UK CITIZENS IN THE EU AND GREECE AFTER THE END OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD
The end of the transition period is here. The Greek government and public administration have worked tirelessly to prepare for the next day, in order to guarantee that the long and strong relations between the UK and Greece will continue to the best interest of both countries and, most importanty, of their citizens.
The protection of the rights of UK nationals and their family members in Greece has been a priority since the beginning of the Brexit negotiations. It will continue to be so after 1 January 2021.
The Withdrawal Agreement guarantees that EU citizens and their family members who lived in the UK and UK nationals and their family members who lived in the EU prior to the end of the transition period retain the same rights as before after the end of the transition too: they can continue to live, study, work and travel freely between the UK and the EU after 1 January 2021.
UK nationals who live in Greece can find below information on the legal framework for the protection of their rights, information on travel and visas and a step by step guide for the application process to acquire the new residence documents provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. There also options for temporary and permanent stay in Greece after the end of the transition period for UK nationals who are non beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement.
National legal framework for the protection of Citizens’ Rights according to the Withdrawal Agreement
In January 2020, the Greek government adopted Law 4652/2020 (“the Brexit Law”) which allows for the full implementation at administrative level of the Withdrawal Agreement, via delegated legal acts.
Based on the Brexit Law, different line ministries have prepared or signed relevant legal instruments and circular notes that cover the full spectrum of rights of UK nationals and their family members residing in Greece.
On 19 October 2020 the Ministry of Citizen Protection and the Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a Joint Ministerial Decision (Official Gazette Issue B’ 4610/2020) that defines the process to be followed by those UK nationals and family members (UΚ and third country nationals) resident in Greece, who wish to remain in Greece after the end of the transition and wish to acquire new residence documents, issued according to the Withdrawal Agreement. You can check the Hellenic Police website and the Ministry for Migration and Asylum website for relevant information (in English).
A national inter-ministerial task force on citizens’ rights is also to be set up to monitor the implementation of the Agreement.
The newly signed EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which will provisionally enter into force on 1 January 2021, sets out certain rules for mobility of persons between the UK and the EU and their social security rights. Its implementation may also require the adoption of further legislative measures in the months ahead.
Travel, crossing borders and visa requirements for UK nationals and family members visiting EU and Greece
As of 1 January 2021, all UK nationals will be able to travel to and from Greece and the rest of the EU Schengen Area, with a valid passport, visa-free, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, for purposes such as tourism or business. This is a rolling 180-day period.
But they must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe. This requirement does not apply if they are entering or transiting to Greece and are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement.
To stay for longer, work, study or for business purposes in Greece, UK nationals who are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will need to meet the entry requirements set out by the Greek Immigration Code. This means they might need to apply for a national visa and/or residence permit.
New rules for residency : two categories of UK nationals in the EU from 1 January 2021
From 1 January 2021, there will be new rules for UK nationals and family members, either UK or third country nationals, living in Greece and the EU.
These rules will apply to two categories of UK nationals and family members:
- those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, who did not exercise free movement rights prior to the end of the transition period and move to the EU for residency, study or work after the end of the transition period and
- those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, who exercised free movement rights and lived in the EU prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020).
Method of payment
One of the thorniest issues regarding Golden Visa Law, which has been subject to consecutive amendments of the Law within the last years, is the method of the payment.
Greek Law provisions are very strict regarding the payment methods that have to be respected. S&P contracts not indicating that the amount was paid via one of the below methods will not be approved by the competent authority for the issuance of the Golden Visa. The above excessive formalism of the Law has led to the amendment of the Art. 20B par. 2 with the Art. 226 of L. 4635/2019 introducing amongst other options the capability of payment via POS.
The Art. 20B par. 2 as it was very recently amended by the Art. 226 of L. 4635/2019 stipulates that “The agreed payment or lease is paid totally by crossed bank cheque in bank account of the beneficiary (seller) which is held in a credit institution operating in Greece or via credit transfer, pursuant to the definition 24 of the Art. 4 of L. 4537/2018 (A’84) or via POS established by a payment service provider operating in Greece, via charge of a bank credit or debit card of the buyer to the bank account of the beneficiary (seller) pursuant to the definition 11 of the Art. 4 of L. 4537/2018, operating in Greece. The above methods of payment could be concluded by the spouse and/or by blood or marriage relatives of second degree of the buyer.
Furthermore, the Art. 226 of L. 4635/2019 introduced the capacity the payment to be deposited by the close relatives of the applicant (blood or marriage relatives of second degree), a provision which makes the Golden Visa regime even more friendly to investors.
UK nationals and family members not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement
If you are a UK national and you are not resident in Greece prior to the end of the transition period (you don’t fall under the personal scope of the Withdrawal Agreement), but wish to live in Greece after 1 January 2021, you need to follow the relevant rules and procedures of the Greek Immigration Code regarding third country nationals wishing to reside in Greece (see Law 4251/2014) or the free movement legislation (see PD 106/2007).
Under these rules you may be eligible for a specific residence permit (e.g. investor permit, permit for dependent work, as an EU blue card holder, other special residency permits) for third country nationals, as provided by Greek law.
Even though entry requirements may be different, you will have options to stay in the country for more than 3 months.