Greece is an incredible destination for those looking to retire abroad. Its beautiful landscapes, rich history, warm climate, and affordable cost of living make it an ideal place to settle down for foreign pensioners. When it comes to retiring in Greece, however, there are some important legal considerations to keep in mind. This guide will provide an overview of the key legal aspects of living in Greece, from applying for a visa to understanding Greek taxes.
Looking to retire in Greece? What you need to know
If you plan on living in Greece for over 90 days, it’s important to know the process for obtaining a residency permit. The requirements can vary depending on your country of origin. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know:
European Union/European Economic Area citizens
If you’re a citizen of the EU/EEA, you don’t need to obtain a visa or residency permit. You can stay in Greece for as long as you want, but you’ll need to register with the local police authorities.
If you’re not a citizen of the EU/EEA, you’ll need to obtain a long-stay visa before applying for a residency permit. For stays up to 90 days within 180 days, citizens of certain countries like the US, Canada, and Australia can enter Greece with a valid passport.
Retirees must show proof of income and have health insurance to qualify for a residency permit. The minimum amount of income required varies depending on the retiree’s circumstances, but it generally ranges around €2,000 per month. Proof of income can come from pensions, investments, or other sources. The application process can be complicated and take a while, so it’s recommended to seek the help of an experienced lawyer to ensure you meet all requirements.
Golden Visa Program
Non-EU/EEA citizens may also consider the Golden Visa program, which offers a permanent residency permit when purchasing a property valued at a minimum of €250,000 or 500.000€ depending on the region.
Many retirees find Greece an attractive location for purchasing property due to the diverse options available. Whether looking for a traditional stone house in a small village on a Greek island or a modern apartment in a bustling city, Greece has something to offer. In addition, Greece’s property cost is relatively low compared to other European countries, making it a cost-effective investment.
While foreigners can purchase property in Greece, there are specific requirements they must meet. For example, they must obtain a tax identification number (AFM) and open a Greek bank account. Additionally, they will need to engage the services of a property lawyer to guide them through the complex legal process of purchasing property in Greece. This includes assisting with property searches, title deeds, and contracts to meet all legal requirements.
Retiring in Greece may have an impact on your tax residence. Therefore, before you move to Greece, you must have a good understanding of the country’s tax laws.
Double Taxation Treaties: Greece has signed double taxation treaties with various countries to avoid being taxed twice on the same income. It’s recommended to familiarise yourself with the treaty specific to your home country, especially regarding the impact it may have on your pension income and other sources of income.
Tax Residency: To determine your tax residency status and potential obligations, it’s crucial to understand the criteria for tax residency. If you spend more than 183 days in Greece within a calendar year, you will be considered a tax resident subject to Greek taxation on worldwide income. It’s recommended to consult a tax professional for guidance.
Taxation on Pension Income: Greece offers a favourable tax regime for retirees. A 7% flat tax rate is applied to foreign pension income for the first fifteen years of residency, providing significant tax advantages. This makes Greece an attractive destination for those looking to retire.
While Greece has a national healthcare system, you need to remember that the quality of healthcare can vary significantly from region to region and even from hospital to hospital. Private healthcare may be a better option for retirees, as it provides a higher standard of care. It is strongly advised to have comprehensive medical insurance that covers you in Greece and your home country, as this will ensure that you get the best possible medical care, wherever you may be.
Estate Planning: It is essential to obtain legal advice when planning your estate in Greece, as specific inheritance regulations must be followed. Getting familiar with these regulations can help you structure your assets and estate plans effectively. For example, creating a will or setting up trusts can ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Power of Attorney: Granting power of attorney to a trusted individual can be beneficial, especially if you plan on leaving Greece for an extended period. This allows them to act on your behalf for legal and financial matters, ensuring that everything is appropriately managed even in your absence.
Ensure a Successful Retirement in Greece
If your retirement goal is to settle down in Greece, you have to be aware of all the legal obligations that come with it. These include getting a residency permit, purchasing or renting a property in Greece, and handling taxes in compliance with local regulations. To ensure a seamless transition to retirement in Greece, it’s highly recommended to enlist the assistance of a lawyer and financial advisor who can offer guidance throughout the process.