This post assumes you have a residence/work permit (άδεια διαμονής/adeia diamonis) for Greece or have applied for one. If you do not have one, see “How non-EU citizens can get a permit to live and work in Greece.”
According to Greek immigration law, all non-EU citizens in Greece with only a bebaisoi (blue certificate with photo) are forbidden to travel, while a residence/work permit is being processed as a renewal or a new permit and/or you are waiting to be interviewed. Only those with an official unexpired permit sticker inside their passport or official residence/work card can travel freely to any country outside Greece.
If you do not have a permit sticker inside your passport or residence/work card, Greek authorities have been instructed to prevent you from re-entering Greece. The only way you can leave is if your original national or Schengen entry visa is still good for the duration of your trip and does not have entry restrictions, and you come back before it expires and don’t show anyone your bebaiosi.
According to EU law, non-EU spouses and children of Greek or other EU citizens are allowed to travel without restriction, however this is only in theory in Greece. In reality, they may not. Many Greek authorities will insist you have a permit sticker/card and can refuse re-entry. Others may allow you to pass. There’s no way to predict what will happen due to Greece’s flexible rules, discrimination and lax implementation.
Why is it so strict? Because non-permit holders are technically not approved and therefore do not have legal standing. Also, it is a measure to prevent the movement of potentially illegal immigrants.
* Article last updated on November 20, 2012
In the past, exceptions were made only when the government announced special permission to travel during:
– Summer, usually mid-June to mid-September;
– Easter, varies according to the Orthodox calendar and is usually a six-week period that starts 30 days before Easter Sunday;
– Winter, normally around Christmas, starting anywhere from December 13-20 and ending between January 15-31; and
– Lunar New Year, for Asian citizens in Greece.
This exception only allowed travel to a non-EU citizen’s homeland, and the precise dates were usually announced at the last minute, which meant no one in this category could make travel plans, paid high-season costs and/or faced sold-out bookings. And even during these “free” travel periods, there were cases when Greek authorities prevented people from re-entering Greece and a lawyer or other authority needed to intervene to get proper resolution.
Another issue? The bebaiosi (blue paper with photo) was only in Greek, which violated EU directives and didn’t allow authorities of other countries the ability to read it.
Finally in October 2009, the government began granting permission to foreigners legally living in Greece the right to travel home at will, which has been extended through December
2012 2013. See, “Open travel period announced for non-EU citizens in Greece.” The bebaiosi is also printed in English as of 2011.
Travel to destinations other than the homeland are not allowed with only a bebaiosi. Only those with an unexpired residence permit sticker/card have the right to travel without restriction. If you have a bebaiosi (blue paper with photo) and need to travel to a country that’s not your homeland, you need to apply for a visa at embassy/consulate serving the country you wish to visit.
Have a question?
Contact the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection
Tel: (210) 6977000
Fax: (210) 6929764