Being Greek embodies a profound connection to Greece’s rich historical, cultural, and societal tapestry. It signifies a sense of belonging to a nation with a legacy spanning millennia, from the birthplace of democracy to the cradle of Western philosophy.
Greek citizenship is a badge of honor, signifying a link to ancient city-states like Athens and Sparta, where the foundations of democracy and civic participation were laid.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about obtaining Greek citizenship, investment options to obtain a residence permit, and how to get a Greek Passport.
What It Means to Be a Greek Citizen
Being a Greek citizen imparts a responsibility to participate in the nation’s democratic processes, exercising the right to vote and shape the course of the country’s future. It means engaging in the civic discourse and contributing to the collective decision-making that guides Greece forward.
Greek citizenship also opens the door to a dynamic, multicultural society where traditions intertwine with modernity. It grants access to the vast cultural heritage, from iconic archaeological sites to vibrant festivals and traditions that define Greek identity. It’s an invitation to explore the language, arts, and philosophies that have left an indelible mark on global civilization.
Additionally, being a Greek citizen extends the privilege of European Union membership, offering opportunities for seamless travel, work, and study across member states. It provides access to a robust social welfare system and legal protections that safeguard individual rights.
Ultimately, being a Greek citizen recognizes the unique blend of history, culture, and civic duty that defines one’s affiliation with Greece, forging a deep and enduring connection to a nation that stands as a beacon of enlightenment and cultural legacy.
Greek citizenship finds its roots in ancient city-states like Athens and Sparta, around the 8th century BCE. In these early forms of democracy, citizenship was tightly linked to one’s birthplace and parentage.
Only free-born males, typically of Athenian descent, were considered citizens. They had political rights, including the ability to participate in the democratic process, serve in the military, and own property. Women, slaves, and non-citizens were excluded from these privileges.
During the Hellenistic period after the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek culture and citizenship spread across a vast empire, broadening the concept of citizenship to include non-Greeks who adopted Greek customs.
The Roman period, starting in 146 BCE, brought Roman citizenship to many Greeks, further influencing the concept. With the rise of the Byzantine Empire, citizenship became more bureaucratic and tied to Christian identity.
Ottoman rule from the 15th century CE introduced a different understanding of citizenship, based on religious identity. Greeks maintained their Orthodox Christian identity, which played a pivotal role in their cultural and national identity.
The Greek War of Independence in the early 19th century led to the establishment of modern Greece. The first Greek Constitution in 1844 redefined citizenship, expanding it beyond the narrow confines of ancient Greece. Greece’s integration into the European Union in 1981 brought new dimensions to citizenship, linking it to a broader European identity.
This historical context illustrates the evolution of Greek citizenship from its ancient, exclusive form to a more inclusive, nationally-defined status, reflecting the changing political, social, and cultural landscape of Greece over millennia.
Benefits of Greek Citizenship
Becoming a Greek citizen offers a range of significant advantages. Firstly, it grants individuals access to the robust social welfare system of Greece, including healthcare, education, and unemployment benefits.
Greek citizens also have the right to participate in the country’s vibrant democratic processes, such as voting in elections and standing for public office. This allows them to shape the nation’s policies and priorities.
Greek citizenship facilitates unrestricted travel and residence within the European Union, enhancing opportunities for work, study, and leisure across member states. Additionally, Greek citizens enjoy preferential treatment in legal matters, benefiting from the full protection of Greek law and the judicial system. They have the right to own property and engage in business activities without the restrictions faced by non-citizens.
Furthermore, being a Greek citizen entails a sense of cultural belonging and heritage, allowing individuals to partake in the rich historical and cultural legacy of Greece. This includes participating in local festivals, ceremonies, and traditions that are deeply ingrained in Greek society.
In terms of international representation, Greek citizens can seek assistance and protection from Greek embassies and consulates worldwide. They are also eligible for consular services when traveling to foreign countries, ensuring a higher level of support and security.
Additionally, Greek citizens have access to an array of educational opportunities, including scholarships and grants, which can significantly contribute to personal and professional development.
Overall, acquiring Greek citizenship brings forth a myriad of privileges, encompassing social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions. It provides a gateway to a vibrant and historically rich society, along with the advantages of EU membership, making it an attractive prospect for those seeking to be part of Greece’s diverse and dynamic community.
Ways to Obtain Greek Citizenship
Greek citizenship by birth
The Greek government confers citizenship to every child born to a Greek father or mother. However, citizenship is only granted if the child doesn’t acquire a foreign nationality at birth. That won’t be the case for a child born in Greece, as they automatically become a national.
It’s important to note that the Greek government explains that “a Greek citizen is a person who is duly registered in the Records of a Municipality of the Hellenic Republic.”
However, this becomes tricky when children are born to Greek parents in a foreign country. Depending on the country’s law, a child will receive the citizenship of the territory they are born in, which invalidates the “doesn’t acquire a foreign nationality at birth” portion.
To get around that caveat, there are several other methods to acquire Greek citizenship.
Greek citizenship by descent
Greek citizenship by descent is a principle that citizenship is passed down through generations, maintaining a connection to one’s Greek heritage and cultural roots. It also ensures that individuals born to a Greek parent, whether within or outside Greece, have a legal claim to Greek citizenship.
Greek citizenship by birth and descent are closely related regarding eligibility criteria and requirements, but it can become complex depending on your circumstances. Greek nationality law states that citizenship is granted even if the parent hasn’t exercised their right to citizenship. However, it is still up to the applicant to prove to the Greek authorities their right to become a Greek national.
For example, if your grandfather was born in Greece, but your father was born abroad and never applied for Greek citizenship, you can claim nationality based on the fact that your father is Greek by birth.
As long as you can prove the Greek origin of your claim and gather all the necessary documents, you could possibly obtain a Greek passport.
Requirements and steps to follow
If you have an ancestor who had Greek citizenship (including through designation or assertion), there is no stipulated time frame in which you must make the application. You can apply at any time in your life as long as you are over the age of 18.
The required documents you need to apply include:
- The registration of the ancestor to Greek municipal records, such as a birth certificate
- Documents that prove your relationship to the Greek ancestor, such as your birth certificate, your parents’ birth certificates, and marriage records.
To lodge your Greek citizenship by descent application, take your documents to your nearest Greek Embassy or the Directorate of Civic Status of the Decentralised Administration of the area where you live. If you submit your documents to the embassy, there is a €100 fee.
Greek citizenship by naturalization
You can obtain Greek citizenship through naturalization, which means you have lived in the country long enough to be considered a national. However, naturalization doesn’t happen automatically, and you must apply for the status.
To be eligible for Greek citizenship by naturalization, you must be:
- Over the age of 18
- Been resident in Greece for seven years
- Demonstrate your integration into Greek society
- Be a character of good standing
The required documents include the following:
- Declaration for naturalization
- Receipt of payment to the Public Revenues collectors
- Copy of your passport
- Residence permit or other document proving you live in Greece
- Birth certificate
- Copy of your income tax statement
- Document proving you have no criminal records
In certain cases, you might be required to complete a Greek language test and demonstrate your knowledge of Greek culture and history. That can be shown through enrollment in a Greek school or courses that cover the necessary topics.
Once you are naturalized, you can start the process of applying for a Greek passport. It is possible to have dual citizenship if your country of origin allows for it.
Greek citizenship by marriage
Similarly to many other EU countries, obtaining Greek citizenship through marriage is legally stipulated in the law. It’s not as simple as walking to the nearest Greek consulate and declaring your intentions. There are several conditions that must be met, and the process can take some time.
To get Greek citizenship through marriage:
- You must be legally married to someone who is a Greek national. This means that their birth is registered in Greece.
- You can only apply after you have been married for three years.
- You can only apply if you have lived in Greece for at least three years.
As with all government processes, there is a stack of documentation that you must hand in with your application. The required documents include the following:
- Your marriage certificate and any other marriage certificates you might have had.
- Proof of your residency in the country.
- An acceptable level of Greek language proficiency.
- A document from the Greek government stating that you have a clean criminal record.
Greece Golden Visa
With its European, Balkan, and Mediterranean roots, life in Greece is tranquil and best spent on the many gorgeous beaches dotting the coastline. The Greece Golden Visa scheme allows just that and more for qualifying investors, providing a pathway to Greek residency within two months.
From visa-free travel within Europe’s Schengen Area to flexible application requirements and the opportunity to rent out your investment property, the Greece Golden Visa is one of the most sought-after residency by investment schemes in Europe.
You can also obtain residence permits for your immediate family members (spouse, children under 21, parents, and parents-in-law ) on a single investment.
Global Citizen Solutions has a 100 percent success rate with Golden Visa applications in Greece. A dedicated account manager supports each client throughout the application process and our extensive experience and inside knowledge in the Greek real estate market will give you the competitive edge required for success. The minimum investment threshold for real estate is €250,000, but the investment program states that for areas such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini, the minimum real estate investment is €500,000
How to Get a Greek Passport
Once you acquire Greek citizenship, you can apply for a Greek passport. This will afford you all the rights and privileges that come with traveling the globe on an EU document.
When you meet the specific requirements tied to your situation, such as naturalization, birth, or descent, you need to complete a passport application form and send it off to the Greek consular authorities.
According to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the application form must be filled out in Greek, you need to supply your Greek ID card and pay the administration fees. An adult passport costs €84.40 and is valid for ten years. The process takes a few weeks to complete.
Citizenship Revocation and Deprivation
Greek citizenship can be revoked or stripped under specific circumstances, as per Greek law. These include providing false information or using fraudulent means to obtain citizenship, involvement in terrorism, espionage, or activities threatening national security.
Conviction of serious crimes like treason, espionage, terrorism, or crimes against the state can also lead to citizenship revocation. Serving in a foreign army without government authorization may result in losing Greek citizenship unless it’s part of Greece’s international obligations.
Engaging in actions damaging to the national interest can be grounds for citizenship removal. The process can be appealed in court, but there are also several other implications:
- Loss of citizenship: If the decision to revoke citizenship is upheld, the individual loses their Greek citizenship and all associated rights and privileges.
- Residency status: Depending on the individual’s circumstances, they may face changes in their residency status. Non-citizens may need to apply for a different type of visa or permit to remain in Greece.
- Possible deportation: In some cases, individuals who lose their citizenship may be subject to deportation if they no longer meet the criteria for legal residence.
- Loss of rights: The individual forfeits rights associated with Greek citizenship, including the right to vote, run for public office, and certain legal protections.
Explore Global Citizenship: Key Insights and Options
Navigating the complexities of citizenship, passport acquisition, and immigration can be a daunting task. Whether you're considering a move for business, personal, or security reasons, understanding your options is crucial. At Global Citizen Solutions, we specialize in providing clear, comprehensive guidance in these areas. Our expertly crafted articles offer deep insights and comparisons to help you make informed decisions.
Exploring Citizenship by Investment: For those interested in acquiring citizenship through investment, our detailed guide breaks down the process, benefits, and key considerations, helping you understand how this path might suit your personal and financial goals.
Comparing Citizenship by Investment Programs: Choosing the right program is vital. Our comprehensive comparison of various citizenship by investment programs worldwide provides a clear, side-by-side look at what each country offers, aiding you in finding the perfect match for your needs.
Top Citizenship by Investment Programs: To further assist your decision-making, we've curated a list of the best citizenship by investment programs available. This resource is invaluable for anyone looking to understand which programs offer the most value, security, and benefits.
At Global Citizen Solutions, we're committed to helping you navigate the path to a new citizenship with ease and confidence. Explore our resources to gain a clearer understanding of your options and embark on your journey towards global citizenship.
Frequently Asked Questions about Greek Citizenship
Does Greece allow dual and multiple citizenships?
Yes, Greece allows its nationals to have dual citizenship. However, you must check whether your home country’s laws allow citizens to obtain citizenship from another country. With Greek dual citizenship, you are able to explore the world more broadly than before.
Does Greece have compulsory military service?
According to the Foreign Ministry, all male Greek citizens, aged between 19 and 45, are required to serve in the Armed Forces. This means that you’ll have to report for military service when you become a citizen. However, Greeks can avoid this by postponement.
Is the Greek language difficult?
The Greek alphabet is vastly different from Latin characters, and it’s difficult for Westerners to get a handle on it. The spoken language is easier to pick up, but if you practice every day, surround yourself with ethnic Greeks, and possibly go for lessons, it should be less of a struggle.
What is the process for applying for Greek citizenship and what are the key requirements?
To start applying for Greek citizenship, fill out the application form available at local Greek municipal offices or consulates. The requirements for Greek citizenship typically include proof of Greek heritage, residency, language proficiency, and a clean criminal record. After submitting the greek citizenship application form, expect a review period where additional documents might be requested. For detailed guidance, consult the Greek embassy or a legal expert in Greek citizenship.
How long does it take to get Greek citizenship?
You can qualify for Greek nationality after living in Greece for a period of time. EU citizens need to live in Greece for at least three years, while non-EU citizens, like Americans and Australians, must spend at least seven years living in the country.
First, you can live in the country for 7 years and pass the exam. EU nationals, refugees, spouses, and parents of Greek citizens need only 3 years. The second way is residency through investment. It requires you to invest at least €250,000 in the Greek economy.