Ins and outs of obtaining Hungarian citizenship

PT       2003-01-30 
With the nearing of Hungary’s EU accession date, the country has brought much of its administration (including that concerning citizenship) in line with EU standards, but further changes can be expected.

Andrea Kaló, corporate relocation advisor at Inter Relocation Kft, said many people were now hurrying to obtain citizenship and residency as soon as possible in case the regulations get tougher.

Kaló said that to obtain citizenship, those not born in Hungary and with no family affiliation to the country must spend at least three years living here before they can obtain an immigration license, also known as a settlement permit (Letelepedesi Engedély) or LE.

Kaló added that applicants may leave Hungary for visits abroad but these must total no more than a maximum of 90 days per calendar year in the three years.

To obtain the LE, applicants must submit their requests to the Interior Ministry’s Immigration and Citizenship Agency, the BM Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal, (XI. Budafoki 60/B).

Following this they must wait for another five years (thus making eight years in total) before they can obtain full citizenship, which comes in one package with a Hungarian personal ID number, after which a digitally-processed Hungarian ID card (Személyiazonosító Igazolvány) and residency card (Lakcím Igazolvány) can be obtained.

Healthy young men should be warned that if they become a citizen they are eligible to be conscripted for military training (now six months) until the age of 30.

The first step for those born in Hungary and with family affiliation is to apply to the closest Hungarian embassy to their home country.

They must then fill out an application form and this is sent to the Hungarian Ministry of Home Affairs. They can expect their passport and citizenship to arrive within four weeks.

Foreigners must be able to prove a continuous period of three years holding a residency permit (Tartozkodási Engedély/TE) before obtaining their LE.

During this period they must hold a temporary ID. To obtain this their passports must hold a 10-year visa. If a passport has expired, is stolen, or lost, applicants must immediately report this to the authorities and have a visa placed in their new passports.

Kaló said that aliens who have married a Hungarian and have children born in Hungary must also wait at least two years before they apply for their LE, but only another two years before obtaining their citizenship.

Similarly, if a foreign citizen marries a Hungarian national and is proven to have been in the household for at least two years they must wait just another two years after receiving their LE before obtaining their citizenship. The couple do not necessarily have to live in Hungary, however Kaló said, "They won’t be considered married if the wife is registered at say Hong Kong, while the husband lives in Los Angeles."

For those of Hungarian descent dating back to their grandfathers, they must officially live in Hungary and obtain a TE and an LE and only one year thereafter will be fully-fledged citizens.

Proof of the Hungarian heritage of parents or grandparents can be obtained in two ways: If an ancestor was born prior to 1895, applicants will probably need to explore church documents, as this is where all births were then registered.

However the system changed in 1895 and details of anyone born after that can be found only at the State registry Állami Anyakonyvi Hivatal (ÁAH). The Hungarian Consulate is also ready to help in cases where applicants live abroad.

Hungarian descendants, with a valid Hungarian passport but without a renewed or valid ID book or card, must obtain a personal ID number (an 11-digit number, for men starting with a 1 and for women 2). Applications can be made to BM Központi Adatfeldolgozó Hivatal (VIII. Balázs Béla utca 35). The final ID must be obtained from the local municipality.

"The LE procedure comes with a lot of paperwork and applicants will be required to produce items from birth certificates, to negative criminal record forms and excise stamps," said Kaló.

All foreign documents need to be officially translated through the national translation and accreditation office Országos Fordító és Fordításhitelesítô Iroda (VI. Bajza utca 52).

It is advisable that all papers be validated with the signature of a notary. It is also advisable to photo copy documents.

All other nationals not born in Hungary must pass a nationalization test to be applied for at the ÁAH, here they will receive the text books, guidance, etc.

For further information contact Inter Relocation Hungary on +36 1 425-7301, email,