Living in Greece

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

Overstaying a visa in Greece

immigration.gifPhoto from thaivisarun.com

Whether you are a non-EU citizen with a Schengen or national visa for Greece, you are expected to:

a) leave the country before it expires;
b) secure a visa extension under special circumstances, if you are staying temporarily as a tourist or business traveler (directions below); or
c) apply for the proper Greek permit within 30 days of arrival or apply for Greek citizenship if you are staying permanently.

A non-EU citizen with plans to immigrate and/or be resident in Greece (stay past 90 days) should not be looking at this post. The proper post is, “How non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece.” This also applies if you are a non-EU citizen of Greek origin/descent without dual citizenship with the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

This article is updated regularly to reflect new laws and regulations. I encourage everyone to be patient in reading this article and its comments, as they offer answers and suggestions to common questions and a full explanation not available anywhere else.

*Article last updated January 2, 2015

Visas

There are only two classes of visas currently being issued by Greece. It’s important to know which one you have to understand its privileges and possible penalties.

Schengen

American, Australian, Canadian and other non-EU citizens from countries in which Greece and other Schengen countries signed a visa waiver agreement can stay up to 90 days within the Schengen zone in any 180-day period as a tourist. See,”Countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece” to see if your country is on the list.

The countdown starts from the date of entry to the Schengen zone, which is marked by a stamp in your passport, or a scan and record kept by the computer and/or Schengen Information System (SIS). For example, if you entered through Paris 20 days prior coming to Athens, the 90 days starts from that date in France, not the date you arrived in Greece.

Dual citizens of any country with two passports are not entitled to twice the time, and it has nothing to do with the person to whom you are married. It only matters which passport you used to enter the country. If you try to enter with one passport and exit with another, passport control will question why you have no entry/exit stamp or why it doesn’t show in the computer.

*Overstaying in the EU/Schengen region does not have a one-size-fits-all set of rules. Each country has unique fines, penalties and enforcement standards, and some do not allow visa extensions. If you are exiting a Schengen country other than Greece, you are free to read the remainder this article for informational purposes, but you should stop here and consult local authorities in the country concerned.

National

A national visa is good only for Greece and no other country, whether it is a visa for tourist, student or work purposes.

Although there are national visas with validity up to one year, those living and intending to work in Greece must normally apply for a permit within 90 days of arrival as explained in, “How a non-EU citizen can get a permit to move, live or work in Greece.”

*There is no such thing as an “overstaying visa.” Overstaying is something you do, not a type of visa.

How to apply for a visa extension in Greece

Visitors who plan to stay longer than the expiration date of a Schengen or national visa while in Greece as a tourist, student or temporary business consultant should apply for a visa extension at the Alien’s Bureau Office or police station nearest their legal or temporary residence. It is not a temporary residence permit, as the American Embassy in Athens incorrectly states.

Note that visa extensions are only granted under special extenuating circumstances, such as being in the hospital, having a serious car accident or a relative passing away. Visa extensions are not granted because of ignorance regarding visas and permits, careless planning, unexpectedly falling in love, taking illegal work and just because you want to travel more.

Initial application:

1. Apply between 7 to 25 days in advance of your visa’s expiration

2. Fill out the one-page Greek/English/French visa extension form provided to you by the alien’s bureau or police station (Greece does not typically offer any forms online)

3. Provide any supporting evidence for needing an extension to the person in charge, who will give you a verbal answer

If you are approved, you will need to provide:

1. Four (4) passport-size color photos

2. Proof of residence while in Greece
— Letter from the person with whom you’re staying and a copy of their ID/passport, your hotel bill, a statement of facts; or the person in charge will request what is specifically needed for your case.

3. Proof of minimum financial means
— Bank statement showing you have at least 15-50 euros/day for the length of your extension. Note the phrase ‘at least’ means they could ask for proof of a greater amount.
*Some readers report that they were required to open a bank account in Greece, which also meant applying for an AFM (Greek tax number) and supplying a number of other documents.

4. A passport that is valid for the period in which you are requesting an extension
— If you’re asking for a 3-month extension, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months)

5. Two (2) copies of the main page of your passport

6. Two (2) copies of the entry stamp to the Schengen zone or visa sticker in your passport
— Should you not have a stamp, authorities may bar you from applying unless a printout from the Schengen computer can assist

7. A flat fee of 464 euros
— All visa extensions cost the same, whether for a minimum of one (1) day or a maximum of six (6) months

The Alien’s Bureau or Greek police station will give you a paper to put in your passport to show authorities when exiting Greece to avoid being stopped and fined.

The word ‘extension’ implies there is something valid to prolong, which means this is no longer the case if your visa has already expired.

*Special thanks to KEB, a reader who provided first-hand experience on securing an extension.

What if I’m denied an extension?

If you have the possibility to visit another station within your municipality, a different person may give you a different answer. However, there is no guarantee and you will be sent away if you cannot prove legal or temporary residence within the jurisdiction of the police station in which you are requesting an extension.

Should you be denied an extension, you are expected to leave Greece and the Schengen zone before the original visa expires, as scheduled.

Frequently asked questions

This section was compiled based on common predicaments and questions posed by commentators.

I have a Greek boyfriend, how do I extend my visa?

It makes no difference if your boyfriend/girlfriend is a Greek/EU citizen. An extension is normally only granted for compelling reasons, such as being in the hospital. No one cares if you fell in love and don’t want to leave; it has nothing to do with the law.

If I get engaged to a Greek, can I extend my visa and stay past 90 days?

Being engaged to a Greek/EU citizen is treated as if you’re still single. It does not entitle you to further rights or a Greek residence/work permit. You must be married and apply for a permit before the expiration of your visa or go home.

Even in the rare case a police station allows you a visa extension, you still cannot stay indefinitely; you still need a permit to stay in Greece as stated in “How non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece.” The longer you stay in Greece, the longer you must delay returning to Greece according to Schengen rules of “90 days within any 180-day period.”

*Some EU countries grant residence permits to engaged partners and fiance(e)s. Greece does not.

Can I get a visa extension to get married?

Depends. If you scheduled a date at the mayor’s office/city hall to get married during the validity of your visa and there was an unforeseen event — such as the prospective groom/bride being in a serious accident or the municipality keeps rescheduling your date after you filed the proper documents — there may be reason to extend it.

If you need an extension because of your poor planning, ignorance and procrastination, or you and your fiance(e) decided to get married so one of you could get a permit to stay/live/work in Greece, then authorities will deny an extension. The reason should be obvious.

If I overstayed my visa, and my Greek fiance and I get married in another country and come back, is that OK?

No, because it doesn’t change the fact you violated the law of maximum 90 days stay within any 180-day period. When you apply for a permit as the non-EU spouse of a Greek citizen to stay in Greece legally, authorities will see you don’t have a valid visa and deny you from applying. If they mistakenly allow it, the eight-member panel will catch this during your interview and deny issuance of your permit.

Can I get a permit or get married if I overstay my visa or am an illegal resident?

No. Once your visa has expired, you enter an illegal status and are therefore ineligible to be hired legally, apply for a residence/work permit, conduct official transactions and get married in Greece. Why? In short, because you must be legal to do something legal.

Application for a residence/work permit requires you be in a legitimate status, as does applying for a marriage license. If you somehow slip through the cracks, higher authorities will eventually cancel or revoke it later. Likewise, if your marriage is suspicious, a board of eight people will make that determination during the interview process, withhold issuing your permit and request that you leave the country, and upon leaving you will be fined and possibly blacklisted.

Why doesn’t the embassy/consulate intervene on my behalf?

The embassy/consulate is a diplomatic mission that serves citizens and non-citizens regarding issues with the homeland, not the host country of Greece where it is a guest. It cannot override another country’s rules and regulations, nor intervene when a citizen has broken local laws. Visitors to this country are responsible for their actions, and ignorance is not a legitimate defense.

What about overstaying student and work visas?

— Work visas on the whole cannot be renewed, converted or extended because they are for temporary stays (conference, consultation) or must be exchanged for a work permit before expiration.

— Student visas on the whole have entry limitations and are for temporary stays (semester abroad) or must be exchanged for a residence/work permit if intending to work in Greece.

The correct visa and length of validity should have been sorted back in your homeland before arrival in Greece. There should be no need for an extension or reason for overstay. Period.

Why Greece is more strict with overstays

Many Schengen countries are lenient with certain tourists when it comes to staying longer than the 90 days because it is good for the economy, but Greece is strict because it is the gateway for 75 percent of the EU’s total illegal border crossings. Enforcement of the 90-day Schengen rule has been well documented in travel guides, such as the Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. The EU border-monitoring agency Frontex opened its first European regional office in Athens, Greece in October 2010 and sent 175 specialized guards to fight alongside local authorities.

In the past: It used to be that one could get around the 90-day rule and renew a visa by crossing any country’s border and re-entering, but those days ended March 26, 2000 when Greece — a member of the common area since 1992 — began implementing Schengen.

Today: Crossing to a non-Schengen, non-EU country and re-entering is pointless with the current law in place. Attempting it will accomplish nothing, even if border patrol does not enforce the law and turn you away.

There are no tricks to extending, resetting or renewing a visa. Anyone who tells you they went over the border to a non-EU, non-Schengen country to restart or reset their visa for another 90 days anytime after March 26, 2000 is ill-informed and accomplished nothing but wasting time and money. If they didn’t get in trouble, it’s because they got lucky and encountered equally ignorant Greek authorities, not because the crossing actually worked.

What is the law?

Schengen allows a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period in the entire Schengen zone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a continuous 90 days or 30 days this month, 30 days two months from now and another 30 days four months from now.
— Example 1: If you have already been in the Schengen zone for 90 days, it means you need to get out and stay out for 90 days before coming back.
— Example 2: If you arrived in the Schengen zone on May 1, used 60 days, exited for 30 days to the Czech Republic , and came back to Schengen, you still have only 30 days left of your 90 days maximum. The only way the Schengen clock resets to the entire 90 days is when your 180 days expires end of November.

Anyone who tells you it is 180 days in the Schengen zone or 90 days per Schengen country is not informed of the law.

*Special thanks to Frank, who provided first-hand experience to revise this section.

The best advice

a) Be sensible, plan ahead, educate yourself before departing your homeland, get the right visa and don’t even think about overstaying
or
b) If you are planning to stay in Greece past the validity of any visa offered and find no legal way to secure a Greek work/residence permit, go ahead and overstay as long as you wish without exiting, consciously accept the consequences and pay the fine when you leave.

Overstaying without an visa extension

Anyone who stays beyond a visa’s validity without an extension and without a residence/work permit is illegal, subject to interrogation by airport officials, and must pay a fine upon exiting. Those caught working illegally or engaging in criminal activity in addition to being illegal are subject to deportation. Minors under the age of 18 accompanied by an adult are not fined, as they are considered an innocent party to their parents’ irresponsible decisions.

If you cannot or choose not to pay the fine of 600 to 1,200 euros, officials will stamp your passport with the outstanding amount and a code number, which will be referenced in a computer each time you cross a border for up to five (5) years. You may be questioned at border crossings and can be barred from entering other Schengen countries.

Paying the fine at a later date clears your outstanding balance, but the mark in your passport remains until its next renewal, and your travel record remains in the computer for a long time no matter what passport you use because new passports are cross referenced with former ones. I was questioned in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Italy, in addition to being pulled out of line and temporarily detained in Greece, each time I crossed even though my fine was paid years before and I presented the original receipt every single time.

If you have a layover and are exiting via another Schengen country on your flight home, it is possible that Greece will allow you to pass without penalty and assume the layover Schengen country will deal with you. This could work in your favor if authorities in that country ignore the overstay, but it could also work against you in that authorities may bar you from entering or assess you a penalty greater than what Greece may have.*

There have been claims that those who overstay a visa “can never come back to Greece,” but there is no written law to support this statement.

*Nod to Brady for contributing this information.

Is there a grace period for Schengen?

A lot of rumors on the Internet and forums have people believing there is a 10, 14 or 21 day grace period. However, there is no documented legal grace period.

What if I don’t have a stamp in my passport?

Passports are scanned by border control upon entering and exiting a country, though most people are not paying attention when it happens. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what stamps you have or don’t have in your passport.

If the country is connected to the Schengen Information System (SIS), your passport will be scanned as it was when you entered, and anyone in violation of a visa will be automatically flagged. If the border crossing is not connected to the Schengen computer, guards can question you, ask for proof of entry and (s)he can very easily do the math. Or they may ask nothing and let you pass.

How is an overstay fine or penalty calculated?

Whether or not you’re even looked at or how much you’re fined (600-1200 euros) is purely the discretion of the person passing judgment; it doesn’t matter how long ago you passed the deadline. Articles written by people who do not live in Greece and the American Embassy in Athens wrongly state that the penalty assessed is determined by the length of overstay. How do I know they’re wrong? I know people who overstayed one day and were fined 600 euros, and people who overstayed four months and were fined exactly the same thing.

The immigration official can decide to do something…or not. If you’re let go, nothing is recorded in the computer or your passport, and you should be grateful and be on your way. If you are not let go, he will enter you in the computer and assess a fine. You will then have the choice of paying the fine or not.

  • If you pay, you will still be entered in the computer but your passport won’t be marked and there is no risk of being blacklisted.
  • If you do not pay, the fine stays with you and your computer record until you do, and you risk being blacklisted for up to five (5) years. If you try and enter the Schengen zone before the blacklist period expires, whoever you get upon entering the Schengen zone will again have the choice of letting you pay the fine and allow you passage, or turn you away. If you’re turned away, you’ll be responsible for any lost flight and hotel reservations, plus the cost of transporting yourself to another country or back home.

Crackdowns are more likely for repeat violators of visas, scruffy tourists and backpackers, football hooligans, people pretending to be tourists but are trying to flee their country and work illegally, not well-to-do tourists. Greek authorities are also seeking to crack down on Americans, Australians, Canadians and other non-EU citizens who come to Greece each summer to work illegally and party, as they account for the greatest number of year-round overstays.

Here are some tips from the CIA on profiling and minimizing trouble: “How to avoid detection at airports.” — Quartz

Can I pay my overstay fine/penalty in another EU or Schengen country?

No, you must pay your fine/penalty in the country where it happened, or it won’t be cleared. If you overstayed in Greece, had a penalty assessed in Greece and didn’t pay, the only way it can be recorded as satisfied is if you or someone you appoint pays that fine and is given a receipt by Greek authorities. You can also pay the fine at any Greek  consulate/embassy, and make sure to get a receipt as proof.

Keep the payment receipt for as long as you hold this “marked” passport or until there is a pattern of people not requesting to see it.

I cannot pay 1200 euros. Is there a way to get my fine reduced?

No.

Do they accept credit cards or only cash?

Cash is king in Greece, and everyone I know paid cash. However, that’s not to say they don’t have a swipe machine to process credit and debit cards. If they do not have one, you will be permitted to visit an ATM/cash machine or call someone.

In the Athens airport, passengers in danger of being fined are detained in an office near passport control. That means it is quite easy to cross over to the non-passenger side of the terminal to find a currency exchange, bank, cash machine or friend/relative.

Deportation

A mark in your passport and paying a fine does not mean you have been deported. Deportation usually occurs after police have detained you, you go to a Greek court of justice and legal judgment has been officially rendered.

Laws state that those who are deported by police or a court of justice cannot return for a minimum of three (3) years, and an official government circular says the deportation fine is up to 3000 euros and a minimum of three (3) months imprisonment.

Additionally, you may be barred from entering all countries in the Schengen zone.

Jail time

You cannot be jailed for overstaying a visa. But if you committed a crime and authorities happen to find you fleeing the country while fining you for overstaying your visa, then you will be detained for that particular offense.

Important note

The rules and regulations that govern applying for an extension, and the penalties for overstaying a visa are different for every Schengen country. It is wrong to think that all Schengen countries are the same.

Many of the facts relayed in this article do apply to other Schengen countries. However, you must check with authorities in the country of concern if you are not living, working or studying in Greece and not planning to exit Schengen via Greece.

Alien’s Bureaus

Athens
173 Alexandras Avenue
(210) 646-8103
(210) 770-5711
(210) 641-1746

Elefsina
18 Iroon Polytechneiou
(210) 554-7427

Elliniko
Proin Anatolikos Aerolimenas Athinon
(210) 960-1341

Glyfada
23 Karaiskaki
(210) 960-1341
(210) 962-7068

Kolonos
99 Antigonis
(210) 510-2833

Lavrio
3 Damoukara
(2210) 922-5265

Maroussi
73 D. Gounari
(210) 802-4808

Pallini
14 Athanasiou Diakou
(210) 603-2982
(210) 603-2980

Piraeus
37 Iroon Polytechniou
(210) 412-2501
(210) 412-8607
(210) 417-4592

Tavros
24 Petrou Ralli
(210) 340-5828/829/888
Hours 8:00-14:00

Thessaloniki
25 Tsimiski
(2310) 521.067
(2310) 510.829

Additional phone number from the Kathimerini: (210) 750-5711/17

(List is incomplete)

Police stations

In many non-urban areas, the local police station serves as the Alien’s Bureau.

*Note: Police and bureau staff are not guaranteed to speak English, so it may be necessary to bring a Greek-speaking companion or show additional patience with the process.

Sources

— Greek Consulate in Washington DC
— Ministry of Justice, Greece
— Friends now working at Eleftheriou Venizelou Airport and local police stations
— Friend who worked for the Alien’s Bureau on Alexandras in 2003
— Personal experience; experiences of Americans and Canadians from 1997-2009
— Specific experiences of non-EU citizens KEB and Frank, August-November 2007
— Article from Athens News, for comparison purposes only

In the News

Deported family may be barred from Schengen area” — The Foreigner

Related posts

Non-EU travelers need 50 euros a day
Summer jobs in Greece FAQ
How Americans/non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece

http://bit.ly/GRoverstaying

85 Comments

  Ann wrote @ July 25th, 2007 at 14:23

I overstayed my visa a couple of years ago, had to pay the fine (over 500 euros, if I remember correctly) but no one has ever questioned it since I got back into Greece (with a little “rosfeti” in addition to the fine, I must add, since I was coming from a non-Schengen country).

Kat Reply:

I don’t address rosfeti on this site as a method in which to partake, although I know it’s a reality. Most people trying to avoid paying a fine usually don’t have the money to pay a bribe.

People I know of different non-EU nationalities were given red/black marks in their passport and questioned in some countries, just as I was 10 years ago until I renewed my passport. However, as i say in my “Warning and Disclaimer” section, “results may vary” depending on who you are, how much money you have and who you know.

I communicate certain things to help people make decisions and avoid surprise; if it doesn’t happen, it’s great, but at least they were informed and warned “just in case.”

  jvanover wrote @ August 8th, 2007 at 15:54

What do you think about a cruise to Greece vs. flying there and staying? And which cities would you recommend us visit?

Kat Reply:

I’m really not the best person to ask for advice since I tend to be very hardcore and offbeat. I normally have no itinerary, no map, no guidebook and hate doing typical tourist things even when in major cities. Sometimes I don’t even take photos because I’m too caught up in the experience to care.

  Grace wrote @ August 23rd, 2007 at 23:08

Hi, I just got back from the Greek consulate in LA. She informed me that I cannot stay in Greece for longer than 90 days. And after expiration of the 90 days, I have to be out of the country for another 90 days before I can return. Are you saying that as long as I leave before the original 90 day expiration and return with a new stamp, I can stay for another 90 days? I was further informed that a violation of the visa rules would result in a 1000 Euro fine per day! Is that correct? I am a US citizen who was planning on taking a year long sabbatical in Greece and now it looks like I can’t (despite having given up my apartment, job, etc.

Kat Reply:

Grace – I posted the response publicly so others with similar questions could benefit.

You didn’t say what kind of visa you were trying to get so I may not be able to advise you correctly.

As I’m sure you know, U.S. citizens don’t need visas to be in Greece for 90 days, so I’m not sure why we’re talking about visas at all. In any case, beyond the 90 days, the options are: 1) An extension (if approved by authorities for very special reasons), 2) securing a residence permit, 3) consciously staying beyond the date and paying the fine.

To me, it sounds like you have planned a sabbatical, which means you need a permit to stay, not a visa. A visa is to enter and exit; a permit is to stay beyond 90 days. Since I don’t know your situation, I cannot advise you further about whether you qualify for a certain type of permit or any permit at all. A Greek Consulate should have been able to give you this information.

Extensions are only granted for special or dire reasons up to 6 months, as I detailed in the post.

Permits are granted for a variety of reasons requiring a person to stay (i.e. Work, retirement, spouse, athletic event, etc).

Renewing a visa is for someone who travels in and out of the country. The 90 days rule of being out of the Schengen zone before re-entering is partially true (it’s 90 days total stay within a 180-day period), however other countries in the Schengen ignore that most times; Greece does not. I know real life people who have gone over a non-Schengen border and renewed, but this is pointless if a country is connected to the Schengen computer that automatically calculates the days.

Violation of the visa rules are exactly as I detailed above — it’s a one-time fine up to 1300 euros upon exiting. Do you seriously believe it’s 1000 euros a day? I don’t for a second.

In your position, I would call another Greek Consulate for advice, Washington DC having the most power. If you plan to spend a year here, you’ll need to get used to this type of treatment and being vigilant in overcoming obstacles.

Otherwise, my advice is to go ahead and stay the entire year WITHOUT leaving, then just pay the one-time penalty upon exiting. They can’t do anything to you at that point, especially if you’re already departing and have no plans to return or go to another Schengen country.

To my readers, I highly recommend investigating legalities and options BEFORE making life-altering plans and setting them in motion.

  R.D wrote @ August 30th, 2007 at 18:53

Well, after reading through these posts I’m quite concerned what may happen to me.

I lived in Greece from 1992 to 2002 with my family and obtained a residency permit in 2001 from local authorities(somehow…) when they noticed I did’nt have one. Lucky for me then.

I recently returned to Greece from Canada after a 5 year absence to spend time with my mother who has Greek citizenship. It occurred to me I should have a residency permit again to stay, so 2 weeks before my 3 month visa expired I went to local authorities to begin applying for residency.

They held onto the paperwork untill my visa expired and sent it to our local town hall saying they could’nt complete the residency permit. End of conversation. Now noone will help me, the police are saying I have to pay over 1300 euros to extend my visa for a month and they won’t do it anyway. I have decided to try getting Greek citizenship, but we are going around in circles with this visa expiration business.

I cannot leave for 6 months and come back right now as I got rid of my apartment in Canada and my home is in Greece.

Has anyone had to deal with this kind of situation?

Kat Reply:

RD, I usually advise people to do research in advance of arriving in the country to understand rules and regulations regarding visas, residence permits and repercussions as to not be surprised or fined.

Laws in Greece change quite a bit in 5 years, let alone 1 or 2 years so whatever applied back then has likely become more strict. Also, 2 weeks is never enough time for authorities to examine an application, not even in the USA or the UK when it comes to a residence permit unless you have some inside connection. In Greece, I’ve typically waited up to 3 months to a year for my permit to be issued, sometimes arriving after its expiration date. Mine is a common story, and I’m sure you’ve heard of “Greek time.”

Authorities have no vested interest in helping you or anyone else, therefore people must take precautions to help themselves. Once you enter this country, you are subject to its laws, whether you know them or not. And it’s no secret that this country has issues with transparency.

Citizenship also takes some time (up to 1-2 years unless you have an inside connection), and military duty will then be assigned to you if approved. Once that happens, you’ll still be in violation because those of Greek origin without an exemption certificate can only stay 30 days in a calendar year, and 6 months in a calendar year with a certificate.

They won’t approve an extension on your visa because you don’t have a “vital” or “emergency” reason to remain here.

As your visa has expired and you don’t have a residence permit, you are classified as illegal and have no official standing in Greece. That’s a red flag on your passport (goes in the computer) and on your resident status in Greece (again, in a computer at the prefecture). That means at every border crossing and every time you try to complete a transaction having to do with permits or citizenship, your record will be pulled and reviewed.

There are many types of permits you might have secured, however once a person is in an illegal standing as you are, it’s not possible to proceed and there are no options.

Each case is unique, and therefore it is impossible for me or another lay person to give advice and solutions.

It seems to me the damage is done and your options are to remain here and keep a low profile (aka, don’t sign up for anything in your name) until you leave on your originally scheduled date, pay the one-time fine, take the black mark in your passport and be done with it. OR If you exit now, you’ll be assessed the fine and black mark in your passport, but may not be allowed to re-enter thereby spending money for nothing, accomplishing nothing and being stranded.

  Rob.D wrote @ September 2nd, 2007 at 21:08

Wow, thanks Kat for your post. We went to the naturalization(?) offine here and they said since I arrived in Greece originally in 1992 and my mother was written in the books in the town hall in our village in 1993, I have always had the option to be Greek. And so with my Mothers pile of paperwork and my birth certificate I’m going tomorrow to start the application for citizenship.I spoke to the commander of the armed forces on our island and I can get a paper from my embassy that states I will be completing my military service in Canada (possible because of NATO). So as long as I keep a low profile here like you said untill I get my citizenship I should be fine, provided I use my new Greek passport when I leave the country?

Whew. After being here for the easy years when things could be done without any major concequences, I find myself coming here being oblivious to modern procedures when in my own country, Canada, I would never dream of not going through the proper lines and procedures to get something this important done. A lesson for anyone who ever gets into this situation, including myself.

I’ll post again when I know exactly what’s going to happen.
Thanks again so much for taking the time.

Kat Reply:

I’m glad you have the option to apply for citizenship. Some people I know were rejected. I want to state this clearly in case someone out there reads this and thinks they can do the same thing — every case is different, so assume nothing. Also be aware that you will be assigned military duty.

When you exit the country with the Greek passport, your name will be scanned to see if you’re wanted by the recruiting office. Therefore, be sure to take the paper from your embassy to the Greek military recruiting office and get it cleared with them, so you’re not unexpectedly nicked when you try to leave.

In my 10 years, I’ve never known any easy days but that’s probably because I’m an “immigrant” of no Greek origin.

Please do post back to let us know how everything went.

  PIC wrote @ September 4th, 2007 at 17:06

Just a question: If you leave greece and depart to the states (via Germany) I don’t believe you pass thru passport control, and thus no one will know long you were in Greece.

When I went to the states last year (via Germany), I don’t remember entering a passport control area until I got to Germany.

I can’t see the Germans enforcing a Greek 90 day rule or is this a EU 90 day rule?

Kat Reply:

PIC – That’s right. The 90 days is a Schengen rule, not an EU rule because not all EU countries are part of Schengen (I have a list on this site if anyone needs to know the difference; it’s in a link above). What you said is also correct. If you’re departing from Greece to an EU country, then that country to the States, you should go through passport control in your layover country. I said this in my post, as well. Authorities care about how long you were in Schengen (it’s not just about Greece); this is what counts.

  George wrote @ September 4th, 2007 at 17:36

PIC – Its part of the schengen law.

i have overstayed the 90 days that you are allowed under the rules. I will only be overstaying by 12 days (total 104). I broke my leg 5 weeks ago and was in no state to travel. My parents are both born in Greece and have Greek citizenship as well. I rang the police service at Athens International Airport, and was advised as my parents are Greek, that automatically makes me to be considered a Greek Citizen (same situation applies with military service). So i can now leave with no problem.

Kat Reply:

George – Without knowing the entire history or details of your case, your case contradicts the personal experiences of people I know. Citizenship is not automatically transferable without going through the formal process of applying for citizenship, then a passport.

However, it is true that if you are of Greek origin (it’s not about citizenship), Greek military obligations will be assigned no matter what. Without an exemption from the Greek military recruiting office, men of Greek origin are only allowed to be in Greece for 30 days in a calendar year or up to 90 days on a Schengen visa; with a foreign resident certificate, 6 months in a calendar year. In all cases, they should not be working.

Perhaps they’re allowing leniency because of your broken leg. Be prepared to give the name of the person who advised you or provide documentation to authorities in case you’re questioned upon exiting. Since you don’t actually have Greek citizenship or a Greek passport, they’re going to look at your non-Greek passport, see when you entered and question why you’re over the 90 days.

I’ve heard of people being told everything is OK; then when they try to leave, it’s not OK. If they claim “my parents are Greek” without having a passport or citizenship themselves, then they had to provide an exemption. If they didn’t, they were kept in the country, drafted and that was that.

P.S. 90 + 12 = 102 days; if it’s 104 days, then you’ve overstayed 14 days.

  George wrote @ September 5th, 2007 at 09:34

I have rung 4 different alien bureau and the police from the Airport in Athens, i have no problem with overstaying the 90 days as i am of Greek parents. I have also been advised by me consulate in Australia, that i will not be subject to the 30 day rule, as i have not been registered in Greece. You can not obtain a “poistopioitiko monimou to exoterikou”, unless you have been registered.

Your thoughts?

Kat Reply:

My thoughts are that there is something contradictory here. On one hand, you’re not registered in Greece but are excused from the 90 day rule because your parents are Greek (and therefore so are you). On the other hand, you are also excused from being drafted because you’re not registered, even though your parents are Greek (and therefore so are you).

In my opinion and those of other Greeks and authorities I consulted, some laws are being bent because you broke your leg (a legitimate, unexpected reason) and are being honest.

Enjoy the gift of leniency 🙂 Have a safe trip home!

  becky wrote @ October 26th, 2007 at 12:16

I am a Canadian 18 year helping a family with their quadruplets. I have not yet passed my 90 day visa. although im not quite sure what the meaning is – is it the stamp i got in athens? As it wasn’t an official visa as it were.

Im am desparate to stay an extend my visa/stamp and i will obviously not outstay the 90 days but i do want to apply for the extension. My question really is what are examples of special circumstances. I guess the fact that im helping with all the babies as the single mum cna’t cope doesn’t quite cut the mustard? Any advice would be gratefully recieved any extension would help .


I got your advice, but anyway im upbeat and postiive something good will happen. I don’t need to go through all that work. Thanks anyway.


I got my extension with no problem at all, I was expecting alot of trouble. The police officer told me what an upbeat young lady I am.

Kat Reply:

Becky, I’m glad you got your extension, but please don’t tell me it was solely because you’re “an upbeat young lady.” It’s not. In fact, I can’t believe you have the audacity to come back and brag when you did absolutely nothing.

Five days after I talked to you, your relative Niki posted in a forum pleading for help about how to get your visa extended. She was getting bad advice, no one could help her (to help you), so I answered her, gave her a link to this article and told her to follow the instructions. This was the first she’d ever heard of it since you sat on your a$$ and neglected to tell her anything about this article or the advice I gave you.

I also don’t know why you were expecting problems. All I said was you needed to at least try to apply and do something instead of sitting back being “upbeat and positive” and waiting for solutions to drop out of the sky. By all accounts, you really should be back in Canada.

Be grateful that I found Niki in the forum, and Niki went through the trouble to help you, not boastful of yourself. Especially since I know you ended up not helping Niki at all with the babies and leaving Greece to travel. Very selfish and ungrateful behavior.

  frank wrote @ November 13th, 2007 at 09:23

I just want to clarify the Schengen rule. 90 days out of 180 means just that. Take any period of 180 days, say Jan 1 through Jun 30. If you spend more than 90 days in Schengen during that period, then you violate the rule. Now move the window to Feb 1 through Jul 30. Same 90 out of 180 applies.

Bottom line: crossing the border to a non-Schengen country and then re-entering isn’t going to help if you are at the 90 day limit. The only thing that will help is to leave Schengen and STAY OUT for a full 90 days.

For those people who need to be in Greece for a long period of time, say 180 days from Jan 1 through Jun 30, then you need to spend at least 90 of those days (say Mar 1 through May 30) in Turkey or some other non-Schengen country.

BTW Greece is the only Schengen country which is actively enforcing this rule and assessing fines on tourists from America and other developed countries (other than “tourists” who got into trouble with the police for some other reason) . Evidently, the other Schengen countries are more concerned than Greece about disrupting the flow of tourist dollars.

And yes, yes, I know the United States is even more difficult than Greece about overstaying tourist visas. Evidently the United States (which has the biggest trade deficit in the history of the world) feels it has even less need than Greece for foreign exchange.

  Karen wrote @ November 21st, 2007 at 11:04

Just a question in reference to the paying of one-time fines for overstaying the 90-day Schengen Visa.

Im about to exit France on an Australian passport after overstaying and one of your posters ‘Frank’ briefly mentioned in this thread that:

BTW Greece is the only Schengen country which is actively enforcing this rule and assessing fines on tourists from America and other developed countries (other than “tourists” who got into trouble with the police for some other reason).

How does Frank know that Greece is the only country actively enforcing the fine? Im asking out of curiousity, as I’m obviously hoping that France is not!

Do you know if the amount of the fine (600-1300euros) is assessed based on length of overstay or something more arbitrary (such as the mood of the immigration official on the day)?

Ive been having great trouble finding anything at all on the net about the fines/penalties, so any advice you could give would be much appreciated.

Cheers, Karen

Kat Reply:

To be honest, you shouldn’t be looking at this post since these penalties are for Greece only. I realize good information is scarce, but I just want to remind everyone that each Schengen country has different rules, as I say in my post. (Karen, I’m not scolding you, I just don’t want everyone asking my advice for every Schengen country, as I’m a private person giving the rules as written for Greece, not a public official or immigration officer for the entire Schengen zone.)

Frank is a retired American tourist and bases his knowledge on the fact he goes traveling every year for significant periods, usually 6 months in the Schengen zone.

Whether or not you’re even looked at or how much you’re fined is purely the discretion of the person passing judgment; it doesn’t matter how long ago you passed the deadline — I’ve known people who overstayed one day and fined 500 euros and people who overstayed 4 months and fined the same thing. If the country is connected to the Schengen computer system (I don’t know which are or aren’t), your passport will be scanned, and anyone in violation will be automatically flagged no matter what stamps are in your passport. If they are not connected to the computer, he can let you by without a glance or do the math in his head.

In both cases, the immigration official can decide to do something…or not. If you’re let go, be happy and be on your way. If you’re not, he will enter you in the computer and assess a fine. You then have the choice of paying the fine or not. If you pay, great. If not, you risk being blacklisted (as I said) in the computer and/or in your passport for up to 5 years. If you try and enter the Schengen zone before the 5-year deadline, whoever you get upon entering will again have the choice of letting you pay the fine and allow you passage or simply turn you away.

They likely don’t bother Frank because he’s well-spoken, polite, financially sound and exhibits good behavior. It’s our belief that crackdowns are more likely on repeat violators, scruffy tourists/backpackers, football hooligans, people pretending to be tourists but are trying to flee their country and work illegally, etc.

This is first-hand information I received from Frank, since I’m an American citizen with EU residence and only overstayed once 11 years ago and paid my fine.

The fact that Greece is more strict has been documented in travel articles and guides, such as the Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.

Smile and hope for the best! 🙂

  Debra wrote @ December 7th, 2007 at 22:08

This is a story of being ignorant of this 90 day rule within the Schengen countries…and Greece. My son has been traveling in the Schengen countries since August 07. He left Greece a couple of days ago to go to Istanbul. It was upon departure that he was shocked to hear this rule of 90 days…and the Greek guard demanded that he pay a fine. My son thought this was was all made up and he thought he heard 6000 euros !! My son did not have that kind of money. I think he misheard, it was probably 600. He did not pay. Anyways his passport was stamped by the Greeks upon departure and the info was noted in the Greek computer system. He says the stamp is purpl-ish blue , a rectangular stamp on the front page, , all in Greek and half smudged, dates illegible. The dilemna is that he will be flying to the Basel/Mulhound/Freiberg airport in a few days , landing, we believe , on the Swiss side. What I have been able to ascertain, through talking to the Swiss and Belgium consulates, is that it is an arbitrary situation as to whether the immigration officer will even look at the Canadian passport, it is possible that he will be waved through… If he does get stopped it is still arbritary whether they will act on it…. however if they do act on it he will be detained in the ariport and they will assist him in finding a flight out..to the UK or Canada. In speaking to the Belgium consulate, she was shocked at this info about the Greeks fining people. she said that in Belgium they issue a paper requesting that you leave within a week, and they will check within a month. Only in criminal cases do they escort yo to airport. The Swiss consulate was also shocked at the fine. He said they would not expect payment as they are not part of the Schengen countries, and the Belgium consulate said they do not fine people. so that is our experience so far and we will see what actually happens when he gets to Switzerland. I will post you, if your readers are interested.
appreciated finding this info on your website. /And would welcome any feedback. cheers.

Kat Reply:

Penalty stamps aren’t a standard color in Greece; it’s whatever they have on hand — blue, black, red, purple, etc. I never said people are escorted to the border for overstaying, only deportation.

As I say in my Warning and Disclaimer, Greece is a “results may vary” country and so it’s quite wrong to compare what other countries do, think or say.

I’ve said pretty much everything there is on the subject and already covered things you repeated, so I have no further feedback.

  Ina wrote @ December 30th, 2007 at 01:17

Hi Kat you seem to know a lot about this stuff,

Do you know if its possible to get a multiple entry visa for students studying abroad in greece?

Kat Reply:

Ina – Most student visas are single entry, but you really need to check with the Consulate regarding multiple entry visas. I do not represent them nor do I have first-hand experience in that area, so I am not the best person to ask.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.