Short-term Car Rentals: Greek law requires that visitors carry a valid U.S. driver?s license and an international driver?s permit (IDP), even if the rental company does not request to see your IDP. The Embassy does not issue IDPs. You must obtain your IDP in the United States from the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Contact AAA directly to inquire about their mail in option that will allow you to apply from overseas, but note that it will likely take days or weeks. If you drive without these documents, you may face high fines (1,000 Euros or more) or be responsible for all expenses in the event of an accident.
Road Conditions and Safety: Greece has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the European Union. Exercise extreme caution as both a driver and a pedestrian, and follow these tips:
- Drive defensively.
- Expect heavy traffic, obscured traffic signs, and vehicles traveling at high speeds.
- Driving at night in inclement weather and on mountain roads can be hazardous.
- Local law requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet.
- Check for motorbikes between lanes and on either side of you.
- Do not rely on lane markings. On many two-lane highways, slower traffic will drive on the shoulder, and cars will pass straddling the center double-yellow line.
- Review your insurance coverage before renting. Most insurance companies require that you have both your valid U.S. license and an international driver?s permit (IDP) for coverage in Greece. Small motorbike and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rental firms frequently carry no insurance and require customers to cover the cost of all damages to their vehicles. Your insurance company may not cover two-wheel or ATV rentals.
- Talking or texting on a mobile phone while driving is illegal. The police check phone records when investigating accidents.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal, and police conduct random alcohol testing.
- A Greek license is required if you stay more than 185 days in Greece. Contact the Regional Office of Transportation and Communications for more information.
Public Transportation: Purchase and validate your ticket by touching it to the pad on the turnstile prior to boarding a bus or train. Inspectors randomly check for tickets. If you do not have a ticket, have the wrong ticket, or fail to validate your ticket, you could be fined up to 60 times the basic fare.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Greece?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Greece?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Greece should monitor U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci, the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, https://homeport.uscg.mil, and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal. Greece implemented a Recreational and Daily Tour Cruise Ships Fee on all private and professional leisure ships with a total length of over seven meters, regardless of flag, in Greek territorial waters. Mariners should consult https://www.aade.gr/polites/etepai for details.
Most public medical facilities in Greece offer adequate care, although service quality and hospital appearance may differ from the United States. Some private hospitals have affiliations with U.S. facilities and provide high-quality care. Many doctors trained in the United States or elsewhere in Europe.
- Private hospitals usually require proof of adequate insurance or cash before admitting a patient. Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
- Public hospitals often employ minimal nursing staff overnight and on weekends in non-emergency wards. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the night with the patient, especially a minor child.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare is not accepted overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. You may be required to pay upfront and seek reimbursement from your insurance company. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend that travelers purchase travel insurance before their trips to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Greek Embassy or consulate in the United States, the Customs office at Athens International Airport (+30 210-3542126) or the National Organization of Medicines (email@example.com, www.eof.gr, +30 213-204-0000) to ensure the medication is legal in Greece. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Possession of a U.S. passport will not prevent you from being arrested, prosecuted, or jailed.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Marijuana is illegal in Greece.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail.
- Photographing military installations is prohibited and may lead to arrest.
- Mace or pepper-spray canisters are illegal in Greece. Such items will be confiscated, and police may arrest or detain you.
- Carry your passport or some form of photo identification at all times. Police may detain you for questioning if you do not have proper identification with you.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
Greek Antiquities: Customs authorities strictly regulate the export of Greek antiquities, including rocks from archaeology sites. Do not remove anything, no matter how small, from archaeological or historical sites. Do not purchase protected antiquities and carry receipts for any purchases that may appear to be antiquities.
Military Service for Dual Nationals:
- Greek males between 19 and 45 are required to perform military service.
- If the Greek government considers you to be a Greek citizen, you may be required to fulfill this obligation whether or not you consider yourself Greek or possess a U.S. or third country?s passport.
- Authorities can prevent you from leaving Greece until you complete your military obligations. Contact the Greek embassy or nearest Greek consulate with questions.
- Generally, required military service will not affect your U.S. citizenship, but contact U.S. Embassy Athens if you have questions.
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Greece. LGBTI individuals in Greece are protected by anti-discrimination laws, and gender identity is among the grounds covered by laws against hate speech; however, non-governmental organizations report that social discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is widespread in Greece and violence against LGBTI individuals remains a problem.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While Greek law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical or intellectual disabilities and local law requires access to buildings, sidewalks, and public transportation, application and enforcement of these laws is lacking.
- Handicapped parking spaces and sidewalk ramps are often occupied or blocked by parked vehicles.
- Sidewalks often are narrow with broken paving stones and large holes and obstructed by trees and street signs.
- Buildings with ramps might lack accessible elevators or bathrooms.
- A small percentage of public buildings (primarily in Athens) have full accessibility. Some buildings and intersections include accommodations for visually-impaired travelers.
- The Athens metro and Athens International Airport are fully accessible with ramps and elevators.
- Ask your hotel about accessibility before booking.
The Deputy Ombudsman for Social Welfare handles complaints related to persons with disabilities, especially those related to employment, social security, and transportation.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for women travelers.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. In the past year, there have been multiple terrorist attacks in Europe. Extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks. U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Strikes and Demonstrations:
- Domestic strikes, demonstrations, and work stoppages are common throughout Greece and can become violent. Stay informed through local news, hotel security, the U.S. Embassy website, and the Consular Section?s Facebook page. Enroll in STEP to receive alerts sent by the Embassy.
- Transportation sector strikes interrupt traffic, public transportation, taxis, seaports, and airports. Confirm domestic and international flights before heading to the airport.
- Avoid all areas affected by the annual November 17 demonstrations, including the U.S. Embassy.
- Anarchists and criminals have used university campuses as refuges. Demonstrators frequently congregate in the Polytechnic University area, Exarchia, Omonia, and Syntagma Squares in Athens; and at Aristotle Square, Aristotle University, and the Kamara area in Thessaloniki.
- Violent anarchist groups have joined public demonstrations to clash with police and vandalize public and private property.
Crime: Crimes against tourists, such as pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, occur at popular tourist sites and on public transportation, especially the metro. A common tactic is one person causes a commotion on the metro or pushes travelers to distract them while another person snatches the belongings. Thieves also seek out and break into rental cars to steal passports, valuables, and luggage. The Embassy has received reports of alcohol-induced attacks targeting individual tourists at some holiday resorts and bars.
Take the following precautions:
- Be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
- Do not leave bags unattended, especially on the metro and the Athens Airport train or in your vehicle.
- Avoid standing near bus or train doors. Thieves often strike as the doors open then disappear into the crowd.
- Use alcohol in moderation and remain in control.
- Never leave drinks unattended in bars or clubs.
- Be discreet when discussing plans and organizing belongings upon arrival.
- Protect yourself and your money by using well-lit, public ATMs.
- Be aware of internet scams with online thieves posing as loved ones or romantic interests.
Victims of Crime: Report crime to the local police and contact the U.S. Embassy at (+30) 210-720-2414 or the Emergency after-hours telephone (+30) 210-729-4444 if you require assistance. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends, with your written consent
- Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in certain cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home in certain cases of destitution
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tremors and earthquakes occur regularly. Please see the Greek government?s earthquake-safety pamphlet for tourists and visitors. Forest fires are common, especially during the dry summer months, and occasionally cause road closures. In the event of a natural disaster, follow the instructions of local authorities. Contact the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, which responds to emergencies, at 210-335-9900 for more information. Operators speak English. Monitor the U.S. Embassy Athens? website and Consular Facebook page.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities, such as Athens or Thessaloniki. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Visit the Embassy of Greece website for the most current visa information.
Greece is a party to the Schengen Agreement; therefore, U.S. citizens may enter Greece without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
- For entry into Greece, your passport should have at least six months of remaining validity. While Greek law requires three months of passport validity beyond the intended date of your departure, if you are transiting a country that requires six months of validity, you may not be permitted to continue your trip. We recommend that you have at least six months of validity to avoid any travel disruptions.
- U.S. citizens traveling on a passport reported lost or stolen will not be permitted entry into Greece and may be returned to their original departure point. This decision is the purview of the Greek immigration authorities; the U.S. Embassy cannot intervene. Emergency passports are issued only at the Embassy in Athens. Staff members do not travel to the air, land, or sea ports of entry.
- You must arrive in country with proof of sufficient funds and a return airline ticket or other evidence that you will depart Greece if asked. The sufficient funds requirement is often met with credit cards.
- U.S. official and diplomatic passport holders must obtain a Schengen visa prior to arrival. If you are traveling on a U.S. official or diplomatic passport, you will not be allowed to enter Greece without a visa.
- If traveling on official military orders, review the guidance in the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide.
If you are a U.S. citizen with a passport listing your place of birth as the Northern Republic of Macedonia, the Greek authorities will stamp your passport.
If you are a U.S. citizen with a passport listing your place of birth as Skopje or the Republic of Macedonia, your U.S. passport should be recognized as a valid travel document. However, be aware:
- Greek Immigration officers at ports of entry (land, air, and sea) will not place entry stamps in a passport listing the traveler?s place of birth as Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia.
- You will be asked to complete a short form on which the entry stamp will be placed.
- Keep the form with your passport while you are in Greece and present it upon departure. If you lose the form, you must visit a police station and file a report before the Greek authorities will permit you to depart the country.
HIV/AIDS RESTRICTIONS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Greece.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Greece for information on U.S.-Greece relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue
10160 Athens, Greece
Telephone: +(30)(210) 721-2951
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +30 210 729-4444 or +30 210 729-4301
Fax: +(30)(210) 724-5313
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook
U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki
Plateia Commercial Center
43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor
546 23 Thessaloniki
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +30 210 729-4444 or +30 210 729-4301
Fax: +30 231-024-2927
U.S. Embassy Athens provides all regular consular services including U.S. passports, notarials, and reports of birth and death abroad.
U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki provides notarial service. Embassy Athens consular staff periodically provide regular consular services in Thessaloniki. Please check the U.S. Embassy Athens website for information on the next scheduled visit. Visa services are provided at Embassy Athens only.