Buy big house, become a citizen
by Dimitra Manifava,, 22 October 2014

Investors who spend at least 250,000 on property will not only get residence permits but passports too

Non-EU citizens who invest in real estate in Greece will soon have the option of taking Greek citizenship if they spend at least 250,000 euros on property acquisitions, a senior Interior Ministry official announced on Wednesday.

Angelos Syrigos, general secretary for population and social cohesion at the ministry, told an Enterprise Greece event that this and other changes form a package that the government is putting together to make property investment in Greece more attractive to people from countries outside the European Union. The package will be submitted in Parliament within the next couple of weeks and will come into effect by the end of the year, he added.

To date investors who spent at least 250,000 euros on property in Greece have been entitled to a five-year residence permit. Now their residence permit will be renewed after the first five years have expired and they will also be able to get Greek citizenship after living in this country for seven consecutive years.

Crucially, the plan also foresees the provision of residence permits for the parents of property investors. In practice that means that a young investor from a third country who acquires property in Greece for a price of at least a quarter of a million euros will be able to bring his parents along, with residence permits for them too; if he also gets married to someone from outside the EU, not only his wife but also her parents will be granted a residence permit. Until now only the spouse and their children (up to the age of 21) have been entitled to residence permits.

If a third-country investor has bought a property and obtained a residence permit and wishes to sell the property to another non-EU resident before the expiry of the five years, the permit will be transferred to the new buyer, which until today was not possible.

Despite a few shortcomings, the residence permit program is seen to have been successful so far. Invest in Greece chief executive Stefanos Isaias said that 392 permits have been issued in the last five months, with another 83 pending. This compares with Portugal, which in the last 14 months has had 420 permits issued, although Portugal has issued 1,366 such permits in total against Greece's 436.