Residence and Work Permits in Greece
How to register for the required documents, as well as how to change your residency permit when moving in Greece...
Greece has introduced electronic, biometric residence permits for EU and non-EU nationals living in the country. The permit also acts as an identity card. This card the adhesive stickers in passports system. Within 30 days of receiving a residence application, Greek authorities will arrange for a date for the applicant to register their biometric data (photo and fingerprints) which are recorded on the card’s electronic chip. The card will also show whether the holder has the right to work in Greece.
Foreigners living in Greece who already have residence permits will not have to update to the new format until their current documentation expires.
There are several types of residence permit, depending on the personal situation of the applicant. These include:
- Non-EU family member of Greek or other EU citizens
- Retiree with independent support
- Student at Greek university
- Self-employed entrepreneurs
- Sponsorship of a Greek employer
- Non-EU spouse or child (younger than 21) of a non-EU citizen living and working in Greece for two years
- Executives, administrators or board members
- Long term EU-wide residence/work permit
- Foreign investment
Non-EU family members of Greek or other EU citizensThe same visa rules apply to non-EU family members as to other non-EU nationals. If required (depending on their nationality), they must hold a visa from their Greek consulate or Embassy before moving over to Greece. This visa is issued free of charge.
Spouses and children younger than 21 of Greeks or other EU citizens may apply for a five-year-duration residence permit (Δελτίο Διαμονής Μέλους Oικογένειας Πολίτη Της Ένωσης / Deltio Diamonis Melous Oikogeneias Politi Tis Enosis). The application for this permit is free of charge. The only requirements are two passport photos, a valid passport (or other identification document) and a marriage or birth certificate to prove the relationship with the EU citizen. A health certificate is not required, but there can be exceptions depending on the situation.
Family members with residence permits have the right to work in Greece. If the relative dies, they are entitled to Greek residency, under the condition that they have lived in Greece for at least one year. Divorcees, married for at least three years or victims of domestic violence, are also eligible to become Greek residents. After five years of continuous residence in Greece, family members are eligible for permanent residence (δελτίο μόνιμης διαμονής / Deltio Monimis Diamonis).
Note: Contrary to the EU laws, this does not apply to married gay and lesbian couples or those joined in civil union, as registered partnerships and gay marriage are not recognised in Greece.
Retirees with independent supportForeigners from outside the EU who want to move to Greece after their retirement must obtain a national type D visa. They must be able to prove that they have a monthly income to cover their living needs and they must prove they have sufficient medical insurance coverage. On arrival in Greece, an application for a residence permit should be submitted. An additional requirement is proof of income or a deposit of €24,000 in a Greek bank account.
Student at a Greek universityTo study in Greece, non-EU students have to apply for a student visa at the Greek Consulate or Embassy in their home country. In addition to the documents required for all other visas, they need to provide:
- Acceptance letter from a Greek educational institution
- Health certificate
- Proof of medical insurance
- Proof of sufficient financial funds
Self-employed entrepreneursForeigners can start their own business, under the condition that this will contribute to the Greek economy and that they have sufficient funds to cover their living and business expenses. There are numerous administrative steps to complete and the process could take up to or more than a year. The work permit is valid for two years and is renewable for two years if the application is submitted at least two months prior to the expiration of the permit.
Sponsorship by a Greek employerTo enter Greece and apply for a permit, a type D work visa is needed and it must specify dependent employment. Applying for a residence and work permit based on an employment offer from a Greek employer can take quite a long time.
The visa must be sponsored by an employer for a specific position, which cannot be filled by a Greek or EU applicant. Work permits are only granted to foreigners living abroad if it's clear that there are no local residents to take the position. The employer needs to file an application at the Greek Employment Office, OAED and pay a deposit. If the application is approved, the foreign citizen must apply for a local tax number (AFM), subscribe to the social security fund for employees (IKA) and apply for a residence permit. Changing work places within the same industry may be allowed if one holds a valid work permit and has been working for a period of a least one year. It is suggested to contact the OAED or IKA for guidance.
Non-EU spouse or child (younger than 21) of a non-EU citizen living and working in Greece for two yearsFamily members of non-executive employees can join them only after two years of living and working in Greece, and under the condition that the individual can provide proof of sufficient resources to cover the living expenses. Family members of executive employees may accompany them. They must apply for the same type of entry visa and the same type of residence permit.
Executives, administrators or board membersExecutives, administrators and board members employed at Greek branches of foreign companies have a relatively easy time obtaining a residence permit. To enter Greece, apply for a visa at the local Consulate or Embassy. Once in Greece, apply for a residency permit. This also applies to accompanying family members, who must apply for the same visa and residency permit.
Long-term EU-wide residence/work permitNon-EU citizens can apply for a long term EU-wide residence/work permit if they can prove that they have been living and working in Greece for five continuous years with a valid Greek residence/work permit. This particular permit is only available to individuals who are not of Greek or European descent and are not married to a Greek or EU citizen. In this five year period they must not have been outside of Greece for more than ten months in total. Holders of this permit have the same rights as European nationals, and are also allowed to work and live in one of the other EU countries.
Residence Permits for InvestorsAs of 2013, non-EU nationals and their family members are entitled to a residence permit when investing in a property with the value of €250,000 or more. The permit is valid for 5 years and can be renewed if ownership of the property is unchanged. This type of residence permit does not include the right of employment. The law also applies to both the purchasing and leasing of either multiple residential or commercial property provided the combined total reaches the minimum investment amount.
- The Invest in Greece website has a guide to Residence Permits for real estate owners in Greece (PDF)
Changing a Residence PermitIt is necessary to apply for a change in the residence permit if:
- The purpose, or reason of stay changes
- There is a change in the holder's personal situation
- There is a change of address