Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 2010. It was announced by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and was at the time a major step forward in the continued and long-standing economic and security partnership between the United States and Greece.
The Electronic System of Travel Authorization (ESTA) was already established when Greece joined the VWP, and Greek citizens could right away go online to apply for the travel document. The ESTA differs from a visa and gives Greek citizens admittance into the United States for up to 60 days (it used to be 90) for the purpose of business, tourism (including medical purposes), and non-credit study programs. For Greek citizens, the ESTA is valid for 1 year, and a brand-new application is required when it expires.
Greeks who are planning to travel to the U.S. for other reasons than stated above, and for more than 60 days, have to apply for a different type of visa. Getting a visa means queuing up with pre-filled documents at the nearest U.S. Embassy to apply.
U.S. Immigration statistics about Greek visitors (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Greece: 101,625
- Approved ESTA applications: 73,240
- Students and exchange visitors: 6,376
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 4,591
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 1,626
- Other types of visitor categories: 2,518
Information about traveling from Greece to the U.S.
Greece is well connected with around 21 airports crisscrossing this island country. However, long haul flights are mostly flown from Athens International Airport (ATH). To find a flight to the U.S., check flights from this airport first. At least Emirates are flying nonstop flights to New York JFK airport, so they are worth a look. Flights also depend on season variability, so be sure to check as early as you can for flight times.
How to get from Athens to the airport?
The airport is reachable via the Metro's Line 3 (Blue Line): Ag. Marina – Airport
By suburban rail:
Athens International Airport is connected via the Suburban Rail with:
- Piraeus via Larissis Station
- Ano Liosia
Get more information about timetables and connections by calling 14511 or check this website: trainose.gr.
There are 4 bus routes that connect the airport directly with Athens and Piraeus. All buses stop at the Departures Level and depart from the Arrivals Level, between Exits 4 and 5. Call this number for information: 11 185
KTEL Express Service - Regional Buses
5 regional buses operate at the airport. They stop at the Departures Level and depart from the Arrivals Level, between Exits 2 and 3, just opposite the Airport Hotel (Sofitel).
You can make a phone call for more information about the Regional Buses to other major cities, by calling:
- KTEL Kifissou Bus Station: +30 210 5124910, +30 210 5124911, +30 210 5132601
- KTEL Liosion Bus Station: +30 210 8317186
When should I apply for the ESTA?
At year-end in 2018, it became mandatory for all U.S.-bound travelers to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding the aircraft. Just to be safe, travelers are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance to make sure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Those that get denied have to apply for a B-2 visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy, which can take weeks to complete. If you have plans to visit the United States in the near future, then apply as soon as you can. Read more about the ESTA application here.
Greeks with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Greeks can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from Greece
Greeks can stay in the U.S. for up to 60 days with an approved ESTA
Greece’s overstay rate is only: 1.25%