If you're thinking of taking a Mediterranean excursion to Greece, you most likely do not need a travel visa. Citizens of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Australia, Japan, and a host of other countries are permitted to enter Greece without a visa for up to 90 days within a six-month period. In fact, that rule applies to visiting most countries in Europe. All you need is a passport that's valid for at least three months after the date you intend to return to your home country, so be sure your passport isn't about to expire.
Greece is a party to the Schengen Agreement, which covers 26 European countries where internal border checks have—for the most part—been abolished for short-term tourism, a business trip, or transit to a non-Schengen destination. The 26 countries that make up the Schengen Area are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The 90-day limit for staying in Greece actually applies to the entire Schengen Area. That means if you're planning a Euro-trip to Greece, France, Spain, Germany, and other Schengen countries, the 90-day limit applies to all of the countries together, not just Greece.
There are two broad categories for getting a visa to go to Greece. The first one is for citizens from a non-exempt country who plan to visit Greece and need a Schengen Visa. The Schengen Visa gives holders the same privileges as citizens from a visa-exempt country, meaning they can freely travel around the Schengen Area for a period of 90 days. If you need a Schengen Visa and you're visiting multiple countries, be sure to apply at the right consulate. If you'll be spending the majority of your time in Greece, apply at the Greek Consulate. If your time between countries is evenly distributed but Greece is the first country that you're visiting, you should also apply at the Greek Consulate.
The second category of visas is for foreign nationals who plan to stay in Greece for longer than 90 days, whether for work, studying, or visiting family members. Anyone who doesn't have an EU passport must apply for a visa if staying for longer than 90 days.
|Visa Requirements for Greece|
|Visa Type||How Long Is It Valid?||Required Documents||Application Fees|
|Schengen Tourist Visa||90 days in any 180-day period||Bank statements, proof of medical insurance, hotel reservations, roundtrip plane tickets||Up to 80 euros|
|Student Visa||One year||Letter of acceptance into school or program, evidence of adequate funds, health insurance||90 euros|
|Long-Term Employment Visa||One year||Contract of employment, proof of education, relevant certifications||180 euros|
|Short-Term Employment Visa||Less than one year||Contract of employment, proof of education, relevant certifications||75 euros, plus 150-euro fee|
|Family Reunification Visa||One year||Family status certificate, proof of accommodation, evidence of adequate funds, health insurance||180 euros|
Schengen Tourist Visa
Only citizens from non-exempt countries are required to apply for Schengen Tourist Visa, which allows them to travel around the entire Schengen Area for up to 90 days. Depending on the type of visa you are granted, you may be allowed to leave the Schengen Area and come back with the same visa or be allowed to only enter one time, so pay attention to what your visa says.
Visa Fees and Application
The fee for a Schengen Visa is 80 euros, payable at the current exchange rate in the currency of where you're applying (in the U.S., it's about $92). However, discounts are available for certain groups. Citizens of European countries that aren't EU members—such as Russia—pay about half that price, while students and young children pay nothing.
You apply in-person at the local Greek Consulate of where you legally reside. After making an appointment, prepare all of the necessary documents, including:
- Schengen Visa application
- Valid passport (and should be valid for at least three more months from when you plan to leave the Schengen area).
- Two identical photos (35 millimeters by 45 millimeters)
- Travel insurance policy
- Roundtrip flight itinerary
- Proof of accommodation (hotel reservations or notarized letters from hosts in Greece)
- Proof of financial means (e.g., bank statements, pay stubs, proof of employment, etc.)
- Proof of paid visa fee
During the appointment, you'll be interviewed by an immigration official with basic questions about your trip, such as why you're traveling, how long you'll be in Europe, where you're planning to stay, and so forth.
You should have an answer within about 15 days, although it sometimes takes longer. You should apply for your visa at least three weeks before you are set to depart, although you can apply as early as six months in advance.
Students who have been accepted into a program of study in Greece will need to apply for a long-term national visa. You'll need all of the standard visa documents, including your passport, two 35-millimeter-by-45-millimeter color photos, a medical certificate, and proof of health insurance, in addition to a letter of acceptance into a Greek school or program and proof of adequate funds to sustain yourself. If your program is primarily in Greek, you may also need a certificate that attests to your language abilities.
All long-term visas that are valid for a year or longer are good for entering Greece once, but you'll need to apply for a Greek residency card once you arrive in the country. You'll need to make an appointment at a Greek police station once you're settled in and bring all of your same documents with you.
Long-Term Employment Visa
If you're moving to Greece for work, the process is similar to applying for a student visa, but with a few important differences. In addition to the standard documents, you'll also need a work contract to be granted a visa, meaning you have to already have a job offer before applying—you can't get a visa and then go to Greece to look for a job. If the job requires any special skills or education, you'll also need to turn in copies of the relevant degrees or certificates that validate those.
Since this is a long-term visa, you'll need to apply for a Greek residency card once you're settled into the country. You'll need to make an appointment at a Greek police station and present all of the same visa documents again.
Short-Term Employment Visa
When applying for a work visa, the consulate may decide to grant you a short-term visa instead, which is any visa with a validity period for more than 90 days but less than 365 days. Those who might receive short-term visas include seasonal workers, fish workers, artists, athletes and coaches, tour guides, or interns. You're still required to turn in all of the documents of a standard work visa, so be sure you have a work contract or something that substantiates what you plan to do in Greece.
The processing fee for this visa is only 75 euros, but there is an additional cost. Because the short-term visas don't require you to apply for and pay for a residency card when you arrive in Greece, these recipients have to pay a 150-euro consular fee in addition to the 75-euro visa fee. It seems like a lot to pay upfront, but it saves you the headache of having to navigate the Greek bureaucratic system upon arrival.
Family Reunification Visa
Family members of a Greek resident who are not Greek or EU citizens themselves can apply for a long-term visa. However, the relation is only applicable to spouses are who legally married or in civil partnerships (including same-sex couples) or children under the age of 18. In addition to the standard application documents, you'll also need to show the relation through the relevant certificates, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or adoption certificate. If these documents are not from a Greek authority, you'll likely need to get them translated, notarized, and apostilled.
The fee for the family reunification visa is 180 euros, and all newly-arrived family members will have to apply for a Greek residency card upon once they arrive in the country by making an appointment at the local police station.
Whether you have been granted a travel visa or you are from a country that is visa-exempt, such as the U.S., you can only be in the Schengen Area for 90 days during a 180-day period. If you aren't sure, start on the date you are planning to leave the Schengen Area and count back how many days you were in a Schengen country during the previous six months; if it's less than 90, you're fine.
If you overstay your visa, the consequences can be severe. They vary based on the country where you get caught and the exact situation, but you can expect a fine and deportation. Overstaying your visa also makes it more difficult to get a Schengen visa in the future, and you may be turned away on future trips if you attempt to come back.
Extending Your Visa
If you need to stay in the Schengen Area longer than the allowed 90 days, you can apply for a Visa Extension, although these are only granted in extreme circumstances. You can request an extension for humanitarian reasons, such as to receive medical treatment or stay for an unexpected funeral; for reasons due to force majeure, such as a natural disaster or conflict in your home country; or personal reasons, such as an unplanned wedding. In all cases, the decision is at the discretion of the official who helps you.
You'll need to head to the nearest police station in Greece and bring your passport, a photo of yourself, proof of adequate funds, health insurance, and documents that show why you're requesting an extension. This must be done before your current visa expires or your 90 days run out; if you've already overstayed your time in the Schengen Area, the application will be denied and you'll likely be deported immediately.
Eur-Lex. "Regulation (EU) 2018/1806." July 11, 2020.
The Hellenic Republic. "Visa Fees." July 10, 2020.
Schengen Visa Info. "How to Extend a Schengen Visa while being within Schengen Area." July 11, 2020.