26 November 2016
Many people of Greek origin, born outside of Greece, start the process of applying for the Greek citizenship, either through the Consulate of Greece near their residence, or by retaining a Greek attorney directly in Greece. While handling the paperwork, making translations and obtaining Apostilles and / or other certifications, bureaucratic or other more substantial problems may arise and jeopardize your goal to obtain the citizenship.
One of the most common problems is the possibility that your name or the name of the same person in your family tree may appear in different versions in various certificates. Your father was born in Greece as ILIAS Koufopoulos, but he appears in his marriage certificate in Australia as Louis Koufopoulos. If you show to the Greek administration the birth certificate from Greece, which says ILIAS Koufopoulos and the marriage certificate from Australia, which states Louis Koufopoulos, the civil servant handling your citizenship application will tell you that these two names represent two different people and that there is no proof that these two certificates refer to the same person.
Your mother may have been born in Greece as Chryssoula, but she was married in the USA by the name Chryssa, and then when you were born in the USA, your mother’s name appears as Chrysavgi. Three different versions of the name for the same person in three different official certificates. The Greek administration will want proof that all these names belong to the same person, otherwise your citizenship application will not make sense, as it will not be based on an unbreakable chain of events, birth, marriage, birth, marriage etc.
Is there any solution to this problem? Usually, there is. It is called Identification certificate or Pistopiitiko Taftoprosopias, in Greek. It is usually issued by the Consulate of Greece, but sometimes it is also issued by a municipality in Greece. The goal is the certificate to state that Chryssoula Diamantopoulou, who was born in Greece in the year …, and Chryssa Diamantis, who was married in the USA … and Chrysavgi Diamantis who gave birth to her child on …, is one and the same person.
The Consulate in order to issue such a certificate, stating that the two or three versions of a name belong to the same person, may want either an affidavit by two persons, who will sign a text stating the same thing, or two different means of identification, with photo, which will have the two versions of the name of the same person. For example, it may require a passport (which definitely has a photo) which has the name Chryssoula and another photo id (like a driver’s license) stating the name Chryssa. Having two different types of identification documents with photos and the two different versions of the name of the same person may be hard to accomplish. But it is what the Consulates sometimes request in order to issue the identification certificate, which will help you overcome the problem of the name changes of your Greek ancestor.
To have more chances of finding solutions to problems similar to those described above, it is advisable to present your citizenship certificates and other evidence to the Consulate of Greece near your residence, or directly to a specialized attorney in Greece. By examining the documents of your Greek citizenship file with an expert before actually starting off the application process ensures that any potential problems will be identified from the beginning and you will have the chance to work on solutions at an early stage.
*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at
the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.