Many foreign residents wish to obtain the Greek citizenship and an EU passport, based on the fact that one or both of their parents were born in Greece. Such a case may involve bureaucratic and persistent work, but it is usually straightforward and can lead to the acquisition of the citizenship by the foreign-born person, if the legal conditions are met. For some applicants, though, it is one or more of their grandparents (and not parents) who were born in Greece.

In the case were the citizenship is claimed because of a Greek-born grandparent, apart from other requirements, the Greek administration has recently adopted the view that the child of the grandparent, meaning the parent of the present applicant, must today be in life, in order to be able to apply first for the citizenship. This means that if the applicant is the grandchild of the Greek – born grandparent, the parent of the grandchild, who is the child of the Greek – born grandparent, must first apply and once the parent gets the citizenship, the grandchild can then apply for the citizenship as well.

For decades and until a couple of months ago, the Greek administration dealing with citizenship applications, did not insist in most cases that the “intermediary” Greek (the parent) get the citizenship first, in order the grandchild to obtain it, too. Recently, however, a new law introduced in October 2020 has led the officials of the Greek administration to partially change the process, so that now it has become mandatory that the parent must first apply for and obtain the Greek citizenship, before the child can apply subsequently.

It is obvious, therefore, that in the case where the “original” Greek is the grandparent (the one born in Greece as a Greek citizen), only if his/her child is in life and can first get the citizenship, the adult grandchild can apply for the citizenship, as well. This means that those who wish to obtain a Greek passport, based on the fact that their grandparent was born in Greece, apart from satisfying several other requirements, like finding all the birth and marriage certificates and having all the names without significant spelling changes, one basic requirement is also to be able to have their parent apply for the citizenship, before they can apply themselves.

Those who do not satisfy the above or other conditions, cannot apply for the citizenship under the basic process. They can, however, apply through an alternative process, under article 10 of the Code of Greek Citizenship, provided they speak at least some Greek and know the very basics of Greek history and culture.

Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.