Greece launches new criteria for its Golden Visa program

As a member State of the European Union, Greece is the largest economy in the Balkan area and one of the most popular tourism destinations worldwide. It is estimated that 33 million visitors travelled to Greece in 2018, rendering the country one of the most visited in the world. Following a period of recession, since 2017 the country is on a solid road to recovery with positive growth prospect. During 2018, Greece exited the Memoranda and there was significant growth in GDP and in exports. Recently the capital controls were also abolished.

Greece has also received a financial boost through its popular residency by investment program, which has seen more than 15,300 approved applicants so far this year. Foreign investors have the option to invest in real estate, start their own company, make a strategic investment or have a sufficient passive income.

On Nov. 12, 2019, a new Joint Ministerial Decision was published, which grants a 5-year residency permit to third country nationals who invest at least 400,000 euros in a domestic company with a registered office in Greece (excluding portfolio-investment companies and real estate investment companies), buy shares through a share-capital increase scheme or buy bonds through a bond issue.


With a low investment capital in comparison to many other European residency programs and with no restrictions of the location of the property, the Greek Golden visa is one of the most lucrative residence by investment program. 2018 has been a record breaking year for the real estate market and while approvals slowed down in the beginning of 2019, the market is expected to grow, according to Enterprise Greece. Athens and the area of Attica region have been the markets with the most liquidity. The program has become more favorable for investors with the recent elimination of VAT in the real estate investments.

A third-country national will be eligible for the residence permit if they acquire real property of minimum value of 250,000 euros and have obtained a National D Visa from the consulate of their residence. Alternatively, they can opt for a ten-year time-sharing contract or a ten-year lease of hotel accommodations or furnished tourist accommodation in tourist accommodation complexes. Prior to the purchase, the buyer can carry out a due diligence on the property; all assets are registered to the Cadastre Department and the Urban Planning Office and the information regarding the legal ownership, the mortgages and the compliance with the building regulations are available to the public. The purchase is concluded with a notarial act, which is registered to the Cadastre Department. Joint ownership is permissible and the owner can rent out the property. This residence permit is granted for 5 years and does not allow access to the labor market. However, the applicant may be shareholder or CEO in his own company.


Greece has introduced a residence permit for third-country nationals who have adequate resources to cover their living expenses without being employed or exercise an independent economic activity. The condition for sufficient income is a minimum of 2,000 euros per month and, in case the applicant is accompanied by their family, the amount is increased by 20% for the spouse and 15% for each child. The income must be passive, coming from a source other than employment. Acceptable items include payments of insurance premiums, rental payments received from renting out assets and payment of interest in a bank account are. A copy of the respective bank statements, which must reflect a steady, monthly cash flow, is required.

In order to be granted this permit, the applicant has to apply for a National D Visa at the Consulate of their residence. Upon receiving the visa, the applicant can enter Greece and apply to the correct authority within 3 months for the issue of the residence permit. This permit is granted for 2 years and does not allow access to the labor market. It is renewable every 3 years.


Greece offers various corporate schemes for individuals who wish to start their own business or to join an existing company. Setting up a company is done with One-stop Shop Service and is concluded within two working days. Depending on the legal form, the applicant has to provide the documentation specified under the applicable regulations. The most flexible type is the Private Capital Company (IKE), with the minimum capital requirement of 1 euro.

Third-country nationals who are board members, shareholders, managers, directors or legal representatives of Greek companies, mother companies or legally established offices are granted work permit and can be accompanied by their family members. The initial validity of the permit is 2 years and it is renewable every 3 years. There is a limitation on the Greek companies: in order for the third-country national to be granted a permit, the company has to be employing at least 25 employees. Intra-company transfer is allowed in case of companies that have undertaken a service contract or a contract for the promotion of products/ the provision of technical support to foreign companies and consumers. In order to be granted this permit, the applicant has to apply for National D Visa at the Consulate of their residence.


Investors have business opportunities in the sectors of energy, tourism, information technology, agriculture and logistics. In the case of investments classified as Strategic Investments, under a decision of the Interministerial Committee, residence permit may be granted to the legal representative of the investor and to up to 10 additional persons. These individuals must work for the implementation of the investment plan. All individuals may be accompanied by members of their families as well as by domestic assistants, provided that they provide personal assistance to an applicant with disabilities.


Greece does not yet offer citizenship by investment. Citizenship is obtained either by Greek ancestry or by naturalization. In the latter case, the applicant can apply after 7 years of actual permanent and legal residence in the country. In case of an EU citizen or a third country national, who has married a Greek national and has a child, the required time is 3 years.


In November 2019, the Greek government introduced new criteria to its program to boost investment, including giving foreign investors the option to:

Invest at least 400,000 euros in a real estate investment company investing exclusively in Greece or buying shares through a share-capital increase scheme.

Invest at least 400,000 euros in a capital equity company or an equity mutual fund investing only in companies in Greece.

Buy at least 400,000 euros worth of Greek state bonds with a maturity of at least three years through a credit institution based in Greece.

Acquire a time deposit of at least 400,000 euros at a domestic credit institution with a duration of at least 12 months.

Purchase shares, corporate bonds or state bonds worth at least 800,000 euros.

Invest at least 400,000 euros in a mutual fund investing solely in shares, corporate bonds or state bonds.

Invest at least 400,000 euros in buying shares in an Alternative Investment Organisation set-up in Greece or in another EU member-state that only invests in real estate assets in Greece.

The applicants can be accompanied by their families. In the case of corporate investments, the entry and stay of third-country nationals is allowed when they invest at least 400,000 in a domestic company.

In case of investment by a foreign company, the residence permit will be granted up to three individuals, who must be shareholders or executives in the company. The minimum value of the investments must be 800,000 euros per individual permit.

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About the Author

Christos  Vardikos
Christos Vardikos
Christos Vardikos is an Athens-based attorney and the consul for the Commonwealth of Dominica in Greece. He manages the boutique law firm Vardikos & Vardikos with offices in Cyprus, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St Lucia and Grenada. In addition, Vardikos & Vardikos maintains affiliated offices in various MENA region countries in order to facilitate client applications. The firm is an approved government agent for the citizenship programs for Dominica, St Lucia, Antigua. It also specializes in Greek golden visas, financial independent individual resident permit applications and Greek citizenship applications.

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