Khalil Ahhad, from Kabul, Afghanistan, arrived in Greece in February, 2016. He applied for asylum on the island of Samos | Photo: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
Khalil Ahhad, from Kabul, Afghanistan, arrived in Greece in February, 2016. He applied for asylum on the island of Samos | Photo: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Much of the information for asylum seekers and refugees in Greece is only available in Greek. On top of that, they are expected to know the meaning of a lot of abbreviations and acronyms. Here are a few of the most important terms to know.

➡️ This explainer is part of a series on acronyms for asylum seekers in different countries in Europe. Click here for an overview.

  • ADET (ΑΔΕΤ): Residence permit

You have a right to a residence permit (ADET) if you have been granted protection in Greece (refugee status or subsidiary protection). The permit is valid for three years if you have been granted refugee status and one year (with the possibility to renew) if you have received subsidiary protection.

After receiving notice that you have been granted a residence permit (ADET), you need to submit an application to a passport office or police station to obtain the actual physical permit. The Regional Asylum Office tells you which office to go to.

  • AFM (ΑΦΜ): Tax number 

The tax number required to work legally in Greece. The AFM is issued upon completion of registration and appears on the asylum card. AFM numbers are issued by the Greek Asylum Service Office, Reception and Identification Centers (RICs) and other accommodation facilities.

If you are rejected on final appeal, your AFM number will be deactivated. It is difficult or impossible for those who are homeless to obtain an AFM. Note: The AFM number is sometimes referred to as TIN.

  • AMKA: Social security number (permanent)

AMKA is a social security number needed to work and access welfare services, including free health care, in Greece.

It is free to apply for an AMKA and this can be done at any KEP (Citizens Service Center), KEM (Center for Integration of Migrants), or EFKA/IKA (national health insurance body) office.

When you apply for the AMKA you need to present your valid 'applicant for international protection card' (asylum seeker’s card) and proof of address.

  • DOY (ΔΟΥ): Tax office 

This is where you apply for a tax number (AFM). You can find a list of offices here, but the site is only available in Greek.

  • ESTIA: Accommodation program for asylum seekers

The ESTIA program provides accommodation, meals and other support services such as counselling. It is for asylum seekers only. If a person is granted international or subsidiary protection, they have to leave the accommodation within 30 days and all benefits of the program are terminated.

The program is funded by the European Commission and, since the end of 2020, has been managed by the Greek government together with 'implementation partners':national or local authorities, trade unions, NGOs, and other bodies. It was previously managed by UNHCR.

ESTIA Cash Assistance is another component of the program which provides financial support to asylum seekers to cover daily expenses.

  • HELIOS: Hellenic Integration Support for Beneficiaries of International Protection

HELIOS is a limited accommodation program for those who have been granted international protection. As well as accommodation support, it provides Greek language and skills courses, and job-seeking assistance. It is run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the European Commission.

  • KEA: Social Solidarity Income (SSI)

SSI is the national welfare system which provides social benefits. If you are a refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection you can apply for SSI, but you must meet strict eligibility criteria. You cannot apply if you are still an asylum seeker.

If you are a homeless refugee or unemployed person with little or no regular income, you will need a homelessness certificate or a rental contract in your name. If you are already receiving benefits under the Helios Program or the ESTIA Cash Assistance card, you might not be eligible for the SSI.

To apply for the SSI you need ADET, AFM and AMKA, as well as other documents listed here.

  • KEP (ΚΕΠ): Citizens Service Center

A public service center with offices throughout Greece where it is possible to apply for a social security (AMKA) number.

  • OAED (OAEΔ): Hellenic Manpower Employment Organization

OAED is the unemployment office. If you have an AFM and proof of residence you can get an unemployment card, which gives you free public transport in Athens and Thessaloniki, and some other benefits. The card has to be renewed every three months.

  • PAAYPA (ΠΑΑΥΠΑ): Provisional Insurance and Health Care Number

A provisional social security number granted to all migrants who have applied for asylum in Greece, providing medical coverage and a right to work while they wait for a decision.

The PAAYPA is issued by the Asylum Service when an asylum seeker has completed their application and gives them access to health care and the labor market for six months following the application. The PAAYPA is automatically deactivated if the application is rejected.

If international protection is granted, the temporary PAAYPA number turns into an AMKA number (see above).

PAAYPA allows you to access medical services including psychotherapy, physiotherapy, treatment for chronic diseases, vaccination, screening, dental care, and other services.

  • RIC: Reception and Identification Center

Facilities on the Aegean islands of Lesbos and Chios, and at Fylakio, near the Evros River in northeast Greece. The former RICs on Samos, Kos and Leros are now Closed Controlled Access Centers. Anyone who arrives in Greece irregularly has to stay at a RIC/CCAC while their asylum application is being processed.

Other acronyms or vocabulary to know

  • EURODAC: European database for recording and storing fingerprints of asylum seekers: used to implement the Dublin Regulation
  • DUBLIN REGULATION: European Union law determining which country is responsible for examining an asylum application – normally the country where the asylum seeker first entered Europe
  • EODY (ΕΟΔΥ): National Public Health Organization
  • EFKA/IKA: The Greek national health insurance body

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