Very often, you will find me at the Greek Embassy interpreting. Some of the appointments last 1 hour, some 2 hours and some 5 minutes. With my experience, I’ve gathered some information to help you prepare for a successful appointment at the Greek Embassy when accompanied by an interpreter.
1. Book your appointment
Whatever the purposes of your visit, if you have an appointment you will be seen and you will have the time to ask questions and get the job done. To book an appointment visit https://www.greekembassy.org.uk/en-gb/
2. Prepare for your appointment
Make sure you have read all the information the Embassy has sent to you prior to your appointment. This is vital. They may have informed you of actions you need to complete prior to your visit. For instance, if you are signing a Power of Attorney, the Embassy requires to see your PoA prior to your appointment so that they can edit it to ensure it complies with legal requirements.
3. Make sure you have your ID and passport with you
Some nationals do not have ID cards, so bring your passport if you don’t have an ID card. For some legal processes, having your passport with you is a must. Without a passport, your job will not be done and your journey and day will be wasted. The Embassy will inform you what documents you need to bring with you.
4. Make sure you have all other required documents
Other required documents you might need to bring are birth certificates, marriage certificates etc. depending on what you are trying to achieve.
Please note that documents not in Greek will need to be accompanied by the corresponding Greek certified translations. Even if the Greek Embassy is in the UK, this doesn’t mean it is obliged to accept your documents in a language other than Greek. Similarly, the UK government will not accept documents in a language other than English and Welsh.
Expecting the Greek Embassy to accept your English documents is irrational. Don't forget that when you step in an Embassy, you step in the respective country. Furthermore, your documents are likely to be sent to Greece to Greek authorities, so of course, they have to be in the official language of the country.
If your documents need to be translated into Greek, maybe your interpreter can help you with that too. Some interpreters do translation work too. For example, I do both translation and interpreting as I was trained for both. Note: translation is written, interpreting is verbal.
6. Book your interpreter
If you require an interpreter, you can book one. Your interpreter needs to be a Member of the ITI or CIOL and they need to be registered with the Greek Embassy.
Please note that interpreters are independent professionals. They do not work for the Embassy. The Embassy does not employ them under any contract and does not pay them. You, the client, have two separate relationships: one with the Embassy and another with your interpreter. Your interpreter is there to mediate between you and the Embassy. You pay for their time.
Even if you speak English or some English, the Embassy staff are not obliged to speak to you in English. Furthermore, you will be signing legal documents in Greek and you will be filling in forms in Greek. If you do not know Greek it is impossible to do either of the above.
Your family member who speaks Greek is not allowed to interpret for you first of all, because that’s not their job and secondly for legal reasons.
7. Brief your interpreter
Apart from the practical information regarding the appointment such as time, place, and duration, tell your interpreter as much as you can about your appointment. What is your appointment for? What are you hoping to achieve?
Send your interpreter any relevant documents prior to the appointment so that the interpreter can prepare. And do that a few days in advance, so as to allow your interpreter the appropriate amount of time to prepare.
8. Arrive on time, in fact arrive earlier
It goes without saying but be on time. The Embassy staff are on the clock. If you are late, the next appointment will be late and maybe you will not be served.
9. Announce yourself
The reason why I am saying arrive early is because the moment you arrive you need to announce yourself and register with the reception. You explain to them the purpose of your visit and they give you a form to fill in so that you can officially request the services you need. This is to cover several legal bases i.e. you need to ask for a passport for them to give you one etc. In essence, to be provided with any kind of service, you first need to request the service.
10. Your interpreter can help you fill in the forms at the reception
As briefly mentioned above, when you arrive you will be requested to fill in a form or two. The forms are bilingual and should be filled in both Greek and English. Your interpreter can help you write down the information in Greek. Even your name and surname, and other personal details will be written using Greek letters.
11. Make sure you have cash
You can only pay by cash, so make sure you know how much money you need on the day and ensure you have it with you prior to your appointment.
12. Ask for copies
If you have just signed a very important document, make sure you ask for copies to take with you. Note that there is an additional charge for every copy.
13. Ensure you have taken everything with you
Before leaving the premises, verify that you have taken everything with you: your identification, passports, documents, personal belongings etc.
14. Follow up with the Embassy
Once you’re back at home and your job is done, follow up with the Embassy to tell them about your visit and that your job was done or maybe that it wasn't done. This works as a record of proof for you. You can also thank them for their help.
15. Last but not least, do not underestimate your interpreter
Most of my customers have followed up with me after our appointment and have expressed how grateful they were for my services. Most of them admit that it wouldn’t have been possible for them to get their job done, whatever the job was, without me there.
This is because interpreters are real experts. They are not there just for the words. There are cultural and linguistic details that you’ll need to understand on the day, as well as legal requirements. And a true specialist knows how to navigate these challenges and help you achieve your goal.
Vasiliki is a professional translator and interpreter working with English and Greek. She specialises in legal, marketing, and psychometrics. She is a member of CIoL and ITI and she is registered with the Greek Embassy. Her mission is to help you reach your goals through the power of words. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.