Greek Residency, Citizenship And Passport Review
For all its recent economic problems, Greece remains a beautiful country, full of intelligent, warm, friendly people. It also remains one of the world’s most in-demand tourist destinations, and is still a popular retirement choice among those who hail from Europe’s colder climes. The fact that it has an investor residency program with access to the Schengen Zone is an added bonus.
Greece In A Nutshell
Greece (officially called the Hellenic Republic and historically also known as Hellas) is a country located in southeastern Europe, situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsular. Greece marks the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and is home to some of the oldest architecture on the planet. As well as its mainland, Greece has as many as 6,000 islands, 227 of which are inhabited, Euboea being the largest.
Greece is often called “The Cradle of Western Civilization” and the ancient Greeks were the founders of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography and political science. They were the forefathers of major scientific and mathematical principles, and the first exponent of Western theatre and drama. Even the world of sport was influenced by the Greeks, who created, organized and staged the first Olympic Games in 776 BC.
As a country Greece, and the Greek people, are often compared to Italy and the Italians. Both nations are loaded with breathtaking natural beauty as well as more cultural and historical architecture and landmarks than any other country in Europe. Greeks and Italians are passionate, expressionistic, naturally good-natured folk, and it’s no surprise that both Greek and Italian immigrants have been embraced in many corners of the globe, including the UK, the US and Australia.
- Official Language: Greek
- Capital City: Athens
- Largest City: Athens (Pop; 750,000)
- Surface Area: 131,952 km2
- Religion: Greek Orthodox (Christianity)
- Population: 10.9 million
- Government: Parliamentary Republic
- Legal system: Civil legal system based on Roman law
- Currency: Euro
- GDP per capita: $23,600 US (PPP 2013 est., $267.1 billion US GDP)
- Climate: Temperate, hot dry summers, mild wet winters
The Greek Residency By Investment Program
The Greek economic banking crisis that began in 2009 hit the country extremely hard. One of the government’s measures designed to bring money and investment into the country was the Greek Residency by Investment program, instigated in 2013.
According to the Greek Law Act 4251/2014 entitled “Permanent residency permit for investors” amended by the law 4332/2015 in July 2015, permanent residency permits will be granted to non-EU citizens and their family members who purchase property in Greece to a value of or exceeding €250,000.
Greek Residency Law 4332/2015 In Bullet Points
- Minimum investment amount will be a minimum of €250,000 per family
- The Investor has the legal right to apply for both permanent residence and citizenship after seven years of residency
- The investor may also give residency to all family members including spouse, children (up to 21 years of age), parents and spouse’s parents
- If the investor sells their property to a foreign citizen, the residency permit will also be transferred to the new owner together with the property
- The investor is free to establish a business in Greece
- The investor and their family are under no obligation to remain in Greece in order to maintain the right to residency
- Residency permit holders can travel freely throughout the Schengen Area
Summing up, Greek residency is granted immediately upon the purchase of a property or properties in Greece to the minimum value of €250,000. This residency must be reapplied for every five years, but is credited to the holder so long as they remain owners of the property they purchased, or of a new property of equal or greater value. After seven years of continued residency, an individual is eligible to apply for full Greek citizenship.
The Greek residency permit is valid for travel throughout Western Europe’s 26-nation Schengen Area and allows the holder the same options for living and working within the E.U. However when it comes down to the amount of visa-free travel beyond the Schengen Zone, that will still be limited by the quality of the card-holders original passport.
Is There A Greek Second Citizenship Program?
There is currently no official Greek citizenship by investment program. The Greek government will only issue its passports to Greek citizens, to individuals who can prove Greek lineage, or to foreigners who have lived and worked in Greece for ten of the past twelve years, although Greek residency by investment holders can apply for full citizenship after seven years.
Unofficially there is some speculation that the Greek government, realizing investors would prefer Greek citizenship and a passport in return for an increased financial outlay, have special deals with several online second citizenship brokers.
It is also highly likely that Greece will soon launch their own CBI program, compatible with those of Mediterranean neighbors Cyprus and Malta, whose own citizenship by investment programs have proved extremely lucrative and brought a great deal of revenue into those countries.
Pros and Cons of Living In Greece
Greek residency by investment purchasers are under no obligation to spend an allotted amount of time in Greece. However, if they do, and they are not relying on the fragile Greek economy for an income, the quality of life in Greece is as good as that of any high-end holiday location.
The Greek tourism industry has been barely touched by the banking crisis that engulfed the country almost a decade ago, and it still receives 22 million tourists annually. To put this in perspective, Italy – a country with six times the population of Greece – receives just over twice that figure.
The Greek economy remains in a state of flux. It’s not wise to use the Greek banks for anything but the mildest of transactions. Any attempt to establish a business in Greece would need intense market research before embarking.
Passport Reviewer Index:
The Greek residency by investment program is somewhat limited, but not without merit. Ideally, an investor would prefer to receive full EU membership in return for a €250,000 real estate purchase, or even for a charitable donation.
However, it does grant a holder access to the Schengen Area, and it can be maintained for as long its holder maintains a property in Greece, and after seven years, Greek citizenship can be applied for.