Greece Golden Visa Scheme – What is it and Should you Apply?

Greece Golden Visa Scheme
Greece Golden Visa Scheme

The Greece golden visa scheme is a measure that was introduced by the Greek government in 2013. It enables foreign citizens to obtain Greek residency by investment. 

Since it is notoriously tricky for third-country nationals to obtain Greek residency unless they are of Greek descent, applying for a Greece golden visa may well be your best option for relocating to Greece. It all depends on your nationality and your specific circumstances. 

Greece Golden Visa Scheme 

Parga, Epirus
Parga, Epirus

There are several ways in which you can make an investment that makes you eligible for a Greece golden visa. The most common and preferred method is to do so by focusing on real estate.

A minimum investment of €250,000 is needed if you are considering progressing with a golden visa application. Under this program, successful applicants are given automatic Greek residency for five years. 

The Greece golden visa can be renewed every five years, provided that the applicant does not retract their investments or sell off their real estate assets. If you are married and/or have children that are up to the age of 21, your entire family is covered under this program.

Obtain a Greece Golden Visa via a Real Estate Investment

Skopelos, Sporades
Skopelos, Sporades

If you have upwards of €250,000 available to invest in property in Greece, you are eligible to apply for a Greece golden visa via a real estate investment. This amount can be spent on an individual property, or spread across a portfolio of properties. 

There is no restriction on what you can do with these properties. Many people choose to rent them out as Airbnbs or as short-medium term accommodations. 

Investing such a substantial amount of money in property overseas is daunting. However, considering that Greek property values are increasing year on year following the crisis, investing is sure to bring a return on investment – in both increased property value and rental income. 

Other Ways to Obtain a Greece Golden Visa

A Greece golden visa is a great option for Non EU citizens
A Greece golden visa is a great option for Non EU citizens

Investing money into a real estate portfolio is arguably the most popular method of applying for a Greece golden visa. However, it is not the only route. Other investment options available to you that you may wish to consider are detailed below. 

  • Sign a 10 year lease whereby you invest €250,000 into hotels or tourist accommodation

  • €400,000 investment in Greek government bonds, real estate company bonds/shares, or bonds/shares of a Greek business on the Greek Stock Exchange

  • €400,000 investment in private equity/venture funds that are headquartered in Greece

  • €800,000 government/corporate bonds investment

  • €400,000 investment in bank deposits 

It is prudent that you hire a lawyer in Greece if you are looking to apply for a Greek investment visa. They can help you decide which investment route is the best for you

Additionally, your lawyer can aid you in completing the required paperwork. Lawyers are valuable allies in helping you to navigate the minefield that is Greek bureaucratic procedures.

Do I Need to Go Down the Greece Golden Visa Route? 

Volos, Eastern Greece
Volos, Eastern Greece

The Greece golden visa scheme makes obtaining residency in Greece easier for non-EU citizens. EU citizens are not eligible for this.

If you are an EU citizen, there are more straightforward methods for relocating to Greece that do not require any investment. Some alternative options are discussed below.

Alternative Options for EU Citizens

EU citizens can consider the below options when planning their move. There is no need for an EU citizen to apply for a golden visa unless they were already specifically looking at making an investment/purchasing properties over €250,000 in value. 

  • Residency through hospitality 

  • Self-employment route

  • Proof of employment in Greece 

Residency through Hospitality

It is possible for EU citizens to obtain Greek residency by going down the “hospitality route”. This essentially means that a Greek partner or family member “vouches” for you as an applicant and will take care of you during your time in Greece. 

The Greek individual that supports you does not have to be a family member. You also do not have to be living together. They will need to attend the police station with you when you apply for your residency permit, and sign a handful of documents.

Self employment route 

If you are self employed or unemployed, you can still obtain Greek residency as an EU citizen if you can provide proof of income, or proof that you have the funds to support yourself. Everything must be translated into Greek.

If you are unemployed, you must show evidence of having at least €4,000 in a Greek bank account. You must also provide information of how you expect to support yourself and how much you expect to earn on a monthly basis going forwards. 

Proof of employment in Greece

If you are employed by a Greek business, you need to provide proof of employment. A copy of your signed contract is sufficient. 

People of Greek Descent and Their Spouses 

If you are of Greek descent, or you are married to an individual who is, you can consider applying for Greek citizenship/residency (as applicable) down this route. 

How to Apply for a Greece Golden Visa 

Alonissos island
Alonissos island

The process of applying for a Greece golden visa is more straightforward, and less time consuming than you may think. That said, it is best to hire a lawyer to help you manage everything and liaise with the various offices in Greece.

First and foremost, there are several criteria that you must meet in order to be eligible for a Greece golden visa. These are detailed below. 

  • Be a non EU citizen with a minimum of €250,000 to invest

  • Aged 18 and above

  • Have a clean criminal record and provide character references

  • Be able to show proof of medical insurance for all applicants 

Steps for Applying for a Golden Visa

The steps for applying for a Greece golden visa are outlined below. The majority of this can be completed in your home country. You can also apply for power of attorney if you so wish so that your Lawyer can act on your behalf in applying for tax numbers, etc.

  1. Identify what investment route you wish to go down (real estate, investment bonds, etc)

  2. Apply for a Greece entry visa via the Greek embassy in your home country

  3. Complete and submit all documents related to the purchasing of the property/properties or investments

  4. Apply for a Greek tax number and a Greek bank account

  5. Finalise the property purchase (if applicable) with your Lawyer

  6. Complete all the necessary paperwork for the Greece golden visa application with your Lawyer

  7. Submit required fees, document scans, fingerprint scans, and photographs to the relevant Greek authorities

  8. Await the approval of your golden visa and the issuance of your residency permit

  9. Follow the straightforward process to renew your golden visa every five years 

Working and Paying Taxes as a Greek Golden Visa Holder 

Nikiti, Halkidiki
Nikiti, Halkidiki

It is important to note that while the Greece golden visa permits you to live in Greece, it does not act as a work permit. You are not permitted to apply for employment opportunities in Greece with this permit.

However, there are of course no limitations on running businesses and earning money from outside Greece. The matters of taxation laws in Greece become confusing and it is advisable to discuss this in detail with a legal professional. 

Double Taxation Laws in Greece

Thessaloniki, Northern Greece
Thessaloniki, Northern Greece

Greece has a double taxation law in place with several countries. This means that if you are from one country (e.g. the USA) and residing in Greece, you do not have to pay tax to both countries. Tax payments will never be duplicated.

Confusingly though, if you want to apply for Greek citizenship, you must be a Greek tax resident for seven years in order to be eligible. If this is a route that you want to go down, you should discuss everything in detail with your Lawyer.

Greek taxes may be higher than what you are used to in your home country. This is particularly true if you are self-employed or run a business.

Greece Golden Visa FAQs 

Gaios, Paxos island
Gaios, Paxos island

Am I entitled to Greek citizenship by investment?

The Greece golden visa does not automatically provide applicants with Greek citizenship for investment. However after being a tax resident of Greece for 7 years, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. There are a few provisos to this.

In order to be eligible to apply for Greek citizenship you must pass a Greek language test, show proof of living in and paying taxes in Greece for 7 years, and demonstrate a passion for Greece and its culture. 

Is this program likely to change?

Yes. The golden visa scheme was only introduced in 2013 and is still relatively new. Going forward, the Greek government may make changes to the regulations regarding purchasing a property in Greece as a foreign investor.

For example, they may only enable golden visa applicants to buy property in designated areas. This is all speculation at this stage. This article will be updated accordingly should anything change.

Do I have to spend a certain amount of time in Greece? 

You are not required to stay in Greece a certain amount of days in order to keep your residency. You can enter and exit the country as you wish. 

I have a previous criminal record, can I apply for a golden visa? 

No. You must have a clean criminal record in order to apply for a Greece golden visa. 

What if I get a criminal record as a golden visa holder? 

If you were to obtain a criminal record once your golden visa is issued, it will be revoked. 

Can my unmarried partner get a golden visa with me? 

No. Only spouses and immediate blood relatives are entitled to inclusion in your Greece golden visa application. 

Is it easy to renew my golden visa?

The process for renewing your visa is very straightforward. This is done every five years and is simply done to check that you have not sold your assets or retracted any investments. 

Am I obligated to hire a Lawyer? 

It is not a legal requirement to hire a Lawyer to help you with this process. However, doing so can make life a lot easier for you.

Dealing with Greek authorities and government offices can be tricky if you do not speak Greek. Similarly, your Lawyer can sense check that everything is correct with your application and documentation. 

Final Thoughts 

Do you have any additional queries on the Greece golden visa program or applying for a residency permit in Greece? Please don’t hesitate to reach out if so. 

I have spent the last three and a half years living in Pagrati, Athens. I am happy to help you if you have any concerns.

Safe travels! Geia sou! Melissa xo


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

6 thoughts on “Greece Golden Visa Scheme – What is it and Should you Apply?”

  1. Dear Melissa
    Thanks for the very helpful information.
    Re the Golden Visa – does the scheme apply to investments prior to 2013 please? I have owned a house worth more than the limit required, since 2007, and wish to be able to continue to live there for 6 months each year.
    Thanks and best wishes
    Bryan

    Reply
    • Hi Bryan, you are able to use existing investments/properties in your application.
      May I ask your nationality? Are you British? There is also discussion of a “financially independent person” visa to be introduced in 2021 that covers those who can demonstrate that they have at least 48,000 euros in a Greek bank account/present in assets and property, and an income of at least 2,000 euros per month. Just worth keeping in mind as I am not sure if that may be a slightly easier application process than the Golden Visa as it seems to have come to light as a result of Brexit. An Immigration Lawyer could help you with either option. Hope that helps. Happy New Year 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hi Melissa,

    I am an US citizen and hoping to apply for a golden visa by investment. I do not wish to purchase a real estate property. What is the efficient way to open an account to make investments in government securities or bank deposits? Which banks would you recommend if I am not located in Athens but will be in the next month. I would like to get this process started sooner rather than later.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Dear Melissa–thanks for all this information, very useful. A quick question, I have a property that we have built, cost over euro 250K, and want to be able to can you advise on the benefits of going for residency with the Brexit residency versus the Golden visa?

    thanks a lot

    Leo

    Reply
    • Hi Leo, hope you´re doing well with everything that is going on!

      I believe (but you may want to check with a Lawyer or potentially in an expat forum like ¨British in Greece¨ to get more opinions) that you would be better off going down the Golden Visa route. There will be administrative charges for both options. However, if you opt for the ¨financially independent person´s visa¨ there is now the expectation that you become a tax resident in Greece. But whether that affects you and how much depends on your circumstance. For instance, I am self employed/a freelance Journo and the taxes are significantly higher than I would pay in the UK..

      The Financially independent person´s visa also requires you to stay in the country for 6 months a year or lose residency status, whereas with the Golden visa you can come and go as you please. Even if you have the intention of living in Greece year-round, I think it´s perhaps nice to have that flexibility, especially if you travel a lot. Hope that helps! Don´t hesitate if you have any further questions!

      Reply
  4. Hi Melissa . The information you have provided is very useful . Can you tell me , If I already own a property in Greece & wish to now obtain a golden visa , Is the €250 000 based on current market valuation or on the actual amount paid ? The reason I ask is I purchased a property several years ago & am now in the process of developing it . What documentation would I need to provide ?
    Thank you , Keith .

    Reply

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