By Christos ILIOPOULOS* - “... and after the interview, the Consul will make a report on how much Greek you feel”. There are thousands of people, born outside of Greece, to at least one parent or grandparent (and sometimes to
a great grandparent), who wish to obtain the Greek citizenship and passport. They usually have several family documents showing their “Greek” history, birth and marriage certificates, baptism documents, records of entry in a foreign country, passports, photographs with information, newspaper clips etc.
For someone who was born abroad, and is of Greek heritage, there are basically two ways to apply for the Greek citizenship. The first option is the main application for “kathorismo” of the Greek citizenship, through an unbroken chain of documents, which start from the birth of the Greek ancestor who was actually born in Greece, his/her marriage certificate, to the birth of the present applicant for the citizenship. To succeed in this process you only have to have your documents in order.
The “only” of course, in most cases, is too much! All the basic names of the family must be consistently written with no significant changes of the name of the same person from one document to the other. The marriage of the initial Greek - born ancestor must be religious or only civil, depending on whether the ancestor was a man or a woman, having married a non - Greek. The marriage certificate must state the degree of marriage for the groom and the bride (if it was a first marriage for either of them or not) and also their parents’ names. The public documents from a foreign country must have either the seal of the Apostille (Convention of the Hague of 5 Oct. 1961) or notarization by the Greek Consulate of that country. Etc, etc.
If you satisfy these and some other conditions, the unbroken chain of documents will get you the Greek citizenship, even if you do not speak a word of Greek and you have never visited Greece.
What happens, though, if you are really of Greek heritage, if your mother or grandmother used to cook melomakarona and kourabiedes in Christmas, if you have been eating moussaka all your life, if many members of your family were married and baptized in the Orthodox church, if you have even once dived in the water in freezing mid-winter to catch the cross on Epiphany (6th of January), but for some unfortunate reason, you can’t find that birth cert. of your Greek - born ancestor in Greece? Or your Greek ancestor was never actually born in Greece, but in Asia Minor, in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world? Or his/her name is so much misspelled or anglicized, that the Greek Consulate refuses to give you an identification certificate that Ioannis Constantinopoulos was or is the same person with John Constantine?
This is the case where you can file for citizenship under the second option, the naturalization application as a person of Greek descent. You must file all your documents at the Greek Consulate under Article 10 of the Code of Greek Citizenship, plus sit the interview with the closest high ranking Greek official, who is the Consul of Greece. In that interview, if you speak Greek, chances are you will get a favorable report. If you do not speak so much the language, you can still get a positive report, if you can demonstrate knowledge of the Greek way of life, of Greek history, of present day Greek affairs, if you can show that you have been to Greece and how often, if you have relatives, friends or business there, if you are a member or any Greek club, organization or the Greek Church in your country etc. In other words, if you can prove “how much Greek you feel”.
After the interview and the not-disclosed Consul’s report, your file will be shipped to Greece, where it will be examined by the administration, to be determined whether it satisfies the conditions of the law, in order to grant you your Greek citizenship, despite the fact that you are missing one or more preconditions, which prohibited you from filing under the first option.
6 January 2018
*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.