Budapest is the playground of Europe. The cost of living is one of the lowest in Europe and closer to South East Asia than France, but you have access to Europe in every way, whether it’s infrastructure, travel or way of life. Budapest is a multicultural city in the heart of Europe so you will be a couple of hours of flight time from every major European city, or you can have enough fun if you plan to stay in the city long-term.
Budapest is cheaper or more fun than other cities in Europe. Compared to Western Europe Budapest is significantly less expensive than Paris, London, Barcelona or Rome. Compared to other Eastern European cities – like Bratislava, Vienna, Belgrade or Bucharest – Budapest is more prominent and offers much more entertainment options. Overall Budapest is one of the best value for money in Europe.
Budapest is the capital of Hungary, and it is located literally in the very middle of the country. Hungary is the member of the European Union and is situated on the eastern border of the Union, with Ukraine and Romania to the east, Slovakia to the north, Austria and Slovenia to the west, and with Croatia and Serbia to the south. With the population of 3.3 million inhabitants living in the Budapest Metropolitan Area, Budapest is the biggest city in the country.
Budapest is served by Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) which is one of the busiest airports in Central and Eastern Europe. The airport has international connections to all major European cities, also to North America, Africa, and the Middle East
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Visa requirements for EU and EEA member states
Hungary is the member of the European Union. Therefore, citizens of the EU and EEA member states do not require a visa. The only documentation they need is their proof of identity: either their passport or ID card. These member states are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Visa requirements for states with individual agreements
Apart from the EU / EEA member states, there are some countries with special arrangements with Hungary. The citizens of these countries don’t need visa only a passport if their stay does not exceed 90 days and the purpose of their visit is not employment or other income-earning activity (digital nomads should state they come for tourist reasons): Albania, Andorra, Antiqua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, , Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korean Republic, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Salvador, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.
The Schengen Agreement
Hungary is part of the Schengen Agreement. Therefore, a visa for Hungary entitles you to travel within the whole Schengen Area. You do not need to apply for a separate permit to enter member states of the Schengen Treaty (the opposite is exact as well: Schengen members do not need permission to enter Hungary). The Schengen Treaty members are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark (excluding Greenland and Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France (excluding overseas departments), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands (excluding Aruba, Curacao, Saint Maarten, Caribbean Netherlands), Norway (excluding Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Queen Maud Land), Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and members who are not part of the Schengen Treaty but still have open borders in the area: Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City.
Visa requirements for everyone else
For everyone else who is not on the lists of EU / EEA or particular agreement states, need to apply for a visa to enter Hungary. As the visa to Hungary entitles you to travel in all Schengen member states without further visa applications, you need to apply for a permit to the country where you first enter the Schengen Area. Let’s say you’re an Indian citizen traveling around the world and you come to Hungary from Mumbai, but you first begin in Frankfurt, Germany and stay there for a couple of days and then come to Hungary for a month. Therefore, you need a visa to enter Germany. Once you got that, you don’t need to apply for a Hungarian one as Germany is also a member of the EU and the Schengen Area. If you’re coming directly to Budapest, you need a visa to enter Hungary.
You can get the visa in your local Hungarian embassy in your country. The stays that don’t exceed 90 days are regulated the same in all Schengen Area members, so you need exactly the same requirements for every state. You can enter and leave the country and spend your 90 days in a pre-stated 180-day period/timeframe.
If you want to spend only 90 days in the Schengen Area all you need is to meet these requirements:
- Apply for a visa 3 months before you travel to Hungary
- Fill out and sign the visa survey (can be obtained from your local Hungarian embassy or can be downloaded from their site)
- Present your passport which has at least 2 empty pages, issued not later than 10 years, it is valid more than 3 months to the day when you’re leaving Hungary
- Provide 1 passport picture (colored and not older than 6 months)
- Your biometric details (if needed, check for special requirements in your country)
- Pay the fee for the visa (different for each state but usually around 30-40 USD)
To get the visa, you also need these mandatory documents:
- Valid travel insurance for your stay
- Your last 3 months of bank statements or any credible proof that you can cover your stay for 90 days (check local requirements at your local Hungarian embassy)
- Evidence of your pre-paid accommodation or a signed statement on your cause of travel (check local conditions at your local Hungarian embassy)
There are only a handful of countries which doesn’t have a local Hungarian embassy or at least a small consulate. All of the developed nations have a Hungarian embassy. If your country is not one of them, remember, you can still obtain a visa from any Schengen Area members. I’m 100% sure that if Hungary doesn’t, the United Kingdom, Germany or France definitely has a local embassy in your country. Just keep in mind, that you need to enter the Schengen Area first at the state where you have obtained your visa from.
Residence permit for longer stays
Stays that don’t exceed the 90-day limit are regulated the same by the Schengen Agreement in all Schengen Area members. However, visits that exceed the 90-day limit are treated on a national level. To stay in Hungary more than 90 days and travel around the Schengen Area after you have exceeded your 90-day deadline, you need to obtain a residence permit in Hungary.
You can obtain the residence permit in Hungary after you have entered the country with a 90-day tourist visa or you can apply directly at your local Hungarian embassy. The residence permit entitles you to hold a Registration Card (ID-card) and obtain an Address Registration Card, together they act as your documentation for legal residence in Hungary.
For non-EU citizens, a residence permit is only valid for 1 year and has to be renewed annually. There are multiple residence permit options from work permits, temporary residence permits, research, and development or student permits and many more. Mostly all need you to prove your local accommodation and your personal income. The process widely varies for each, and unfortunately, I’m not an immigration expert so I would advise you to check and ask your local Hungarian embassy or check in for local support once you’re here at an Immigration Office in Budapest.