How to Obtain a Greek Passport

by ChristosIliopoulos,Esq.

Up to the 60's a Greek passport could be legally issued not only to citizens of Greece, registered in Greece, but also to persons who were only registered with Consulates of Greece around the world, even if they were not properly registered in Greece. That way, many people of Greek origin from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, the Middle East in general, or many other countries (Brazil, Argentina etc.), were granted Greek passports, because they were registered with their local Greek Consulate.

Today, however, a Greek passport is issued only to Greek citizens properly registered with a local municipality (Demos) anywhere in Greece. A person registered in the consular records of a Greek Consulate, who is not registered with a municipality in Greece, can't obtain a Greek passport, even if that person legally held a Greek passport many years ago.

A proper registration in Greece is only with the Demotologion (main book of citizens for men and women) and with the Mitroon Arenon (male registry, connected to the army records, only for men). The registration at the Lixiarheeon does not necessarily grant the Greek citizenship, because a registration at the Lixiarheeon is done for every child born in Greece, even if that child is not entitled to the Greek citizenship.

So, all children born in Greece, irrespective of the citizenship of their parents, are registered with the Lixiarheeon. In other words, the child of foreign parents, who happens to be born in Greece, is registered at the Lixiarheeon, but not at the Demotologion, because the Demotologion is for the Greek citizens only. Being registered with the Lixiarheeon does not necessarily give you the Greek citizenship. It merely proves that you were born in Greece, but not that you are a Greek citizen.

This distinction arises from the fact that the law in Greece grants the Greek citizenship to the children of Greek citizens (wherever in the world these children may be born), and not to the children who are born in Greece, to non-Greek parents.

If someone, who was born outside of Greece, wants to obtain the Greek passport (which is also a European passport), he/she must find the record of at least one parent or grandparent (in some cases, even great grandparent) born in Greece and/or registered with the Demotologion or with the Mitroon Arenon at a Greek municipality.

Such registration is the starting point for everyone who wants to claim the Greek citizenship according to the easier and more straightforward procedure. The applicant must be able to obtain a recent certified copy of the ancestor's registration from the municipality. If we do not know whether the ancestor is registered with the Demotologion and/or with the Mitroon Arenon or not, a search must be done to locate the old records. In order to make that search, me must know the ancestor's (parent or grandparent, most likely) a) name, b) surname, c) father's name, d) mother's name if possible, e) place of birth in Greece, as accurately as possible and f) year of birth in Greece, at least approximately.

If we manage to find the ancestor's municipal record, we then need to have the ancestor's official marriage certificate (in some case, with Apostille, a very specific government certification), the birth of his/her child and so on, until we reach the birth of the present applicant.

If, on the other hand, someone can't trace his family's records with a Greek municipality, despite the fact that he/she is clearly of Greek origin, that person can't file under the easier procedure, but he/she can still file for naturalization.

The naturalization application, if successful, will grant the same type of Greek citizenship to the applicant, with full rights in Greece and all over the European Union countries. Under this process, the applicant is not required to have all the birth and marriage certificates, from his/her ancestor up to the present day, as it is required in the first option. The applicant, however, must be able to speak some Greek (the more fluent you are, the more chances you have), as well as to demonstrate to the Greek Consul that the applicant follows Greek traditions, knows a bit of Greek history, has at least a limited knowledge of modern Greece and that generally he/she feels Greek.


*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M.
e-mail: bm-bioxoi@otenet.gr



(Posting date 28 May 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 http://www.helleniccomserve.com/christosiliopoulosbio.html. He has submitted many articles to HCS; readers can browse these in the archives section bearing his name at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveiliopoulos.html. He can be contacted by e-mail at
bm-bioxoi@otenet.gr 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

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