Living in Greece

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

Thanks to Greece, I’ve been reunified with myself

hpim2271.jpgPhoto from www.swindoncp.co.uk

While researching a post about different types of residence/work permits, I confirmed the belief I’d been issued the wrong permit upon renewal in 2007.

I was told to submit my papers as usual — photocopies of my identification and permit, proof of insurance, my tax statement, work contract, a bebaiosi from my boss that confirmed I was still employed, a statement of facts, application, etc. To me, it looked like I was going to be renewed as a salaried worker. Nothing new.

But since I was now connected to a Greek citizen, they also asked for his identification and one of his papers. They said it would be easier, though I didn’t understand what that meant since it was the same amount of bureaucracy I had or more, when I wasn’t.

Months passed and my name never appeared on “the wall,” a glass window where they post the names of people whose permit sticker was approved and ready for pickup. I checked several times and enlisted the help of my Greek counterpart since names are handwritten, not alphabetized and haphazardly posted in no particular order or date. This is actually an improvement — AFMs and phone numbers previously accompanied our names, enabling strangers to use our information as they pleased.

Four months and fifteen visits to “the wall” later, I received a letter to appear at the prefecture and was interviewed along with my partner. This led us to believe they would issue me a permit designated as a “family member” or “spouse” of a Greek citizen. But that wasn’t the case either.

The permit sticker I picked up a month later classified me as, “Family Reunification – Spouse of a Non-EU Worker.” Huh?

I knew it was wrong because I hadn’t been reunified with anyone, I’d been living in Greece the entire time with my own permit. And “spouse of a non-EU worker” given as the reason I was reunified, that was even more puzzling.

In my research, it turns out that “Family Reunification” permits are given to spouses and children of non-EU citizens who have been living and working in Greece with a legal permit for a minimum of two years.

Have you figured it out?

That’s right, I am the non-EU citizen who has been living and working in Greece with a legal permit for seven years, and the permit was granted so my family member (me) could be reunified with my spouse (me) who is a worker in Greece.

I’ve been reunified with myself for the next five years. Drinks anyone? :)

Related posts

How Americans/non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece
One day on the island of Ios
What is a non-EU citizen?

The Author

Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”

  • Livingingreece.gr was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites/forums run by people without credentials.
  • @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 15 years experience.

Please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.
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26 Comments »

  Sydney wrote @ August 17th, 2007 at 02:14

I’m okay with the whole idea, but I do worry that you and your recently reunited spouse will be engaging in embarrassing public displays of affection due to your long absence from one another. Keep it classy, okay?

I sort of am not surprised. ;-)

Kat Reply:

S – I’ll try! LOL. P.S. I’m not surprised either. Some years, my permit was issued after it expired or never issued at all because they lost my file. I actually see this as an improvement.

  cheryl wrote @ August 18th, 2007 at 17:51

Holy cow. That is so funny!

  melusina wrote @ August 18th, 2007 at 21:26

It is nice to know that they are now in the business of providing existential permits.

Kat Reply:

M – Nice, eh? Who knew.

  Tim wrote @ August 20th, 2007 at 12:49

maybe they were trying to help merge your western persona with your eastern persona (California+Greece). ;)

Kat Reply:

T – Mighty nice of them, but uniting me and me is a futile effort since I plan to split again a long time before the 5 years is up.

  Vasilis wrote @ October 6th, 2007 at 12:22

Huh, complaining ,are we?
Its not enough that we reunified you with yourself ,
now you’re asking for the change…

Kat Reply:

LOL, who’s “we?” I never complained or asked for anything, what’s the point? To torture myself more? ;)

  Vaslis wrote @ October 8th, 2007 at 15:19

We are the mighty and glorious greeks-
we gave birth to civilization.
We might have some trouble with modern civilization – but at least our presidents iq is above 72.

Whatever one can say about the greek’s disorganization, our lack of self-conciousness, our self-righteousness, the tragic-funny state our country is – it will be correct.

Greece is no longer good, but for vacations. And we’re not on vacations here.

But the tragic that the world lives in the face of a dangerous, low iq president like Bush, is unpreceeded. Its the cause for the whole world’s pessimism right now – because we are living difficult times anyway. With the consent of the americans, the world stares sadly at its own demise.

Kat Reply:

Vasilis (I assume you spelled your name wrong) – Your comment has absolutely nothing to do with this post, thus usually ending up in the unpublished file. But I allow everyone at least one time to express their views if there is no personal attack or obscene language, even if they’re thinly disguised as commentary.

I know very few Americans who think President Bush is a competent leader, but all countries have politicians who are unworthy, and the world is not forced to follow him or his policies. The world seems to function just fine despite him (i.e. the euro gets stronger, economic growth in many nations, technological advances, etc.), and there are plenty of optimistic people.

With respect to IQ, I’m not sure where you’re getting that figure from. Is this what they teach you at the University of Western Macedonia? I’m not defending him, but an urban legend (aka, lie) was spread via email years ago that Bush is the lowest IQ U.S. President in history– however there is actually no proof of that. In fact, his IQ is not known and he scored quite high on SAT tests (1205 of 1600). His lack of command of the English language is more the problem. See http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/Bush/Bush-IQ-Myth.html In any case, IQ is not an indicator of a smart person or a good politician/leader.

Greece’s President Karolos Papoulias holds a largely symbolic post of no real power or required leadership, though indeed he likely has an IQ higher than 72. But how do we verify that? The Greek state has probably lost, misfiled or destroyed his records. ;)

* Please note that additional commentary unrelated to the contents of “Thanks to Greece, I’ve been reunified with myself” will be moderated.

  Kitsos wrote @ November 16th, 2007 at 15:36

Well in woman! I particularly like your opening line.

Was there a response from Vasilis we could indulge upon?

Kat Reply:

LOL! Well, aren’t you a cheeky monkey! My commentators are getting a little naughty, I see.

Welcome Kitsos :)

  gypsy wrote @ February 19th, 2008 at 06:02

I have read just 3 posts and am rolling in laughter already…

  kieron wrote @ March 16th, 2008 at 23:06

Ridiculous and surreal bureaucracy is not confined to Greece – my brother who lived in Amsterdam once discovered that his house boat was registered in the public records as a nearby lamp-post.

But it’s true that Greece has more incomprehensible official procedure than could ever be consumed by the local market. I once found myself in a neat catch-22: to declare a boat for tax purposes I had to have it first registered with the Port Authorities. But the Port Authorities told me that to register it I wold first have to declare it on a tax form.

In the end I gave up.

Kat Reply:

K – That’s true. I have a Canadian friend in Denmark, and she has some stories as well. But the difference is, they get back to her rather quickly (30 days) and there’s accountability. Ah well, red tape is all part of the experience.

  Alejandro wrote @ April 2nd, 2008 at 21:23

Hi Kat!

I have been reading your site since my girlfriend/fiancee proposed me that we should move to greece. She is descendant of greek grandparents, and she is currently getting her citizenship.

I just wanted to say thanks for all the hard work and love to others that you give through this page. The info on this site is invaluable and very interesting for anyone looking forward to live in Greece.

We live in Venezuela and, obviously with all the problems here, are looking for a better place to live.

We hope that next year we could spend our vacation in Greece to make connections and know the country because I have never been there. So I hope we could stay in touch and invite you a cup of coffee to thank you for all the help found here.

Thanks!

Kat Reply:

Hi Alejandro, thank you for all of your nice words. It’s very easy to help people like you, who make it worth it.

Also, may I give you additional information? Once your fiancee gets her citizenship, she is free to live and work in any of the 27 EU member states. She does not only have to stay in Greece. Also, in order to enjoy the same freedom, you must be married to her to get a residence/work permit to live/work in Greece and the majority of other EU countries.

I wish you luck and happiness on your journey and in life!

  Terry wrote @ July 23rd, 2008 at 05:05

May the gods smile upon you for all the dediction you lavish on this site. I am an American woman (divorced), with a greek fiance, (also divorced). He has moved back to Greece after 20 years in the States to start a business…, and we are trying to figure out a way for me to join him permanently. It appears as though propects for my working in Greece are limited, and who knows how difficult it would be for us to marry in Greece. I appreciate all the information that I have been able to glean from your posts, and if I make it there permanently it will be in no small part to your advice and information.

  Peter wrote @ October 30th, 2009 at 01:32

Did you know that Marriage certificates have an expiry date in Greece? And not only Greek ones, but those from all countries. Yes, Greece even has a “I’m still married” certificate that you must use after your marriage certificate has expired. That’s fine for the Greeks, but us foreigners can’t get a similar certificate from our own countries because they don’t exist. However, that doesn’t stop the Dimos from requesting (demanding) one when you need a residents permit.

Your kidding? No, although our local police have never heard of such an expiry date, and the Greek Orthodox priest was absolutely horrified, it’s true. A charming young lady in the Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed the existance of a “I’m still married” certificate although she could not give the Greek name fot it.
So, if you are told that your marriage certificate is too old, and you must prove that you are still married, you’ll know what they are talking about.

I am presently waiting for my wife’s residence permit to be issued, with an “expired” Pakistani marriage certificate (13 years old) and no way to satify the dimos that I am still married. I’ve waited over one year so far. And you thought the spouse of an EU citizen could get a residents permit easily!

Note from Kat: The document is called an oikogeneiaki katastasi (certificate of family situation), which I mention several times on this website.

  Jess wrote @ November 15th, 2010 at 14:00

Hi Kat,

Your website is a wealth of information for which I am so grateful. Especially these days, keeping up to date with strikes and rallies is imperative and you are the only reliable source in English (and maybe even Greek, too).

You say you went to the office and looked for your name many times. I’m curious, was this the dimos or perifereia office? I’m going through my own fun times with the permit (waiting) process.

Thanks!

Kat Reply:

Hi Jess,

In “FAQ: Greek residence/work permits,” I talk a bit about checking status starting with “When will my permit sticker or card be ready?” But I’ll elaborate.
— If you’re not married to a Greek/EU citizen, then you would check at the dimos office or allodapon division at the police station.
— If you recently married a Greek/EU citizen and this is your first time holding a residence/work permit/card in Greece, you will be notified by the Perifeiria via certified letter to attend an interview. Assuming the interview goes well and they approve your permit, you would then go to the dimos because that’s where they send your paperwork and permit.

Thank you so much for your compliment. Many assume that Greek government or EU websites, newspapers or brand-name informational resources are correct when they’re not, simply because they appear official or say (sometimes falsely) that’s where they got the information. I know this because some people plagiarize me, then attribute the source as a ministry website or rewrite my experiences as their own as a way to trick readers into thinking they are credible.

I’m not perfect or all-knowing, but I try to keep it as real as possible and answer complicated questions by doing translations, research and bureaucracy myself. I’m also grateful to have generous friends and readers who give back by sharing their experience, often revealing small details that keep my articles as relevant and updated as possible.

Nice to meet you, and I appreciate you stopping by.

  Tito wrote @ March 14th, 2014 at 22:24

I have residence permit can I travel to UK or I need visa.

Kat Reply:

Depends on: Citizenship, what passport you have, type of residence permit and validity, reason you’re traveling to the UK and length of stay. As you provided none of this information, it’s impossible to answer your question. Contact the UK embassy.

  jessery wrote @ January 14th, 2015 at 23:31

Your question was moved to “FAQ: Greek residence/work permits.”

  Paul wrote @ March 6th, 2016 at 16:58

Thanks for your work. This has been an interesting and entertaining read, and has helped make me reconsider relocating to Greece long term because it sounds like such a pain in the rear. I commend you for your presumably great sense of humor, and having the patience of Job to have dealt with all of this for 16 years. You’ve made a real contribution to many people here. Kudos for your work.
With Respect.
P. A. N.

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