Expats moving to 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 up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
In Greece, work permits and residence permits are not separate documents. Expats from outside the EU who have been granted permission to enter the country on a work visa must then apply for a permit which enables them to live and work in Greece.
Visas for Greece
Greece is a Schengen state, meaning that expats entering the country on a Schengen Visa will also have access to the other European countries that are part of the agreement.
The visa allows travellers from outside 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 difficult to obtain an extension.
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.
Non-EU expats planning on staying for more than 90 days and working in Greece will need a type D visa (also known as a National Visa). This visa requires an official offer of employment from a Greek business.
In order to provide such an offer, the business needs to submit paperwork to the authorities proving that the work cannot be done by a Greek national or EU citizen. Once approval is obtained, the business is then able to issue an official offer of employment to be used in the expat's type D visa application.
Permits for Greece
Residence and work permits
Once in Greece, non-EU expats will need to apply for a residence and work permit which enables them to live in Greece and do a specific job for a specific employer. The application must be made within a month of arrival, but it is a lengthy process, so it's recommended that expats apply as soon after arrival as possible.
Before applying, applicants will have to obtain a Greek tax number (AFM) from their nearest tax office. They will also need to obtain a social security number (AMKA) from the local Social Security Institute (IKA) or the Citizens' Service Centre (KEP).
Expats from the EU who want to stay in Greece for more than three months only need to apply for a certificate of registration at their local foreign bureau. This requires a valid passport, proof of residence and proof of sufficient income or maintenance funds.
Expats who purchase property in Greece to the value of EUR 250,000 or more are entitled to a Greece Golden Visa. This visa grants permanent residency for the expat and their family members. Permanent residency grants the right to work, start a business, retire or study in Greece. The visa can be renewed every five years as long as the visa holder still owns the property in question. After seven years of continuous residence on this visa, expats can apply for citizenship.
*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.
►Learn more about finding employment by reading our guide to Working in Greece
"There are bilingual lawyers that can help with any work permit or visa issues. They know the system and understand how the authorities work." Read more of Marissa's tips about expat life in Greece.
"Getting an extension on the visa was more than interesting – the requirements here are not clear, and one must knock on many doors before all the info is accurate." Yadira shares her perspective as an expat in Greece.
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