The ancient country, which experienced a decade of recession, opened its doors in 2013 to high net worth foreigners through its Golden Visa program, which provides investors a wide range of investment options, including real estate, general investment and financial products. The most popular and simplest route is to acquire real estate with a minimum 250,000 euros. Greek permanent resident permits are renewable every five years and holders enjoy the freedom of travel throughout the EU Schengen zone.
From the program’s inception through May 2020, the Greek government has issued hundreds of thousands of such permits, bringing in close to 2 billion euros to the nation’s economy. The top 5 countries where investors originated are China, Turkey, Russia, Lebanon and Egypt respectively.
While the permit allows residency and travel, it does not allow employment, except for a company’s chief executive. The exercise of investment activity however, is open for Golden Visa holders. Furthermore, Golden Visa resident entitles a direct route to citizenship – those who stay in the country for seven consecutive years, with no fewer than 183 days each year, are eligible to apply for naturalization.
Citizenship By Investment
Even though Greece doesn’t have a citizenship-by-investment program, foreign investors, who are Greek Golden Visa residents, may apply for citizenship after seven years.
How To Apply
Before investing in real estate, financial products or establishing other investment activities, investors might need to apply for a Schengen visa to enter Greece from their home countries. After arriving in Greece, investors need to apply for a Greek Tax Number at the Tax Authority and open a Greek bank account. A Power of Attorney will need to be signed at a notary in order for a presentative to take care of all the procedures involved.
Whether investors invest in properties or financial products, the purchase of these options need to be completed before applying for the residency permit. As soon as the application is submitted, an applicant is allowed to stay in the country with their temporary resident certificate or travel from their countries to Greece freely. An electronic resident card will be issued approximately 40-60 days after the application. For investors who prefer to start their businesses, they have to submit their business plan for approval before starting the above procedures.
Other expenses for real estate acquisition generally include property transfer tax, registration fees of title deeds, notary fees and real estate fees.
Members of the investors’ families, including spouse, or partner through a cohabitation agreement concluded in Greece, parents, and children up to the age of 21 can be granted resident permits under the same investment.
Resident permits are renewable every five years, as long as the property, business or financial products’ ownership is maintained with the required minimum capital.
Those who obtain a residency permit can travel freely within the Schengen area, comprising of 26 European nations that have abolished passports and other border control at their common boundaries, for maximum 90 days without a visa during a period of 180 days.
As the birthplace of democracy and the Olympic Games, Greece is a developed country with a high standard of living. While the country’s economy and its employment levels have improved since 2010, the Greek people continue to feel the pain of continued austerity measures, including tax increases and pension cuts, tied to the country’s bailout by the European Union.
Even with its economic troubles, Greece continues to attract tourists for its history and natural beauty. Its architectural ruins, its sandy beaches and its convivial people made it the eighth most-visited country in Europe in 2016, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Tourism is a major source of foreign revenue, followed by shipping. Most of the country’s business is centered in its capital, Athens. Greece taxes its residents on income earned in any part of the world, but credits taxes paid in the country in which the profits were generated. Income is taxed at a rate of 22 to 45 percent.
Residency By Investment
Non-EU investors can choose from any of the following options to apply for their Golden Visas.
- Real Estate Investments with a minimum of 250,000 euros
- General Investments with minimum of 250,000 euros
There is no limit on the total number of investors allowed under one investment project, and there are no set amounts on the required investment in this route. However, at least 250,000 euros needs to be invested by each investor under one project, and the number of executives allowed in one project depends on the total investment made.
- Financial Products with capital ranging from 400,000 euros to 800,000 euros
- Digital Nomad Visa: Greece began special visas for digital nomads in September 2021, allowing foreigners with global incomes of more than 3,500 euros per month to get a year long visa to stay in the country. The visa can be renewed at the end of the 12-month period.