Golden Visa Greece 2022 – The Ultimate Guide by Experts

The Greece Golden Visa Program – also known as the Greece Investment Visa – is a perfect option for those who seek to obtain an 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, to incredible tax benefits and reductions, and more.

Whether you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen in search of a second residency that provides you with excellent healthcare and education benefits, an avid investor aiming to expand and diversify your 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 lifestyle full of delicious cuisine, fantastic weather, and a surplus of family benefits.

In this guide to the Greek Golden Visa Program, you will go through:

What is the Greece Golden Visa Program?

The Greece Golden Visa Program is a five-year residency by investment program that launched in 2013, and has since enabled third country nationals as well as non-EU/EEA citizens and their family members to become holders of permanent residence permits in Greece. To qualify for the program and acquire the renewable residence permit, applicants must first have a clear criminal record and place an adequate investment in Greece with a current minimum value of €250,000 – if placed in real estate.

It is important to note that there will be new Greece Golden Visa rules as the Greek government is raising the minimum value to €500,000 for real estate investments to grant priority purchases to Greek locals. The government still did not announce when the change will take place, however, according to SchengenVisaInfo the Greek Prime minister expects it to happen in early 2023.

Nevertheless, provided that applicants maintain their investments, they become eligible for residency in Greece and can obtain a residence permit that can be renewed every five years. Those who succeed with their application and acquire the Greece Golden Visa may later qualify for citizenship after seven years of naturalization.

Benefits of the Greek Golden Visa Program

The Greece Golden Visa Program is arguably one of the most competitive Golden Visa Programs in the entire European Union, and its benefits are many which make it quite alluring for investors and their families. Some of the main benefits of acquiring this visa are the inclusion of your immediate family members, access to excellent education systems, visa-free travel across Europe’s Schengen zone, and more.

Visa-free travel to the entire Schengen area Visa-free travel to the entire Schengen area
Thriving real estate market Thriving real estate market
Zero stay requirements Zero stay requirements
Citizenship by naturalization after 7 years Citizenship by naturalization after 7 years

Other benefits are as follows:

  • Inclusion of Immediate Family Members – Residence permits are extended to the entire family, including children under the age of 21, siblings, and parents of both the applicant and their spouse.
  • Access to Excellent Healthcare – Residence permit holders can access Greece’s excellent healthcare system and benefit from free and equitable services as well as incredible medical insurance spread across the public and private sectors.
  • Access to Excellent Education Systems – Children of applicants can benefit from excellent education systems, as Greece provides all of its residents and citizens with a high level of education for free.
  • Visa-free Travel in Europe’s Schengen Zone – As part of the European Union and a member state in the Schengen countries, Greek residence permit holders can travel without hassle within Europe and the Schengen area.
  • Tax Reductions and Benefits Of A Double Taxation Treaty – Greece has double taxation agreements with 57 countries, which provide residence permit holders with tax reductions 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 cash flow while they maintain 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 property, Greek government bonds, or other capital funds. Regardless of their choice, the process will look the same for everyone, as follows:

1. Prepare Your Golden Visa Application

2. Submit Your Application

3. Complete the Final Verification Step

4. Receive Your Golden Visa

  1. Preparing Your Golden Visa Application

Collect all necessary paperwork, choose your real estate property, or opt for a more general investment.

  1. Submitting 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.

  1. Completing 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.

  1. Receiving Your Greek Golden Visa

After using your temporary residence permit to enter Greece and submitting your biometric data in a confirmed appointment with the relevant authorities, your Golden Visa should be issued within 20 business days.

Application Processing Time

Week 1: Select your preferred investment route

Week 2: Open a Greek bank account. As an extra option, assign an attorney to help you out

Week 3: Acquire the property or make the respective investment

Week 4: Pre-submit your application either by yourself or with the help of a lawyer. Gather all the required documentation. It is advisable to have a lawyer by your side, as there will be laws that will need to be upheld every step of the way.

Week 5: Visit Greece and submit your biometric data

Week 6-8: Your Golden Visa is approved

Year 5: Renew your Golden Visa Residence Permit (every five years)

Year 7: Apply for citizenship by naturalization

Greece Golden Visa Qualifying Investment Options

While the current minimum value for a qualifying real estate property investment currently stands at €250,000*, there are several other investment options that would still make investors eligible for the Greek Golden Visa Program. These include investments in government bonds and shares in venture capital bonds, among other options.

Real Estate Property Investment Options

  • Purchase a Golden Visa real estate property in Greece worth at least €250,000*
  • Or enter a ten-year lease agreement, either for hotel accommodations or furnished tourist residences in program-integrated tourist resorts

General Investment Options

  • Invest a minimum of €400,000 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 in shares, corporate bonds, or Greek Treasury bonds listed in trading facilities operating in Greece

Conditions

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% of the company’s shares if they purchased the property through a legal entity;
  • That the real estate property is owned by them, and still in their possession.

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*; and must require 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 renew their Golden Visa residence permits every five years.

*The current minimum investment requirement for real estate will be increased to €500,000 in the coming year.

Greece Golden Visa Statistics

The Golden Visa in Greece has seen incremental growth over the years due to its many alluring benefits. As of the year 2022, 28,767 Golden Visa residence permits have been successfully granted to applicant investors and property owners, as well as their families. This resulted in an economic boom in Greece, providing the nation with over €2.6 billion worth of foreign income by investments.

Greece’s Golden Visa Program applicants came from over 817 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
Greece Golden Visa Statistics
Thera Seashore Greece

Documents Required for the Greek Golden Visa Program

There are several documents that must be submitted in order for an investor to be considered for a residence permit card. These documents will have to be first certified by 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 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 Greek Schengen Visa 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, and their ties to any affiliated family member.

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 go for the real estate property investment route, you may expect to pay around 11-12 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 for the main investor, and €150 per additional family member
  • Greek Healthcare Insurance: about €100 for adults and around €80 for dependent children according to their age
  • Golden Visa Application Fee: about €300 per person
  • Golden Visa Renewal Fee: about €500 when the time comes
  • Appointed Lawyer Fees: depending on the lawyer and the services provided

Note, these are not fixed prices, they are fee estimates.

Greek Taxes and Reductions for Golden Visa Holders

Greece entered into double taxation agreements with 57 countries, allowing many Golden Visa holders to enjoy certain tax benefits. Depending on their country of residence, 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 a tax resident, therefore they may maintain their foreign business activities without being subject to foreign income tax.

The country has also provided various incentive programs for foreigners living in Greece as tax residents. Retirees, digital nomads, and other expats may be exempt from certain taxation or pay a reduced cost. Investors will be required, however, to pay a certain percentage tax on income they receive within Greece. Real estate property owners must pay any tax accrued from their property 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.

Greece Golden Visa Properties

Although these tax benefits are alluring, the longer investors spend in the country, the more eligible they become to apply for citizenship by naturalization. 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. In fact, there is a flat seven percent tax rate for the first ten years on all foreign income in Greece, making all foreign earnings – investments, pensions, and other generated income – subject to taxation.

Aside from property taxation, Greece also has gift and inheritance taxes that residents are subject to based on kinship, as follows:

  • 5 to 10 percent for spouses, parents, children, and grandchildren;
  • 10 to 20 percent for siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-grandchildren;
  • 30 to 40 percent for all other relatives.

To be certain of which laws apply to you, it would be advisable to contact a lawyer.

Greece Golden Visa Renewal Process

Residence permits obtained through the Greek Golden Visa must be renewed every five years, as they are only issued for that duration. In order to renew your Greek residence permit, you must submit certain documents and meet set conditions.

The documents you will need in order to renew your 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 residency card
  • 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 abiding 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 this seven-year period, 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

What is the Golden Visa Scheme in Greece?

It’s basically a European residency by investment scheme, whereby non-EU/EEA citizens, third-country nationals, and foreign investors are granted legal residency in the country, in return for a qualifying investment in the nation (usually real estate).

What are the benefits of applying to the investment program?

Key benefits include the chance to live in Greece with a permanent residence permit, visa-free access to the European Union, relocation of your entire family to Greece, double taxation treaty for certain beneficiaries, and owning real estate property with the opportunity to rent it out and gain back returns.

Are there any restrictions in place to purchasing real estate?

At present, there are no restrictions in place. The current minimum value for a qualifying real estate investment is €250,000. However, the Greek government is planning on raising the minimum investment sum to €500,000 for real estate investments to grant priority purchases to Greek locals.

They still did not announce when the change will take place, but according to SchengenVisaInfo the Greek Prime minister expects it to happen in early 2023.

How long until I get my Golden Visa?

Once you submit your Greece Golden Visa application, it usually takes about 20 business days to get your residence permit.

Do I have to go to Greece for my application?

As of December 2020, you don’t need to visit Greece before or during the application procedure. However, you will need to go to Greece when the time comes to submit your biometric information.

What family members can I bring when I get the Golden Visa?

Family members of third country nationals include the spouse, children under the age of 21, and the primary applicant/spouse’s parents, and grandparents. Basically, the Golden Visa extends to the entire family.

Can I work in Greece with a Golden Visa?

Yes, you may have the right to work in Greece with the Golden Visa. However, this may subject you to additional taxes once you become a tax resident.

Is Greek citizenship possible?

Greek citizenship is possible after being a resident for seven years and passing a Greek language proficiency text. This is referred to as citizenship by naturalization.

What other Golden Visa Programs exist?

There are many Golden Visas across Europe. The Greek program mostly compares to the Portugal Golden Visa, a residency by investment option for qualifying investors.

Can I retire in Greece after Brexit?

Following Brexit, British expats now follow non-EU/EEA Golden Visa application procedures. However, they can stay in Greece for up to three months without need for a visa. Before their travel permit is up, they will need to apply for permanent 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 relative authorities.

Can a non-EU investor travel to other countries within the EU with the Greek permit for owners of real estate?

Yes, the permanent residency and long-term 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 €250,000* must be the stated price on the contract and this does not distinguish between commercial and residential properties.

*This price is subject to change in the coming year, as the government will increase the minimum investment requirement for real estate to €500,000.

Can Americans apply for the 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 program.

How to get Greek citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment is technically not a division of the Greek Golden Visa program, you only get permanent residence status in Greece if you invest in a private property, or otherwise engage in the country’s economy with a substantial contribution, which can then qualify you for citizenship.

You cannot directly purchase Greek citizenship by investment, however, you may apply for it after seven years of residing in Greece. You must first make a qualifying investment in Greece to obtain a residence permit.

How much do I need to invest in Greece for a Golden Visa?

To invest in the Greece Golden Visa, you’ll need to purchase real estate property for a minimum of €250,000* or invest a minimum of €400,000 in government bonds or capital shares.

*This price is subject to change in the coming year, as the government will increase the minimum investment requirement for real estate to €500,000.

Can you get a mortgage for a Golden Visa?

Yes, you can get a mortgage to buy a property through the Golden Visa program as long as the mortgage does not cover the required investment amount.