A Full Review on the Greece Golden Visa: Should I Get It? (2024)

A Full Review on the Greece Golden Visa: Should I Get It? (2024)

If you are planning to obtain an EU passport, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus aren’t your options. Greece also has a Golden Visa program, which has been implemented since 2013. It is essentially a visa by investment for third-country nationals. “Third country” means any country that isn’t a member of the EU or EEA agreement. 

With the Greece Golden Visa program, you can obtain a Greek resident permit by investing in a business or property in Greece. After that, you can obtain permanent residency and citizenship with it.

As of 2024, Greece Golden Visa program is especially popular among those from China, Russia, and Turkey. However, it is becoming more popular among applicants from the US and the UK.

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Key Takeaways

  • You can obtain citizenship in 7 years with the Greece Golden Visa program.
  • In 2023, the Greek government raised the minimum investment amount for real estate from €250,000 to €500,000.
  • The investment amount is likely to increase to €800,000 for highly sought-after areas such as Mykonos and Santorini.
  • The Greece Golden Visa program is advantageous for various individuals, ranging from those looking to build a significant investment for the future to those desiring a relaxed retirement with fewer concerns.
  • If you spend most of the year in Greece, you become a tax resident in Greece and must pay taxes. Remember, being a tax resident is a requirement for applying for citizenship.
  • The Golden Visa program is a subject of debate in Greek politics, with some politicians advocating for its discontinuation.

Investment Requirements

There are three main types of investments available.

This part is subject to change as it already changed in 2023, and there is talk about increasing some of this again next year. It mainly concerns property. 

Greece - Santorini
You can make a real estate investment in Santorini and get a golden visa in return.

Properties in highly sought-after places such as Attica, Mykonos, Santorini, and other famous islands might require an investment of €800,000. They might also raise the threshold for intangible assets and general investments to €500,000.

Once it changes, we will update this article again.

Property Investment

You can purchase a property valued at €500,000. This can include Commercial Properties, Warehouses & Logistics, Plots of Land, Buildings & Hotels. In some places such as Santorini or Mykonos, they are likely to raise it to €800,000 in some parts of Greece.

Property Investment is the most popular option so far.

Intangible Assets and Shares

You can purchase intangible assets and shares. Some examples are the Purchase or Acquisition of Shares, Stakes in Greek Government, or Corporate Bonds.

The threshold for this is at €400,000.

General Investment

You can have a least agreement for hotel or furnished tourist residences. The threshold for this is currently at €250,000. And you need to hold it for 10 years.

Other Requirements 

  • Must not be a resident of another EU country
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Have no criminal record.

Required Documents

These are the documents needed to apply for the Golden Visa.

  • Two copies of an application form
  • A valid passport
  • Certified copies of all the pages of your passport
  • Notarized copy of the real estate agreement or documents related to the investment you made
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Proof that you bought private Greek health insurance
  • Proof that you paid all the application fees.

Application Process

Usually, a trip is required before applying to look at properties or the types of investments you plan to make. It’s generally better to look at what you are buying or to meet in person with whomever you are investing. 

Sometimes, things online are not what they appear to be in real life.

Once you decide, you must get a Greek tax number and open a Greek bank account. You can do both of these remotely or in Greece. If you are investing in property, you do not need a Greek bank account.

You must gather all the documentation listed above for yourself and each family member you plan to add. Then, you can make your investment. After you make your investment, you can apply for a residency permit. 

You can do this in Greece if it is a property investment. For all other investments, you must apply for visa D at a Greek embassy and finish the process once you enter Greece.

After you receive your visa D or the temporary residence card, you give your biometrics to the authorities; after this is approved, you are given the official residence permit.

The residence permit is valid for five years.

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Processing Time

The processing time is said to be between three and four months. Of course, it might not always be the case. It can take longer if you do not submit all the documents correctly. Some offices are faster at processing than others as well.

A word from various recipients says that if it is an investment by property, it goes a little faster.

Can I Add Family Members?

Yes, family members can be added.

They must be:

  • Legal Spouses (Unfortunately, partnerships do not count; however, Greece has granted marriage equality to all. So, LGBT spouses are eligible for this visa. )
  • Dependent children
  • Parents

Extension

The resident permit can be extended relatively easily. As long as you still keep your investment, you should be able to renew your resident permit without a problem. 

The only real obstacle to revoking this residence permit is committing a crime.

If you commit a crime in Greece or another country and they find out about it, the permit becomes revoked.

Getting Permanent Residency or Citizenship

You can obtain permanent residency in Greece after five years.

After seven years, you can become a Greek citizen.

There are quite a few benefits to becoming a Greek citizen.

  • You get a say in politics
  • They can’t deport you or cancel your residency
  • A Greek passport gives you unlimited freedom of movement in the European Union

However, there are a couple of hurdles to obtaining a Greek passport. You must be in Greece for half of the year and be a tax resident. This is the most significant difference in obtaining citizenship compared to permanent residency.

Permanent residency is still an option if dual citizenship is impossible in your home country. You have most of the same benefits as a citizen.

Dual Citizenship

Greece allows dual citizenship.

However, some countries do not permit dual citizenship. US and Canadian citizens can obtain other citizenships, while those from countries like China, Japan, or Taiwan cannot. Check the rules of your home country.

people's lives in Thessaloniki, Greece
With the Greece Golden Visa, you can obtain Greek citizenship within 7 years.

Some people from the US renounce their US citizenship due to double taxation. If this interests you in the future, consult a tax specialist to see if it is worth it.

If you renounce, it costs nearly US$3,000 and can involve a long wait. You still need to resolve the taxes you owe or accrued in the year you renounced your citizenship.

There are some countries where you can’t renounce your birth citizenship, such as Argentina, but that doesn’t matter as Argentina allows dual citizenship.

How Much Does the Application Cost?

To obtain a Greece residence permit for up to five years as a real estate owner, the application fee is €2,000, while family members pay €150. An additional €16 fee is added for clerical matters.

Can I Apply for It Myself?

While it’s possible to apply yourself, many people who get these golden visas seek agencies to assist them with the process.

Greek bureaucracy can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak Greek. It’s also an overwhelming and expensive process. It might help to have someone evaluate the investment to ensure you aren’t taking excessive risks.

Using an agent can make the process much smoother than doing it yourself.

However, this is entirely up to you.

What Are the Benefits of the Golden Visa?

Greece has a golden visa program that gives you a Greek residence permit which is valid for 5 years. After that, you can keep renewing it or apply for permanent residency or citizenship. 

With a Greek residence permit, you can freely travel around the European Union with no hassle.

It also gives you access to the healthcare system in Greece, which is excellent.

You don’t have to worry about medical debt as you might in a country like the United States. You can also use the healthcare system in other European countries for a small fee if you encounter an issue in another country such as Italy.

Also, once you get this residence permit, it is difficult to lose. The only two ways to lose it are by disposing of the investment or committing a crime.

If you wait seven years, you can become a Greek Citizen.

Why Having a Greek Citizenship?

Similar to other EU passport, with Greek citizenship, you have access to work and live in the rest of the European Union with no hassle. You also don’t need to maintain the investment once you are a citizen.

A Greek passport is among the strongest in the world.

Also, if you are investing in property, you can do whatever you want with your property. You can rent it out if you choose.

Greece doesn’t have homeowners’ associations like in the US. You can more or less do as you please, as long as you aren’t doing something dangerous to others.

Disadvantages

Let’s take a look at the main disadvantages of the Greece Golden Visa program. 

Citizenship Duration 

One disadvantage is that obtaining citizenship takes longer than some other golden visa programs, such as Portugal’s Golden Visa, which only takes five years.

Residency Requirement

To get citizenship, you must also be present in Greece for half of the year. Suppose you want to become an EU citizen by investment without staying around.

In that case, you should consider other countries.

This program is an excellent choice if you want to spend a lot of time in Greece and enjoy an excellent life there, resulting in more permanent status.

Language

The phrase ‘It’s all Greek to me” signifies that the Greek language can be challenging to learn, particularly for English speakers. While Greece has a long history with tourism and many people know English, it can be difficult when dealing with some businesses or navigating various offices or hospitals.

Taxes

Another disadvantage is dealing with taxes, especially if you are a US citizen; you still have to file US taxes. 

You will likely owe US taxes if you are eligible for this visa. Greek taxes can also be high for high earners, varying between 9-45%.

For income starting at 35,000 a year, it is already taxed at 45%. There are also various luxury taxes. Other countries offer more tax breaks.

Greece also has an inheritance tax. The rate is anywhere between 1-40%, depending on the amount and degree of kinship. For spouses and children, though, it doesn’t exceed 10%.

Although it’s not a tax haven, it’s not any higher than many other countries in the EU.

Political Issue

Another disadvantage is some soft resentment from Greek people toward programs like these. The cost of living in Greece is becoming difficult and unsustainable for locals. While the threat of harm is virtually none, there might be some negative sentiments.

Some Greek politicians have suggested scrapping the program entirely, so if it is something you want to apply for in a couple of years, it might not be available.

How Do You Keep Your Residency Active?

As long as you hold onto the investment and don’t get into trouble, you should be able to keep the residency for as long as you want.

However, if you want it to count towards citizenship, you must be in Greece for half of the year.

Santorini - Greece
Greece is a great place to live due to weather and a good healthcare system.

Why Live in Greece?

Greece has a much more favorable cost of living than most European countries. It’s far less than in the US, UK, and Australia.

Healthcare System

A significant factor for people who want to retire in Greece is the healthcare system. Many Northern and Western Europeans enjoy the options they have for healthcare. This is also the same for Americans, Brits, and other people interested in moving to Greece.

Weather

The weather is another factor. Greece has hot weather most of the year, and winters are often mild. If you choose an island such as Crete, you can expect weather into the mid or upper 20s (80s Fahrenheit) in the late fall.

Pace of Living

Greeks also have a nice, leisurely pace when it comes to living. They do not live to work like they do in the US. They simply work to live. They have a much more laid-back lifestyle. Greeks in some parts of Greece have one of the longest life expectancies in the world thanks to their easygoing lifestyles and healthy Mediterranean diet.

Safety

Greece is also a very safe country. Violent crimes are very low, and virtually all are not towards strangers. It’s safe to go out at night in most places. Greece is also an LGBT-friendly destination. It recently legalized gay marriage this year.

Diversity

There is also a lot of diversity in Greece. Many people think of Greece as just Athens and a couple of the islands. That is not true. You can live in many overlooked places in Greece and offer a better quality of life than many places on the beaten path.

Education System

Greece has an excellent education system. If you want to seek higher education for yourself or your children, this is a great country to do so. A lot of universities in Greece offer English language degrees and instruction.

They have excellent schools for children. You could put your children in a Greek public school, or you can pay for an international school. There are a lot of different options regarding education.

Other

While the Greek language is complex, many locals are happy to help. English is widely known. There are also lots of language courses that offer Greek language instruction for foreigners at reasonable rates.

Greece is also one of the oldest countries in Europe, with a vibrant history dating back thousands of years. The Greeks have a rich and distinctive culture. Getting to live in such a place would be very interesting. 

The locals love to share their culture with foreigners. Also, a vast group of expats and foreigners from all over the world live there. In addition to meeting Greeks, you can have friends and connections from all over the world.

Now, onto You

Greece’s Golden Visa is great, especially when you are planning to retire here and get access to a quality healthcare system.

However, it takes 7 years to get citizenship, while it only takes 5 days for Portugal’s golden visa, with a similar investment amount.

In case you are looking for the fastest way to get an EU passport, Malta is still the number one choice.

If you want to find out more about Greece Golden Visa program or get our personal advice, please fill in the form below.

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Heidi originally from New Orleans, has lived in the European Union for nearly 13 years. She works as an analyst, and writer and also has a side business that relocates people to Slovenia and Croatia.
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