The golden visa program in Greece offers an affordable real estate investment route to permanent residency in Europe. Following the launch of several European investment visa programmes it was introduced by the Greek government in 2013 to encourage investment into Greece.
An investment of €250,000 is required in real estate in Greece making the Greek programme the lowest investment level of any real estate residency visa scheme in Europe. The property, which can be located anywhere on the Greek mainland or the islands, can be either residential or commercial. Any number of properties can combine to make up the €250,000 minimum investment. Joint buyers can combine investments into one property.
The application process takes approximately 40 days from the time of investment until the Residency Permit is issued. The applicant needs to have made the property investment in Greece prior to applying for the visa. Once a property has been selected through ourselves at La Vida, the lawyers who we recommend can take care of the application process, conveyancing and legal work for the property.
A typical application involves initial discussion with ourselves followed by a 3 or 4 day visit to Greece to view properties, meet with lawyers and open a bank account. The application after this point can be processed within Greece by the clients’ lawyers under Power of Attorney. Provided everything is done correctly at this stage the client will not need to visit again to collect the residence permits.
In addition to the real estate investment applicants will need a clear criminal record and medical insurance to cover any stay in Greece. There is no minimum stay requirement and the residency visa can be renewed after five years providing the investment is maintained.
Government, notary and lawyer fees for the property purchase and visa application will amount to around €15,000. In addition there is VAT of 24% to pay in Greece on new property purchases.
Qualifying family members include spouse and all children under 18. Children 18 and over can qualify if studying and dependent. The Greek residency program was recently extended to the parents of both investor and spouse.
Non-residents in Greece will pay tax on their income derived in Greece but not on income from outside of the country. Income tax starts at a rate of 22%. Rental income from property in Greece is taxed at rates, from 11% to 33%. Certain expenses are deductible from the gross income. Capital gains tax (CGT) is charged at 15% on property sales.
Living and Working:
The residence permit allows the applicant to live in Greece but not to work. However the applicant can set up business in Greece.
Gaining visitor visas to travel to Europe and the Schengen zone has become problematic from many countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Once granted the Greek residence permit allows freedom of travel throughout the EU Schengen zone.
Citizenship and Passport:
Applicants who live in Greece can apply for citizenship and a passport after seven years. Once applicants have citizenship then they are free to dispose of their investment as further visa renewals are not necessary. Because of the need to reside in the country the Greek golden visa program is considered a residency investment program rather than citizenship by investment. However the option for citizenship is there for those committed to living in Greece.
Applicants gain the right to live in Greece although there is no requirement to do this. With the residency card all family members will have freedom to travel to and throughout the EU Schengen visa zone with ease and without further visa applications. If the resident sells the property to another non-EU citizen, the Greek residency becomes transferable to the new investor.
The Greek program offers the lowest real estate investment level of any European residency scheme. It is also has favourable family rules. Taxes on property are high and the restrictions on citizenship make it less attractive than the programs of Portugal and Cyprus.