GreeceOfficial Name: Hellenic Republic
Must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Required for stays over 90 days or if you are traveling on an official or diplomatic passport
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
10,000 Euros or equivalent
Embassies and Consulates
91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue
10160 Athens, Greece
Telephone: +(30)(210) 721-2951
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(30)(210) 729-4444 or
Fax: +(30)(210) 724-5313
U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki
Plateia Commercial Center
43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor
546 23 Thessaloniki
Telephone: +(30)(2310) 242-905
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(30)(210) 729-4444 or
Fax: +(30)(2310) 242-927
All regular consular services for U.S. citizens, including passports, notarials, and reports of birth and death abroad, are provided at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. There are limited periodic appointment opportunities throughout the year in Thessaloniki for routine consular services. Please check the U.S. Embassy in Athens’ website periodically for information on the next consular outreach trip to the U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki.
Greece is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet for additional information on U.S.- Greece relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Greece is a party to the Schengen Agreement. U.S. citizens may enter Greece for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. We recommend that your passport be valid for at least six months whenever you travel abroad to avoid unintended travel disruptions. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen Fact Sheet.
If you are traveling with a U.S. official or diplomatic passport, you MUST obtain a Schengen visa prior to arrival. Travelers arriving with official or diplomatic passports without visas will not be allowed to enter the country.
Visit the website of the Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C. for the most current visa information. If you need additional information about entry requirements, including visas for employment or study in Greece, you can contact the Embassy of Greece at 2217 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-1300, fax (202) 939-1324, email email@example.com; or any of the Greek Consulates and Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Tampa.
Individuals traveling to Greece on official military orders are advised to review the guidance in the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide.
If you are a U.S. citizen born in the Republic of Macedonia, please note that, per an August 2012 directive, Greek Immigration Officers at all ports of entry (land, air, and sea) will not place entry stamps in passports listing the traveler’s place of birth as Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia, but should recognize the validity of the travel document. These travelers are required to complete a short form on which the entry stamp will be placed and which the traveler should keep with their passport for the duration of their stay in Greece and present upon departure. In July 2013, the Embassy was informed of several deportations resulting from the inconsistent application of the above directive. Any traveler who is denied entry into Greece should request to be provided with the appropriate documentation from Greek authorities, including an official document titled “Refusal of Entry at the Border” (issued in English and Greek) stating the reason that they were denied entry. If you are a U.S. passport holder denied entry under these circumstances, please contact the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Athens at +30-210-720-2490.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Greece.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Like other countries that are members of the Schengen Agreement for free cross-border movement, Greece's open borders with other members of the Schengen zone allow for the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity. As the first entry point into Schengen from points south and east, Greece's long coastline and many islands increase the possibility that foreign-based terrorists might try to enter Europe through its borders.
Greece continues to experience sporadic violence attributed to terrorist organizations. In the spring of 2014, the domestic terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for a car bomb outside the Bank of Greece. In 2013, in Athens and Thessaloniki unknown individuals conducted small-scale attacks on the homes of journalists and judges, several political party offices, banks, ministries, tax offices, and privately owned vehicles. The domestic terrorist group Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei claimed responsibility for planting a small bomb in a prominent shopping mall in a northern suburb of Athens, causing minor injuries to two people; alleged members of the this group were arrested for armed bank robbery in northern Greece. Unknown perpetrators fired approximately 60 rounds at the German Ambassador’s residence in Athens.
Strikes and demonstrations, mostly small-scale, are a regular occurrence. As a result of structural reforms and other measures imposed by the government, the ongoing economic recession, and continuing high unemployment, members of labor unions, certain professions, and other groups affected by the recession on occasion hold demonstrations, work stoppages, and marches throughout the center of Athens and Thessaloniki. Strikes in the transportation sector can affect traffic and public transportation, to include taxis, ports, and airports; most are of short duration, but you should always reconfirm domestic and international flights before heading to the airport. Demonstrations also occur annually on November 17, the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against the military regime in power at the time.
University campuses are exploited by anarchists and criminals as refuges. Demonstrators frequently congregate in the Polytechnic University area; Exarchia, Omonia, and Syntagma Squares in Athens; and at Aristotle Square, Aristotle University, and the Kamara area in Thessaloniki. U.S. citizens should be aware of demonstrations and avoid areas where demonstrations are underway, as even demonstrations and strikes intending to be peaceful can become violent.
Violent anarchist groups have joined public demonstrations to clash with police and vandalize public and private property. Riot-control procedures, employed only rarely, include the use of tear gas and/or water cannons. Visitors should stay informed about demonstrations from local news sources and hotel security. Information regarding demonstrations that have been brought to the attention of the U.S. Embassy can be found on the Embassy website and on our Consular Section Facebook page.
There have been reports of unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons who, because of their complexion, are perceived to be foreign migrants. U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern descent. Travelers are urged to exercise caution, especially in the immediate vicinity of Omonia Square from sunset to sunrise. Travelers should avoid Exarchia Square and its immediate vicinity at all times. The U.S. Embassy has confirmed reports of U.S. African-American citizens detained by police authorities conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Athens.
Visitors during Easter are strongly urged to exercise caution when attending the celebrations that occur at midnight on Holy Saturday. Festivities normally involved the large scale use of fireworks, some of which are homemade and illegal. There have been incidents where spectators have suffered severe, sometimes fatal injuries as a result of these fireworks.
U.S. citizens are strongly urged to carry their passport or some form of photo identification with them at all times when traveling in Greece. You should note that in Greece, you may be taken in for questioning by the police if you don’t have your passport with you.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Greece on Twitter and visit the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: You should take the usual safety precautions you would in any urban or tourist area during a visit to Greece. Crimes against tourists (such as pick-pocketing and purse-snatching) occur at popular tourist sites and on public transportation—especially the Metro—and in some shopping areas in and around Thessaloniki. If you travel by Metro, keep track of your belongings at all times. Thieves will often try to create a diversion to draw your attention away from your immediate surroundings. These diversions can include accidentally sneezing or spilling something on you and loudly accusing you of having bumped into them. Thieves ride the trains in from the Athens Airport, so be especially vigilant when using this transportation.
Be discreet when discussing plans and organizing your belongings upon your initial arrival. Always keep a close eye on your belongings. Avoid standing near the doors, as thieves will often strike just as the train/bus doors open and then dash onto the platform and disappear into the crowd. Omonia, Vathi, and Kolokotroni Squares in Athens, while very close to the tourist sites, are areas with high crime rates; Glyfada Square has a significant organized-crime network associated with its clubs, which should be avoided if you get a hard-sell pitch for business. Never agree to go to a bar or club with someone you have just met on the street. Sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including date or acquaintance rape, are not uncommon. Drink alcohol in moderation and stay in control. Never leave your drink unattended in a bar or club. Some bars and clubs serve counterfeit or homemade spirits of unknown potency.
Due to an increase of card skimming at ATMs throughout Greece, it is recommended that you use one located inside a bank or hotel. Do not use ATMs located in dark or isolated areas. Before using an ATM, check to see if anything is stuck to the machine and/or if it looks unusual in any way. When using an ATM, always stay focused on what you are doing, and cover the keypad with your free hand to prevent anyone from seeing your PIN.
In the last few years, we have seen a number of instances of Grandparent Scams. This scam targets elderly citizens in the United States and convinces them to wire money to assist a relative (often a grandchild) in distress overseas. Review our Financial Scams page for the full picture on this and many other scams.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Greece are112 for life-threatening emergencies (this is a Europe-wide emergency number and has English-speaking operators), 100 for the Police, 166 for an Ambulance, and 199 for the Fire Brigade.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Greece, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. If you break local laws in Greece, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Greek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Greece are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
In Greece, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail.
Mace or pepper-spray canisters, though legal in the United States, are illegal in Greece. Such items will be confiscated and may result in detention and arrest.
You should note that in Greece, you may be taken in for questioning by the police if you don’t have your passport with you.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well. In Greece, there are criminal provisions for child pornography, exploitation of minors, and counterfeit/pirated goods.
Arrest notifications in Greece: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy in Athens as soon as you are arrested or detained in Greece.
Export of Antiquities: Greek customs authorities have strict regulations concerning the export from Greece of antiquities, including rocks from archaeological sites. Penalties range from large fines to prison terms. Most stores are careful to identify their items as lawful reproductions, however, you should ensure that you are not purchasing a restricted antiquity and ensure that you get a receipt for any item that you buy.
Banking: Visitors to Greece should be aware of the possibility that banking services – including credit card processing and servicing of ATMs – throughout Greece could potentially become limited on short notice. Make sure you have more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit cards, credit cards), and make sure you have enough cash to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays.
Dual Nationals: In addition to being subject to all Greek laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Greek citizens. Greek males between the ages of 19 and 45 are required to perform military service; this applies to any individual whom the Greek authorities consider to be a Greek citizen, regardless of whether the individual considers himself Greek, has a foreign citizenship and passport, or was born or lives outside of Greece. If remaining in Greece for more than the 90-day period permitted for tourism or business, men of Greek descent may be prevented from leaving Greece until they complete their military obligations. Generally, obligatory, non-voluntary military service in Greece will not affect U.S. citizenship. Specific questions on this subject should be addressed to the citizenship section of the U.S. Embassy in Athens. For additional information, see our information on Citizenship and Nationality. For additional information regarding military service requirements, contact the Greek Embassy or nearest Greek Consulate.
Limits on Photography: The Government of Greece does not permit the photographing of military installations; violators are subject to arrest.
Public Transportation Fare Compliance: If you plan to use public transportation, be sure to buy the appropriate ticket and to validate it correctly (service to the airport is more expensive than other bus and Metro services) and that ticket inspectors circulate among passengers on trains and buses and in stations to assure compliance with ticketing regulations. Currently, the fine for passengers without tickets or with the wrong ticket is 60 times the basic fare. If the fine is paid on the spot or within 10 days of the issuance of the ticket, the amount paid may be reduced to 50 percent.
Disaster Preparedness: Greece often experiences forest fires during the dry summer months. Travelers should be aware of the risk of fires, taking care not to spark one inadvertently through carelessness.
Greece experiences frequent seismic activity; tremors are common and serious earthquakes have occurred. The Government of Greece has produced an earthquake-safety pamphlet for tourists and visitors. Detailed information on Greece's earthquake fault lines is available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Disaster preparedness information and specific suggestions to help mitigate the impact of wildfires and earthquakes is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In any natural disaster, follow the instructions of local authorities. The General Secretariat for Civil Protection, which responds to emergencies, may be reached at 210-3359900. The operators speak English.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Greece are protected by anti-discrimination laws and gender identity is among the grounds covered by laws against hate speech. There are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LGBT events. At the same time, non-government organizations report that social discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is widespread in Greece. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Greece you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Greece, individuals with disabilities will find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. While Greek law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and intellectual disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other government services, in practice, enforcement of these provisions is uneven. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities and special ramps for the sidewalks and means of public transportation; however, enforcement is inconsistent and is a work in progress. While handicapped parking spaces and sidewalk ramps exist or are being constructed throughout the country, they are often occupied or blocked by parked vehicles, thus hindering accessibility for disabled persons.
While many sidewalks in downtown Athens have detectable warning and way-finding systems of bumps and lines for visually impaired travelers and a few traffic lights are equipped with audible crosswalk signals, the general condition of the sidewalks in Greece can be problematic. They are very narrow in places and there are often broken paving stones, large holes, and poorly-positioned signs. A small but growing percentage of public buildings are fully accessible to persons with physical disabilities, with the majority in Athens. Many buildings with special ramps might not have accessible elevators or lavatories. You should ask your hotel before booking. The Athens Metro and Athens International Airport are fully accessible and have ramps and elevators installed.
The Deputy Ombudsman for Social Welfare handles complaints related to persons with disabilities, especially those related to employment, social security, and transportation
Medical facilities are adequate, and some, particularly the private clinics and hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki, are quite good. Some private hospitals have affiliations with U.S. facilities, and generally their staff doctors have been trained in the United States or Europe.
Public medical clinics, especially on the islands, may lack resources; care can be inadequate by U.S. standards, and often, little English is spoken. Many patients—Greeks and visitors alike—are transferred from the provinces and islands to Athens hospitals for more sophisticated care. Others may choose to transfer from a public to a private hospital within Athens or Thessaloniki. U.S. citizens choosing to do so would arrange for an ambulance belonging to the private hospital to transport them from the public hospital to the private one. The cost of the ambulance for this transfer, as well as all expenses in a private hospital, must be borne by the patient. Private hospitals will usually demand proof of adequate insurance or cash before admitting a patient.
Nursing care, particularly in public hospitals, may be less than adequate. For special or through-the-night nursing care, it is suggested that a private nurse be hired or a family member or friend be available to assist. One parent or a private nurse should always plan to stay with a hospitalized child on a 24-hour basis, as even the best hospitals generally maintain only a minimal nursing staff from midnight to dawn on non-emergency floors or wards.
Please ensure that you have an adequate supply of your prescription medications when travelling to Greece as you may not be able to find a local equivalent in the pharmacies.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Greece, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Drivers and pedestrians alike should exercise extreme caution when operating motor vehicles or when walking along roadways or crossing streets, mindful that Greece's traffic fatality rates are the fifth-highest of the 28 nations that make up the European Union. Visitors to Greece must be prepared to drive defensively. Heavy traffic, poor roads, obscured traffic signs, and high speeds pose hazards, especially at night or in inclement weather. Greece is a mountainous country; cold weather and elevation can additionally contribute to treacherous road conditions and closures.
Be especially careful if you are riding a motorbike. The law in Greece requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet. You may see many wearing theirs on the arm, but do not be tempted to follow their example. When driving, be sure to double-check rear and side mirrors, as motorbikes will often ride between lanes and pass on both the left and right. On many two-lane highways, slower traffic will drive on the shoulder and cars will pass straddling the center, double yellow line.
Small motorbike and ATV rental firms frequently do not insure their vehicles; customers are responsible for damages and should review their coverage before renting.
Talking on a cell phone while driving is illegal in Greece; the police check cell phone call records when investigating accidents.
Driving while under the influence of an alcoholic substance is illegal. Each municipality may have more restrictive provisions, but in general, penalties include fines (250 to 2000 Euro), suspension of license, and may also include mandatory confinement. Alcohol levels are lower than those established in the United States. For vehicle operators, the violation occurs as low as .25 mg/l BrAC (.05% BAC). For new drivers (less than two years since license issued), motorcycle/moped drivers, and professional drivers (e.g., taxi/bus operators), the violation occurs as low as .10 mg/l BrAC (.02% BAC). Police may conduct random testing, without probable cause.
There are a number of nationwide auto-service clubs and plans, similar to those in the United States, providing towing and roadside service, which a tourist can call and pay per service; the largest, quite similar to AAA, is ELPA, whose nationwide phone number is 10400.
License Requirements: Tourists and temporary residents who will stay in Greece for fewer than 185 days and plan to drive must carry a valid U.S. license as well as an international driver's permit (IDP). Failure to have both documents may result in police detention or other problems. Fines for drivers without complete documentation are high. The U.S. Department of State has designated two organizations to issue IDPs to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses: AAA and the National Automobile Club. Issuance of an IDP is quick and inexpensive, but must generally be done before a traveler leaves the United States.
According to Greek law, vehicles – including motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) - may not be rented without the IDP, although sometimes rental agencies do not obey this law. In the event of an accident, some insurance companies will not cover your claim unless you can show you had both a valid U.S. license and the IDP. Additionally, a visiting driver without both a U.S. license and an IDP can be cited by the police for failure to have valid authority to drive and, in the case of an accident, may be open to civil suit. Individuals who expect to spend more than 185 days in Greece should either obtain a Greek license or convert their valid U.S. license for use in Greece through their local Regional Office of Transportation and Communications.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Greece’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.