Like many other Golden Visa programs, the most common way foreign investors obtain the Greek Golden Visas is through real estate investments.
To be eligible to obtain a Golden Visa through real estate investment, you must purchase real estate property of no less than €250,000 or €500,000.
In most areas around Athens the minimum is €500,000 (from July 31st onwards), and elsewhere in the country it is €250,000. The higher investment minimum only affects 10% of Greece territory.
If you purchase Greek real estate, you must be the sole owner of the property. Likewise, if you purchase the property through your corporation or legal entity, you must be the only shareholder of said entity.
One attractive aspect of the Greek Golden Visa program is that foreigners can invest in residential and commercial real estate property. This allows people who want to invest in both commercial and residential properties to potentially reap the benefits of both types of investments simultaneously.
Moreover, multiple investors can contribute to purchasing one property at a larger amount to satisfy these requirements. As long as each investor contributes to the qualifying minimum, they are all potentially eligible for Greek Golden Visas. Thus, two investors can contribute €500,000 each into an Athens property to qualify for Golden Visas. In such cases, both investors would be eligible for Golden Visas.
Rental income generated by Greece real estate is around 5%. Many Golden Visa properties advertise a 5% return for rental income, though this will vary depending on region, type of property, and other factors. Oftentimes, this return will be guaranteed by the developer or come with a guaranteed buyback.
Additionally, investors can qualify for the Greek Golden Visa by investing €250,000 in a timeshare lease or furnished hotel residence. Investors must sign a 10-year lease on an eligible property. These properties must be certified as an eligible used hotel accommodation or tourist residence, so it is important for investors to check with their legal advisors that their prospective properties are actually eligible.
Foreign investors can also qualify for the Greek Golden Visa by depositing €400,000 into a Greek bank account. The investor must maintain this minimum amount in their bank account for the entire duration of the year.
Foreigners can also obtain the Greek Golden Visa by purchasing Greek government bonds totaling €400,000. The bonds must mature in at least three years.
Foreigners can also invest €400,000 into an established Greek business to qualify for the Greek Golden Visa. Qualifying investments include Greek companies, real estate investment companies, and closed-end funds.
When investing in Greek companies, the company must have its main registered office in Greece to qualify.
When investing in real estate investment companies, the company must invest exclusively in the local, real estate investment company market. They cannot be an international real estate company, and they must operate solely in Greece.
Similarly, those investing in closed-end funds must invest in funds that invest only in Greece. Eligible funds include hedge funds and closed-end investment funds.
For these investments, it is important to clarify that your potential investment is eligible. Consult with your legal advisors.
Foreign investors can also qualify for the Greek Golden Visa by making a combined investment of €800,000 into shares, corporate bonds or Greek government bonds.
Like the above corporation investments, regulations exist in terms of qualifying companies and bonds. The investments must be legally registered and admitted for trading in Greece.
To qualify for the Golden Visa, the duration of these bonds must be five to seven years each.
Again, it’s important to confirm eligibility before making an investment.
Foreigners can invest €400,000 into a Greek mutual fund that invests solely in Greece to qualify.
Finally, foreigners can obtain the Greek Golden Visa by investing at least €400,000 into an alternative investment fund that operates solely in Greece and invests in Greece property.
To qualify for Greek Golden Visa scheme, foreign applicants must meet the following criteria:
To apply, applicants must submit the following documentation:
Additional documents may be required depending on your individual circumstances. Your legal counsel will assist you in preparing these documents.
The main applicant can include family members on their application. Greece currently allows the main applicant to bring their spouse, children under 21, parents of both spouses, and children under 24 that are students. For these applicants, proof of relationship must also be presented at the time of application.
Foreigners who have held Golden Visas for seven years are eligible to apply for Greek citizenship. Foreigners must have been tax residents in Greece to be eligible. This does not guarantee citizenship will be granted, as there are other specifics which must be met such as a Greek language test. More information about the viability of citizenship will become clearer as more Golden Visa holders apply for Greek citizenship in the coming years.
Another benefit of the golden visa in Greece is that there are some beneficial tax incentives for Golden Visa holders.
First of all, there is a relatively high threshold to become a tax resident in Greece. Currently, residents become tax residents only after remaining in Greece for 183 days a year. That’s over 6 months. When combined with the lack of a stay requirement, this makes Greece especially attractive.
However, Golden Visa applicants who eventually want Greek citizenship should keep in mind that you must be tax resident to qualify for a Greek passport down the line.
Note, Greece uses a lump sum tax system for foreign income. This is especially attractive for foreigners who run high-income businesses outside of Greece. This means that as long as foreign investors meet certain criteria, they will only have to pay a fixed €100,000 in taxes, and they will be exempt from anything beyond that. This provides an excellent incentive to reduce taxes on foreign-earned income.
To make the most of this option, it is important to work with proper legal advisors to ensure your company is structured appropriately. Nevertheless, it is a great way to potentially reduce taxes on foreign income.
Finally, it’s important to check the tax agreements between Greece and your home country to verify if there is a double taxation treaty in place.
If you invest in real estate, there will be taxes associated with your purchase. Real estate investors should expect to pay property taxes on top of their initial investment.
As of 2023, Greece Golden Visa investors can expect taxes ranging up to 25%, adding more to the initial qualifying minimum. However, this is not unique to Greece. Investing anywhere in Europe will cause you to pay more taxes on your purchase.
If you rent out your property, you will pay tax on this generated income, up to about 30%. It is possible to lower this percentage depending on your particular property and circumstances.
There are fees associated with the application which are not included in the investment minimum. These include fees associated with your application, lawyers and legal experts, and other administrative fees throughout the process (real estate fees, business incorporation fees, permit issuance fee, etc.).
Lawyer fees to process a Golden Visa application for a main applicant and their immediate family members can easily reach €10,000 for processing an entire family. While this may seem pricey, working with a qualified legal expert significantly reduces the possibility of making mistakes throughout the golden visa process.
Your application and official documents will need to be translated into Greek. You must also notarize the documents. This will ensure everything is in order and that there are no problems with your application after submission. We recommend using a reputable translation service dealing specifically with legal documents.
Don’t neglect this area of your application! Poorly translated documents can result in delays processing your application.
Overall, Greece’s Golden Visa program is one of, if not the, most attractive in 2023. Greece is an appealing country with functioning legal institutions and an increasingly-attractive real estate market. The process to obtain a Golden Visa is streamlined and offers a potential path to a Greece citizenship in seven years. It stands out among European Golden Visa programs due to its low investment minimum and lack of a stay requirement. There are several options for obtaining Greece Golden Visas that add to the program’s appeal.
That said, the minimum investment for prime real estate in Athens has recently increased to €500,000. There is no guarantee that the €250,000 investment minimum outside of Athens won’t eventually increase as well.
Another downside of the program is that Greek taxes are higher than other places. While no place in the world is completely free of taxes, for those who become tax resident, taxes will be an added annual expense. However this is true throughout Europe, and investors familiar with the region should not find this surprising.
Lastly, while the Greek economy has improved since the 2007 debt crisis, there is still always the chance for future problems. Nevertheless, the Athens real estate market is booming, and the country has been experiencing a revitalization of sorts. The possibility of getting a European, permanent residency and a European passport will continue to attract investors from around the world. As of Q2 2023, the Greece Golden Visa program remains healthy and continues to take applications.
Greece will provide investors a stable place to invest, streamlined application process and a comfortable lifestyle among other perks.