Living in Greece

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

How to get a visa and residence permit for Greece

Greek permit

Interested in living in Greece for a year, five years or forever?

Anyone with citizenship from the 28 EU member states (except Croatia), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland has the right to live and work in Greece.

Non-EU citizens — without a spouse-child relationship to a Greek/EU citizen and without possibility to acquire dual citizenship with the EU — wishing to retire in Greece or otherwise live in Greece without working can apply for a Greek residence permit based on independent income or funds from outside the country via retirement benefits or a pension, virtual job, business, savings or grants. It is not a work permit.

If this permit does not suit your situation, see “How non-EU citizens can get a visa and permit to live and work in Greece” to learn about other possible options in acquiring a residence and work permit.

Please take the time to read this article, as it is unavailable anywhere else and constantly updated since October 2007.

*Article last updated January 2, 2015.

Warning

Outdated versions of this article appear on websites run by the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greek/Russian/Cypriot/UK lawyers, property sales/rental companies and two commercial ‘expat’ guides that reused information without permission.

They refuse to abide by copyright law and remove the infringing material or give credit, though many passages were copied verbatim, including first-hand details from my readers and my life.

Be careful who you trust.

Introduction

It used to be that those retiring or residing in Greece without working within the country’s borders could enter without a special visa and simply apply for a residence permit upon arrival. This is no longer true, and any friend, forum, article, lawyer, Greek consulate/embassy or authority in Greece saying otherwise is misinformed.

It is also false that “no visa/permit is needed” and “no one will bother you.” This advice typically comes from Greek and other EU citizens who subscribe to decades-old myths or are ashamed to admit they don’t know the law, which applies to all non-EU citizens. Americans, Canadians and Australians do not enjoy special treatment. Look at ‘Comments’ and see a few who believed these lies and got in trouble.

According to the Greek state’s legal council (Nomiko Symboulio tou Kratos), applicants must go to the Greek consulate/embassy in their homeland to secure a special visa, namely a national/Schengen type ‘D’ visa that denotes intention to immigrate. This would then be presented to the local office of your municipality in Greece upon arrival to secure a residence permit based on independent means. There is no such thing as a residence/residential/residency visa or retirement visa for Greece.

The following will prepare you for collecting the correct documents and what you can expect during the process. It is not as simple as getting a visa and showing it to someone in Greece to get a permit.

Homeowners and property owners

The government discussed the ‘possibility’ of granting residence permits to non-EU citizens who purchase a home worth 250,000 euros or more in November 2012.

Laws were passed in April and published in May 2013, with the first permit issued late July and 20 total as of September 2013 to foreigners from India, Russia, Ukraine, Canada and the United States. It has been criticized as hypocritical and racist, welcoming the rich through a back door while excluding everyone else. Also be aware that this option (still) does NOT entitle you to obtain Greek citizenship. See “Ways to get Greek citizenship.”

Before the new permit was created to encourage foreign investment, all non-EU homeowners had to show sufficient means to meet everyday expenses and support themselves without working if they wanted to live in Greece more than 90 days in a 180-day period. The visa and residence permit described in this article is based on that very premise.

*I am prepared to publish an article, but I’m seeking someone with first-hand experience as official government circulars never match reality.

Start the visa process outside Greece

In order for non-EU citizens to qualify for a Greek visa and residence permit* to retire or otherwise live in Greece without working for an employer in Greece, these basic requirements must be fulfilled:

— A total of 2,000 euros/month in proven, consistent income; or at least 24,000 euros in a bank account
— Medical coverage
— A passport valid for at least three months past the date of proposed stay in Greece

*If you do not plan on living or staying in Greece for more than 90 days in any 180-day period, you do not need a residence permit, as explained under ‘Entry — Visas to Greece’ in “How non-EU citizens can get a visa and permit to live and work in Greece.”

If you meet basic criteria, it’s time to gather the following:

1. Passport with at least three (3) blank pages
— Many countries offer an option to add pages for a fee if your passport is valid

2. Two (2) recent color passport photos

3. Original policy statements or a letter on company letterhead from your medical insurer verifying current and continuous coverage with repatriation and validity for Greece

4. Original bank, social security, pension and/or alimony statements, payment stubs OR a letter on official letterhead with original signatures from financial institutions that confirm you have a liquid income of at least 2,000 euros/month and/or at least 24,000 euros in the bank
— Staff usually request at least three months of statements/stubs
— If you are immigrating as a family, they normally ask an additional 20 percent for a spouse (400 euros/month) and 15 percent (300 euros/month) for each unmarried, minor child.

5. Official, printed criminal record
— U.S. citizens must obtain FBI clearance. See “How to get an FBI identification record” to download the form and learn about fingerprints, fees and waiting time
— Citizens of other countries must inquire at the Greek consulate/embassy to learn what security document is required

6. Medical clearance/certificate
— A letter or form obtained from a hospital or doctor that confirms an exam was done within weeks of the Greek consulate/embassy interview

7. Cash/checkbook for fees
— Varies by country, but price is approximately 50 euros

Now contact the Greek consulate/embassy nearest your current residence and see if you need an appointment. See “Greek Consulates/Embassies Worldwide” or look in your phone book to locate one. All candidates will be asked to appear in person.

At the Greek consulate/embassy, staff will give you a visa application to complete and sign. Your documents will be reviewed, fees will be collected, and you (and your family, if applicable) will be interviewed. The Greek consular/embassy staff will keep your passports, then call to notify you if further documents are needed and if you’ve been approved.

When/if your national/Schengen type ‘D’ visa is approved, you’ll be required to choose a definite date of departure and show proof of it (airline tickets, etc.), so they can issue the visa with the correct expiration date. Your passports will then be returned with visas applied, which you can pick up in person or have priority mailed to you for a fee.

Before departing for Greece, be sure that you look at the section “Documents needed” below and secure anything you may need. Requesting them after you’re in Greece will be costly, difficult and often extend beyond the time limit you have to apply for the residence permit.

Family members under the age of 14

Children under 14 who accompany the applicant do not typically need special visas and can apply for a residence permit in Greece based on their parents’ status. However, you will need to bring an original long-form birth certificate for each child and any marriage/divorce certificates, and get an apostille for each document. See, “How to get an apostille” if you need help.

Applying for the residence permit in Greece

You technically have up until the expiration of your visa to apply for this residence permit, but it is recommended you apply within 30 days of arrival in Greece. Why?

a) Because documents you brought to Greece may exceed the period of validity if you wait too long, then they’ll need to be requested again from abroad, which takes time and may delay your application beyond your visa’s validity.
b) Because the process takes time to work, and your visa may expire and leave you in an illegal status that can only be fixed by exiting Greece, applying for another visa in your homeland, and waiting up to 90 days for a new visa to re-enter and try again. This has cost people precious time and money; don’t let it happen to you.

There have been cases when Greece denied residence/work permits to non-EU citizens — including spouses of Greek citizens — because they waited more than 30-60 days to apply, and it was only remedied by filing claims with an ombudsman and/or intervention by a fee-based lawyer.

Where to apply

Your local “dimos” (municipal office) or nomarxeia (prefecture office) accepts applications for residence permits during certain hours, usually early in the morning starting at 7:30 a.m. There is no nationwide standard — some take appointments, some operate on a first-come, first-serve basis on specific days.

If you are uncertain of the location, the mayor’s office (dimarxeio) or city hall in your prefecture should be able to direct you to the correct location. KEP Citizen Service Centres are often not knowledgeable about non-EU issues, but  you can inquire by calling ‘1500.’

In smaller towns and rural areas, the local police station will have an Allodapon or Foreigner division, where applications are processed. To find a location nearest you, look in a map book available for sale at any kiosk (periptero) or use the List of Greek Police Stations from the Greek Passport Center website, which provides the address, map, phone number and hours of operation for each location:

Documents needed

As mentioned in the Introduction, it’s not as simple as trading your type ‘D’ visa for a permit, even though you were approved. You must submit many of the same documents again. For each applicant:

1. Four (4) photocopies of the main page of the applicant’s passport and the original for verification
— The applicant’s passport must be valid for the duration in which you are applying (1 year)
— The applicant’s passport must have at least one (1) blank page in which to place the permit
— No translation is necessary if the passport has Latin letters. If not in Latin letters, it must be translated to Greek. See “Official translations to Greek” if you need assistance.
— The municipality employee can do the certification of photocopies, no need to go to the police or embassy.

2. Application, given to you at the municipality
— Original must be filled out in Greek, then photocopied once without a signature; both are signed when the municipality employee instructs as such.
— If applying as a family, it only needs to be completed once.

3. Proof of current and continuous medical insurance
— Insurance can be from back home (Tricare, private insurance), which can remain in force or eventually be cut in favor of local private insurance options
— Medicare and Medi-Cal are not acceptable for U.S. citizens since coverage terminates upon leaving U.S. territories
— Must have originals for verification and four (4) photocopies of each document

4. Proof of income
— Bank statements, letters from the source of past/current/future income, past tax statements, etc. that show at least 2,000 euros/month in support for 12 months or 24,000 euros in total liquid assets
— Additional funds if you are supporting a family (20 percent for a spouse; 15 percent for each child)
— Certified originals for verification and four (4) photocopies of each document

OR

4. Deposit of 24,000 euros income (2,000/mo) in a Greek bank account
— Additional funds if you are supporting a family (20 percent for a spouse; 15 percent for each child)
— An AFM (Greek tax number) is normally required to open a Greek bank account
— Original bank register/book/statements and four (4) photocopies of balance within 14 days of application

*I do not quote figures in other currencies because the exchange rate fluctuates daily.

5. Proof of residence in Greece
— Signed lease stamped by the eforia (Greek tax office), OR mortgage papers, OR a letter from the landlord/owner if the rental/home is not in your name that confirms you live there paying rent or not, OR a dilosi (statement of facts) certifying your legal residence address. See “How to certify a dilosi, photocopy or other document in Greece.”
— Usually another document such as a utility bill in your name (OTE, DEH, EYDAP or cell phone)
— Original and photocopies of each document

6. Clean criminal record (Optional)
— Most municipalities present you with an application, which essentially requests your type A criminal record. It must be filled out in Greek, then it’s certified by the public official
— A few municipalities ask that you get your own criminal record from the Ministry of Justice

7. Health certificate (Optional)
— Authorities will almost always want it for a first-time applicant or if some time has passed since you last submitted one
— Secured by getting a chest X-ray and a TB (madou) test at a state/public hospital in Greece. You will need two (2) passport photos and your passport. See “How to get a health certificate
— Original and three (3) photocopies

8. Original receipt of “Parabolo” (fee) of 150 euros
— Paid at either Greek tax office/eforia/DOY or mayor’s office (dimarxeio)
— Location varies according to municipality; you must ask, if they do not tell you

9. Four (4) recent color passport photos
— Some offices/sources say only three (3), but I’ve shown up with only three and been asked for four

10. “Fakelo”
— Colored folder with bands at the corners, purchased from any bookstore or school supply store
— They know what you mean if you use the word I’ve given

Any documents not in Greek must be first translated to Greek at the Translation Department or by a lawyer. Greece’s Translation Department requires that all documents/statements/certificates be originals with original signatures. Lawyers can translate e-statements from banks, Internet copies and non-originals within reason. Non-Greek documents may also be translated before arriving in Greece by approved persons, but the cost is almost always higher.

If you are a family, you must apply at the same time, though not all members need to be present and children under 14 do not need special visas.

*I make a copy of my entire file before handing it in because my papers have been inexplicably lost several times. However, this is a personal choice.

What happens next?

After your papers are verified and accepted, you will be issued a bebaiosi (certificate of receipt; blue paper with photo). It is not a permit. It acknowledges papers have been received and you have temporary permission to stay past the validity of your visa, while higher authorities examine your documents.

You must carry this bebaiosi with your passport for public and private transactions, as well as legal purposes should a policeman or other authority ask you to present it. Keep a photocopy in a safe place in case the original is lost.

The bebaiosi does not necessarily grant you the right to travel outside of Greece. You must remain within the borders until an official permit sticker has been issued and placed in your passport or until you are in possession of an official residence card. See, “I’m a non-EU citizen in Greece, may I travel whenever I wish?

There is no interview or other requirement, but it is your responsibility to go in person to follow up on its status since no one will call or otherwise contact you except in rare instances. If your application is successful, a permit will be issued in the form of a sticker placed in your passport or you will be given a card.

Residence sticker (adeia diamonis)

See “FAQ: Greek work and/or residence permits” for answers to commonly asked questions.

The official permit is good for one year.

Renewal of the Greek permit

Must be renewed at least 60 days in advance of the expiration date, and most of the same documents listed above will be necessary.

Traveling to all countries is allowed with an unexpired permit sticker/card. Traveling with only a bebaiosi (blue certificate with photo) is still only allowed to your homeland during pre-approved Easter, summer, Christmas or open periods announced by the Ministry of Citizen Protection. See “I’m a non-EU citizen in Greece, may I travel whenever I wish?

Residence permits in this category are renewed for up to 3 years as long as the applicant qualifies, with a fee of 150 euros per year. Income verification and renewal are no longer done annually as of June 1, 2014 according to circular 4251/14.*

*Hat tip to reader Robert for contributing this update.

Other residence/work permits

If this option doesn’t quite suit your situation, I recommend reading, “How Americans/non-EU citizens can move, live and work in Greece” to familiarize yourself with the most common Greek permits.

Sources

— First-hand notes and experience of reader ‘Deli,’ who was kind enough to share his experience both below in comments and via email
— Documentation given to me by the municipality office when I held this residence permit, translated from Greek to English
— Answers given by public sector employees when interviewed
— First-hand experiences of people who hold/held this type of permit in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and wished to be anonymous
— Comments/feedback from readers who successfully used this article to get and renew a Greek permit
— Greek consulate/embassy in the United States (I agreed to not disclose which one)

About

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.

166 Comments

  Peter wrote @ April 25th, 2012 at 09:16

Thanks Kat.
We want to give back to your site as much as we can. It has helped us immensely and would like to express our gratitude by sharing our experience. Coming from US, living in Greece is a daily challenge. Two days ago when we went to renew our resident permit, we were asked to come the next because they were our of the Blue Paper (βεβαίωση), when we turned next day, the cashier was out of the papers on which they print the receipts and asked us to come next day. We are going to see what is in store for us today.
Your site has helped us to accept and prepare for such annoyances.

Kat Reply:

Did you get the bebaiosi in the end? When you renewed, did they essentially ask for all the same things again? Just wondering if something has changed.

There are readers who use my website for years and never give back, so what you’re doing is unique and I want to recognize your generosity. It’s a pleasure to help people like you because you help me to help others.

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

Your comments/questions were moved to “How non-EU citizens get a residence/work permit for Greece.”

  Natasha B. wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 20:55

Many thanks for such a great website! My questions are about rights within EU for Greece based independent means person. Is this endless 1 year re-applying type of residency, or it gives a right for a permanent residency at last.
1. If it leads to a permanent residency – how soon can one apply.
2. What is the status towards EU countries? Can one on this type of one year residence permit for independent means person in Greece freely travel to other EU countries without additional visas. For example, I live in Greece for 2 years as an independent means person, – can I go to Germany or France without applying for visa?
3. will this ever lead to Greek passport?

Kat Reply:

All of the questions you asked have already been answered, but I’ll repeat them as a courtesy.

1. No.
2. a) Status towards EU countries? I don’t know what that means. It’s not EU-wide, if that’s what you’re asking; b) Depends on nationality of that person, if they have the bebaiosi or actual permit, depends on why they’re traveling and for how long. It’s not a yes or no answer.
3. A Greek passport depends on acquiring Greek citizenship, not having this permit.

I acquired expertise over a decade of first-hand experience, doing complicated translations and gathering information from hundreds of people. If you’re hoping to enhance your business website to attract clients, there’s no way you can learn what I know by reading a few articles and it’s ill-advised to dispense advice on visas, permits and citizenship.

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

Your question was moved to “Residence/work permits for non-EU citizens in Greece.”

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

Your question was moved to “Residence permits for non-EU citizens in Greece.”

  Heather wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 18:25

I am wondering if anyone can help… my husband and I went to the Greek consulate in Chicago to apply for the Schengen D Visa. We also had all the paperwork necessary for the Volunteer Visa just in case. We wish to move to Greece to volunteer, and have all the money and paperwork necessary.

We have had a terrible time. First they wanted W-2’s, but we just got on payroll with the organization sending us, so we didnt have them but we have a signed notorized notarized letter from our employers saying we have the money required. They decided that was OK, then they told us we had to have civil liability insurance from Greece… we went ahead and got that. Then they told us that they didnt have sufficient understanding of why we were going to Greece, even though they have a letter from our director and have talked to him on the phone multiple times. They denied our Visa saying they didnt have enough clarity on why we were trying to go to Greece, and that we have to get a Greek lawyer to appeal.

My husband is African American and they were very rude to him… it feels like they are just making up rules. They would not give us back the letter from Greece from our director, or the letter from our organization, and would not meet with us to explain why we were denied. Do you have any suggestions as to how to go forward?

Kat Reply:

Everything you were asked to provide in the way of documentation is typical — look at the requirements above, if you don’t believe me — so they’re not making up rules. By Greek standards, I’d also say they were lenient in that you normally need to show a longer history with the employer sending you (a W-2) and evidence of actual funds, not just letters.

Because the letters were part of your application, authorities are not required to return them. This is customary of official institutions around the world, as they need to keep them on file.

The law says that Greek authorities are not obliged to give a reason for rejection unless the applicant is of Greek origin. But in my opinion, they did give you a reason — quoting from your comment, “they denied our visa saying they didn’t have enough clarity on why we were trying to go to Greece.”

They also told you how you could go forward — have a Greek lawyer file an appeal. I have nothing to add because authorities have the final say on these matters.

Greeks say that staff at Greek embassies/consulates worldwide are rude to them also, so it’s not just your husband. That attitude is an extension of reality in Greece, in that maltreatment is normal and anyone who is yellow, brown or black may face racism, whether it’s people pointing and making comments to outright discrimination or more aggressive behavior.

  Rose wrote @ July 1st, 2012 at 15:35

Kalimera Kat..i am a Filipina and luckily meet my greek boyfriend in Saudi Arabia…but unfortunately my contract is soon to be finish so i have to go back to my home contry which is Philippines…my question is..if my bf will apply for a invitation visa for me…would i also required to show a medical insurance which should be at least 30,000 euro?
It will be a great knowledge if i can have a direct information from you

Best Regards
Rose

Kat Reply:

You’re writing me from Saudi Arabia, and my website and the permit article above are about laws in Greece.

If you’re asking me about permits, contracts and visas pertaining to Saudi Arabia, unfortunately I have no idea since I’ve never lived or worked there; you need to contact the local authority that issued your residency papers. The nationality of your boyfriend is not relevant to your work status.

If you’re hoping to move to Greece based on your boyfriend being Greek, this means nothing. You must have a compelling reason to be here, show proof of your own money (described above) or be the wife of a Greek citizen to qualify for a permit. A boyfriend cannot sponsor a visa for a girlfriend.

  Ashu Dhingra wrote @ August 17th, 2012 at 14:10

Your question was moved to “Long-term EU-wide residency/work permits for Greece.”

  mike wrote @ January 27th, 2013 at 05:34

Hi,
I am a US citizen, 53 years young. I have been retired for nine years and earn over $7,500.00 a month take home, via my pension. (That’s AFTER taxes). I have full medical coverage that covers me abroad. No criminal record, I’m retired law enforcement. I own a “paid up” house on Skopelos, in the village of Glossa. I’d love to obtain a visa allowing me to stay in Greece more that 90 days but don’t know if I want to go through all the hassle. Any advice on how to ease the process?

Kat Reply:

Americans are granted a sticker-free Schengen visa to be in the Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period, without application or fees. Visas are for entering the country, staying temporarily and leaving. Anything longer than 90 days denotes intention to become a resident or worker, which is why you must apply for the D visa above and then submit papers for a residence permit.

Greece does not have residence permits for homeowners, though it has been discussed.

Non-Americans go through significantly more “hassle” to stay in the United States for more than 90 days.

You can inquire at the Greek consulate/embassy nearest your current residence to verify what I’ve said. But I assure you that the article above is the first and most comprehensive of its kind in easing the process with maximum transparency, which is why lawyers and government entities have copied it without my permission. The only other option is to stay for 90 days, leave for 90 days, repeat.

All best.

  Despo wrote @ January 27th, 2013 at 22:10

Comment 1:
I have read every possible article you have written and thanks to you, I have learned a lot. Your information is amazing. I am submitting this under this article since there is a comment/question which is somewhat similar to my circumstance. I am an American citizen of Greek descent but have not applied for Greek citizenship.( I wasn’t planning on it this year). My husband is an American citizen but not of Greek descent. We are retired and have made plans to spend 6-7 months in Greece this year. We have a home there. We have gathered all the necessary documents to take to the embassy here to obtain a visa so we can then apply for a one year resident permit upon our arrival in Greece. I have 2 questions which are troubling me now.
1. we are booking roundtrip tickets – will they give me a hard time for the permit because I am of Greek descent but not a citizen yet;
2. If we decide to stay less time (lets say 4-5 Months)before the actual permits arrive does the new law about having the “blue Paper” (bebaiosi) pertain to us in being able to leave and return to the US without penalty apply to us. Sorry in advance for my confusion in understanding all of this.

Comment 2:
Sorry to bother you again..I have reread evrything and I think I know the answer to my #2 question but a new question arises in our being able to do other European travel to and from the US during our visit back home and aslo would we be able to return to Greece after doing that before our visa and bebaiosi expire. My apologies again.

Comment 3:
Thank you so much for your understanding. I too understand how busy you must be with everything going on in addition to having been away. I look forward to your response when you have the time.

Comment 4:
Dear Kat,
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my concerns. When my husband and I retired ( several years ago ) we thought that when the time came we could just pick up and go any where in the world wherever we pleased for as long as we wanted. How naive . Again I will say, thank goodness for your kindness in providing people like me such valuable information. I guess we will continue on our course for this year – getting our visa and then applying for our resident permit. In the meanwhile we have alot of decisions to make . Our other hope also is that the island where our home and family is will be equipped to help us . Thank you again.

Comment 5:
Dear Kat,
Again I would like to thank you and let you know that your well wishes are much appreciated. I most certainly will let you know of what we encounter but I at this point I am confident that it will not deviate from the information you have provided to people like us. I have had expose to the way things are handled in Greece during my many brief stays and quite honestly, it’s scary. Anyway, I do not want to take up more of your time therefore I say for now –Take care and be well 🙂 ))

Kat Reply:

I moved your comments and questions because you are not a Greek citizen and haven’t started the process towards dual citizenship. Therefore, in the eyes of Greek law, you are an American citizen. I know women of Greek descent who opt to not claim citizenship and hold residence permits via marriage to a Greek/EU citizen, and authorities are fine with it though they may ask out of curiosity why you won’t apply/haven’t applied. It’s a personal choice, but life would be significantly easier if you did to minimize discrimination and bureaucracy.

There are two main issues to consider before applying for a permit.
1. A sticker-free Schengen visa is granted to American citizens, entitling you to stay and travel in Greece and the entire Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period, without fees or applications. Please read the answer directly above in response to a similar question posed hours before yours.

That means you can potentially stay and travel freely in Greece and 26 other countries in Schengen for 6 months a year without restriction, cost or bureaucracy, as long as you don’t exceed 90 days in any 180-day period. See “Schengen countries” if you don’t know what they are.

I say in the article above that no permit is necessary if you intend to stay in Greece/Schengen for 90 days or less under ‘Start the visa process outside Greece.’

2. As explained in “Non-EU citizens in Greece with a bebaiosi can travel home through 2013,” the bebaiosi is a receipt that acknowledges papers were accepted for possible issuance of a residence permit and only entitles the holder to travel to countries where he/she has citizenship and passport. It is not a visa or temporary permit; it grants no privileges. Travel to other countries would require a visa.

Based on these two pieces of information, it’s highly advisable to understand your priorities in advance, then make travel plans and stick to them.

Most Greeks have no idea about non-EU bureaucracy, and information on official websites never matches reality, which is why I created this website. For these reasons, I learned to rely on myself.

Should you encounter any differences in the process above, please come back and tell me so I can keep information fresh for everyone.

It’s easy for me to assist polite, grateful people who first make an effort to help themselves. I always have time for those willing to give back, so the pleasure is mine. Wishing you all the best.

  Despo wrote @ February 16th, 2013 at 15:57

Comment 1:
Good morning Kat,
Warning –This might be long winded so I am apologizing up front. :).. I just wanted to let you know how the first leg of our adventure went. We went to the Greek Consulate yesterday to apply for our visa so we could then apply for our resident permit in Greece based on independent means. First of all, I would like to say again that the information you provide is right on target for people like us. Thank you again. As I stated earlier before my husband and I were clueless and because of you we were fairly prepared.
1. Passports
2. Photocopies of passports
3. Color Photos ( she only asked for one )
4. FBI clearance ( we went through an approved FBI channeler since an apostille was not needed. They had an office near us where we could get the report within hours. She was a little perplexed at first but I had printed out the FBI website with the list of approved channelers which she did look over and then had no problem with what we provided)
5. Medical clearance from the doctor.. ( she also handed us a form -Medical Certificate for Visa – to bring back to the doctor to fill out. We have no clue where to find this form. I had checked their website and it was not there so Iam not sure where to get this ahead of time )
6. 3 months of our checking account statements showing direct deposit of our pensions and social security.
7. Signed statements from the banks on their letter head showing our deposits.
8. Copies of our 1099R for our pensions and copies of our social security awards.
9. Medical Insurance with repatriation..That was the biggest deal..If it didn’t show repatriation she would not have accepted it.

She told us our visa is approved however before she could issue it we need to provide her with a few other items which we did not have with us.. We could fax them to her and that everything would be ready in 2 weeks..

1. medical certificate that she gave us
2. copies of our tax returns for the past 2 years since we have no W-2’s ( we are retired )
3. travel reservations..verbal dates were not sufficient..she needs document showing we have the reservations
4. copy of my “gonikis paroxis”. for our home. (She asked us up front where we would be living. We explained that we have a home. She needed documentation of it. It was inherited since my parents are now deceased. She was okay with that but wants the copy of the document. No problem since I do have it)
5. marriage certificate
She also took a copy of my birth certificate which was already translated.
I suspect that the marriage certificate and birth certificate came about because of my Greek name. She didn’t say why but she did make it a point to say I might have problems in Greece because of it. She wouldn’t clarify but was fairly confident. I just hope it has nothing to do with my getting a permit. If it is property related I can deal with that..

I will bother you with one more question however which I did ask her and she could not answer. I know everything needs to be translated but I was wondering if that could be done here rather than wait till we are in Greece? I have someone here that I use for official translations and certification from the embassy/ and or apostilles. I have had no problem with what he has done for me so far ..( death certficates, marriage cert, birth cert, etc)

Well, that is everything from our first leg..All in all it went smoothly. Again, I am sorry if this took up alot of your time but I did want to reinforce how valueable your information is and also to let you know of the few minor hiccups we encountered. It could have been to our specific situation but no big deals.

Comment 2:
Dear Kat,
Gracious as always..Thank you for taking the time to read my novel and especially to answer it. I do apologize again for not re-reading the info on translations..I did see it but it must have gone from my memory with all our preparations. If I can manage internet access once we are in Greece ( it is not easy where we will be ) then I will let you know how it went. I promise – no novels next time..Again for now -stay well and kathe eftixia…:)

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
Hello again.

I want to say a few things up front:
— My website and the article above are written for citizens all over the world, not just Americans, so information must be universal (i.e., 1099, FBI, W-2, SSA, SSN are called something else in other countries).
— Most people interested in this permit are non-Greek, non-EU citizens. Most people of Greek origin opt for Greek citizenship because it completely exempts them and their family members from doing any of the bureaucracy above, which I mentioned previously.
— Many forms are unavailable in advance and/or online.
— Most people do not have already have a house in Greece, especially one they inherited from their parents.
Keeping this in mind, variations you experienced were specific to your situation.

I suspect the marriage certificate and birth certificate have something to do with your oikogeneiaki merida. In a way, it’s good they were collected because it ensures your records match when applying for a residence permit once here.

You’re not forbidden from getting a permit just because you’re of Greek origin as many Greek women I know have done this. But as I said previously, you may be questioned about why you don’t have or haven’t applied for citizenship; it doesn’t mean you’ll be denied. Her claim that you’ll have a ‘problem’ without elaborating why is unnecessarily alarmist, especially since her knowledge is limited. I say, ‘Cross that bridge when you come to it.’ Greece is a results-may-vary country.

Official translations to Greek” is a link I offer in the article above, and it does say that translations and certifications can be done abroad for some documents. However, if Greek authorities reject them for any reason — there’s no way to know in advance what will happen — you will be required to do them again in Athens. So taking that chance is up to you.

Btw, keeping a folder of documents authorities may request is smart. I’ve done bureaucracy this way for 14 years, and it has saved time and trips back/forth.

I appreciate that you came back and took the time to share your experience, and I hope to hear how your journey continues. It helps me monitor how the process has changed (or not), and I’ll use any relevant details to enrich the post for future readers. Thank you apo tin kardia mou. All best.

Answer 2:
You’re welcome. I have a lot of patience for people who make an effort to read the information, and even more for the rare person (like you) who gives back to the website in exchange for the assistance they receive. Novels are always welcome.

I understand it’s a lot of information to take in, so don’t apologize for anything. Readying to live in another country is a huge task, as well.

Be sure to confirm with Internet providers about access for your home before signing a contract. We had a situation with OTE saying yes, and in the end we got no service and no refund.

Wishing you all the best on your journey! 🙂

  Peter wrote @ March 15th, 2013 at 19:36

Hi Kat,

I have a question, not sure if you have come across such situation, though.

Our annual resident permit is due for renewal now (we are in financial independent category). This is our third year in Greece and we have had our first year approval and second year renewal done successfully. But we haven’t received an approval for the this year’s renewal, yet. We are still on bebosi and the employee in foreigner’s office has no idea when it will arrive.

My question is about what shall we do about our next year’s renewal paperwork. Shall we wait until this year’s approval arrives? Or just submit the paperwork even if we don’t have this year’s approval and get new Bebosi, to be on safer side.

I know the answer should come from the employee in the foreigners office, but she is as confused and unsure as we are as she havent dealt with this kind of permit yet in our small town.

If you have come across similar situation and know what would be the best way, It will really help. Thanks.

Kat Reply:

This situation has come up nearly every year in my life.

As it says in “FAQ: Greek work and/or residence permits,” you renew with your bebaiosi. The bebaiosi is good for one year, so you should not wait for issuance of the permit or you’ll be left with no valid permit and no valid bebiosi, which would mean everything is expired and you are then in an illegal status.

  Dvinsk wrote @ June 1st, 2013 at 21:42

Sorry for bothering you. Thank you very much for your excellent site. I’m sure it helps so many people to find a right solution. As I can see during long time (around 6 years) the Greece residence permit policy works stable. May I ask you some questions? I’m 65 y.o., married, non-EU citizen have more then sufficient bank account in in Greece. May I and my spouse apply for residence permit this year? Does this program still valid in Greece?

Thanks a lot for your kind attention to my request and your detailed information.
Best regards
Dvinsk

Kat Reply:

My articles are updated on a regular basis, as indicated by *Last updated ___ in the first section. If this permit was no longer available, there would be a note saying just that or the article would be removed from public view.

If you want to apply, follow the instructions. Whether or not you are granted the visa and permit is the decision of the Greek government.

  Despo wrote @ June 4th, 2013 at 20:08

Comment 1:
Hello Kat,
Remember me?..the novel lady.:))) ..First of all I’d like to say welcome back ..Hope your hiatis was enjoyable..We’ve been in Greece now for 2 months and finally got internet set up a few weeks ago..( it is through OTE by the way which apparently works well here and was no problem to set up) ..I’ve been checking in with your site every day and want to say thank you for the time you take in keeping things updated..I’ll try to make this brief but I did want to let you know that we finally got our bebaiosi a couple of weeks ago and it wasn’t without headaches..By the way, the bebaiosi we got looks like a certificate with faint blue tint around the edges and has an issue date and an expiration date ( one year) ..We came prepared with 20 pounds of paperwork “just in case” and ended up needing pretty much what you have listed..
The key points for us was I did decided to have everything translated back in NY and stamped by the Greek Consulate..It was expensive but accepted here..(Letter from bank manager showing our monthly direct deposit of pensions, letter from company issuing medical insurance..My marriage and birth certificate with apostille) ..We had our medical test papers also but they did insist we have a medical certificate from a Greek Hospital..Fortunately we were able to get that easily here on our island…The took the job away from the lady that handles the applications here on the island so we had to take a day trip to Samos..We had called ahead of time to make an appointment and to verify that we had what we needed….They took the translated letter from the bank manager along with 3 months printouts of our checking account showing the direct deposit..they were not translated but okay..they took the health certificate that was issued from the local hospital..they did not ask for proof of where we live only the address and phone number…they wanted proof that we were married..thank goodness I have the marriage certificate translated with the apostille..they asked my husband to sign a dilosi to state we were still married and not divorced..the tax fee of 150 euro each and of course the translated proof of medical coverage…and the photos of course and that’s it…The medical insurance gave us the most headache..Although it had complete medical coverage it was issued by a travel insurance company which they did not want to accept at first..They insisted it was travel insurance even though it wasn’t ..They finally accepted it because I had printouts of the requirements stating medical coverage in general and not excluding certain types..They gave us the bebaiosi and said that the permit itself would be granted after they confirmed with the insurance company about the medical coverage..My husband and I said okay ..we got the bebaiosi and said thank you…

Again I say thank you to you..Without the information you provide we would have had a lot of problems…You are very gracious in giving up valuable time to help people.

I have become a devoted follower of your site and will continue to be so…be well and enjoy the summer..:)))

Comment 2:
Thank you Kat..you are a very considerate person. I do understand that you are very busy..I guess I was hoping you had taken some time off for yourself…I just want to mention quickly that I forgot to tell you that the office in Samos said once they confirmed the medical insurance they would call us to go back for an interview before the final permit was issued. I didn’t ask questions..Just said okay again…Hope you can take vacation soon..

  Katrina wrote @ June 13th, 2013 at 19:43

Comment/Question 1:
My parents are going to Greece from July to November more than 90 days. They were born in Greece and are US citizens. They have a layover in Germany both ways. What is exactly needed to stay in Greece for vacation just to visit family past 90 days. The Greek Embassy here says they need to go get a tautotita(national ID card) and they will be ok, but I heard that Germany is very strict. So I called the German consulate here in Chicago and they said they do no need to have a visa or an id card they just need a permit of stay. If this is what they only need could they obtain this in Greece because the embassy here is clueless. We are getting different answers from everyone. I want to get my parents the answers they need so the can have a trouble free vacation. Hopefully you could help:)

Comment 2:
They are Greek citizens. They do have tautotites but they are old my mom’s has her maiden name( they go married in 1973). They do not have greek passports just US. Thanks!

Comment 3:
Thank you very much for taking time and replying. I will pass on the info to my parents. I would like to also apologize for sending my answers to your questions twice. The first time I sent it I hit the submit button and then when I checked to see if you had replied the next day I did not see my reply to you. So I sent a second one. I did not realize it goes under the same box with my first question to you. Sorry! Thanks again I hope you have a great summer!

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
I can definitely help and give you a simple answer, but I need to know the following:
a) Are your parents Greek citizens? I assume they are, but it’s dangerous to assume.
b) Do they have Greek passports?
c) Do they have Greek national IDs/taftotites?

You may be getting different answers due to giving different info to each party, or perhaps authorities are clueless/confused. To me it’s extremely straightforward, but I need to know answers to the questions above.

Answer 2:
Please wait for a response, as I run this website in my unpaid spare time and have full-time commitments. Leaving multiple, duplicate entries is unnecessary.

As Greek citizens, your parents have the right to travel, transit through and stay in Greece and all other EU member states without restriction. However, only if they can prove they are Greek citizens and never use their U.S. passports while in the EU. They don’t need visas or residence permits since the 90-day rule applies to non-EU citizens.

Dual Greek-American citizens use their U.S. passports to cross U.S. borders and their Greek national IDs or Greek passports for EU/Greek borders as stated in section ‘Which passport should I use?’ in “American and Greek dual citizenship.”

The issue I see with your parents is their outdated Greek IDs. As stated in section ‘Expiration date’ of ‘Greek national ID card or tautotita,’ Greek IDs are lawfully only valid for 15 years from issue date and must be in English as of 2009 to meet Schengen rules. There are EU border authorities that begrudgingly accept “old” forms of ID, but many people have been turned away and/or asked instead for a biometric Greek passport.

I’d normally recommend they get Greek passports. Unfortunately, you contacted me too late as July isn’t enough time to apply for and issue them, assuming your mother’s oikogeneiaki merida reflects her current marriage status and name.

What I suggest is they use their U.S. passports to exit the U.S., and try using their Greek national IDs in Germany and Greece. If it doesn’t work, then they’ll have no choice but to show the U.S. passports. Once in Greece, they MUST apply for Greek passports or Greek IDs, then exit Greece and Germany with them, and show the U.S. passports again when re-entering the U.S.

Step-by-step instructions I wrote out from real-life experience can be found in links above.

Answer 3:
For some reason, it was posted three times. But no worries. I manually combine everything on the same thread so you and everyone can find the evolution of a conversation in one place. All best.

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