Greek citizenship: your complete guide

Gabriela Peratello

If you’re living long term in Greece — or think you might be eligible for Greek citizenship by descent — you need this guide to applying for Greek nationality.

We’ll cover all you need to know about who can apply to become a Greek citizen, and what documents you need to naturalize as a Greek national.

We’ll also introduce Wise and the Wise Multi-currency Account as great ways to cut the costs of living between two countries. With Wise you can exchange currency and send international payments using the real mid-market exchange rate. No hidden fees, no hassle, just fast and easy ways to receive, send and spend money across borders.

📑 Table of Contents

Learn more about Wise

Who’s eligible for Greek citizenship?

It’s useful to know that Greek citizenship in most cases, is conferred by virtue of your parent or parents being Greek. That means it’s an automatic right to become a Greek national if you can demonstrate your parents took up that right themselves, or even if they did not acknowledge their Greek heritage, but were still entitled to citizenship. That means that applying for Greek citizenship by descent is more a process of Greek officials helping you exercise your inherent rights, rather than applying for permission.

If you don’t have Greek heritage there are still some ways you can become a Greek citizen. Let’s run through the main routes to Greek nationality:

1. You’re considered a Greek citizen from birth if either of your parents are Greek¹
2. If either of your parents is Greek by birth but has not taken up their Greek citizenship, you can still become a Greek national by obtaining a Certificate of Registration
3. You can become a Greek citizen through naturalization based on residency in Greece
4. You can begin the process to become a Greek citizen through investment, using the Greek Golden Visa²

To naturalize as a Greek citizen you’ll need to live in Greece and pay your taxes there. Usually you must reside in Greece for a minimum of 7 years before you can apply — although there are special arrangements for EU nationals and people with family ties to Greece. If you’re married to a Greek citizen for example, you may find you only need to live there for 3 years before you can apply for citizenship³.

One final route to becoming a Greek citizen is to invest in the country. This isn’t a direct leap to citizenship, but it is possible to get a 5 year Golden Visa from Greece, if you invest or buy real estate worth 250,000 EUR or more. This can be a good way to start fulfilling the residency criteria to allow you to apply for citizenship later⁴.

Can a US citizen become a Greek citizen?

If you’re a US citizen with Greek heritage you may be able to take up your right to Greek citizenship. The US does not stop citizens from holding dual nationality, so in most cases this can be done without impacting your US citizenship.

The process of taking up your Greek citizenship in this case is arranged through your local Greek consulate or embassy in the US. Get in touch to check the full requirements, and whether you’re eligible¹.

Does Greece allow dual citizenship?

Greece does allow and recognize dual citizenship.


How to apply for Greek citizenship

Ready to get started?Let’s look at the nitty gritty of applying for Greek citizenship.

Applying within Greece

If you’re applying for Greek citizenship by descent you’ll need to get your Certificate of Registration to show you are entitled to Greek citizenship. This is arranged by your local Municipal Authorities, so you’ll need to apply following the process in place wherever you live in Greece.

To apply for Greek citizenship based on residency your application will go through the Directorate of Civic Status of the Decentralised Administration where you live.

Applying outside of Greece

From outside of Greece you’ll have to make your application through your local Greek embassy or consulate. Check on the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry website to find the choice of locations and the full address of consulates around the country.

Required documents for naturalization

The paperwork you’ll need to gather to apply for Greek citizenship depends on your situation. If you’re applying for Greek nationality based on descent from within the US, and you can prove your parents hold Greek citizenship, the process will be fairly simple. Check how the process will work in your area, but in basic terms you’ll just need to apply at your local consulate with your own birth certificate, and the registration of your parents’ marriage.

If you can’t prove your parents’ ancestry but want to apply for Greek citizenship by descent you can still do this, but the paperwork required is significantly more complex. Check the details for your embassy or consulate, but you’re likely to need⁵:

  • Completed application form
  • Your passport and additional passport photos
  • Your legalized and translated birth certificate
  • Any available birth, baptism and marriage certificates to show Greek ancestors
  • Registration of Greek ancestors in the Municipality or military records
  • Police check for the applicant
  • Any other supporting evidence showing ties to Greece and Greek culture or heritage

If you’re applying for naturalization from within Greece based on residency rather than heritage you’ll need a similar document set. Your aim is to show your ties to Greece, so rather than providing evidence of family there, you may choose to use evidence of your investments and personal ties to the country to support your application. You’ll also need valid Greek residency at the time of applying.

Citizenship application steps

It’s worth noting that the process for applying for citizenship varies according to your situation. Long delays in processing for some eligibility categories means the process is under review at the time of writing, and may change.

🎯 The basic required steps at present include⁶:
1. Gather all the documents and paperwork you need to apply for Greek citizenship
2. Apply via your local embassy, Municipal Authorities or Directorate of Civic Status in Greece depending on your application type
3. Hand over your paperwork and pay your fees if required
4. You may need to attend an interview and give biometric data, based on the type of application you’re making
5. You may be required to take a citizenship test⁷
6. Wait for a decision if you’re applying on the basis of residency, or receive your Certificate of Registration if you applied on the basis of Greek descent

What happens if your citizenship is denied?

If your parent or parents are Greek you have the automatic right to Greek citizenship. If your application is denied in this case, you’ll need to talk the matter through with the authorities which assessed the case to understand what is missing from your application. It could be that you did not provide all the evidence required, for example.

If you apply on the basis of residency rather than family ties, and are denied Greek citizenship, you’ll be notified of your options at the time you receive your application decision.

Connecting with your Greek origins? Wise can help you out

If you have dual nationality and travel between countries on a regular basis, you need Wise and the Wise Multi-currency Account.

    💡 Wise offers:
  • Low cost online currency exchange
  • International payments using the real mid-market exchange rate
  • Transparent fees, shown to you upfront
  • International debit card
  • The possibility of holding money in over 50 currencies
  • Local account details in 11 different currencies

Join Wise now and start saving


Alternatives to becoming a Greek citizen

If you are not eligible to become a Greek citizen but want to spend time living and working there, you still have options. In the first instance, check out the visa services available from the Greek embassy and consulates in the US. You’ll be able to easily find the location closest to you for convenience, and check out the visa types that might suit your situation⁸.

You can choose to get a short term visa to work or study in Greece, which you may then be able to extend or convert to a different type of visa or residence permit if you decide to stay. Depending on your situation you may also consider applying for Greek permanent residence or long term residence, to meet the 7-year residence requirement for citizenship. Generally long term resident permits can be issued for 5 years in the first instance, with extensions available — this allows you to live in Greece long enough to apply for citizenship later if you wish to.

Many people fall in love with Greece — even without family and historical ties to the country. If you have the right to apply for Greek citizenship by descent the process can often be fairly easy as it is protected in Greek law. It becomes a little more complex if you’re applying without a family connection to Greece — but it is still possible to become a Greek citizen by naturalization. And the good news is that as the US and Greece both acknowledge dual nationality, you could get the best of both worlds by taking up Greek nationality and retaining your US citizenship, too.


  1. MFA - Greek citizenship
  2. Enterprise Greece - Residence permits
  3. Greek Reporter - How to obtain Greek citizenship
  4. Schengen Visa Info - Greece golden visa
  5. MFA - Citizenship by naturalization
  6. Synigoros - How can I become a Greek citizen?
  7. YPES - Greek citizenship test resource book
  8. MFA - Services for non Greeks

Sources checked on 08.25.2021

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location