Law Offices of Giannakopoulou & Associates

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Why is a title search with the Land Registry/National Cadastre Office recommended for your inheritance matter?

According to Greek Civil Law, in order for a Deed referring to real estate property (of whatever legal reason, i.e. Parental Gift Deed, Sale/Purchase Deed, Donation Deed, etc) to be effective, it has to be registered with the competent Land Registry and National Cadastre Office; the registration is a prerequisite for the Deed to be effective and to result in the legal transfer of the ownership to the grantee (buyer, person accepting the Donation, child receiving the Parental Gift).  Additionally, all liens, encumbrances, mortgages/pre notice of a mortgage or seizures, in general every burden against the property, has to be registered with the same Public Records in order to be effective.

When one is proceeding with accepting an inheritance, which requires a signed Acceptance of Inheritance Deed registered with the Land Registry/National Cadastre, the grantor’s title Deed is always required, so that the property can be described. Also, the volume and number of the registration with the competent Land Registry/National Cadastre must be mentioned.

It is true that in many cases, you may be in possession of your grantor’s title Deed. Yet, this does not ensure that it has been properly registered nor that any liens, etc. haven’t been registered against the property nor even that the grantor had not proceeded with selling the property in the meantime, without the grantee’s knowledge. This can only be confirmed via a title search conducted by a lawyer, which will determine the legal status of the property and the grantor’s non contested ownership.

So, in order for you to be certain of what you are inheriting, in order to be certain that the property is free of encumbrances, a title search is necessary. Yet, at your discretion, especially when you are quite certain of your right and of the property’s status, we can order certain certificates, which will confirm that your grantor’s title Deed is in order (i.e. certificate of ownership, certificate of no liens, encumbrances, etc having been registered against the property, etc). This can be recommended in cases of remote Land Registries, however it has the disadvantage that, due to the workload of said Authorities, it can take some time to have the certificates in hand, as opposed to a lawyer conducting the title search which is much more prompt.


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We have moved our offices.

Our new address is

151, Syngrou Avenue

Nea Smyrni 17121


Our phone number and email address remain the same.

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After years of specializing in Greek citizenship applications and a couple of hundred successful cases, this is some of what we have learned:
• Assess your case early on, either with the assistance of the Greek Consulate of your place of residence or a Greek immigration attorney. Whether you will be applying for Greek Citizenship by Birth, Petition or Naturalization will dictate the process and required documents.
• Carefully cross-check all your documents (the trained eye of a Greek citizenship lawyer may be highly useful) to ensure all the information is consistent throughout (i.e., names, dates, spellings, etc.)
• Prepare accurate translations of all documents to be submitted to the Greek Authorities, along with the necessary certifications.
• Ensure that you have procured all the required documents (which differ depending on the specifics of the case) so that your file is complete at the time of submission.
• When the person you will be drawing your citizenship right from was born in the 1800’s, check whether he/she acquired the foreign citizenship prior to the year 1914, as this can affect the process.
• Once all your documents are procured and properly prepared for submission, make a full copy of your file to keep for reference (and for the event your file is misplaced, lost, etc.)
• Make sure you follow up closely your Greek Citizenship matter – again this is something a Greek immigration attorney can more easily and effectively do!

Good luck with your Greek citizenship application! If you feel we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm at!

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Service of Process of foreign documents in Greece

For a proper, valid and acceptable Process of Service in Greece, there is a certain procedure that has to be followed. After the necessary documentation and information (certified copy of the original document(s), certified translation of the original document(s), information on last known residence) is gathered, the representative Lawyer proceeds with drafting an Order to Server so that the Process Server takes over the process.

The Process Server can accomplish Service of Process in the following three –mutually exclusive- alternative ways:

  1. Personally to the individual the documents are addressed to
  2. To a member of his family found at the person’s residence
  3. Or in case none of the above is possible, the document of the Service of Process is pasted on the door and the Process Server files the relevant notice with the local police department.

Following, the Service Report is submitted to the Process Servers’ Association for signature ratification and thereafter the file (consisting of the Service Report, together with all the certified documents served) is given to the representative Lawyer in order to proceed with procuring an Apostille and translation of the file to the language of the original documents.  Upon completion of the above described process, proper Service of Process of foreign documents in Greece has been achieved!

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Naturalization for Third  Country Nationals of Greek Origin


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!

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What is a Next of Kin certificate?

A Next of Kin Certificate (“pistopoiitiko eggyteron syggenon”) is a Certificate which determines the closest living relatives of a deceased person. It is used for Inheritance Legal Matters and is issued by the Greek municipality the deceased was registered with. In case the deceased was not registered with a Greek Municipality, a Certificate of Heirship (“pistopoitiko klironomitiriou”) is issued from the competent Court in Greece. In the event the deceased was a resident of a foreign country for more than five (5) years and passed away abroad, the competent Greek Consulate can issue a Next of Kin Certificate. For that, the presence of three (3) witnesses who are Greek citizens is necessary who sill state the closest living relatives of the deceased.

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When is a property sealed in Greece and how is it unsealed?

(Articles 826-841 of the Code of Civil Procedure)

When someone in Greece passes away in his residence alone or dies without having close relatives and there is a danger that his property will be violated, then said property is sealed.  The sealing of the property takes place pursuant to a Court’s decision which is issued either:

  1. a) Upon the petition of any person who has a legitimate interest, filed with the competent Magistrate Court, or
  2. b) By the Court sealing the property ex officio, namely on its own initiative, without anyone requesting said sealing.

Pursuant to this decision the Court orders that the property is sealed and appoints an escrow agent for its contents. After the aforementioned decision is issued, the Court’s Secretary visits the property, seals it, keeps the keys and produces a sealing report.

In order to unseal the property, someone who has a legitimate interest – usually a relative – files a petition with the competent Court requesting said unsealing. He can also request from the Court to appoint a Notary for the unsealing and experts to appraise the value of the items contained therein.

The documents necessary to be filed with the Court for the unsealing are:

  1. A petition requesting the unsealing and explaining the reason
  2. A certificate of the deceased’s death
  3. A certified copy of the Court’s sealing Decision
  4. A certified copy of the sealing report
  5. A next of kin certificate for the deceased
  6. A certificate issued by the competent Magistrate’s Court that no Will has been probated or, if there is a Will, that no other Will has been probated.
  7. A certificate issued by the competent Court of First Instance that no Will has been probated or, if there is a Will, that no other Will has probated
  8. If there is a Will, a certified copy of the Will.

The Court issues a Decision and orders the unsealing of the property, appoints a Notary and experts for the unsealing procedure and also a person to hold the contents of the apartment in escrow following the unsealing.

The petitioner contacts the Notary who specifies the exact day and time for the unsealing. Then the petitioner has to serve the Court’s decision via a Court bailiff to the Tax Authority where the deceased was registered and inform said Authority about the day and time that the unsealing will take place in case a representative of the Tax Authority wishes to be present. He also serves the Court’s Decision via a Court bailiff to the Court appointed experts.

On the unsealing day the Notary produces an unsealing report, describing the procedure that was followed and specifying the value of each item of the house as it was appraised by the experts. Then he/she delivers the keys to the escrow agent and provides a certified copy of said report to those who requested the unsealing and were present during the procedure.  The fees of the Notary and agents are paid by the petitioner of the unsealing.

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Tax Season in Greece

The 2015 tax filing season (tax year 2014) is approaching.
If you
– Earned income in Greece during 2014 OR
– Purchased or sold property or a car in Greece in 2014 OR
– Owned property or a car in the year 2014 (for any amount of time)
you must file a tax return in Greece. Filing deadline is June 30. Contact us for assistance at!




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What is an Apostille?

An Apostille Stamp is a certification established by The Hague Convention (also known as an Apostille Convention or the Apostille Treaty) with the aim of facilitating the worldwide circulation of documents.  The aim of the Convention is to abolish the legalization process and replace it with a single formality. The Apostille Stamp authenticates the origin of a public document for use abroad.  The word ‘Apostille’ is of French Origin and it comes from the French verb ‘apostiller’ which derives from the old French word ‘pastille’ meaning ‘annonation’ and before it the Latin word ‘postilla’, a variation of the word postea, which means ‘thereafter, afterwards, next’.  During the negotiations of the Convention, the term ‘Apostille’ was preferred because of its novelty (Apostille Handbook).

The act of procuring an Apostillle stamp on a document under the Hague Apostille Convention is referred to as having been ‘apostillsed’. An Apostille only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document (Art. 5 (2) of the Hague Apostille Convention and does not certify the content of the underlying document (C&R No 85 of the Special Commission). There is no time restriction in regards to the effect of an Apostille. The effect of an Apostille does not expire.

An Apostille Stamp applies only to public documents. According to Art. I (2) of the Hague Apostille Convention the four (4) following categories of documents are considered to be ‘public documents’:

1) Documents emanating from an Authority or an official connected with a court or tribunal, including those emanating from a public prosecutor, a clerk of a court or a process-server.

2) Administrative documents.

3) Notarial Acts.

4) Official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentication of signatures.

Greece as a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention authenticates (apostillises) public documents.

The Decentralized Administration (every region in Greece is assigned to a Decentralized Administration) has jurisdiction to ‘apostillise’ the following categories of documents:

  • Documents issued by the public civil services such as Taxation Authorities, Municipalities, Greek Orthodox Metropolis, Police Authorities, Ministries.
  • Documents issued by the Registry Office.
  • Documents issued by Greek Universities and Colleges.
  • Documents issued by Hospitals.
  • National Gazette documents.
  • Greek Identity Cards and Passports.

Judicial Documents are apostillised by the Court of First Instance of the region where the issuing Authority is seated. Notarial Documents, documents issued by Land Registries as well as Process Server Documents are apostillsed by the competent Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance.

Please note that as of April 1st 2014 birth, marriage and death certificates issued from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey  do not need to bear an Apostille Stamp for use in Greece  (Law 4231/2014).

Our office can assist you with procuring all sorts of documents from Greek authorities and prepare them for use abroad by procuring an Apostille and produce certified translations.  Contact us for information at

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Tax season is approaching!

New tax law 4174/2013 brings changes in the way tax statements are submitted in Greece. Namely, as of 1/1/2014, the tax is calculated at the time of submission and finalization of the tax statement. That practically means that when the tax statement is finalized and a tax is assessed, at the same time a payment slip is issued, which must be paid only at the bank or Post Office (not the Tax Authority).  Note that if the taxpayer realizes he made a mistake after submitting his tax statement, he must pay the tax due, resubmit the tax statement and then get a refund if necessary. Tax statements are submitted only online and the online system will begin to accept submissions (as is currently announced) on March 20, 2014.  The deadline for tax statement submission this year is June 30, 2014.  No extension has been announced at this point but may be granted.

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