Visas for Greece
In Greece, visa and permit processes are made difficult by a sluggish bureaucracy, ever-changing laws and the continuing effects of austerity.
Expats moving into Greece need to be aware of the difference between a visa and a permit. A visa allows entry into the country for a specific purpose, such as travel or study, and a permit allows an expat to live and work in the country.
Non-EU citizens will most likely need a visa for Greece, while citizens from European Union (EU) and Schengen countries, as well as countries like the US and Canada, can stay as tourists for 90 days within a 180-day period.
Unlike other countries, work permits and residence permits in Greece are not separate documents. Expats from outside of the EU, who have been granted permission to enter the country on a visa, have to apply for a permit which enables them to live and work in Greece. However, EU citizens can stay and work in Greece after registering with authorities.
Owing to the country’s economic circumstances, it is becoming more difficult for the average expat to live in Greece, and it’s certainly more difficult to find work than it used to be.
Visas for Greece
All visa applicants have to apply at their local consulate in person to have their fingerprints and photo taken. It should take up to 15 days for a visa application to be processed, according to EU regulations. Applications should be made at least two weeks and no more than three months before leaving for Greece.
Expats who consider staying in Greece should also ensure that their passport is valid for longer than the minimum period required after arriving in Greece (three months for a Schengen visa).
Tourist visas for Greece
Greece falls within the Schengen Area, meaning that expats entering the country on a Schengen Visa will also have access to the other 24 European countries that are part of the agreement. Applications should be made at the expat’s closest Greek Consulate or Visa Application Centre.
The visa allows travellers from outside of the EU to stay in the Schengen Area for as long as 90 days in a six-month period. Expats should be advised that it is very difficult to obtain an extension.
In practice, expats can try and look for work while in the country on this visa. If they do manage to find work in the current market they will have to leave the country and re-enter on a national long-stay visa (type D) which will enable them to work for a longer period of time.
However, officially, Schengen Visas are not valid for expats wanting to stay in the country for longer than 90 days while looking to work or start a business in Greece.
Business visas for Greece
Aside from the type D long-stay visas, Greek business visas are for short-term business-related activities in the country. They will require that the applicant provides some kind of proof of their activities in the country, such as an official invitation from a Greek firm to attend a meeting, entry tickets to a conference, or a document proving the applicant’s employment at a company.
Permits for Greece
It can be incredibly difficult for expats from outside the EU to obtain the two-in-one Greek Residence Permit for Employment. This process is generally easier for those of Greek descent and those who have been married to a Greek citizen (under certain conditions outlined by the Greek consulate).
Residence and work permits for Greece
Expats who are in Greece on a long-stay (type D) working visa, which enables them to live and work in the country, can then apply for a type A Residence Permit for Employment which enables them to do a specific job for a specific employer. However, applying for the type D working visa requires an official offer of employment, including mention of the salary that the applicant will be paid. Additionally, before this can be done, the business will have to prove that the work cannot be done by a Greek national or EU citizen.
The Residence Permit for Employment has to be applied for within 30 days of arriving in the country. Before applying, applicants will have to obtain a Greek tax number, called an AFM (Arithmo Forologiko Mitro) from their nearest tax office. Once the application for the working residence permit has been submitted, applicants will receive a certificate of receipt confirming their application. This enables expatriates in Greece to stay in the country until the authorities reach a final decision on whether the application is successful.
Expats from the EU who want to stay in Greece for more than three months only need to apply for the Registration Certificate (Veveosi Eggrafis) at their local foreign bureau. This requires a valid passport, proof of residence and proof of employment. Expats should be warned that there is a chance that they will be dealing with a public official who doesn’t speak English - as such, it may be a good idea to bring along a Greek-speaking friend.
*Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their nearest Greek embassy or consulate for the latest details.