More European countries have been establishing Golden Visas that are designed to attract economic benefit to the country. Greece is among the latest nations to join the bandwagon. The country’s permanent residence permit for investors gives non-EU citizens a fast-track route to European residency – through the purchase of real estate property. The program is open to investors who are willing to buy property worth over EUR 250, 000 (approximately USD 280, 000). Launched in 2013, the Greece golden visa grants 5 years of residency to wealthy investors from Non-EU parts of the world, mainly Russians, Chinese, Iranians and people from other Middle and Far East countries. Individuals who qualify for this program will be able to travel visa-free to the Schengen member states, and conduct business in other EU countries.
Greece is no doubt a leading European tourist destination. The country’s unique culture, cuisine, beaches, language, architectural wonders, and numerous temples make it attractive to millions of visitors who are eager to explore one of the oldest nations in the history of the world. Greece is officially referred to as the Hellenic Republic. The country is located in Southeastern Europe and has a population of about 10. Million based on the 2011 census. Athens is the largest city and capital of Greece, followed closely by Thessaloniki (a city that’s commonly known as the co-capital). The strategic location of Greece at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, Asia makes geographically important.
Greece is a democratic and developed nation with a high quality of life, advanced high-income economy, and notably high standards of living. The country is a founding member of the United States and was among the first ten states to join the European Communities. It has a capitalist economy where the public sector accounts for roughly 40% of the GDP. Its per-capita income is about two thirds that of leading Eurozone members. Tourism is a big sector in the country, accounting for 18% of the GDP. Greece economy recorded progressive growth between 2003 and 2007, before plummeting into recession in 2009 following the global financial crisis. By 2013, Greece’s economy had shrunk by 26%. In recent times, investor’s confidence in Greece has dampened, amid lowered growth projections. Greece issued 983 Golden Visas in a 28-month period starting June 2013. Despite the country’s current economic woes, it still remains a considerable option for people looking to relocate to Europe.
- Doorway to citizenship considered that the stipulated conditions are met.
- Easy application procedures.
- Possibility to reside in Greece throughout the term of the residence permit and access the same public health, education and services as Greek Citizens do.
- Visa-free travel to the entire Schengen area for up to 90 days every 6 months.
- Successful candidates can lease real estate property acquired in the country and receive rent.
- Applicants can renew their residence permits as many times as they wish, considered that the conditions stipulated in the law are met.
- Absences from Greece do not affect the chances of renewing the residence permit.
- Investors can bring along their parents or spouse’s parents.
- Real estate property acquired by the investor may be sold to another foreign citizen, transferring the residence permit along with the property.
- Most affordable minimum investment amount in Europe (EUR 250, 000 per family).
Residence Permit Criteria
Based on legal provisions, non-EU nationals who have legally entered Greece (e.g. through an entry visa) and are legally living in the country can apply for a residence permit with a 5-year validity period if:
- They purchase real estate property worth, at least, EUR 250, 000 in Greece. The property may be purchased directly or through a corporate entity whose shares are fully owned by the applicant. Several applicants may co-own property and be granted a residence permit as long as each co-owner contributes at least EUR 250, 000 to the purchase of the property.
- They lease hotel accommodation or touristic residences worth, at least, EUR 250, 000 and for a duration of at least 10 years in Greece.
Successful applicants for the Greece permanent residence permit for investors may be accompanied by members of their family, who are also granted a residence permit that expires at the same time as that of the sponsor (main applicant). The law recognizes the following as family members for purposes of granting the Greece residence permit:
- The spouse.
- Direct descendants of the spouses who are less than 21 years old.
- Direct ascendants of the spouses (i.e. parents).
The residence permit is valid for 5 years, and maybe renewed for another 5 years as long as the real estate property remains under the ownership of the applicant, or as long as the lease agreement (in the case of hotel accommodation) is in place and all other conditions required under the law are satisfied. If the property is sold to another non-EU national during the duration of the residence permit, the new buyer inherits the residence permit.
Step 1 – interested candidates may apply for a Greece entry visa at the Greek embassy or consulate authority in their countries.
Step 2 – once in Greece, the candidate buys real estate property, or enters into a lease/timeshare agreement worth, at least, EUR 250, 000. Supporting documents for the satisfaction of this requirement should be collected.
Step 3 – documents are submitted to the relevant authority after the candidate pays an application fee of EUR 500. The applicant is not required to submit the supporting documents in person. This may be done through an attorney, provided that the applicant entered Greece and assigned representation to that attorney before the expiration of his or her entry visa.
Step 4 – a document is issued by the relevant authority to confirm having received the application. This document is valid for a year and can be used as a temporary permit before the final residence permit is granted. It allows the applicant to freely travel to and from Greece. However, the applicant is not able to travel to the rest of the Schengen area at this stage.
Step 5 – competent authorities verify the applications and the documents that were submitted by the candidate and provide a relevant decision or residence permit.
What is the Greece permanent residence permit for investors?
Established in 2013, and then amended in 2014 and later 2015, the Greece permanent residence permit is also referred to as the Greece golden visa. The program requires investors to purchase real estate property in order to be granted a residence permit that is valid for 5 years.
How can I be granted a Greece residency permit if I do not live in the EU?
Any non-EU national can be granted permanent residency permits for himself/herself and his/her family provided they buy real estate property worth EUR 250, 000 or more. The property can also be purchased through a corporate entity that is fully owned by the applicant.
Can I use the Greece residency permit as a pathway to Greece citizenship?
In 2015, Greece passed laws allowing people who hold a Golden Visa (permanent residency permit) to apply for citizenship after 7 years of continuous stay.
Can I co-buy the property with another party?
Spouses are allowed to jointly own property worth, at least, EUR 250, 000 in order to qualify for the Golden Visa. In any other cases of shared ownership, each of the co-investors is required to contribute at least EUR 250, 000 to the purchase.
What first step should I take?
If you’re interested in the Greece permanent resident permit for investors, the first thing you do is take a trip to Greece. This gives you a chance to browse various real estate property and learn more about the formalities of the process. Once you identify and purchase property that appeals to you, you may have an attorney submit the resident permit application documents on your behalf. The process entire process is straightforward and not complicated.
Which type of visa can I use to travel to Greece?
You can visit the Greece embassy or consulate authority in your country in order to be granted a Schengen visa.
To gain an investor’s visa, you will need to prove that you have enough funds to cover the minimum required investment amount of EUR 250, 000.
Can I buy more than one property?
Yes. You can earn a residency permit just provided you purchase property worth, at least, EUR 250, 000. It doesn’t matter whether it’s commercial or residential, or whether you buy one or more houses.
In addition to the value of the property, are there extra fees?
The government levies property transfer tax at 3.09% of the net property value. You might also be charged about 5% of the property value in legal, notary and service fees.
Can I apply along with my family members?
Yes. You can apply along with your spouse, children below the age of 21, your parents as well as your spouse’s parents.
What are the main required documents to apply for the Greece golden visa?
Basically, you only need to provide evidence for the lease contract or purchase of real estate property. You may also need to get health insurance coverage, which can be obtained locally.
What are my obligations as a property owner in Greece?
You are obliged to file an annual tax report. Greek is the cheapest country to own real estate in throughout Europe.
Are there any other conditions for the renewal of the residency permit?
The residence permit is permanent, and the only requirement is ownership of real estate property. The permit should be renewed after every 5 years.