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

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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


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.


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.


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
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?


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.


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

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

18 Iroon Polytechneiou
(210) 554-7427

Proin Anatolikos Aerolimenas Athinon
(210) 960-1341

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

99 Antigonis
(210) 510-2833

3 Damoukara
(2210) 922-5265

73 D. Gounari
(210) 802-4808

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

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

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

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.


— 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


  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 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.

  Brad wrote @ January 3rd, 2008 at 19:03

Wondered what your wisdom is on the following timely visa puzzle:

Five months ago, an American has her passport stamped entering Europe via Copenhagen, and then, same day, gets stamped exiting Schengen via German land border to Poland.

Now, 5 months later, after inadvertantly overstaying 3 month tourist visa in Poland, she has return flight to USA via Copenhagen but is concerned about overstay penalties.

With recent Schengen changes, seems she can get back up to Copenhagen by land without encountering passport control. But how will Copenhagen customs treat this passport?

Will they view it as being stamped exited Schengen long ago (before Poland became Schengen) and hence as not overstaying normal Schengen 3 month visa and therefore as “legal”, or will they view it as failing to leave the (now expanded) Schengen region before the allowed 3 months ended and hence as “illegal’? And if “illegal” then what penalties to expect?

Thanks for any feedback on this matter…

Kat Reply:

Brad – I’ve done no land crossings from Poland, Germany or anywhere else AND I don’t know your friends or what they did, so I can’t dispute or confirm they say. As I’ve said before, your friend has overstayed her POLISH visa no matter how you look at it — when someone stays 5 months on a 3-month visa, they are not legit and there’s nothing ambiguous about it. It’s NOT about Schengen. If you think that because she’s outrun the Polish authorities that someone else won’t enforce the law for them, think again.

When she gets to Copenhagen, she will absolutely go through passport control on her way to the USA, who will see that she traversed German-Poland 5 months ago, then nothing transpired after that. YOU see her arrival in Copenhagen as “entry” to Schengen. THEY see it as: “Where the hell has she been for 5 months? She’s trying to pull something.” They see people like this every day. If she doesn’t have stamps or documentation proving where she’s been, it’s assumed she’s guilty of something. (i.e. I once had to get out boarding passes to prove my innocence). I’ll repeat myself again: Whether they even care or do anything about it is up to the person passing judgment. They may not even notice. I have nothing more to add. All the best!

  FMS wrote @ January 4th, 2008 at 23:53

Brad: there is an article in Migration NewsSheet [a professional journal] of January 2008 stating that, until now, Americans in Poland were all allowed to renew their visas indefinitely, simply by travelling to a nearby country and applying for another Polish visa from the consulate there. But now that Poland is in Schengen, this option is ruled out.

My guess is that for a very short period of time, people travelling out of Poland will be treated with some flexibility, since the change is so recent. I doubt that there are any rules on this though, so you are at the mercy of each border guard. It would be better to apply for a Schengen visa from another country, in order to pass through Copenhagen and get back to the USA. Alternatively, there are transit-only visas available: I doubt that Americans ever use them though: they are designed for “difficult” poor countries’ nationals.

Note from Kat: Excellent note, FMS. However, as I understand, Brad’s friend has avoided or plans to avoid Polish border control, thus her whereabouts cannot be established. But as I’ve repeated many, many times (and you repeated again), border guards may or may not care.

  Phillip wrote @ January 7th, 2008 at 01:10

Last October, my Canadian friend was briefly detained at the Frankfurt airport because she stayed in Santorini for 9 months on a tourist visa, so when she exited the EU via Frankfurt, they had some big questions for her. I don’t remember if she had to pay a fine, but she was banned from the EU for six months (not that that really affected her…she wasn’t planning to return until this spring), and it was quite a stressful experience. So, never overstay a visa!

  Gary wrote @ March 8th, 2008 at 08:41

Kat, you must nearly go crazy having to repeat yourself so often, over and over, again. At risk of making you any crazier, I would just like to ask for brief clarification of what I understand you to have written several times, in a few different tones. Kat, I am a US citizen sitting here in the US. My daughter is headed from here to Santorini in early April. She fully plans on staying there, in a nice studio apartment at a nice resort, for six (6) months. She heads back to the US on September 30, 2008. As you, and the Greek Consulate’s office in Atlanta, Georgia, have pointed out, as a US citizen she does not need a Schengen visa to enter Greece, just her US passport. Now, if I am hearing you correctly, and I am reasonably sure I am, assuming she keeps out of trouble while there, that when she attempts to leave Greece, through Athens, to London, to the USA, she will more than likely be questioned about her 90 day overstay. When she has no good explanation to give them (keeping in mind she is 23 y.o., a well spoken college grad, well dressed, even attractive, and appears to be fairly well off financially), they will probably scold her and present her with a fine of 600 to 1300 Euro. When she then apologizes for her transgression and quickly offers to pay her fine, and does so, they will let her pass through (without any bad mark in her passport), and she will be on her way home. Correct? She will also, likely, have no problem in London, either, when she changes planes. Correct again? One interesting point I want to make; when I asked the Greek gentleman, at the Atlanta based, Greek Consulate, what he would advise, since I knew she was premeditating six (6) months, and I told him exactly that, he suggested she simply stay the six months and pay her fine on the way out. He even suggested she contact the local authorities, upon arrival in Greece, and ask them what the fine will be. :o)) Kat, could I please get your clarification of, or agreement with, what I think I understand to be the case, and perhaps your reaction to the advice from the Consulate? Thank you, Gary

Kat Reply:

Gary, I go a little crazy or impatient sometimes with practical posts on this site in general because I spend a lot of free time disclosing absolutely everything I know on the subject, and answers are already contained in the article BUT people either don’t read carefully or are looking for reassurance from me as if I can predict the future or am holding something back. I can’t and I’m not.

Pertaining to your daughter, everything the Consulate told you is what I stated in my article. Answers to all of your questions except one are also covered in the article, but I’ll give you the reassurance you seek because I’m feeling generous today and you were very polite.
– It doesn’t matter what she looks like or her education level; they don’t ask for credentials or give tests at the border, and perceived wealth and attractiveness will likely work against her if she gets a woman. It only depends on the mood of the person passing judgment, therefore a fine cannot be predicted in advance
– Greece may deal with her OR choose not deal with her and let London do it since that’s her absolute last point of exit from the EU (the UK has policing authority)
– I’m surprised the gentleman at the Consulate gave the same advice I did about consciously overstaying, being as they were previously trying to scare people by lying to them about the fine being 1000 euros a day
– If she’s fined anywhere along the way (Greece, London), she won’t get a mark in her passport if she pays immediately
– I would not suggest her alerting local Greek authorities to her conscious overstay since it’s not for certain she’ll be dealt with in Greece and is therefore calling attention to herself needlessly

I hope your daughter has a lovely stay!

P.S. You see 30 comments on this post, but there are actually more than 50; I’m sure you can imagine what the others say/ask. I published yours because you had something new to ask. New material from polite commentators who read the article are always welcome because it adds to the discussion and helps everyone.

  peachy wrote @ April 17th, 2008 at 14:59

I need to ask a question what do you mean by airport authorities in the Greek airport? I am Canadian and I am flying directly from Greece to Canada is there some sort of border control in the airport when I am flying directly to Canada or just the usual border control that I have to go through in Canada? I have been flying back and forth to Greece for some few years now and I only have ever gone through Schipol and there is where I met border control.. so in a nutshell am I to meet with the same border control as in Schipol here in Athens Greece?

Kat Reply:

Yes. All airports have airport authorities (border/passport control, airport police, customs inspectors, etc.). The Schengen Agreement (cooperation) has abolished some checks. Therefore, if you’ve already been through passport/border control in a Schengen country, you won’t be checked again if you’re landing in another Schengen country. That’s why you’re not checked here in GR if you’ve already done it in Schipol. If for example you fly Canada-ATH direct or ATH-Canada direct, you’d be checked in GR. This is explained in the article, “Current Schengen Countries.”

If they don’t stamp your passport upon arrival to any country, then: a) They can easily look it up in the computer — your biometric passport was scanned upon entry; b) they can question and ask you to produce airline stubs from your last flight if they suspect you’re over 90 days in 180 days; or c) nothing.

  Angie wrote @ April 30th, 2008 at 13:38

Ok, so here’s my situation:

My 90 day student visa expired yesterday. My classes, however, are not finished for another 2 weeks. When I first applied for the visa in the US (my home country) I was told by the consulate that I could not get a visa for longer than 90 days (something about their system not being updated) and that I would have to apply for an extension when the time came. I didn’t think 2 weeks was a big deal and didn’t plan on extending, until now, after reading this page. My question is: is there anything I can do now? Since I have entered illegal status, am I even allowed to apply for an extension? (In the article you said no, but could the fact that my semester isn’t finished yet change anything?) If I do go to apply for an extension, will they see that I am illegal and deport me?


P.S. What a valuable website, for everything…I wish I found it sooner!

Kat Reply:

A – Hi there. There are no visas for over 90 days at this time; it has nothing to do with their system being updated. The thing that strikes me is that you were told from the start that you would indeed need to apply for an extension, but didn’t.

Since you are over the 90 days, you can no longer apply for an extension, although I’m sure they would have given it to you because you have a legitimate reason. You can’t apply because an extension implies they are giving further validity to something that is in force. As your visa is expired, there is nothing valid to extend.

Nowhere in the article do I say you can be deported for overstaying your visa. Deportation usually happens for a serious reason — working illegally, committing a crime, being caught sneaking into the country, violating a blacklist, etc.

When you leave GR, border/passport control will decide what to do with you as I detail in the article. Let you go or not, fine or not. They may be sympathetic if you show them your paper, but maybe not. It’s up to them, and there’s nothing more you can do. Just hope for the best!

  Britt wrote @ May 4th, 2008 at 20:46

I am a student studying on Paros Island for three months. I arrived in Paris Feb. 27 and will be leaving on June 2. This means I am on day 68 of 97 days in Greece.

I was somewhat aware of the regulations before I got here, but didn’t have enough time to get a student visa since the process takes quite some time. I have been traveling in The Netherlands and Italy as well, which I know are both part of the agreement, but an not time has my passport ever been stamped. I entered the E.U. through Paris (as my first stop from Boston) and arrived in Greece 8 days later, but was never stamped at any time. There is no record of my arrival within my passport, and I don’t believe it was ever scanned upon entry.

Should I be concerned? When I leave on June 1, I am flying to Amsterdam first, not directly to the states, so I am staying in the Shengen. Will I be questioned in Greece before I leave? And how would I go about trying to get an extension for 90+ days if I do not have a stamp letting the authorities know when I arrived here? Your guidelines say that would be necessary.

Thanks so much for all this information. Hopefully it will help me figure out my return home.

Kat Reply:

Hi B, a student visa might not have mattered in your case, since it would have still only been for 90 days maximum, however (like the previous commentator, Angie) your overstay will not be huge. You’re in a situation where you could apply for an extension, however it will cost you 464 euros. Is that a lot for 7 days? Depends. If border/passport control lets you pass without a glance and without a fine, then 464 euros is a lot. If border/passport control does NOT let you pass and fines you 600-1300 euros, then 464 euros is a small amount.

The problem is, none of us has any idea what will happen to you so it’s impossible to say which is better. It then comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what chances you want to take.

Greek authorities might let your layover country (Netherlands) deal with you since that’s your last point of departure before the USA. They may be more lenient than GR, so that’s something else you should consider (and be happy about). If you’re a respectable girl, and I expect you are, that’s also a plus.

  Aimee wrote @ May 13th, 2008 at 01:25

All the information posted on this site has been highly appreciated and I would like to thank you in advance for any suggestions you can give me.

My situation is the following:
I am a canadian ctiizen and have been living within the European Union (between spain and italy) for quite some time now. ( I have been living illegally for three years and have only been able to do so since finding a route where officals do not stamp my passport when I leave..) I have no visa or permit and have not returned to canada since last august 07. (Therefore the last stamp I have was on re-entering spain in august 07.)

My parents are coming to visit me this coming june and we have planned a trip through Greece and Turkey. I am starting to stress out about going to Turkey because I know I am at risk of not being able to return back into the european union or be overly fined for my long overstay. My questions are 1) Will I have to pass through border control leaving Greece by Ferry boat to Turkey (or just as Im hoping, pass border control only when entering Turkey)? 2) Can Greek officals ban me from entering the Shengen zone again after leaving, or just fine me?

Any answers or suggestions will be more than helpfull

…besides the obvious suggestion of getting legal residency in the european union…which im working on ;)
Thanks, Aimee

Kat Reply:

Aimee, in response to your questions:

1) Your passport will likely be checked both when entering Turkey, and again when re-entering Greece. After all, you are crossing the border to another country that isn’t in Schengen or the EU, then back again. When you enter Turkey, local authorities can grant you permission to travel visa-less for 72 hours or you’ll have the option to purchase one on arrival, since Canadians technically need one; I assume you knew that since it is easily looked up on the Consulate’s website.

2) According to the major companies I consulted (Minoan, Blue Star, Superfast, Louis), they all say the same thing. All passengers are required to have a valid passport and other travel documents (visas, etc.) to travel to another country. In the event authorities find an irregularity and/or prevent you from continuing yr journey, you will be responsible for whatever penalty is assessed. If immigration officials refuse you entry back to Greece, you can be sent back to Turkey or Canada at your expense. There’s no way to predict what Greek authorities will do in your case, if anything. That’s a risk you’ll need to assess.

One last note, there’s no way you can establish legal residency without proof you entered Spain, Italy or any EU country legally. And that proof usually comes in the form of a passport stamp.

Cheers and best of luck!

  Angie wrote @ May 18th, 2008 at 07:54

Hi again, Kat. Firstly thank you for responding to my last post. Secondly, I have another question, this time a bit more urgent. I’ve just broken my front tooth in half and need to go to the dentist a.s.a.p. to have it repaired, and will probably require a root canal as well. In the meantime, since my student visa expired, my status is illegal! What does this mean? Will I still be able to get help from a dentist? Also, any advice on how to go about doing so? Assuming the answer is positive, with no insurance and illegal status will it cost me an arm and a leg?

I’m sorry to bother you with this, but I really feel helpless/scared at the moment. Any advice or information you can offer me is greatly welcomed and appreciated.

Kat Reply:

Angie, I’m answering you right away because your need is obviously urgent. Your expired visa has nothing to do with seeking help from a dentist. Anyone will be happy to help you, though I’m not sure what it will cost. You need to find a dentist and ask. It varies by dentist, same as back home.

If you have travel insurance, check with the carrier to see what you need to do. Usually you pay first, and then they reimburse you, though some policies (rare) have providers you can look up on a list. If you don’t have any insurance, you can pay cash…cash is still king.

So how do you find a dentist? I would ask a friend, fellow student, professor or counselor for a recommendation, since it’s likely someone at school will know someone who speaks English and is near where you’re staying. My dentist is some distance away in the northern suburbs, so that might not be incredibly convenient for you.

Contact me again if you have trouble.

  Tina wrote @ June 9th, 2008 at 09:59

My boyfriend has dual citizenship American and Greek. He went to Greece and extended his ticket which went over 30 days. He was detained at the airport and told he had military obligations and needed to serve another 60 days.

3 years ago he left Greece and was supposed to have gone back and finish within 6 months. He ended up staying in US for 2 1/2 years. He obviously made a huge mistake by extending his ticket and now is stuck there until August when they will serve him his papers. He is not able to leave until he serves his 60 days.

He is starting school at the end of June and is desperately trying to think of ways to get out of there. I did some research and came upon your site which was very helpful. But I still have some questions.

Can he take a boat to Italy and then leave from there with his American passport without a problem? Or will his name show up in the computer system in Italy, if so what happens then? Do they send him back to Greece? Will it make a difference if he leaves from a non Schengen country? Will he even make it out of Greece?

I understand what he did was dumb on all counts and I dont think he should do anything stupid which most likely would land him in jail. I just want to know if there is any way for him to get out without getting in trouble.

I look forward to your reply.

Kat Reply:

Tina, very interesting case.

a) Did he use his Greek or American passport to enter Greece? It makes a difference.
b) Are you saying that he started his military duty years ago, and never finished it?
c) Did he have the permanent resident abroad certificate? From the statement you made about ‘30 days,’ I’m guessing the answer is ‘no.’

I can give you a more clear answer with the information above, and priority attention since I understand time is a factor.


  Rebecca wrote @ June 13th, 2008 at 06:20

In three days, I’ll go to Greece for an international exchange project- being part of a children camp team. I’ll spend 66 days in that camp. My schengen visa can be used within these three months, but the duration of stay is allowed 30 days only. (The travel agency did the wrong application) I plan stay 4 days in Rome before I go back (non-Schengen country).
Is it better to apply visa extension than overstaying? And the extention really costs 456 euros?

Kat Reply:

The same thing I said to Britt a few comments above also applies to you. The cost is not 456 euros, it’s 464 euros for an extension. If you overstay and passport control does NOT assess a fine, then 464 euros is a lot. If you overstay and passport control assesses a fine of 600 euros or more, then 464 euros is not a lot. Since you will be departing from Italy and not Greece, it’s possible Italy will be more lenient with you, but there’s no way to predict what will happen.

I’m guessing it’s too late to apply for the correct length visa or force your travel agency to admit their error and fix it??? I always apply for visas very early in case there is a mistake, and I hold people accountable for their errors.

The duration of stay means exactly that — 30 days total in the entire Schengen zone. That means 30 days within the next 90 days, whether it’s one continuous stay used all at once or 10 days this month, 10 days next month and 10 months in two months from now.

  Kate wrote @ June 17th, 2008 at 20:37

Hi, I am an American student currently working/studying in Denmark. I have a student residence permit that extends from May 5th until August 15th, but I am planning on finishing early on August 1st and spending a week on Kalymnos Island. I would fly out of Athens back to LAX around August 10th or 11th, but I was wondering if I would get hassled by the Greek border patrol for leaving Greece to go to the States instead of Denmark? Does a residence permit in one country in Schengen allow you to travel within Schengen within the time denoted on the permit? I wasn’t concerned about it until I read the postings above and now I’m a bit nervous and wondering if I should cancel my flight to Greece and spend some time in Italy instead?

Sadly, the question doesn’t end there. My boyfriend is also travelling with me and we’re very afraid about his overstay. His 90th day from the day we arrived in Copenhagen in August 6th. Doesn’t seem like a big deal right? Just a few days over, but there is a problem. He was on a climbing tour without a visa in Spain earlier this year for about 5-6 weeks. He came back to the US but was only back in the country for 70 days, not 90. So I guess all of this information is going to pop up on the Greek computer and we’re going to be in a heap of trouble because we are backpackers (sort of – we don’t look like it – and our backpacks will be checked in the terminal).

I can still cancel the trip to Greece and book something else for the two of us. What would you do? He is currently in the South of France and had no problems leaving Denmark and the French customs officials didn’t hassle him either. Should we play it safe and go elsewhere and come back to Greece six months from now to avoid being slapped with a fine? I insisted that he come on this trip, so I would gladly pay the fine. However, I don’t really carry that much cash on my person. How do you go about paying these people if you are (worst case scenario) caught and slapped with an enormous fine? Can you charge it or is it a chack/bank transfer? I don’t want to look like an ass asking a border patrol officer if he’ll swipe my Visa card, but 1300 euros is approximately $2015 and that’s more than I keep in my checking account when I travel. I would have to put it on a credit card. I’m scared about this trip now and it looks like backing out and scheduling something else would be in our best interest. Any thoughts?

By the way, this site is great. I had no idea what it would be like to go to Greece!


Kat Reply:

Hi Kate, I haven’t been to Denmark in ages, but I now have a good friend in Copenhagen so I suppose I’m due.

With regards to you, they can’t do anything to you if you have a residence permit valid until Aug 15. It doesn’t matter if you’re returning to Denmark or not. You’re legal.

With regards to your boyfriend, this is one of those ‘human factor’ situations in which no one can predict the outcome. They may let him go, they may not. Even if it doesn’t pop up in the computer (though I’m pretty sure it will), they can assess all of his stamps and do the math. IF they fine him, I doubt it will be 1300 euros if you’re polite and respectable, which it sounds like you are.

With regards to method of payment, cash is still king and everyone I know has paid such. I don’t remember seeing any swipe machine, but that may have changed. If it didn’t change, someone may take your card to a terminal and get it done, or they’ll ask you to visit an ATM or bank counter and take a cash advance from your credit card.

In the end, it will be up to you and your boyfriend to decide whether to risk it or not. August is high, high season, so if you’re looking for sun, sand and pressing the flesh in a party atmosphere without care for money, you should still come on over. If being here in December when it’s a bit chillier, quieter and less expensive is OK with you, maybe it’s not a big deal to postpone.

Whatever you decide to do, have a great time! :)

  Sheila wrote @ June 19th, 2008 at 00:33

Bless you! As others also affirm, this is an incomparable website. Thank you!

Just a quickie- i understand all policies, visas, non-visas, extensions etc. but nowhere did I see any kind of reference to any sort of grace period. I too, like the Paros gal studied there for the three month period, but ended up being 10 days over, due to the program not being finished. I was uninformed and found myself interrogated for a few brief moments on the way back through Munich. I met someone very special :-) and have been planning for years to go back and reunite with him. The finances have finally proved to make it feesable…but now, down the line, i remembered that incident. I began investigating and came across some resources that said there is a 10 day grace period to leave the country after the 90 days are up, without “being in trouble” or even subject to fine.

I TOTALLY understand your case-sensitive rationale here, which i’ll cross my fingers for! But just wondering if you know of any official documentation of a grace period being allowed when fine cannot be enforced? I know, a long shot…as it looks on here many have suffered from just the day over scenario. Shoot! Any info on the topic?

Thanks a million!

Kat Reply:

I’ve heard and seen a lot of rumors on 7 days, 10 days and 15 days, but there is no official documentation on a real legal grace period for Schengen. This makes sense to me because otherwise everyone will be pushing the maximum plus. Same vein as the saying, “give an inch, take a mile.”

  Marcie Mayer wrote @ July 11th, 2008 at 08:02

1st time in my 25 years here in Greece that I’ve seen such an informative and well presented package of crucial information.

  Sarah wrote @ July 17th, 2008 at 02:17

Hi Kat
First, I just want to say that this has been BY FAR the most accurate and useful site dealing with legalities in Greece that I have encountered.

I would also like to add some of my experiences so that they could help others. I overstayed by 11 days when I was studying (without a visa) so I urge all prospective students to go through the process and get one! Since I was flying directly to the US (a non Schengen country obviously) I was stopped at customs and taken into an office. When I told them I didn’t have the money, they stamped my passport and wrote something on the stamp in Greek.

I only returned home for about 6 weeks between semesters and returned to Greece through Germany this time. When I went through customs (with my Greek student visa) they looked at my passport briefly, stamped me, and let me go on my way. I don’t know if they scanned it or not, but since everything on my overstay stamp from Greece was in Greek, I really don’t know how they would know what it meant. Since I was already in the EU, I didn’t have to go through customs in Greece and figured (stupidly) that I was in the clear. I finished my second semester, and spent a summer on the islands. Since my student visa was a year long, I wasn’t too worried when I went to leave Greece for England, and then to America. But I had to go through customs in Greece again because the UK still does border checks. The guy looked at my overstay stamp and asked if I had paid the fine in Germany. I automatically lied and said yes and he stamped my passport and let me go through.

I stayed in America for the next 10 months finishing my degree and then decided to go back to Greece after graduation. Again, I went through London, and when I arrived in Greece I was asked about the stamp. I said I paid it in Germany. The man shook his head and said it was impossible that I could have paid it in Germany since the country I had overstayed in was Greece. He told me I must have been taken advantage of in Germany and I was forced to pay 587.93 euro. before they let me into the country. Thank goodness I had prepared for this just in case. Can you only pay an overstay fine in the country that you are originally fined in? I didn’t think so, but this guy said it was so. hmm.

Well, I didn’t give up my dream of living in Greece and stayed another year. I was fully prepared that I may get fined again. But I figured I would lessen odds if I didn’t have to go through customs in Greece, so I went through Italy. The guy barely raised an eyebrow and stamped me through. I was so relieved.

Here’s some words of advice:

1. Get your student visa AHEAD of time. Not surprisingly, many students aren’t able to get their visas processed because the embassies usually take more time than expected. Since there are so many documents needed, start the process as early as possible and make sure your school knows what they are talking about. Your school should give you the list of all of the required documents and how to get them.

2. If you know you are going to overstay in Greece, then avoid going through customs there. This means exiting Greece to another Schengen country before a non-Schengen country. But obviously this is not a guarantee by any means!

3. I am not so sure there is a Grace period, I was stamped for an overstay of 11 days! Just know that ahead of time!

4. Be prepared. After I had my passport stamped, I knew that there was a possibility of being fined so I always made sure I had at least 1,000 euros on me when flying in and out of the country. That sounds extreme, but if you KNOW that you are breaking the law and may get caught, then you have to accept the consequences.

And I do have a quick question: I am getting a new passport while here in America. Does anyone know if they will still be able to see my entries and exits via computer on my new blank passport? And if I was not given an overstay stamp for this last period of time, can they force me to pay one when I re-enter with a new passport? (through Italy again.)

I know that you can never fully predict what may happen, just checking if anyone has had a similar experience to this one.

Kat Reply:

Hi S, first of all thank you for sharing your experience because it helps others who are in the same situation and confirms everything I detail in the article.

I’ve said previously that: Italy is lenient (at least right now); exiting through another country may grant better results; one must accept consequences if consciously overstaying; and one must pay the fine in the country where it occurred. The UK is not part of Schengen, so of course it performs border/passport checks.

In response to your question, I’ve had the same experience, which I allude to briefly in the article, and it was pre-Schengen. I overstayed, could not pay the fine, was assessed a black mark with a protocol number, went back to the USA, paid the fine and re-entered Greece. They marked that it was paid in my passport, and I was given a receipt by Greek authorities, so I thought it was over; it wasn’t. Each time I entered Greece, they pulled me out of line and detained me in a small office; I guess they thought I’d made up the receipt number and mark paid myself, so they questioned me and looked it up in the book every single time. I learned to carry the receipt with me, and they still took me aside, but let me go in a shorter time.

The questioning stopped upon getting a new passport 2 years later; however my belief is that past activity (entries, exits, past violations) is archived, but never gone. Red flags (aka, unpaid fines) will pop up as long as they are outstanding. But if you don’t have any unpaid fines and didn’t get an overstay stamp last time, there is no reason to think anything will come up on the screen. The decision to punish you must be taken at the time you exited Schengen; no one can retroactively assess a penalty or change their mind.

I’m glad you find this site useful :)

  Iva wrote @ July 27th, 2008 at 20:55

Hi Kat……..

i am both a croatian and canadian citizen currently residing in croatia, My boyfriend is a croatian citizen and a pro windsurfer. For the past 4 yrs he has been working in greece at a windsurf station and is very much loved by returning guests, customers and locals in the small cretan village he spends 6 months of every yr in. This is his livelihood and what he lives off for the next 6 mo of the yr. He at no point was aware that he was allowed a maximum stay of 90 days within the country and for the past 4 yrs no border police (or any kind of police for that matter) ever made problems (he always took a ferry from greece to ancona and drove through to croatia). This yr, he decided, was his last yr working in greece but his boss now has become afraid the so called board police will catch him this yr, haul him off to jail and revoke his work licence in essence closing the windsurf station. My boyfriend has recently hurt himself and obtained a note from a greek physician stating that he did not recommend my boyfriend travel back to croatia. The police in sitia (crete) denied this request but stated that if he pay 600 euros a month he will be allowed to stay in the country !?! I have done alot of research and no where have i seen info such as this. They have said he can stay until the end of october if he pays 600 euros a month….so i am at this point completely confused. I have read what you have written above and it seems this is a fine and not an invitation to stay longer in the country.

My questions are as follows: can u pay to overstay in greece (600 euros a month) ? Does my boyfriend have any other options rather than leaving since the season only lasts until the end of october and then we would return to croatia? If border police of a country stamp your passport does that mean the passport is not scanned and entered into the schengen computer system and vise versa?And lastly but most importantly, what are the consequences for employers employing individuals from a non-eu country that are currently there illegally?

Four yeras he has had luck and has not been caught based on the simple fact that he had no idea he was doing something illegal and the border police at the ferries and borders did not bother checking when he entered (he has had no exit stamps for the past 4 yrs). My boyfriend is not a criminal, his record is clean, and he simply would like to spend a final yr doing what he loves. We do not intend on living there so if there is anything that he can do based on the fact that he is an established windsurfer it would be greatly appreciated if you could get back to me as soon as you get a chance.

We have met some amazing people and love the country but getting accurate info in greece is like pulling teeth. Ask a simple question you get 10 different answers…….

thank you in advance for your time.

Kat Reply:

Iva – Hi! Let’s cover a few basic things, which are all explained in the article, “How Americans/non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece.”

a) It is the responsibility of visitors to educate themselves about legalities of another country before departure. In this case, your boyfriend could have at any time in the past 4 years gone to the Greek Consulate in Croatia and found out he needed a work visa and permit to work in Greece. He could have also found this information online.

b) Croatian citizens have 90-day Schengen visa-free travel to Greece. Please note that I said TRAVEL. He is technically not permitted to work on a Schengen travel/tourist visa.

c) Your boyfriend’s boss didn’t complain or disclose the law because it was to his benefit to employ your boyfriend illegally. By employing him illegally, he saved himself tons of bureaucracy, putting up a 3-month deposit, paying thousands of euros in IKA (insurance), dodged taxes and reaped a bigger profit from your boyfriend working there for 4 years.

d) Border police never made trouble because you said he crossed through Italy (another Schengen country, and a lenient one), so of course he never encountered stringent Greek authorities.

Your boyfriend has a legitimate reason to stay in Greece (he’s injured) and apply for a visa extension for 464 euros, however he cannot do this because he’s technically not a traveler. He’s an illegal worker. Therefore, the 600 euros/month is likely:
1) a bribe being requested to keep the police quiet so your boyfriend and his boss aren’t taken to court and your boyfriend deported; or
2) payback for all the years your boyfriend “got away with it” and didn’t pay taxes in Greece. It’s not a ‘fine’ because an overstay fine is not assessed until he crosses a border and leaves the Schengen zone. Overstay fines are not assessed by city police, and it most certainly is NOT an invitation to stay. There is no way for your boyfriend to become legal at this point or undo damage done; the only thing he can do is pay the bribe or leave.

When anyone leaves or exits a country, the passport is scanned if there is a computer and stamped. In cases when passports are not stamped, movements can easily be traced if it was scanned as it remains in the computer. Nearly all crossings without a computer have border control that issue stamps. There are people who claim they haven’t been scanned or stamped, but most people aren’t paying attention during the scanning or indeed border control is lax for whatever reason. Having no stamps or scans isn’t always beneficial, contrary to what people think.

The consequences for employers retaining illegal workers are in the thousands of euros (3,000-15,000 euros per worker), jail time up to 3 months and possible closure of a business if it is serious enough. Sometimes bribes are paid to avoid this, sometimes workers are just fired and disappear…or both.

Your boyfriend’s credentials as a windsurfer and background only matter if he were going to be employed legally or open his own business. It’s too late for that. In the eyes of Greek authorities, he is an illegal worker in Greece. Period.

  Dina wrote @ July 28th, 2008 at 06:18

I am non-EU & non-America citizen, but I am married to the Greek national and planning soon to travel to Greece. Our marriage had been legalised in Greece, and I am expecting to travel to Greece in late September. The problem is I cannot find anywhere online the documents I have to collect to apply for visa and for how long this visa may last. Would you be able to advise me on this matter?

Kat Reply:

Being as I don’t know what citizenship you have, there’s no way I can give you specific information; makes no difference who you are married to. You could have read, “Non-EU countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Greece” and put yourself in the right direction.

  Josif wrote @ July 28th, 2008 at 13:34

I would like to ask you people some questions if possible?

I got a visa overstay fee of above 500 euros a couple of years ago.

1- Does this fee increases with time?
2- Is this fee automatically cleared after 5 years?
3- Can I pay at the airport if my fine was issued at a border crossing?

Thank you,

Kat Reply:

Josif – 1) No; 2) No, nothing is cleared. The article says the fine remains as long as you don’t pay it. The “up to 5 years” refers to blacklisting, which is a penalty in addition to the fine; 3) You can pay this at the airport or any border crossing. They reference the number in your passport, record you in a book, enter you in a computer and give you a receipt. Keep the receipt.

  Brian wrote @ August 6th, 2008 at 11:31


Heres my story. I am married to a Greek and at one time held a work visa. We came to visit Nov. 2006. While here, we began to renew the permit since we were staying past three months. All the rules had changed. It didn’t look like I would have all the proper paperwork in time, so we tried the old “leave the country and re-enter routine” (I was not up to date on the Schengen facts. I had done this back in 97 and went to Albania “alone”. Yes I went to Albania in 97 another story.). So we returned from Bulgaria and I assumed I was good for another three months.

We took care of the permit papers, where I was then issued a document that would allow me to work until I was approved or denied.

Well, when I went to leave via the airport, I did not have this document with me since I figure my sphragitha (stamp) was ok. I got pulled into the office and was told I had a problem. At this point I was so sick of the bureaucracy and distrust (I have decided that more so-called socialistic a society is, the more distrusting they are of the public. This may not be true, but it is my current thought). I said no, you have a problem, my plane leaves in one hour what are you going to do your right hand does not know how to talk to its left hand. I was told to not talk this way to the officer as it was rude. I didn’t care; I wanted to leave and never come back. I said this is BS (this really upset them – look, I figure if they didn’t let me on the plane, all my in laws had to do was bring my paper showing I was legal and there was nothing they could do) They kept trying to pressure me; they wanted me to pay a fine right then. I opened my wallet which had 100 bucks and 25 euro and said I have no money. My kids are Illegal too, then are you going to fine them or put them in jail? They said no kids do not get fined.

They let me on the plane, and in my immature anger I said I will never come to Greece again. Well here I am today in Athens having had returned to live here. I had lost my passport and got a new one. I wondered when I entered if there system would catch the difference. It did but I also had my permit paper with me and was able to prove to them that it was issued prior to my fine being issued and did not need to pay. I am still waiting for my permit to be approved; however I have a paper showing that I declared my new passport number and that the approval is still pending.

  fox wrote @ August 14th, 2008 at 15:24

thanks for this. i really appreciate the time and energy you give to your replies and your up-front advice without sugar-coating it. if you have a sec, here’s the situation:

i’m an american. i’ve overstayed due to my boss not getting me the work visa arranged as promised. i now know i should not have come here on that promise, but i’m here now. i’ve worked here some time, waiting for this to go into place. now i’m a bit stuck and over the 3 months. i expect to be fined (worst case) and that’s ok. but if they make me return to the states, is it a minimum of 90 days to stay there before returning to greece?

i’ve got a trip planned to leave out of athens in a little over 90 days. so i’d need to return after 90 days but don’t have much time more than that to wait in the states.

thank you again for your candidness

Kat Reply:

Fox – I recommend reading How Americans can move, live and work in Greece,” since it and the article in which you’re commenting have all the answers. This is the same thing I told you in May when you posted as ‘Erin’ and you clearly never took my advice or read the articles. If you had, you would not be in the mess you’re in now, nor asking the same exact questions you asked back then.

In short:
– You cannot work legally on only a 90-day visa, so it’s not a matter of overstaying; it’s a matter of you working illegally AND overstaying (and not for the reason you stated).
– In order to work legally, the employer must apply for the work visa while you are in the USA and invite you to work in Greece. A work visa cannot be issued while you’re in Greece. Therefore, he is: a) misinformed or b) knows better and is lying to you; either way, you are waiting for nothing because it will never “go into place.”
– As I say in both articles: Once you enter an illegal status, you cannot do anything legal.
– The rule is 90 days in any 180-day period. If you’ve already used your 90 days, then the sooner you leave Greece, the sooner you can re-enter Schengen, assuming you are not blacklisted.

It’s erroneous to blame the employer or anyone else for failing to take the initiative in phoning or visiting the website of any Greek Embassy/Consulate to find out what was necessary to live/work in Greece before coming here. You could have also listened to me 3 months ago and not made me repeat myself.

Everyone, please help yourself by using the ‘Search’ and ‘Categories’ options in the second column, or I will need to close the option to comment or ask questions. I am not here to give you reassurance and repeat things I have stated many times. I am here to happily answer questions that have NOT already been answered.

  APP wrote @ September 14th, 2008 at 12:35

I think I need your suggestion.

Before came to Greece, I got a D VISA (+1 transit SCHENGEN) for 3 months as an exchange student that means I can not travel in other European countries.
Now I am in Greece.
But I am very thirsty to travel in other places and my plan is that I will go to Italy or German by airline or boats before the visa expires and stay there for about 5 days and then directly fly back to Asia, my own countries.
Here I want to ask two questions:
1) Wether polices will check my passport when I come to Italy and German and what abut the penalty?
2) If it is legal for me to stay in German for 5 days before I come back to my own countries. Actually, my passport had the German custom entry stamp because I came to Greece through transferring in German airport.

Thank you very much!

Kat Reply:

A – The visa you were given was based on your needs as a student, not a traveler. If you wanted to travel, you should have stated your needs up front; you cannot change your mind after the visa is issued. A type ‘D’ visa is only for Greece, so you will likely be denied entry to other countries unless they are sloppy or look the other way. Answers to your question are: a) Depends on what method of transport you use and who you get; b) No. You have a transit visa, which means you are allowed passage only from your non-Schengen country to Greece within 5 days. You do not have permission to visit or stay in another Schengen country. You can only accomplish what you want by getting another visa or exchanging the one you have for a permit…or do what you want, pay a fine and risk not getting another visa in the future.

  Navin wrote @ September 20th, 2008 at 23:03

One thing that I think some of the folks here are getting mixed up is the Schengen Visa and its applicability to individual countries. Everyone can go their own way. Belgium, for example, may even give you one after you’ve moved there (under certain conditions), while the Czechs may let you get one next door in Germany. The whole question is whether or not a country wants you to get it before you enter, or will give you one after you enter and then back-date it. Doesn’t look like Greece does.

If you’re going to be in the EU (Continent) for longer than three months, it may be best to enquire about a 90+ visa at several Schengen member consulates. I’d be curious if the Germans are “better” about issuing it than the Greeks for US citizens.

I’ve got the EU Perm Res card, but I’ve still been waved aside in Germany and given a lecture on the whole 90 days thing. (Which I pointed out as being nice, but unnecessary. I can stay as long as I want, given the right paperwork. Greece isn’t on my list, but I’d be curious about the conditions of those coming from other EU countries to Greece with this card.)

Kat Reply:

N – In the first section called ‘Schengen visas,’ I have asterisked that each country has their own set of rules and regulations with Schengen visas. This post is also titled, “Overstaying a visa in Greece” and I remind people that these rules do not necessarily apply outside its borders. So if people aren’t paying attention, there is nothing more I can do to inform them.

Greece does not have a visa with validity for more than 90 days, however you are correct in saying that other countries may. I am not an expert on all Schengen countries and do not intend to be.

The EU permanent resident card entitles you to travel and reside in the EU without restriction until it expires, even in Greece. Greece is trying to make it as difficult as possible for non-EU citizens to get it, but they are still required by law and EU directive to recognize those issued by other member states.

  J wrote @ September 24th, 2008 at 16:57

Wow, thanks so very much for such a terrific website. Clear, concise…love it!

I would so appreciate some help! My story: well, what a ride I’ve had in Greece! Currently I am doing some volunteer work in Greece, and have been in the EU for a total of about 40 days. While living on Kos, my passport (Australian) was either lost or stolen – I cut it off using the on-line Australian service, applied for a new one, and attempted to report it to the police on Kos (who asked for a bribe! Naturally, I didn’t complete the process & it was never reported to the Greek authorities!).

I returned to Athens a week later and collected my new passport from the Australian embassy. The passport has the place of issue as London, and is dated as the date of issue, mid September 08. Of course, it is free of stamps. When I first entered Greece from Egypt, I joined the EU line (actually by accident!). The man was chatting to his friend, and stamped my passport entry without even glancing at me. This was the passport which was subsequently stolen/lost. Therefore, there appears to be no record of me entering the country, as there was no electronic system that the passport was scanned through etc, just this one stamp.

Currently, I am in Athens and would love to stay on here, having met a Greek man, (of course!) & am adoring my volunteer work.

What do you think my chances are at beating the system? (I know that you, very wisely, do not encourage it, but i would just like your opinion!). Since I have no stamps…only the issue date of my new Australian passport in London, I could effectively say I arrived in Greece from London just a few days ago (I left London for Paris earlier in the year, and I wasn’t stamped on exit, only on re-entry).
I understand that this is a unique situation – do you have any thoughts? Thank-you so very much in advance!

I am attempting to sort this out while I am still legal!

Kind regards

Kat Reply:

J – Your new passport is cross referenced with your old one, however you are correct in saying that they likely have no record of you re-entering Schengen. I’m not sure what you mean by beating the system, since there’s nothing to beat — authorities decide, period. Therefore, as I say in my article, it’s a personal choice whether to remain in GR or leave.

Knowingly overstaying a visa casts a bad light on other Australians, and the reasons you gave for staying are not compelling. I don’t encourage lying and illegal activity because someone else has control over you once you choose that path. i.e., If you eventually come here to live, you will be interviewed and investigated by a board and risk denial of a residence/work permit.

With regards to your last question (deleted), the short answer is ‘no.’ You could have found the answer by reading the first article I tell everyone to read in this article, “How non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece.” Please search more carefully next time.

  Paul wrote @ September 26th, 2008 at 16:33

First time poster long time follower.

I have overstayed by a few months my passport. I have been trying to get my citizenship since before the passport expired and am still in the process. KEP has submitted paperwork for me to get my Mitro Arenon and i am registered here in greece and of greek parents. I called the AM embassy today and said IF they check i might have to pay 1200 euro which i cant afford. Would you advise me taking all my papers as proof that ive started the process or even to try and get a letter from KEP or a lawyer stating such?

Kat Reply:

P – Thank you for your longtime readership and coming out of the shadows to say ‘hello.’

People typically secure Greek citizenship before arriving in Greece and get a ‘permanent resident abroad’ certificate to avoid being drafted for stays under 6 months. If you start the process of Greek citizenship after you arrive, it’s very wishful thinking on your part that authorities will grant it to you in under 90 days, so I doubt getting a letter or lawyer will help you avoid the fine because you took your chances and must accept whatever consequences result from that decision.

If you don’t care about being drafted and plan to stay longer, you need to keep under the radar until it comes through. Or if you now need/want to leave Greece, the best chance you have to avoid being drafted and a fine is to exit the Schengen zone via a more lenient country as I already state in my article.

  Sophia wrote @ October 9th, 2008 at 22:34

I overstayed my student visa by over 30 days and when I tried to leave passport control detained me. I told them my parents are Greek citizens and they said okay and then I was fine. I don’t think Greek police really cares.

Kat Reply:

In your case, they didn’t care because you are a woman and of Greek origin. I assure you the story is very different for a man of Greek origin and sketo non-EU citizens. One should never assume they will be let go, and many people posting a comment have confirmed what I say.

  slix wrote @ October 9th, 2008 at 23:09

thanks for your guidance on your site which has been very helpful and probably saved us much hassle, tho some inevitably remains.

i’m a brit about to marry an Aussie who has right to remain in UK but no UK passport. I think what we need to do is get a first filing permit when we come back from honeymoon. Could you email me the info in the password protected link “Regular residence work permit for an american or other non-eu family member of a greek or eu citizen “please?

FYI we miscounted the 90 days and my fiancee left with 115 days on the clock. it was mentioned but no more than that, thank goodness. i have asked around for a lawyer but without success. if you can recommend any we’d be grateful.
many thanks

Kat Reply:

Regarding the password and recommendation for a lawyer, you can find my policy at, “Comments, Questions and Contacting Me.”

What you needed to do was get married within the first 30 days of the non-EU citizen arriving in Greece and applied for the residence permit immediately afterward. It should have never come to 60 or 90 days.

Go to the dimos office (if you live in an urban area) or the local police station’s alien’s bureau (if in a rural area), and they’ll instruct you. In 11 years, I have done all bureaucracy myself; I only use a lawyer when going to court or recommend one for highly complicated matters such as inheritance. Therefore, I do not have any recommendations, and a lawyer isn’t necessary in your case. Thank you, many congratulations and all the best.

  Madeline wrote @ October 16th, 2008 at 06:59

This is filled with so many answers to questions I’ve had, and I can’t thank you enough for putting together such valuable information. I overstayed by about 30 days (without a visa) and since I didn’t pay on the spot (of course now I wish I had) I have a 1200 euro fine. I apologize if you’ve heard all this a million times, and this might seem like an obvious question, but I’ll admit the whole situation is intimidating to me. What exactly would happen upon arrival at passport control in Athens? Would I pay right there with a credit card and then be let go? Have you heard of many people getting turned away without being given the option to pay the fine? The unpredictability is just so scary. Also, if my destination were a different Schengen country, I’m assuming I’d have to fly through Greece and pay the fine before flying to the other country? Thank you again Kat.

Kat Reply:

M – The answers to your questions are already contained in both the article and comments above.
– Per the article, if you try and enter Greece, your passport shows you have an outstanding fine and you are given the option to pay. They would not turn you away…why would they refuse an opportunity to collect 1200 euros?
– Per the article, if you land anywhere in the Schengen zone before paying your fine, that country has the option to turn you away or allow you passage — there’s no way to know which will happen. Commentator ‘Sarah’ above was allowed passage in Germany because perhaps they didn’t see it as their problem, however it is every Schengen country’s right to enforce the law as written.

Note to everyone: I realize there is a lot of information and comments to read. However, the least you can do is spend 15 minutes to find an answer that I and several people have taken the time and generosity to write out 11 years of experience and research for you. On your browser, there is a ‘Find’ option if you are impatient, but I recommend reading the whole article since it gives you a solid understanding of overstays and fines. Thank you

  Alicia wrote @ October 28th, 2008 at 08:21


So my situation is this: I’m in Italy for just under 90 days (68) going to a satellite campus of my university. I want to travel for about a month after this throughout the Schengen region and the UK. I’ve talked to people who have previously gone through this program and travelled after and none of them were ever given any fines for over staying the 90 days. Most of them were even under the impression that it was 90 days per country maximum stay. And they all said, no one ever checks.

Now I’m not going to be visiting Greece after overstaying my 90 days, and my return flight is out of Rome again, so I want to know, what’s the likelihood I’d be fined and what visa/permit would I apply for for an extension?

I guess I could always just hang out in the UK to waste some time/ try not to overstay the 90 days.

How would they know if after 68 days, I went through some Schengen countries, went to the UK for a while, came back and say went over 90 days total by a few? If they don’t stamp, how do they know?


Kat Reply:

A – I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve told so many other people. The answers to your questions are already above, so I’m (again) repeating what I already said.
a) It’s obvious the people you talked to are uninformed. The law is 90 days maximum in the whole Schengen zone in any 180-day period, so yes you can hang out in the UK, but it’s still 90 days in Schengen in any 180-day period;
b) if you’re in Italy and won’t be visiting Greece, I have no idea why you’re looking at an article titled, “Overstaying a visa in Greece”;
c) Italy and other countries are lax in enforcing laws and assessing fines, but the statement, “no one ever checks” or it’s not enforced is obviously wrong since many people are fined every day;
d) visa extensions are not offered by all countries and those that do only grant them for extreme reasons, not, “just because you want to travel”;
e) you do not qualify for a permit because you are not working or living permanently in the EU; you are not eligible for another visa because you already have one;
f) your passport is scanned, regardless of whether you have a stamp.

  A wrote @ October 4th, 2009 at 13:31

Hi Kat,

First, I want to thank you for such an extensive, informative website, which obviously you have put together on your own and without pay! I am sure you know that it is a insanely valuable resource to many many people, but I want to share my individual appreciation with you.

I’m trying very hard not to ask you a silly question that you’ve already answered, so hopefully I do not annoy you or waste your time!

I have read the entire overstaying-visa section, and have the following small remaining questions.

– Is it illegal in greece for a greek citizen to ‘harbor’ or ‘help’ someone (I’m American) if they’ve overstayed their 90-day Schnegan visa? (as it is in the USA)
– When you get stopped by the border patrol and assessed a fee, will they let you out of of the customs office where they’ve detained you to let you go to a cash machine?
– Or will they let you run over to your *boyfriend -or-[insert greek liaison here!]* and grab some cash? (Seems silly to ask, but these details can be killer I am sure!).

I am unfortunately one of those who didn’t inform themselves properly before coming (didn’t realize the 6-month aspect of the 90-day travel allowance!), and am now stuck with an overstay…

I have realized all this just yesterday in fact, and am thinking that when I leave, I should either go from Athens and pay the fine upon exiting (however much they charge!), or maybe go through Italy, as I now realize they have let me overstay there with no problem before (was there 2004-2005 for almost a whole year and never got stopped, questioned, or fined)! From others’ posts, it seems that if I take a boat to Italy, there is less of a chance of me getting pulled out than if I was at the Athens Airport…

I’d rather not get blacklisted, as I am in a serious relationship with a Greek and am hoping not to have impeding issues if ever we marry and i want to come live in Greece. I also love Europe and would be miserable if i was denied entry for the next 5 years!!

But I am a PhD student (In the UK – student visa there), and am very broke, so any money I use to pay a fine will probably be best borrowed from my boyfriend or my parents if they decide they want to help me (hence my question about the official’s treatment of someone they [found] to be helping an overstaying visitor and my wondering about having money on me or being able to get some from a cash machine or my boyfriend. I can have someone loan me money deposited into my account for that purpose, so that I don’t have to carry cash on me, or have my boyfriend carry come cash for me if i need it… Of course it is better to have cash on me that is not used rather than getting blacklisted, but it would suck not having a way to give the money back to my boyfriend if i didn’t use it… and of course, I’d rather not expose my boyfriend negatively, esp if he could get in trouble.

I’m not trying to work here or party all summer on the islands (in fact have never been!!) or anything, just trying to finish writing my thesis while staying with my boyfriend!

Anyway, I hope that my questions do not annoy you – I did try to look on your website but haven’t seen these specific details addressed. I’ve been in your position as an advice-giver before and I know how annoying people asking stupid questions can be.

I should also say – I think that my next obstacle will be to try to get a job as a non-EU non-married person in Greece. Fortunately I am skilled, educated, specialized and (hopefully!) very employable, but I do realize the odds are very much against me. I will let you know if I succeed (or fail!) so you can add me into your statistics…

Anyway, Thanks very much in advance.

Best regards,

Kat Reply:

Hi A,

I moved your comment to the appropriate post and am very short on time, so I’ll just go straight to your questions.
– Overstaying a visa in Greece is something specific to the person doing it, so ‘harboring’ is a bit of a stretch. This is Greece, and he’s Greek; I doubt he’ll be implicated. They’re not going to come over and write down his name, and he could refuse to give it if asked.
– I have answered this question before, but I updated the article to make it more clear. Cash is king; I don’t know if they have a swipe machine for credit/debit cards, but you’ll be allowed to visit an ATM/cash machine or call someone for cash.
– Customs office is near passport control in the airport (if that’s where you’re departing), so it’s easy to cross over and meet someone to hand you money.
– There’s no way to know what will happen to you. Maybe nothing. But Italy is notoriously more lenient than Greece. It’s your choice.

If you are a student in the UK, you should have something denoting this. For example, if you have a valid permit, none of this 90-day stuff concerns you, and you shouldn’t be fined. You’re absolved.

You didn’t annoy me. I could tell that you took the time to look through the article and were thoughtful. There are no stupid questions; I just get a little frustrated with people who can’t read answers that are (literally) in front of them.

I received your follow-up message and won’t publish it per your request. However, please let me know what happens to you because people’s experiences are valuable in gauging evolving trends.

  shaz wrote @ January 8th, 2010 at 20:10

i am married to a greek citizen for 15 yrs. my south african parents were here for a holiday and overstayed their visa and got fines 1200 euros each can we get this reduced?

Kat Reply:

Answer to this question is already in the article above. No.

  Squirrelgirl28 wrote @ May 4th, 2010 at 17:33

I am currently between a rock and a hard place. I had overstayed my visit in Switerland by 2 months past the 90 days allowed. When leaving, I got caught by Swiss customs and was pulled aside. I didn’t speak French and the guards I was passed off to didn’t speak English. They had me complete 2 separate forms basically with name and address info, also with a claim for defense against possible refusal to entry or expulsion from the country. After completing the forms the guard gave back my passport and boarding pass and let me go to board the plane to go back to America, no fine, just an okay and I left. They did not provide me a copy of the paperwork, they did stamp my passport with a regular exit stamp, but then they hand wrote ‘4c’ in the stamp.

My concern is that I have already booked a reunion trip with friends to go to Greece at the end of May. I would still technically be illegal. I plan on getting a new passport, but have heard that Greece scans all passports, and that my info would appear in the SIS IF I have been entered into it. If I haven’t been entered in the SIS then I could manage a 2 week vacation in Greece and then go back to the US for a long time. Although what happens if I am in the SIS? What would happen to me upon arrival in Greece from America? What are the possible consequences? A fine up to 1500 euro, deportation, a possible ban from Schengen countries for 3-5 years? Is there any way to find out if I am in the SIS?

I have also been told that maybe if I am in transit at the Athens airport and go directly to Santorini from the airport, that maybe then I wouldn’t get scanned? Any thoughts on that option?

What are your suggestions?

Many thanks in advance!

Kat Reply:

Answers are in the article above and repeated to several commentators with the same questions:

a) Your old passport would be referenced to the new one.
b) There’s no way to know in advance whether you’re in SIS, as standards are always changing.
c) There’s no way to know if you will be allowed to pass, turned away and forced to go back to the USA, fined or banned; that’s decided by the person passing judgment.
d) You and your passport are processed and scanned by whichever country/city you first land. Therefore, I don’t see the logic in what you were told about going direct to Santorini since it’s still Greece, and Athens is still the point of entry. Having a first point of entry in a different country and city may help, but you never know if it will be more strict or lenient. Like I said a hundred times before, it depends on the individual passing judgment.

Once you do something wrong, you lose control and power over your life and hand it to someone else. Even if you get away with it in the end, think of all the time, uncertainty and unnecessary stress you could have saved.

  canary19 wrote @ September 2nd, 2011 at 19:14

UPDATED INFORMATION – Tourist visa extension, emergency medical reason, harder than you’d think, even possible “no”

Sources: Aliens Bureau (Petrou Rali), US Embassy, Greek Lawyer, personal experience

SPECIAL NOTE: Your Web site is the most helpful available. You should accept payment as a thank you. You earned it. I suppose I will just have to sponsor a baby turtle through the link on your site :)

Information: For medical emergencies visas have a good chance of NOT being approved unless a letter is provided from a public hospital, not just a doctor, despite the near impossibility of mobility and exiting the country for the applicant. Delays can result in illegal status.

Lesson: Ask the US Embassy for help and for clarification, or a have the reviewing officer WRITE out what he/she wants. Still no guarantee.

Details: I am visiting Greece on a tourist visa, my fiance is Greek. We have traveled throughout both countries and the UK while I have been pregnant. Medical problems started to arise so we slowed down, more problems and more drugs. My visa expiration grew closer and after two doctor’s suggestions, we finally accepted that the 16-hour minimum flight back to the USA to have the baby will be too high of a risk (although I am only 7 months along).
Applied for a visa extension 7 days before it expired and with a lawyer. Returned with ALL documents asked for specifically pertaining to our case. After two different doctor’s notes, one of which had the hospital letter head and stamped by a police station, the visa officer said we needed yet another letter from the doctor’s hospital, not the doctor, which states I shouldn’t fly. ?!?!?!? This was AFTER getting clarification FROM THE REVIEWING OFFICER about the note we presented the first visit.
After talking to a US embassy, it appears that the immigration officials usually want a letter FROM A HOSPITAL, NOT A DOCTOR, A STATE HOSPITAL, NOT A PRIVATE HOSPITAL, before a visa will be approved. The official wondered why the officer didn’t ask us for this the first OR the second time. Why the letter was not accepted? Because according to my lawyer, fiance, embassy official, etc. private doctors can be paid to write letters (although everyone acknowledged that this can be done with public doctors too).
So we are going to get the needed letter and return for the third time to get the visa extension, I hope.
Otherwise… what? I can’t get on a plane. I’m stressing. While only understanding 50% of a Greek conversation between, police, lawyer, upset fiance/father, I feel like a deaf, mute hippo.

Advice would be helpful, although I don’t think there is anything much I can do but wait and see.

Wha the Bureau (Petrou Rali) wanted and what we gave the first time. All was accepted BUT the doctor’s letter. Resulted in 10 day extension to get the needed letter. (Fee 32 Euro). Two copies of each.
1. Copies of passport and copies of tourist visa stamp
– All copies are signed by the US Embassy ($50 each)
2. Letter from fiance claiming he supports me
– One copy signed by Greek police
– Two copies of fiance Identification Card signed by Greek police
– Fiance’s rent agreement
– Fiance’s phone bill
3. 30 Euros a day per requested day in Greek account and account book (bibliario)
– (To open account must, have sworn statement from embassy
that I am a permanent resident of the USA ($50) and Greek tax
4. Proof of health insurance
5. Two photographs
6. Letter from doctor written on hospital letterhead, certified by police

  Kat wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 23:38

This post is closed to questions since May 2010

After repeated warnings, I decided to close comments because it’s discouraging to spend time writing out 11 years of information and research, only to have people not pay attention.

Please take the time to read the article and people’s comments and experiences above — you’ll see that people believe their situation is unique, but it’s not. It’s the same story with only minor variation, and I give the same answers and advice all the time. Rules are rules, but what happens to an individual at a certain time with a certain person in a certain country is a crapshoot. Gamble at will.

Also remember that your actions as a citizen reflect on the country you’re from, good or bad. It’s not only about you.

I will only accept corrections and contributions from people who take notes on their first-hand experience and want to give back to the website. I’m always interested in hearing from someone who got a permit extension.

All best.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.