How to Immigrate to Greece: A Detailed Guide to Your New Mediterranean Life

Oceanscape In Greece

Are you captivated by Greece’s rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and tantalizing cuisine? Have you ever dreamt of uprooting your life and moving to this Mediterranean paradise? Have you been wondering how to immigrate to Greece? This dream is more attainable than you think!

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ins and outs of moving to Greece. We’ll cover everything from applying for a visa and selecting a residence to getting a feel for the local lifestyle and economy. Consider this your one-stop shop to kickstart your new life in Greece.

Get started now, and you’ll be one step closer to the crystal blue waters and sun-kissed stone streets of your dreams.

Flowers In A Street In Greece

How to Immigrate to Greece?

With its rich history and diverse landscapes, Greece is a popular destination for expats like you and me, thanks to its low living costs. Some of the most desirable places to live include Santorini, Athens, Rhodes, Crete, and Corfu.

But moving to Greece is more complex than packing your bags. You’ll need to get familiar with the immigration process before making the move.

Do I Need a Visa to Move to Greece?

If you plan to stay in Greece for over 90 days, you’ll need a long-stay visa, also known as a D Visa. But remember, this requirement can change depending on where you’re from.

How to Immigrate to Greece as an EU Citizen?

You’re in luck if you’re an EU, EEA, or Switzerland citizen. You won’t need a long-stay visa to move to Greece.

But, once you’re in the country, you must apply for a residence permit. This permit lets you live, work, and study in Greece.

How to immigrate to Greece as a Non-EU Citizen?

On arrival in Greece, you need to apply for a residence permit. The process is relatively straightforward and offers flexibility to apply remotely from 2021. Successful applicants are granted a five-year Greek Permanent Residency, which can be renewed every five years if you continue to retain your investment.

Moving to Greece involves a few more steps if you’re from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. One popular method is through the Greek Golden Visa program.

Greek Golden Visa Program

Aside from the traditional long-stay visas issued for family, work, and study purposes, the Greek Golden Visa scheme provides an attractive gateway into Greece for aspiring non-EU immigrants. It’s worthwhile noting that while the Golden Visa grants residence, it only sometimes leads to citizenship.

This, however, can be applied for after seven years of continuous residence, provided additional criteria are met.

To qualify for this program, you have to:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • A non-EU/EEA Country Citizen
  • Hold a Clean Criminal Record
  • have valid medical insurance for yourself and your family

This program allows non-EU citizens to secure a residency visa in Greece by making significant financial contributions to the country’s economy. That could be done through various types of investments, like investing a minimum of USD 274,560 in real estate (or USD 549,120 in places like Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini as of May 1st, 2023) or investing USD 439,296 in Greek government bonds or shares of Greek companies.

The application process for a Greek Golden Visa begins with applying for an entry visa at one of the Greek Embassies or Consulates abroad. Then, you apply for the Golden Visa at the Alien and Immigration Department at the Decentralised Authority in Greece.

The required documents you will need to present include the following:

  • An Application Form
  • Recent Passport-Size Pictures
  • A Valid Passport
  • Proof of Having Paid the Relevant Government Fees
  • Proof of Obtaining Health Insurance in Greece
  • Proof of your Funds
  • Additional Documents Depending on the type of Investment you Make

Island In Greece Water And Boat

Moving to Greece for Family Reunification

Suppose you plan to move to Greece to join family members already living there. In that case, you can apply for a family visa. This visa is issued to legally married spouses, children under 18, adopted children under 18, children of the spouse (where the spouse has legal custody of the child), and dependent parents.

The family visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for another two years. But keep in mind the process of family reunification in Greece can be lengthy and complicated. You might need legal assistance.

Despite these challenges, Greece continues to attract expats. Its high quality of life, low cost of living, and the opportunity to experience its rich cultural heritage make it a desirable destination. In fact, Greece is often listed as one of the best countries to live in.

Preparing for Your Move to Greece

Can I Bring My Personal Belongings to Greece?

Yes, you can bring your personal belongings, including a certain amount of alcohol and tobacco, if you’re coming from EU countries. The limits are generous, but exceeding them may lead to questioning by customs officials.

Personal items of non-commercial nature are also allowed.

The value of these items can be up to USD 472 if you’re traveling by air or sea. If you’re traveling by land, the limit is USD 330. For those under 15 years old, the limit is USD 165. There are no restrictions if you’re bringing currency from an EU country.. However, if you carry more than USD 10,980, you must declare it when traveling outside the EU.

Can I Move to Greece With Pets?

Yes, you can move to Greece with your pets, but there are certain requirements. Your pets must be identifiable by a tattoo or an electronic identification system. They also need to be vaccinated against rabies.

A health certificate is required for your pets. This must be filled out, signed, and dated by an Accredited Veterinarian. It must then be endorsed by the USDA before your pet’s travel.

The microchip must be implanted before the rabies vaccine is given. Pets must also have an original Rabies Certificate signed by the vet. Other recommended vaccines for dogs include DHLPP and Bordetella, and for cats, FVRCP.

If your pet is from an “unlisted country,” a rabies antibody test is required. Additionally, a 90-day waiting period is required after the blood draw.

Pet Cat on Greek Wall Overlooking Ocean

Find A Job

Finding a job in Greece can be challenging due to the high unemployment rate. This is especially true if you’re not from an EU country. Most companies prefer to hire employees from within the European Union.

The service sector, including the booming tourism industry, employs most people in Greece. Many expats teach English in Greece. This requires a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL qualification.

Networking is key to finding a job in Greece, as Greeks prefer to do business with people they know. You can look for job openings in Greece through online job search engines, newspaper classified ads, and recruiting agencies.

Apply For A Visa/Permit

After you’ve found a job and moved to Greece, you’ll need to apply for a taxpayer identification number (AΦΜ). You’ll need this number to complete many daily transactions in Greece. You’ll be subject to Greek income tax if you’re in Greece for more than 183 days a year. The tax rates vary depending on your earnings.

As a foreigner, you might need a Greek Schengen Visa to enter Greece. EU nationals only need an identification document or passport. Non-EU nationals need to present a valid passport or travel document.

Short-stay visas are required for certain nationals. The required documents for a visa application include the following:

  • A Completed Visa Application Form
  • Health Insurance Valid for Greece and the Whole Territory of the Schengen Area
  • A Booked Flight to Enter and Leave Greece
  • Proof of Accommodation
  • Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay in Greece
  • A personal letter explaining the purpose of the visit
  • Proof of Civil Status

If you are employed, you will require the following:

  • Employment contract
  • current bank statement for the latest six months
  • leave permission from the employer
  • Income Tax Return (ITR) form.

If you are self-employed, you will need to present the following documents:

  • A copy of your business license
  • company bank statement for the latest six months
  • Income Tax Return (ITR).

If you are a student, you’ll need to show your proof of enrollment and a no-objection certificate from school or university.

If you are retired, you’ll need to present your pension statement for the last six months. If applicable: Proof of regular income generated by the property for the last six months.

Minors will need to complete the following additional Greek Visa Requirements in their application file:

  • Birth certificate of the minor traveling to Greece
  • Greece application form signed by both parents
  • In cases where only one parent has full custody over the child
  • Family court order
  • Certified copies of ID /passport of both parents

Houses In Greece On Mountain

Settling in Greece

Once you’ve made the move, several key aspects must be considered to ensure a smooth transition to your new life in Greece.

Rent Or Buy Property

The Greek real estate market is currently experiencing a resurgence, attracting foreign investors. To purchase a property, you’ll need to first identify a suitable one. Engage a lawyer to verify the title with the Land Registry and ensure the seller possesses all necessary documents.

The costs associated with buying property encompass real estate agent fees, notary fees, and lawyer fees. Property taxes in Greece are relatively low compared to the rest of Europe.

If you need more time to be ready to buy, renting is another viable option. The cost of rent in Greece is significantly lower than in the US and most parts of Europe. However, utility costs can vary, so factor this into your budget.

Register For Healthcare

Healthcare in Greece is accessible to all residents, including expats. The ESY provides free healthcare to all residents, including unemployed individuals and EU citizens.

The services offered include general and specialist care, hospitalization, laboratory services, and maternity care. Additionally, you’ll have access to discounted drugs and medicines. However, be aware that there may be long waiting lists for some specialties.

Open A Bank Account

Opening a bank account in Greece is a crucial step if you’re planning to live there long-term. This becomes particularly important if you’re planning to buy property, as you’ll need a Greek AFM. You can get this through a relatively simple procedure.

Learn The Language

While many Greeks are proficient in English, especially in larger cities, learning the local language can significantly enhance your experience. It can help with community integration and cultural understanding and make navigating daily life easier.

Understanding the Greek Lifestyle and Economy

The lifestyle in Greece harmoniously combines contemporary and age-old elements. Emphasis is placed on family values, tradition, and outdoor activities. The Mediterranean climate is a consistent allure, providing refreshing sea breezes in the summer and bright mild days in the winter, with spring and autumn offering near-perfect weather conditions.

Most Popular Areas in Greece for Expats

Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city, is recognized for its lively nightlife, historical richness, and robust economy. Chania, a city on Crete, is admired for its picturesque old town and stunning beaches. Patras, a significant port city in the western part of Greece, is renowned for its historical richness and vibrant nightlife.

The Current Economic Climate in Greece

Greece’s economic climate is on an upward trajectory. The country is projected to experience economic growth, bolstered by a resilient labor market and the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The general government deficit in 2022 is significantly lower than anticipated, and the public debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to decline further.

However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that Greece is still on the path to economic recovery, and job opportunities might be limited.

Incentives for Expats to Move to Greece

The Greek government has introduced various tax regimes to attract foreign individuals. These include a non-dom regime that necessitates investment in Greece and offers lump-sum tax payment options. Furthermore, Greece introduced a Golden Visa program.

Quality of Life

The cost of living is lower than in many other European countries, especially outside the main tourist areas. The ESY provides free healthcare to all citizens and residents. The quality of care is generally excellent, particularly in major centers like Athens and Thessaloniki.

Greece is also one of the safest countries in Europe and has a relaxed, easy-going atmosphere. However, living in Greece comes with both advantages and challenges. The country is rich in history, culture, and gastronomy. However, bureaucracy can be a significant issue.

The cost of living in Greece is relatively low, with the average rent price being about USD 1760, although this can vary depending on the region and neighborhood where you choose to live. As an EU member, Greece adopted the Euro as its national currency in 2001.

Greek Villas Blue Sky

Becoming a Permanent Resident in Greece

How Long Should I Live in Greece to Become a Legal Citizen?

To apply for citizenship, a seven-year residency in Greece is typically required. However, exceptions exist for:

  • EU Nationals,
  • Those Married to a Greek Citizen
  • Parents of Greek Children
  • Recognized Refugees
  • Stateless persons (who only need a three-year residency)

Additionally, an exam testing your knowledge of the Greek language, culture, geography, and history is required, with a passing score of 70% or higher.

Does Greece Allow Dual Citizenship?

Greece permits dual citizenship, offering the advantages of being an EU national, including high levels of travel freedom, security, and human development, provided the other country also allows dual citizenship.

Wrapping Up Your Greek Odyssey

Embarking on the journey to relocate to Greece is certainly an exciting venture filled with opportunities at every turn. From securing the correct visa, finding a job, and moving your belongings to understanding the Greek lifestyle and becoming a permanent resident, each step is a milestone in your Greek odyssey.

The low cost of living, quality healthcare, and rich historical culture make Greece a desirable destination for expats. It might seem daunting at first, but the rich rewards of living in Greece make the challenges worth it. Here’s to a successful transition to your new life in Greece!


"*" indicates required fields

Rihab Saad

Managing Director
Next Generation Equity

Share this post