The civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement was established in Greece for the first time as an institution in the year 2008 and was a great innovation in Greek law, since it enabled couples to legally secure their cohabitation vis-à-vis the state, subject to all the obligations and rights the married couples have. However, the cohabitation agreement as an institution gained even more importance in 2015, when it was extended to same-sex couples, giving the latter for the first time the opportunity to formalize and legally secure their relationship in Greece.
I. What is a cohabitation agreement and how is it concluded?
The civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement is concluded in an extremely simple, fast and economical way. It is a notarial deed, which is signed before the notary of the choice of the parties. The presence of witnesses is not required for its signature.
II. What is the content of the civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement?
The civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement contains terms regarding the personal and property relations of the parties. In contrast to marriage, where the relevant issues are regulated without the possibility of deviating from the law, in the cohabitation agreement the parties have the possibility of deviating from what the law stipulates on certain issues, such as inheritance matters. In the cohabitation agreement, the parties must also state the surname of any children they may have after its conclusion (the latter currently only concerns heterosexual couples).
III. When does the cohabitation contract come into force?
For the cohabitation agreement to be valid, it is not enough just to sign it in front of the notary, but it is also required to be registered in the civil registry office which is located at the parties’ place of residence.
IV. How is the cohabitation agreement terminated?
The civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement is easily and quickly resolved in front of a notary. In other words, it is not required to issue a court decision, as is required in the case of the dissolution of the marriage by dispute. More specifically, the cohabitation agreement is terminated: a) by common agreement of the parties, which is done in person with a notarized document, b) by a unilateral notarized declaration, if an invitation for a consensual solution has previously been served with a bailiff to the other party and three (3) months have passed from service and c) automatically, if a marriage is concluded between the parties. dissolution of the cohabitation agreement is valid from the filing of a copy of the notarial document, which contains the agreement or the unilateral declaration, at the civil registry office where was initially registered. For alimony after the termination of the agreement, the provisions for alimony after the divorce are applied accordingly, unless the parties waive the relevant right when the agreement is drawn up.
V. What are the rights of the cohabiting parties in the case of a same-sex couple?
As mentioned above, the possibility of entering into a cohabitation agreement between same-sex couples was established for the first time in Greece by virtue of Law 4356/2015. Just like heterosexual couples, same-sex cohabiting couples have full legal rights, equal to a married couple. A unique exception currently exists in the area of adopting a child, since in general it is currently prohibited in Greece to adopt a child by a couple who have entered into a cohabitation agreement. Of course, this distinction in relation to married couples is criticized as unnecessary, but a legislative amendment is needed to allow the adoption of a child in the case of a couple who have entered into a cohabitation agreement.
VI. Can a civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement be concluded in Greece between a Greek citizen and a third-country citizen? Does the third-country in this case acquire the right to reside in Greece?
A civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement can also be concluded between a Greek and a foreigner (EU citizen or third-country citizen), who is legally residing in Greece. In other words, in order for a person who is a citizen of a third country (outside the EU) to enter into a cohabitation agreement here, he must be legally in Greece, i.e. either hold a valid residence permit or hold an entry visa (Schengen Visa) or, as long as he is a citizen of a third country who is exempt from the obligation to be provided with an entry visa (Schengen Visa), to be in Greece within the legal period of 90 days allowed to him. The procedure for concluding a civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement in Greece with a foreign contracting party does not differ from the corresponding procedure when both parties to the cohabitation agreement are Greek citizens. When entering into the cohabitation agreement, the interested party must have his passport in order to be identified by the notary, while when declaring the cohabitation agreement at the competent registry office, he may be asked to provide an official translation of his birth certificate (with the necessary legalization, depending on the country of origin).
What is particularly important in the case of a cohabitation agreement between a Greek and a third-country citizen is that the latter is granted the right of permanent residence in Greece, since partners with a cohabitation agreement are considered family members based on the relevant legislation (Law 5038/2023), fully assimilated to spouses, and they are given the possibility to apply for a residence permit in Greece as family members of a Greek citizen. The residence permit granted in this case has a duration of five (5) years and is renewed as long as the same conditions are still met, i.e. as long as the cohabitation agreement is still in force (more on the residence permit issued for family members of a Greek citizen, as well as for the right of residence in case of divorce or death of the Greek you can read here).
The submission of the relevant application is made before the competent Immigration Authority (Office) of the place of residence of the parties and together with it the interested party must submit:
a) Certified copy of passport and the entry visa (Schengen Visa) attached to it, where the latter is required,
b) Copy of the Greek identity card of the Greek citizen,
c) Copy of the civil partnership (cohabitation) agreement and the official registration document, issued from the competent civil registry office,
d) Proof of residence address in Greece,
e) Evidence of full insurance coverage (documents proving insurance with a Social Security Organization or health insurance with a private insurance company, lasting at least one year, in accordance with the provisions of the Ministerial Decision under No 53821/2014),
f) four (4) passport-type photographs (also on a CD),
g) Certified copy of birth certificate or birth certificate of the foreigner with the legal certification (Apostille), where this is required.
After the submission of the application and within a period of forty (40) days, the Immigration Office checks the validity of the supporting documents and grants the interested party a Certificate of Application for the granting of a residence permit, which has the validity of a temporary residence permit and it is valid until the issuance of the residence permit or the rejection of the application for any reason. With this certificate, the interested party can work in Greece or even carry out a business activity.
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*Our office has extensive experience in all kinds of immigration law issues (issuance and renewal of residence permits, acquisition of Greek citizenship, deletion of deportations, objections to the detention of foreigners, etc.). For further legal advice or to assign your case to our office, you can contact us at tel. 2313 079293 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is noted that the provision of legal advice without a corresponding fee is prohibited under the Greek Lawyers’ Code (Article 57 Law 4194/2013)*
Dafni I. Siopi
Attorney at Law, LLM
Tsimiski 52, Thessaloniki
T. 2313 079293, 6977 568673
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