The decision by the European Union to extend the ban on American tourists entering the bloc until at least July 15 has alarmed thousands of Greek-Americans who were planning to visit the homeland in the summer of 2020.
Greek consular authorities in the U.S. are seeking to clarify a number of confusing provisions in the ruling. The bottom line is that even Greek citizens who do not hold a Greek passport or Greek ID can still travel, under conditions, after obtaining a certificate from the Consulate General of Greece in New York.
The main condition is that they are registered in the records of a municipality in Greece. So, if somebody is of Greek descent, has Greek parents, but he/she has not been registered in any Greek Municipality, they cannot obtain permission from the consulate to fly to Greece.
Who can travel to Greece from the U.S.
Late in the day on Tuesday, the Consulate General of Greece in New York issued guidelines on who is excluded from the restrictions.
The restrictions exclude:
- Those who hold a EU and Schengen Area passport. i.e. This includes permanent residents of the Schengen-related countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Romania, Switzerland) as well as Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- The spouses and minor children of those holding the above passports, as long as the proof provided clearly demonstrates the legal relationship.
- Greek citizens who are registered in the records of a municipality in Greece and who are currently in the U.S. and do not have a Greek passport may use the Greek identity card along with their foreign passport.
- The Greek ID card must be relatively recent and must be in both Greek and Latin characters. The last name must match the one appearing in the valid foreign passport. Travelers should have in their possession the actual ID card and not a photocopy.
- Legal spouses and children (under 18) of Greek citizens are not subject to travel restrictions, if they travel along with the spouse/parent who is Greek citizen and holder of Greek passport or Greek ID. In order to establish the relationship travelers should hold the marriage/birth certificates. There is no need to have the documents translated or validated by the Greek consulate.
- Greek citizens who not have in their possession for any reason a Greek passport or Greek identity card will need a certificate from the services of the Consulate General, which is issued immediately and through a flexible procedure.
- Also excluded from the restrictions are foreign passport holders with a valid residence permit in Greece, those traveling in essential business, or those traveling on a family emergency.
Greek citizens who do not have a Greek passport can apply at Consulate General in New York here. The processing time for the application is approximately 40 days.
Who can travel from the rest of the world
Until July 15 all permanent residents of EU member states are allowed in the country, including permanent residents of the Schengen-related countries.
Every two weeks, Greece will renew the list of countries whose permanent residents will be allowed entry, based on EU guidelines. Currently the countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China will be reviewed for reciprocity.
Non-EU residents are expected to show documentation for proof of residence.
As of July 1, international flights may arrive at any airport in Greece. (Initially, they could only land at the Athens and Thessaloniki International Airports.)
Direct flights from Sweden and the United Kingdom are banned until July 15.
At borders with Bulgaria, entry is allowed to visitors only at the border station of Promachonas. The rest will be open to people travelling for exceptional reasons. At borders with Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey, entry is allowed only for exceptional reasons.
The Patras and Igoumenitsa entry ports are open.
Controls at entry points
All travelers to Greece are obliged to have filled out the online Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before departure.
The PLF is mandatory from June 27 until August 31, 2020. All travelers will be required to fill out the form on their computer or mobile phone and include important data and details, such as their country of origin, which countries they must transit before arriving in Greece, and where they have been in the last 15 days.
The passenger information data will be collected in a database and, through analysis, each traveler will receive a special barcode, based on which the Greek authorities will know upon arrival whether that passenger should be tested for Covid-19 or not.
The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) can be found by clicking here.
Travelers must follow the directives of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection. The protocols are based on an analysis and evaluation of epidemiological data prepared by Greek doctors and engineers.
Protocol for passengers arriving by air
Arrival of passengers at the arrival gate. Transfer to the area where screening personnel are located and check the unique quick response (QR) code each passenger shows on their mobile phone screen or printed QR form.
Screening personnel direct passengers, depending on their QR code, either to the screening area or to the exit (baggage claim area or passport control). Until the screening results become available, passengers tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team are obliged to self-isolate at the address of their final destination as declared on their passenger locator form (PLF). Upon completion of the screening, they are directed towards the exit.
All passengers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical distancing).
Protocol for passengers arriving by sea
Arrival of incoming passengers on foot at the main entry gate.
Incoming passengers arriving in vehicles are directed to the special entry gate.
All passengers are transferred to areas where screening personnel are located and check the unique quick response (QR) code each passenger shows on their mobile phone screen or printed QR form.
Depending on passengers’ QR code, screening personnel either direct them to the screening area or allow them to enter the country. Until the screening results become available, passengers who are tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team are obliged to self-isolate at the address of their final destination as declared on their passenger locator form (PLF). Upon completion of the screening they are allowed to enter the country.
All passengers must comply with all of the necessary preventive measures (use of masks and physical distancing).
Protocol for arrivals at land borders
Arrival of persons at the checkpoint. All persons entering the country must submit a completed passenger locator form (PLF) upon their arrival.
Passport and customs control are carried out and each incoming person’s unique quick response (QR) code is checked on their mobile phone screen or on the printed form with their QR code.
Depending on their code, incoming persons are directed by security personnel either to the screening area or allowed to continue their trip to their final destination in the country, receiving instructions from the border personnel, concerning, in particular, required action in case they develop symptoms of respiratory infection, in which case they must immediately contact the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre.
If arriving persons plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days. EODY Mobile Health Units (KOMY) will operate round the clock at land border checkpoints.
Until the screening results become available, arriving persons who are tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are obliged to self-isolate at the address of their final destination as declared on their passenger locator form (PLF). Their data is entered into the EODY information system, which is linked to the COVID registry to facilitate contact tracing in the event someone tests positive. Upon completion of the screening, they enter the country, receiving instructions concerning self-isolation until the results of their screening are announced.
All passengers must follow all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical/social distancing).