Known worldwide for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, Greece stands as an increasingly attractive destination for those contemplating retirement abroad.
As people explore the idea of retiring in a Mediterranean country, they often want clear information on available visa options for a smooth transition to their next phase of life. While Greece, per se, does not boast a dedicated retirement visa, the options are far from limited.
It’s important to note that while Greece doesn’t have a specific retirement visa, there are alternative options to choose from, including the Financially Independent Person Visa (FIP). This visa is ideal for non-EU citizens who have sufficient funds to live in Greece without seeking a work permit or conducting business activities in the country.
The Financially Independent Person Visa (FIP) has an array of attractive benefits and emerges as a noteworthy choice for those dreaming of retiring in Greece.
Through this guide, we aim to provide a detailed overview of the FIP and other relevant visa options, providing essential information for those considering the prospect of retirement in Greece.
Greece Retirement Visa: An Overview
Does Greece have a retirement visa?
Greece does not have a specific retirement visa. However, there are a few Greek visas that are suitable for individuals seeking to retire in the country.
An attractive alternative for individuals considering retirement in Greece is the Financially Independent Person Visa (FIP). The FIP Visa is tailored for financially independent individuals who can demonstrate that they can support themselves and any eligible dependents without the need to get a job or invest in Greece.
While Greece may not offer a dedicated retirement visa, the FIP Visa provides a viable pathway for retirees seeking to enjoy the country’s enticing Mediterranean lifestyle.
How can I retire in Greece?
If you’re a non-EU citizen considering retirement in Greece, there are a few visa options available. One of the most attractive routes to retirement in Greece is the Financially Independent Person Visa (FIP). This visa is specifically designed for individuals who can demonstrate financial independence.
Alternatively, another option is the Golden Visa, which is a broader program allowing non-EU citizens to obtain residence permits in Greece by investing in the Greek real estate market, local businesses, and more.
In the subsequent sections, we will delve into the details of the Financially Independent Person Visa (FIP), breaking down the requirements, application process, and key considerations for those looking to retire in Greece.
About the Financially Independent Person Visa Greece
What is the FIP Visa in Greece?
The Financially Independent Person Visa (FIP) in Greece is a renewable residence visa specifically designed to attract non-EU nationals who are financially independent and can demonstrate sufficient funds to cover their living expenses in Greece.
Unlike the Greek Golden Visa, the FIP Visa doesn’t require individuals to make a direct investment in Greece. Instead, applicants need to demonstrate that they possess the financial means to live in Greece, which can be achieved by showcasing a stable annual income.
Who can apply?
Non-EU citizens who want to reside in Greece and have the financial means, in the way of stable annual income, to cover their living costs in the country.
What are the benefits of the FIP Visa?
From the opportunity to retire in one of Europe’s most enticing countries to the affordability, Greece’s FIP has numerous benefits. Below are the key advantages of the Greece retirement visa:
The FIP Visa extends its benefits to the family of the applicant. The term ‘Family’ includes the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 who are considered dependents of the applicant.
Visa-Free Travel in the Schengen Area
FIP Visa holders enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, providing the flexibility to explore and travel seamlessly across multiple European countries.
Unlike the Greek Golden Visa and other EU Golden Visa programs, the Greece FIP Visa does not require a substantial financial investment, nor that you purchase property in the country. This makes it a more affordable option for those seeking residency in Greece without committing to a significant capital outlay.
Access to Greece’s high quality of life
FIP Visa holders have the opportunity to live in Greece and benefit from the country’s high quality of life. Retirees and their families can enjoy a fulfilling and comfortable lifestyle in Greece and have access to the country’s free healthcare system and educational opportunities.
Pathway to permanent residency Greek citizenship
Once you’ve secured the Greece retirement visa, you can obtain a temporary residence permit, which is valid for two years and may be renewed every three years.
After holding your FIP residency for five years, you become eligible for Greek permanent residency. After holding your FIP residency for 7 years, you become eligible for Greek citizenship.
Once you become a Greek citizen, you can get a Greek passport, which is a European Union passport. This means that once you obtain it, you can live anywhere in the 27-member E.U. without ever again having to apply for a residence permit or a visa.
Please note that if you decide to apply for Greek citizenship, you’ll have to take an exam about Greek history, customs, and politics. The test is conducted in the Greek language.
As a plus, however, Greece allows dual citizenship with no restrictions.
Greece FIP Visa: Requirements & Application Process
FIP Visa requirements
- Be a non-EU national
- Not having a criminal record
- Not suffer from a disease capable of posing a risk to public health in accordance with the international data of the World Health
- Not to be considered as a threat to public order, internal security, public health, or international relations and not be registered as persona non grata (undesirable alien) in the national databases.
- Have a stable source of annual income to live in Greece. Please note that the FIP Visa Greece does not allow the main applicant to undertake salaried work or any independent economic activity in Greece.
Please note that you need to spend 183 days or longer in Greece to keep your residency renewable.
Greece retirement visa income requirements
There are two ways of qualifying for a FIP residency visa:
- Apply on the basis of non-salaried, passively sourced income (pension, long-term rental income, dividends, royalties). Salary and business income are not considered eligible under the program.
- Apply on the basis of savings
If applying on the basis of a passive income, the main applicant will be required to prove that they consistently earn a minimum of €2,000 per month. This amount is increased by 20% if the applicant is accompanied by a spouse and an additional 15% for each child.
You can also apply by proving that you have sufficient savings to accommodate and support yourself, along with any dependents, in Greece. The qualifying amount currently stands at €48,000. This amount is increased by 20% if you apply with a spouse as a dependent and 15% if children are included as dependents.
It’s important to note that, for the savings option, you will need to deposit the money in a Greek bank. The savings funds must remain in your Greek bank account for the duration of your stay.
There are a few drawbacks to this option. Since Greece’s economic crisis in 2008, the country has reached unsustainable levels of government debt. At one point, Greece had to impose capital controls and limit cash withdrawals to €60 per day. So, it may not be the ideal place to keep your money.
The proof of income is evidenced by documents such as a retirement pension or bank statements.
Required documents for the Greek retirement visa
To apply for the FIP Greece Visa, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
- Clean criminal record from the country of residence where the applicant has been living for over a year. *
- Valid passport issued within the previous ten years. The passport shall be valid for at least three months after the intended date of your departure from the Schengen area or, in the case of multiple trips, until the date on which you plan to depart after your final stay. It must also contain at least two blank pages.
- Certificate of good health proving that you don’t suffer from a disease capable of being dangerous to public health according to the international standards of the World Health Organization
- You must either own or lease property in Greece. To prove it, you must have copies of the deeds of ownership or the rental agreement filed with the Greek tax authority.
- Travel insurance, with a period of validity equal to the visa issued, as a minimum, covers the costs that may arise in the event of repatriation for medical reasons, for emergency medical care and/or emergency hospital care.
- Evidence, such as bank, social security, or pension statements, proving that you have the necessary income or savings to support yourself and your family dependents in Greece
Additional documents will be requested according to your specific case.
* In case the applicant has resided in a country other than his or her country of origin, for more than one year before the application for a visa, the consular authority may, in addition, request a criminal record from the country of nationality.
FIP Visa application process
The applicant must go in person to the Greek Consulate from their country of origin or residence and apply for the long-term FIP Visa. This visa is valid for a maximum period of 12 months and issued within ten days of the application.
After the FIP Visa is granted and before it expires, the applicant may enter Greece and apply for a temporary residence permit at the Ministry of Immigration. This process must be done in person, as the applicant has to register their biometric data.
Once the application is filed online, the system issues a written proof of filing, which serves essentially as a temporary residence permit, allowing the applicant (and their family, if applicable) to stay in Greece for more than 90 days and essentially until the residence permit is issued. The temporary residence card, which allows the applicant to live legally in Greece, is delivered within three months from the application date.
Visa processing time and fees
The residence permit granted through the FIP Visa takes between one to three months to be issued.
Consulate fees: it depends on the place where the application is made, usually about €180 for each applicant.
For the residence permit:
- €1,016 for the main applicant and
- €166 for each dependent.
Greece Golden Visa Program: Alternative to FIP
If you want to retire in Greece but are not eligible for the FIP Visa, the Greek Golden Visa Program is a compelling alternative for you.
Also known as the Greece Investment Visa, the program offers an excellent opportunity for individuals who appreciate the value of investments with profitable returns and are also seeking retirement in Europe.
Introduced by the Greek government in 2014, the Golden Visa program functions as a residency-by-investment scheme, granting non-EU/EEA nationals and their family members the chance to reside in Greece legally.
Unlike the FIP Visa, the Greek Golden Visa Program involves an investment requirement, with a minimum value of €250,000. There are several attractive investment options available, including investing in the real estate market, investing in a Greek company, acquiring shares or corporate bonds, or making a capital transfer to a Greek bank account.
One notable advantage of the Greece Golden Visa is its flexibility. There are no minimum stay requirements, allowing retirees to structure their time between Greece and other locations. Additionally, family members, including spouses and dependent children, can be included in the application, fostering a sense of togetherness for those embracing the Greek lifestyle.
Beyond residency, the Golden Visa serves as a pathway to Greek citizenship through naturalization, attainable after seven years of continuous residence in Greece, provided the requirements are met. This comprehensive program extends its benefits to visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, offering retirees the freedom to explore Europe seamlessly.
The Greece Golden Visa combines the allure of a thriving real estate market, potentially high returns on investment, visa-free travel, and family benefits, making it an appealing choice for those looking to retire in Greece.
Retiring in Greece: What you Need to Know
Why retire in Greece?
There are several compelling reasons that make Greece the right retirement destination for foreigners. First, the country boasts a laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle fueled by a warm climate, beautiful landscapes, and a slower pace, which contributes to a relaxed and enjoyable retirement experience.
From the azure waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas to the mountainous landscapes, Greece boasts breathtaking scenery. Whether it’s on the islands or the mainland, foreign retirees could live in a place of abundant natural beauty.
Greece is also steeped in history and mythology, offering retirees the opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich cultural heritage. From ancient ruins to vibrant traditions, there’s always something new to explore and learn within the country.
Compared to many other European countries, Greece offers a relatively low cost of living, of living. This includes reasonable healthcare costs, transportation, and day-to-day expenses, making it an attractive option for retirees on a budget.
Greeks are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness. Retirees often find themselves embraced by the local community, making it easier to integrate into the culture and form meaningful connections.
Retirees in Greece, especially those under the FIP Visa program, enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, providing the freedom to explore neighboring European countries without additional bureaucratic hurdles.
Who can retire in Greece?
Greece is a welcoming retirement destination for both EU and non-EU citizens. Citizens of the European Union can easily retire in Greece without needing a special visa or residence permit
Non-EU citizens can apply for a Greek Visa, such as FIP or the Golden Visa, that allows them to retire in the country.
Can US citizens retire in Greece?
Yes, US citizens can easily retire in Greece. However, US nationals who don’t have a European passport must apply for a visa (such as the FIP Visa or Golden Visa) to retire and live in Greece.
But if you’re a US citizen who plans to visit Greece as a tourist and stay there for up to 90 days, you won’t need an entry visa to the country.
Top places to retire in Greece
Greece offers a variety of charming locations that cater to the different preferences, lifestyles, and interests of retirees. Here are some top places to retire in Greece:
Athens: Greece’s capital city combines historical richness with urban amenities. Retirees can explore ancient ruins, visit museums, and enjoy a vibrant city lifestyle with numerous restaurants, cafes, and cultural events.
Corfu: Located in the Ionian Sea, Corfu is known for its lush landscapes, Venetian architecture, and charming villages. It provides a more relaxed pace of life and a welcoming community.
Crete: The largest Greek island, Crete, provides a diverse landscape with mountains, beaches, and charming villages. Cities like Heraklion and Chania offer a mix of history, culture, and a more relaxed island lifestyle.
Thessaloniki: Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, is known for its cultural diversity, historical sites, and lively atmosphere. It offers a blend of urban and seaside living along the Thermaic Gulf.
Santorini: Famous for its iconic, white-washed buildings and stunning sunsets, Santorini is a picturesque island in the Aegean Sea. While it’s a popular tourist destination, retirees can find quieter areas away from the bustling crowds.
Peloponnese: This peninsula in southern Greece is known for its historical significance and natural beauty. Cities like Nafplio and Kalamata offer a tranquil atmosphere, historical sites, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.
Rhodes: Another beautiful island, Rhodes, boasts medieval architecture, pristine beaches, and a vibrant atmosphere. The Old Town in Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a unique historical setting.
Nafplio: As one of the most romantic and historically rich cities in Greece, Nafplio is located on the Peloponnese peninsula. With its well-preserved old town, picturesque harbor, and proximity to ancient sites, it’s a favorite among retirees.
Goura: A beautiful picturesque settlement built on the slopes of Mount Ziria, a 2.5-hour drive from Athens. Retaining the peaceful atmosphere of early-19th century Greece, the village is often considered one of the top five Greek villages to retire in.
Healthcare in Greece
Greece has a universal healthcare system like that of the UK and Canada. Governed by the National Health System (ESY), this national healthcare system provides general medical services and hospital treatments to all Greek citizens and legal residents, so they don’t have to pay for private medical insurance.
Not everything is covered by Greece’s public healthcare, so retirees may want to consider private health insurance (which is already mandatory for those applying for the FIP Visa).
Private healthcare services in Greece are a convenient alternative to the public system, as they provide quicker access to medical services and cover a broad spectrum of medical services beyond what the public healthcare system provides.
Taxes in Greece for Retirees
In 2020, Greece introduced an attractive initiative, offering a flat seven percent tax rate on foreign-sourced income for retirees who shift their tax residence to the country. To qualify, foreign pensioners must not have been Greek tax residents in the previous five years. The seven percent tax rate is then valid for the next 15 years.
This favorable tax rate is inclusive of all categories of foreign-derived income, including rents, business proceeds, dividends, and pensions.
Greece also has the so-called Non-Dom Tax Regime, which is suitable for high-net-worth individuals. Under this regime, expats who relocate their tax residence to Greece will pay €100,000 per tax year, no matter how much their total income is.
Read our Guide to Taxes in Greece to learn more about your specific tax obligations (including getting your taxpayer identification number) when moving to the country.
How Global Citizen Solutions Can Help
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique investment migration consultancy firm focused on finding the right residency or citizenship by investment program for individuals wishing to secure their future and become global citizens.
With offices in Portugal, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Brazil, our multilingual team guides individuals and families from start to finish, providing expert advice considering freedom, mobility, taxation, and security.
From helping individuals find their dream homes or investments to providing successful immigration and relocation services, our international team is with you every step of the way.
Global Citizen Solutions (GCS) offers a comprehensive service for your Greece Retirement Visa application, including:
- Immigration Planning: Our Legal Team organizes a call with you to understand your needs and plans, creating a personalized immigration plan.
- Preparing Required Documents: GCS takes care of all paperwork, writes necessary letters/declarations, and guides you through the required documentation tailored to your circumstances.
- Securing Accommodation: GCS assists you in securing long-term accommodation in Greece by either buying or renting a property.
- Visa Application Process: GCS supports you in the collection of necessary documents, schedules the visa interview appointment, and helps prepare for the interview. We provide information on processing times and requirements for handling your passport during this time.
We can start working towards your Greece Visa application.
Frequently Asked Questions About Greece Retirement Visa:
How much income do I need to retire in Greece?
The amount of money needed to retire in Greece will depend on your lifestyle and your personal circumstances. On average, retirees may need between €800 to €2,500 per month to cover living expenses, including housing, food, healthcare, and leisure activities.
If you’re a non-EU citizen seeking to retiring in Greece, the amount needed will depend on the type of visa you’re applying to. The FIP Visa Greece, which is ideal for retirees, requires applicants to have a passive income of at least €2,000 per month. This amount is increased by 20% if the applicant is accompanied by a spouse and an additional 15% for each child.
How to apply for a retirement visa in Greece?
To apply for the Greece retirement visa (FIP), go in person to the Greek Consulate from your country of origin or residence and submit the documentation. This visa is valid for a maximum period of 12 months and issued within ten days of the application.
After the FIP Visa is granted, you may enter Greece and apply for a temporary residence permit at the Ministry of Immigration. This process must be done in person, as you must register your biometric data.
The temporary residence card, which allows you to live legally in Greece, is delivered within 3 months from the application date.
What is the easiest retirement visa in Europe?
One of the easiest retirement visas in Europe is Portugal’s D7 Visa. Also known as the Passive Income Visa, the D7 is affordable, attractive, and has a fairly straightforward process. In addition, Portugal is also one of the cheapest countries to retire in.
How can I stay in Greece longer than 90 days?
If you wish to stay in Greece for longer than 90 days within a 180-day period, you should apply for a long-term visa prior to your arrival in Greece.
Some options of Greek visas include:
- Golden Visa Greece
- Financially Independent Visa (Greece FIP Visa)
- Greece Study Visa
- Employment Visa
Is Greece expensive to retire?
Greece is quite affordable compared to other European countries. Retirees may need between €800 to €2,500 per month to live in Greece.
Which Greek Island is best for retirement?
Some of the most popular Greek islands to retire include Samos, Crete, Skopelos, Rhodes and Corfu.
Is moving to Greece difficult?
For citizens of the European Union, moving to Greece is a relatively straightforward process. However, if you are a resident of a non-EU country, the transition can be more challenging. Non-EU residents face a more extended and intricate application process, as they’d need to apply for a special long-term visa and navigate through the associated procedures. This involves meeting specific criteria and fulfilling requirements related to employment, financial means, and other relevant factors.
What are the benefits of retiring in Greece?
Retiring in Greece comes with several benefits, offering a unique and fulfilling lifestyle. Here are some advantages of choosing Greece as a retirement destination:
- Pleasant Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters.
- The opportunity to soak in Greece’s rich history and culture.
- Live surrounded by scenic landscapes, including picturesque islands and pristine beaches.
- Compared to many Western countries, Greece has a relatively affordable cost of living.
- Experience the warmth and hospitality of the Greek people.
Does Greece tax retirees' pensions?
As of 2020, Greece has a flat seven percent tax rate for foreign-sourced income for retirees who become tax residents. To qualify, retirees must not have been Greek tax residents in the previous five years. The seven percent tax rate is then valid for the next 15 years.