Naturalisation for Spouses in Greece becomes an Easy Process


In the past, the Greek Legislation relating to Nationality (L. 3370/1955 Greek Nationality Code) (GNC) followed the principle of unity of the family’s nationality based on the husband’s Greek nationality. Accordingly, a nonGreek woman who celebrated a valid marriage with a Greek National acquired ipso jure Greek nationality (Art 4 of the GNC) unless she declared before the wedding that she did not want to acquire Greek nationality (Art 4 of the GNC). However, she could lose her Greek nationality, if she wished, within a year after her marriage, as long as she had retained her previous nationality (Art 15 of the GNC).
The GNC was amended by Emergency Law 481/68. However, this law did not reflect on the principle of unity of the family’s nationality; that was accomplished by L. 1438/1984 and L. 1342/83 (which ratified the UN Convention of 1979 for the abolition of all forms of discrimination against women, Art 9, para 1 of which provides that the signatory States confer to women equal rights with those of men regarding the acquisition, change and maintenance of their nationality) which brought radical changes to the issue of married women’s nationality. Indeed, thereafter, the principle of individuality or of nationality independence has been followed by Greek legislation (in conformity, moreover, with the requirement of the Greek Constitution for sex equality), and marriage does not bring with it the acquisition or loss of Greek Nationality (Art 4 of the GNC as amended by L. 1438/1984 replacing Arts 4, 5, 16 and 22 of the GNC). As a result of the above, the non-Greek wife does not acquire her husband’s Greek citizenship because of her marriage to him; if she wishes to acquire Greek citizenship she has to follow the ordinary naturalisation procedure as does any other non-Greek resident. Of course, the same applies in the case of a non-Greek husband married to a Greek wife; he will have to follow the same naturalisation procedure.
One of the requirements of a naturalisation application used to be residency in Greece of 8 of the previous 10 years prior to the filing of the application, or 3 years’ residence in Greece after the declaration for naturalisation (Arts 6 and 7 of the GNC as replaced under no 6 by Art 3 of L. 1438/1984). Now, for non-Greeks, a total residency in Greece of 10 of the previous 12 years is required prior to the filing of the application for naturalisation, or 5 years’ residence in Greece after the declaration for naturalisation (Art 14 of L. 2130/1993). According to the above, the non-Greek spouses of Greek citizens also had to meet the above residency requirement before they could acquire Greek citizenship by naturalisation.
Now, although the above requirement continues to apply for the naturalisation of a non-Greek, it does not apply for the naturalisation of the spouses of Greek citizens under certain conditions. More specifically, by L. 2503/1997 this requirement is abolished for non-Greek spouses of Greek citizens, as long as they reside in Greece and have children (Art 14 addition to last subparagraph of case b, para 1, Art 4 of L. 2130/1993).