Cash Program Information
All applicants of international protection who are accommodated in formal accommodation structures for asylum seekers recognized by the Greek Authorities are eligible to be provided with cash assistance. These are open reception facilities, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), ESTIA accommodation programme, and shelters cooperating with the Ministry. You can apply to be accommodated in one of these accommodation facilities. This requires you to contact a referral agency. Once you are registered as a resident in one of the facilities you will be eligible for cash assistance.
If you are eligible for cash, you will get a card from organization responsible for the accommodation facility.
Info: Referral agencies are the accommodation actors responsible for the operation of a respective facility. Accommodation actors are RIS, ESTIA accommodation partners, and Shelters cooperating with the Ministry. Facilities are open reception facilities on the mainland, Reception and Identification Centers (RICs) on the islands, ESTIA facilities, and Shelters cooperating with the Ministry.
The referral process is determined by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum and facilitated by the accommodation actor.
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT For those who do not reside in accommodation facilities managed by the Ministry: The Ministry of migration and asylum announced that people who do not reside in accommodation facilities managed by the Ministry are not eligible to receive cash assistance.
As of 1 October 2021, the Greek authorities will be responsible for assisting asylum-seekers to cover their basic needs. Any prepaid UNHCR cash card was deactivated on 15 September 2021 following the transition of the cash assistance to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum by 1 October 2021.
Are the UNHCR cash cards deactivated?
Yes, the prepaid UNHCR cash cards have been deactivated on 15 September 2021. As of 1 October 2021, the Greek authorities will be responsible for providing assistance to asylum-seekers to cover their basic needs.
Cash assistance is provided to you in order to help you cover basic needs of food, clothing, footwear, personal hygiene, telecommunications, travel within the place of residence as well as basic school and pharmaceutical expenses until the end of the month from the time the amount is transferred to your card.
The card you will receive will not have any balance and you will only be able to use it after the monthly cash transfer.
Note that it is not a salary or an amount assured to you indefinitely, but it is provided as a means of assistance to support you on basic needs.
Questions and Answers regarding the program
I just arrived in Greece as an asylum-seeker. How do I register to receive cash assistance?
Cash assistance will be provided only to asylum-seekers who are accommodated in the above formal reception/accommodation facilities for asylum-seekers recognized by the Greek Authorities, these are open reception facilities, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), facilities that fall under the ESTIA accommodation program and shelters cooperating with the Ministry. Your accommodation actor will be responsible to provide you with the cash card once you enter the accommodation facilities.
Who is eligible for cash?
Asylum seekers that are adult asylum seekers residing in formal accommodation facilities (and their family members)
Who is NOT eligible for cash?
All asylum seekers who are NOT accommodated in formal accommodation structures for asylum seekers recognized by the Greek Authorities are NOT eligible for cash. These are open reception facilities, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), ESTIA accommodation programme, and shelters cooperating with the Ministry.
- If you are under 18 and traveling alone
- If you have a regular, stable income from working
- If you arrived in Greece before January 1, 2015
How can I receive cash assistance?
Cash assistance will be provided to you and to your family members at the accommodation where you have been taken to by the Greek authorities. These are open reception facilities, Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), ESTIA accommodation, and shelters cooperating with the Ministry of Migration &Asylum.
The organization responsible for the accommodation you live in is responsible to give you the cash card once you enter the accommodation facilities and fill in the cash assistance application form with your personal mobile phone number and e-mail address.
Where and how can I apply for accommodation?
You can apply in one of the NGOs or KEMs that operate in your city, including the urban cash centres in Athens and Thessaloniki. You can find NGOs who support asylum seekers here. Due to COVID-19 measures, please call first to ask whether they can support you with your application for accommodation and book an appointment. If you are in a remote location you can approach the nearest state open reception facility and seek information.
Can I apply electronically? Is there a platform I can apply on my own?
No, applications cannot be submitted directly by asylum seekers, but through organisations that are registered in a dedicated referral platform. These organizations will ask you personal details, including family status, language and other information to fill your application for accommodation. Please call organizations in your area and ask them to book an appointment.
What I will receive along with my new cash cards?
During the card distribution, accommodation partners should provide the information leaflet shared by CRS and explain the following to beneficiaries:
- The basics of the cash assistance program (i.e. eligibility, duration, amount of assistance, frequency etc.)
- How the card can be used (i.e. ATMs, Point of Sale (PoS)
- Any fees applicable on the card (e.g. to check balance in the ATM, when withdrawing cash etc.)
- The importance of keeping their PIN secret and not sharing with anyone
- That the card is without any value until loaded
- How will the beneficiary be informed when the card is loaded, and funds are available
- What to do if the beneficiary loses their card, their card is damaged, or if their card is stolen
- Details of how to contact the national cash helpline
- A printed receipt which you sign, stating when the card was issued. It is strongly advised that you maintain the printed receipt provided to you when the card is issued so that if required, you may be asked to present this alongside with your official identification documents issued by the Greek authorities.
Important information about the Cash Card
Protect your cash card at all times, do not give your card to anyone, including to any staff. You will never be asked to return your card even if you leave Greece or have issues with your cards. If anyone asks you to hand over your card, please get in touch with the Cash Assistance program helpline (see below) as soon as possible.
Please store your cash card safely and take care of it at all times to avoid losing or misplacing it. Replacing a cash card is a process that involves several steps and can take up to a month, therefore will result in delays in your cash transfer.
Please make sure to keep all documents issued by the Greek authorities, as well as your card and the receipt that you signed when your card was distributed to you, stored safely with you at all times. Make sure you have them ready to present during all cash-related data collection activities. Also, we recommend you, for security reasons, to store your cash card and PIN number separately.
What needs is the cash assistance expected to cover?
Cash assistance is provided to you to help you cover basic needs of food, clothing, footwear, personal hygiene, telecommunications, travel within the place of residence as well as basic school and pharmaceutical expenses until the end of the month from the time the amount is transferred to your card. The card you will receive will not have any balance, and you will only be able to use it after the monthly cash transfer.
Cash Assistance amount
As a participant in the cash program, the amount of cash you get depends on the size of your family and whether you are living in a site that provides meals. The Ministry is responsible for deciding the amount you get each month based on your legal status during the month.
In September 2021, the Greek Ministry for Migration and Asylum has decided to allocate the amount as follows:
If you are living in a site where meals are provided
- Individual over 18 years, you will take 75 euros
- A couple, or a parent and child, you will take 135 euros
- A family of three, you will take 160 euros
- A family of four or more, you will take 210 euros
If you are living in a site where meals are NOT provided
- Individual over 18 years, you will take 150 euros
- A couple, or a parent and child , you will take 320 euros
- A family of three, you will take 370 euros
- A family of four or more, you will take 420 euros
Following the changes announced on 28 September 2021, you might notice a change to the amount you have received compared to previous payments.
How often will I get the cash?
You will receive an SMS on a monthly basis to your mobile. It is essential that you provide a valid mobile number to ensure that any communication with you is continued without interruption either by direct call or by SMS. So, please make sure that your mobile phone number is always credited
How can I continue receiving cash assistance monthly?
In order to continue receiving cash assistance on a monthly basis, please follow your accommodation actors’ instructions for the verification of the physical presence of you and your family members in your location. Each month the accommodation actor will confirm your and your family's presence and only upon this confirmation will you continue to receive cash assistance.
After I am granted asylum in Greece, can I get cash?
If Greece recognizes you as a refugee or grants you subsidiary protection, cash assistance will be discontinued within 30 days from the moment the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) is notified of the issuance of a decision granting you international protection or a final negative decision on your application. Exceptionally, you could still be eligible for cash for a limited time, in case you fall under the following categories:
Particularly, the financial assistance can be extended for 2 months from the day that a family received the positive decision and a member of this family faces life-threatening health issues.
For women during late pregnancy period (from the 32nd week of pregnancy onwards) or with danger signs during pregnancy and in the state of childbirth, and for their family members, the provision of the financial assistance is terminated upon the completion of 2 months from the birth.
Exceptionally, the financial assistance may be granted for a period of up to 3 months to those that are granted of international protection and during the examination of their application haven't received financial assistance from the program, and in they are considered as vulnerable cases.
With the expiration of the time periods mentioned above, the termination of the financial assistance takes place automatically.
I was on the islands and then moved to the mainland without permission. Can I get cash?
No. If you moved to the mainland without permission, the only documentation you will have is a restriction of movement notice. You cannot get cash on the mainland with a restriction of movement paper from the Greek islands.
How can I continue receiving cash every month?
To ensure that you will receive the money on your card every month, you must follow the instructions from the organization responsible for your accommodation. They may ask you to verify that you and your family are in the accommodation that has veen provided for you. Once they receive this confirmation, you will continue to receive cash. For more information about this process, ask the organization responsible for your accommodation.
Can I receive the full cash amount and food at the same time?
No, this is not possible. Beneficiaries residing in facilities where they have the capacity to cook for themselves, are provided with the full cash assistance. Beneficiaries living in facilities where meals are distributed, are provided with the partial cash assistance. So, if you are living in accommodation where food is given to you by catering, you can only receive the partial cash assistance amount. You can see the monthly amounts he monthly amounts are defined in accordance with the Ministerial Decision 4496/29.09.2021, with the family size and with the legal status of all family members.
Can I request more cash on my card if I have spent all my money before the next month?
No. You cannot receive more money if your money runs out before your next transfer the following month. This means that you must budget carefully and manage your money so that it does not run out! If you need support or advice on managing your finances, please get in touch with the Helpline (see below).
How can I activate my card?
You will receive your card in a closed envelop without any value until it is loaded. When the money is loaded to your card, you will be notified via SMS that the amount is ready on your cash card. It is important to keep PIN secret and not share it with anyone.
How can I use my cash card?
Using your card and the PIN that was given to you when you received your card, withdraw money at any ATM in Greece and at shops or malls that accept electronic payments from Mastercard in Greece. Cash cards cannot be used for electronic transactions. NOTE: Greek banks charge ATM transactions fees. You can withdraw the available balance in one transaction, or to use the cards for POS purchases.
Will I be charged for using my card?
Please be informed that Greek banks charge ATM transaction fees. The fees differ based on the Bank. You can withdraw the available balance in one transaction, or use the cards for POS purchases. If you use your cash card in a Point-of-Sale terminal (POS) you will not be charged a fee.
Is there a time limit on when I can spend my cash?
There is not normally a time limit on your cash, and any cash that is not spent in a month is carried over to the next month.
Can my household have more than one cash card?
If you and your family all belong to the same Asylum case, you will receive 1 card for the whole family. This is based on the Asylum Service's database.
What can I do if I lost my card or if my card is not working?
Please contact the Helpline through the following ways: Landline number 210 330 0170 or Visit http://greecehelpline.crs.org/ to fill in and submit your query.
In case a beneficiary loses his/her cash card before withdrawing the entire entitlement amount, a new cash card will be issued, and a balance transfer requested. However, please note that for a new cash card to be issued, the beneficiary must have in their possession valid documents. The balance transfer takes place within 10-15 days from the day that the beneficiary will receive the replacement card. The beneficiary will be notified via SMS when the transfer of balance has been complete.
When will I receive a card replacement?
You will receive your card when they are distributed at your accommodation location. Contact the organisation responsible for your accommodation to find out when this is scheduled.
In case I face problems with my cash card, what should I do?
Contact the Cash Helpline. See below how to contact the line.
How long will I be able to stay in these accommodation facilities?
For as long as you are an asylum seeker and until a final decision on your asylum application is reached.
I face some problems and am afraid to live with other people. What shall I do?
Your particular situation will be taken into consideration. You need to tell the organization that is making the accommodation request for you, the particular characteristics of your situation, your language, your special needs if any, your family status and any issues you are concerned about. The Ministry of Migration and Asylum will undertake efforts to consider all your individual characteristics and find you suitable accommodation either in an open reception facility on in an apartment of the ESTIA programme.
I have made friends in my neighbourhood and my children go to school here. Will I be given suitable accommodation near-by?
This is not sure. Your current place of residence will be taken into consideration but you may be offered housing in a different location. When you receive a place in an accommodation facility, there will be services there to support you.
If I apply for accommodation who will inform me about whether a place is found for me/my family?
The organization that will help you make the application for accommodation. This is why it is very important to give them your updated contact number and inform them of any change.
I want to move from a camp to private accommodation. Will my cash be stopped?
As per the Ministry of Migration and Asylum (MMA) announcement, as of 1st July 2021 cash assistance will no longer be provided to asylum seekers who are self-accommodated.
Can I use my cash card outside Greece?
Cash cards are valid only inside Greece and don’t work outside Greece. If you are leaving Greece through Family Reunification, make sure you withdraw your money from the card before you go.
Can I register in one of the accommodation facilities, receive the cash assistance and not live there?
No. You will have to be a resident of the facility. Each month the facility will confirm your presence and only upon this confirmation you will continue to receive cash assistance.
Cash Assistance Program National Helpline
Ministry of Migration and Asylum-Greece Cash Assistance Program National Helpline online communication form please get in touch with the Helpline through the following ways:
- Landline number 210 330 0170 (At the present time, Viber is not an option)
- Visit http://greecehelpline.crs.org to fill in and submit your query. The form is available in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, French, Turkish and Kurmanji.