Greece reviews Golden Visa rules amidst shake up in Europe

Man overlooking skyline at Greek airport

Greece is looking into revising again rules applicable on its Golden Visa program in a bid to lift sagging results in the residency-for-investment plan.

The review of the scheme comes after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis caught the market by surprise in September when he announced that the amount investors will have to spend to qualify for the program will double to 500,000 euros from 250,000 euros.

This was met with an outcry from many in the business, who argued that the decision is harming the attractiveness of Greece as an investment destination.

Visa successful on global level

The Golden Visa plan offered by Greece has been one of the most successfully run globally, drawing strong interest from Chinese, Russian and Turkish buyers but the pandemic brought that positive momentum to a screeching halt. Since foreign home buyers have been returning to Greece, with an eye on the residency but interest remains well below previous levels.

Data shows that the total number of Golden Visas issued dropped by 544 in the first half of 2022 from 9,619 in January to 9,075 in June 2022, the first drop since the program was launched in 2014.

What's next for Golden Visa plan?

Local press is reporting that government officials are thinking of adapting new rules closer to what Portugal is doing. Among the options being considered in Athens is keeping the limit at 250,000 euros but only homes purchased in less popular parts of the capital will qualify for the residency plan. The idea is that this will avoid boosting demand in popular areas of central Athens and the capital’s beachside districts, in a bid to get a grip on residential price hikes.

Another idea that is being considered is having a 500,000 euro limit if the investor acquires real estate in Athens, whereas this limit drops to 250,000 euros for property investments in the rest of the country including Thessaloniki and popular islands, such as Mykonos, Crete and Corfu.

Discussion between Greek and government officials are continuing.

Portugal thinking of scrapping policy

Portugal may be leading the way forward for many but in Lisbon there are thoughts of doing away with the program.

Reuters recently cited Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa as saying that several visa schemes offered by the country were currently being re-evaluated and the golden visa was one of them.

Although there is confusion as to what exactly the prime minister meant, one thing is clear: the program has lost the shine it once had.