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Greece - Visas

It is important to make sure that you have a proper understanding of your legal situation before traveling to Greece. Depending on the country of your origin, you may be required to obtain a work permit, visa, or residence permit to legally travel and stay in Greece. Visa requirements often vary depending on the intended period of your stay and your eligibility for a visa.

What Papers Do You Need to Travel to Greece?

People from the European Economic Area (EEA) nations who intend to stay and work in Greece for more than three months are required to apply for a residence permit (Adeia Diamonez). The permit application must be made through the local police (Astynomia) or at Aliens’ Bureaus (Grafio Tmimatos Allodapon) in major Greek cities including Athens, Rhodes, Patra, and Thessaloniki. It is important to know that Aliens’ Bureaus may not be available in small towns and you may have to travel to bigger cities to apply for a residence permit.

European Economic Area residence permits are valid for five years, while work and residence permits for non- European Economic Area nationals are valid for one year and can be renewed for up to five years. You will be required to apply for an extension of the validity of your residence permit at the end of its validity period. People from other European Economic Area (EEA) countries including Italy, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands only require their national identity cards or passports to visit Greece.

You will be required to have a visa to live, work, or study in Greece if you are a non-EEA national. In addition, non-EEA nationals are required to carry their passports or IDs whenever they are in Greece. The documents help to prove their identity wherever they are. Police and other public officials can ask you to produce your identification papers at any time. You may risk being arrested and being taken to a police station for interrogation if you do not have the documents with you at all times. Cases of permit infringements are usually taken very seriously by the authorities. You may be fined or even deported if you breach regulations.

Visits of under 90 days

Visitors can stay in Greece for no more than 90 days at a time. People visiting Greece from EEA countries including Monaco, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay, the US, South Korea, Switzerland, Bolivia, Brazil, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Venezuela do not need visas to travel and stay in Greece for less than 90 days. However, citizens of other countries may be required to obtain visas to travel and stay in Greece even for short-term stays of less than 90 days.

However, the list of countries whose citizens can travel and stay in Greece for short periods without a visa can change anytime. Therefore, it is important to check with the Greek embassy in your country before making any move. In Greece, a three-month tourist visa costs approximately $20. In addition, non-EEA nationals may be required to have return tickets and provide proof that they can finance their stay while in Greece to be eligible for a visitor visa. Due to the tense diplomatic relations between Greece and Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, visitors who have recently been to Northern Cyprus may be barred from entering Greece.

People who want to travel to Greece on land through Croatia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, or FYR Macedonia should check visa regulations for these countries because some require transit visas, which are normally obtained at the border.

Be sure to have your passport stamped when entering Greece if you are a non-EEA national. This is important because it will act as proof that you did not overstay your 90 day limit. You may be temporarily banned from re-entering Greece or have to pay a fine of 450 pounds if you remain in Greece for more than 90 days without applying for an extension of your stay. It is important to know that immigration officials in Greece are very strict and usually enforce the country’s immigration laws to the letter.

Visa Extensions

Non-EEA nationals can get a three-month extension of their tourist visa. However, this is often a long and convoluted process. You must make your extension application at a local police station at least two weeks before your 90-day stay expires.

Changing Status

It is not possible to enter Greece as a tourist and change your status to that of a resident, student, or employee if you are a non-EEA national. You will have to go back to your country of residence and apply for a resident visa.

Residence permits

EEA nationals can stay and work in Greece without having to apply for a residence permit. However, you will have to register and get a Residence Certificate or a Certificate of Registration at an Aliens’ Bureau or a police station if you intend to stay in Greece for more than 90 days.

EEA nationals

The validity of EEA Residence Certificate is indefinite. You need to produce your identity card or passport, proof of sufficient income e.g. bank statements, passport size photos, proof of accommodation (title deeds or rental contract) and proof of health insurance cover before being issued with the Residence Certificate. You can also apply for the Permanent Residence Certificate after five years of residence or marriage to a Greek National.

Non-EEA nationals

It is quite difficult to obtain a residence permit if you are a non-EEA national unless you are married to a Greek citizen. If you want to stay longer in Greece, you will have to get a long-stay visa from the Greek Embassy or consulate in your country of origin. You need to apply for a residence permit at the nearest Aliens’ Bureau within two months when you arrive in Greece.

Non-EEA nationals are required to present their visas, passports, certificate of medical insurance, photographs, and employment contract when applying for residence permit. The residence permit is valid for a year.

Read more about this country

Information courtesy of Carol Palioudaki, author of The Cool Guide to Living in Crete, available at www.livingincrete.net

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