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. Hungarian is the official language; English is not widely spoken outside Budapest. 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 Fact Sheet on Hungary for additional information on the U.S.-Hungary relationship.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Hungary, please take the time to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements, and help your friends and family get in touch with you in case of an emergency.
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
Telephone: (36)(1) 475-4400
After-hours emergency calls -- for U.S. citizens only: (36)(1) 475-4400.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 your 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 National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary website.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although Hungary is generally a safe place to visit, you should use caution and stay alert. Be especially careful in train stations, crowded tourist areas, and crowded buses, trams, and metros. In addition, you should avoid demonstrations and political rallies. In a few past instances where demonstrations have turned violent, authorities have used riot police and water cannons to control crowds.
In recent years, right-wing radical groups have gained popularity in Hungary due to their nationalist messages, which includes intolerance towards Jews, Roma, and homosexuals. Although these groups are not explicitly anti-U.S., you should avoid public demonstrations and confrontations with their 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 on the U.S. Embassy Budapest website.
Stay up to date by:
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 web page 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. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Hungary is 112. Operators can 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; for instance, 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.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Hungary, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. Embassy.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Traveler’s checks are not universally accepted in Hungary. ATMs are prevalent in all major cities and are increasingly common in rural areas. Western Union is the most prevalent international money transfer company and has hundreds of locations throughout Hungary.
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 National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary 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 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.
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:
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. This means 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 doctor and hospital visits abroad. 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. The information below concerning Hungary is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. In Hungary, there are approximately 1,200 fatal traffic accidents per year, and 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 the case English is not spoken, dial 112.
Ambulance: 104 or 350-0388
24-hour English speaker: 112
Hungarian motorways and highways are generally in good condition. Urban road maintenance is 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, poorly lit, and can be in a poor state of repair in some areas. Train crossings are not always well-signed. Pedestrians, tractors, and farm animals often use these small rural roads, so stay alert. Additional information on road conditions is available from “Útinform” at (36)(1)336-2400.
Hungary has zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Police often conduct routine roadside checks where breath-analysis 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 for one year 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, it is 110 km per hour (approximately 65 mph); and in towns and villages it 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 online.
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.
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Hungary dated July 25, 2012