe someone who can somehow issue your permit;
b) You go to the Greek ombudsman to state your case, and hope that a compromise is worked out. See “Greek ombudsman“;
c) You exit Greece and re-enter at a later date to apply for a permit: Because you have a 90-day visa good within any 180-day period, it means you must stay out of Greece/Schengen for a total of 90 days after which it will renew. Once that happens, you can re-enter Greece and apply for your permit.

Otherwise, you will remain illegal and are therefore ineligible for insurance, work or completing any transactions in Greece. You are not trapped by the law; you are trapped by your failure to research the legalities of moving, living and working in Greece before you came here.

Good luck.

  maria-nena wrote @ September 28th, 2010 at 23:10

please i need a help from you..
i am a greek citizen, and my boyfriend is cuban and lives in bolivia right now for about 6 months. he already has the bolivian residence for 1 year and he is planning to come in athens, greece soon.

if we get married in bolivia , is it going to be easier to have the greek visa issued in bolivia to travel here in athens or it will take the same time to be issued if i only invite him with a letter as normally do in cuban citizens.

thank you for your time
i know this is a little more complicated but i need to know if it is necessary to travel there or to do the wedding here in my home place

Kat Reply:

This is not a complicated question for me, in fact the information is above in the article if you read it.

If you tell the Greek embassy in Bolivia that your boyfriend will be coming to Greece to marry you, they will most likely ask you to provide proof of insurance and income, either through a job (ekkatharistiko tax statement) or with money in a savings account (bank statement) of at least 8,500+1,700=10,200 euros/year. Why? Because he is a non-EU citizen and will be unemployed in Greece, so the Greek state asks the Greek/EU citizen to show that he/she can support their spouse and not burden the state system. If you cannot show this, they will deny his visa.

If you apply for the visa through the Greek embassy in Cuba with a letter and tell them you’re getting married, they will most likely ask the same thing because this is an immigration process.

Let’s say you do not tell them you are getting married, he gets a visa, your boyfriend comes to Greece, and you get married in Greece, (which must happen during the time his visa his valid, as the article says); or you get married in Cuba or Bolivia first, then come to Greece together as husband and wife. When you go to apply for the Greek residence/work permit at the municipality, they will still ask you for the proof of insurance and proof of income or proof of money in the bank. If you cannot produce this, they will deny his permit and he will be forced to leave Greece. He could also choose to stay, but he will remain an illegal resident and won’t be able to work legally or do much of anything. It does not matter that he is married to a Greek citizen. The law is the law, and you will see other comments above where people did not inform themselves and got into trouble.

If you have proof of insurance and income, no problem. If you do not, then you must decide how to proceed. All best.

  Al wrote @ October 7th, 2010 at 13:48

This website is truly a treasure trove of information that I have not found anywhere else. Thank you very much for all your hard work and amazing efforts, Kat.

I myself have been trying to see if their is hope for my fiancee to move, live and marry me in Greece. I myself am a British citizen though I have been raised, educated and worked in Greece all the 30 odd years of my life (except for one or two years abroad). I currently work as a writer in a game company and am a managing director of a small internet marketing company.

My fiancee is Serbian and a single mother to a 9-year-old son.

I’ve been navigating several websites and information sources to see if and what our chances of living together here in Greece might be.

If you find yourself with a free moment for some advice I would be eternally grateful but only after you have got yourself enough sleep and relaxation! :)

Thank you again for the amazing wealth of information you’ve provided all of us on all these sites!

Kat Reply:

Hi Al,

Still haven’t gotten much sleep, but I wanted to answer you before more time passes and my browser crashes again.

I’m happy to report that your chances of living together are excellent. In the article above under the heading “How to get a permit for Greece,” you need to pay attention to the first entry, (1) “Be the non-EU spouse or child (under 21) of a Greek/EU citizen.” Letter (a) pertains to your situation in bringing your fiancee and her son into Greece. I have step-by-step instructions in “Residence permit for non-EU family members of Greek/EU citizens,” but competing websites plagiarized the post and commentators were pushy and abusive toward me, so I elected to password-protect it.

I can give you some customized guidance, in addition to the (1a) entry referenced above.

a) Visa: On December 19, 2009, the EU granted visa-free entry to Serbian citizens as I report in “Countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece.” If Greece is recognizing this directive, she and her son should not need visas to come to Greece. However, as you may know from living here 30 years, Greece is resistant to implementation and often has hidden rules or may require a special ‘D’ entry visa. Therefore, I highly recommend that she and her son go to the Greek consulate/embassy nearest her location and inquire what is needed to accomplish what you want.

b) Paperwork: At some point, either during the visa process or the permit process, you as the EU citizen will be asked to provide evidence of insurance coverage and income sufficient to support your future wife and her son. As the article above says, and as I advised the commentator above you, that would be: Base of 8500 + 1700 (spouse) + 1275 (dependent child). Be ready with your insurance policy and an ekkatharistiko or bank statements.

c) Marriage process: You will need to get a marriage license as soon as she gets here and get married before her visa expires (under 90 days). I recommend doing it as soon as possible. I have an article called “Getting married in Greece — for residents,” but I’m sure you can guess why it’s no longer available. She does not need a permit to get married, but she needs to marry you in order to apply for a permit for herself and her son.

d) Permit: Apply for the Greek residence/work permit as soon as you get married, as it must be done before her visa expires (under 90 days).

Before leaving her homeland, she needs to get a printed original of her birth certificate, divorce decree (if any) and a birth certificate for her son. When she has those, she’ll need to get one apostille per document from the Ministry of Justice in Serbia. Without an apostille, she cannot use Serbian documents in Greece.

Paperwork isn’t romantic, but bureaucracy takes time in Greece and you must get it out of the way or suffer the consequences. You can relax and travel later.

I cannot tell you more, but I hope that sets you in the right direction and I trust you’ll figure out the rest. If you’d like to give back to this website or correct anything I told you, please come back to share your experience to help me to help others. I’d also like to know your story had a happy ending.

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. It makes it worth it for me.

  Julls wrote @ October 20th, 2010 at 09:21

Hello, thanks for your guide in this particular topic, is very helpful.

I’m from a non EU country, American and my country needs Visa to enter Greece.

My fiancee is Greek-Australian (born in Australia, with Greek parents). I visited him a year back, with Schengen Visa, I love the country.

Im a single mother of a child 5 years old from non marriage, and the kid only has my last name. My question is, which is the right and easier way for us to head Greece? should I go back and apply for me and my kid Schengen, or should me and my boyfriend get marry in my country and then leave together the 3 of us? how long could it take us to leave the country after the marriage here? Or should we go to the Spanish consulate in my country together and ask for tourist visa ? (we don’t have Greek consulate, so Spain represents it) We need to know cause he works in Greece, and he’s gonna ask for vacations or permission to do that. Whats the best for us?

Kat Reply:

Hi Julls,

My answer to you will be almost identical to the answers I gave ‘maria-nena’ and ‘Al’ right above your comment. Did you read them? I won’t repeat myself, so please take a look because it applies to you.

Regarding your questions, you did not provide clear information, so my answers will reflect that.
— You did not say which non-EU country you are from, your IP address says you are writing from the Dominican Republic, and then you say you’re American? However, you said your country needs a visa to enter Greece, so that means you’re not American. It would have been helpful to know what passport you have.
— Go back? Go back where, America?
— As I told the two people above you, the right way is to go to the Greek consulate or embassy nearest your current residence and apply for visas for you and your child. Since you will be marrying a Greek citizen, they will be asking him for proof of income and insurance before issuing the visas and bringing you and your child over to Greece. Same thing I said to ‘Al.’
— In my opinion, it is pointless for your fiancee to fly all the way to ____ to get married. Why? Because they will ask him for the same proof no matter where he is and it won’t matter if you’re married before or after applying for a visa.

People have the notion that marrying a Greek somehow entitles them to more rights and freedom, which I think is the reason you’re talking about getting married before applying for the visa. That’s not necessarily true.
— No. If a non-EU/Greek couple wants to get married or has married recently, it creates suspicion that perhaps they got married to get a visa and a residence/work permit.
— Yes/neutral. If a non-EU/Greek couple has been married for several years before immigration of the non-EU citizen, or the non-EU citizen already had a Greek residence/work permit, then there is little or no suspicion.

Your Greek fiance will need to be more involved with bureaucracy if he intends on being with you and your child because there is a lot of paperwork in your future, and you will not be able to handle it all yourself unless you can speak/read/write Greek. Hiring a lawyer is not recommended since most of them don’t know much about bureaucracy pertaining to non-EU citizens.

All best.

  Charles wrote @ November 20th, 2010 at 11:37

Excellent info on this site. However I went to one post which required a password. I read of the reasons for this but could find no way to obtain the password. Is there some sort of registration procedure? The post had to do with a non-EU person marrying a a non-Greek EU member and obtaining a residence permit. I noticed on the US Embassy in Greece site that such a union would enable one to obtain a 5 year permit. Hopefully the posting covers that scenario. Thanks.

Kat Reply:

I say above in this article — which was published long before the US Embassy in Athens’ section — that a five-year, then a 10-year residence/work permit can be granted to non-EU family members of Greek/EU citizens if all requirements are met. The post you’re inquiring about does indeed explain everything.

If you read why it’s password-protected in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me,” you should have also seen info about the password in the same paragraph.

All best.

  Ellie wrote @ January 15th, 2011 at 08:54

I an American and will be marrying to a Greek citizen and we were planning to marry in Greece and live there permanently.

After checking your site and several others, I saw it says a health certificate may be required in order to obtain a residency permit. I realized this may pose a problem because I contracted hepatitis b as a baby. On another site I read that a spouse of a Greek citizen isn’t necessarily required to submit a health certificate when applying for a residence permit. If I am still required to have one, would it mean I would not be granted a permit based on my medical condition? Thanks for your time.

Kat Reply:

Applicants “may” be required to submit a health certificate, as I say. It is typical on a first-time application, but nothing in Greece is black and white and there are a lot of variables down to the person who waits on you and what mood they’re in. I know spouses who were asked and others who weren’t.

If you’re required to get one and the test is positive, it does not automatically disqualify you. The final decision will be made by the interior ministry and/or the regional committee who will interview you and your spouse to determine if your marriage is valid before issuing your residence permit. There’s no way to know in advance what they’ll decide or what options will be offered to you.

Please be aware that when I wrote this article in April 2007, there existed no article on residence/work permits for non-EU citizens in Greece on any official/commercial website or forum in any language so it’s likely the information you read was plagiarized from me. Therefore, you are not necessarily getting confirmation from different sources.

  Ashley wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 20:30

I am from America and am considering visiting Greece for two months in 2012. I was wanting to work while I am there but it doesn’t seem to be that easy now that I am looking at all this. Any tips? Or is it easy?

Kat Reply:

As explained in the article above, you are not permitted to work in Greece as an American unless you have dual citizenship with Greece or another EU country, or you somehow secure a work permit. Getting a work permit for Greece to only work two months here will be impossible because of the cost and bureaucracy involved, plus there are plenty of workers already here who will accept wages far lower than you will.

More than 600 people lose their jobs every day, and the country will be in recession until at least 2013. If it was easy for Americans or anyone else to get a job in Greece, people would not be leaving the country to find work elsewhere.

There are hundreds, even thousands, of tips all over this website in 300+ articles.

Good luck.

  jessica wrote @ February 1st, 2011 at 02:32


I am a non-EU citizen (American) and I would like to live/work in Greece permanently. I read your article on how to obtain work/residence permits and found something that could work for me. I have a friend (Greek) that owns his own business in Greece so based on your article if he hired me i would be able to get a work visa and while i’m there (within 30 days) apply for work/residence permits to stay in Greece correct? I also have a few questions about obtaining a work visa as I don’t know anything about them. Would it be possible for me to contact you or for you to contact me via email?

Thank you for your time,


Kat Reply:

That’s incorrect.

This is quoted from the article above: “If you have a friend, potential spouse or relative willing to hire you, new laws passed in February 2008 require private businesses to show an annual profit of 24,000 euros and companies an annual profit of 60,000 euros before hiring non-EU citizens.” The great majority of businesses in Greece do not declare their true income to dodge taxes.

He must also prove that there is not a single Greek/EU or non-EU citizen already living here who can perform this job, in order for the employment agency and government to approve a work visa to bring you to Greece. Being as the unemployment rate is at a record high, the chances of this happening are slim. Not impossible but slim.

As I say in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me,” I do not offer personal consultation for the many professional and personal reasons listed. If your friend is serious about bringing you to work in Greece, he’s a Greek citizen who speaks the language and can find out on his own since he’s ultimately responsible for all bureaucracy pertaining to a work visa. It has nothing to do with what works for you.

It’s nearly 3:00 a.m. now and I must get up in 3 hours to go back to work.

Best of luck.

  Matt wrote @ February 5th, 2011 at 03:36

I hope that you don’t mind that I am swiping this comment box to ask you a question. I searched diligently before doing do but couldn’t find a related topic.

I work for a non-profit in the US that aids refugees along the refugee highway. We are considering a move to Athens. Is there a permit that you are aware of that fits such work? Or, since we are being paid by a US organization, is there a way to stay long-term in Greece. Thanks for any help you can offer.


Kat Reply:

Hi Matt,

I apologize for my delayed response. I tried researching this by looking through laws in Greek and English, but I couldn’t find the exact residence permit for Greece that fits your situation. Because you would be operating as a non-profit and wouldn’t be deriving income from Greece, I believe there’s a special status you need to declare and a permit that goes with this. I know people who are doing something similar to what you describe, but I do not know first-hand under what circumstances they’re operating or what bureaucracy is involved.

My recommendation is to first visit/call the Greek embassy/consulate nearest you and find a similar organization that may be willing to share their knowledge with you, since the “official” answer almost always differs from what happens in real life. I apologize I cannot give you more solid information.

  sars wrote @ March 9th, 2011 at 14:16

Dear Kat, thanks for this informative website. I am a non eu resident and i live in the uk with a work permit. my boyfriend is greek and we are planning to get married soon. I used to live in greece 5 years ago and i had a greek work permit. I would like to know if the process is easier for me to go back to live in greece and obtain a residency/work permit. is it ok if we get married outside of greece, or the process will be more difficult?
thanks to advise!

Kat Reply:

Hi Sars,

Because your former residence/work permit for Greece expired 5 years ago, it won’t necessarily be easier in the way you think since laws have changed and what matters is if you meet eligibility now. However, authorities will look upon you and your spouse favorably during the interview process at the Perifeiria because you had a previous legal connection to Greece and see you didn’t marry for papers, aka, your spouse permit is likely to be approved quickly.

I recommend getting married outside Greece because the bureaucracy will be easier and less time consuming in the UK. Your marriage can then be registered at the Greek consulate/embassy nearest your current residence for the purposes of your future spouse’s family records or oikogeneiaki merida (he’ll know what this means). You could do these things in Greece, but why not keep it simple?

Where you get married does not make the Greek permit process more difficult.

Thank you for your questions, and I hope that this website can continue to help you after your move to Greece. All best.

  Shifana wrote @ March 11th, 2011 at 21:20

hey Kat,

I’m so glad i found this website. Hi, I’m a Maldivian girl living in Greece for the last 2 years. I’m here on a full scholarship for my degree arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece. Every year I have to renew my resident permit according to the law, and I have been doing that dutifully for the last two years. For 2011 I have applied with the correct papers and documents provided by the scholarship office, but they keep telling me that there are some “changes” in the government and would not provide the resident permit to any immigrant for the year 2011.

So far, I had a very tough time here in Greece, and I just want to check what’s actually happening. I tried making them explain to me clearly, but nobody answers my call. FYI, the ministry of foreign affairs here only provides the money, no further assistance. so i pretty much have to do all these stuff by myself.

So if you have any idea what’s going on, could you please let me know! I’m thinking of doing a little bit of travelling around Easter, but since I’m from Maldives I cannot travel without a resident permit.

Thank you! :)

Kat Reply:

Hi Shifana,

I’m glad you found me also, so now we have each other.

Applying for your residence/work permit in Greece on your own is a typical experience, as most of us do it ourselves and very few have an employer or spouse that does it for them. You’re not alone. The ministry probably feels that they gave you the money, so they’re not obligated to do anything else even to show philoxenia (hospitality) and convey a good image.

What you’re being told about the government not providing residence permits to any immigrant in 2011 is false. There have been no changes in the law, and I know people who recently gave papers for their renewals. There are changes happening in the reorganization of municipalities, so it’s possible the building/location handling papers has changed but it has nothing to do with refusing to accept applications or not issuing permits to people who are eligible and present the correct papers.

What I recommend you do is take a Greek person with you (preferably male) and politely/calmly try once more. If that doesn’t work, then you need to file a complaint and ask help from the Greek Ombudsman. It does not cost anything, and most cases are resolved fairly quickly. Find the information at:

Please let me know what happens or if you need more help. Hope to see you again, and thank you for saying hello! All best.

  Lia wrote @ March 14th, 2011 at 04:23

Por favor quero saber mais datos para poder residir e trabalhar legalmente na grecia. Sou brasileira medica clinico geral. Obrigada espero respostas


  maryjean wrote @ May 17th, 2011 at 15:57

i need advice please. i have not seen my family for 6 years. i am like a prisoner in Greece because of the negligence of the Greek municipality. i have been living in greece for the past 8 years, i study here, did my Masters, and Bachelor degrees in maritime shipping. when i was in school, i used student visa but before my visa expired in 2005 i applied for a Greek resident permit. they refused me a permit from the periferia for reason which until now could not be understood, i took a lawyer which did all the necessary court case, everything seems to be going ok, until i was asked to go back to athens municipality for my blue paper that they collected back from me because of the refusal. while i was at the municipality they could not find my blue paper which in greek is called veveosi, i went back few times to the municipality in athens to request my veveosi which until now they could not find..

what should i do? please any advice will help..

Kat Reply:

I’d like to help you, but there are important reasons I can’t.

a) You did not provide enough information: For example, citizenship, what passport you hold, if you’re finished with school or still enrolled, do you work, if you’re married and to whom (citizenship);
b) You have a lawyer: Not to be rude, but I find it a bit ridiculous that you paid a lawyer to help you, and now you’re asking me to help you for free.

Judging from the info you did give, I’d say the reason you were granted a visa and permit (for study) is no longer valid. Even if you had a Greek permit, you cannot convert one based on study to a permit based on work/residence because that it not the original reason Greece allowed you to be here, as I already explain in the article above.

The bebaiosi is a document I explain in several articles on this website, and it was clear to me you didn’t do a search or read what I wrote.

You cannot blame the municipality for negligence or claim you are a prisoner in Greece if you have no knowledge of the reasons for denial, as the denial could be for a good and/or legal reason. Some of the responsibility could be yours. Further, you are not entitled to a bebaiosi if your documents were not accepted and your permit denied; they had a right to collect it back. It’s always wise to make a copy of any document before giving it to the municipality as proof you once had it.

You did not need a lawyer. You should have come to me long ago or visited the Greek Ombudsman, who resolves cases like yours for free. That’s what you should do now:

  Angeline wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 10:05

Hi there Kat,

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on the good job you are doing on this website. cheers and all the best.

Right, let me state my case. I am a Kenyan living and working in Athens. I work in a call centre for the past 3 and a half years and duly pay my taxes and do my tax returns. I have been wanting or rather have submitted my application for a resident/work permit at the ministry of foreign affairs and nothing seems to coming out of it. it is really frustrating as you may understand. and I really do not know what next?

I would really love to go and visit my daughter whom I haven’t seen for the past 6 years and recently lost my dad as well and could not go because I hold a pink card. I was wondering..if there was any other channel I could try. I would really appreciate your advice.

Thanks and kind regards

Kat Reply:


I do not have first-hand expertise on the pink card for Greece because I’ve never had one, and the process of acquiring and renewing one is not properly documented in any language. Everyone I’ve talked to with a pink card tells a different story, which confirms what I said about clarity.

First, I’ve never heard of anyone submitting a permit application at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since they do not process or approve them, so that part of your story doesn’t make sense.

Second, a pink card is given to people who apply for political asylum, but it doesn’t grant political asylum or mean that you have refugee status. It allows you to temporarily work and reside in Greece for 6 months and is renewable as long as you have an active asylum claim and are waiting for your case to be heard.

On one hand, a pink card grants you legality and the right to live/work here without fear of expulsion, which is more than what many immigrants have. On the other hand, it leaves you in limbo and traps you in Greece so the only way you can see your daughter is if she comes to Greece to visit you.

Last, in regards to whether you can convert to a regular residence/work permit in Greece, you must consult someone with specialized legal expertise about your options. Everyone’s case is different. I recommend going to the Greek Council for Refugees in Athens. You can book an appointment via their website and see ‘Contact’ to get their address.

  hami wrote @ July 23rd, 2011 at 16:38

i want to ask some thing. i have a girlfriend who is greek, we want to marry, i have a pink (red) card, you know for political asylum, but as u know, my status is not proved as a refugee, and i am not European.

basic thing that i want to ask, i am legal any way, i can live, i can work, i have all other documents u know like ika, and work permit, afm, etc.
and we can get married, after that i can get a paper for 5 years, veveosi, u know in blue color my photo on that, :)

but i want to ask. i don’t want to apply for nationality of greece because i know it’s hard i will never get it maybe, but i want to know that if i can get resident permit for 5 years after marriage or not, and if i can travel to other european countries or not.

Kat Reply:

The pink (roz) card does allow you to stay and work in Greece, get medical care and be legal. However, it is a document granting temporary status, not any sort of permanent status or approval by Greek authorities. This is why all holders of pink cards are not eligible to apply for Greek citizenship.

The bebaiosi (blue paper with photo) is a receipt that certifies an applicant has submitted papers for review and possible issuance of a residence/work permit. It is not a permit; it is not a paper for 5 years.

People are under the impression that marrying a Greek or EU citizen guarantees a residence/work permit. It’s not true. In fact, a committee calls you for an interview and may determine that your marriage is an attempt to get permanent papers, then deny issuing your permit and ask you to leave Greece if you do not qualify to stay legally in another status. It can also jeopardize your pink card.

I recommend going to the Greek Council for Refugees in Athens to consult with them about your case, as each case is different. You can get their contact info and book an appointment on their website

  hamid wrote @ August 3rd, 2011 at 13:49

iam an egyptian guy living in greece for 6 years. i am engaged with a greek woman and we are planning to married. at the moment i have only a special certificate for legal residence greece. i mean Ediki veveossi yia monimi ergassias which i have to renew every year. my question is, could i make a civil marriage and apply for marriage residence? please could you provide me with further details on this topic.

Kat Reply:

Your question is similar to the person above you, and I’ll give you pretty much the same answer.

There are no restrictions on you getting married that I know of. However, because you only have a bebaiosi giving you temporary legal status and not an actual adeia paramonis (residence permit) granting you a more permanent status, it’s possible that your marriage to a Greek citizen will be viewed as an attempt to get a residence/work permit and the committee may deny issuing it. This may jeopardize the status you currently have.

Being married to a Greek or EU citizen does not guarantee a residence or work permit.

I cannot provide you with more assistance, and there’s no way to know what will happen because it’s up to the review committee. They decide.

  rachid wrote @ August 11th, 2011 at 23:24

i just arrived to greece, im married to a greek woman, and she doesnt understand well what should i do ect, how hard is to find job here. i do speak english, frensh, german and arabic, but i do not speak greek at all. what should i do, where to go? waht kind of job could i find, or look for ?? thanks

Kat Reply:

You didn’t provide enough information, but the answers you seek are already on this website.

If you are a non-EU citizen, you need to apply for a residence/work permit as the spouse of Greek citizen; your wife must help with this. If you are an EU citizen, you don’t need a permit and can start looking for a job. It says this in the first paragraph of the article above.

As explained in “The importance of speaking Greek in Greece,” you will have a difficult time finding a job because 99 percent of ads are in Greek. Either get your wife to help or settle for the ones you can read, but be aware there are very few and there are a lot of other people looking at the same ads. Unemployment is at a record high and still rising.

As I say in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me,” I am not a job agency, nor do I provide personal consultation. This website provides more than 300 articles for free, based on 13 years experience. Help yourself. Where you cannot help yourself, your wife must be proactive and start finding out what to do by making calls or using her connections.

Good luck.

  rachid wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 13:33

again im married to a greek citizen , and i want to ask , if it is possible to go to gemany and stay and work there after i will get the residency /work permit , and how much time it takes to get the permit after i applayed , and if it is possible to go and live in germany after that , what it needs , thank you .

Kat Reply:

How long does it take to get a permit in Greece is answered in “FAQ: Greek work/residence permits.”

Can you use a Greek permit in Germany is answered in the article above under, ‘About EU residence/work permits.’ Take a look.

The EU is not one country, and I do not know the laws governing permits of Germany and the entire EU. I found this through a simple Google search, which means you could have also: “Working in Germany.”

Because you have asked several questions without looking at the information available, I will delete future redundant questions. I cannot help you if you won’t help yourself, plus you are married to a Greek-speaking Greek citizen who can assist you. That’s more than most people have, and I prefer to spend my time creating new articles instead of repeating info I already published.

Follow-up: Your latest comment repeats the same questions but demands I answer more quickly. Good luck.

  Athena wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 16:34

Hi Kat!

Like some other folks, I was sent this website and boy am I thankful!!! Thanks to all who posted some very honest and eye-opening comments/experiences!!!

However, I have question a little different from the employment issue. A friend of mine (American) moved to Greece about 9 mos. ago, and wants to know how they can get health insurance. They are currently unemployed and have limited finances. Therefore, they are not interested in private insurance because of their financial hardship. Does the Greek government offer anything or does the US embassy have some type of health program for US citizens living in Greece — for folks facing financial hardship?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Kat Reply:

America does not provide low-cost healthcare coverage plans or free insurance for unemployed persons living in the USA, unless qualifying for a special program, which is why millions are uninsured. Therefore, there’s no way it provides any sort of insurance for American citizens who voluntarily live outside its borders.

The Greek government provides for its citizens and has cross-border cooperation to a point for other EU citizens because of EC laws. The only options for non-EU citizens in Greece are private, low-cost insurance from banks or insurance companies, usually demanding an existing business relationship to qualify for a discount.

  ColomboCanadian wrote @ October 18th, 2011 at 23:38

Dear Kat:
First and foremost I would like to thank you for the many thousands of hours of your personal time that you have invested in doing this website. It is amazing, vast, detailed extensive and straightforward.

Being a born Canadian to Greek parents, I was not aware of ALL that is Greece. Having visited many times in my life and having lived there for a couple of years as a child, I was somewhat aware of what is Greece when it comes to the “way of doing things”. You have provided details that are sometimes difficult to source out even when in Greece (i.e.: the Office of the Ombudsman – FREE) or talking to family. Your site clarifies a lot and I don’t have to burden my family.

My husband and I have gone through your site extensively and we have a few questions that we cannot seem to find. We hope that you may be able to clarify. First, background information.

I am a registered Greek citizen as of 2004 (I have my Deltio Tautotita/Identity card-laminate version, but no Greek passport). I have only visited Greece since then and had hoped to live there in the distant future. I have relatives there and my family has property, and a bank account (with little monies in it, just a small sum needed for short term stays). My health insurance was covered under my father (active soldier in WW2) because I was single, but this past August I married my Colombian husband, so now I have no insurance that I am aware of.

I had met my husband in February of this year in Canada. From the first time my husband met me, he knew I was his one and I knew on our third date. He had been living in Canada under a refugee status that, after nearly 4 yrs, was denied because Canada believes Colombia a safe place to live. He left Canada on his own in April (before the official deportation date) and returned to Colombia.

A month and a half later, and after much thought and consideration, I followed him to Colombia where we married in both a civil and a Greek Orthodox marriage ceremony. I have been living here since. Our plan was to settle in, get a job and make life work. At first, I enjoyed the newness of Colombia, I was with my love, but the novelty has since worn away. As we are trying to settle in, there is one basic factor that is in play, I/we do not have our freedom.

When I am out with my husband, I cannot speak English as it may jeopardize our safety. It is true that you see a lot of armed police with guns (sometimes machine guns), but they are not everywhere. You risk yourself sometimes even taking a taxi. It isn’t the inability to speak Spanish that is the only factor, but if someone outside of your immediate circle of neighbors is aware you are a foreigner, you run a big risk on your personal welfare or even life. I blend, but not well enough to venture out on my own. I will not be able to for a very long time. I did not expect it to be so difficult and I don’t want to really be here any longer, I don’t feel “safe”.

Knowing that going to Canada is not possible for a very long while, I had suggested to my husband that Greece may be an option. We have been looking into it ever since. We have called various Greek embassies, went to the Honorary Greek Consulate here in Colombia, and they all stated that we are free to go to Greece pending an issuance of Visa from the Spanish Embassy.

They said all we have to do is register our marriage before we enter Greece, then go to the Lixiarcheio in Athens as soon as we arrive and immediately after, register my husband in the municipality that I am registered in.

This is where I need your help. You have mentioned in your site that my husband would be given an interview in front of a panel who only spoke Greek, and I would be required to prove insurance and sufficient moneys to support ourselves (8 500 + 1 700 euro).

1-Would my husband need to understand and speak Greek, or can I or an interpreter be able to assist? He knows a few words, but even with me teaching him, I don’t think it will not be enough for him to do it on his own.
2-Not having been an active resident of Greece and having had no previous work or need for active insurance of my own, as well as enough money in a bank account as required, do we no longer have the option to move to Greece?
3-How can I obtain insurance (can it be bought out of country or can I buy it once we arrive-does it have to be Greek)?
4-Can I use my tax return from Canada to support income? We are not wealthy individuals by any stretch of the imagination and the money quoted is more than we have in savings or cash. All I can offer is that my parents (who are still living) have listed me as one of the owners on a small property in Greece and a small bank balance. Can that work?

Please help. I apologize for the burden but thank you in advance.

Kat Reply:

Hello, nice to meet you and hear your story.

Answers to your questions, which were not a burden at all:
1. The panel conducts the interview in Greek, and there is no interpreter. Some are strict and expect people to answer in Greek; some allow you to translate his answers. There’s no way to know in advance.
2. You, as a Greek citizen, are permitted to live/work in Greece whenever you wish. Bringing your non-EU husband depends on whether you can meet requirements asked of all EU citizens and their spouses. In some (but not all) cases, they ask for proof of income and financial support because the non-EU citizen should not be a burden on Greece’s economy (already burdened by many other things) while unemployed.
3. You can be without medical insurance as a Greek citizen, but a non-EU citizen must have ongoing proof of medical insurance purchased outside or in Greece in order to apply for and renew a residence/work permit.
4. Authorities will ask you for an ekkatharistiko or dilosi from a Greek tax office to show you do not owe any taxes to Greece and proof of any assets (property, income, bank accounts, etc.). They often customize what they require to a person’s situation.

Greek citizens often have no knowledge of bureaucracy pertaining to non-EU citizens, so they give invented answers to questions you pose instead of saying ‘I don’t know.’ Therefore, asking relatives or friends may not work. This is why I ended up doing everything myself and then creating this website to inform others. Official websites are a recent invention (started after my website), do not reflect reality and are not updated on a regular basis, which makes them unreliable.

I hope you are out of danger, and that I see you here again. All my best to you.

  rasel wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 04:34

hi i live in london non eu citizen but my girlfriend lives in greece and she is greek person. now i want get married. after marriage can apply for work permit and with this work permit can i come back to uk and can i work in uk

Kat Reply:

Based on the little information you gave, there’s no way I can provide a customized answer.

You are free to marry whomever you wish, assuming you are eligible. Asylum seekers, refugees and persons in an illegal status are not allowed to marry in Greece.

After marriage, you can apply for a residence/work permit as the spouse of a Greek citizen. However, the permit is not automatically granted. There is a several-months waiting period and an interview that will determine if you married for papers. If the permit is approved, you are allowed to work in Greece.

As it says in the article above, permits for one EU country are not transferable to other countries. Therefore, you cannot use this permit to work in the UK. Why? Because it was approved under the laws of Greece. In order to work in the UK, you need to qualify and apply for a work permit in the UK. See “UK Border Agency.” If you are living in the UK, you should already have a residence/work permit.

  joseph wrote @ February 22nd, 2012 at 21:25

Hi, Im been living here in Greece for the past 8 years, my wife was living here for almost 24 years now, we have a 6 years old son and also was born here in Greece,and attending in a Greek school, they both have a residence permit, but the thing is, until now i dont have it, why is that they cant give me an residence permit? we even got married here in greece,but until now they cant give me an residence permit, can you help me about this?

Kat Reply:

There’s no way I can answer this question, as you made it impossible in giving so little information. To send you in the right direction, I need to know:

a) What is your nationality and what passport do you have?
b) Did you enter Greece legally with a visa or visa waiver, or illegally?
c) How long have you been married to your wife?
d) Did she bring you to Greece and under what circumstances?
e) Are you working?
f) Are you making social insurance contributions?
g) Have you applied for a residence permit in Greece?
h) If no, why not and why have you waited 8 years to inquire? If yes, what was the reason they refused to issue you a permit?

The easiest way to get an answer is to visit the municipality dimos or grafeio allodapon office where your wife renews her permit and ask if you qualify for a permit or why they won’t issue you one. Good luck.

  Suzanne wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 00:43

Adding to the pile of deserved praises and thanks, I want to say that your site is nothing less than a phenomenon of diligence and factual clarity, an oasis of real information. You could easily publish a small volume that would sell.

My question is short and specific. I did not see, and hope I did not somehow overlook, the amount stated on your site of the deposit required of Greek employers (or prospective employees) sponsoring prospective non-EU employees as part of the process toward acquiring a work visa/residence permit. Do you know that amount? I want to be prepared in case it is I who will have to cough it up.

Many thanks,


Kat Reply:

Question is answered in #7 of ‘How to get a permit for Greece.’

Greece’s unemployment rate is 21 percent, while the U.S. jobless rate is 8.2 percent. Greece has no reason to import non-EU citizens with a population of well-qualified, fully bilingual Greek and EU citizens from 27 member states.

Teaching English is not a specialized profession, language schools are struggling, and there are hiring quotas, certifications required at frontistiria (see #3 in “Common jobs for foreigners in Greece: Myth and reality“) and nearly impossible profit margins that must be met before a non-EU citizen can be hired. What I’m saying is you face opposition at every level.

I had the impression you have expertise on visas and permits because you’re dispensing advice in expat forums without quoting where you learned this knowledge. Further, the forum you’re using is parasitical because it depends on users to take information from legitimate sources (like me) to attract traffic for them but forbids outside links.

Praise is appreciated. But what’s more important is readers give attribution and contribute to websites that deserve to be enriched and credited, even if it’s not mine.

  adams wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 12:03

Comment 1:
Dear Sir,
I am married to a Greek citizen and has submitted for my residence permit for almost 1and a half month due to police report that delayed to come but recently i went to perifferia and was told the police report has come but it was nagative though i knew why because 4 years ago i wanted to travelled to spain with a friends document so i was arrested at the airport,i was taken to court and i was giving a find of 87euros which i paid insantly with 3 years probation if i dont do that again this charge will be clean from my files though the 3 yeras has expired and havent done what i did again, please i would like to know what should i do tp prove that i paid the find and also can this negative report prevent me from getting my residence permit please i need your help

Comment 2:
please i sent you my mail but you didnt answer i need your help i worte about my police report being nagative because i was travelling with my friend’s document and got arrested at the airport and was giving a fine of 87 euroe which i paid with 3 yeras probations, this happend 2008, when this happen i was under refugee status, but now am married to a greek citizen for 2 years now and recently i went to perifferia to check what is going on and i was told the police has replyied but its nagative so they ask me to go to the police and ask what it is but since i know why i have this negative report and i did paid please you having good knowlage about these things i want know know if i can prove that i paid my fined and to have my residence permit or its not possible to have it please i need your help, thank you

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
I received both your comments. Please read the box ‘Have a Question?’ on the front page. I’m a journalist running this website in my unpaid spare time. I don’t consider waiting less than 24 hours a long time to receive free assistance, and feel free to go straight to Greek authorities or have your wife make some phone calls if you are impatient.

Also, Kat is a woman’s name, so I am not a ‘sir.’

Answer 2:
Authorities give you a receipt when you pay a fine, and it was your responsibility to keep it. If they didn’t offer you a receipt, it was your responsibility to ask for one.

Proving you paid a fine does help, but it does not change the fact you illegally traveled to Spain on a friend’s document. This is a choice you made, and every choice has consequences.

Further, you still need to attend an interview, after which a committee decides whether to issue residence/work permits and can deny anyone they believe married for papers, including people who were once refugees or asylum seekers and people who broke the law. Being married to a Greek citizen does not guarantee you a residence/work permit. Also, if you have been married for 2 years, you should have applied for a permit right after you got married.

All you can do is do what they ask and wait for an answer. I cannot predict the outcome because “Edo Ellada.” Authorities make the final decision.

  Michael wrote @ May 17th, 2012 at 12:50

The website is very useful. Thanks for all the valuable information. I already have Greek residence permit Article 17 valid till 2013 but last month I have resigned from my work and moved to London. But now I want to visit Greece for a short trip. I think I can use my valid residence permit to travel in any schengen country even though I am not working in Greece? Is there any law which cancels your valid residence permit if you are not working in Greece for some months/days? i can again take up work in Greece after 1 year of living outside the country?

Thanks for your help.

Kat Reply:

The UK is not a Schengen country, so whether you can travel between Greece and the UK depends on your citizenship/passport and if you have a residence permit issued by the UKBA.

It’s impossible to answer your questions based on the little information you provided. All I can do is give general info from “FAQ: Greek permits” which may not apply.
— A permit is valid until it expires.
— You will not be able to renew your permit without the required amount of ensima, proving you were working in Greece and making social insurance contributions.
— You will lose your permit if you are outside Greece and cannot show proof of residency for at least 185 days a year.
— You cannot take up work in Greece again if your permit was tied to a specific employer.

Only those with 10-year permanent residence permits (described in the above article) or the five-year EU-wide residence permit can override some of the conditions outlined above.

  choudhary wrote @ May 18th, 2012 at 09:51

I have apply my family visa before 3 years but i wait embassy of greece call my family for interview help me what i do i am worried my wife is alone in pakistan

Kat Reply:

You didn’t provide enough information for me to help you.

If you are living/working in Greece with a residence/work permit and earn a certain income for at least two years, you can apply for a reunification visa and permit for your wife and any children at the municipality office or grafeio allodapon nearest your residence. See #2 under “How to get a permit for Greece.”

The order does not come from the Greek embassy; approval comes from the interior ministry and ministry of citizen protection, which then sends word to the embassy in Pakistan. If you have been waiting 3 years, it’s safe to say it’s been denied and you need to inquire with the municipality (dimos) or grafeio allodapon.

  Miltiadis wrote @ May 21st, 2012 at 11:45


this website is very helpful and so informative and detailed. I read so many articles of yours and i believe you can help us with our dilemma.

to give you a glimpse of our situation. i have a Greek partner living here in the Philippines for almost a year now. And we really want to move to Greece so soon. Currently I’m unemployed. and I can’t apply for schengen visa for that matter because it requires that i need to be employed or self-employed.

I’ve read that it would take so much time to process the papers specially for the residence permit. That’s why I opt to apply for working permit.

My partner’s family has some businesses there in Greece. His mom is willing to be my employer.

Here’s my questions. What are the processes that my potential employer should do? Normally, how long does it take?

Shedding thoughts and experiences are highly appreciated.

  kristina wrote @ May 21st, 2012 at 17:28

i have my expired working permit bcoz my enzema ensima is not enough, and it was rejected when i renewed last 2010 for second sticker. is theres a possibility to renew again? i have my boyfriend who is greek national, and we have a baby who born here in greece, can we get married? or can i have my permit again/ but how?. pls advise me. thanks and more power.!

Kat Reply:

Right now you are in an illegal status, so the answer is no, you cannot get married. The only way around this is for you to leave the country for 90 days, apply for an immigrant visa at the Greek embassy in your homeland, then re-enter Greece and get married. However, your boyfriend must show he has insurance and earns a certain income as part of eligibility.

Sometimes they give permits to mothers of children who are Greek citizens, but laws often require that the child’s parents be married at the time of the baby’s birth. This does not apply to you.

You can only renew something that is valid. Because your permit is expired, and your last permit was denied for insufficient ensima, there is no possibility to renew based on the information you provided.

Your boyfriend should be helping you and making phone calls to resolve this, especially since he is Greek and speaks the language. I do not recommend lawyers because they often promise the moon, but know nothing about laws or permits for non-EU citizens and are happy to take your money for no results. Lots of readers have complained of this, and several lawyers have plagiarized my website to fool people.

If there are other circumstances or another way, you need to inquire at the municipality office, grafeio allodapon or the Greek ombudsman.

  Xir wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 14:40

I am very sorry that I am writing my comment in the wrong area. However, comments are closed on the appropriate page. I have been reading your website for almost two years now and I know that there is no way that I can contact you – aside from a comment or Twitter. I want to thank you for your website, for it has helped me a lot during my preparation to move to Greece. I know you’re a busy woman, so I will keep my questions specific and brief.

1. I tried to access these pages ( ( but it is password protected. The content concerns me and I want to see if I can find the information that I need there. May I have the passwords?

2. Last year, I married my Greek husband and applied for a residence permit… I am still waiting. Reading one of your articles, you said that marriage to a Greek does not guarantee a permit. So, I am feeling a bit anxious about that. My husband called the Periferia. He said they told him that my papers are still “under procedure”. But they are absolutely complete. I wonder if you know what are these “procedures” exactly.

3. When I applied for the residence permit, I was given a blue certificate citing that I may legally stay in the country while I wait for this permit. However, I do not know if I can work or not. I have been told at city hall that I may not. I am also not allowed to leave the country while I am waiting for my residency permit. A Russian friend of mine (married to a Greek for 4 years and still waiting for her permit!) told me that I can work using this certificate (since I have an AFM number). She said the man working in her city hall told her that she can. She also told me that I may leave the country whenever I want since the Periferia doesn’t check up on this. I just have to be in Athens for the interview.

I do not have any travel plans but I left my career when I moved here… I am worried but trying to be optimistic & think that I might be able to continue my career here, despite the crisis, but I do not want to apply somewhere & then have to turn down a job because I am not able to work.

Can you give me any insight on my queries? Thank you.

Kat Reply:

I often close posts to comments and questions after a majority of people ask redundant questions that have already been answered. As you know, I run this website in my spare time and repeating myself is unproductive and prevents me from posting new material.

1. No one has access to these pages for reasons explained under ‘Protected posts’ in “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.” The first doesn’t apply to you since you haven’t been living in Greece for 5-10 years.

2. Having a complete file means nothing; you are waiting for approval and issuance of a permit. See ‘When will my permit sticker/card be ready?’ at “FAQ: Greek work and/or residence permits.”

3. Your friend is misinformed.
— Traveling outside Greece: Read about the blue paper (bebaiosi) and where you can go at “Non-EU citizens in Greece with a bebaiosi may travel home through 2012.” Border guards, police and passport control DO check; the perifeiria doesn’t (of course) because it’s not their job.
— AFM: Having one is not the only element needed to work in Greece.
— Working with the blue paper: The blue paper is a receipt signifying that papers have been submitted for POSSIBLE issuance of a permit; therefore, an employer can choose to recognize it or not.

It’s a shame that people do not make themselves known for years except when needing something more than the 300+ articles I already offer. Please consider giving back to the website in exchange for information you received over two years and the answers I gave today. I’d be interested in detailed notes on documents, fees, offices, etc. when getting married or the spouse permit.

All best.

  styles wrote @ August 25th, 2012 at 00:54

so i do not get this, i dont have greek origins but want to move there,so what do i do,also i dont get how you have to live there 3 years to get citizenship, but dont you have to be a citizen to live there? thanks have a good day

Kat Reply:

Read the article above to explore possible options in getting a residence permit to live in Greece.

  Billy the Greek wrote @ November 23rd, 2012 at 01:10

Hello Kat, first of all absolutely great work on this site and second of all im deeply sorry for this post being in wrong section, but comments are closed in “my” section. I understand the reason behind this,but after reading all comments and all informations you posted, i still dont feel to know what to do. Alright,lets be more “lagwnikos” now.

I am a 22 years old Greek uni-student living in Greece and dating for 2 years an Ukrainian 18 years old girl,living and studying in Ukraine. Our plan is for her to move in Greece to live with me a.s.a.p., through any way we can, be it student visa, getting married, or for her to “use” her Hungarian roots.
-So far i didnt see anywhere in this site informations about student visa,so i wont ask you about it.
-Marriage way: i understand it doesnt come with residence/work permit,tho the spouse does get a short term one, am i correct? Moreover as a student i dont have an income and my family has a good yearly income and willing to support us. Is that a problem? Furthermore,she doesn’t speak Greek yet,could it lead to a refused permit in an interview?Yes she has medical insurance, no she doesnt have much money in bank account.
-Hungarian roots: The problem is she doesnt speak Hungarian and it seems to take nearly 3 years to get citizenship.
-One more way i read on internet is similar to wedding-plan,tho the couple doesnt have to get married,rather to be both connected by a official, economical or social contract/business. I didnt seem to understand this one, so if you know anything about it,can you tell me about it or simply correct me?

What is your advice for my situation?Which way in your experience is the fastest and which is the safest?

THANK YOU,if you took the time and read my post,i would be forever grateful for helping a deeply-in-love guy. Im willing to post all my “adventure” to get my girl in Greece as soon as this is all over, be it in a bad or, most-hopefully, a good way.

Kat Reply:

Hi Billy,

I transferred your questions to the right post, leaving a link on the original so you can find this response. I don’t mind when nice people ask questions, especially if it’s clear they made an effort to first look around, which clearly you did.

Getting her to Greece.
— Student visa: If she can get accepted to a Greek university, it should be quick and easy to get a visa and residence permit to stay during the course of her studies. Many young people choose this method if they’ve never lived in Greece before and want to see how they fit; and/or have been dating someone and want to get a real sense of being in a full-time (non long-distance) relationship, especially before marriage. If you later decide to get married, she will likely need to exit Greece, apply for a different (non-studies) visa, then re-enter the country so you can get married. Authorities may even look positively on her studies during the interview (later), as she can show an actual connection to Greece. I don’t have an article because mine use first-hand experience and I’ve never been a student in Greece. If people are willing to contribute their experience as a way to give back, I’ll write one.
— Marriage: Citizens from Ukraine need visas for Greece, so she would need to go the Greek consulate/embassy and apply for a ‘D’ visa with intention to immigrate and marry a Greek citizen. At that point, they could ask you as the Greek citizen to provide documents. If you don’t have income, it’s possible they’ll request proof from your parents. I can’t say for certain because I don’t know anyone in the same situation. If you go this route, perhaps you can tell me. She need not speak the language, but the final interview is in Greek. Refusal usually has something to do with fabricating information or a relationship (i.e,. online/mail-order brides, marrying for papers, etc.). If/when the permit is issued, it’s good for 5 years.
— Hungarian citizenship via ancestry: This would be my first choice as it would give your girlfriend a lot of freedom, but it does appear to take a long time (as it often does in Greece), so this doesn’t fit your needs.
— Cohabitation agreement: I know very little about this, so I cannot guide you. I understand the couple must show significant connection of social and financial assets. For example, proof of living together in another country or having a home, investments, business, bank accounts or children together. I’m fairly sure you’re not eligible, but please feel free to come back and share whatever you find out if using this option.

It’s purely my opinion that the student visa is fastest, the safest and gives you both a chance to experience life together and build toward a future. Second would be marriage. However, if you opt for marriage straight away, it could be a traumatic experience for her to fit into a new country, new life, new language, new house, new marriage and new family all at once. I see this too often, and it doesn’t always end well.

Two very positive things: a) Your parents support the relationship between you and your girlfriend (a non-Greek); b) you’re proactive and patient, two things you’ll need when dealing with non-EU/EEA bureaucracy.

Always a pleasure to help a polite person willing to give back. Wishing you and yours all the best.

  Michael wrote @ December 8th, 2012 at 23:32

I am a British citizen who wants to live in Greece. I am a writer and so I would be self-employed. I will want to be joined by my wife to be who is a non-EU (and non-EEA) citizen; my understanding is that as my wife she would also be free to live in Greece. You have a posting about non-EU/EEA nationals in Greece but I cannot get access to it as it requires a password, so how do I get a password? Until I read it I will not know if it answers all my questions, which are those above, but also some others: 1) Would my wife’s mother be able to join us as a resident in Greece? 2) You do not have a high opinion of legal advice in Greece, but nevertheless would seeing a Greek lawyer about these questions be a good idea? Many thanks.

Kat Reply:

Answers to your three questions:

— Explanation of protected posts is found in the ‘Questions’ section at “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.” It’s the same link given on the post you were trying to access.
— Regarding your wife’s mother, whom I assume is also a non-EU/EEA citizen though you did not state this, she can come to live with you if she is: a) a dependent under family reunification — has zero income and you can prove through tax statements that you earn a certain level to support her; b) financially independent and can acquire a residence permit on her own as stated in “How to get a visa and residence permit for Greece.” On that post in Comments, I answered the same question for Jeffrey on February 29, 2012.
— Consulting a lawyer is a personal choice. I do not have a high opinion of legal advice in Greece because:
a) lawyers plagiarize my website regularly to give potential clients the impression of expertise and
b) use my information to help them, as I source details that official sites don’t disclose;
c) readers come to me after being duped; and
d) 100 percent of everyone I know over 14 years who hired a lawyer to consult on non-EU matters was misguided, stalled and/or charged and cheated out of a lot of money, unless they were family friends.

Accountability is a rare thing in Greece, and most people will make up answers instead of saying ‘I don’t know.’ That’s why I stopped asking others long ago and acquired all the knowledge I have.

  angeliki wrote @ January 15th, 2013 at 19:39

I have read all posts but still have a concern. I am greek but lived in the states for the past 30 years. my husband of 22 years is an american. we plan to move to greece. does he need a visa to live in greece permanately or just the residence permit? i know you are very busy and are doing me a favour to reply back. thank you in advance.

Kat Reply:

You didn’t provide enough information for me to give a customized answer, but I suspect the answers are in the article.

a) A visa is for entering the country, staying temporarily and leaving, as explained in “What’s the difference between a visa and a permit?” I give this link above in the Visa section.
b) Also in the Visa section under Type 1 (sticker-free), it says that Americans already have Schengen privileges that grant a visa to stay up to 90 days in any 180-day period, without cost or application.
c) Assuming “I am Greek” means that you have Greek citizenship and a Greek passport, then your husband qualifies for a permit as long as you move with him. In the “How to get a permit” section in #1, it says non-EU spouses of Greek/EU citizens need to apply for a residence permit once inside the country. Due to ongoing plagiarism and copyright infringement, the linked article giving details is locked.

If you do not have Greek citizenship, it is highly recommended that you file papers to claim it as life will be significantly easier.

If your husband has dual citizenship with an EU/EEA country, he does not need a visa or permit.

  Q Moshos wrote @ February 21st, 2013 at 21:39

I have read every one of the previous comments, and it is very informative info. Thank you for your dedication and time to this site. I am an African american woman, married to a Greek citizen man. He has been living in America since 1981 and retained a permanent visa in 1984. We were married on 1983. We want to retire in Greece with our 8 year old daughter who was born in America in 36 months from now. Can he just start to resume life in Greece or does he have to go through what some of the other folks has gone through? And as for me and our daughter, will it be different for us or are we under my husbands citizenship? if it is going to be complicated…. I would not mind coming 90 days and going back home and come back again. Just live in Greece seasonally. Will we based on my husband being a Greek citizen need to have money in the bank, proof of income and health insurance? Thank you in advance and I promise to do follow ups.

Kat Reply:

These questions have been asked and answered previously, both in the article and in Comments above yours.

— All Greek/EU/EEA citizens can live in Greece without restriction, as it says in the first sentence of the article.
— Americans and other non-EU citizens granted sticker-free Schengen visas can stay in Greece, or Schengen zone, for 90 days in any 180-day period without a residence permit or any cost/bureaucracy, as it says in section, ‘Entry – Visas for Greece’ Type 1 and in the comment above yours.
— Non-EU family members (spouse and children under 21) of Greek/EU/EEA citizens are entitled to a residence/work permit to stay longer than 90 days, as it says in section ‘How to get a permit’ under #1. Your other questions are also answered in that same section, plus earlier comments as in my response to ColomboCanadian on October 18, 2011.

Wishing you all the best.

  Cynthia wrote @ April 14th, 2013 at 19:27

What a great site! I’m a single American that has “walked in your shoes” during my process of obtaining my adeia paramonis since arriving in 2002. I have gone through many of the ordeals you mentioned in your pages. From returning to the States to apply for another work permit (when I could not extend mine from the 2004 Olympics) to waiting for 6 years for the dikasteria to approve my current residency visa. Now that it’s renewal time, I find myself with a company that has gone bankrupt. Because IKA has a one-year lapse, it wasn’t evident when my current adeia paramonis was granted in 2012. But it is definitely in the computers now and my IKA shows no ensemas ensima paid since 2010.

I plan to go to the dimos tomorrow to ask about transferring to another company before my current adeia expires 8 May, 2013. Here I’d like to ask if you know what the minimum number of ensemas ensima must be paid for a working year. It seems like I read 200 in another post, but I thought it was 50 for some reason.

Also, it seems that I should also apply for a Greek Drivers’ License using my current adeia (before it expires) as I understand that it’s no longer enough to have a valid US license + Internat’l Driving Permit. Would you agree?

I’ve read about the 5 year adeia on this website, but since my IKA shows 2 years (plus 2013) without payment, I’m not sure if I could qualify. I have had 5 years of IKA ensemas ensima – different amounts each year -2003-2010, but do you know if the last 2 years will come back to haunt me?

Any other dangers that lie ahead from your experience? Thank you for your time.

Kat Reply:

I realize that you’ve likely been to the dimos already, but there was a delay because I only answer questions in my spare time and needed a large block to reply. I’m posting this if only to clarify various points of your comment.

1. What you should have is a residence permit or a bebaiosi: There is no such thing as a residence visa, as visas are only for temporary stays and entering/exiting the country — explained in, “What’s the difference between a visa and a permit.”

2. The dikastiria isn’t involved in approving permits and visas unless legal action was involved.

3. IKA does not have a one-year lapse. IKA computers are harmonized with many agencies/ministries via e-governance and updated within 90 days or less on the number of ensima each person has. In cases where proof of the last 60 days is needed, a letter from an employer that’s been certified by police is acceptable.

4. The expiration date of an adeia paramonis is clearly stated on the card/sticker. The expiration date of a bebaiosi is usually one year from date of issuance as stated in “FAQ: Greek permits.” The exception is non-EU family members of EU citizens.

5. I’ve heard nothing on lowering the number of ensima for renewals of all permits. The gov’t in power is anti-immigration, long-term legal residents with more ensima than you describe have been refused renewal, unemployment is at a record high and Greece has no reason to retain foreign workers.
— There was discussion and lowering the ensima requirement to 120 per year in 2011 for some categories, as stated in “Residence/work permits for undocumented workers in Greece.” However, that cabinet was voted out and some legislation has been rolled back. If it was indeed lowered for everyone, I welcome corrections.
— People are allowed to purchase 20% of ensima, but no more than that.
— The gov’t in 2011 OK’d the extension of health coverage for those who could prove they earned 50 ensima, as described in section ‘Insurance for unemployed’ at “Unemployment benefits in Greece.”
— I have consistently met the original 200 ensima requirement, so I don’t have experience relevant to yours.

6. All persons normally resident in Greece are required to have a Greek driver’s license. Technically, it was never legal to only have a US license and IDL except as a visitor, but many people got away with it (and continue to) because they’re not checked and the law is/was not implemented. See, “Converting to a Greek license.”

7. A five-year permit is issued only after the applicant satisfies ALL requirements detailed in, “Long-term EU-wide permits for Greece.” I don’t know if you qualify; you need to read the list and see.

We do not share a similar status, so I’m unable to warn of pitfalls specific to your situation. Still, I hope the information and advice can help you. If you would like to correct or contribute information learned on your journey as a way to give back to the website, select any open post and I’ll transfer and credit accordingly.

It’s 2:30 in the morning, so I must sign off. Wishing you all the best.

  SoHo wrote @ May 14th, 2013 at 20:43

Your questions were transferred to, “Greek citizenship by claim of Greek origin, descent or ancestry.”

  Abdul wrote @ August 15th, 2013 at 11:27

Iam from India Mumbai 42 years old .muslim married male . i want start own women fashion accessories and garments bussniess in greece athens. i want residence/nationlity permit . this reason i want marry greek women . if possible please explain me. wait for your reply.

Kat Reply:

Answers to your inquiry are already explained by articles on this website.

Because you are already married, you cannot marry again in Greece as polygamy is against the law.
— As it says in the article above, marrying solely for a permit is cause for Greek authorities to deport you.
— In “How to start a business in Greece,” it says non-EU citizens must make a considerable investment and have their business approved by the Greek government.
— In “Ways to get Greek citizenship,” it says that Greek nationality is not being granted to non-Greeks.

  Juls wrote @ September 9th, 2013 at 02:00

Hi, congrats on a great site with plenty of useful information.

I have read enormous amount of your articles about visas, permits, comments of other visitors and still find myself in kinda a unique situation without really knowing what to do.

Ok, so here’s my situation. I’m a non EU citizen with a Schengen visa residence permit in France. I am married to a French man and self-employed, both of us. We have decent revenues and work in the internet, we are webmasters of an American website but living in France. So, my question is, if we wanted to move to Greece for, let’s say, 2-year stay, what permit or “stay visa” do we need, mostly for me, as I am a non EU citizen and I am not going to take French citizenship or any other. I just like living in different places as long as there is an internet connection. As I wrote above, we have decent revenues, but we sure won’t have 60,000 Euros in our pocket to put in a bank in Greece, plus we won’t annul any of our French credit cards. We just want to live for sometime in Greece, well, because of the weather, the sea and scenery.
I will appreciate any information on this matter.

Kat Reply:

First off, you do not have a Schengen visa residence permit. A Schengen visa is permission to stay temporarily for 90 days in any 180-day period for certain non-EU citizens, including Americans. To stay in the EU/EEA past 90 days you need a residence permit. There’s no such thing as a stay visa or residence visa. You have a carte de séjour (residence permit) to live/work in France.

All EEA/EU citizens enjoy free movement in all member states, which your husband should know and is also stated in the first paragraph.

In section ‘How to get a permit for Greece,’ it says in #1 that non-EU spouses of EU/EEA citizens are eligible for a five-year residence/work permit to live/work in Greece. You need to apply upon arrival. That’s it. I don’t see a ‘unique situation,’ unless you’re in a same-sex marriage (it’s essential to be transparent; otherwise I’m forced to guess, which is unhelpful). In that case, you can apply for this residence permit, assuming you meet income requirements.

I’m 99% certain that you read this article, saw comments were closed and then searched for an open post. Please note that I closed this topic because people kept asking redundant questions, which are already answered by the info detailed above and responses to identical inquiries.

Good luck.

  Robert wrote @ October 9th, 2013 at 19:04

I have a one year resident permit and am retired. My wife (American citizen)just received her 5 year resident permit. My wife has Greek children who are Greek citizens from a previous marriage and she lived in Greece for ten years.

I am trying to get a 5 year resident permit without having to buy 250,000 euros invested in property. My wife wants to start her own small business. According to local authorities she can hire me as an expert and I supposedly can get a 5 year resident permit. Another option I’ve been given which sounds crazy is if her son (Greek citizen) adopts me I supposedly can get a 5 year resident permit.

Do you have any other suggestions regarding me receiving a 5 year resident permit ? Thank you.



Thank you very much for your fast response. First, my wife received her 5 year resident permit because her son is a Greek citizen, served in the army, and lives in Greece. He actually holds duel citizenship in both the U.S. and Greece.

No, they were not joking when they told me my Greek step-son could adopt me. I was also surprised because I thought it would be the other way around. I was also told I could get a 5 year resident permit if a business hired me as an expert.

I am pursuing this so I will pass on to you any information you wish about my experience. Your website is excellent and light years ahead of others I’ve read. Other websites including the Greek one are so ambiguous and never address the issue directly.

You are correct in pointing out to potential travelers to Greece to READ GREEK LAW BEFORE LEAVING THEIR COUNTRY.

I served as a judge on a U.S. state professional board where knowledge of law is required. I was surprised when I sat down with the Greek local authorities director how uninformed they are on their own laws. Every time I brought up a point he went to the Greek law books.

I had read the law thoroughly and pointed out to him (VERY POLITELY) that the pile of paperwork they were initially requiring to meet the requirements had already been provided. Knowing the law kept me from going through the paperwork game. I received my 1 year resident permit within 30 days of applying. I applied 10 days after arriving in Greece.

My wife who had arrived in Greece 60 days earlier and had initially been rejected on her 5 year resident permit request. After I received my 1 year resident permit, I handled her new re-sbmission application for a 5 year resident permit. My wife received her 5 year resident permit 30 days later. Again, becoming familiar with Greek law will save you a lot of grief. Yes, it’s a lot to read but is time well spent.

The Greek local authorities were extremely helpful and great. If you walk into their office and are polite and courteous they will help you. If you walk into their office like a bull in a china closet. Forget it.

I was able to be successful because I read Greek law BEFORE I left for Greece. You said it. YOU MUST OBTAIN A VISA FIRST in the country you are from. Then come to Greece with the correct paperwork and apply immediately so your recent paperwork doesn’t expire. Again, READ THE LAW BEFORE LEAVING.

Thank you again and I will keep you posted.

Best Regards,


Kat Reply:

You didn’t provide enough information for me to properly address your questions, so I can only give answers based on what you disclosed.

Without knowing why your wife has a five-year permit and you don’t, you can apply for a five-year permit if you meet eligibility and go through the application process detailed in “Long-term EU-wide residence permit for Greece.”

What you were told about being hired by your wife to get a five-year permit is wrong; employees get regular one-year or two-year permits. Or adopted by her son, highly unlikely; I know of no past, existing or new legislation that would make it possible. If local authorities aren’t joking, please come back and correct me by telling me which law grants a permit via ‘parental adoption’ and the bureaucracy involved. Adult EU children can only help non-EU parents get permits if the non-EU parent is destitute, disabled, completely dependent or otherwise unable to care for themselves and the EU child can show proof of sufficient income.

Authorities may not have been joking, but I’m 99% certain that they’re wrong.

Expat guides, lawyers and govt websites are light years behind me because: a) I started mine before they did; b) when plagiarizing me, they water down the info and often make errors because the plagiarizer has no expertise; c) in the case of official Greek govt sites stealing info, they don’t understand native English and copy-paste only what they feel is correct according to circulars; d) I combine all articles with first-hand experience and reader input; e) I update my info on a rolling basis and source from real people and Greek-language news; f) I’m an outsider who became an insider and can explain it better from that perspective.

Knowing the law does not necessarily make bureaucracy go faster or prevent authorities from making errors. I know this from 15 years experience.

  Luckyosas wrote @ November 2nd, 2013 at 23:48

Whosoever designed this website, may God bless you.I am legally married to my wife from Bulgaria. The marriage was carried out in Greek Orthodox Church and I was given a blue veveosi, after 2 years , I was called for an interview, and I went with my wife, few weeks later, they gave me a rejection letter that my marriage was not accepted.My question why would I be denied my papers after attending the interview ? Till date I am with my wife.The bible says what God has joined together let no man put assunder.Now I am not granted my resident permit and they took my blue veveosi, so how should I leave to my wife’s country?please advise me

Kat Reply:

As it says under ‘How to get a permit for Greece’ in section 1a: “Being married to a Greek/EU citizen does not guarantee a residence/work permit, as I know several people who were denied.”

You are required to attend the interview and gain approval from the committee. If you don’t, no permit is issued, the bebaiosi (blue paper) is revoked, and you are required to leave Greece. God does not decide these cases.

If you stay with your wife in Greece and police find you residing here illegally, you will be fined and deported. I recommend against hiring a lawyer, as many make promises but don’t deliver positive results and only take your money. In this state of economic crisis and neo-Nazis in Parliament, it will nearly impossible to fight the decision.

  Manoj wrote @ March 19th, 2014 at 12:45

hi, I am an Indian national looking forward to work in Greece. I do have an offer from a Mexican Company who have taken over a plant in Greece which they intend to shift to Mexico within an year. To supervise the production and decommissioning of the plant my service is required. What type of visa shall I/ the plant in Greece or the company apply. Does a normal Shengan Schengen Visa with 90 days stay can be used by leaving Greece and re entering.

Kat Reply:

Please read the above article. Good luck.

  Maninder wrote @ March 20th, 2014 at 19:18

I am from India, my husband is working in Greece , he has applied family visa for me and my daughter in lavedia perfecture , now he has checked with local prefecture in lavedia, according to them, they have sent all my related documents to India in Greece embassy, but prefecture has not given me any case of file number , and Greece embassy in india is asking for case and file number with documents sending date, but after many visits to prefecture my husband has not get any success in getting case and file number from them, they are saying to contact Greece embassy in India and embassy in india again asking for case and file number, pls provide me any way out or email id of Lavedia prefecture or any any helpful email id from where I can get any up-date for my case. thx

Kat Reply:

There is no such place as Lavedia. There is Livadia or Levadia. In any case, email is a very advanced concept and this is not the way offices conduct business in Greece or deal with bureaucracy. Everything is in person and sometimes (rarely) by phone.

Your husband should have been given a receipt for submitting the correct papers, and this receipt has a case/file number. If he doesn’t have one, he either did not submit the papers or lost the receipt. Also, visas are not handled by the prefecture; residence permits are handled by the prefecture. So I don’t know if you/he are confusing these words or he’s inquiring and submitting documents at the wrong location.

  Megan wrote @ May 30th, 2014 at 02:35

Hi there! So impress by all your hard work and efforts in these page. You’ve been really helpful to all of us (expats of Greece).
First of all let me say sorry because I wanted to send comment under Greek residence permit/visa but comment thread is close. I’m really confused and anxious so I just want to ask for your opinion or suggestion if your familiar with these situation. So here it is I’m a third country national and last year July I renewed my residence permit ( for 2 years)after this I would be eligible for 5 years when I renew next time.I thought it would be ready by this time well last March I tried to call this number on my bebeosi (blue paper) and the woman directed me to call another office in Pallini so after much attempt to contact this number i finally got to speak to someone but she doesn’t sound so friendly and told me the computer is down and can’t see if my residence permit is ready or not. So she suggested I just come in Pallini to see for myself which turned out to be a disaster. This place is packed with people when we came I was with my friends who went along. Ok after queuing and being push back and forth I manage to get in took a number and waited for my turn just to only be let down. The woman told me that my residence permit is still not ready and it would take 4 more months of waiting = to 1 year of waiting in total. The thing is I just found out that I’m pregnant and my bf is working in Sweden ( his European but not Swedish) of course we plan for me to move in Sweden and give birth there as I don’t want to give birth here in Greece. The big question is there anyway we can speed up the process of obtaining my residence permit? I wouldn’t want to just get married for this and I’m thinking that I just need this residence permit since I wanna go back to Greece and maybe work again here. Is there any office we can go to ask for assistance private or public?

Thank you in advance
– Meg

Kat Reply:

Because you are confused (as you said), I cannot answer your question or help you properly.

1. You cannot hold two residence permits for two different EU countries. You need to choose Sweden or Greece. If you apply for a permit in Sweden, they will check your background in Greece and ask for your Greek permit and invalidate it.
2. Marriage doesn’t change anything in Sweden. From what I know of Swedish immigration laws, they recognize partners. Beyond that, you need to do your own research. I found Migration SE via a simple Google search.
3. Marriage would change your permit in Greece for the worse, so I’m not sure why you’re considering this. As you now hold a permit on your own, getting married would force you to apply for a different category permit (spouse of EU citizen) and start the process all over again. Further, your boyfriend/baby father would need to live in Greece full time in order for you to qualify.
4. As it says in “FAQ: Greek work/residence permits,” there is nothing you can do to speed up anything in Greece.
5. Complaints can be filed with the ombudsman for maladministration, but not just because you want things to move faster. What you’re experiencing is a normal pace for Greece. Therefore, no claim is warranted.

I do not assume responsibility or make a habit of giving opinions on life decisions that are yours alone. Wishing you all the best.

  Dennis wrote @ June 11th, 2014 at 12:58

I have a question about retiring and living in Greece.Would i need /how to apply for a resident permit for financially independent persons,the reason why I am asking is that I am married to a Greek citizen I am an american but we live in Germany and i have a work permit plus a residence permit issued in Germany that has unlimited status.(work/resident permit) And do i have to apply before moving to Greece.

We both will receive a penison from the German government and we will have medical and dental insurance plus my wife owns land in Greece.The other question that i have is would i have to go back to the US to apply for these permit or can I apply for this here at the America consulate in Frankfurt,Germany.

Thanks in advance

Kat Reply:

In the post above under section ‘How to get a permit for Greece,’ see #1. It explains that spouses of Greek citizens are granted permits to live and work in Greece, so you would not need to apply as a financially independent person described in “How to get a visa and residence permit for Greece.”

Based on a recent experience of a Greek citizen/American spouse, they were asked to show documentation related to not owing Greek taxes (ekkatharistiko or a dilosi – your wife will know), plus insurance for the non-EU spouse (you) and proof of residence (house ownership, lease, utility bill). Nothing on income or visas. Since you’re coming from Germany, I expect you’ll need to show your German permit.

You can come straight here and apply upon arriving in Greece. A visit to the embassy (Greek or U.S.) or homeland prior to arrival is not necessary.

If you plan to drive in Greece, I recommend taking a look at “Greek driver’s license” or “Converting to a Greek license.”

All best.

  Fadi wrote @ June 15th, 2014 at 21:33

I am a American citizen with a AFM number in Greece. My family owns property, that was both 35 years ago. Till this day we do not have residence permits. We have applied for any. What are my chances of getting a residence permit if any?

Thank You

Kat Reply:

There’s no way I (or anyone) can give an answer specific to your situation, as you provided almost no background information. Having an AFM and a family member owning property isn’t enough to determine if you qualify for a permit.
– Are you already in Greece? If yes, how long have you been here? What visa did you use to enter? Why haven’t you applied for a permit?
– Why are you in Greece? Student? Work? Travel?
– How long do you plan to stay?
– What is the nationality of your parents? Do they have residence permits or EU citizenship?

Take a look at the article above to determine if you qualify for a permit, or visit the nearest allodapon office if in Greece, or inquire at the Greek embassy if outside Greece.

  lucas wrote @ July 7th, 2014 at 16:20

I came to thessaloniki to study, from a third world country for 12months course , i was given a 6 months visa, how do i get my extension before my visa expires?

Kat Reply:

All non-EU citizens staying in Greece (or any EU country) for more than 90 days need a residence permit.

First, having a visa and having a permit are very different. See, “What’s the difference between a visa and permit?

Second, as it says in the article above under section “How to get a permit” and #6, you should have applied for a residence permit. Your visa cannot be extended. Further questions are answered in “FAQ: Greek residence and work permits.”

All best.

  syeda wrote @ July 13th, 2014 at 21:56

hi I am in relation with Greece can I apply Greece settlement visa from Pakistan we r living in London
n I am Pakistani national …many thx

Kat Reply:

There are no visas or residence permits for non-EU citizens in relationships with Greek citizens, as it says in the article above. You must be a spouse of a Greek citizen or look at other options listed in section, ‘How to get a permit for Greece.’

  tanmay wrote @ October 4th, 2014 at 17:12

Hi,my name is tanmay and i am from india. I did my masters in UK last year and during that i fall in love with a greek girl.we stayed together in UK for 8 months and then i had to come back to india as i was there on student visa. We were in a long distance relationship for an year after that. But i visited her in greece thrice and she came to india once in this one year. Now we are getting married next month. Can i apply for a residence permit in greece after we get married ?..and after that, if i couldnt find a job in greece can we move to some other eu country or UK..?

Kat Reply:

See #1 in section ‘How to get a permit for Greece.’ Marriage to a Greek citizen does not guarantee you will be granted a residence/work permit. I know many people who were refused.

A permit for Greece is not a permit for the entire EU. This privilege must be earned after 5 years living in Greece. See ‘Long-term EU-wide permit for Greece.’

All 28 countries have separate immigration laws. The EU is a union of member states, not one country. If your girlfriend is interested in moving to the UK, she can research their laws. Here’s a link: It’s not as simple as being married and moving, and this is the case for all EU countries.

  sushil wrote @ December 15th, 2014 at 03:48

hello , I am from India . I am an electrical engineer . Can I apply for work permit for Greece or how is it possible . Can you help me .
thanking you

Kat Reply:

Read the article above. All best.

  Ibrahim wrote @ January 7th, 2015 at 15:16


I am a Turkish citizen living in Athens and married to a Greek citizen since March 2014. I have been waiting for the 5 year card and I visited periferia to check in October. They told me that we need pass through an interview and I should arrange a date with relevant office in periferia. ( They never told me they arrange the date and will mail to home ) So I went to arrange this date with my wife and they told that our interview date passed and we didn’t show up. We told them we never took any notice or letter and had no idea about the interview. The local post returned this mail since noone signed and received it. I wrote a formal request letter in periferia to arrange another interview. They said they will contact but I visited again to double check and the lady there told me that by law I can get only one time interview, they rejected my card request and they will inform me about it then I may appeal in court. Is it true I can not get another interview date ? Because it is not fault at all. The 1 year blue paper will expire in April 2015 and since the card is rejected the veveosi also will be invalid and I will not have any official document to live and work here. There is no visa or sticker in my passport. Please let me kow what steps we should follow? I am working in a company, can I get a staying permit due to work until we fix the card issue due to my marriage? Thank you very much in advance for your concern and time. Happy new year and best wishes.

Kind regards,

Kat Reply:

First, some clarifications.
– My definition of urgent is a life-threatening event or something similar.
– ‘Have a Question?’ on the front page states my commitments up front. Repeated postings won’t prompt me to answer sooner.
– I’m not obliged to keep comments open or answer questions, especially not on demand. This is a site I run and maintain in my unpaid time.
– Your question/comment wasn’t deleted as you claim. It enters moderation, and a message tells you this after hitting ‘enter.’
– Questions longer than 140 characters and/or of a complex nature shouldn’t be posted on Twitter.
– Unlimited personal consulting via email is unavailable. That’s the job of civil servants, which my taxes pay for.
All of these things are stated at, “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.” I know you visited this page, but it’s clear you didn’t read it. If you had, several misunderstandings would have been avoided.

About your situation. Ignorance is not a defense.

My website has been online since 2007, and in the section above called ‘How to get a permit for Greece’ under entry #1a on spouses of Greek citizens, it says that non-EU spouses must pass an interview before a permit is issued.

Assuming you didn’t know about my website, it was YOUR responsibility to check status of the permit on a regular basis. As it says in ‘FAQ: Greek work/residence permits‘ under ‘When will my permit card/sticker be ready?’ it takes approximately 60-90 days for issuance of spouse permit, during which time you are called to interview. You applied in April 2014, so that means you should have begun following up no later than June 2014. Most people begin following up within 30 days. Instead you waited ’til October 2014, six months later.

The time of interview is set by the government, not you, and the notice is mailed to the address you gave on the application. If you gave the wrong address or moved, that’s not the fault of the government. It’s your job to inform them. The post office makes at least two attempts to deliver and then leaves a notice saying that you can pick it up at your convenience. It waits 14 days before sending it back.

The government is not obliged to give you another chance, as it wasn’t their fault. It’s a privilege to be issued a residence/work permit. If this was important to you, then you should have been: a) Checking status of your permit on a consistent basis (and earlier than six months); and b) Watching your mail; and c) Asking questions.

Should you appeal their decision in court, it only matters what you can prove (evidence); it doesn’t matter what you say or who you blame (claims). Greece isn’t welcoming of foreigners to begin with, unemployment is high, and they conduct these interviews to root out non-EU citizens who marry Greeks for permits. In their eyes, this is how it looks:
– He didn’t check on the permit. Why? Was he outside Greece (aka, not living here)?
– He didn’t get the mail. Why? Did he give a false address? Where was he and/or his wife for 14 days?
In addition, they’ll look into your background and find extracurricular male-male activities that cast doubt on the validity of your marriage. Greece is a conservative country, and this won’t help your case.

You can’t apply for a work permit via your employer because they gave you the job based on an existing permit application (bebaiosi) as the spouse of a Greek citizen. They didn’t bring you into Greece to specifically work for them in that job and then secure your work permit. To go this route, you would need to divorce your wife, exit Greece and then have this employer convince the Greek gov’t of why they need to hire you and not any other EU citizen in the entire EU. See section ‘How to get a permit for Greece’ entry #7.

Since I don’t have access to your file and details you gave here don’t match what you said on Twitter, there’s no way I can advise further. I recommend consulting a lawyer and Greek authorities about the possibility of rescheduling, or accepting that you must leave Greece in April and try another country. All best.

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