Military obligations in Greece for Greek Australians

OPA Magazine, November 22, 2011

The acquisition of the Greek/European Passport by Australia born Greeks, can be motivated by moral, social or economic reasons. It gives them the unique privilege of free movement, establishment, labour and enjoyment of social benefits in 26 different countries and a 480.000.000 people market. Notwithstanding the benefits, all males from 18 through 45 years of age acquiring the Greek Passport, could create military obligations for themselves. Let us examine these in detail.

According to articles 6 and 7 of L. 3421/2005, the duration of the military service in Greece is 9 months. Some categories of citizens, including permanent foreign residents are entitled to a reduced military service of 6 months.

But who is considered to be a permanent foreign resident according to Greek Law? According to by Law 3421/2005:

  • Anyone who has his primary and permanent residence abroad for at least eleven consecutive years in one or more countries and
  • Anyone whose center of business activity and residency is abroad for at least seven consecutive years in one or more countries.

In fact, article 6 of Law 3421/2005 states that those who belong to the first category of permanent foreign residents, may be dismissed from the Armed Forces by completing three months military service, i.e. at half the time. The only condition is that the said citizen is born and raised abroad. Therefore, a Greek Australian who was born in Australia and has grown up here, is bound in three-month military service.

However, the beginning of the military service is postponed for as long as foreign residents retain their residence abroad. In practice, this means that as long as a Greek Australian lives abroad (e.g. in Australia), his obligation is continuously postponed, until the time that he reaches the 45th year of age, at which time he is lawfully and permanently dismissed .

The loss of the said foreign residency status occurs either by deportation to Greece, or by exceeding the period of six months residency in Greece during the same year. This naturally implies the obligation for enlisting in the army.

It is noteworthy however that if a foreign resident wants to come to study in Greece, the years of studying are calculated as time spent abroad. In case of non-completion of the studies, the foreign resident is able to stay in Greece until he becomes 28 years old. If he remains in Greece for longer than six months after his 28th birthday, then he must enlist in the Army.

Anyone can voluntarily disrupt the postponement of enlisting in order to fulfill his military duties in case he wants to come and live in Greece.

Finally, it should be noted that the above are general legal provisions. For every specific case prior legal advice should be sought.

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