Greek Expatriates Can Buy Real Estate in Borderline Areas of Greece

By Christos Iliopoulos

According to the law in Greece, foreigners are not allowed to acquire real estate property, or to obtain a lease on it for a period of more than six years, in the borderline areas of Greece. The logic behind this law is to protect the integrity of the Greek territory. In other words, the prohibition exists for reasons of national security. The bottom line of this legislation is that, as a matter of principle, all transactions regarding real estate properties in most borderline areas of Greece are not allowed, even for Greek citizens.

However, Greek and European (European Union - EU) citizens are allowed to apply to a local committee for an exemption to the prohibition and for these citizens (Greek / EU) the exemption is usually granted.

The law states that those who have the Greek citizenship and people of Greek origin (Greek expatriates), including Cypriots, as well as citizens of any other European Union member-state, can apply for permission to obtain real estate as an exemption to the blanket prohibition of the law. The exemption is granted provided some conditions are met and the applicant declares how he/she will use the property.

It is interesting to note that this law allows Greek expatriates, including those who do not officially have the Greek citizenship, to apply to the committee in order to obtain permission to acquire real estate property in the borderline areas of Greece. This is very important for many people around the world, who have Greek roots and want to re-establish links with Greece, but they can't trace their Greek ancestors to the official municipal archives (Demotologion - main book of citizens and Mitroon Arenon, Male Registry for the army).

The fact that they can't obtain official birth certificates from a Greek local municipality for their ancestors means that they can't obtain the Greek citizenship/passport, at least according to the easier procedure for citizenship acquisition. There are plenty of cases, though, where such expatriates are more "Greek" than many of us, since their ethnically Greek ancestors may have lived for millennia in Turkey for example, before they were persecuted or murdered by the Turkish regime (1915, the genocide against the Greeks of Pontos, 1922, killings and persecutions of 2.5 millions of Greeks or Asia Minor etc.).

It would be unjust to deny for example to a Greek expatriate, who lives today in the US, his right to obtain property in the island of Samos, where his ancestors lived until the beginning of the 20th century, simply because we can't find today his ancestor's registration in the municipal archives, especially when that Greek expatriate, citizen of the US today, speaks Greek, has a Greek name and can produce a plethora of old baptism and marriage certificates which show Greek Orthodox weddings etc.

People of Greek origin, who trace their ancestors to Imvros and Tenedos, Smyrna - Asia Minor, Konstantinople, or the Eastern Thrace, or to places of Greek territory, like Kastelorizo etc. are treated by the law in the same way with the official Greek and EU citizens, as far as their right to obtain property in Greece is concerned.

Foreigners, who are not EU citizens, can purchase properties in the borderline areas of Greece, only if they submit an application to the Greek Ministry of Defence and this application is accepted.

It is noteworthy that the restriction on the acquisition of real estate property by non-EU citizens in the borderline areas of Greece does not apply in the case of inheritance. If for example a Greek man dies and he is survived by his non-Greek and non-EU spouse, his spouse can inherit her share of her husband's property, even if this property is located in the borderline areas of Greece and even if she in not Greek, nor European citizen.

Also, in case there are more owners of the same property (tenants in common) in a borderline area, among which one is a non-Greek and non-EU citizen, the non-Greek and non-EU citizen can obtain the entire (100%) property, by acquiring the other shares of the same property, without any legal restriction.

(Posting date 17 July 2009)

Christos Iliopoulos is an attorney at law, LL.M., in Athens, Greece, specializing in International and European Business Law. For more information about him, see his brief biographical sketch under the HCS section for Contributing Authors at He has submitted many articles to HCS; readers can browse these in the archives section bearing his name at the URL He can be contacted by e-mail at or by phone (from the US) 011-30-210-6400282; mobile 011-30-693-2775920, fax 011-30-210-6400282, or by postal mail at the address: 105 Alexandras Ave., Athens, 11475, HELLAS

HCS readers may wish to view other articles about Greek property laws and taxes in the Greek Laws and Procedures section of our archives at

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