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If you’re considering your relocation options, and you’re planning on getting into another country on a golden visa ticket, Greece is the ideal emigration destination for many South Africans. Considered an affordable route into Europe and all the benefits that come with living in an EU country, let’s take a look at what you need to know about getting into Greece this way.

Golden Visa: Greece

Launched in July 2013 the Greek Golden Visa Program lets non EU-residents invest their way into the country. A five year residency permit is yours, if you’re willing to invest your money in Greece for it.

  • There is no minimum stay requirement, and children up to the age of 21 can be included in your family application.
  • The visa is valid for five years and renewable if the property investment is retained.
  • You are not required to live in Greece in order to retain and renew your investor visa, however, citizenship can only be granted after 7 years of residency, if you meet all the necessary requirements.

Need a reason to relocate to Greece?

Start working on your golden visa applications to get into Greece, because you’re going to love:

  1. Low, low crime rates: the crime rate in Greece is one of the lowest in Europe. Although the occasional petty crime does take place, the biggest crime in Greece is the hazardous driving on the part of locals, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for pickpockets and roadhogs.
  2. Fantastic weather: With sunshine throughout most of the year, Greece is blessed with a great climate that’s rarely cold close to the coast. South Africans will feel right at home in the heat, and air-conditioning is a necessity.  If you’re looking for snow, that happens in the mountainous regions of Greece – you really have the best of all seasons in Greece.  
  3. Greece has everything: culture, food, history, tourist attractions aplenty. With Athens known as the birthplace of democracy, many tourists are drawn to the ancient Greek structures like the Acropolis and the Parthenon – imagine having all of this at your doorstep! There are other Greek cities worth looking at, such as Santorini, known for its spectacular beaches, as well as Delphi, Mykonos, Delphi and the Greek Islands. You could spend every day being a tourist in your new home country and never run out of things to do and see! 

How to get into Greece: residency by investment

Greece’s Golden Visa Program is one of the most affordable ways by which you can gain residency through investment. Best of all? If your application is successful, you and your family will benefit from visa-free access to Europe’s Schengen Area within two months of your approval.

What are the requirements for Greece’s Golden Visa Program?

Through the Golden Visa Program, non-EU nationals and their family members are able to gain permanent residence permits in Greece. These residence permits are renewable every five years.

Here are your options when it comes to qualifying for residency by investment in Greece:

Get in on a real estate investment ticket with real estate acquisition: Greece wants to attract foreign investment to their property market. As a result, you can make:

  1. A minimum investment in property to the value of €250,000 plus tax.
  2. A 10-year lease agreement for hotel accommodation or furnished residences in tourist accommodation complexes.
  3. A 10-year time share agreement for hotel accommodation.

Get in on a capital investment ticket: bring moolah because Greece wants you to make:

  1. A capital contribution of €400,000 to a company registered or established in Greece (not portfolio investment companies or real estate investment companies) to be used to acquire shares or bonds for market trading. 
  2. A capital contribution of €400,000 to a real estate investment company that invests only in Greece, in order to acquire shares.
  3. A capital contribution of €400,000 to a closed-end investment company or to a closed-end mutual fund for the acquisition of shares, as long as the investment is applied exclusively to companies headquartered or founded in Greece.

Get in by investing your money in the Greek economy or with the government: buy shares, bonds, and/or government bonds:

  1. Buy government bonds with a minimum value of €400,000 and a residual maturity of three years through a Greek credit institution that will act as bond custodian.
  2. Buy shares, corporate bonds, and/or Greek government bonds to the value of  €800,000 for market trading.
  3. Buy units to the value of €400,000 from a Greek mutual fund or invest in shares, corporate bonds, and/or Greek government bonds for market trading.
  4. Purchase units or shares to the value of €400,000 from an alternative investment fund established in Greece or another EU country, as long as that investment is intended exclusively for immovable property in Greece.
  5. Make a long-term investment through a capital deposit of€400,000 that will be held by a domestic credit institution for at least one year, with a standing order for renewal.

What are the qualifying criteria for Greece’s Golden Visa Program?

In order to gain residency in Greece through investment, you will need to ensure:

  • That you and your spouse, children and parents have Greek health insurance.
  • That everyone has a valid visa at the beginning of the application process that permits entry into Greece.
  • That you’ve gathered all the duly certified necessary documentation that must be supplied with your application for an immigration permit, along with a copy of these documents that has been translated into Greek.

What are the benefits of Greece’s Golden Visa Program?

  • Residence permits can be attained in under 60 days.
  • No physical presence time requirements to retain your residency permit.
  • Visa-free travel within Europe’s Schengen Area
  • If you invest in property in Greece, you have the option to rent it out – it’s not an idle investment.
  • Residency extends to the whole family, including your married spouse, minor children under 21, and your parents and/or in-laws.
  • You can apply for citizenship after you’ve held residency for seven years, as long as you meet the requirements.
  • Although you cannot be employed, you can still hold shares and receive income from company dividends where the company is registered in Greece. 

Greece vs Portugal: Golden Visa Program

Greece isn’t your only golden ticket into Europe. Portugal is another popular residency by investment program that allows non-EU citizens to apply through a qualifying investment, such as:

  1. Investing €500,000 in any type of property anywhere in Portugal; this amount is lowered to €400,000 if in a low-density population area.
  2. Investing €350,000 in a property at least 30 years old, as long as the property will be renovated. Again, the investment amount is lowered to €280,000 if the location is not densely populated.
  3. Transferring €1,000,000 in capital to Portugal.
  4. Job creation through the full-time employment of a minimum of 10 locals in a company registered in Portugal.
  5. Investing €350,000 in a Portuguese venture capital fund.
  6. Investing €350,000 in scientific/technological research in Portugal.
  7. Donating €250,000 to national heritage, arts, or culture.

What are the benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa Program?

  • Straightforward process that gives you the right to live and work in Portugal. A Golden Visa into Greece does not enable you to seek employment in Greece.
  • Visa-free easy travel anywhere within the Schengen Area, as well as starting the ball rolling on European citizenship.
  • Your family is included in your application and the lifestyle in Portugal is affordable.
  • There is a physical presence time requirement of only seven days per year in order to retain Portuguese residency, unlike Greece which has no such requirement.
  • Takes around six months to get a Portugal Golden Visa typically takes around six months, whereas it’s much faster in Greece.

FinGlobal: cross-border financial services for South African expats

Looking for a credible, trustworthy cross-border financial services partner that can make it all happen for you? We’re ready to support you in every financial step to get you and your family into Greece on a golden visa.

FinGlobal has your every need covered with a specialised team of tax experts, certified international financial planners and financial emigration professionals ready to anticipate your questions and help you plan your financial transition, seamlessly.

Take a look at our credentials, meet the team, check out our transparent fees and read what our clients have to say about working with us. Leave us your contact details and we’ll be in touch.