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How To Gain Greek Citizenship By Descent

Any individual of Greek descent who was born outside of the country is legally entitled to gain Greek citizenship via a parent or grandparent who was born in Greece. It tends to be non-EU citizens who utilise this option as it enables them to live and work in the EU, either in Greece or elsewhere. Non-Greek EU citizens need not apply for dual citizenship by descent as there is already free movement within the member states of the EU.

Who Qualifies?

• A child born in Greece to at least one parent of Greek descent;
• A child born outside of Greece to at least one parent who was born in Greece;
• A grandchild born outside Greece with proof of at least one grandparent who was born in Greece.

It is possible for any individual who wishes to acquire Greek citizenship but is not of Greek ethnicity and has no direct Greek origin to gain citizenship following long-term residency or by attending school in Greece.

Children Born Outside Greece To Greek Parents

If you were born outside Greece, you will not be officially recognised as having Greek citizenship even if you were born to at least one Greek parent. Your parent(s) must have been born in Greece, have registered you in the Greek registry and have applied for Greek citizenship on your behalf to ensure your citizenship.

Greek Citizenship Through A Grandparent

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If neither of your parents were born in Greece, the Greek consulate may accept an application for citizenship via a grandparent born in Greece. This can take considerably longer to be finalised in comparison with the above.

Required Documentation

Generally speaking, the following documents are required for any application:

• Birth certificate
• Christening or baptism certificate
• Marriage certificate, if applicable
• Passport
• Father and/or mother’s birth certificate
• Parents’ marriage certificate
• Certificate of familial situation, detailing whether your parents are married, divorced or deceased as well as confirming that you are their child

Those applying for citizenship through a grandparent will also need their certificate of registration, marriage certificate and death certificate.

Applications from members of the same family should be made together to save time.

Unlike individuals of non-Greek origin who are looking to acquire citizenship, you will not need to be interviewed, pay any fee, prove fluency in the Greek language, obtain Greek residency, have knowledge of Greek history or prove your moral character or good health.

Applying For Greek Citizenship

In Greece:
Once you have all your documents together, you will need to go in person to the registry office in Athens to register them.

Outside Of Greece:
Applications are accepted at all Greek embassies. Initially, you should visit the embassy website to see if you need to make an appointment; it is likely that you will. Ensure you take as much documentation as possible to your appointment to enable the process to run smoothly and quickly.

What Happens Next?

Your application will be forwarded to the regional general secretary – if you are in Greece, you will be given the option of handing it over in person. A criminal record check may be requested and you may be required to provide any records that cannot be found.

The application will then be passed to the citizenship committee for review and you will be subsequently notified of their decision. If your application is successful, you will be issued two Greek birth certificates, one of which is to be used for your application for Greek identification. The second certificate must be filed with your family’s record, typically wherever their voting rights are registered in Greece. If your family does not have such a record, you will be able to set one up.

Assuming all documentation is in order and there are no discrepancies in your family records, the entire process could be complete within three months for those with birth parents who were born in Greece. However, it can take between two to three years for everyone else. This may seem like an unduly long time, but it is an improvement on the waiting time for individuals without Greek heritage, who must wait between four and nine years to have their application approved.

How You Can Help Speed Up The Process

Firstly, do as much of the research and gathering of documents as you can before approaching the authorities. Secondly, it can make the process quicker if you speak Greek or bring someone with you to appointments who speaks the language, particularly if applying within the country. Lastly, consider completing the process in Greece rather than at an embassy. Naturally, this may not be an option for everyone but it can help to speed up the process. It is worth remembering, however, that none of these things are requirements, so if you are unable to fulfil them, do not worry.

What Happens If Your Application For Greek Citizenship Is Denied?

You will be advised on what grounds the decision to deny your citizenship was made and you may be given the opportunity to appeal if you have proof to the contrary. In all other cases, the decision made will stand.

Reapplying is permitted as long as the application was not rejected on the basis of criminal record findings or lack of genuine Greek ancestry.

Have you lived in Greece? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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