Gaining residence in Greece as a UK national is not as easy as before the nation’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31st January 2020. Back then, UK Nationals benefitted from the easy and free movement which European citizens enjoy today under the EU Directive 2004/38, Article 10. Still, it is more than achievable for those who wish for a better quality of life, albeit a little more complicated and expensive.
Uk citizens who already held a permit before the UK’s withdrawal from Europe can remain in Greece without difficulty. Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, British Residence Permit holders in Greece need not renew their residence status. The Greek government have chosen instead to request updates to a new format when current documentation expires.
Several options are available for UK nationals wishing to move to Greece post EU withdrawal. This article explores the basic process, how to enter the country with the intent to reside and the permit options available for Greek residence on arrival.
Entering Greece with the Intent to Stay
For most UK Nationals, the first step in the process of moving to Greece is to obtain a Greek long-stay Type D Entry Visa. To be clear, this is not a residence permit. It is the visa you will require if you intend to live, work and stay in Greece for longer than 90 Days. The necessity to obtain this visa does not apply to those looking to reside in Greece for less than 90 days. You can simply enter and leave as a visitor with a valid passport.
There are several different types of residence permits. A long-stay entry visa is needed for all of them, except those applying for a Golden visa and spouse visas for UK partners and family members of Greek and EU citizens. In these instances, all that is required is a simple passport entry stamp as a tourist or visitor (replaces the Type C visitor visa from which UK nationals are exempt).
How to Apply For a Greek Long-Stay Type D Entry Visa
If you intend to reside in Greece, you must apply for a long-stay type D visa before you leave. It is important to note that you cannot apply for a permanent residence card if you arrived in Greece on a visitors pass.
To obtain this visa, applicants must present themselves, in person, to a consular post in the jurisdiction they reside in to establish the purpose of entry and stay in Greece. Long-stay visa applications can be made online through the Global Visa Centre (VAC). Here you can find further information on requirements, download application documents and book an appointment for an interview.
Greek Type D Entry Visa Requirements
The following documents are required to obtain a Greek Type D entry Visa:
- A fully completed and signed Application Form with a recent colour photo.
- A Passport valid from at least three months before departure with two blank pages issued within the previous decade.
- Medical certificate from a licensed doctor showing the applicant does not suffer from a disease that poses a risk to public health.
- ACRO or DBS criminal record check completed within the last six months.
- Medical travel insurance for the period the visa is valid for covering the costs that may arise in a medical emergency (at a minimum).
Entry Visa Costs and Processing Times
A Greek Type D entry Visa can take anywhere between six days to three months under normal circumstances. At the time of writing, it may take a little longer due to Covid restrictions and subsequent backlogs. It is advisable to commence the application process in plenty of time before the departure date for this reason. The fee is EUR 180 though this may be less for students and investors.
Greek Residence Permit Application Process
On arrival in Greece, UK nationals must apply for a residence permit within three months. Applications must be made in person by scheduling an appointment at the nearest Hellenic police station with an aliens bureau if you live in Athens or Thessaloniki. You will need to find the closest General Regional Police Directorate with an aliens bureau for everywhere else in Greece.
When attending a biometric residence card appointment, you must bring the relevant paperwork as per the particular residency permit you are applying for. A Valid UK passport (not a photocopy) and four passport-sized photographs. After the appointment, you will need to have your fingerprints taken on a digital scanner. This happens typically sometime after the interview. During the interview, you will be asked several questions regarding the purpose of your stay in Greece.
Different Types of Greek Residence Permits for UK Nationals
Once in Greece, a UK national can apply for one of several different types of residence permits to stay, work, and reside in Greece. The best one to apply for much depends on your situation and reasons for wanting to live in the country. Here are the five main types:
Spouse Residence Permit
Proof of marriage to a Greek or EU national is perhaps the easiest way for a UK citizen to gain a residence permit in Greece. You do not need a Type D entry visa before leaving the UK with this type of permit. An entry stamp will suffice. On arrival in Greece, the process and documents required vary slightly per the nationality of the main dependant.
If you are married to an EU spouse, the EU spouse must apply first, and then you must apply together.
If you are married to a Greek citizen, you need only go together on arrival. The Greek spouse must produce their ID.
You must show your marriage certificate or civil partnership papers in both instances. If the marriage took place abroad, Greek nationals must have a marriage certificate registered at the embassy or special registry in Greece. This can take months to achieve, so you will need to factor this in from the onset.
Obtaining a residence permit through employment is difficult but not impossible to achieve. To gain residency through this type of permit, the applicant must prove that they are doing a job that a Greek or EU Citizen could not. Applicants must enter their employer’s details and specialisation on the Type D visa application form. The information will then go through the approval process by the relevant Greek authorities, which can take months to achieve. It is also possible to open your own business in Greece. However, you will undoubtedly need to consult a lawyer and accountant in Greece to deal with the complexities.
Digital Nomad Visa/Residence Permit
The digital nomad visa is a very recent entry route into the country. Issued by the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the Digital Nomad Visa gives the legal right of residence with no access to dependant employment or business activity in Greece. The visa is valid for 12 months which is extendable to a renewable two-year Digital Nomad Residence Permit. All third-country non-EU nationals who are dependant employees or self-employed persons working remotely with employers or clients outside Greece are eligible. Family members are eligible too without the right of employment or professional activity in Greece.
To qualify, the applicant must provide evidence of sufficient resources of a stable income assessed to be EUR 3,500 per month net income after taxes in the country where employment services are provided. This amount increases by 20% for every spouse or co-inhabitants and 15% for each child. On application, the applicant must show documentation of remote earings from employers or clients outside of the country covering the validity period of the Digital Nomad Visa.
Financially independent Persons Permit
Similar to the digital Nomad Permit, though primarily aimed at retirees since the preferred proof of income is in the form of a pension. The Residence Permit for Financially independent persons is a renewable two-year permit that is valid if the applicant remains in the country for 183 days a year.
To obtain a residence permit based on financial independence, the applicant must provide proof of sufficient income for self-support without employment in Greece. This is set at EUR 2,000 per month, plus 20% for a spouse and 15% for each child. Sometimes, the total amount for two years is required in the bank on application, but not always, suggesting that it depends on the Police aliens bureau where you apply. Furthermore, a EUR 1,000 fee is payable for the application. In addition to the financial prerequisites, you will need private medical insurance for you and your family in Greece.
Investment Permit (Golden Visa)
You won’t need a Type D visa to enter the country with the intent to stay when applying for a Greek residence visa via investment. Undoubtedly, however, you will need a lawyer to navigate the complexities of obtaining residency through property investment, otherwise known as a Golden Visa. To get a 5-year renewable Golden Visa, you will need to invest EUR +250,000 in Real Estate to qualify. Legal fees could also be anywhere between EUR 5,000 and 25,000.
The Challenges of Gaining A Residence Permit for UK Citizens
Unless you have the financial resources to pay for legal assistance, gaining a residence permit in any country can be challenging. And obtaining a residence permit in Greece can sometimes be harder than in many other countries due to the lack of centralised data collection and computerised systems. This is an issue that the government is keen to address, starting with the recent introduction of biometric residence permits for EU and Non-EU nationals living in the country. The Greek authorities will arrange a date for applicants to register their biometric data (photo and fingerprints) generally within 30 days of receiving your residence application. Moving forward, the residence card also acts as an ID card for non-Greeks living in Greece.
As a general rule, the entire process of gaining a residence permit in Greece can take anywhere between three months and three years. Much depends on the area you apply to and the type of permit you are applying for. There is no predefined timescale, but you will not experience any problems remaining in Greece during the process as long as you submit an application correctly, secure a Type D entry visa where necessary and apply for residence within three months of arriving. Consider the application for residence part of your cultural integration into Greece. The Greeks have only one way of doing things – and that’s their way. Foreign nationals may find this both frustrating and refreshing at the same time.
On a final note, we would urge all who seek a Greek Residence Permit to get professional advice and use an immigration lawyer where possible for a smoother transition. This guide was written to help UK nationals understand the basic concepts and options to gain residence in Greece. The legislation can be complex, and we are not qualified immigration professionals. Further information on residence permits and the requirements for each is available on the Greek government’s Brexit site.