Greece’s golden visa has been a huge incentive for non-EU buyers settling in Greece. It enables a non-EU individual or family to get residency status, within three months or less, in return for purchasing real estate at €250,000 or more. The residency permit is renewable for up to five years.

It also allows for visa-free travel to any countries within the Schengen area and gives you the right to apply for EU citizenship.

This is a huge attraction for anyone who wishes to live in Greece and travel freely within the EU, as it offers a simple way to get residency. However, the Greek government is now implementing some changes to the golden visa programme.

Why the changes?

The European Commission recently said it would launch legal action against Cyprus and Malta over their ‘golden passport’ schemes, which are similar to the Greek golden visa, because they grant nationality and instant EU citizenship without requiring ‘a genuine link with the country’.

The changes will also seek to stamp out fraud and other underhand activities. Golden Visas offered by some of the EU member states have been criticised by the European Commission in the past for enabling activities such as corruption and money laundering.

What are the changes?

The exact changes are yet to be confirmed by the Greek government, but reports suggest that the investment sum of €250,000 or more will change depending on the region. Buyers will also have to provide a certificate of value for the property they plan to purchase.

Incentives will be introduced for outside of the Athens area in the hope that there will be a nationwide property market boost. These changes are likely to be implemented when the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Has COVID-19 impacted golden visa applications?

Golden visa applications have fallen significantly this year. 2020 began with a strong number of applications, but this decreased as the pandemic took hold. In 2020, 8,087 five-year permits under the visa scheme were granted and 12,567 were renewed compared to 17,462 and 18,862 in the same period in 2019.

Overall, Greece has been fairly successful in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, tourism and investment from overseas buyers has been severely impacted by the virus and the subsequent travel restrictions.

Despite this, when Greece was able to open to tourists in the summer of this year, the country received approximately 5 million foreign visitors. A minimal number of COVID-19 cases were recorded amongst tourists due to successful health and safety measures. A 10-year strategic plan for tourism has recently been announced to ensure that the tourism industry is ready to adapt to and cope with change.

If you would like further advice on the selling process in Greece, download your free Greece Guide.

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