The Greece Golden Visa is one of Europe’s cheapest pathways to citizenship.
For a minimum of €250,000 invested in Greek real estate, you and your family can access a whole host of benefits – with the opportunity to secure a valuable second citizenship that allows freedom to live, work, study, do business, and retire anywhere in Europe.
Let’s dive right in and explore the details of the Greece Golden Visa program.
What is the Greece Golden Visa Program?
Launched in 2013, the Greece Golden Visa is a European residency-by-investment program.
It was designed to help Greece recover from the damaging effects of the 2008 financial crisis (which struck Greece harder than any other EU nation).
Since it was established, the Golden Visa program has generated around €2.6 billion of foreign investment in Greece.
In return for investing in Greece, the Golden Visa gives non-EU nationals and their families the benefits of permanent residency in Greece, along with access to the wider EU.
They can also use the Greece Golden Visa as a pathway to a valuable second passport – complete with full EU citizenship rights.
The program became increasingly popular as the years went by, with 955 Golden Visas issued in 2017, 1,893 in 2018, and 3,535 in 2019.
As of 2021, a total of over 9,500 main applicants have received a Golden Visa, along with over 19,000 of their dependents. (Source: Enterprise Greece).
But in 2020, the number of Golden Visas issued fell to 938, due to the pandemic and the requirement to visit Greece in person.
In response, the Greek government changed the laws. You can now complete most of the Greece Golden Visa process remotely, making it a very convenient option.
The Greece Golden Visa in a Nutshell
|Minimum investment threshold||€250,000 (real estate)|
|Timeline to permanent residency in Greece||3 months|
|Timeline to be eligible for Greek citizenship||7 years|
|Minimum stay requirements to maintain permanent residency||None|
|Minimum stay requirements for citizenship||183 days per year|
|Language requirements for permanent residency||None|
|Language requirements for citizenship||B1 Greek|
|Dual citizenship allowed?||Yes|
Pros and Cons of the Greece Golden Visa
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of the Golden Visa in Greece – especially in terms of your pathway to EU citizenship.
Benefits of the Greece Golden Visa Program
- AFFORDABLE – The Greece Golden Visa is Europe’s CHEAPEST real estate residency-by-investment program
- MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY – No need to relocate to Greece to maintain your permanent residency rights
- TRAVEL EUROPE FREELY – Go anywhere in the whole Schengen zone without any additional visas or permits
- HOT REAL ESTATE MARKET – Opportunities for healthy returns on your investment
- FAST PERMANENT RESIDENCY – Get your permanent residency status in just three months
- EDUCATION & HEALTHCARE – Access both of these with the same rights as Greek citizens
- VARIETY OF INVESTMENT OPTIONS – choose from real estate, investment funds, or investing in Greek companies
- FAMILY MEMBERS INCLUDED – Your whole family can enjoy access to the unique benefits of Greece and the wider EU (including your spouse or long-term partner, any children under 21, plus your parents and parents-in-law!)
Disadvantages of the Greece Golden Visa Program
- 7-YEAR TIMELINE TO CITIZENSHIP – The Greece Golden Visa isn’t a fast track to EU citizenship
- LIVING IN GREECE REQUIRED FOR CITIZENSHIP – The Greece Golden Visa lets you maintain permanent residency rights in Greece without ever living there. BUT, if you want eventual citizenship, you’ll have to move to Greece.
- MUST PAY TAXES IN GREECE – Along with moving to Greece, paying taxes every year is another requirement on the pathway to citizenship
- LANGUAGE TEST REQUIRED – You’ll need to pass a test at B1 level in Greek language
- CITIZENSHIP TEST REQUIRED – You’ll also be tested on your understanding of Greek history, society and culture
In short, the Golden Visa in Greece is an excellent choice for those who want fast permanent residency rights in Europe. It’s less suitable for those with an ultimate goal of EU citizenship.
Who is eligible for the Greece Golden Visa?
To be eligible for the Greece Golden Visa, you must meet the following basic requirements:
- Aged 18 or over
- Third country national (i.e., not a citizen of an EU/EEA country, or Switzerland)
- Clean criminal record
- Invest a minimum of €250,000 in Greece
- Have full medical insurance covering yourself and any dependents
- Pass a due diligence check, in line with international anti-money laundering regulations
Greece Golden Visa: Investment options
Real estate isn’t the only Golden Visa investment option available in Greece. You can choose from several other options, including investment funds and government bonds. Here’s a full breakdown.
|Type of investment||Minimum threshold|
|Shares of real estate investment firms||€400,000|
|Shares of a venture capital firm, private equity firm or mutual fund||€400,000|
The Greece Golden Visa application process
Here’s a step-by-step guide to the typical Golden Visa application process, with a focus on real estate. NB: Other investment options would follow a similar process, with the pre-submission stage starting once you obtain proof of investment.
#1. Choose Property
Decide on your investment criteria and choose a property to buy. Transfer the reservation fee and sign a reservation agreement to reserve the property.
#2. Complete Legal Steps
Get your Greek non-resident tax number and open a Greek bank account. You can do this using power of attorney, so there’s no need to come to Greece in person.
#3. Acquire Property
Hire a lawyer to conduct legal due diligence on the property.
Then, get a promissory sale-to-purchase agreement and execute a public deed.
#4. Complete Pre-Submission
Gather all necessary documentation for your Golden Visa application. It’s useful to hire a lawyer to help with this stage.
#5. Travel to Greece
Provide your biometric data (fingerprints, electronic signature and photograph) to the Greek authorities. (You have a period of 12 months to complete this task, providing more flexibility after Covid).
#6. Get Approval
The Greek authorities will review and approve your application. Once that’s done, you’ll receive your residence permit.
#7. Renew Residence Permit
You’ll need to renew your Golden Visa residence card every five years, showing proof of maintaining your investment.
#8. Apply for Citizenship
After seven years of physical residency and paying taxes, you can apply for Greek citizenship. This also involves passing a Greek language test (B1 level) and a civics test.
Documents needed to apply
- Golden Visa application form
- Certified copy of your passport
- Four recent color photos
- Criminal record certificate
- Residency permit fee of €500 paid using the ‘e-paravolo’ online payments platform
- Fee of €16 for printing of the electronic residence permit
- Copy of the final sales contract of the property, showing minimum value of €250,000
- Transfer certificate (of title deed) from the Land Registry
- Proof of medical insurance for the main applicant and any dependents
(Source: Enterprise Greece)
Renewing your Golden Visa
You only need to renew your Greece Golden Visa once every five years, which costs just €500.
The key factor for successful renewal is to show proof that you’ve maintained your investment at the minimum threshold.
You also need to submit:
- Application form for renewal
- Certified copy of passport (and those of all dependents)
- Copy of your current permanent residence card
- Proof of medical insurance covering Greece
Program Fees and Expenses
Here’s an overview of typical costs for getting the Greece Golden Visa using the real estate route. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list, and other costs may occur along the way.
- Transfer tax on the property: 3.09% of property value
- Land registry fee: 0.6% – 0.8% of property value
- Notary fee: 1.24% of property value
- Legal fees (for a lawyer to handle your application): Typically around €10,000 for a family of four
- Golden Visa fee: €2,000 for the main applicant, plus €150 per dependent
- Residency permit renewal (after five years): €500
Greece Golden Visa vs Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa is another popular option for those seeking a foothold in Europe. But how does it measure up to the Greek option?
As you can see from below, the Portugal Golden Visa is a better overall choice for EU citizenship. It has a shorter timeline than Greece, a much lower annual stay requirement, and lighter language requirements.
On the other hand, the Greece Golden Visa is the best choice for those who just want a fast residency permit in Europe, and are less concerned about citizenship.
|Portugal Golden Visa||Greece Golden Visa|
|Timeline to be eligible for citizenship||5 years||7 years|
|Minimum annual stay for citizenship||7 days||183 days|
|Tax residency required for citizenship?||No||Yes|
|Special tax program available?||Yes, NHR, non-habitual residency (10 years)||Yes, flat 7% tax on foreign income (10 years)|
|Minimum investment threshold||€280,000 (rehabilitation real estate in a low-density area)||€250,000 for real estate anywhere in Greece|
|Typical timeline for issuing residence permit||Around 9 months||Around 3 months|
|Language requirements for citizenship||A2 Portuguese||B1 Greek|
Get EU Citizenship with your Greece Golden Visa
You can use the Greece Golden Visa as a pathway to Greek citizenship and an EU passport.
This requires living in Greece for at least 183 days every year, for duration of at least seven years before applying.
You would need to become tax resident in Greece and pay tax on your worldwide income.
Greek citizenship also has a language requirement of B1 level Greek, along with a civics exam covering Greek history, society and culture.
Greece Golden Visa: FAQs
How much is a Golden Visa in Greece?
The Greece Golden Visa starts at €250,000 for the real estate option. This also includes approximately €16,000 (6.4%) for transfer tax, legal fees, land registry fees and notary fees. You can also get the Greece Golden Visa by investing in government bonds, shares in real estate firms, or shares in venture capital or private equity firms. The minimum threshold for these is €400,000.
Can you buy Greek citizenship?
No, you cannot buy Greek citizenship outright. Instead, the Greece Golden Visa gives you the right to live in Greece and progress towards citizenship. After seven years of maintaining residency and paying taxes in Greece, you can apply for citizenship (subject to meeting language and civics test requirements).
Can you live in Greece after Brexit?
Yes, in certain circumstances. If you’re a British national already legally resident in Greece before December 31, 2020, then you can continue living there under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. British nationals who wish to move to Greece after that date will need to apply for a residency visa, such as the Greece Golden Visa, or residency for financially independent persons (FIP).
Can foreigners buy property in Greece?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in Greece with no restrictions. However, if you’re a non-EU national. you’ll need to apply for a residency visa to stay in Greece for longer than 90 days at a time.
Does Greece allow dual citizenship?
Yes, Greece allows dual citizenship under Article 31 of the Civil Code, Article 2 paragraph 2 Law 4251/2014, which states that a Greek citizen will not lose Greek citizenship upon acquiring a second citizenship, unless a request for renunciation is made.
Can I retire to Greece from UK?
Yes, it’s possible to retire to Greece from the UK, even after Brexit. However, for stays of longer than 90 days at a time, you’ll need to apply for residency. This can be done using the Greece Golden Visa (with minimum investment of €250,000) or using residency for financially independent persons (FIP). The latter will require proof of regular income, such as your UK pension.
What are the benefits of Greek citizenship?
Having Greek citizenship automatically makes you a full member of the European Union (EU). You can live, work, do business, study, and retire across any of the EU or EEA member states, or Switzerland. You can live in Greece without any restrictions, and access state education and healthcare services. A Greek passport also gives you access to 186 countries visa-free.
Can I work in Greece with a Golden Visa?
No, the Golden Visa doesn’t provide access to employment in Greece. You would need a work permit for that. However, you might be able to draw an income as dividends from an online business based outside Greece, or set up your own business within Greece.
Can I invest in more than one property for the Greece Golden Visa?
Yes, you can invest in as many properties as you want, as long as the total value is a minimum of €250,000. It’s also possible to invest in a combination of commercial and residential properties.
What are Greek taxes like?
Greece has a special tax program where all foreign income is taxed at a flat rate of 7% for the first 10 years. That includes income from investments, pensions, dividends, and royalties, along with income from overseas rentals. However, if you spend less than 183 days per year in Greece, you won’t be considered a Greek tax resident and hence won’t be liable for Greek taxes.
In this article we’ve explored details of the Greece Golden Visa program.
The Golden Visa in Greece offers an excellent opportunity to secure a European residency permit in a matter of months.
Greece offers the cheapest real estate investment residency route in Europe, and you can benefit from a hot property market with good potential for tourist rentals.
But as a pathway to citizenship, the Greece option is quite restrictive. If EU citizenship is your ultimate goal, you’d be better off looking at the Portugal Golden Visa to start your journey.