The attraction of a Greek passport is seen as one of the main factors behind the recent rise in demand for the acquisition of properties in this country in exchange for a golden visa, i.e. a five-year residence permit that eventually leads to obtaining a Greek passport.
According to the latest list of the world’s strongest passports by Henley Global, Greece ranks seventh along with Malta and Australia, as its passport gives holders free access (without the need for a visa) to 183 countries. Japan tops the list, offering access to 190 countries.
Out of the countries with programs to attract foreign investors by offering residence permits (in some cases, like Malta and Cyprus, they also offer citizenship), Greece is only bettered by Spain and Portugal in terms of access to other countries.
However, the minimum size of the investment required for a golden visa there comes to 500,000 euros, against Greece’s threshold of 250,000 euros.
This strengthens the argument of real estate professionals who are calling for Greece’s golden visa to be expanded further so as to offer citizenship along with a residence permit to all investors wishing to obtain a Greek passport, or at least to a certain number of them per year, as is the case in Cyprus.
By end-2017 Cyprus had attracted over 4 billion euros of foreign investments in just three years’ time from its golden visa program. The program, however, contained two options: The concession of a residence permit for investments of at least 300,000 euros, or the issue of a Cypriot passport to investors of at least 2 million euros. It recently set a ceiling of 700 passport issues per year for this program.
In Greece, those calling for a passport to be included in the deal made with property investors add that reactions could be prevented if the expansion of the program came with strict preliminary checks on the provenance of the money being invested and on any criminal history the people involved may have, so as to ensure that the program is not used to launder ill-gotten gains.