Naturalization is a process by which Greek Citizenship is granted to a Third Country National of Greek Origin (born and residing abroad) if he/she meets the requirements of Greek Citizenship Law. Said process can become difficult and confusing as applicants must complete several steps while meeting various requirements and deadlines. The naturalization process is followed when the applicant’s ancestor’s registration with the Greek Authorities is not valid (for example, in the case of old registration records with the Municipal Rolls) or no record of his/her ancestor can be located with the Greek Authorities.
An applicant submits a petition and an application to the Greek Consulate of his/her place of residence abroad (signed by him/her), in the presence of two witnesses (who need to be Greek Citizens), requesting to acquire the Greek Citizenship. An interview of the applicant at the Consulate General is required. An applicant should exhibit a strong connection to Greece (evidenced –among other things-by visits to Greece, involvement with the Greek Community at the country of his/her residence, existing relatives in Greece and command of the Greek language). While speaking Greek is not absolutely necessary, it is a fact taken into consideration. The Greek Consulate receives the application and petition with all the supporting documents and forwards the file to the Hellenic Ministry of Interior. Once the file arrives at the Naturalization Department of the Ministry, the Ministry following review, issues a Decision granting or denying the Greek Citizenship. The Ministry may reject an applicant’s application if the requirements are not met. Said process usually takes more than (1) one year.
Once a Decision is issued by the Ministry of Interior, it is published on the National Gazette. Following that, the Ministry issues a “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” which is forwarded to the competent Greek Consulate abroad. The Greek Consulate should schedule the Oath Ceremony and the applicant should attend it within one (1) year from the issuance of the Decision issued by the Ministry of Interior. The applicant at the citizenship oath ceremony swears allegiance and faith to the state of Greece. In case the applicant does not attend the oath ceremony within the specific time, the Decision is revoked.
After the applicant takes the oath, a report is drafted by the Competent Greek Consulate stating the Municipality the applicant wishes to register with, which is forwarded to the competent Greek Citizenship Department of the Decentralized Administration in Greece. The Decentralized Administration (its Department of Greek citizenship handling Greek citizenship applications of individuals of Greek origin) is a legal body established by the Hellenic Ministry of Interior and each region in Greece is assigned to a Decentralized Administration. The Decentralized Administration processes the applicant’s file and forwards the file to the competent Municipality, which –in turn- completes the registration. Once the registration with the Municipal Rolls is completed, the third country national is officially a Greek Citizen!