Voting, Citizenship, Identity: Interview with Consul General of Greece in Adelaide, George Psiachas

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By Peter Tantalos

In his exclusive interview with The Greek Herald, Consul General of Greece in Adelaide and the Dean of the Consular Corps of South Australia, George Psiachas unpacks and details an array of core civic responsibilities vital to the Hellenic diaspora — especially with the upcoming European elections.

This comprehensive guide is separated into three areas: the registration and voting process for Greek citizens for the upcoming European elections, the particulars of obtaining Greek citizenship, and the Greek identity cards (which have recently undergone a digital transformation).

Greeks of diaspora will be able to vote on May 20. Photo: osce
Greeks of diaspora will be able to vote on May 20. Photo: osce.

Registration and postal voting process

Below are the answers to questions regarding the postal voting process of Greeks for the upcoming European Parliament elections, aimed to clarify the entire postal voting process to ensure Greek citizens abroad are well-informed:

What are the eligibility criteria for Greek citizens to vote by postal vote?

All citizens of Greece registered in the Greek electoral rolls, residing in Australia, may vote by postal vote in the next elections for the European Parliament.

How can Greek citizens register for postal voting for the European Parliament elections via the epistoliki.ypes.gov.gr platform:

To register online you will need your:

  • Greek TaxisNet codes, or
  • valid Greek passport number and Greek ID number or municipality registration number.

If you don’t have Greek TaxisNet codes nor a valid Greek passport, you can register at the Greek Consulate-General with any Greek identification document (such as Tax File Number (ΑΦΜ), identity card, passport, or driver’s license, even if it is old or expired).

NOTE: Bring your mobile phone with you when visiting the Greek Consulate-General as it will be required to receive your One Time Password (OTP) code.

You will have to fill in information such as contact details, residential address and the address to which you wish the electoral material to be sent.

After registration, you will receive an envelope by post with the electoral material, including detailed instructions. You must send it back to Greece as soon as possible, so that it is received by June 8, 17.00 pm Greek time. The shipping address will be pre-filled.

The new electoral law obliges the parties of Greece to include Greeks from abroad in the national ballots.
The new electoral law obliges the parties of Greece to include Greeks from abroad in the national ballots.

Can you confirm that the final date for registering to vote is 29 April 2024?

Yes, indeed, the deadline for registering to vote is 29 April, 2024.

Is there any other relevant information in relation to the postal voting system?

For more information, you may call the Greek helpline +30 210 626 6222, which is available 24/7.

Prime Minister Press Office
More than 114,200 voters have registered for mail-in balloting in the June 9 European Parliament elections. Photo: Prime Minister Press Office.

Commencing the journey to citizenship

Below are the answers to questions regarding the process of acquiring Greek citizenship and the particulars of that process:

Can you provide a walkthrough of the process for applying for Greek citizenship from Australia, highlighting any steps specific to Australian applicants?

A person acquires Greek Nationality at the time of birth, if he/she is born to a parent(s) of Greek Nationality.

A Greek citizen is a person who is duly registered in the Records of a Municipality of the Hellenic Republic.

Registration in the Municipal Records of the Hellenic Republic is the legal proof for Greek Citizenship. As such, the Certificate of Registration constitutes legal proof of Greek Citizenship. In order to obtain the Certificate of Registration, Greek citizens, permanently residing in Australia, apply through the local Greek Consular Authorities, which in turn transmit the application to the competent Greek (Municipal) Authorities, who issue the Certificate of Registration. Both the registration of the parents’ marriage, as well as the registration of the applicant’s birth, are prerequisites for the issuance of the Certificate of Registration.

For more information on the right to Greek Citizenship and the exercise of this right, please contact your nearest Greek Consulate in Australia. The Greek Consulates and the Embassy’s Consular Office in Australia will apply the relevant Greek legislative provisions to your specific case and provide explanation as to the existence of prerequisites for Greek Citizenship and requisite procedure for the exercise of this right. In all instances, it is not the Consulates that ascertain citizenship, as this falls within the jurisdiction of the Decentralized Administrations in Greece and the Greek Ministry of Interior.

For optimum service, contacting your nearest Greek Consular authority either electronically, via facsimile or by post is highly recommended. So is contacting the competent consular officer by telephone in order to set an appointment. Please always bring along all data and documents establishing your Greek origin.

Finally, it should be noted that, in accordance with Greek Law, Greek citizenship is an inherent right of persons born to a parent who is already a Greek citizen and as such, Greek Consular authorities do not “grant Greek citizenship”. Instead, through the provisions of Greek Law, and its stipulated procedures, they assist you to exercise the right to citizenship. An individual’s registration in the records of a Greek Municipality constitutes the recognition of his/her right to citizenship by the Greek State, and, therefore, the entitlement to a Greek Passport.

greek consul general george psiachas
Greek Consul General George Psiachas (right) with the Premier of SA, Peter Malinauskas.

Naturalisation process

A foreign national may become a Greek citizen by naturalisation in the following cases:

  • Foreign nationals of Greek origin may claim Greek citizenship through a grandparent.
  • Foreign nationals who are not of Greek origin.

For more information on these rights, please contact your nearest Greek Consulate in Australia.

What is the estimated processing time for Greek citizenship applications submitted from Australia?

The estimated processing time for Greek citizenship applications submitted from Australia depends on the applicant’s special and personal circumstances and varies according to the process which will be followed. An estimated timeframe may be given to you – though it cannot be binding, since it also depends on the workload of the authorities involved, as well as the backlog of similar cases prioritised to be processed at the time of applying.

Identity cards and their new digital format:

Below are the answers to questions regarding the new identity cards introduced in Greece:

Can you provide an overview of the new digital identity card introduced in Greece, and how it differs from the traditional identity card?

According to EU legislation, identity cards issued by Member States must meet upgraded security standards and new specifications, which the old Greek identity cards do not have. Identity cards issued by EU Member States must: be produced in ID-1 format; contain a machine-readable zone (MRZ); and be based on the specifications and minimum-security standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Identity cards which do not meet the minimum-security standards set out by ICAO or which do not include a functional MRZ, will cease to be valid at their expiry or by 3 August 2026, whichever comes earlier.

The old Greek identity card, issued in the form we have known since 1961, has now been succeeded with the issuance of one of the most modern identity cards, with state-of-the-art security features. These are necessary to verify if a document is authentic and to securely establish the identity of a person. The establishment of minimum-security standards and the integration of biometric data in identity cards are important steps in rendering their use in the Union more secure.

Greece has taken the next step with the issuance of one of the most modern identity cards which incorporate the following modern security features:

  • machine-readable zone (MRZ);
  • replacement of material (from paper to polycarbonate) and is of credit card type ID1 format;
  • new colour printing technology through laser engraving;
  • all elements and colour photography are printed on the inner layer, making any attempt at forgery impossible;
  • an electronic storage medium, which operates contactless for the purpose of reliable and unbreakable connection with the owner. The electronic storage medium shall include:
Greek citizens can download and use the new app available at Gov.gr
  • Holder’s photo in digital format
    • Machine-readable zone elements
    • Two fingerprints
    • Father’s surname
    • Mother’s surname
    • Municipality of registration and population register number
  • the materials are manufactured exclusively for our country and the personalization and printing can only be carried out by the modern and upgraded system of the Hellenic Police.

The above security mechanisms, in short, ensure that the new identity card of Greek citizens cannot be forged, and the data contained therein cannot be intercepted.

How can the digital identity card be used, both within Greece and in the EU? Can they be used for all purposes, such as banking, healthcare, and government services?

Greek citizens can download and use the new app available at Gov.gr Wallet which allows them to install an electronic version of their identification cards and driving licenses on their mobile phones.

The new official application of the Hellenic Republic is available for creating, storing and verifying the authenticity of digital copies of the identity card and driving license on your mobile phone.

The digital copies have exactly the same validity as paper certificates within Greece, but are not valid for international travel. This way, you can now use your mobile phone for any transaction within Greece, just as you used your identification card and your driving license until now. Furthermore, the application allows you to sign digital documents even more easily, quickly and more securely through docs.gov.gr.

Gov.gr Wallet is already available in iOS and Android app stores. Alternatively, you can download the application at wallet.gov.gr.

To use the Gov.gr Wallet application you will need:

  • either your personal Taxisnet credentials and a verified mobile phone number; or
  • your personal web banking codes.
  • The mobile phone number is authenticated exclusively in one of the following ways: by signing up to the National Communication Register (EMEP), or by logging in once with your internet banking credentials

What steps must current holders of a Greek identity card take to transition to the new digital format?

The issuing of the new type of identity cards for Greek citizens is carried out exclusively by the Hellenic National Passport and Secure Document Center / Α.Ε.Α.  As of 25 September 2023, Greek citizens may visit a Police Station in Greece, by appointment and proceed with the process of applying for the new identity card.

The total time required, from the date of application at the Police Station until the receipt of the identity card by the citizen is approximately 7 working days.

The period of validity from the date of issue is 10 years, as is the case with the current identity cards.

For the issuing of a new identity card, an electronic government fee of €10.00 is paid.

For more information regarding the supporting documents, the issuing procedure, the time and how to receive the new type of Identity Card, visit https://www.astynomia.gr/odigos-tou-politi/dikaiologitika/ekdosi-deltiou-taftotitas/

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