In 2021, Greece introduced a new digital nomad visa, which was exciting news for those of us who love this beautiful and friendly country (hi, it’s me!!). I was especially thrilled as I had been looking for a way to move here for two years and finally found a path.
But as with everything involving Greek bureaucracy, this was not an easy path, though it was worth it in the end.
Since there is still almost no information online about how to apply for this new one-year visa, or for the two-year residency permit, I wanted to share my experience and knowledge. Hopefully it will help you get your own base in Greece!
Please note, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice—I am just someone who went through the process and I’m sharing my individual experience.
First, I’ll share the factual requirements and costs for the visa. Next, I’ll get into what my application experience was really like, and how I recommend you go about applying for the visa or residence permit yourself.
Greece Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
There is both a digital nomad visa and residence permit you can apply for to live in Greece.
- The visa is good for one year and you must apply at a Greek consulate in your home country or country of residence.
- The residence permit is good for two years and you can apply while you’re in Greece (more on both of these to come!).
To get the digital nomad visa or residence permit in Greece, the main requirement is earning at least €3,500 per month after taxes. Yes, the limit is high—you don’t need nearly that much to live a good life in Greece, where the average monthly salary is about €1,000 monthly. But Greece is clearly aiming for high-earning nomads, so you’ll need to prove you have this much consistent monthly income.
If you want to bring a spouse or partner along with you, you must have 20% more (so €4,200 monthly). If you have children, the minimum goes up by 15% per child.
Proving you have this income is easy if you’re working remotely as an employee for a foreign company. For freelancers like me, it’s a little more difficult—they wanted to see contracts from my clients that added up to at least that minimum, and bank statements showing I was really getting that much.
Other requirements are also aimed at ensuring you’re not taking away jobs or resources from Greeks, and that you truly intend to stay here. You must:
- Sign a statement saying you won’t establish a business here or work for any Greek companies during your residency
- Show that you have health insurance that covers you here (I have a Cigna global policy) because you can’t use the public healthcare
- Have a Greek tax number, called an AFM, for non-residents
- Have a lease that’s valid for at least six months, registered and signed on TaxisNet (the Greek tax platform)
- Show your birth certificate (they prefer the original, but I provided a copy and that was ok)
Apparently when applying for the visa, the consulate may require a medical report and a background check as well. But if you apply in Greece for the residence permit, neither of those is required, which makes life simpler.
Greece Digital Nomad Visa Cost
How much does the Greek nomad visa cost? Well, if you’re applying for the one-year visa from a Greek consulate in your home country, it’s €75.
If you apply for the residence permit when you’re in Greece, it’s €1,000 for the two-year permit. Yes that’s steep, but it’s the cost for any residence permit in Greece.
The Greek Residence Permit Application Process
I applied for the residence permit and skipped the visa since I didn’t want to go back to the US and wait for approval.
Since I couldn’t find any information online, or from the Greek consulates in Boston and Croatia about how to apply (they referred me to a “one-stop shop” online for application which does not seem to exist), I worked with a lawyer to take me through the process. Here’s what we did.
My lawyer had me gather all the documents needed to apply and had them translated. You’ll need to get them translated by an official translator—you can find them through your lawyer or ask the Ministry.
Then, once you have everything, you or your lawyer will contact the Ministry of Migration to make an appointment to submit your application. You’ll go in with everything you have, including proof you paid the fees online and photos for your ID, and a Ministry employee will go through all of your documents to make sure everything looks good and ask any questions. If they accept your application, it means you’re highly likely to be approved for the permit.
At the end of the interview, they’ll give you the “blue certificate” which is a blue official document saying you’ve submitted your application and it’s processing. Don’t lose this! It’s super important—you’ll need it to hand in to get your residence permit, and it’s your proof that you can stay legally in the country while your residence permit application is processing.
While your application is processing, you’re legally allowed to stay in Greece even if you’ve run out of your Schengen days. Since my application took seven months, this was definitely needed! And you can go back and forth to your home country as needed—you just need to show the blue certificate to get back into Greece.
However, you’re not supposed to travel to any other countries until you get your residence permit. This was frustrating for me as a digital nomad, but at least I could pop back to the US as needed.
And then once your interview is over, you just… wait.
How Long The Greek Digital Nomad Residence Permit Takes
The amount of time it will take the Ministry to process your application, create your permit (which is your Greek ID card), and allow you to make an appointment to pick it up varies significantly. It depends on how many other applications are in at the same time, any upcoming holidays (most people in Greece don’t work in some or most of August, for example), and how fast they decide they want to move.
A friend and I applied at the same time in mid-May for the permit with the same lawyer. It took five months for them to review our applications, and his was approved at that point while mine was sent back with a request for additional documents.
It’s easier for them to approve remote employees of a company with a steady paycheck than a freelancer with varying income, even though mine is always well over the minimum threshold. That’s what led them to request extra documents from me and not my friend.
So my lawyer and I sent them the additional bank statements they requested right away, and waited to hear (again) for two more months. My lawyer had to contact the Ministry to get my application expedited because I had upcoming travel to Croatia planned for the holidays which I had booked months earlier. Finally, after 6.5 months, we got word it was approved!
But you’re not done just yet. Once your ID has been made (which took about two weeks in my case), you need to make an appointment to pick it up from the Ministry. They’re apparently quite busy now, so that won’t happen until about 4-5 weeks after the ID is ready either. My lawyer also had to ask someone at the Ministry to expedite that as well so I could go to Croatia.
But finally, after seven months and a whole lot of stress, I have my Greek digital nomad residence permit!
The permit is good for two years, but they start that two year clock when you submit your application, not when you receive your approved permit. Mine expires in May of 2024.
The good news is that once you have the first residence permit, if you still want to stay in Greece once your two years are up, you can simply renew the permit. A month or two before it expires, you can apply to renew it online as long as you still meet the income and health insurance requirements.
And theoretically, after five years living in Greece you qualify for permanent residency, and after seven years you qualify for citizenship. It’s not guaranteed because the permit is so new that we’re about six years away from seeing if that actually happens. But if you love Greece and want to live here long-term, it’s a great option to have for the future.
Greece Digital Nomad Tax Requirements
This was also much more challenging to figure out than I anticipated. I still don’t have definite answers.
Greece has a highly promoted tax break for digital nomads who relocate their business to Greece—you are only taxed on 50% of your income for seven years. You don’t get this automatically, you must apply and be approved for it and then it begins the following tax year.
So I figured this must apply to the nomad permit holders, right?
Well, under the permit terms you can’t establish a business in Greece, so you don’t qualify for the break. But it also seems that, at least for Americans like me who don’t pay US taxes because of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, that we also don’t have a way to be taxed in Greece.
(Note: again, I am not a lawyer or an accountant or an expert!) I’m still digging into the tax issue, but it appears even the Ministry of Migration does not know what taxes we’re supposed to pay on this permit. This is pretty wild, but honestly if you’ve spent enough time in Greece it’s also not surprising.
I’ll update this post when I find out more.
My Experience with the Greece Nomad Visa
Overall, I’m delighted that Greece has introduced a digital nomad visa and residence permit. I’d recommend applying for the visa if you have a Greek consulate near you and don’t mind being in your home country to apply, and if you want to test out Greece for a year and see how you like it.
If you know you want to stay in Greece for at least two years and don’t want to return home to apply, I’d definitely recommend applying for the residence permit while you’re in Greece. The requirements are fewer and you can simply keep renewing it.
However, like digital nomad visas in many countries, these aren’t great for actual digital nomads. I’ve given up the digital nomad life and want a stable base, so this was great for me. But they don’t allow you a ton of freedom to move around or ease of applying for someone who doesn’t have connections or know the language.
When I was considering applying, I couldn’t even figure out how to apply or even where to ask for help! And I’ve gotten so many questions on Facebook about how to apply so it’s not just me.
Plus, I adore Greece but being stuck here for seven months while my application processed was very frustrating. You can only leave for six months of the year as well, which again is fine for me, but for actual nomads, it’s restrictive.
How to Apply for the Greek Digital Nomad Visa and Residence Permit
To apply for the one-year digital nomad visa, you must apply at a Greek consulate in your home country or the country where you reside. Contact them directly to ask about the process and they should (hopefully) be helpful.
To apply for the digital nomad residence permit when you’re already in Greece, you can contact the Ministry of Migration directly at Info.email@example.com or call +30 213-162-9027. Apparently they are pretty helpful as well.
You can also work with a lawyer—it’s not required but it was certainly great for me since it made everything move faster. I’d recommend my lawyer, Jacob Manolas, because he’s successfully done applications for this permit several times and is great to work with. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do decide to apply for either the residence permit or visa, good luck! Greece is an incredibly beautiful and welcoming country, and one I’m delighted to call home for the foreseeable future.
More Greece reading:
- 10 Things You Need to Know Before Going to Greece
- What Digital Nomad Life in Athens, Greece is Really Like
- The Best Books to Read Before Traveling to Greece
- The Ultimate Guide Planning a Trip to Greece