Navigating Greek Bureaucracy: A Guide to Getting an AFM, Student Visa, and Residence Permit

January 19, 2024

This article gives an insightful overview of the steps involved in securing three crucial documents: the AFM, Student Visa, and Residence Permit, all of which are essential for international students aspiring to pursue their studies in Greece.

Obtaining an AFM, Student Visa and Residence Permit

The information in this guide is a depiction of our understanding of current Greek legislation. The ΑΦΜ is essential for both international and EU residents, while the student visa and residence permit are only required for non-EU countries.

Student Visa

The student visa is the first documentation you need to sort out, then either the ΑΦΜ or the residence permit. You should aim to complete these before leaving your home country, as they will be required to enter Greece. This can take a lot of paperwork and time to complete, so it’s always a good idea to start this process early.

You should also contact the Greek embassy in your home country to have an up-to-date list of all the documents needed for a successful application. It is important to note that the student visa is valid for one year and must be renewed if a residence permit has not yet been obtained. Once a residence permit has been obtained, you will no longer have to renew your visa.

The process of obtaining a student visa can vary from country to country, depending on its regulations. A a link to all Greek missions around the world.

Residence Permit

A residence permit is any documentation issued by the Greek authorities, according to which a third-country citizen is given the right to reside legally within Greek territory, in accordance with the provisions of the EU.

The residence permit is obtained when you arrive in Greece, unlike the student visa.

A residence permit will be issued at the Directorate of Aliens & Immigration in Thessaloniki:

Based on 2023 EU regulations, eligibility depends on:
  • Enrollment in an approved educational establishment
  • Proof of sufficient income, from any source, to live without needing income support.
  • Comprehensive health insurance cover
During our experience of this process, the following documents were requested: *this is subject to change.
  • Four recent color photographs in passport format (4x6)
  • A digital format of the passport photographs on a CD JPEG2000
  • Photocopies of each page from a valid passport
  • Student visa certificate or registration and payment of fees at the university
  • Evidence that he/she has sufficient resources to cover study and living expenses (be sure to check the up-to-date amounts) - During the 2020 application cycle, the set minimum of 400 euros per month was required to be deposited into a deposit account, via bank transfer or scholarship
  • Certificate from the insurance company to cover the cost of hospitalization and medical care at the date of the filing application


An AFM (ΑΦΜ) is a Greek identification number required for several administrative procedures, such as real-estate contracts, opening a bank account, exchanging a foreign driver’s license, and more. This document can take up to a month to obtain. You must physically visit the tax office in Greece in order to apply.

The documents required in 2023 are as follows:

  • ID (EU) or valid passport
  • Proof of address (utility bill or valid lease)
  • Residence permit (non-EU Citizen)

Hopefully, this guide was easy to follow.

Written by Amandine Bontoux, Vice President of Publications, 3rd Year Medical Student at Aristotle University School Of Medicine