The Greece Golden Visa Program – also known as the Greece Investment Visa – is a perfect option for those who seek to obtain EU residency and access the world at large, as the program provides incredible advantages, from access to a thriving real estate market and high returns on investment, to visa-free travel within the Schengen Area and incredible tax benefits.
Whether you’re a non-EU/EEA expat in search of a second residency that provides you with excellent healthcare and education benefits, a savvy foreign investor aiming to expand and diversify your investment portfolio, or a retiree looking for a beautiful holiday home to spend your golden years in bliss and tranquility, the Greek Golden Visa scheme enables you to relish in a relaxing and profitable lifestyle full of delicious cuisine, fantastic weather, high returns on investment and a surplus of family benefits.
In this guide to the Greek Golden Visa program, we will go through:
- The benefits of the Greek Golden Visa program
- A step-by-step guide to acquiring Greek residency
- Greece Golden Visa qualifying investment options
- Greece Golden Visa statistics
- Documents required for the Greek Golden Visa program
- Greece Golden Visa program fees
- Greek taxes and reductions for golden visa holders
- Greece Golden Visa renewal process
What is the Greece Golden Visa program?
Introduced by the Greek government in 2013, the Greece Golden Visa program is a residency by investment scheme that enables non-EU/EEA nationals and their family members to acquire permanent residence permits in Greece. To qualify for the program, applicants must first have a clean criminal history and place an investment in Greece with a current minimum value of €250,000 ($269,000) – if placed in real estate.
It is important to note that on 1 May 2023, the rule for real estate investments will raise the minimum amount from €250,000 to €500,000 ($534,000) in order to grant purchase priority to Greek nationals. Nevertheless, provided the applicant makes the investment, they’ll acquire Greek residency and the ability to maintain permanent residence provided they hold their investment.
Concerning the question of how to become a Greek citizen, this is only possible by naturalization after seven years of continuous residence. The Greece Golden Visa is ideal for those seeking Greece citizenship as its benefit of providing permanent residency allows applicants to maintain residence long enough to be naturalized.
The Benefits of the Greek Golden Visa Program
The Greece Golden Visa is arguably one of the most competitive Golden Visa schemes in the entire European Union, and its benefits are many, which makes it quite alluring for investors and their families. Some of the main advantages of acquiring this visa are the inclusion of your immediate family, access to an excellent education system, visa-free travel across Europe’s Schengen Zone, and more.
Other benefits are as follows:
- Inclusion of immediate family members: Residency extends to the entire family, which includes children under the age of 21, siblings, and parents of both the applicant and their spouse.
- Access to excellent healthcare: Residence visa holders can access Greece’s highly-rated healthcare system and benefit from free and equitable services as well as incredible medical insurance spread across the public and private sectors.
- Access to an excellent education system: Children of applicants can benefit from Greece’s well-respected education system available to all residents and citizens.
- Visa-free travel in Europe’s Schengen Area: As part of the European Union and a member state of the Schengen Area, Greek residence permit holders can travel without hassle within the EU and the Schengen Area.
- Tax deductions and benefits of a double taxation treaty: Greece has double taxation agreements with 57 countries, which provide residence permit holders with tax deductions and exemptions on their worldwide income.
- High returns on investment: Greece Golden Visa holders have the option to rent out their purchased investment property or hold shares in a company registered in Greece and receive dividend income. This means that they will continue to have positive cash flow while maintaining their investments.
Step-by-Step Guide to Acquiring Greek Residency
The steps to becoming eligible for the Greece Golden Visa are few and simple. All applicants must make a substantial investment in the country, whether in real estate, Greek government bonds, or other capital funds. Regardless of their choice, the process will look the same for everyone; here are the steps:
1. Prepare your Golden Visa application
2. Submit your application
3. Complete the final verification step
4. Receive your Golden Visa
Prepare your Golden Visa application
Collect all necessary paperwork, choose your real estate property, or opt for a more general investment.
Submit your Golden Visa application
Open a bank account in Greece, obtain a Greek non-resident tax number, transfer the required investment sum to your Greek bank account, and present your application to the Greek government. You may appoint a lawyer to help you with this step.
Complete the final verification step
Undergo legal due diligence checks of your real estate property, and follow the required legal procedures to secure your Greece Golden Visa. A temporary residence permit will be issued at this time, allowing you to visit Greece to acquire the promissory sale and purchase agreement, as well as the public deed to the property.
Receive your Greek Golden Visa
After using your temporary residence permit to enter Greece and submitting your biometric data during a confirmed appointment with the relevant authorities, your Golden Visa should be issued within 20 business days.
Application processing timeline
Greece Golden Visa Qualifying Investment Options
While the current minimum value for a qualifying real estate investment stands at €250,000*, several alternative investment options allow eligibility for the Golden Visa in Greece. These include investments in government bonds and shares in venture capital funds.
Real estate investment options
- Purchase a Golden Visa real estate property in Greece worth at least €250,000*
- Enter a ten-year lease agreement, either for hotel accommodation or furnished tourist residences in program-integrated tourist resorts
General investment options
- Invest a minimum of €400,000 ($430,000) in Greek government bonds
- Make a capital contribution of at least €400,000 in securities or a bank deposit in Greece
- Make a capital contribution of at least €400,000 in bonds or shares of a venture capital fund, private equity fund, or a mutual fund based in Greece
- Invest €800,000 ($861,000) in shares, corporate bonds, or Greek Treasury bonds listed in trading facilities operating in Greece
There are certain conditions that must be met in order for an investor to proceed with the purchase of a property, namely:
- That they are the sole and rightful owner of 100 percent of the company’s shares if they purchased the property through a legal entity
- That they own the property
If investors choose to sign a lease for a hospitality accommodation, the contract must cover a minimum period of ten years and a rental sum of €250,000*. It must be paid in a single payment of rent for the equivalent of the ten-year leasing of the property. Once these conditions are met, investors are able to maintain permanent residency by renewing their Golden Visa residence permits every five years.
*The current minimum investment of €250,000 in real estate will increase to €500,000 on 1 May 2023.
Greece Golden Visa Statistics
The Golden Visa in Greece has seen incremental growth over the years due to its many alluring benefits. In 2022, 28,767 Golden Visas were rewarded to investors and their families. This resulted in an economic boom in Greece, providing the nation with over €2.6 billion ($2.8 billion) worth of income from foreign investment.
Greece’s Golden Visa Program applicants came from over 17 nationalities, of which the country saw the most engagement from:
- China: 6,405 applicants
- Turkey: 618 applicants
- Russia: 596 applicants
- Lebanon: 304 applicants
- Egypt: 250 applicants
- Iran: 194 applicants
- Iraq: 135 applicants
- Ukraine: 112 applicants
- USA: 103 applicants
- Jordan: 86 applicants
Documents Required for the Greek Golden Visa Program
There are several documents that must be submitted for an investor to be considered for a residence permit. These documents will first have to be certified with an apostille stamp or by the nearest Greek Embassy or consulate and must also be translated into Greek prior to their submission. Certified translations can be provided by either the Translation Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens or a member attorney of the Greek Bar Association.
The current required documents for the Greece Golden Visa application are namely:
- Two copies of the application form
- Four recent, colored passport pictures following the Schengen Visa photo requirements
- A certified copy of a valid passport or other travel documents recognized by Greece
- Certified proof of an active Schengen Visa (if applicable) for applicants and their family members
- Certified proof of active Greek health insurance for all applicants and their family members
- Certified proof of payment of processing fees and relevant government fees
- Proof of sufficient funds in bank accounts
- Notarized real estate purchasing agreement
Applicants may be requested to provide other documents pertaining to their investments or any affiliated family members on the application.
Greece Golden Visa Program Fees
There are extra fees to consider on top of your investment sum, namely: Legal fees, translation fees, tax fees, and other administrative costs. If you choose the real estate property investment route, you can expect to pay around 11 to 12 percent of the investment property value.
Some estimated costs to consider for real estate property investments:
- Property transfer tax: About 3.09 percent of the real estate property value
- Notary public fees: About 1 to 1.5 percent of the property value
- Land registry fee: About 0.6 to 0.8 percent of the property value
- Payment to the Greek government: About €2000 ($2,150) for the main investor and €150 ($161) per additional family member
- Greek healthcare insurance: About €100 ($108) for adults and around €80 for dependent children according to their age
- Golden Visa application fee: About €300 ($323) per person
- Golden Visa renewal fee: About €500 ($538) when the time comes
- Appointed lawyer fees: Depending on the lawyer and the services provided
Note that these are not fixed prices; they are estimated fees.
Greek Taxes and Deductions for Golden Visa Holders
Greece has double taxation agreements with 57 countries, allowing many Golden Visa holders to enjoy certain tax benefits. Depending on their tax jurisdiction and the amount of time they would spend in Greece, investors may not be subject to some of Greece’s taxation laws as they will not be considered tax residents; therefore, they may maintain their foreign business activities without being subject to foreign income tax.
The country has also provided various incentivized programs for foreigners living in Greece as tax residents. Retirees, digital nomads, and other expats may be exempt from specific taxes or pay a reduced cost. Investors will be required, however, to pay a certain percentage of tax on income they receive within Greece. Real estate property owners must pay any tax accrued from their acquisition, including property tax and rental income tax.
Countries that have a double taxation treaty with Greece
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Mexico, Malta, Moldavia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan.
Although these tax benefits for part-time residents are alluring, the longer investors spend in the country, the more eligible they become to apply for citizenship by naturalization and acquire Greece’s golden passport. Permanent and indefinite residency in Greece will make Golden Visa holders and investors tax residents and, therefore, subject to Greece’s taxation laws.
All tax residents in Greece, including Golden Visa holders who reside in the country indefinitely, are subject to income taxation – even on foreign income, including investments, pensions, and other types of income generated overseas. However, there is a flat seven percent tax rate for the first ten years on all foreign income brought into Greece.
Aside from property taxation, Greece also has gift and inheritance taxes that residents are subject to based on kinship:
- Five to ten percent for spouses, parents, children, and grandchildren;
- Ten to twenty percent for siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-grandchildren;
- Thirty to forty percent for all other relatives.
To be sure of which tax laws apply to you, it would be advisable to seek consultation from an international migration agency.
Greece Golden Visa Renewal Process
Residence permits obtained through the Greek Golden Visa have a five-year validity period, so they must be renewed every five years. In order to renew your Greek residence permit, you must submit specific documents and meet set conditions.
The documents needed in order to renew Greek Golden Visa residence permits are primarily:
- An application form
- Four recent colored passport photos
- A certified copy of a valid passport or travel documents recognized by Greece
- A certified copy of your previous permanent residence permit
- Certified proof of active Greek health insurance
Other documents may be requested by relevant authorities.
The conditions you will need to meet in order to renew your Greek Golden Visa residence permit are:
- That you remain the full owner of the purchased real estate property
- That you ensure all relevant leases and contracts are still valid and abide by government requirements
Can I buy Greek citizenship?
You cannot buy Greek citizenship. While Greece immigration by investment does not lead to citizenship directly, citizenship by naturalization is possible after living in Greece for seven years. Additionally, you must be a registered tax resident during those seven years, pass a Greek citizenship test and Greek language test, and show a genuine connection to the nation. Provided you fulfill these criteria, you become eligible for a Greek passport.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Greece Golden Visa
What is the Golden Visa scheme in Greece?
The Golden Visa in Greece is a European residency by investment scheme whereby non-EU/EEA citizens are granted legal residence in return for a qualifying investment in the nation. The investment usually comes in the form of real estate, shares of a Greek company, or public debt.
What are the benefits of applying to the investment program?
Key benefits include the chance to live in Greece indefinitely through a residence permit that is renewable every five years. The program provides visa-free access to the European Union, relocation of your entire family to Greece, tax benefits from double tax treaties, and owning real estate property with the opportunity to rent it out and gain back returns.
Are there any restrictions in place for purchasing real estate in Greece?
At present, there are no restrictions in place for purchasing real estate. The current minimum value for a qualifying real estate investment is €250,000 ($269,000). However, the Greek government has decided to raise the minimum investment sum to €500,000 ($534,000) for real estate investments in order to grant the priority of purchase to Greek nationals. This increase will take effect from 1 May 2023.
How long does it take to get my Golden Visa?
The average processing time for a Greece Golden Visa is three to five months. Once your application has been approved, it usually takes about 20 business days to receive your residence permit.
Do I have to go to Greece for my application?
You don’t need to visit Greece before or during the application procedure. However, you will need to go to Greece to submit your biometric data once your visa has been approved.
What family members can I include when applying for a Golden Visa?
Third-country nationals wishing to include family members in their visa application can include their spouse, unmarried dependent children under the age of 21, and the primary applicant/spouse’s parents and grandparents. Essentially, the visa program extends to the entire family.
Can I work in Greece with a Golden Visa?
You can obtain the right to work in Greece under your Golden Visa. However, this may subject you to additional taxes once you become a tax resident.
Is Greek citizenship possible?
Greek citizenship is only possible through naturalization. This requires that applicants maintain continuous residence in Greece for at least seven years. Eligible applicants would also be required to pass a Greek language proficiency test.
The Greece Golden Visa offers a way to reside in the country for the time required in order to be naturalized.
What other Golden Visa programs exist?
There are several Golden Visas across Europe. The Greek program mostly compares to the Portugal Golden Visa, a residency by investment scheme allowing foreign investors to gain residency in Portugal.
For a Greece versus Portugal Golden Visa comparison, check out this article; although be advised that the Portugal Golden Visa is coming to an end.
Can I retire in Greece after Brexit?
Following Brexit, British expats now follow non-EU/EEA procedures to apply for Golden Visas. However, they can stay in Greece for up to three months without requiring a visa. Before their travel permit expires, they must apply for legal residency.
Is it necessary to hire a lawyer to collect all documents?
It is recommended to hire a lawyer to make sure that you have all the necessary documents in accordance with Greek law and the requirements set by the relative Greek authorities.
Can a non-EU investor travel to other countries within the EU with the Greek permit granted to real estate owners?
Yes, the permanent residency permit provide the investor with total freedom of movement within the EU Schengen Zone.
Can the investor buy commercial property? Or a combination of commercial and residential properties or land?
The law in Greece states that at least €250,000* ($269,000) must be the stated price on the purchase contract; it does not distinguish between commercial and residential properties.
*This investment amount will increase to €500,000 ($534,000) on 1 May 2023.
Can Americans apply for a Golden Visa in Greece?
Yes, Americans can definitely apply for the Golden Visa in Greece. In fact, there are many Americans living in Greece who have benefitted from this immigration investment scheme.
How can you get Greek citizenship by investment?
Citizenship by investment is not a division of the Greek Golden Visa program. You can only acquire permanent residency in Greece through private or commercial property investment or engaging in the country’s economy with a substantial contribution.
You cannot directly purchase Greek citizenship by investment; however, you may apply for it after seven years of lawfully residing in Greece through the investment visa program.
How much do I need to invest in Greece to receive a Golden Visa?
To make a qualifying investment for the Greece Golden Visa, you’ll need to purchase real estate property for a minimum of €250,000* ($269,000) or invest a minimum of €400,000 ($430,000) in government bonds or capital shares.
*This minimum amount for real estate investment will increase to €500,000 ($534,000) on 1 May 2023.
Can you get a mortgage for a Golden Visa?
Yes, you can get a mortgage to buy a property through the Greece immigration investment program as long as the mortgage does not cover the required minimum investment amount.