ODC Country Clearances
Information for Travellers
For details, please refer to the FCG (DOD 4500.54-G) entry for Greece, found at https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/fcg.cfm
All DoD and DoD-sponsored travel abroad must comply with this guide.
- Individuals staying 90 days or more must obtain alien resident permits or police identity cards. In-country hosts generally process applications for these documents, but each traveler must provide four (4) passport photos for the application. Residence permits are not required for US Government civilians who are citizens of a Schengen country.
- USG employees who plan to operate a motor vehicle while in Greece must be in possession of a valid U.S. drivers license as well as a valid International Drivers License and must carry proof of third party liability insurance while operating the vehicle.
- We strongly recommend that TDY personnel bring with them proof of current medical insurance coverage and medevac coverage if obtained.
Arrivals: Arriving TDYers should take a taxi directly to the hotel. The price of a taxi from Athens airport to downtown is approximately 28 - 30 euros. For those coming from Washington, D.C., often on the early morning Delta flights, please note there is no guarantee of early check-in at the hotel. Normal check-in time is 1400.
Currency: Greece is a member of the European Monetary Union and the Euro is the currency of the country. ATMs are readily available throughout the country and will accept U.S. debit cards. Most banks and major hotels provide accommodation exchange services.
Each visitor requiring support from the embassy, regardless of length of stay, must bring/forward fiscal data to pay for direct costs of the visit. Each military TDYer requesting embassy support should be able to provide the sponsoring military entity at post fiscal data, even if staying at post less than thirty days. Each agency, organization or visiting delegation will be charged for the actual costs attributed to its visit.
Direct charge costs include, but are not limited to: American and LES overtime (for such services as airport expediting, cashier accommodation exchange, control room staffing, representational event support), travel and per diem costs incurred by post personnel in support of visitors field travel, rental of vehicles and other equipment, long distance telephone calls, office supplies, gasoline and other vehicle maintenance costs, departure tax and other airport fees. Post will not provide service if fiscal data is not provided for the direct charges.
For TDYers remaining at post over 30 days, there is a charge for ICASS support services. This charge is for the following ICASS services: Basic Package, CLO and Health Services. The charge per month is approximately $125. Agencies will not be billed until the accumulated invoice cost for TDY support exceeds $2,500 for the fiscal year. If your sponsoring agency is not signed up for ICASS services at post, please be prepared to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for ICASS support services upon arrival. Each agency should provide post with a written communication, generated by the travelers headquarters, that confirms the agency will pay ICASS charges for the TDYer, provides the agency ICASS billing code the TDY support charges should be applied to, and authorizes the traveler to sign the ICASS invoice generated by the TDY module. Where travel is urgent, the TDYer should bring this documentation with him/her to ensure there are no interruptions in the provision of service. Post will not provide any service to a TDYer staying in excess of thirty days without provision of this documentation before day 31 of the TDY.
Telephones: European GSM mobile phones function normally in Greece.
The U.S. Embassy security receptionist can be reached 24-hours a day at 210-729-4444. This number should be used for emergencies or urgent matters only.
If you identify a threat or have any reason to be concerned for your welfare call the U.S. Embassy security receptionist, 210 729 4444 or 210 729 4301 or the Marine Guard Post One, 210 720 2484/2483. The number to Souda Bay switchboard is 28210 21000 and to Thessaloniki Consulate switchboard is 2310 242 905
Presidential Directive - Trafficking in Persons:
All TDY personnel are reminded that President Bush has signed a National Security Presidential Directive to advance the fight against trafficking in persons. The United States is committed to eradicate trafficking both domestically and abroad.
Trafficking in persons exists in Greece. A significant number of the people involved in prostitution, pornography and the sex tourism phenomenon, are trafficked. They are compelled by force, fraud and coercion to submit to sexual exploitation. TDY personnel are advised that any involvement with the commercial sex industry is unacceptable in light of the diplomatic and foreign policy goals of the United States and the ethical standards of the Department of State and this Mission.
Embassy Management will not tolerate any such involvement by Mission personnel and, in this regard, will enforce all relevant regulations regarding conduct and suitability of U.S. Government employees stationed abroad.
- Prior to coming to Greece all individuals must receive level one Anti-Terrorism/Force protection training as prescribed by European Command AT/FP operations order 03-11 with FRAG03. This training must be country-specific and be conducted before initiating travel to this high-threat area. Further requirements of this training are described in DOD directive 2000-12, DOD combating terrorism, Oct 97 (draft).
- Do not set patterns and do not advertise your association with DOD. Civilian clothing is directed. Do not wear a uniform in public except where unavoidable; be alert for surveillance; be aware of your surroundings; be cautious of motorcycles or scooters that seem to lag behind or beside you when they have the opportunity to pass.
- Embassy Athens is designated HIGH for indigenous terrorism.
In the past, local Greek terrorist groups have targeted prominent Greeks as well as certain non-Greek Officials, including Americans. We believe that the threat to official US Government personnel on short-term assignments to Greece or visiting for tourism is relatively low. The indigenous groups historically have engaged in extensive operational surveillance over long periods of time. In 2003 and again in 2004, the Greek Government made significant progress to combat domestic terrorism by successfully convicting the leader and key hit men of the November 17 terrorist organization and of the ELA. 17N was responsible for assassinating prominent Greeks and five members of the US Mission over the course of its 30-year history. Convicted ELA members were responsible for several bombings, attempted murders and were involved in at least one assassination. While these convictions likely impacted on the operational capabilities of 17N and ELA, offshoots do exist. This was most visibly demonstrated in a January 2007 RPG rocket attack against the US Embassy compound that fortunately resulted in no casualties but signified continued uncertainty in the safety of USG personnel traveling or working in Athens. Additionally, there have been several attacks against Greek police over the last year, including the December 2004 assassination of a special police guard in front of the residence of the British military Attache. We urge vigilance and caution, as the worldwide threat from other terrorist groups against Americans in general remains high. Official Americans should assume they are potential targets.
- Over the past year, the U.S. Embassy has experienced numerous bomb threats, protest marches, and anti-U.S. demonstrations, including a RPG rocket attack against the US Embassy itself in Jan 07. Protests, however, are generally peaceful though a few provoked random acts of violence. Travelers to Greece are advised that protests or demonstrations could occur at any time; unwitting observers or bystanders might be identified, to their disadvantage, as Americans. RSO recommends that official U.S. travelers in Greece remain alert when moving about in public places and avoid certain places where demonstrators frequently congregate. These places include the Polytechnical University area, located on 28 October (Patission) Street between the National Archeological Museum and Omonia Square; Exarchia Square, located near Kolonaki; Omonia and Syntagma Squares, which are often used as launch sites for large demonstrations; and Mavili Square, located near the U.S. Embassy. Visitors should keep abreast of news about large demonstrations and avoid these areas and metro stops.
- Crime is rated MEDIUM in Greece. For TDY visitors, pick-pocketing and purse snatching are the most common crimes. Taxis are generally safe though metered cabs are recommended. Taxis too will often pick up more than one passenger unless prior arrangements are made. Crimes of opportunity - thefts, break-ins, and occasional scams - are on the rise. Travelers should be especially cautious with wallets, purses, and parcels when traveling on crowded streets, public buses, trolleys, and/or subways. There have been several instances of motorcyclists approaching cars stuck in traffic, reaching through open windows or smashing closed ones, and stealing whatever is within reach. We have also recently learned of a new method in which motorcyclists open the trunk of a vehicle and remove the contents. The Embassy recommends keeping purses, parcels, handbags, etc. out of sight under the seat or on the floor of the car. Windows should be kept closed and doors locked. Pedestrians may also be confronted by beggars and other street people who may attempt to divert attention, then steal unprotected valuables - either by pick-pocketing or snatch-and-grab techniques. Women are generally safe from violent crime in Greece. Men are aggressive by American standards however when pursuing women.
- Traffic in Greek urban areas, especially Athens and Thessaloniki, is undisciplined. Greece has a poor record within the European Union for traffic fatalities, mainly due to excessive speeding. Road rage is always a risk. Drivers in Greece should exercise caution and common sense. Drivers and pedestrians alike should exercise extreme caution when operating motor vehicles or when walking along roadways. Moreover, tourists who rent motorbikes either on the Greek mainland or its islands must wear helmets and must take special precautions on the local roads that are typically poorly maintained and frequently pothole-ridden. Greece also has a poor record within the European Union in motorcycle deaths.