Greek citizenship by descent

Article Breakdown

Any person of Greek heritage born outside of Greece has the legal right to obtain Greek citizenship through a parent or grandparent born in Greece.

Non-EU citizens are more likely to use this option because it allows them to live and work in the EU, whether in Greece or elsewhere.

Non-Greek EU nationals do not need to apply for dual citizenship by descent because there is already unrestricted mobility among EU member states.

Who is eligible to acquire Greek citizenship?

  1. Greece Passport CoverA child born in Greece to at least one Greek-descent parent;
  2. A child born outside of Greece to at least one Greek-descent parent;
  3. A grandchild born outside of Greece with proof of at least one Greek-descent grandparent.

Any individual who aspires to become a Greek national but is not of Greek race and has no direct Greek ancestry may do so through long-term residency (obtaining citizenship through naturalization) or by attending school in Greece.

Outside of Greece, Children Parents of Greek Origin

Even if you were born to at least one Greek parent, you will not be formally recognized as having Greek citizenship if you were born outside of Greece.

To assure your citizenship, your parent(s) must have been born in Greece, registered you in the Greek registration, and petitioned for Greek citizenship on your behalf.

Grandparental Citizenship in Greece

If neither of your parents was born in Greece, the Greek consulate may accept a citizenship application through a grandparent born in Greece. In comparison to the preceding, this may take significantly longer to complete.

Complete eligibility requirements for Greek citizenship by descent

  • Greece Coat of ArmsIf the applicant was born before 07/16/1982 to a Greek father and a foreign mother in the context of an existing marriage, he is presumed to have gained Greek citizenship at the moment of birth.
  • If the applicant was born after 07/16/1982 to a Greek father and a foreign mother, whether married or single, he is presumed to have obtained Greek citizenship at birth.
  • If the applicant is born before 05/08/1984 to a Greek mother and a foreign father (regardless of nationality) in an illegal or non-existent marriage, he is regarded to have obtained Greek citizenship at the moment of birth.
  • If the applicant is born after 05/08/1984 to a Greek mother and a foreign father (regardless of nationality), regardless of the type of marriage, he is regarded to have obtained Greek citizenship at the time of birth.

You are considered eligible for Greek citizenship if you have a Greek grandparent or grandmother who was born in Greece or was naturalized; nevertheless, depending on your circumstances, you may only be able to gain it through naturalization.

You may be eligible for Greek nationality if you have a Greek great-grandfather or great-grandmother who was born in Greece or was naturalized.

If you apply through a grandparent or another distant family, the relatives ‘in-between’ you and them may need to gain Greek citizenship first, if they haven’t already.

For example, if you have a Greek grandmother but your relevant parent isn’t, he or she may be required to go through the citizenship by descent application process first and become a citizen before you may apply. This may appear excessive, and in many respects it is.

Other countries that provide citizenship by ancestry to long-lost citizens do not have this criteria, owing to the fact that not everyone wishes to reclaim their status.

Documentation requirements and the application process

Rounded Greece Flag IconIf you’ve successfully established your Greek heritage and gathered the necessary documentation, you’ll be applying for Greek citizenship by descent next.

Do you want to know what the bright side is? It will not set you back an arm and a leg. At your Greek embassy or nearest Greek consulate, a minor processing charge of 150 euros will be required.

The major irritant here is the timeline; your Greek citizenship by descent application will take at least two years (and generally more like three).

You can apply in Greece (you’ll need a translator) or at a Greek embassy or Greek consular authorities (you will need two witnesses who are Greek citizens). Needless to say, if you do it in the country, it will take much less time to process.

In general, the following documents are required for all applications:

  • Passport
  • Father and/or mother’s birth certificate
  • Parents’ marriage certificate
  • Certificate of familial situation, stating whether your parents are married, divorced, or deceased, as well as verifying that you are their child

All documents must be apostilled, translated into Greek, and validated. Some of the documentation from Greece can be obtained through your local consulate. If you get your passport from your grandparents, be prepared to answer questions regarding their parents (your great-grandparents), such as their name, date of birth, and marriage.

Even if all of the above documentation appears to be too much to handle, rest assured that you will not be required to attend any interviews, pay large fees, or demonstrate fluency in Greek.

According to Greek Nationality Law, People who do not have Greek ancestry and seek to be naturalized must additionally demonstrate their knowledge of Greek history, as well as their moral standing and decent health.

Overall, provided all of the requisite documents are readily available, the process of obtaining citizenship by ancestry should be simple.

Your application will be forwarded to the regional general secretary, who will then order an international criminal record check.

Those seeking citizenship through a grandparent must additionally provide their registration certificate, marriage certificate, and death certificate.

To save time, applications from members of the same family should be submitted jointly.

In contrast to those of non-Greek descent seeking citizenship, you will not be required to be questioned, pay any fees, demonstrate fluency in the Greek language, gain Greek residency, have knowledge of Greek history, or demonstrate your moral character or good health.

How to Apply for Greek Citizenship in Greece:

Once you have gathered all of your documents, you must attend in person to the registry office in Athens to register them.

Outside of Greece: All Greek embassies accept applications. You should first check the embassy’s website to determine whether you need to book an appointment; you most likely will. Bring as much documentation as possible to your appointment to ensure that the procedure runs smoothly and swiftly.

Greece Country Landscape Photo

What Will Happen After your Application?

Your application will be sent to the regional general secretary; if you are in Greece, you will be offered the option of delivering it in person. A criminal record check may be requested, and you may be compelled to furnish any missing records.

The application will then be reviewed by the citizenship committee, and you will be notified of their decision. If your application is approved, you will be given two Greek birth certificates, one of which will be used to apply for Greek identity.

The second certificate must be filed with your family’s record, which is usually where their voting rights in Greece are registered. You will be able to create one if your family does not already have one.

If all evidence is in place and there are no disputes in your family records, the full process could be completed in three months for individuals with Greek birth parents. Everyone else, on the other hand, may need two to three years.

This may appear to be an inordinately long time, but it is a significant improvement over the four to nine-year waiting period for persons without Greek ancestry.

How You Can Speed up the Process

First, do as much research and document collection as you can before addressing the authorities.

Second, if you speak Greek or bring someone with you to appointments who does, it can speed up the process, especially if you are applying within the nation.

Finally, rather of going through an embassy, try finishing the procedure in Greece. Naturally, this is not for everyone, but it can assist to expedite the process.

It is important to realize, however, that none of these things are required, so do not be concerned if you are unable to meet them.

What Happens If Your Greek Citizenship Application Is Rejected?

You will be informed of the reasons for the decision to reject your citizenship, and you may be granted the opportunity to appeal if you have evidence to the contrary. In all other situations, the ruling will be upheld.

Reapplying is allowed as long as the application was not denied due to a criminal record or a lack of true Greek origins.

Naturalization grants Greek citizenship

Greece is a wonderful place to live and work. However, while obtaining a long-term visa is relatively simple, becoming a citizen can be exhausting, time-consuming, and complicated.

The Greek government is making every effort to make the application process as simple as possible. Nonetheless, naturalization in the Hellenic Republic is not the simplest in the EU.

Basic application requirements include the following:

  • being over the age of 18,
  • not convicted of any crimes in Greece or elsewhere,
  • not having been deported,
  • For at least 7 years, you must have lived and worked in Greece.
  • possessing a valid residency permit,
  • being able to communicate in Greek,
  • being involved in the country’s economic and social life Working, studying, paying taxes, and owning real estate are all part of it. Having family ties with other citizens is also beneficial.

Certain situations accelerate the application procedure for obtaining Greek citizenship. Greece makes every effort to attract ethnic Greeks and their families. It also adheres to EU standards, making naturalization easier for other Europeans.

The legal residence period is lowered to three years if you are:

  • a citizen of another country in the European Union,
  • married to a Greek citizen with whom I have a child,
  • having parental responsibility for a Greek citizen,
  • a political refugee or stateless person who has been recognized by Greek authorities

Minors in Greece can have dual citizenship.

Children under the age of 18 become Greek citizens if:

  • Their legal parents are both Greek nationals.
  • Their mother is of Greek origin (for children born out of wedlock),
  • A paternity test revealed that their father is Greek.
  • Their parents had been in Greece for five years.

In Greece, they have completed 9 years of elementary and secondary school, or 6 years of secondary school.

How to Obtain Greek Citizenship through naturalization

First, you must determine whether your country’s laws restrict you from becoming a dual citizen. If you are staying overseas, you should check with the country’s embassy or consulate. It is therefore advised to investigate other eligibility conditions. Following that, the Greek dual citizenship application form and additional documentation must be prepared.

Naturalization documents include:

  • your submission,
  • a valid residency permit,
  • recent personal tax returns,
  • a passport, etc.
  • a marriage license,
  • a certificate of birth

Ensure that the documents are translated into Greek and authenticated. To apply, you must pay a fee. For first-time applicants from non-EU countries, the price is €700. The application fee for the second and subsequent applications is €200.

If you are a non-Greek living in the UK, this is the only method to obtain dual British and Greek citizenship following Brexit.

EU citizens are given preferential treatment. For example, dual citizenship for Greeks and Albanians needs three years of residency in Greece and a price of €100. After applying, ethnic Greeks from South Albania can become citizens in one year.

Dual citizenship in Greece for US citizens

During the pandemic, many Americans were drawn to the idea of dual citizenship. The majority of them are of Greek descent. Celebrities enjoy dual citizenship in the United States and Greece. Tom Hanks, for example, will become a Greek citizen in 2020.

A Greek passport entitles its holder to visa-free travel in 186 countries. That is a significant advantage over merely holding a US passport. Even during lockdowns, Americans with Greek citizenship can enter Greece. They and their families can also live and work in the majority of Europe.

Americans of Greek descent may be granted citizenship more quickly. They require proof of tie to a Greek ancestor in addition to naturalization documents. They can apply at their native country’s Greek embassy or consulate. It costs €120 in addition to consular fees.

If you have a Greek parent, you must present a birth certificate from your parent’s hometown in Greece. Your male ancestors may have records in the Greek Army registration dating back to the nineteenth century.

Other foreigners may find that residency for investing is a desirable alternative. The Greek Golden Visa program is Europe’s most cheap. Real estate investment of €250,000 is required. You will receive a residency permit, allowing you to lawfully remain in Greece and petition for Greek citizenship after seven years.

Simple Procedures for Obtaining Greek Dual Citizenship

In the sections that follow, we will detail the most convenient options to gain Greek citizenship in terms of cost, processing time, and ease of required documents. However, the following eligibility requirements will continue to apply:

  • Permanent residency is required as a precursor status.
  • At least the age of 18.
  • A valid police certificate.
  • No history of deportation in Greece.
  • Prove fluency in language skills at or above the B1 level.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Being a Greek Citizen

Each coin has two sides, and citizenship is no exception. There are usually some negatives for the diversity of benefits that you acquire with each one.

Let us begin with the good news.

The most significant advantage of Greek citizenship is that you will obtain the world’s 27th most powerful passport (2020), as well as a European Union passport.

This allows you to legally reside, work, study, and gives you travel freedom throughout Europe and the Schengen zone.

When you decide to fly to Paris for the weekend, no further travel visas will be required.

However, there are some disadvantages to consider.

Unfortunately, unless your spouse is also of Greek descent, Greece does not allow you to apply jointly for citizenship by descent.

This is in contrast to certain other countries that give citizenship by descent, such as Croatia.

So, if you get Greek citizenship and want your spouse to join you if you decide to live in Greece, they must go through the entire residence permit and possible naturalization process.

You must have at least one child together and have lived in Greece for at least three years to be eligible for naturalization.

Another disadvantage of Greek citizenship is that it is only available to men between the ages of 19 and 45. Men of those ages must join the military and serve for nine months.

While mandatory military training is relatively frequent in Europe, there are few loopholes that can assist one avoid the necessity.

Greek citizens who live continuously outside of Greece have the option of deferring their conscription. When they reach the age of 45, they are permanently exempt from military service.

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