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.

40 thoughts on “Obtaining A Greek Citizenship

  1. Great Info. So what happens when you can’t get a birth certificate from the Greek parent who was born in Greece or any other family member. I am half Greek but have no contact with my Greek family. Any help would be appreciated.

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    1. Tana,
      Thank you for your kind words. You don’t need to contact your Greek family in order to obtain a birth certificate. The relevant Municipal authorities will issue one for you, provided you show them the direct lineage to the person you seek a certificate for. Please, contact me if you need more information or if I can be of assistance to you in any way.

      Like

  2. My sister married a Greek Citizen, born in Greece, in 1982, I read that she would have acquired Greek Citizenship based upon her marriage, is this true?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your question, Warren. 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. She would have to establish a long term and permanent residency in Greece through he marriage to a Greek citizen, and then go through the naturalization process. For more case-specific information, please, contact me and we can discuss further.

      Like

  3. Hi Christos,
    I was born in the United States to Greek father who moved here. I have all the documents necessary. Do I need to be in Greece to start the process? Is there an application? Do I need to go and speak with the Consulate (Los Angeles)? What do I need to do?

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    1. Hello, Ilia! Thanks for the question! No, you do not need to be in Greece to start the process. You could send be the documents for review, if you want, before you start the process with the Consulate General.

      Like

  4. Hello!
    Where do I look do I begin the process of obtaining greek citizenship through grandparents? My Grandmother, Golfo, was born in Greece and married an American in the Air-force and moved to the states. I am Unable to find the proper government documents on obtaining citizenship through grandparents, can you provide a resource so that I might begin that process? Is there anything I will need immediately?

    Thank you!!
    -Janelle

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    1. Hello, Janelle!
      Thank you for reading my article and contacting me! Where was your Grandmother, Golfo, born? What Municipality in Greece? They should have records of her birth and should give you a birth certificate, so you can start the process of claiming your Greek citizenship. If you want any assistance in tracking those documents, please, contact me and I will be glad to help.

      Like

  5. Hi thanks for your great article. I’m a Brit married to a Greek with permanent residency and Greek child, living in Greece for 12 years BUT to my shame my Spoken Greek is not great – please could you tell me where I can find out more about the level of Greek needed?

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    1. Hello, Judy!
      Thank you for your kind words!
      There is absolutely no shame! Greek is a very difficult language and it is never too late to start!
      The short answer to your question would be that you need a certificate from any Greek Language school that you have successfully completed their course. If you do not have such a diploma (because you learned Greek through family or business/professional interaction, etc.), you can prove your Greek language skills at the interview.
      If you would like more information and sources, please, contact me so I can send you the relevant links.

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  6. Thanks for providing this information. What is up with the requirement for baptism papers? While I am not religious, I was baptized Catholic as my mom’s side follows that denomination. Is someone required to be Greek Orthodox in order to apply? I have always been proud of my Greek heritage. I am sad that I can’t obtain citizenship without having to spend nine months in the military.

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    1. Theo,
      You are very welcome and thank you for your questions!
      For the process of obtaining one’s Greek citizenship, there is no need to prove that the applicant is Greek Orthodox. In fact, the applicant’s religious beliefs are of no consequence. It might be true that the dominant religion in Greece is the Eastern Greek Orthodox, but there are many proud Greeks, who are Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Jehova’s witnesses, atheist, etc.
      As for the military service, as long as you maintain your status as a Greek citizen permanently residing abroad, your obligation to serve the armed forces is postponed. If you lose that status (for example by staying in Greece for more than 180 days per calendar year) and you are under 45 years of age, you will have to serve.
      If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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  7. Both my parents were born in Greece, near Kozani. I have not been able to find where I can find their birth certificates, and or marriage license. He returned to Greece to serve his conscription and marry her; there was a big age difference and when he passed away I was young but remember it was difficult to find his birth certificate for social security, I guess it was found. I have located copies of their arrivals, U.S. naturalization, WWll draft card.

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  8. Hello Christos
    I am in the process of gathering all my documents for Greek Citizenship through my grandfather, born in Greece. I have all documents proving my Greek lineage , however I am having difficulty obtaining my grandparents Marriage Certificate in South Africa. I have other legal documents proving the marriage . Will this suffice? I have Death Notices from the High Court , confirming place of Marriage as well as Estate Files proving this.
    Regards
    Mirinda
    South Africa

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    1. Hello, Mirinda!
      Thank you for your comment and your question! Where were your grandparents married? Where was their marriage registered? If you want. you can scan and email me your documents, so I can take a look at them and try to be of assistance.
      All my best,
      Christos

      Like

  9. Hi Christos,

    I am currently in the process of gathering all the documents I need to obtain my Greek citizenship. I am also trying to purchase a home on the island of Lesvos. My father is Greek and was born in Greece. My mother is American and they currently are divorced and live in Michigan. I also live in Michigan. They were married in Reno Nevada and lived in the San Francisco area when I was born. I will first register my parents marriage with the proper Greek authorities, then apply for my citizenship. With this being said, I have to work with two Greek Embassies. I should have all the documents I need Apostilled within the next couple of weeks. Do you know how long it usually takes to to get my parents marriage registered and how long it will take to get my citizenship afterwards? It has been difficult working with both consulates because they are not close and sometimes I cannot a hold of anyone and I have yet to receive responses to the emails I have been asked to send. I am also afraid the slow responses or lack of response is an indicator of how the application process will go. I am concerned be caused the owners of the house in Greece that I want to purchase may not wait too long for me to get my citizenship. Would it be in my best interest to travel to Greece and take care of everything at once?
    Thank you!
    Maria

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    1. Hello, Maria!
      Thank you for your message.
      It appears that you are doing all the right things. It’s a pity that the Greek Consulates are not being very helpful in the process of getting your parents’ wedding registered.
      It is very difficult, if not impossible, to predict how long the whole process will take.
      Did they advise you that you need to be a Greek citizen, before you purchase the property in Greece?
      Please, send me an email with more information and further details, so I can look into it and try to help you get it done.
      Best Regards,
      Christos

      Like

  10. Hello Christo,

    I read that you stated, “For the process of obtaining one’s Greek citizenship, there is no need to prove that the applicant is Greek Orthodox. In fact, the applicant’s religious beliefs are of no consequence.” However, there is another website, http://livingingreece.gr/2007/07/09/acquiring-greek-citizenship-by-foreign-nationals-of-greek-origin/ , that states that your certificate of baptism/christening is one of the documents needed to obtain citizenship. Might you be willing to clarify this further?

    Thank you for your time!

    Sincerely,

    Gigi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Gigi.
      Thank you for your comment and for the opportunity you give me to clarify this matter.
      I will avoid criticism of the many other sites around the internet, claiming to provide sound information on legal issues. One should be very careful and always get professional legal assistance, when it is time to obtain their Greek citizenship.
      Having said that, I will confirm again that the applicant’s religious beliefs are of no consequence. Even though most Greeks belong to the Greek Orthodox Christian Church, there are many other Faiths, Beliefs, Dogmas, Churches, or even absence of religious beliefs (Atheism, Agnosticism, etc.) shared among Greek citizens.
      In conclusion, a Certificate of Baptism/Christening is optional in the required documentation attached to the application for obtaining Greek citizenship. It might be helpful, if birth records have been lost or destroyed.
      If you have any other questions, please, contact me.
      Sincerely,
      Christos

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much; this is great to hear!Though “that other website” said that the documents were “needed”, I realize that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “required”, though the way it was worded strongly leads to that conclusion, imo. I have avoided pursuing my Greek citizenship for many years because I thought that being Greek Orthodox was required. Perhaps I should have looked into the matter futher haha. I think I just might now. Thank your for your help. 🙂

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  11. Hello Christo,

    I am helping my husband find the necessary documents for his grandfather who was born in Greece. I am having trouble finding a marriage certificate. He became a naturalized American and my husband is his grandson from his second marriage to an American woman. The family is now getting suspicious that he may not have been legally married although his name and his wife’s name are on their children’s birth certificates. Will this be a problem in trying to obtain Greek citizenship for my husband?

    Thank you in advance for your response.

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    1. Hello, Linda!
      Thank you for your comment. Can you, please, tell me what documentation you have managed to collect up to this point? Do you have his grandfather’s birth certificate from Greece? Are we talking about his paternal grandparents or his maternal? Do we have birth certificates and marriage certificates of his parents?
      If you wish, you could email me directly scans of the documents you have obtained up to now. That way I will be able to determine what we are still missing and whether we can overcome or substitute any missing documents. My email is christos@kiosses.com
      All my best.
      Christos

      Like

  12. My great-grandmother was born in Cyprus around 1900. Can I acquire Greek citizenship through ancestry? Could my mother obtain it through her grandmother and then transmit it to me?

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    1. Hello, Matt.
      Thanks for your question. As I understand from your comment, your great-grandmother was a Greek-Cypriot. Was she ever registered with the Greek authorities as a Greek citizen? If not, then she was most likely a Cypriot citizen. You could potentially pursue a Cypriot citizenship, if you wish to do so. I am not familiar with the immigration and citizenship legal frame of Cyprus.
      Best Regards,
      Christos

      Like

  13. My parents were both born and married in Greece.
    I also married a Greek Citizen, I was born in the United States.
    Few questions,
    I have my birth certificate that was translated officially by the lexarcheio.
    My Parents marriage certificate.
    My Parents oikogeniaki Merida Kai katstasi.
    My Father’s Mitron Arrenon document.
    What’s the next step?
    Where do I submit these documents?
    Do I need a verification of Greek Nationality?
    That’s what City Hall demands..
    Do I need a Mitron Arrenon document?
    Can you please help?
    Thank you,
    George

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, George.
      Thank you very much for your comment and your questions. I understand that you have all the necessary documents to obtain your Greek Citizenship. I will be very happy to assist you in that process. You need to visit the closest Greek Consulate General and ask for the Vital Records department to register your birth. They will draft a Greek Birth Certificate, which has to be sent to the Special Registry in Athens (either by you, a person on your behalf, or the Consulate itself). After the Special Registry has received it and issued its own certificate, then it has to be submitted to the Municipal Authorities, so you can be registered there and finally get your Greek ID and Greek Passport. For further information, please, send me an email at christos@kiosses.com, so we can discuss the next steps.
      Sincerely,
      Christos

      Like

      1. Thank you very much, Chris !!!
        The info that you have given is very helpful!
        I will follow your advice.
        Forgot to mention, I am living in Greece with my Wife and Son.
        Does that advice still adhere, when in Greece?
        Have a great summer and thank you, Counselor.
        George

        Liked by 1 person

  14. My grandmother was born on Samos in 1902, before it became part of Greece in 1913. She immigrated to the United States in 1920 from Samos. I have a birth certificate for her. My grandfather (also of Greek descent) was born in Turkey in 1894. I have no records of his birth. He was educated on Samos and immigrated to the United States in 1916. If I can obtain proper documentation of these facts, would this allow me to make a claim for Greek citizenship?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, David.

      Thanks a lot for your comment. In order for us to determine whether you can claim your Greek citizenship, we need to verify that one of your Grandparents was registered with the Greek Municipal Authorities (Δημοτολόγιο). We have to obtain a certificate from the Municipal Authorities of Samos that proves Birth and Registry of your Grandmother within the family file (Οικογενειακή Μερίδα).
      Please, email me with scans of the documents and a short description, so we can take a closer look and figure out what your chances are.
      Have a nice day.
      Sincerely,
      Christos Kiosses

      Like

  15. Hello David,
    I need some direction, both my parents were born in Greece, Siatisa, Macedonia a municipality of Kozani. I do not have their birth certificates; problematical as my father was born 1894-6, My mother probably not so as she was born in 1914. Nor do I have their marriage certificate, most likely married in Siatisa. My sisters, brother and I were all born in the US.
    I have my fathers US Naturalization papers (he immigrated years prior to his marriage to my mother. I do have arrival information for my father and for both of them when they married.
    I am now in touch with my first cousin and his son. I would like to know how to go about obtaining the necessary data and process for a Greek passport.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Virginia.

      Thank you for your message. If you could, please, scan and email me your documents, I will need to review and analyze them, so I can determine whether you will be able to obtain your Greek Citizenship through your ancestors.
      I will be waiting for your email at christos@kiosses.com
      Have a nice day.
      Sincerely,
      Christos

      Like

  16. Hello,
    I have a Greek grandmother that I would like to apply for citizenship through. However, I understand that this process is sometimes made shorter if you have a Greek parent – if my father, who was born before 1984 and could (as I understand it) go through a simpler registration process, got citizenship first? My grandmother is still alive, and we would be able to easily obtain copies of her birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc…
    Thanks for your help,
    Nicholas

    Like

    1. Hello, Nicholas.
      Thank you for your comment. Yes, most times it is much easier to determine and obtain one’s Greek citizenship from a parent, rather than from a grandparent. Can you, please, send me more detailed information via email, so I can determine whether this is how we should go about it in your case? (christos@kiosses.com)
      Have a wonderful day.
      Best Regards,
      Christos

      Like

  17. Hi there. I’m a US born citizen with Greek born parents. I have all my documents ready to begin my process for applying for Greek citizenship/ passport but don’t want to file in US consulates as I hear it takes much longer and so far they’ve been incredibly unhelpful and only caused me setbacks by not communicating properly what is need to obtain a passport. I would like to do this directly in Greece by going there. Do you know where in Athens I would need to go? Thank you in advance.

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    1. Hello, Maria.
      Thank you for your comment and your questions. I totally understand your frustration, because many of our Consulates, if not all of them, are understaffed and overworked. Consequently, there are very long waiting periods. Could you, please, send me scans of your documents directly to my email (christos@kiosses.com) so I can review and let you know exactly what you need to do. You would probably have to go to the Special Registry in Athens (Ειδικό Ληξιαρχείο), but I will have to review your documents, before I am able to give you a definite answer.
      Kind Regards,
      Christos

      Like

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