Hungary Consular Information Sheet
Updated: May 2011

For the most current information go to:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1137.html

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Hungary is a stable democracy with a market economy. Tourist facilities outside Budapest are widely available, but may not be as developed as those found in Western Europe. If you are considering a trip to Hungary, please read the American Citizen Services information on the U.S. Embassy’s website. You should also read the Department of State Background Notes on Hungary.

SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Hungary, please take the time to tell us about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.

The U.S. Embassy in Budapest
Szabadság tér 12
H-1054 Budapest
Telephone: (36)(1) 475-4400
After-hours emergency calls -- for U.S. citizens only:
(36)(1) 475-4703/4924
The Consular Section’s fax is (36)(1) 475-4188 or (36)(1) 475-4113

ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Hungary is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Hungary for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet

If you want to visit Hungary for any reason other than business or tourism, or if you want to get a residence or work permit, please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary at 3910 Shoemaker Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 362-6730. More information can be found on the Hungarian Embassy’s website, or at the Hungarian Consulates in Los Angeles and New York.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Hungary.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page, or visit the Hungarian Customs website.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although Hungary is a relatively safe place to visit, you should use caution and stay alert. Be especially careful in train stations and crowded tourist areas. In addition, you should avoid demonstrations and political rallies. In recent years a few demonstrations have turned violent, and authorities have used riot police and water cannons to control crowds.

In recent years a group calling itself the Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard) has gained popularity in Hungary due to its radical nationalist message of intolerance towards Jews, Roma, and homosexuals. Although the group is not explicitly anti-U.S., you should avoid its public demonstrations and confrontations with its members. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to what the local news media have to say. In general, larger public demonstrations are announced on the Demonstration Notices page within the U.S. Embassy Budapest website.

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Take some time before travel to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.

CRIME: Crime in Budapest is a concern. Be careful during your visit, and exercise the same caution you would in any big city or tourist area at home. Do not walk alone at night; keep your belongings secure at all times. Passports, cash, and credit cards are favorite targets of thieves. Keep items that you do not store in your hotel safe or residence in a safe place, but be aware that pockets, purses and backpacks are especially vulnerable, even if they close with a zipper. We recommend you use a travel money belt that keeps your cash and passport under your outer clothing and well out of view. Be sure to secure these items when you get back to your hotel or residence.

The U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section has a special website with further details on common scams and crimes in Hungary.

If you drive, be careful at gas stations and rest areas, or while fixing flat tires or other mechanical problems, especially at night. One scam involves someone who attracts your attention by claiming there is something wrong with your car to get you to pull over and then robs you. Do not leave your luggage and valuables unattended inside any vehicle.

Another common scam involves young women asking foreign men to buy them drinks. When the bill arrives the drinks cost hundreds of dollars each. You should avoid bars and restaurants suggested by cab drivers or people on the street. Every bar and restaurant should provide a menu with prices on it. Look at the prices before you order anything, including drinks. The Embassy maintains a list of bars and restaurants that are known to engage in this scam.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but you may also be breaking local law.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates). If your passport is stolen we can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, we can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and help you get money from them if you need it. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Hungary is 112. The operator will speak English.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Hungary, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Hungary, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not, wherever you may be going.

You should carry your passport with you at all times when you are in Hungary. Hungarian law requires all visitors to carry their passports; a photocopy is not a valid substitute. You could be arrested or fined if you do not have your passport with you. Since expert pickpockets frequent tourist areas and train stations, it is a good idea to keep your passport in a safe place. Hungary has a “zero tolerance” policy on drinking and driving. You should not drive after drinking, regardless of the amount of alcohol you have had.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Traveler’s checks are not universally accepted in Hungary. The presence of ATMs is increasing in Budapest and other major cities, and most U.S. bank cards will work in them.

Hungary’s custom authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Hungary of firearms, antiquities, prescription medications, and other items. You should contact the Hungarian Embassy in Washington or one of Hungary’s consulates in either New York of Los Angeles for specific information regarding customs. You can also visit the Hungarian Customs website.

Accessibility: Accessibility and accommodation for individuals with disabilities are quite different in Hungary than in the United States. Although Hungarian law requires all government buildings to be accessible to persons with disabilities, these regulations have only been in force during the last decade and many older buildings and areas are still not accessible. The accessibility of private buildings, restaurants, and hotels varies widely.

Getting around Hungarian cities and towns may be difficult since many sidewalks are narrow and uneven. Small towns may lack sidewalks altogether. Buses, trams, subways, and railroads provide reliable transportation in cities and throughout the country, but most stations lack the most basic facilities and equipment for disabled access. Although there are plans to upgrade municipal bus fleets, currently buses and trams are not equipped with lifts for travelers with disabilities. Taxis are a good means of transportation, although many are unlicensed and will seek to charge unreasonable fares to tourists.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical treatment in Hungary is adequate, but hospital facilities are not always comparable to what you may find in the United States. Doctors are generally well-trained, but there is a lack of adequate emergency services. Some doctors speak English. The embassy maintains a website with more details about specific medical care providers.

Good information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be found via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:

* Does my policy apply when I’m outside of the U.S.?
* Will it cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or an evacuation?

In Hungary, doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash at the time of service and usually cannot bill your insurer directly, even if you are covered overseas. In other words, you may have to pay bills from your own funds and claim reimbursement from your insurer later. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits. If your policy isn’t valid when you travel, it is a good idea to get another policy for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Hungary, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. In Hungary, there are approximately 1,200 fatal traffic accidents per year, with about 7,000 traffic accidents per year resulting in serious injuries. Roadside assistance, including medical and other services, is generally available. English is usually spoken at the emergency numbers listed below. In case English is not spoken, dial 112.

Ambulance: 104 or 350-0388
Police: 107
Fire: 105
24-hour English speaker: 112

Hungarian motorways and highways are generally in good condition. Urban roads and road maintenance are also good, although areas under construction are not always adequately marked or blockaded. In Budapest, many roads are often under construction. Outside the city, roads are often narrow, badly lighted, and can be in a poor state of repair in some areas. Pedestrians, tractors, and farm animals often use these small rural roads, so stay alert. Additional information on road conditions is available from “Útinform” at phone number (38)(1)336-2400.

Hungary has zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Police often conduct routine roadside checks where breath-analyzer tests are administered. If you are caught driving after drinking, you will face jail and fines. Penalties for a car accident involving injury or death are one to five years in prison. Police stop vehicles regularly to check documents. It is against the law to use a hand-held cell phone while driving anywhere in Hungary.

You can drive in Hungary with a valid U.S. driver’s license as long as you have a certified Hungarian translation of the license attached to it. Hungary also recognizes international driver’s permits (IDP) issued by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance, when used along with a valid state driver’s license. If you have an IDP you do not need to have the license translated, but must carry the IDP and state driver’s license together. After one year in Hungary, U.S. citizens must obtain a Hungarian driver’s license. For further information on this procedure visit the U.S. Embassy’s website.

The speed limit for cars and motorcycles on the motorway is 130 km per hour (approximately 80 mph); on highways, the limit is 110 km per hour (approximately 65 mph); and in town and villages the speed limit is 50 km per hour (approximately 30 mph). Many drivers do not observe the speed limits, and you should be extra careful on two-way roads where local drivers pass each other frequently and allow for less space than you may be used to. Car seats are required for infants. Children under age 12 may not sit in the front seat. Seats belts are mandatory for everyone in the car. You may not turn right on a red light. The police issue tickets for traffic violations and charge fines on the spot. The police will give you a postal check (money order) on which the amount of the fine to be paid is written, and this postal check may be presented and paid at any Hungarian post office. Sometimes in disputes about fines or the offense, the police will confiscate your passport and issue a receipt for the passport with an “invitation letter” to appear at the police station the next day or day after to resolve the dispute. Your passport is returned after resolution and/or the payment of the fine.

As in most European countries, you must pay to use Hungary’s motorways. Payments must be made either at a gas station or through the Internet.

For specific information about Hungarian driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road taxes, and mandatory insurance, visit the Hungarian National Tourist Organization Office in New York website.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Hungary’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Hungary’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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