Residence Permit
March 7, 2024
Reading Time: 11 min

5 ways to obtain permanent residency in Hungary and move to the EU

Foreigners obtain permanent residency in Hungary after 3 years living there with a residence permit. There are various ways to get a permit; the most popular are investment, financial independence, business opening, employment, and family reunification.

Hungarian permanent residents get to travel across the Schengen Area visa-free, have European social benefits, and run a business in the EU.

Hungary permanent residence: how to obtain in 2024
5 ways to obtain permanent residency in Hungary and move to the EU

5 benefits of permanent residency in Hungary

1. Life, work, and business in Hungary. Permanent residency gives the right to live in Hungary; the status is valid indefinitely and does not need to be extended. A resident can work for a Hungarian company or run a business without additional permits and restrictions. 

2. Visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. A foreigner with permanent residency in Hungary enters the other 26 states of the Schengen Agreement without visas and spends up to 90 days during 180 days there.

3. Capital transfer and accounts in European banks. Permanent residents use banking services in the EU to the same extent as Hungarian citizens. On the contrary, non-residents are often refused when they try to open an account. EU banks explain this by anti-money laundering laws. 

4. Opportunity to become a Hungarian citizen. A foreigner applies for citizenship after 8 years of living in Hungary with a permanent residence permit. In some cases, the minimum period of residence for citizenship is reduced to five or three years. 

Foreigners get a residence permit for permanent residency and citizenship on various grounds, for example, by investment.

5. Low cost of living. Hungary is an affordable option compared to other EU countries. A single person's monthly living costs without rent in Budapest are about €680, and a family of four costs approximately €2,400​​. To compare, those monthly expenses in Berlin are €1,000 and €3,300, respectively.

Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Budapest centre is €500—830, with utilities around €150—250 per month​​.

Main conditions of Hungary permanent residency 

The first step towards permanent residency is a temporary residence permit. A permit is usually issued for 1—5 years, but the validity period of a permit by investment called Golden Visa is 10 years.

There are more than 10 types of residence permits in Hungary; each has its own conditions. Not all of those permit types are suitable for permanent residency. For example, a student or a digital nomad cannot apply for permanent residency, while real estate owners or entrepreneurs can.

The most popular ways to get permanent residence in Hungary are through 5 types of temporary residence permits:

  1. By investment. The requirement is to contribute to the Hungarian economy at least €250,000.
  2. For financially independent persons. To obtain it, one needs to confirm an annual income from outside Hungary or savings of €10,000.
  3. By opening a business. A foreigner must establish a company, register as self-employed, and provide a business plan or service contract.
  4. By employment. In this case, a foreigner gets a job in a Hungarian company and confirms income.
  5. By family reunification. An applicant confirms the relationship with a Hungarian resident or citizen.

A foreigner applies for permanent residency after three years of living in Hungary. It is allowed to spend a total of no more than 270 days of those 3 years outside Hungary.

Some categories of applicants are allowed to reside in the country less than 3 years prior to the permanent status application. They are:

  • parents of a foreigner with Hungarian permanent residency — 2 years;
  • spouses of Hungarian citizens or foreigners with permanent residence — 1 year;
  • children under 18 — as soon as their parents receive permanent residence.

Other criteria to meet when applying for residency in Hungary include not posing a threat to national security and public order, complying with anti-money laundering laws' requirements, and benefiting the country in science, culture, sports, or the economy, for example, by buying real estate, paying taxes, or running a business.

Reasons for residency application rejection. Hungarian authorities may refuse permanent residence to a foreigner. The reason for the refusal is typically not disclosed, but in most cases, it is an administrative offence. For example, deprivation of a driver's licence, a criminal record, or a ban on entry into the Schengen Area state.

A foreigner has a right to appeal the rejection within 15 days. An applicant should provide additional documents to prove the right to permanent residence. Otherwise, the appeal will be rejected.

Rights of permanent residents. Permanent residents in Hungary enjoy almost the same rights as Hungarian citizens. They can get medical treatment, social services, and education in Hungary, as well as open accounts in local banks. 

The main difference with a citizen is that a foreigner with permanent residence in Hungary cannot vote in elections or run for elected office.

Validity period. Permanent residence is for life. It does not need an extension, but every 5 years, it is necessary to change the residence permit card. There is no need to confirm income or grounds to reside in Hungary while replacing the card.

Hungarian real estate residency program
Hungary gives out the same type of residence permit cards as the rest of the EU

Losing residency. To keep permanent status, the resident should follow the rules:

  • not leave the country for 2+ years in a row;
  • notify the Migration office in Hungary about leaving the country for 6—24 months;
  • spend at least 180 days a year in Hungary before the notification of leave.

It is allowed to leave Hungary for up to 6 months without notification; the permanent residency card will not be annulled. 

Illegal residing in Hungary. A foreigner is deported and banned from entering Hungary for one or several years for an unlawful stay there. The grounds for deportation are:

  • illegal entry to Hungary without a visa;
  • entering Hungary with a Schengen visa and staying there for more than 90 days without a residence permit;
  • running a business when a residence permit does not allow it.

A deported foreigner can appeal the entry ban during the first half of its duration. For example, a one-year entry ban can be appealed in the first six months of its validity.

Violation of the visa rules, the rules of stay in Hungary, and an entry ban do not allow a foreigner to obtain a residence permit, permanent residence, and citizenship of Hungary and other EU states.

Residing in another EU country. Hungarian permanent residence does not give the right to live in another EU country. However, after 5 years of living in Hungary, one acquires permanent resident status in the EU. It is not compulsory but allows them to live in another European country without any conditions.

Permanent residency in Hungary by investment

The Hungarian government recently approved new legislation about a residence permit by investment. The program is called the Hungary Golden Visa and is set to launch in 2024. The minimum investment requirement is €250,000.

Validity period. The permit is issued for 10 years. It is possible to extend the permit for 10 more years only once. After 3 years of residing in Hungary, an investor may apply for permanent residency.

Eligibility. An applicant should be over 18, has no criminal record, and cannot be under EU sanctions. The applicant must confirm the legality of the income and undergo a Due Diligence check for compliance with the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

An investor can add a spouse and minor children to their application.

Requirement to real estate. Purchasing a residential property is one of the options to obtain a permit by investment. The property price should be at least €500,000.

When buying real estate, the investor signs a purchase and sale agreement. There is a requirement to add a condition to the agreement that the investor cannot sell the property for 5 years after purchase.

Other investment options. The second option to obtain residency by investment is to buy units of real estate funds worth at least €250,000. These funds must be registered with the Hungarian National Bank. It is not allowed to sell the units for 5 years.

The third option is donating a minimum of €1 million to a higher education institution. The money will support education, scientific research, and artistry.

Extending the permit. It is possible to extend a permit once for 10 years. To do so, an investor must confirm real estate or unit ownership. Donating investors do not need to invest in higher education institutions again.

Rights and duties. Investors can work in Hungary or register a company there.

Foreigners with a temporary permit will obtain permanent status if they:

  • lived in Hungary permanently with a residence permit;
  • did not leave the country for 4 consequential months;
  • were not absent from the country for more than 270 days during 3 years.

An investor must also provide a basis to obtain permanent residency in Hungary after 3 years of living there. Another option is to become an EU permanent resident after 5 years; a basis is unnecessary.

Permanent residency in Hungary for financially independent persons

Foreigners with a stable income from outside the country may obtain residence permits in Hungary for financially independent persons called a "residence permit for other purposes".

Validity period. The permit is issued for 1 to 5 years and can be extended. A foreigner can apply for permanent residence after 3 years of living in Hungary.

Eligibility. The main applicant should be over 18. The spouse and children under 18 can join the application. All applicants over 14 prove they have a clean criminal record.

Income requirements. The main applicant confirms an annual income of €10,000 per family member. The earnings must come from outside Hungary. Several sources are suitable: dividends, a bank deposit, remote work, or rent. 

The sum can also be in savings instead of income.

Real estate requirements. A foreigner buys or rents a property to reside in Hungary. The property's value is not specified; it is not allowed to rent out the property. 

The applicant may change a place of residence, but it is necessary to register at a new address to keep a permit.

Rights and duties. To become a permanent resident, a foreigner is obliged to live in Hungary and not leave the country for more than four consecutive months within three years. 

A resident with a permit for financially independent persons can receive income only from abroad and is obliged to pay a 15% income tax.

Grounds for rejection. An application for a permit for other purposes may be rejected without explanation. This can happen even if you fulfil all the formal conditions. The Directorate for Foreigners and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not disclose the methodology they use to approve or reject an application; each application is considered individually.

Permanent residency in Hungary
Hungary ranks 8th in terms of Internet speed in the world 

Permanent residency in Hungary for entrepreneurs

CEOs of companies, startup founders, and self-employed workers may apply for a permit for entrepreneurs in Hungary. The entrepreneur's family obtains a residence permit by family reunification.

Validity period. A residence permit is issued for 3 years with the possibility of extending it unlimited times for the same period.

Business requirements. To get a permit, the applicant registers a company in Hungary or enters the country's tax registry as self-employed. There are no criteria for business profitability or turnover. Still, it is necessary to show the benefits of this business for the Hungarian economy regarding job creation and corporate tax payment.

The list of necessary documents for permanent residency includes:

  • proof of opening a business in Hungary or working as self-employed;
  • the company's business plan;
  • licence for running a specific type of business, if applicable; for example, a farmer's licence;
  • service contracts with clients.

Rights and duties. It is necessary to live in Hungary and maintain the status of an entrepreneur to keep residency.

After three years of living in Hungary, an entrepreneur may apply for permanent residence. It is necessary to confirm the average monthly income of €500.

Permanent residency in Hungary for employees

Foreigners with a job offer from a Hungarian company obtain a residence permit. The employer applies for a permit on behalf of the employee. Family members of the applicant can obtain a residence permit for family reunification.

Validity period. The permit is usually issued for the duration of an employment contract with the possibility of an extension. After three years of working in the country, one can apply for permanent residence in Hungary.

Eligibility of employment. Not all Hungarian companies can request a permit for their foreign employees. There are 4 eligible company types:

  • a company with a strategic partnership agreement with the Hungarian government;
  • a company that hires a specialist from the list of scarce professions of the Ministry of Labor and Employment;
  • a company with the status of a qualified recruitment agency;
  • a company that implements a priority national investment project.

Right and duties. If a foreigner is fired before the contract expires, they need to find a new job to keep a residence permit within 1.5 months. Otherwise, a foreigner leaves the country and reapplies for a residence permit.

Permanent residency in Hungary by family reunification

A residence permit in Hungary by family reunification is available for spouses, children, and parents of Hungarian citizens and temporary or permanent residents. 

Validity period. A residence permit is issued for up to 3 years with the possibility of extending it unlimited times for the same period.

Eligibility. A resident with a permit by family reunification may apply for permanent residence. The required period of residence before applying depends on the degree of kinship with a person living in Hungary and their legal status. Specifically:

  • spouses, children, and parents of foreigners with a Hungarian residence permit become permanent residents after 3 years of living in the country; 
  • parents and children over 18 of foreigners with permanent residence in Hungary apply after 2 years;
  • spouses of Hungarian citizens and permanent residents obtain permanent status after 1 year of living in Hungary.

Rights and duties. A residence permit by family reunification does not grant the right to work or run a business in Hungary; a special permit is required for this.

Comparison of popular types of Hungary permanent residency

The type of permanent residency in Hungary depends on the type of residence permit. There are more than 10 of them. 

The most popular is by investment with the Hungary Golden Visa for financially independent persons, entrepreneurs, and employees and by family reunification.

Popular types of residence permit in Hungary compared

Permit typeValidity RequirementsRight to work in HungaryResiding in Hungary for PR
Golden Visa for investors10 yearsInvesting at least €250,000Yes3 years
For financially independent persons1—5 yearsAnnual income or saving of €10,000 per family memberNo3 years
For entrepreneurs3 yearsBusiness in HungaryYes3 years
For employeesFor the duration of the contractJob offer from a Hungarian companyYes3 years
By family reunificationUp to 3 yearsClose kinship to a Hungarian citizen or residentNo1—3 years

Documents for Hungary permanent residence

The list of documents for an application for Hungary permanent residence includes:

  1. A valid passport.
  2. A birth certificate.
  3. A marriage and divorce certificate, if applicable.
  4. A certificate of a clean criminal record for applicants over 14.
  5. Means of subsistence. An annual income should be around €6,000 for each family member. The suitable documents are a bank statement, an income statement, or a tax report.
  6. Medical insurance for the EU territory with coverage of €30,000 per year.
  7. Proof of residence in Hungary. It can be a certificate of ownership, a preliminary contract for the purchase and sale of real estate, a lease agreement, or a notarised consent from a relative or friend to provide housing free of charge.
  8. A colour passport photo sized 3×4 cm.
  9. For underage children: a notarised consent to obtain permanent residency in Hungary from both parents or legal representatives.

Including a CV and a cover letter in the application is advisable. The latter contains benefits a foreigner brings to the country: economy, culture, science, or sports. Additional documents like educational diplomas, awards, and recommendation letters can also be attached. It is not compulsory but may increase the chances of getting status.

Documents for permanent residency in Hungary are apostilled and translated into Hungarian. A document can be apostilled only in the country where it was issued. Documents for permanent residence are translated at the Hungarian office for translation and attestation.

A foreigner submits the documents to the regional office of the Hungarian Immigration Service. According to the law, the application for permanent residence must be considered within 70 working days or around 3.5 calendar months. However, the period can be extended to up to six months.

How to obtain Hungary permanent residence by investment

Investors get permanent residency through the Golden Visa Program. It is set to launch in 2024, so the processing time is still uncertain. We estimate it will take 3.5+ years to become a permanent resident in Hungary.

1 day
Preliminary Due Diligence
Preliminary Due Diligence

Immigrant Invest conducts a preliminary check on international databases to identify possible proposals and prepare explanations for the migration service. The procedure minimises the risks of refusal to 1%. 

Preliminary Due Diligence is confidential and only requires a copy of the main applicant’s passport.

Up to 4 weeks
Applying for a Guest Investor Visa
Applying for a Guest Investor Visa

A Guest Investor Visa is needed to enter the country to invest. It is valid for 2 years and allows you to stay in Hungary for up to 90 days out of 180.

Immigrant Invest lawyers provide a list of necessary documents, fill out application and government forms, and translate and notarise the copies. Translation and notarisation costs depend on the number of applicants, equaling around €1,000.

The application is submitted to the Hungary Consulate.

Up to 93 days
Travelling to Hungary and fulfilling the investment condition
Travelling to Hungary and fulfilling the investment condition

On arriving in Hungary, investors have 93 calendar days to apply for a residence permit. Before applying, they choose a project and invest a required amount in it.

3 days
Applying for a Hungary residence permit
Applying for a Hungary residence permit

Immigrant Invest lawyers help the investor apply for a residence permit in Hungary. The application is processed for several days; in case of approval, the investor makes an appointment with the migration service online.

Up to 3 weeks
Submitting biometrics and getting a residence card
Submitting biometrics and getting a residence card

An applicant visits the migration service when appointed in the electronic record. It’s necessary to bring a passport, a printed electronic record, and original documents.  

At the office, an applicant submits fingerprints and has their photo taken for a residence permit card.

The officials send the card to the investor’s residential address in Hungary within 21 days.

After 3 years
Applying for permanent residency
Applying for permanent residency

After 3 years of living in Hungary, an investor is eligible to get permanent status. An applicant submits the documents to the regional office of the Hungarian Immigration Service.

A state fee is €70.

Drawbacks of Hungary permanent residency 

Restricted mobility. While permanent residents have the right to reside in Hungary indefinitely, they face limitations on their ability to travel and work in other countries freely. For example, residents cannot work in other EU countries or stay in the Schengen Area states for more than 90 days without additional permits or visas.

Language barrier. Only 20% of the Hungarian population can speak English to a certain extent. At the same time, Hungarian is known to be a complicated language for non-native speakers to learn.

Long path to citizenship. A foreigner has to live in the country for 11 years before applying for citizenship. Most applicants should pass an exam on knowledge of the Hungarian language, culture, and Constitution.

Further path to Hungary citizenship

Foreigners obtain citizenship in Hungary by naturalisation after 11 years of living there.

For three categories of applicants, the required residence time in Hungary before applying for citizenship is reduced. They are:

  1. Foreigners born in Hungary or who received a residence permit before age 18 must live in the country for 5 years to be eligible for a Hungarian passport.
  2. Spouses of Hungarian citizens and parents of Hungarian underaged citizens live in Hungary for 3 years.
  3. Foreigners of Hungarian origin are granted citizenship by origin or by repatriation within up to 1 year of residing in Hungary.

To be eligible for citizenship, a foreigner must have a clean criminal record and pass an exam on knowledge of the Hungarian language, history, culture, and Constitution. Spouses of Hungarian citizens do not need to take the exam. 

The citizenship application is reviewed within 3—6 months.

Hungarian laws allow one to have dual citizenship. This means a foreigner does not need to renounce their first citizenship to get Hungarian nationality unless it is forbidden in their country.

Citizens of Hungary can live, work, study, or run a business in any of the 27 EU countries, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Key thoughts about Hungary permanent residency

  1. A foreigner normally obtains permanent residency in Hungary after living there for 3 years with a resident permit. It is necessary to provide a basis for permanent residence.
  2. The most popular ways to become a permanent resident in Hungary are investment, business opening, employment, financial independence, and family reunification.
  3. Investors receive a permit in Hungary by contributing at least €250,000 to the country's economy.
  4. Permanent residence is granted for life, but the resident must notify the Hungarian Migration Service about leaving the country for more than 6 months. Otherwise, the status may be cancelled.
  5. Residents of Hungary can enter other countries of the Schengen Area visa-free for 90 days within 180 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to become a permanent resident in Hungary?

To be eligible to apply for permanent residency in Hungary, a foreigner needs to obtain a residence permit and live in the country for three years. A residence permit with the right to extend is issued for 1—10 years, depending on the type. 

How long do I need to live in Hungary to obtain permanent residency?

A foreigner needs to live in Hungary for 3 years to obtain permanent residency. The specific rules of residency depend on the type of residence permit. For example, investors are not allowed to leave Hungary for more than 4 months in a row.

What are the benefits of Hungarian permanent residency?

Hungarian permanent residency offers various benefits to its owner:

  • life, work, and business in Hungary;
  • visa-free travel in the Schengen Area;
  • capital transfer and accounts in European banks;
  • the opportunity to become a Hungarian citizen;
  • low cost of living.
Can I live in Hungary without knowledge of the Hungarian language?

A foreigner does not need to take a Hungarian language proficiency exam to obtain a residence permit or permanent residence. Applicants for Hungarian citizenship take the exam after 11 years of living in the country. 

However, for everyday communication, the knowledge of spoken English might not be sufficient, as only 20% of the Hungarian population speaks English.

How many years do I have to live in Hungary to obtain citizenship?

In most cases, to obtain citizenship by naturalisation, a foreigner has to live in the country for 8 years as a permanent resident and, before this, for 3 years with a residence permit. It means, in total, one must live in Hungary for 11 years to get a Hungarian passport.

Can third-country nationals travel to the Schengen Area with Hungarian residency?
Can I get residency in Hungary if I buy a house?

Yes, you can become a Hungarian resident if you buy a house. This way of obtaining residency is called a Hungary Golden Visa. A property should cost at least €500,000. 

An investor gets a residence permit for 10 years. After 3 years of living in Hungary, they can obtain permanent residency.

Does Hungary offer residence by investment?

Yes, Hungary has a residence permit by investment. It is issued for 10 years; the minimum investment is €250,000. An investor obtains permanent residency after 3 years of living in Hungary.

Can you enter the UK with a Hungarian residence permit?

No, you cannot enter the UK with a Hungarian residence permit without a visa, as the UK is not a part of the Schengen Area.

However, citizens of Hungary can come to the UK visa-free and stay there for up to 90 days.

Can I work in the EU with a Hungarian residence permit?

A foreigner with a Hungarian residence permit can work only in Hungary. A permit should also allow them to work in Hungary. For example, a permit obtained by family reunification or financial independence does now grant the right to work in Hungary. On the other hand, a permit by employment grants such a right.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.

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