Interview of Olga Kallergi to the National Herald

«Consult Experts on Inheritance Law regarding Wills»

Attorney Olga Kallergi “enlightens” the readers of the «N.H.»

NATIONAL HERALD SATURDAY 17 – SUNDAY 18 JUNE 2017

Attorney Olga Kallergi at her Athens offices.

By Demetrios Tsakas

THE drafting of a Will by Greeks that own assets both in the United States and Greece is a complex matter, on the one hand because it relates to the testator’s intention and on the other hand to one’s life works. Especially after the legislation amendments that have taken place in Greece during the last few years, which pertain to tax and inheritance laws, the issue of Acceptance of Inheritance has become one of crucial interest. Attorney Olga Kallergi, who maintains her own offices in Astoria and Athens and specialises, among other areas, in inheritance law, suggests to Greeks to prefer the drafting of a “Public Will” and to consult an attorney specialising in Inheritance Law. She also proposes that two Wills be drafted, one in accordance with U.S. Inheritance Laws and one in accordance with Greek law, so that no one may object to the testator’s intention and Will. During her interview with the “National Herald”, Ms. Kallergi addressed a series of other matters and issues that her offices handle. Following is the full text of the interview:

What services do your offices in Greece and New York provide? “Our offices in Greece and New York handle any type of case that involves our clients’ real estate (transfers, title searches, purchases, rennovations through our network of engineers and contractors, leasing etc.), inheritance matters (Wills probate, acceptances of inheritance), tax matters, recognitions in Greece of foreign divorce, custody or other judgments, family law cases (child abduction, divorces, child support and maintenance) as well as Greek citizenship cases for persons of Greek descent. Finally, we have a partner in the U.S.A. specialising in Immigration Law who handles any visa or green card matter, as well as other immgiration related cases.”

In which areas of law do you specialise and with which other companies do you work with for matters outside your specialty?   “Our office specialises in the areas of Family Law, Inheritance Law, Real Estate Law and Citizenship. We do not practice general law, that is, we do not handle cases on other areas of law, but we do maintain a network of experiecned and acknowledged attorneys on a european level as well as in the United States and Canada, both in the areas we specialise in (when a case involves a State other than New York) as well as in areas we do not handle. We are experienced in cases that involve the laws of at least two countries.

What advice would you give to the Greeks that have assets in Greece? “Given the constant changes in legislation and especially in tax laws as well as the laws regulating real estate, I would advise them to assign their tax filings to an experienced professional (lawyer or accountant) on a permanent basis (yearly), as the monitoring of changes in tax laws becomes harder each day, even for the professionals that deal with these matters.  Assigning tax obligations to a professional in the field will ensure that they are in full compliance with all their obligations regarding their real estate, which in turn will protect them from potential fines, penalties and other complications. Lets not forget that the rights of the Greek State in regards to oustanding debts of citizens have been significantly broadened during the last few years and the owner of real estate and taxpayer no longer has the increased protections that were available to him by the Laws regarding foreclosures, freezing of bank accounts and debt collection procedures.”

Which is the best way to draft and file one’s Will? “An excellent question. In my line of work, I often encounter issues arising out of lack of knowledge or guidance that the Greeks living abroad have in regards to the conditions a Will must meet, whether it has been drafted pursuant to U.S. or Greek Laws. Occassionally, the Estate of the testaror ends up being disposed in a manner contrary to the testator’s last will, exactly because of the existance of multuple valid Wills which are in need of interpretation (an issue that will often lead to one of the Wills being declared void) in a way that was contrary to the testator’s true will. As a general principle, the “golden rule” is the following: always draft a “public” and not a holographic Will . A public Will drafted before a Notary in the presence of witnesses, is hard to be annuled and allows the testator to dispose of his assets in any manner and to whomever he wishes, including by bequests to non-relatives (an option that is no longer possible in holographic Wills based to recent amendments of the applicable laws) In addition, it is extremely important, before drafting a Will, to consult an attorney specialising in Inheritance Law, in order to secure that the Estate will end up in the hands of the person the testator chose as well as that no matters are left unregulated, that may relate to the inheritance and affect the validity of a Will. Especially for those Greeks that have assets both in the United States and Greece, it is often necessary to draft two separate Wills, one in accordance with U.S. Law and one in accordance with Greek Law, in which case they really must consult an Attorney to avoid the risk of either Will cancelling the other, something I have personally often seen happen during my career. ”

What changes have happened due to Greece’s monitoring  by the E.U. in parental gifts, inheritances and similar matters?  “The basic change is the significant increase of taxation of property conveyances as well as the constantly increasing renouncements of inheritance filed because of the aforementioned increased real estate taxes.

What opportunities exist in the real estate market and what are the challenges those interested in buying or selling in Greece face?  “The real estate market in Greece is going through the worst crisis in the last decades. The result of this crisis is that one may now find exceptional investment opportunities in the real estate market, as sale prices in many instances have droped way below the taxable values and there are properties for sale in nice areas and in excellent prices. Of course, this crisis also creates dangers. It is important to conduct a thorough title search regarding the property we are interested in purchasing, as such properties are sometimes mortgaged. A technical inspection of the property by a certified engineer is also required, given the fact that there are often illegalities and building violations that will create problems for the new property owner. In the event of a sale, the owner must be current with his or her tax obligations and have complied with all tax filings for the past five years and the actual condition of the property (square meters, areas etc.) must be in compliance with that reflected in the Title Deed and the one reported in tax statements.”

Acquisition of Greek Citizenship for children of non-Greeks based on their birth in Greece and attendance of Greek schools

Pursuant to Law 4332/2015, certain statutes of the Greek Citizenship Code were amended. Of interest here is the amendment of Article 1A paragraph 1 of the Citizenship Code. Article 1 of Law 4332/2015 now provides the opportunity to children of non-Greek parents to acquire Greek citizenship, provided they have been born in Greece and have been enrolled and attending a Greek School. The aforementioned Article attempts to address the very real issue of the assimilation of these children to the Greek society; children that, despite the fact that they have been born and raised in Greece, speak Greek and often have little to none ties to the country of origin of their parents, yet are not being granted the same rights as Greek children that are raised under the same circumstances.

Pursuant to the amended statute, the conditions that must be satisfied for the acquisition of Greek citizenship by these children are the following: 1) The child must have been born in Greece (either after Law 4332/2015 came into force or before then if the child was still a minor at the time the Law came into force and remains a minor at the time of filing the relevant petition), 2) the child is enrolled at the first grade of a Greek elementary school and continues to attend a Greek school without interruption at the time of the filing of the petition, 3) at least one of its parents had been a lawful resident of Greece for five consecutive years at the time the child was born or at least ten years of teh child was born prior to the completion of a five-year lawful residency and the ten-year residency has started at least a day before the child’s birth and is completed after the child’s birth; 4) at the time of filing the petition, both parents have lawful residency or one of the parents has one of the residency permits exclusively enumerated in the law.

The Declaration-Petition must be filed by both parents jointly to the Decentralized Administration Office that is competent for the Municipality where the parents reside. The Petition must be accompanied by the following supporting documentation: a) a copy of the child’s birth certificate, b) a copy of the parents’ marriage certificate, c) copies of the parents’ lawful residency documents (which must still be valid), d) a certification of the lawful residency period for the parents, e) copies of the parents’ passports or travel documents (translated in Greek), f) a certification of the child’s enrollment and attendance of a Greek school and g) a fee of 100 euro.

It must be noted that all interested parents must be particularly careful in ensuring their child’s continuous attendance of a Greek school (as the interruption of Greek schooling, even for one year, may result to the rejection of the petition).

Ownership of Real Estate in Greece and related Tax Obligations

Clients often come to our office and request our assistance in transferring their real estate assets in Greece. And when they do, the first question I always ask is: “have you complied with your tax obligations?”. The answer I receive in the majority of cases is either “But of course! All is in order, I always pay my taxes on time” or “I have no tax obligations, I just own a small parcel of land“.

After years of experience in handling property matters for clients, I finally decided to write this Article in hope that it will enlighten some of us regarding tax obligations that arise from the ownership of real estate. Unlike what many believe, the type of property one owns in Greece is most of the times irrelevant; ownership alone is taxed by the Greek State and the presumption of “income” due to mere ownership. Paradox? Certainly. Mandatory? Of course. You do not need to own a luxurious condo, a mere parcel of land will still need to be declared to your E9 statement (the real estate tax statement that one must file every time something changes regarding their ownership rights on real estate). A small studio apartment you maintain just to have a place to stay when you visit Greece, a place that leaves you no income and costs you more in fact than possibly its value, must still be declared. And for as long as you own it, you will still need to file E1 tax statements (income tax statements) yearly. Why? Well, because ownership of real estate is often treated as a “presumption of income“. Whether you find this illogical or not, it does not matter; when dealing with the State, guess what: the State always wins!

So what happens if you are unaware of your obligations (for years, as it happens, in many instances) or if you decide you simply do not need to act because all of this is just “outrageous”? Well, lets go back to those clients that declared with certainty that “all is in order”. So I get retained, I open a file for the client, I get the authorisation needed to act and I start working on the case. I issue all the certificates required for the transfer of the property (whether a sale to a third party, or a parental gift to the client’s children, it really does not make much of a difference) and the time comes to go to the Tax Office and file the transfer tax statements. And then I hear the same old story: “Your client has not filed income tax statements for the past five years” or “your client has not filed real estate tax statements to declare the ownership of this property” or in the worst of cases both. Take a wild guess at what happens when I have to call the client and explain that, in order to convey his or her property, they must pay me to prepare retroactive tax statements and on top of that they must pay late filing fines, penalties and retroactive taxes.

At the end of the day, being prompt and complying with one’s tax obligations costs a lot less than having to deal with this years later. It costs less, it simplifies things for all parties involved (the client, his or her children, our office and anyone that has to manage the subject property at any given time) and it protects the client/owner of the property from potential severe consequences (such as foreclosure on the property by the State for tax debts). If you own real estate in Greece (whether a house, an apartment, agricultural land, a plot), you may likely have various tax obligations. Paying your yearly real estate tax (which by the way has changed many names in the past few years, from FAP to ENFIA and who knows what it will be called next year) does not absolve you of these obligations. Income tax and real estate tax are separate and they often coexist. When in doubt, ask a lawyer or an accountant. Do not rely on your uncle’s, cousin’s, distant relative’s or friend’s advice (just because they live in Greece, it does not necessarily mean they know); they may mean well but if they are wrong, it will be you that will have to pay the cost of the advice you were given.

Tax Laws are being amended constantly in Greece for the past few years now. The financial crisis and the bad economy are causing each Government to look for an easy way to increase public revenue and taxation is unfortunately almost always the tool of choice. Even as this Article is being written, there is a possibility that things are changing, that laws are being amended. So my advice to all of you that have any right whatsoever on real estate in Greece (whether you own it or you have a life estate right, whether the property is being leased or farmed or simply vacant), contact your lawyer or your accountant and find out if you have been doing all that is required of you. As my father likes to say “Better to be safe than sorry“.

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act in Greece

More and more Greek-Americans that have bank accounts in Greece are receiving notices from their Banks requesting that they sign W-8 or W-9 (in some instances -though incorrectly-) statements. Some have actually reported that the Banks are taking measures such as freezing their accounts (an act that is not legal under Greek Law) until they comply with the bank’s demand. This is expected to become a serious issue, as many Greek Americans are unaware of the obligations that come along with their United States citizenship. The United States is one of the few countries that impose a mandatory tax filing obligation to all their citizens, regardless of their place of residency or whether they actually earn any income in the United States. This mandatory tax filing obligation applies for all single persons with an annual income of more than $10,000 and married persons with an annual family income exceeding $20,000. The law refers to world-wide income; this means, in essence, that even a person that has been born in the United States but has never lived there or earned any income there, is obliged to file U.S. income tax returns as long as said person earns more than the above minimum amounts anywhere in the world. FBAR (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) also requires that U.S. citizens report any and all foreign bank accounts (or financial accounts) they have world-wide if the total balance in said accounts exceeds the amount of $10,000 at any given point. This affects a vast number of people who (although not living in the US) will now need to file yearly taxes in the United States. The penalties for non-compliance are quite severe: imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine that may amount up to 50% of the person’s total savings.
It should be noted that the obligation to file tax returns does not necessarily mean that the person will actually be taxed. In fact, there is currently a tax exemption for a yearly income up to approximately $97,000 and there is a bi-lateral Treaty between the U.S. and Greece preventing double taxation for the same income. Therefore, it is imperative that all persons that have U.S. citizenship comply with their US Tax obligations to avoid exposing themselves to potentially severe penalties (both criminal and financial).

RADICAL CHANGES IN FAMILY LAW IN GREECE

We have been hearing a lot about upcoming changes in Family Law. Although no legislation has been implemented as of yet, the changes will be radical in certain areas of family law (at least based on the existing status quo as well as the legal tradition). Some of the discussed and proposed changes will involve the creation of a specialised Family Court, the founding of a Marriage Counselling Support Office, the institution of joint child custody (even after the issuance of a divorce judgment), the formation of a new way to calculate child support, the protection of the child’s interests but also the creation of a domestic partnership for same-sex couples (which will include provisions regarding the couple’s inheritance rights).

The first substantive amendment of Family Law took place in 1983. It is self-evident that legislation passed more than 20 years ago is at best “out-dated” and cannot address the needs of contemporary families. The new legislation aims to equalise the responsibilities and rights of both parents regarding their children’s custody. Pursuant to the introductory essay of the Ministry of Justice, for the first time ever in Greece there will be a same-sex couples partnership agreement (a matter on which Greece has been convicted several times by the Human Rights Court). The Greek Ministry has made it clear that no same-sex marriage option will be available (primarily due to the strong influence of the Greek Orthodox Church traditions in the country and the major opposition from religious organisations and a significant part of the population).

Along with the founding of a Specialised Family Court, there will be mandatory mediation before the parents can actually go to Court; mediation will be handled by trained family mediators who will attempt to help the parties find a mutually acceptable solution to their disputes. If mediation fails, then the case will be sent to the Courts. There will be one judge, assisted by court officers who will be trained in resolving family disputes. Parents will be able to request advice from the Family Court and the trained officers and be informed regarding their rights and obligations. The Court decisions will be subject to appeal. The Appellate Court (comprised of one judge as well) will also attempt to compromise the parties’ claims through mediation. The existing provisions regarding consensual divorces will remain in effect.

Major changes are also anticipated in adoption law and distribution of marital property (it is expected that the categories of people who can adopt will be increased and the process will be more flexible).

Another radical change will be the protection of joint child custody. The majority of European Countries already have this regulation but this is a first one for Greece. Child support will also be determined based on more objective criteria. Up to now, both parties were free to submit evidence (through documentation and witness testimonies) in an attempt to prove each other’s financial capacity and the Court could go either way based on the subjective allegations of the parties. Based on the new system, the judge will have a special Table of necessary expenses of the child, based on which he or she will determine the necessary expenses (for the payment of which both parents will be liable in accordance with their financial status). It is hoped that the institution of a more objective method of calculating child support will put an end to endless court battles, litigation, fighting and mutual accusations which are detrimental to the children that are caught in the middle of their parents’ dispute.

Writer’s comment: We stand 100% behind these amendments but will wait to see the final legislation before deciding; after all, there is plenty of precedence when it comes to great aspirations and plans that remain exactly that: aspirations and plans.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE RULES GOVERNING HAND-WRITTEN WILLS

Law 4182/2013 recently brought some very important changes regarding the hand-written Wills. The provisions of the Greek Civil Code have since long protected and promoted the freedom of the individual to bequeath his or her Estate to whomever he or she chooses. The only condition placed so far to this freedom have been the provisions regarding the minimum forced share that certain next of kin are entitled to by law. Until now, the testator was free to appoint any person he desired as the heir of his Estate, as long as the minimum forced share provisions were not violated. This right applied regardless of the type of Will the testator chose to execute and included the hand-written Wills, thus the Wills drafted entirely by the testator’s own hand, dated and signed by him in accordance with the provisions of Article 1721 of the Greek Civil Code). This right has now been restricted by the aforementioned, recently passed, law, which provides in Article 77 that the testator that does not have any next-of-kin may appoint a third party as the beneficiary of his Estate only by virtue of a Public Will (which is executed before a Notary and in the presence of three witnesses). Pursuant to this provision, one may not appoint a third party as the beneficiary of his Estate, in lack of nest-of-kin, by virtue of a hand-written Will. It should be clarified here that the next-of-kin are the relatives that inherit by law when someone dies intestate, thus without having executed a Will. The aforementioned Law significantly restricts the testator’s freedome, as it sets limitations to the right of the testator to choose any type of Will he desires and to freely appoint his heirs. This regulation applies not only to all hand-written Wills to be drafted in the future and after the new Law comes into effect, but also to those already drafted, provided the testator is still living.

Therefore, anyone that may have drafted a hand-written Will and is still living or anyone that may intend to draft such a Will in the future and that intends to name a third-party as his lawful heir, must take into consideration that these types of Wills are void. Article 77 § 1α states the following: «A third party can be named as an heir of an Estate when there is no next-of-kin only pursuant to a Public Will. b. In the event that, pursuant to a hand-written Will of a person that has passed away at the time that the present law comes into effect, a thid party has been appointed as an heir and there are no next-of-kin, the Court orders a graphological inspection of the Will, in order to determine whether the signature and writings of the testator are genuine. In such cases, the Greek State must be notified at least 30 days prior to the hearing, so that it can attend the trial.»

In a country where the Hand-written Will is very common (as it has no cost for the testator), it becomes apparent that the legislature intended to strengthen the rights of the Greek State (which, under Greek Law, is called as an «heir» when a person dies intestate and has no next-of-kin) but to also prevent third parties from taking advantage of elderly or sick people who have no close relatives and cohersing them into naming such parties as their lawful heirs (a not too rare phenomenon in Greek society, and one that is much harder to take place in the case of a Public Will, where four independent people-the Notary and the witnesses- have an opportunity and an obligation to discover the testator’s true will).

Law 4250/2014: Changes regarding the certification of documents

On March 26, 2014, Law 4250/2014 came into effect. Said Law, with the title «Administrative Simplifications – Terminations, Mergers of Public Sector Legal Entities and Agencies – Amendment of the provisions of Presidential Act 318/1992 (Α’ 161) and other regulations», aims to simplify the Public Sector’s operation and efficiency. A new strategy is now pursued in Greece, so as to simplify the way the public sector functions, reinforce investments and not discourage civilians due to bureaucracy. Law 4250/2014 is an attempt towards this direction.
One of the most significant regulations of the aforementioned Law, which will affect our every day life and which is worth addressing, is the termination of the mandatory filing of original and certified copies of documents from civilians as well as business entities in the totality of their business dealings with the State. More specifically, pursuant to Article 1 of Law 4250/2014, instead of original or certified copies, the agencies and offices mentioned in the Law are obliged to accept the submission of plain photocopies of original documents or of certified copies of documents issued by these agencies. The Agencies affected by this Law are the Greek State, the Municipal Authorities, the Public Sector legal entities as well as the Private Sector Legal Entities that are controlled by the State. In other words, this new regulation in essence affects the entire body of public agencies, even agencies that are not of purely state nature, such as Churches, etc. As a result, in regards to Greek public documents, civilians are no longer obliged to submit the originals or certified copies thereof to the public offices but can instead submit photocopies of the originals or of certified copies thereof.
A similar regulation is in effect for private documents as well and documents issued by foreign authorities. Specifically, civilians, when transacting with public offices, will no longer be obliged to submit original private or foreign documents, but can submit photocopies, on the condition that these documents (private or foreign) have first been certified by an attorney. Thus, there has to be a copy of the private or foreign document that has been certified by an attorney and then the submission of a plain photocopy will be enough in each transaction with the Greek State (without the need to further certify each and every copy). It must be noted, however, that this simplification does not affect at all the obligation of filing of documents in regards to certifications or authentications that are required pursuant to international conventions or treaties, such as for instance the Apostille authentication required pursuant to the Hague Convention.
The submission, on behalf of civilians, in the course of their transactions with the Greek State, of plain photocopies of documents will be subject to the same consequences as the filing of a sworn statement of Law 1599/1986. This means that, in the event of a filing of a forged or fake document, the person submitting this document will be liable for a false sworn statement (imprisonment of at least 3 months and, if the perpetrator intended to derive financial benefit for himself or for a third party by harming another or intended to harm another, incarceration for up to 10 years), while the administrative act that may be issued based on false or inaccurate documents will be immediately revoked.
Furthermore, Law 4250/2014 provides for a random sample check that will be conducted by the state agencies to which the plain photocopies will be submitted, so as to determine whether these are genuine and true and in consequence whether the Law has had a positive effect. Specifically, at least 5% of the yearly submitted documents will be checked to determine whether these are true and in the event that they are not, the persons liable for submitting them will suffer the consequences mentioned above.
In conclusion, we note that the termination of the need to submit original documents or certified copies thereof when transacting with the Greek State aims to reduce bureaucracy in the operation of the Administration, since the number of certifications performed in Greece up to now has been quite large (35 million annually, as stated in the justifying report of the Law itself), thus causing a waste of time and money for civilians. With this new regulation, civilians will save money and avoid any unnecessary inconveniences, while the Administration is sufficiently protected, not only due to the penalties associated with the use of false photocopies but also due to the checks that will be performed subsequently.

Residency in Greece through the Acquisition of Real Estate

The ongoing crisis in the real estate market in Greece has recently lead the government to rethink its immigration policies. In an effort to encourage investments, the Greek Parliament passed Law 4146/2013 which, among other things, sets the requirements for third country citizens to obtain a residence permit in Greece by investing in or acquiring real estate in Greece.
According to Article 36A of the aforementioned Law, a five year residency permit can be granted to third country nationals who own or intend to purchase or invest in real estate in Greece, the value of which exceeds 250.000 euro. Specifically, the following categories of persons qualify for the acquisition of this new type of residence permit:
– third country citizens that own or intend to own real estate in Greece or
– third country citizens who have signed a lease for a minimum of 10 years for hotel accommodations or furnished tourist residences in integrated tourist resorts and
– family members of the above described third country citizens.
All of the above individuals qualify provided that the monetary value of the contract (whether a lease or a contract of sale) equals or exceeds the amount of 250.000 euro.
According to Law 4146/2013, the subject real estate property must be owned and be in possession of its owners. If there is more than one owner of the property, then the following distinction is made: a) if the co-owners are spouses and own the property in undivided shares, then they both qualify for a residence permit; b) if the co-owners are not spouses, then each owner can be granted a residence permit if (and only if) the amount invested by each of the co-owners is at least 250.000 euro. Acquisition of real estate is also possible by a legal entity (such as a corporation) but in this case, the person applying for a residence permit must own 100% of the company shares.
In regards to the real estate investment, it is not necessary that the person interested in obtaining a residence permit own one specific property. The investment can include several properties, as long as their total combined value exceeds the specified amount. Thus, if a third country citizen purchases three homes that have a total value of 250.000 euro, he or she qualifies for a residence permit in Greece.
In the event that a third country citizen does not actually own the property but intends to purchase it upon receiving the residence permit, the Law requires that this intention be documented. Specifically, the third country citizen must be able to show the following two types of documentation: (a) a signed and valid binding contract with a law firm or a real estate officer, which contract proves that the applicant has committed to purchase the real estate and (b) a certificate of an A-class certified bank or other recognised institution, certifying the existence of bank accounts or other mobile assets (bonds, shares, etc.) which can cover the investment cost of at least 250.000 euro. Third country citizens who intend to apply for a residence permit through leasing hotel accommodation should be aware that the new Law requires for the lease agreement to provide for a one-time payment of the total amount of 250.000 euro for the ten-year leasing of the property. The value of the property is determined not based on the actual agreed price between the seller and the buyer but on the price indicated on the contract.
The duration of this type of residence permit is 5 years and it can be renewed indefinitely (for a 5-year period each time) provided that:
– the real estate property is still owned and possessed by the applicant or
– the existing lease agreement is ongoing. It is important to point out that the renewal of the residence permit is allowed even if the applicant has not been physically present in Greece throughout the five year period. The process to obtain a residence permit is the following:
1. The interested party must first apply for an entry visa (type D) to the Greek Consulate of their country of origin. The acquisition of an entry visa is necessary, as the applicant must be physically present in Greece at the time of applying for a residence permit.
2. The applicant must provide the following documentation: (a) two copies of the application, (b) three recent color photographs, (c) a certified true copy of a valid passport or travel document recognised by Greece along with the relevant valid entry visa and (c) a Health Certificate from a Greek public hospital certifying that the applicant does not have any condition which can pose a risk to public health. Some exemptions from this requirement are possible under certain circumstances.
3. The following are also required: (d) a copy of the contract for the purchase (or leasing) of the property of a minimum value of 250.000 euro, (e) notarisation stating that the contract fulfils the conditions required by law for the granting of residence permits to real estate owners in Greece (pursuant to Article 6 paragraph 2 of Law 4146/2013), (f) proof of title transfer from the competent Land Registry and (g) certification by an insurance company for the cost of hospitalisation and medical care. If the owner of the real estate is a corporation, then a copy of the statute of the corporation is required and must indicate that the applicant is the sole owner of the company shares.
The qualifying applicant is entitled to bring his or her family members with them. In order for the family relatives to receive a residence permit, they must be able to provide: (a) a certification by an insurance company for the cost of hospitalisation and medical care (health insurance policy) and (b) a recent family status certificate from their country of origin which certifies the family relationship.
The interested applicant can either apply in person or through a proxy, but the applicant must be in Greece on the date that the application is filed. It should also be noted that the application process must be completed within the duration of the entry visa. If the entry visa expires, the applicant can no longer continue the application process. Upon filing the application and the required documents, the applicant will receive a confirmation, which is valid for one year. Throughout this year, the applicant can lawfully reside in Greece and transact with all relevant authorities in regards to his pending application.
The actual processing time for this type of residence permits is yet unknown (since this is a new process) and varies depending on the local authority where the application has been filed and the volume of pending applications. However, the law provides that all involved local authorities must give priority to these types of permit applications and indicates that an effort must be made to process them within a two-month period.
For the purpose of this Law, family members are considered spouses over the age of 18 and unwed children under the age of 18. Parents do not qualify as family members, nor do children over the age of 18. If a child becomes an adult during the period of an existing residence permit, then a separate residence permit will be granted. Finally, potential applicants should be aware that a residence permit acquired pursuant to this Law does not grant a right to obtain Greek citizenship and does not allow the holder to seek employment in Greece.
Although the entire process can be completed in person, the Greek Authorities generally advise that potential applicants retain the services of an experienced attorney (in order to ensure that the required documentation is in proper form and that the necessary deadlines are met).