Where in Greece can I apply for a family reunification visa? Do applicants have to come to the Embassy in person?
You can only apply for a family reunification visa at the German Embassy in Athens. (It is not possible to apply at the German Consulate-General in Thessaloniki or at the offices of the German Honorary Consuls).
All applicants must come to the German Embassy in Athens in person. It is not technically possible to process a visa application by post, as fingerprints must be taken.
Applicants need to book an appointment via e-mail:
On the day of your appointment, you must present the originals of all necessary documents with photocopies and translations, as well as passports, passport photos and fees. The application forms must be duly completed and signed. As we have limited time slots, we regret that we cannot help you to fill in the forms at the counter. Missing documents can be brought later, but you may have to book a new appointment if your documentation is incomplete.
How long does it take from the date of the application in person until a visa can be issued?
The time needed to issue a visa depends on whether all necessary documents and valid passports were presented at the first appointment. If documents are missing or if the passports are not valid, the process will take longer, as the application can only be processed after all documentation has been received.
However, if the applicants have a right to family reunification because their spouse or minor children have already been recognised as refugees in Germany and if all necessary documents and valid passports are at hand during the application appointment, the visa may be issued within a few days.
What does it mean to “legalise” documents and why is it necessary?
Legalisation is confirmation by a consular officer in the respective country that an official document issued by this country (for example a birth, marriage or death certificate) is genuine. This is necessary because we do not have sufficient knowledge enabling us to recognise documents issued by foreign countries as genuine or false.
Documents from certain countries cannot be legalised, but have to be verified in a different manner which is usually time and cost intensive.
Further information is available in German and English on the website of the Federal Foreign Office (please see Internationaler Urkundenverkehr / Legalisation von Urkunden)
At present, Syrian birth and marriage certificates can be legalised by the German Embassy in Beirut. This can be done by your authorised representative. It is not necessary for you to travel to Damascus or Beirut in person. For more detailed information, please see:
Afghan birth and marriage certificates cannot be legalised, but must be verified by the German Embassy in Kabul. The original certificates will be sent by the German Embassy in Athens to Kabul.
Detailed information regarding the legalisation of Afghan certificates is available on the websites of the German Embassies in Beirut and Kabul.
Iraqi birth and marriage certificates must be verified in a special way:
- If the documents have been issued in the autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, they need to be pre-legalised (i.e. certified as genuine) by the Kurdistan Regional Government
- If the documents have been issued in any other part of Iraq they need to be pre-legalized by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.
After the visa application has been submitted, the originals of the pre-legalised documents will be sent to a specialised unit for further verification.
Why is it so important to present a valid passport? Under what circumstances can the applicant request that an exception be made?
A travelling person or refugee needs a valid passport to prove his or her identity.
Exceptions to the requirement that a valid passport be presented as a proof of a person´s identity may be requested if it is not possible to apply for a passport or only possible under unacceptable conditions (the inconvenience of losing time and money is not regarded as such an unacceptable condition). For example, it can be assumed that a national passport cannot be obtained if a child was born after its parents´ flight from their home country, thus making it impossible to register the child’s birth in the civil birth register of the country of origin.
Even if an exception can be made and a German passport for foreigners is applied for, the applicant´s identity has to be established beyond doubt. The application for an exception can only be made after the application for a family reunification visa has been granted.
Applicants for family reunification visas may use their waiting time for an appointment to obtain a valid national passport. It may be less time-consuming to apply for a passport in Damascus with the help of an authorized third party than to ask for an exception from the requirement to provide a valid passport. As the application for an exception has to be sent to Germany, it takes several weeks before a decision is made.
How can I obtain passports / birth and marriage certificates / legalization of certificates? Do applicants have to return to Damascus or go to Beirut in person?
Passports and birth and marriage certificates can be applied for by an authorized third party (trustworthy person such as a friend, family member or a lawyer). Nobody has to travel to Beirut or even return to Syria!
If you do not trust the postal services to send original documents you can always use a courier service, for example DHL, TNT, ACS or others.
Timely notification pursuant to Section 29 (ii) 2 of the German Residence Act – what does that mean?
Family reunification should be applied for as soon as the family member in Germany has been accepted as a refugee, i.e. as soon as he/she has received notification of the decision of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (“BAMF-Bescheid”). As, due to waiting lists, it is not possible to apply for the family reunification visa at once in most cases, there are ways of submitting a “timely notification”.
The easiest way is to submit a “timely notification” with the help of the special website for Syrian refugees at
An alternative is to write a simple letter addressed to the foreigners authority requesting family reunification (family members must be named) and obtain the foreigners authority´s confirmation (or at least a stamp with date of receipt).
Please note: On their appointment date, applicants must bring their timely notification with the rest of the documents. For capacity reasons, it will regrettably not be possible to combine notifications which were sent before the application date with the new file.
Family Reunion via Asylum in Greece / Dublin III Agreement
If the certificates (of birth, marriage, death) mentioned in our information leaflets cannot be applied for in Syria or if there are other problems regarding the clear identification of a person or establishing family connections, there is another way of obtaining a family reunion visa:
It is possible to apply for asylum in Greece. If close family members (spouse, minor children) have at that time already applied for asylum in Germany (or have already been recognized as refugees) the regulations of the Dublin III Agreement will allow their family members in Greece to be transferred to Germany for further examination of their application for asylum.
The German Embassy in Athens is not involved in this process. Please ask for details from the Greek Asylum Service or the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge -BAMF) or ask the NGOs for advice.
How can refugees who only entered Greece after 20.03.2016 and are stuck on an Eastern Aegean island be reunified with their family in Germany?
Applicants who have to stay on one of the Greek Eastern Aegean islands and cannot apply for a visa, i.e. who entered from Turkey on or after 20.03.2016, may have no possibility to travel to Athens and apply for a family reunification visa. However, they can ask for asylum in Greece. If they ask for asylum in Greece after their spouse and/or minor child have already applied for asylum in Germany, they may be transferred to Germany and their application will then be processed in Germany. This procedure is stipulated in the Dublin III Agreement.
How can refugees with no fixed residence receive documents?
If refugees do not have a fixed residence or postal address in Greece nor a trustworthy person who could receive mail for them, documents can also be sent to the relevant post office (poste restante). However, you need to find out the exact address of this post office.
It is also possible to send documents via courier services. Listed below are some examples.The list is not complete. Please refer to the relevant website of the chosen courier service for further information regarding the collection of documents:
How can money be sent to refugees in Greece?
If you would like to send money to refugees in Greece, you can do so without any problem, for example via Western Union. See the information leaflet:
The person collecting transferred money must have identification, i.e. a valid passport. Please check directly with Western Union.
How can refugees waiting in Greece find help?
If applicants need help to organize medical or any other kind of assistance while staying in Greece, they can contact one of the organizations or NGOs listed in a leaflet you will find following this link:
Is it possible to jump the waiting list for a visa appointment and get an early appointment?
As a great number of refugees want to apply for family reunification visa, the Embassy will unfortunately have a waiting list.
Jumping the waiting list is only possible in very exceptional cases, for example when an applicant needs to leave for Germany urgently because of a very serious illness which cannot be treated in Greece. The urgency has to be documented, for example by way of a certificate from a Greek doctor testifying that this special case cannot be treated in Greece or by way of a letter from a German clinic certifying that a life-saving surgical operation has been scheduled by this clinic.
Regretfully, nearly all applicants suffer from physical or psychological problems due to their fate as refugees but the Embassy has only a limited capacity for appointments: the number of visa applications which can be accepted every day is therefore limited. Please understand that the few remaining emergency appointments need to be reserved for very urgent cases.
Is information in Arabic available anywhere?
For information in Arabic please go to the website
A new website of the Greek Press Agency ANA-MPA in Arabic providing free news and other useful information for migrants and refugees, is online at:
(general information, does not include visa information for the German Embassy).
Some of the Embassy’s information on visas is also available in Arabic (information leaflet on visa requirements).