People from all over the world, who were not born in Greece, but are of Greek origin, are interested in learning what is required to apply for and obtain the Greek citizenship.

They were born outside Greece, to parents, or grandparents, or sometimes even great-grandparents, who were born in Greece. Or simply, to ancestors who were never born in Greece, but were undoubtedly Greek, like the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), of the Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria etc.), of Russia and the other former soviet republics.

Those who can prove they have ancestors born in Greece can apply for certification of their Greek citizenship, while those whose ancestors were never born in Greece, are entitled to apply for naturalisation. Both types of application lead to the same goal, the fully-fledged Greek (and European) citizenship.

Anyone who wishes to learn whether they are eligible for Greek citizenship and if so, how to apply for it, must have part or all of the following information.

The starting point is the full name and data of the ancestor(s) of the applicant, who were born in Greece. This includes the ancestor’s name, surname, father’s first name, the place of the ancestor’s birth in Greece, as close as possible and the year of birth in Greece, as accurately as possible.

Once the above information is available, a search can be undertaken to determine whether any birth or other record of the Greek-born ancestor can be located at the official archives or municipal records of any Greek town or village. If the result is positive, the possibility for the particular applicant to obtain citizenship increases dramatically.

Next, we need the marriage certificate of the ancestor. It does not matter if the marriage took place in Greece, which is preferable, or outside Greece. If both ancestors (parents or grandparents) were born in Greece, things are easier.

In the case where only one of the grandparents was Greek-born, the gender is of importance. If the Greek-born ancestor is/was a grandfather, his marriage to a non-Greek grandmother must be proven religious, Greek Orthodox, if he was Greek Orthodox, or religious Jewish, if he was Jewish, etc.

If, on the other hand, the Greek-born ancestor is/was a grandmother, married to a non-Greek grandfather, her marriage must today be proven just civil, not religious.

The type of marriage (civil or religious of any dogma) of the parents of the applicant is not relevant and cannot be an obstacle to the citizenship application, as long as there is a certified copy of it (with the certificate of the Apostille, from certain countries like the USA, Australia, South Africa, but not Canada).

The birth certificate of the Greek parent of the applicant is also required, as well as the birth certificate of the applicant themselves, also with Apostille, if from certain countries. If the grandparent or parent of the applicant was divorced prior to the marriage from which the applicant was born, the divorce court decision and the previous marriage certificate may also be needed. A divorce after the birth of the applicant is not of importance and usually is not even registered in Greece.

If the Greek ancestor of the applicant was not born in Greece, the applicant must know where he/she was born. In such a case, the application will be filed for naturalisation and the process does not necessarily require a strict line of birth and marriage certificates from the Greek ancestor to the present applicant.

However, an interview with the Consul of Greece is the basic requirement, so that the Greek administration determines how Greek the applicant feels, whether he/she speaks the language, if there are ties with Greece, relatives, friends, visits, professional or other plans related to Greece and a general knowledge of the culture and history of the country.

* Christos Iliopoulos, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LLM –