BUSINESS

Golden visas for non-EU investors bound in red tape

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Economy, Property

While the Greek economy is desperate for foreign investment, the country’s bureaucratic structures appear to be doing everything possible to drive it away, as evidenced by a bit of digging into the so-called “golden visa” program allowing investors from third countries to obtain a resident permit in Greece if they acquire properties adding up to a minimum of 250,000 euros.

The process for obtaining that renewable five-year permit often borders on the ridiculous. For instance, the Greek authorities asked one Chinese investor to produce a certificate from a Greek state hospital showing that he does not have tuberculosis.

Another Chinese buyer was unable to obtain a resident permit because in the contract of the property he had just acquired the notary had written that the price was paid in cash in front of him, so it was impossible to ascertain that foreign currency was imported.

According to the experience of people involved in the effort to secure a golden visa for foreign investors, more than 15 documents and certificates are required. They says it takes more than three months to get that paperwork together – and that doesn’t include the time needed to search for and buy a property in Greece.

Furthermore, the feeling of uncertainty heightened after the capital controls were introduced last June, making it even more difficult to attract investors, as they continue to worry about the possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone and the level of property taxation, which constantly changes. Kathimerini was told there are also concerns about a bank bail-in, not to mention the migration problem.

Comparisons with other European Union member-states are disheartening for Greece: From the start of the golden visa program in 2013 until the end of last year, only about 1,000 such permits were issued by the Greek state. This figure is particularly small compared to the interest expressed in similar programs offered by other countries. For instance, Portugal has issued over 6,000 such permits, and Latvia more than 13,000.

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