Real Estate / General Business / Financial Products
Visa Free Travel
The ability to travel in Europe is one of the top goals for many seeking residency-by-investment programs, and one of the least expensive and easiest ways to obtain it is in Greece.
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 224,505 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.
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.
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.
Updated by Mary Tsiganou
Non-EU investors can choose from any of the following options to apply for their Golden Visas.
Acceptable real estate includes residential properties, commercial properties, warehouses and logistics, plots of land, buildings and hotels. Investors can also sign timeshare agreements or long-term leasing agreements in hotel and tourist accommodations. Joint ownership of properties is eligible for Golden Visas, provided that each applicant invests the minimum amount of 250,000 euros.
Investors can establish a business or a subsidiary of their existing business in Greece, which contributes to the local economy. There is no limitation on the industry in which the business operates, as long as it poses positive impact on the Greek economy. Authorities would assess the ability of a business in terms of job creation, promoting local resources and domestic products, innovation and the adoption of new technology.
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.
Acceptable financial products include government bonds, Greek company shares, deposits to a Greek bank.
Updated by Mary Tsiganou
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