We do the Schengen Shuffle - as I call it - every time we come to live at our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese. That means we can set the travel dates, but not the length of stay. 90 days in, then 90 days out.
|Our Stone House on the Hill is small when compared to the mountain behind us|
- All European Union countries, except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, are members of the Schengen Borders Agreement.
- In addition, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are also members of the Schengen Borders Agreement (but they are not European Union members).
|An old olive oil press now on display in the village of Milea|
No way. Can't do it, unless. . .
. . . you have a Resident Visa. Then you can come and go as you please and stay as long as you want.. You could move and live here full time. But obtaining a resident visa isn't a simple matter for Americans in any Schengen country it seems. It can be done as has been proven by fellow blogger friends and U.S. ex pats, Anita and Richard who've moved to Portugal and told their journey through 'visa land' in their blog, No Particular Place to Go and Karen and Rich, in Spain,( Enjoy Living Abroad). Both couples have just recently obtained Resident Visas for their respective countries - a cause for much jubilation to be sure!
|The Land of Kalamata Olives and Taygetos Mountains|
To Visa or Not to Visa?
We've toyed with the idea of obtaining a resident visa but after the paperwork and documentation involved in buying a house, we needed some down time. We'd spent too much time in Greek government, law, and accountant offices and banks. Now, rested up two years later, we are ready - we think. . .maybe - to tackle the residency process.
In order to buy the house we had to obtain Greek tax identification numbers (standing in line at the tax office still a vivid memory). Did I ever tell you that we each file an annual income tax statement here? It's required if you own property whether you earn money here or not. Once we had the tax ID number we could present it and numerous documents from the U.S. (including a copy of our marriage license which we ended up needing at the tax office but not the bank) to open a Greek bank account, which we also had to have to buy the house.
Both are requirements for a resident visa. Why,we already had a jump on the process, we thought! Then we got the additional ' what is required' list from our attorney:
1) current passports
2) visa stating that you are intend to apply for residency in Greece as economically independent individuals. ('For the details you must ask at the Greek Consulate.')
3) electronic fee payment of 300 euros ($339) per person. This will be issued from a Greek bank and it will be attached in the application for the residency.
4) Health insurance coverage :
a) If it is an American policy it has to state clearly that you are covered in Greece. The minimum costs that should be mentioned are:
for Permanent total incapacitation at least 15,000 euro
for medical care at least 1,500 euro
for hospitalization at least 10,000 euro
Your participation must be at least 20%.
b) If you choose to do a Greek Insurance the above should be covered. Your participation must be at least 20%.
5) your tax declaration as well as any other official document showing your income. Each one of you must have a minimum amount of 2,000 euros ($2,260US) per month. This is the amount that Greek state sets as minimum.
All of the documents must be certified by a Notary stamp.
|Gulf of Messinia and Taygetos Mountains from The Stone House on the Hill|
Well, at least they no longer require a medical exam and chest x-ray - those were requirements up until two years ago.
However, they do require a face-to-face interview in which you explain why you want the permit. An American couple who live here full time, completed the process over the course of some six months and said they had to appear before a panel of Greeks and explain why they wanted to live in Greece. A painless, but somewhat intimidating step at the time, they now recall it with laughter.
We've researched and found health insurance through a Greek company which meets the required thresholds. We've yet to meet with our attorney -- that will likely happen sometime before we leave this spring. We'll then gather documents and Notary stamps this summer and begin the formal process in the fall after we've purchased the insurance.
For the time being we'll continue the Schengen Shuffle. 90 in and 90 out.
|Olive trees and Mountains - The Stone House on the Hill sits amid them both|
That's it for this week ~ We'll be back with more tales from The Stone House on the Hill next week and hope you be back here as well. To those of you in Greece, Happy Easter Week.
Linking up this week with other bloggers at:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday – Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration