Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Business customs are similar to those in the United States and Western Europe. Typical Hungarian business attire is a suit. Hungarians consider a personal relationship the basis of a business connection. Business lunches, receptions, and dinners are common. First introductions are often more formal than among Americans. Hungarians usually introduce themselves starting first with their family name, followed by their given name. For example: SMITH John. Business cards follow this convention. Hungarian business partners appreciate even small efforts in learning basic greetings in Hungarian. Around the Christmas holidays, Hungarian businessmen may exchange symbolic gifts generally worth less than USD 10.
The U.S. Department of State has not issued any travel advisories for Hungary which is generally a safe country. Nevertheless, visitors are advised to guard personal belongings. Current information on travel and living in Hungary and descriptions of typical tourist scams including establishments to avoid can be viewed on the U.S. Embassy Budapest Consular Section – U.S. Citizen Service – webpage. Reconsider travel to Hungary due to COVID-19-related restrictions according to Hungary Travel Advisory.
U.S. citizens traveling to Hungary do not require visas. Those intending to stay for longer than 90 days will require residency permits. With certain exceptions, Americans must obtain both work and residence permits if they are employed in Hungary. Information regarding current visa requirements to Hungary during COVID-19-related conditions can be found on the Hungary Travel Advisory website.
Any company in Hungary (even if foreign-owned) employing foreigners must apply for work permits for these employees, a process which takes 60-75 days. The Hungarian Government makes an exception for managing directors of registered, foreign-owned companies. After employees obtain a work permit, they must apply for a work visa in-person at a Hungarian embassy or consulate in their home country. The Government of Hungary generally issues visas for one year. Stricter fraud-prevention measures imposed in recent years have made this process increasingly cumbersome. Consultancy companies offer to obtain work permits and renewals for companies in Hungary. The American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary also offers these services to its members. U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security issues are handled via an interagency process.
Visa applicants should go to the following links:
The currency of Hungary is the Forint. At the end of July 2021, USD 1 converted to HUF 299 (please check the Internet for the most current exchange rate).
Telephone services, including long-distance phone calls, are reliable in Hungary. Budapest is served by three major cellular phone providers, T-Mobile, Telenor, and Vodafone and another three or four smaller ones. Hungary also has several Internet service providers: GTS Hungary, T-Home, Digi, Vodafone/UPC, and Invitel. Free hotspots or paid WiFi are available at most hotels, restaurants and even in many public places.
Hungary has a well-developed transportation infrastructure which allows for speedy domestic travel. Railway lines crisscross the country and connect most cities. The “Inter-City” line provides first class express service to bigger cities. Timetables can be checked and reservation for rail lines can be made on Elvira – MAV Start. Hydrofoil ferries carry passengers on the Danube from Budapest to Vienna and Bratislava.
Hungary’s highways are generally in good condition, with five major express toll highways connecting Budapest with the neighboring countries of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Ukraine and motorways extending to Slovakia and Romania. The total length of highways in Hungary is more than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles).
Budapest is served by an efficient public transportation system based on four subway lines and supplemented by a comprehensive bus and tram system. Taxis are also readily available. It is advisable to phone for a taxi from one of Budapest’s major companies, rather than hailing one off the street, as it helps to ensure the appropriate fare. Uber is not available in Hungary, but a similar service provider exists named Bolt Taxi. Taxis have a fixed tariff of 300 HUF/Km (USD 1.2/Km) in addition to the one-off basic fee of HUF 700 (USD 2.60) and waiting fee of 75 HUF/min (USD 0.3/min). A ride from the airport to the city center should typically cost around HUF 9,000 (USD 37) depending on traffic conditions. The Airport Shuttle offers reliable service and costs around USD 25. Direct shuttle buses between the hotel quarter and the airport are also available for travelers.
English is regularly used for business in Hungary, especially among multinational firms. However, Hungary’s smaller and state-owned firms may have managers who speak limited English. In this case, an interpreter may be used for meetings, though it is wise to discuss this in advance. German is the second most common foreign language.
Hungary enjoys a good standard of health and a low frequency of diseases Under normal conditions, Hungarian law requires no vaccinations for Americans to visit or live in Hungary. Due to many U.S. medical insurance policies not covering expenses incurred abroad, it is advisable to purchase overseas coverage before traveling to Hungary. Please note that Medicare benefits are not payable for services rendered outside the United States. Hungarian doctors and hospitals generally require pre-payment upon completion of services rendered. In modern private hospitals and health clinics bank cards are accepted.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
Local time: GMT + 01:00 or 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Normal business hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Businesses and government offices often close in the early afternoon on Fridays. Some local/small retailers are closed on Sundays.
Hungary celebrates the following holidays in 2021:
New Year’s Day - January 1, 2021
Revolution Day - March 15, 2021
Good Friday – April 2, 2021
Easter Monday – April 5, 2021
Labor Day – May 1, 2020
Whit Monday – May 24, 2021
National Day - August 20, 2021
Republic Day - October 23, 2021
All Saints’ Day – November 1, 2021
Christmas Day - December 25, 2021
Christmas Day - December 26, 2021
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Duty-free status applies to personal belongings of visitors with permanent residency outside of Hungary. This includes what visitors carry or send into Hungary and intend to use during their stay. It also applies to personal belongings, except consumer durables, that permanent residents of Hungary take abroad for more than 24 hours but return. Duty-free status can only be claimed once a day. Hungarian law requires materials that temporarily enter Hungary with the intention of being returned to the United States, such as exhibition goods, to be delivered with ATA Carnet documentation and preregistered with the Hungarian Customs Authorities. Information and contact are available at the website of the Hungarian Customs and Finance Guard.