Living in Greece

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

Greek census 2011: We’ve been counted

Red census questionnaire. —

The first census since 2001 took place in Greece from May 10 to May 24, 2011; but the census team encountered a range of difficulties and many neighborhoods were reportedly not covered. The ministry did not extend the deadline.

Results were published by ELSTAT in Greek and English in “Living Conditions in Greece” on September 6, 2013.

*Article last updated September 6, 2013

Initial stats released

Eurostat says the population of Greece is 11,329,600 as of January 1, 2011. The census, however, logged 10,787,690 permanent residents living in Greece, of which 5,303,690 (49.2 percent) are male and 5,484,000 (50.8 percent) are female. It confirms that the population is aging and shrinking.

Just over 3.8 million people, or 35.45 percent of the population, live in Athens. The most populous areas of Greece are Kallithea, Nea Smyrni, Athens (main), Thessaloniki and Nea Ionia. — Press Release via To Vima/Kathimerini

What happened?

Enumerators or census takers hired for this period number between 50,000 to 68,000, depending on the news agency doing the reporting, and the official figure quoted by the Hellenic Statistics Agency (ELSTAT) on May 25 was 52,000.Several thousand quit before the census began due to confusion over whether they would lose unemployment benefits for taking a two-week assignment — first they said yes, then they said no — replacements were hired in haste, and more resigned after it started, citing difficulties in covering the designated territory and finding residents at home.

Odds in finding people at home could have been greatly increased by conducting the census between March 30 to April 13 as originally scheduled, not in mid May when people are out enjoying Spring weather. And with racist attacks, increased crime, language barriers and assaults on/by police, it’s no surprise the elderly, women at home alone and foreign-born residents are afraid to answer the door.

You can verify the identity of the person at the door by asking to see their Apografi ID and folder of red questionnaires and/or call ELSTAT at +30 (213) 135 2138 to get confirmation.

No one should ask for your passport, ID, credit card, signature or Greek residence/work permit. All that matters is you participate and answer truthfully. Interpreters are supposed to be available, but migrant organizations say they were not taken up on their offer to assist, questionnaires are only in Greek, and there is no dedicated help line for non-Greek speakers.

The purpose of the census is to gather data to:

  • Develop relevant social, academic and economic EU, national and municipal policies
  • Address legal and administrative practices pertaining to elections, grants, programs
  • Disseminate accurate statistics on Greece and its residents.

Initial stats are due to be released in June, but Greece has until March 31, 2014 to published all compiled data. By this time the entire social and economic landscape will have changed with continued austerity, recession and exodus of Greek, EU and non-EU citizens seeking work elsewhere.

Where and when to fill out a census questionnaire

If you were not visited by an enumerator or census taker, ELSTAT opened its 94 local offices between May 25-27 to residents interested in filling out a questionnaire. (Option now closed).

Where: “Local census offices in Greece” (in Greek)
*I do not have time to translate them to English. But you can use an online translator or ask a Greek speaker to help.


  • Wednesday, May 25: 8:00-20:00
  • Thursday, May 26: 8:00-20:00
  • Friday, May 27: 8:00-15:00

Have questions? Call the office local to you or (213) 135-2138, (213)135-2139 or (213) 135 2140.

Census slip — Image may not be reused*

Our experience

If you cannot read Greek, the paper says: How dare you go out on a nice sunny day to enjoy your life, do errands or exercise when we dropped by unannounced to ask you questions that invade your privacy. OK, it doesn’t say that exactly but close enough.

News articles and the apografi website said a card would be left if no one was home, after which we could telephone for an appointment.

In reality it was a photocopied slip of paper giving the date/time the enumerator stopped by and the date he/she would come back, at which time one of us better be home or there would be hell to pay under law 3832/2010 (underlined portion at the bottom).

*Note that vital elements have been Photoshopped to protect privacy and prevent forgery.

Greek general census badge

Happy now?

One of us wagered badly and got stuck staying home. Late afternoon, a young man with a badge and a dour looking young woman without a badge, presumably his girlfriend, came to sit at the kitchen table and collect our details.

He was personable and asked questions from a six-sided questionnaire. She didn’t crack a smile and looked bored and annoyed.

General questions


Current address

Phone number

Square meters of your home

How many rooms excluding the kitchen and bathroom?

What month/year did you move to this location?

Do you rent/own or was it given to you by your family?

Do you have Internet?

How many people live here?

Do you have a car? How many?

Do you have a parking space? How many? Where is it/are they?

Where did you live before moving here?

The questionnaire also asked about swimming pools, year the building was built, solar water heaters, natural gas/electric heating, double-glazed windows, recycling, etc. However, the enumerator previously interviewed our neighbors and already knew many of the answers, some answers were obvious (i.e., our AC was in the same room) and some questions didn’t apply because we live in an apartment, so we were not asked everything.

Personal questions

Father and mother’s names


Where were you born?
— If in Greece, where exactly. Athens, where exactly.
— If outside Greece, only the country, not asked for the city.

— If Greek, have you lived in other countries besides Greece? Why did you leave and/or come back to Greece?
— If foreign, what month/year did you come to Greece and from where? Did not ask about countries I lived in previously. Was told that “foreign is foreign.”
*A friend told a different variation, saying the enumerator asked everyone, regardless of nationality: “Have you ever lived in a foreign country? If yes, when did you last (most recently) come to Greece (return permanently) and from which country?”

Where do you vote? (place of politika dikaiomata)

— How many?
— Birthdate(s)
— Country of birth
— Public or private school?
— *Questionnaire did not allow for dual citizenship, with the enumerator checking ‘Greek’ then ‘Other’ and writing in the other nationality.

— What level of education did you complete?
— If you went to university, which one? Where is it located?
— What subject did you study?

— Do you work in the public or private sector? (Neither of us works in the dimosio, so what follows pertains to the private sector)
— What type of business?
— Occupation and title
— Location of primary workplace
— How many colleagues/co-workers do you have?
— How many hours do you work per week? (Paid/unpaid) *Some people were told to only give the “official” number of hours (i.e., 20, 40) regardless of actual hours (i.e., 35, 60).
— Income

Second jobs are not counted, and working for an employer outside Greece is categorized as not working in Greece, aka ‘unemployed,’ which (in my opinion) is somewhat inaccurate. Accuracy of data being collected is also a contentious issue, and some variation could have been avoided if online surveys were used instead.

It’s supposed to take 20-25 minutes, but ours only took 10 minutes. According to news articles, we were supposed to be given information about organ donation, but we had to ask. It was not automatically offered.

Every member of the family (including babies) gets a receipt that they participated even if they’re not physically at home, and a warning at the bottom advises you to keep it for your protection for up to six months. It is said that we should carry this receipt in case police ask to see it.

Apografi receipt — Image may not be reused

Residents can be fined from 1,000 to 50,000 euros for not participating, and census takers from 10,000 to 200,000 euros for divulging confidential information.

*Image had vital details Photoshopped to protect privacy and prevent forgery.

Other people’s experience

2011 Greek census on Symi” — Symi Dream
Census” — It’s All Greek to Me

If you wrote about your census experience in Greece, leave a comment and a link if you would like to be added to the list.


— First-hand experience, ours and those of friends who agreed to answer questions, namely CEO, FA and DNK
Στις 30 Μαρτίου ξεκινά η απογραφή πληθυσμού” — Ta Nea
Greek census underway” — Kathimerini
Στις 10 Μαΐου ξεκινά η απογραφή του πληθυσμού” — Ta Nea
Την Τρίτη ξεκινά η απογραφή” — Ta Nea
Ελάτε να (ξανά) µετρηθούµε” — Ta Nea
Απογραφή αλά ελληνικά” — Eleftherotypia
Απογραφή τύπου Greek statistiks” — Eleftherotypia
Τελευταία ημέρα για την απογραφή” — SKAI
Ολοκληρώθηκε η απογραφή” — Eleftherotypia



  dwain wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 22:33

Yeah, this was a whole lot of fun to try to fill out. The spaces for writing in “Other” answers were like trying to write on grains of rice. My favorite question on it was “for females of household over 10” and it was about how many “babies you have born not counting dead-born babies.” What a morose caveat!

Kat Reply:

Yes, I left that morbid question off the list, but now you’ve made it known. 😉

  Alexandros wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 00:37

I’ve been waiting since day one but no one has visited my neighborhood yet (!) so I guess today is their last chance. I believe though that a census conducted via mail -at least in the cities and towns- would be more effective.

Kat Reply:

The ministry said this morning that the census would not be extended, so if they don’t get to you today, I guess you won’t be counted or you can go to a local office and fill out a questionnaire. 🙁

  Wendy wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 11:53

Thanks for the mention of It’s All Greek to Me. Sorry that my article didn’t have anything to contribute. Love your article.

  mylene wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 15:54

hi! we didn’t get census as well. we are waiting for them, but no one comes to our place 🙁 and is it true that we have to pay 1000 euros? (for those who didn’t got the chance for census) thanks!

Kat Reply:

If you were not counted, see the new section called, “Where and when to fill out a census questionnaire.” All best.

  Alexandros wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 20:27

No worries, I will be included in the Greek population after all. This morning, a girl who was in a hurry came by and completed the paper in less than 10 minutes cause she “still has many people to count”. 😉

  Fofos wrote @ May 26th, 2011 at 13:07

Hey Kat what’s your opinion on the greek protests?

Kat Reply:

I appreciate your question, but I only write commentaries for news agencies. All best.

  KatB wrote @ May 27th, 2011 at 12:20

Someone came around to collect the info for the census, a young guy, but as I was just about to go out, he said he’d return the next day after 18:00 – but never did!

  photene wrote @ May 29th, 2011 at 16:35

I’m confused, why would the police need to see it? I’ve obviously missed something but ummmmm..that seems weird…

Kat Reply:

Because under law 3832/2010, which I mention in the post, we are obligated to participate in the Greek census and therefore we broke the law and are subject to fines (also mentioned) if we didn’t. I can’t see police checking our papers, as they have better things to do. But this is GR, and you never know.

  Jason M wrote @ June 2nd, 2011 at 18:52

A pity they didn’t ask about what languages are spoken at home (as e.g. the US long form does), or other sociological data. Guess we still won’t know officially how many people (still) speak Vlach, Arvanitika, Makedonski, Pontic, Turkish, etc, to say nothing of languages that aren’t indigenous to the territory of Greece.

Kat Reply:

Hi Jason, nice to see you here again.

That’s a good point. We were also not asked what other languages we speak, even though it is widely known that the majority of Greeks learn a second language.

It’s possible the census will evolve with time.

  aggelos wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 22:16

γεια σας
ημουνα απογραφεας και ηθελα να ρωτυσω γιατι ουτε οι ιδιοι δεν ξερανε να μου πουμε μηπως ξερετε ποτε θα πληρωθουμε???εαν βεβαια τα παρουμε και ολασ αλλα ετσι συζητηση να γινεται!!!

  sula wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 19:31

I’m just curious as to where you can check out the status of one’s greek citizenship? Thank you in advance!


Kat Reply:

You didn’t provide enough information, but I’ve already answered this question. See ‘What happens next?’ and ‘Contact Information’ at “Greek citizenship by Greek origin, descent or ancestry.”

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.