Obtaining A Greek Citizenship

Strong ties with the Motherland

Throughout history, Greeks have been the travelling kind of people. In some cases, our ancestors ventured out to conquer foreign lands and spread our culture and language. In most cases, though, they travelled far and wide to settle on every corner of the world and start anew in hopes of a better future. No matter the reason, the era, the way, or the destination, all Greek immigrants seem to have one thing in common: love for our homeland.greek

These strong ties with our Motherland appear to stand the test of time, and even become stronger, as time goes by. They also wonderfully transfer from one generation to the next. Thus, you end up with second and third generation Greek-Americans, who speak the language, uphold the values, follow the traditions, listen to the news, visit the old village, worry about Greece.

Many foreign nationals of Greek decent, or with a Greek psyche, wish to obtain the strongest of all ties to our country of origin – they wish to become Greek citizens. There are a few ways to achieve this, depending on the status, place of birth, timing, origins, and so on. Brace yourselves, since the options are many and convoluted. Let’s explore them.

Greek citizenship by birth

A child born in Greece does not automatically obtain Greek citizenship, unless:DSC_4157

  1. her/his mother was a Greek citizen during her pregnancy and at the time of her/his birth; or
  2. her/his father was a Greek citizen at the time of her/his birth; or
  3. both her/his parents were non-Greek immigrants living in Greece with a valid resident’s permit for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to her/his birth.

If one of these requirements is met, the child can obtain Greek citizenship by birth. The parents, of course, can opt out and declare another country’s citizenship (according to that country’s laws).

Becoming a Greek citizen by going to school

file9021268338436A child not fulfilling any of the prerequisites mentioned above, can still obtain a Greek citizenship, if:

  1. she/he enrolls at the First Grade of a primary Greek school and is still attending, when the application is filed; and
  2. at least one of her/his parents has/have been living in Greece legally with a valid permit for at least 5 years prior to the child’s birth (if less than 5 years, then they have to wait until the parents’ legal residency surpasses the 10 year mark); and
  3. at least one of the parents has to be holder of a legal resident’s card, as described in the new statute; and
  4. she/he has not reached the age of 18 years.

Alternatively, a non-Greek minor legally residing in Greece can still obtain Greek citizenship, if she/he has attended at least 9 years of primary/secondary Greek school or 6 years of secondary Greek school; whereas a non-Greek adult legally residing in Greece can obtain Greek citizenship if she/he has obtained a high school diploma in Greece and then graduated from a Higher Education Institution (University or Technical Education Institution). Furthermore, as soon as these Greek educated people obtain their Greek citizenship, their underage and unmarried children automatically become Greek citizens, as well.

Claiming your Greek citizenship through your ancestors

Those, who are born outside of Greece to either one or both Greek parents, or even one or more Greek grandparents, are entitled to stake a claim to their right to a Greek citizenship through their ancestor(s) born in Greece.

Other ways to obtain a Greek citizenship

There are a few other clearly defined ways to obtain a Greek citizenship, which are relevant to specific situations:

  1. Minors under the age of 18 years, who were born out of wedlock, can be legally recognized by their Greek father, who was born in Greece, and thus acquire a Greek citizenship.
  2. Minors under the age of 18 years can be legally adopted by a Greek national born in Greece, and thus acquire a Greek citizenship.
  3. Aliens of Greek ethnic origin admitted to military academies as officers, or enlisted in the armed forces as volunteers, or promoted to officers of the military forces, can lawfully acquire s Greek citizenship.
  4. Foreigners, who do not have any Greek origin or ancestry, but have a long term and permanent residency in Greece, can go through the naturalization process after three (3) to seven (7) years of consecutive legal residence in Greece, provided that they are fluent in Greek, and they earn a certificate in Greek ancient history and culture.

Marriage to a Greek citizen will not give you automatically a claim to a Greek citizenship, it will merely shorten the times required for a naturalization procedure.

Re-establishing connection…

What do you do, if you fall into one of these categories and you want to go ahead in the pursuit of your Greek citizenship? The procedures are different, depending on which category one falls into. The most common one is the situation, where someone has a Greek parent or grandparent. Here are the prerequisites for obtaining Greek citizenship by a person of Greek descent, who lives outside of Greece:

  1. Application (provided by the consulate). The application is in Greek and should be filled out in Greek. We will help with that. It will be completed, signed and submitted to the Greek Consul General closest to the Applicant’s residency. The signing of the application will be witnessed by two (2) Greek citizens, who will prove their citizenship (passport, Greek ID etc). Oftentimes, Consulate employees act as witnesses.
  2. Copy of a valid passport or other travel document. The original document must also be presented.
  3. Birth Certificate of Applicant.
  4. Marriage Certificate of Applicant’s parents AND Birth Certificates of parents (if they were born in Greece or are Greek citizens). If they were/are not, then (in addition to the prior) Marriage Certificate of grandparents AND their Birth Certificates … and so on and so forth, until we reach an ancestor, who is/was a Greek citizen.
  5. Applicant’s Criminal Record.
  6. Recent, colored, passport-size pictures.
  7. Interview.

All documents must be translated to Greek by a lawyer, the consulate, or a registered translator.

There are a lot of advantages to acquiring a Greek citizenship, like the ability to travel and work within the EU, but there is a catch: all male Greek citizens between the ages of 19 and 45 are required by law to join the military and serve for at least nine (9) months.

It might be a long and cumbersome process with a lot of red tape and sometimes frustration, but I believe that it is certainly worth it. I always experienced a special feeling of achievement, every time I helped someone start this process, every time I guided someone through it, and every time we successfully completed it. It is an uplifting and proud feeling to be a citizen of our Hellas.

I encourage you to ask questions in the comments below.

124 thoughts on “Obtaining A Greek Citizenship

  1. Hi Christos

    My name is Tiana, my father is Greek and lives in Kato Patissia. He has dual citizenship here in South Africa. I was born out of wedlock and he was not present in my life until i was 25 years old. He requested a DNA paternity test when he came to South Africa last year and paternity was confirmed. I would now like to pursue Greek citizenship but i have lost contact with him again. Is there anyway you can assist?

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    1. Hello, Tiana.
      Thank you for your message and for all the information. The first thing you need to do is find out what the law in South Africa dictates about paternity recognition for children born out of wedlock. Is the father’s name mentioned in the birth certificate? What is the process of recognizing paternity within the country’s legal framework? Is it even possible after the child has become an adult and some years have passed?
      The DNA test results will not be helpful, if there is no documentation (Court Order, Court Decision, Vital Records, etc.)
      I hope this helps. If you need anything else, please, email me at christos@kiosses.com
      All my best,
      Christos Kiosses

      Like

  2. I married my wife in a Catholic ceremony in 2000. In 2001, when our son was three months old, we married in in a Greek Orthodox church and baptized him. He was born Prior to the Greek wedding. Do I need to file an affidavit of recognition? He will be 18 in May.

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  3. Hello,

    I am an American born Greek citizen with passport and aftotita. I married my wife in a Catholic church. Our son was born Then, we married in a Greek Orthodox church and baptized him. Must I file official recognition of a child “born out of wedlock” prior to his 18th birthday in May?

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    1. Hello, Steve.

      Thank you for your message and for your questions. I hope all is well with you.

      I believe that you should register your marriage with the Greek Municipal Authorities and try to register your son at the same time.

      Please, scan and email me your marriage certificate and your son’s Birth Certificate, along with your Greek Municipal Family File Record. christos@kiosses.com

      Thank you and have a nice evening.

      Sincerely,

      Christos

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  4. Hello Christo:

    I was born in Greece along with my whole family. We came to the US when I was 7 years old. I am now in my 50’s and want to retire in Greece. I am a naturalized US Citizen. Would I need to apply for Greek citizenship again in order to buy property and live in Greece in the next year or so ?

    Thank you
    Nick

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    1. Hello, Nick.

      Thank you for your message and for your questions.

      Since you were born in Greece to Greek parents, I am almost certain that they had registered you with the Municipal Authorities under their family file. Therefore, you don’t need to apply for Greek Citizenship, because you are a Greek Citizen. You just need a copy of the Municipal Family File to prove it.

      As for purchasing property, you can go ahead and do it. One does not need to be a Greek Citizen to purchase property in Greece, unless the property is near the borders. In that case, a special permit is required.

      If you need any assistance, please, email me directly at christos@kiosses.com

      Have a nice evening.
      Best Regards,

      Christos

      Like

  5. Dear Christos,
    Thank you for your website, it is really full of great information.
    I have a problem with my birth certificate. I was born in Turkey in 1981. My mother was born in Greece and she has still a Greek citizenship. I was applied for Greek citizenship. I gathered all documents (except birth certificate) that were demanded by authorities in Greece and sent them to a lawyer in Greece. The problem is that I could not find my birth certificate in local authorities in Turkey.
    Is it possible to prove my relationship with my mother with DNA test? Is it accepted by authorities in Greece for citizenship?

    Like

    1. Dear Cigdem,

      Thank you for your message, for all the information, and your question.

      Thank you for your kind words. You are very welcome.

      Unfortunately, the Greek Authorities will not accept another document substituting a Birth Certificate.

      Have you hired an Attorney in Turkey to apply for a copy of your Birth Certificate? It is very unusual not to find Birth Certificates.

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  6. Question: Assuming that all documentation is in order for the Naturalization procedure (this is for the child of a Greek born male, married to an American woman in 1960 via civil marriage in the USA, no church wedding).

    Note: There is a family registration in the Greek municipality which has the Greek male, his American wife and their two children (both born in the early 60’s).

    When I say everything is in order, it is because I am one of the two children and I obtained my Greek Citizenship In 2008 (via naturalization “because” there was no church wedding as such Greek Law did not allow for the “Registration” procedure).

    Now my sibling wishes to apply…. I am familiar with the process…. but now the question: My sibling wants to start the process especially since my siblings children are all currently under 18 years old, but my sibling DOES NOT speak Greek at all and is afraid it will all be for naught if the consulate imposes a language test/ requirement/ interview.

    Based on these circumstances, what is your opinion about the language being a potential impediment, and more importantly can you help?

    Ps: I did all my own work on my own behalf. It is incredibly complex and would advise anyone else just starting their journey to use a qualified attorney. 🙂

    I have done quite a bit of work and now have my own Οικογενειακή μερίδα, Ταυτότητα, ΑΦΜ, Και Διαβατήριο.

    Like

    1. Dear Concerned,

      Thank you for your message and for your questions.
      An applicant of Greek descent, like your sibling, should NOT be required to speak Greek. This prerequisite is for applicants, who are not of Greek background. They need to prove their “connection” to Greece by exhibiting a knowledge of Greek History, Greek Culture, Greek Geography, Greek Civilization, and the Greek Language.

      I hope this helps.
      Best Regards,

      Christos

      Liked by 1 person

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