- Advantages of the Greek ‘golden visa’ program
- Requirements and restrictions of the Greek ‘golden visa’ program
- The required investment amounts
- The procedure of applying for legal residence in Greece and the required documents
- Compare the Greek ‘golden visa’ program to other such programs administered by other European states
- Golden visa program comparison continued: additional advantages of the Greek program
- Making things easy: acquire legal residence in Greece with a professional agent’s assistance
The article describes the process of acquiring Greek residency in exchange for an investment into real estate in the country of other types of property. The information that you can find below will help you decide if legal residence in Greece is an option that you may be interested in. We will describe the main advantages of applying for a Greek ‘golden visa’ and point out some restrictions associated with this visa program. Besides, we will list the documents required for obtaining the visa and briefly talk about the application procedure.
Non-EU residents can obtain a legal residence permit in several European countries by making investments into their economies. This status of a legal resident in the EU facilitates the interaction with European banks, provides for the possibility to freely travel across the continent, and can pave the path to full citizenship of an EU member state.
A ‘golden visa’ is a legal residence permit that can be acquired by a foreign national who brings some investments into the host country economy. The investment can be made into real property in the country or other types of assets but it has to come up to a set threshold. Several countries in Europe issue ‘golden visas’ to foreigners, Greece being one of them. In this way, the authorities of the countries try to attract foreign direct investments and one has to admit that they have been quite successful in this endeavor. Greece in particular welcomes extra funds that help the country recover from a serious economic crisis that it suffered a few years ago.
A Greek ‘golden visa’ (or a legal residence permit) can be obtained by following three alternative paths:
- You can become a legal resident of Greece if you demonstrate your financial independence to the country’s authorities;
- You can obtain a ‘golden visa’ if you launch a business venture of your own in Greece;
- You can also invest into Greek property (buy a piece of real estate, for example) and this will also make you qualified for legal residence in the country.
Practice shows that the latter option is the most popular one with foreign investors. In the text below, we will mostly dwell on the specifics of obtaining legal residence in Greece by investing into real property but we will also mention other options. Please read on so that you can make up your mind about using this investment opportunity. It certainly has some attractive characteristics.
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Advantages of the Greek ‘golden visa’ program
A foreign national acquiring a Greek legal residence permit will gain the following main advantages:
- The right to cross the borders of Schengen zone countries without visas and the right to stay in any of them during three months within any six-month period.
- The opportunity to file a family application thus acquiring Greek legal residence permits for the main applicant’s spouse, children, grandchildren, and parents.
- The opportunity to spend as much time in Greece as you wish while your legal residence permit is valid. The country is a world-famous tourist destination as it is abundant in various historical and cultural attractions.
- Lack of obligation to reside in Greece while holding the legal residence permit unless you plan to apply for full citizenship of the country in the future.
- Access to world-class educational institutions for your children including primary and secondary schools and universities.
- Access to high-quality medical services in Greece.
- High speed of legal residence permit acquisition: if everything goes smoothly, a Greek ‘golden visa’ can be acquired within one month only.
- A high level of personal security and access to effective instruments of asset protection.
- An opportunity to acquire a source of passive income: if you purchase real property in Greece, you will have a legal right to let it on a lease. Thus, you will not only have a legal residence permit in an EU member state but also an opportunity to return your investment with time.
- The residence permit is valid for five years and it can be infinitely extended every five years on the condition that you keep the property in your possession.
Requirements and restrictions of the Greek ‘golden visa’ program
When considering the opportunity to acquire a legal residence permit in Greece, you have to take the following restrictions into consideration:
- A ‘golden visa’ does not serve as a work permit in Greece so you will not be able to find a job in the country or engage into business there.
- A ‘golden visa’ does not lead to full citizenship in Greece. It has to be noted, however, that the visa can be used as an instrument of acquiring a Greek passport. There is an opportunity to become a citizen of Greece by naturalization if you physically reside in the country for the best part of each calendar year for seven years in a row. The ‘golden visa’ will bring you a legal opportunity to live in Greece so it can be considered a useful tool if you would like to move to the EU for good.
- Once you make an investment in the required amount into the property (other asset types) that you have chosen, there will be no opportunity to upgrade your ‘golden visa’.
- A necessary condition of retaining your golden visa is keeping the Greek property in your possession. If you choose to sell the property, you will automatically lose the legal residence permit.
The required investment amounts
There is a law from 2014 in Greece that specifies the amounts of investments that foreign nationals wishing to obtain legal residence in the country have to make. Citizens of all non-EU countries are considered foreign nationals in Greece. The investment options are as follows:
- You can purchase a piece of real property in Greece that is worth 250,000 euros or more in the name of a natural person. A notarized purchase agreement will serve as a proof of the property ownership.
- You can purchase a piece of real property in Greece that is worth 250,000 euros or more in the name of a corporate entity. The corporate entity must fully belong to the individual applying for a ‘golden visa’. A notarized purchase agreement will serve as a proof of the property ownership.
- You can rent a piece of property in Greece in the name of a corporate entity. The rent agreement must be made for at least fifteen years and the contract value must be 250,000 euros or more.
- You can invest 400,000 euros or more into a company that deals in real estate located on the territory of Greece exclusively. Buying shares of such a company worth not less than the specified amount is an acceptable method of investment.
- You can invest 400,000 euros or more into a company or a mutual fund that, in its turn, invests into Greek-based companies exclusively.
- You can invest 400,000 euros or more into Greek Government bonds via a credit organization located in Greece. The bonds shall be mature in three years or more.
- You can make a fixed term bank deposit of 400,000 euros or more in a Greek bank. The term of the deposit shall exceed one year.
- You can invest 800,000 euros or more into corporate stocks.
- You can invest 400,000 euros or more into a mutual fund that invests the aggregated capital exclusively into stocks and bonds;
- You can invest 400,000 euros or more into an investment fund located outside Greece but within the EU. The fund shall invest capital only in real property located in Greece.
Please note that applicants for Greek ‘golden visas’ who cannot supply clean criminal records will not be considered. Applicants whose names are on the list of undesirable persons in Greece will not be considered either.
There are no other restrictions applicable to foreign nationals wishing to acquire legal residence in Greece. Any citizen of a non-EU country can file an individual or a family application for a Greek ‘golden visa’.
A family application for Greek residence can include the main applicant’s spouse, children of up to 21 year of age, and parents. All family members must be shown to be financially dependent on the main applicant.
The procedure of applying for legal residence in Greece and the required documents
You can apply for legal residence in Greece in the following two ways:
- You can acquire a tourist visa to Greece and apply for a legal residence permit in the country in person when you go there;
- You can also apply for a Greek ‘golden visa’ via a Greek attorney by issuing a Power of Attorney that has to be notarized and apostilled.
The following documents need to be submitted to the Greek authorities when applying for legal residence in the country by investment:
- A valid international passport or other ID with a visa that satisfies the Greek authorities. Please note that the passport/ other ID has to be valid for at least three months after the date when the visa expires. The document must have at least two blank pages. It has to be issued in the same decade when the application for a Greek legal residence permit is submitted.
- A notarized real property purchase agreement.
- A certificate confirming the registration of the agreement with the Land Register.
- A certificate from the notary confirming that the piece of the purchased property conforms to the legal requirements.
- A bank statement confirming the payment of all state duties involved in the application for Greek legal residence (see below).
- In case the investment is made into other objects besides real estate, documents confirming the investment.
- A medical insurance policy.
- A marriage certificate in case a married couple is applying for legal residence in Greece.
- Birth certificates for all underage children included in the family application for Greek legal residence.
In addition to that, the main applicant for the ‘golden visa’ must demonstrate having at least 250,000 euros in his or her bank account. Thus, a bank statement confirming this is required.
All the application documents must be translated into English or Greek by a sworn translator. It is also important to bear in mind that you will have to submit your biometric information to the Greek immigration authorities.
The application processing timeframe will depend on the type of investment that you choose to make and the route that you choose to take. It can be between one month and two-three months.
Please mind that the physical form of the Greek legal residence permit changed in 2017. Previously, it came in the form of a stamp (sticker) in the passport. Now a plastic card is issued to foreign residents in Greece that contains a microchip with the cardholder’s biometric data including an electronic photograph and fingerprints. Those foreign investors who obtained legal residence in Greece prior to 2017 do not have to replace the sticker for the plastic card. They will be issued the card when they come to extend their ‘golden visas’.
Compare the Greek ‘golden visa’ program to other such programs administered by other European states
In addition to Greece, the list of European countries that administer attractive ‘golden visa’ programs includes Portugal, Spain, and Malta.
The Greek program used to lag behind its competitors in terms of golden visas issued to foreign applicants. The reason for that was lack of trust on the part of foreign investors to the national economy of Greece. Nevertheless, at the current moment, the economic situation is improving, the unemployment rates are falling, and the country’s GDP is growing. As a consequence, the demand for Greek golden visas is picking up.
Experts believe that the Greek ‘golden visa’ program offers several important advantages to foreign nationals wishing to obtain legal residence in Europe by investing into real estate there.
The main factor that arouses interest to the program on the part of foreign investors is a lower investment amount required for obtaining a legal residence permit in Greece in comparison to other countries mentioned above.
We have made a table that will let you compare the ‘golden visa’ programs offered by Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Malta (see below). From the table, you can see that the Greek national program is advantageous in more than one respect.
|Minimum required investment amount (purchase of real estate or other property types, euros)||250||350,000 *||500||270,000 (or a five-year rent agreement) + investment into bonds **|
|Application processing and other additional fees, euros||17.6||32.7||31||400|
|Visa issuance fee, euros||500||5.7||100||30|
|Type of real estate to purchase||Any||Any||Any||Only residential|
|Possibility to purchase several pieces of property||Present||Present||Present||Absent|
|Possibility to take out a mortgage to purchase property||Present (in practice, this opportunity is hard to use)||Present||Present||Only for the amount exceeding the minimum required investment amount|
|Personal presence in the country when applying||Required (one visit to the country is enough)|
|The requirement to reside in the country for the best part of the year||Absent||The visa holder shall spend 1 week during the first year of holding the visa and 2 weeks in total over the next two years.||Absent|
|Tax residency acquisition||Residing in the country for more than 183 days per a fiscal year will make the golden visa holder a tax resident of the country|
|Golden visa term of validity||Five years (the visa can be extended every five years)||One year initially (the visa can be extended for two years later in two-year iterations)||Timeless|
|The period of property ownership||The time while the visa holder needs the visa||Five years||The time while the visa holder needs the visa||Five years|
|Golden visa issuance timeframe||8 weeks||From 1 to 6 weeks||From 6 to 7 weeks||From 12 to 16 weeks|
|Residence permits for main applicant’s family members||Spouse, children of up to 21, parents||Spouse, children of up to 18, other dependents||Spouse, children of up to 18, dependent adult children||Spouse, children, parents, grandparents|
|Employment opportunities||None (making investments is allowed)||Available|
|Permanent residence permit acquisition||After 5 years of residing in the country for the best part of each year.||After 5 years||After 5 years of residing in the country for the best part of each year.||The ‘golden visa’ is already a permanent residence permit|
|Citizenship acquisition||After 7 years of residing in the country for the best part of each year. Holding a ‘golden visa’ while not residing in the country will not contribute to this objective.||After 5 years||After 10 years of residing in the country for the best part of each year.||Unavailable|
Sources: Discus Holdings, Enterprise Greece, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Maltese Ministries of foreign affairs.
* The Portuguese ‘golden visa’ can be obtained for an investment of 350,000 euros into real estate that was constructed more than thirty years ago and needs restoring. If the property is located in a sparsely populated area, the minimum required investment amount is 280,000. If it is a modern building in a large city, an investment of at least 500,000 euros has to be made.
** You have to invest 270,000 or 320,000 euros into real estate (depending on the part of the country where it is located) or make a five-year rent agreement with the contract price of 10,000 or 12,000 per year PLUS buy a 250,000 worth of Government bonds in Malta.
Golden visa program comparison continued: additional advantages of the Greek program
Similarly to Spain and Portugal (but not Malta), the authorities in Greece allow investing into several pieces of real estate if the price of one piece is lower than the required investment amount.
Same as in Portugal, the applicants for the Greek ‘golden visa’ program can make collective investments. The following condition has to be met, however: the amount of investment that each participant brings must come up to the minimum required investment amount. A collective investment scheme opens more opportunities to foreigners as they can take part in a large development project.
The prices for real estate in Greece deserve a special note: they are currently lower in the country in comparison to other national states referred to in the table above. In addition to that, the potential for the growth of the prices is high. According to the official statistics, real property in Greece is now sold at only a bit more than a half of what it was sold at prior to the economic crisis of 2007/ 2008. At the same time, the cost of property in Spain is beginning to come up to the pre-crisis level while the property prices in Portugal and Malta are already higher than they were before the crisis.
Another important advantage of investing into real estate located in Greece is the opportunity to turn the property into a source of a steady passive income. Many applicants for the Greek ‘golden visa’ program do not buy residential property in the country in order to live there. Their primary goal is to obtain an opportunity to visit the EU countries at any time they like and so they let their Greek accommodations on a lease. In this way, they have a chance to return their investments after some time.
We have to note that foreign investors buying property in Portugal and Spain can also use the opportunity to rent it out. In Malta, however, the property cannot be used for rental purposes during the first five years of property ownership.
If you purchase residential accommodations in an area of Greece that is popular with tourists, you can make more money by letting it on a short-term lease. Statistics show that long-term leases normally bring lesser incomes.
According to the data published by the World Tourism Organization, Greek hotels service three times as many tourists as Portuguese hotels do. At the same time, the number of tourists visiting Spain exceeds that number of those who visit Greece by three times. However, the lower costs of hotel accommodations maintenance in Greece make the profits made from one square meter of hotel space higher than those in Spain. After you cover the costs of the management company services and pay the taxes, you can count on a 5% profit if you purchase real property in Greece.
So what can you get if you invest into an apartment in a Greek city frequented by tourists? You can get free access to the European Union countries, a place to live in a warm and friendly Mediterranean state or an opportunity to have a stable 5% profit from renting it out. These are considerable advantages, we believe.
Making things easy: acquire legal residence in Greece with a professional agent’s assistance
Acquiring a legal residence permit in a foreign country is not cheap and neither is it simple. We invite you to consider the opportunity to apply for our professional assistance in applying for a Greek golden visa. We will gladly help you save time and nervous cells that are likely to be wasted if you try to go through the application procedures on your own.
If you are ready to invest the specified amount of money into acquiring legal residence in Greece, we will be happy to help you prepare the application documents. We will also keep track of the application processing for you. You are welcome to file an individual or a family application for Greek residency. In each case, we can give you some useful tips and hints that will improve your chances for success in this endeavor. Below please find our pricelist:
- Legal residence in Greece for the main applicant – 20,000 euros;
- Legal residence in Greece for dependent family members – 5,000 euros;
- ‘Golden visa’ extension for the main applicant – 10,000 euros;
- ‘Golden visa’ extension for dependent family members – 2,500 euros.
You have to pay 50% when signing the contract while the rest of the costs can be covered later.
Do you have questions about obtaining a legal residence permit in Greece in exchange for an investment into the country’s economy? Would you like to learn the details of the application procedure? Please do not hesitate to contact us right now and apply for a free personal consultation on the matter! You are welcome to use the live chat, email, or WhatsApp numbers to get in touch with us. Whichever means of communication you choose, we will reply promptly!
What is a Greek ‘golden visa’?
A ‘golden visa’ is a legal residence permit in a foreign country. As far as Greece is concerned, the visa can be obtained in exchange for an investment into the economy of the country. The ‘golden visa’ allows leaving in Greece, visiting other Schengen zone countries without any further requirements, and enjoying numerous other benefits. Family applications for legal residence in Greece are accepted.
Can I acquire a permanent residence permit in Greece and full citizenship of the country if I obtain a ‘golden visa’?
Acquiring a Greek golden visa does not mean acquiring a Greek passport. It does give the holder the right of abode in Greece, though. In accordance with the local legislation, a foreign national can qualify for full citizenship of Greece by naturalization if he or she resides on the territory of the country for seven years while spending more than 183 days each year in Greece. Thus, the ‘golden visa’ can be thought of as an instrument of acquiring Greek citizenship with time.
Is dual citizenship allowed in Greece?
Yes, dual/ multiple citizenship is allowed in Greece. As Greece is an EU member state, the Greek passport holders enjoy the same privileges as citizenship of other EU countries have.