Many non-EU citizens including Britons, USA citizens, etc., can stay in Greece for up to 3 months without a visa. If you are planning to stay for longer, you need to apply for a long-stay visa (national visa − visa D) which allows you to enter and stay in Greece for a period exceeding 90 days and up to 365 days.
You should submit your D-visa application at the nearest Greek consulate in your home country, and then on entering Greece you need to apply for a residence permit within 2 months of arrival.
If you’re already in Greece on a tourist visa, or any other visa that gives you right to enter Greece legally, you can apply for a residency permit at the one-stop service of the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, but only before your visa or your visa-free 3 months period expires.
In our guide, we will look at the best options for people with some form of passive income including retirees, investors and digital nomads (people who can work from anywhere). The options we will be looking at are:
- Financially Independent persons visa and residency for retirees and people with a passive income
- The Golden Visa route if you have over €250,000 to purchase a property in Greece
- Digital Nomad visa and residency
General documents and requirements
Here’s a list of what you need regardless of the visa type you are planning to apply for:
- A fully completed and signed application form
- A colour passport style photograph of the applicant
- A passport issued within 10 years, valid for at least three months from the date of intended departure from the Schengen Zone, and with at least two blank pages
- A police certificate that details whether there is any criminal record from your country of residence
- A medical certificate from a recognized state or private body, confirming that you are not a health risk
- Comprehensive health insurance valid for the period of your visa
- Proof of accommodation (a rental contract or proof of property ownership)
In the addition, each visa type has a list of other documents you have to prepare and submit with your application.
Financially Independent Persons visa and residency
Greece’s financially independent persons (FIP) visa is arguable the easiest option for non-EU citizens who aren’t looking to work in Greece, and who don’t want to follow the Golden Visa route.
The financial requirements can be met in 2 ways: either based on a regular secure passive income or on savings.
To demonstrate financial independence, you must have a minimum monthly income of €2,000 (equal to €24,000 a year). Note, this is for one person, although an applicant can bring their spouse and children. If this is the case, the minimum amount increases by 20% for the spouse and 15% for each child.
If you base your application on savings, to be able to receive the entry visa and then convert it into a 2-year residency permit, you need to show that you have enough savings to cover the whole 2-year period. So you’ll need to have €48,000 if applying alone and €57,600 if applying with a partner.
It’s important to note that you will be expected to move the qualifying savings to a Greek bank.
1. Getting your long-stay entry visa (Visa D for financially independent persons)
You begin the visa application at your country’s Greek embassy or consulate. In addition to the general documents listed above, you will need to submit proof of funds that show you have enough income, such as bank, social security, or pension statements, evidence of rental income, income from shares, dividends or other investments.
Take all this information with you to the Greek embassy or consulate, and they’ll begin processing you for a Type D entry visa. It’s a long-term visa that grants you 1 year of residency in the country.
2. Switching to a residency permit
Once you’re in Greece, you’ll need to go through the whole process again to get your residency permit. You have to do this at your closest police station or Aliens Office and should start the process within 2 months of arrival.
You will need the same documents you prepared for your visa application
All your documents need to be notarized and apostilled, which can be done either by a public notary or lawyer.
Each family member will be given a provisional permit while they wait for their permanent one to be issued.
This first permit lasts for 2 years, after which you’ll need to get it renewed. Everyone after the first is valid for 3 years. You’ll need to continue proving financial independence whenever you go for renewal.
Important things to know about the FIP Visa
The critical point to qualify for this visa type is that you must be financially independent. This specifically means you can’t take up any form of employment in Greece, and your passive income should be non-salaried.
The visa allows you to bring dependent children into the country with you. This only applies to children under the age of 18. Also, there’s no maximum cut-off age for a FIP – anyone over 18 can apply.
It’s worth noting that there is a minimum stay requirement for a FIP visa. It’s currently 183 days out of every 365, approximately 6 months. However, unlike other countries with the same visa, there’s currently no evidence that Greece is enforcing this rule. Even so, it makes good sense to abide by it.
Finally, a FIP visa grants you access to the Schengen visa area. In short, this means 90-day stays in any country without the need for a visa, something that’s enjoyed by EU members. As such, it’s a pretty big benefit if you like the idea of having Greece as your home base while being able to enjoy easy access to the other EU Schengen area nations.
Golden Visa programme
There is a shortcut to residency in Greece, known as the Golden Visa program. Simply put, you invest a minimum of €250,000 in property in Greece and receive residency in 60 days.
The property can be either residential or commercial, situated anywhere in Greece. You can combine several properties or make a joint investment with somebody else into one property as long as the total minimum is €250,000 per applicant. With fees and taxes, the total cost is about €300,000 per applicant – the cheapest Golden Visa option in the EU.
Warning! The Greek government is planning to increase the minimum required investment to €500,000 in 2023. The proposed changes will only affect Athens, Thessaloniki as well as some suburbs near Athens.
There are other options as well:
- A lease agreement with a hotel or tourist establishment for at least 10 years
- Make a capital investment of at least €400,000 in business, Greek government bonds or shares of real estate investment companies.
- Deposit €400,000 in a Greek bank.
Doing this provides you with a 5-year renewable residency permit that also covers spouses and children. It also provides you with access to national healthcare, schooling and the right to start your own business in Greece.
You should make the investment before applying for your visa and collect all the documents proving the investment. These documents should be submitted together with the general documents listed above.
Your Golden Visa will be valid for five years and you can renew it every five years as long as you maintain the investment. If, however, you choose to live in Greece permanently for 7 years, you then have the option to apply for citizenship.
If you have questions or need more information about your Golden Visa options, contact us via our Advice page, we will be happy to help.
Digital Nomad visa and residency
This visa and residency option is perfect for self-employed or employees, who work remotely for employers or clients outside Greece.
Applying for an entry visa
Applications are submitted in your country of residence in the nearest Greek consulate. What you need to submit:
- A declaration, stating that you intend to stay in Greece while working remotely and promise not to seek employment or provide services to an employer based in Greece.
- Your existing contract or proof of employment with an employer outside Greece
- If you are self-employed, your existing contracts of independent services
- If you are employed in your own company, information on your status in the company, your company’s trade name, registered office, etc.
- Evidence that you have a stable income to support you during your stay which is a minimum of €3,500 a month after tax. It is increased by 20% for the spouse or partner and by 15% fifteen for each child.
The residence permit for digital nomads
When you arrive in the country, you need to register for a residency permit in the nearest Aliens and Immigration Department with the same documents you used to apply for your visa. You will be granted a two-year residence permit that does not give you the right to work or do business with any company or individual based in Greece.
The residence permit can be renewed every two years, as long as you continue to meet the requirements for residence which are subject to change year on year.
You might find useful:
- Living In Greece – The Expat’s Guide: a detailed guide on moving to Greece from paperwork and visas to the costs, to best areas, the pros and cons, etc.
- The Best Places To Live In Greece For Expats – a detailed overview of the most popular expat locations.
- For more guides and information on living in Greece, visit our Greece page.
- Didn’t find what you were looking for or need further advice? Comment with your question below and we will do our best to help.