Got Greek parents, grandparents or earlier ancestors? In today’s episode, we unpack how you can get Citizenship By Descent in Greece — for next to nothing…
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Getting Citizenship By Descent in Greece
A second passport is a critical component of any robust Plan B. But for most people, second passports don’t come easy.
Usually, you have to become a resident in a foreign country, live there for several years, learn a local language, etc., and only then apply for naturalization. And even then, your new homeland may want you to renounce your current citizenship.
However, in some cases, you can obtain second citizenship much more easily.
All you need to do is prove that you have an ancestor from the “right” country, being one that offers citizenship by descent.
One such country is Greece.
(Sovereign Confidential members — just a reminder that on October 5th, you received a 74-page Black Paper highlighting the various citizenship by ancestry programs in Southern Europe and the Balkans. We’ll also be covering the rules for countries in Eastern, Northern, and Western Europe in the near future, so stay tuned for more.
Also, Sovereign Confidential members, you can get access to our network of trusted legal providers for the countries featured in that report — including Greece.)
If your parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or earlier ancestors were citizens of either of these countries, congratulations — you’re part of what we call the “Lucky Bloodline Club.”
Subject to being able to prove your Greek descent, you can claim Greek citizenship by descent and obtain an invaluable second passport from your ancestor’s former home country — for next to nothing.
Want to ensure you and your loved ones can survive and thrive, no matter what happens next? Download our FREE Ultimate Plan B Guide now to discover fully actionable strategies you can start putting in place right now…
Let’s take a look at what’s required to obtain ancestral citizenship in Greece below…
Two Paths to Gaining Citizenship in Greece by Descent
Thanks to Greece’s citizenship laws, you can qualify to become a Greek citizen without having been born in Greece. Generally, you become a Greek citizen automatically if you have a Greek parent.
And even if your parent(s) do not hold a Greek passport, but your long-deceased grandfather was known to be Greek, you still have options:
Option 1 — Claim citizenship as a birthright
Under this condition, you need to prove that one of your direct ancestors held Greek citizenship.
That obviously works if one of your parents is a Greek citizen. But it also works if your grandparent was a Greek citizen. And your grandparent doesn’t have to be alive for this to work.
Now, if your parent, the child of your Greek grandparent, is still alive, they will have to go through the process before you can, which means additional time and hassle.
But if your parent of Greek origin has passed away already, then you can skip this step and claim your grandparent’s citizenship directly.
Moreover, according to a Greek attorney we consulted with, there is technically no limit on how far back along the heritage line you can go. Therefore, it can also be your great-grandparent, who used to be a Greek citizen.
But there is a practical obstacle: Things get complicated quickly if your Greek ancestor was born before 1940 (when public record-keeping was poor.)
At the same time, it’s still worth trying because the attorney once was able to locate the documents from the mid-19th century.
To be clear — your ancestor doesn’t have to have been born in Greece, they just need to be registered as a Greek citizen in the country’s civil records system.
Previously, obtaining a family registration certificate was a rather difficult task. Today, however, the entire system is online, and consulates can easily retrieve it.
To start the process, contact your nearest Greek consulate.
After you become a Greek citizen this way, your children can also claim Greek citizenship.
But your spouse won’t be able to do so. As the spouse of a Greek citizen, he or she will, however, be able to obtain Greek residency and live there without restrictions if they wish to do so.
Option 2 — Naturalization based on Greek origin
There are many situations where it’s impossible to claim Greek citizenship (as a birthright).
For example, your ancestor may have lived in the territory of Greece when it was still part of the Ottoman empire. And if they left Greece for the US in the early 19th century, when Greece was not even an independent country, you wouldn’t have a claim of citizenship based on Greek origin.
Your emigrant ancestor was thus never a “proper” Greek citizen and could hence not be registered as a Greek citizen on the “family registration” card. Therefore, they cannot pass this citizenship to you automatically.
However, modern Greece still considers them “Greek” and hence came up with a different procedure that can lead to your citizenship — naturalization.
But it’s not “naturalization” as we usually know it — which involves becoming a citizen after being a resident of the country for several years (in the case of Greece — seven).
This form of naturalization allows you to acquire Greek citizenship after demonstrating “enough connections” with Greece.
According to our Greek ancestry attorney, it’s a highly discretionary procedure. You will basically need to gather as much proof as possible that you indeed have Greek heritage.
Do you travel to Greece a lot? Do you have relatives there? If so, then great.
However, if you have never been to Greece in your entire life, and during the (obligatory) interview, you state that you want Greek citizenship “just in case,” you are not likely to be approved.
Your case will be much stronger if you plan to retire in Greece, educate your kids, invest, or start a business there.
The downside of this route is that your already-born children will not automatically become Greek citizens with you.
(If your kids are born after you become a Greek citizen, your citizenship will pass to them at their birth.)
And your spouse will only receive the right to obtain residency in the country once you become Greek yourself.
With both the above routes, there is no requirement to know the Greek language or pass any formal test on your knowledge of Greek culture.
The process takes approximately two years, but the timeline can be longer during COVID.
And as a final positive, Greece allows dual citizenship, so you won’t have to give up your current nationality.
The Application Process
Once you have established that you qualify for Greek citizenship by descent, the next step is to apply. Here are some general guidelines:
- Visit a Greek embassy or consulate in person to verify your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), parent’s birth certificate, and parent’s marriage certificate (if applicable), along with a current passport photo.
- You will also need to get an Apostille stamp on each document from the Secretary of State’s office.
- Submit a completed application form, along with the required documents and fees.
- Be prepared to attend an interview at the embassy or consulate, during which you will be asked questions about your background and reasons for seeking Greek citizenship. An interpreter will be present if necessary.
- After your application is approved, you will need to take an oath of allegiance (promise) to Greece in front of a consular official. After swearing allegiance, you will receive a certificate that confirms that you have been granted citizenship by descent and are now considered a full-fledged citizen of Greece!
- After obtaining Greek citizenship, you may then apply for a Greek passport from your nearest Greek embassy or consulate.
Applying for a Greek Passport
The application process for a Greek passport is similar to that for citizenship. The only difference is that you will not be required to attend an interview. In order to apply for a Greek passport, you must:
- Obtain the appropriate application form from the nearest Greek embassy or consulate.
- Submit the application with the necessary supporting documents (such as your Greek birth certificate and current passport) to the Greek embassy or consulate.
- Pay the appropriate fees.
- Schedule an appointment for a biometric data collection session at your local embassy or consulate if you are applying for a new passport.
- Provide any additional information requested by the Greek authorities.
The application process may take several months to complete. To avoid delays, make sure you submit all of the necessary supporting documentation and that your passport is valid for at least three months after your scheduled trip to Greece. Note: As a Greek citizen, you’re also a member of a European Union state. This will allow you to travel freely in any EU country.
The Bottom Line
To obtain Greek citizenship by descent, you’ll need to provide proof of your ancestral ties to Greece. Documents will have to be translated and submitted, as well as copies of your birth certificate and passport. Although this process may take several months, a Greek passport will allow you easy access to countries throughout the European Union.
You don’t need to speak Greek to apply for citizenship, but you may need to travel there to complete the process.
Keep in mind that residency and citizenship opportunities change all the time, so don’t delay taking action if you’re considering applying for ancestral citizenship.
Our most recent 74-page Black Paper on the citizenship by ancestry programs of Southern Europe and the Balkans covers Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Andorra, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Cyprus, Albania, as well as North Macedonia.
So if you’re looking for reliable, step-by-step guidance on obtaining a second passport in any of these countries, Sovereign Confidential is just the resource for you.
Yours in Freedom,
Team Sovereign Man
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