Greece Golden Visa or Residency Through Investment

A Golden Visa for Greece is increasingly becoming popular due to its immense benefits. The main one being the freedom for the holder and their immediate family members to visit any country within the Schengen zone. 

However, the price tag of getting a passport by investment to most of the countries in this region may deter most investors. Some may require as much as EUR 500,00 in real estate investment, as it is the case with Spain and Portugal. The Greek Residence by Investment (RBI) program, otherwise referred to as the Greek Golden Visa program promises affordable, five-year renewable residency. 

In addition, Greece offers the following metrics for Economic Freedom, Business Freedom, Property Rights and Prosperity.

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Economic Freedom

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Business Freedom
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Property Rights

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Prosperity

The Greek golden visa program was launched in July 2013 and offers genuine investors an opportunity to get visa-free access to all European countries. It is a five-year residence permit that can be renewed at the end of each term for as long as the beneficiary keeps the investment running. Moreover, a residency holder can apply for citizenship after seven years subject to meeting the prerequisite requirements. As a Greek passport holder, you can live, study, and work in any of the EU countries.

The Greek residence by investment program is an opportunity for investors, business executives, and other affluent citizens from any part of the world looking for EU residence permit and an alternative option for their international tax planning.

* data sourced from www.heritage.org and knoema.com

Greece is the origin of western civilization and the cradle of democracy, thanks to its illustrious past. Western arts, language, sports, and other aspects of our lives as we know today, can be traced back to Greece. It has seen the country become one of the top tourist destinations in Europe.

The balmy Mediterranean climate, turquoise waters, fresh food, and unrivaled hospitality have become a favorite for high-net investors from all over the world.  Greece is not just about its geographical features; it is accessible, safe, and under the rule of law. 

Location

Greece lies to the Southeast of Europe, along the Mediterranean sea. Its Balkan Peninsula mainland dotted with hundreds of picturesque islands is a sight to behold. It is bordered by the Republic of North Macedonia, Bulgarian and Albania to the North, Turkey to the East, the Mediterranean Sea to the South, and the Ionian Sea to the West.

The country squarely lies at the meeting point of three seas; the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Ionian Sea to the West, and the Aegean Sea to the east. It is located strategically at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Typically, each of these continents is one hour of flight away.

Its coastline runs about 16,000Km and features a highly diversified landscape ranging from pebble and sand beaches to the coastal caves, sheltered bays and coves, dark sand, and coastal wetlands.

With more than 300 days of sunshine every year, Greece boasts a dry, summer climate with a blend of breezy nights and hot days.

Greece has about 6,000 islands, most of which can be found in the Aegean Sea. These are divided into seven distinct groups:

  • The north-eastern Aegean Islands
  • The prefecture of Evia
  • The Sporades
  • The Argosaronic
  • The Dodecanese
  • The Cyclades
  • Crete

Political State

Greece has been a parliamentary republic since 1975. The president is the head of state and is elected by the legislature to serve 5-year terms. The government consists of a cabinet with 22 ministers and a prime minister who is the head of government. Being a two-party system, Greece is dominated by the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the New Democracy (ND), a liberal-conservative.

The country is divided into 13 administrative units that are further subdivided into 325 municipalities.

Lifestyle

The Greek lifestyle is a blend of both traditional and modern ways of life. Its populace has an enviable tradition of hospitality, especially to immigrants. This can be blamed on its unique position at the center of a variety of cultures.

The social life in Greece is mostly outdoors, especially during the hot summers. During the winter, leisure time would be spent in coffee shops. 

Greek cuisine is a blend of various traditional influences. For instance, such sweets as Kataifi and Baklava are evidence of the long Turkish rule. Traditionally, however, the Greeks have their staple food based on fruits, vegetables, cheese, olive oil, and seafood.

Greece is known for its low crime rate and strong family structure. Family members understand the value of mutual support and togetherness. Easter is one of the most notable religious festivals and a time for family bonding. Usually, the holiday periods would come around during the Feast of Dormition and Easter.

Business Environment

The Greek economy was hit hard by the 2008 recession, but its resolve to beat the odds has been outstanding. Over the last few years, the economy has stabilized, thanks to the initial support from two multi-billion Euro Rescue packages; International monetary Fund (IMF) and European Commission (EC). 

Throughout the last decade, the government has been making efforts to reduce the fiscal deficit by privatizing public companies, increasing taxation, and making reforms on the healthcare system.

The country has traditionally relied on an agricultural economy. However, this seems to be changing due to the economic diversification and industrialization that now appears to be taking over. The export industry currently represents over 50% of the GDP.

Greece offers an appealing environment for business and foreign investment.  Its economy may not be the best in the EU, but its potential for growth is something to keep in mind.

Legal System

The Greek Judicial system consists of criminal/civil and administrative jurisdictions which are further divided into:  

  • Lower courts (courts of the first instance)
  • Higher, appellate courts (courts of appeal)
  • Supreme courts

The highest courts in the country are:

  • Symvoulio tis Epikrateias – Council of state and the supreme administrative court of Greece
  • Areios Pagos – the supreme civil and criminal court
  • Elegktiko Synedrio – The court of audit

As such, Greek judges are aligned to one of these two jurisdictions. This means, for instance, that an administrative judge cannot judge civil or penal cases and vice versa.

Tax System

Just like in most of the developed nations, taxation in Greece relies on both direct and indirect tax systems. Tax collection is done by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue. On income tax, for instance, anyone earning some income in Greece, regardless of their place of permanent residence, is liable to pay income tax in Greece.

However, foreign companies operating in Greece are only obligated to pay tax on income generated in the country.  This is done at the same graduated tax rates that apply to residents. Non-residents are, however, not entitled to benefit from any of the allowances and deductions that apply to residents.

In December 2019, Greece introduced a new tax regime that was designed to attract high-net individuals to migrate and choose to be part and subject to the Greek tax regime for their foreign income.

The Greek Golden Visa program is arguably one of the most competitive in the EU region and brings the following benefits:

Investment Galore

Greece offers lower threshold investment options, thanks to its investment-friendly environment compared to other EU countries. The investment options include:

  • Real estate/Property
  • Land
  • Government bonds
  • Shares
  • Legal entities
  • Mutual funds

If you choose to buy property, you have the option to rent it out and concentrate on other business endeavors, either at home or in other EU countries.

Family Members Included

Greek Golden visas allow the applicant to include their immediate family members in their visa application such as:

  • Partner/spouse
  • Children under 21 years
  • Dependent parents
  • Students under 24 years

Freedom to EU Travel

Courtesy of being a member of the Schengen area, Greece offers an opportunity for holders of a Greek residency permit visa-free travel privileges to all the EU countries just like a Greek citizen.

The Greek Golden Visa is renewable after five years, but there is no requirement that one must stay in the country for a given period.  As long as the initial minimum investment is intact, the applicant has the freedom to travel and live back home.

Opportunity to Diversify Investments

With the Greece residency-by-investment program, you are making a personal investment that can help diversify your investment options and portfolio. This is a solid opportunity to invest in a strong growing economy with great potential.

The applicant will retain all the rights and control of their investment in exchange for residence. In fact, the status is typically considered permanent as long as the applicant maintains their minimum requirement on investment.

Standard of Living

Greece is a little known gem when it comes to the standard of living. It could be compared to that of the United States in some ways. This is clearly evident from its dependable medical facilities and a solid education system. In addition, statistics show that Greece posts some of the lowest crime rates in Europe.

Exemption From Greek Tax

Beneficiaries of the Golden Visa Greece do not have to pay tax as long as they do not live in Greece for more than 183 days a year. However, one is liable to pay tax for any form of income derived in Greece. For instance, the rental income rate from property stands at 11% to 33%.

Anyone Can Apply

As long as you are a non-EU national, you have the opportunity to apply for the Greek Golden Visa and get permanent residence.

The basic visa application requirements for Golden Visa eligibility are:
  • Invest in real estate or other applicable investment options
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Clean criminal record
  • Valid visa to enter Greece
  • All the documents that accompany the application must be duly certified and translated into the Greek language
  • Applicants and their beneficiaries must have Greek health Insurance
Apart from the minimum requirement on investment needed for eligibility, applicants will need additional 3-4% of the invested value to cater for all the paperwork and lawyer fees. Applicants will also need about 6% to cater for real estate registration and other miscellaneous expenditure in the process.

Below are some notable investment options currently in place for eligibility into the Greek residency Golden Visa application:

Real Estate

The Greek Golden Visa applicant can choose to invest at least EUR 250,000 in any part of the country, including the surrounding islands. In terms of the type of real estate that can be purchased:

  • Commercial property
  • Residential property
  • Plot of land 

The investment on a plot of land includes both the value of the land and that of the development contract done with a chosen construction company.

Government Bonds

On 12 November 2019, Greece amended the Golden Visa program to include more investment options for eligible applicants. One of these additions allows you to invest in government bonds for a minimum value of EUR 400,000. This investment must be maintained for at least three years.

Legal entities

In special cases, an applicant can invest through bank deposits or securities for a minimum value of EUR 800,000 with an alternative of EUR 400,000 investment in shares. One can also invest some further legal entities in Corporate or Government bonds for at least EUR 800,000. This number, however, doubles based on the number of residence permits being sought.

Mutual funds

You can invest in equity shares for a minimum of EUR 400,000 in a mutual fund

Alternative Investments

Applicants may invest in any Alternative Investment Agency, otherwise known as AIF, for a minimum of EUR 400,000. The AIF must be set up in Greece or other EU member states.

Education

Apart from residency by investment, Greece is also big on education. 

In its effort to become more outward-looking, the country recently opened its universities to the world. As such, and anyone hoping to study in any of their internationally recognized universities can apply for a scholarship. 

Some of the notable Universities that offer International programs include:

  • The University of Athens – BA in History, Archeology, and Literature for non-EU citizens
  • Hellenic Open University – Management and Business Administration
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Journalism and medical research methodology

Citizenship

After enjoying the trappings that come with the resident permit, you can apply for citizenship.  However, this will only be possible if you have been living and paying taxes in Greece for at least seven years.

Primarily, Greek citizenship is based on ‘jus sanguinis’ (right of blood). Being a member of the EU, a Greek citizen may travel, live, and work in other EU countries. Some of the common ways one can become a Greek citizen is by birth, descent, naturalization, marriage, and adoption. 

However, citizenship by naturalization has so far become one of the most popular ways to become a Greek citizen.

Greece allows for dual citizenship by law, and anyone with no ethnic or familial ties to Greece can apply for Greek citizenship after seven years of permanent residency in the country.

However, there may be a ray of hope finally if the recent efforts by the Immigration Ministry to introduce written tests are anything to go by. Greece hopes to streamline the cumbersome process by letting applicants complete a written examination.

Since the start of 2020, there have been plans to introduce new Citizenship by Investment (CBI) scheme. This is expected to pick up post-COVID 19 and will see the country admit at most 200 investors every year for the fast-track citizenship program.

The Greek government is currently considering a citizenship-by-investment scheme. The process is in the pipeline, and when fully implemented, it will offer an opportunity for those planning to seek citizenship the quicker way. Through this scheme, the Greek government hopes to offer immediate citizenship to 200 investors every year.

Application Process

The application process for Greece Golden Visa is pretty straightforward as long as the applicant meets the minimum entry requirements. In practice, it takes about two to three months to complete and consists of four steps, see details below.

Choose your preferred investment route

According to the rules set by the Golden Visa Greece program, an aspiring applicant has to make an investment in Greece before they submit the residence application. As such, you have to visit Greece before starting your application procedure for the following:

  • Inspect, check and invest in some of the pre-identified investment options
  • Open a bank account
  • Obtain a tax identification number
  • Give power of attorney to your preferred legal representative in the country.

Irrespective of the investment option you choose, your physical appearance in Greece is mandatory, at least to open a bank account and give power of attorney to a legal representative.

Week 1

Put your application in order

As with any other application for travel or residence, paperwork is inevitable. Your Greece Golden Visa application will have to contain the following documents:

  • Birth certificates
  • Police clearance verifications
  • Marriage or divorce certificates
  • Copies of your passports.

Remember, all of these documents must be certified by relevant bodies and will need to be translated into Greek.

Week 2

Application review

Having submitted your application for a Greek Golden Visa, there will be a two month period for review. During this time, the Greek authorities will conduct their due diligence to ensure every document is in order.

On submission of your application, you will be issued with a receipt or proof of your application. This will act as your temporary residence permit pending approval.

The temporary residence permit’s validity spans one year. During this time, you can travel freely in the Schengen area. It also gives you the power to take any legal actions that may be needed to finalize your investment in the country.

Week 2

Your Golden Visa Issued

Upon successful review, the residence permit is issued. The permit comes with a five-year validity period and attracts a fee of EUR 2,000. You can always renew the permit for your Greece Golden Visa upon expiry as long as your investment remains intact and still satisfies the investment criteria.

Week 10

Get Your Free Consultation

If you would like to learn more about the program or have some questions to ask, please reach out to us for friendly and free advice!

FAQ

Investment of EUR 250,000 in real estate, land, or timeshare.

Yes, you may add your spouse, parents from both sides, and children not older than 21 years.

No. You do not need to live or reside in Greece unless you hope to apply for citizenship after the 7-year period.

The process typically takes 2-3 months.

Yes. Yes allows dual citizenship.

The residence permit is typically permanent. However, you will be required to renew it every 5 years as long as your real estate investment remains intact above the minimum.

No. As long as you do not stay in Greece for more than 183 days a year, you are not liable to pay tax.