Residence Permit
April 22, 2024
Reading Time: 6 min

From past to passport: your journey to Hungarian citizenship by ancestry

Hungary citizenship comes with numerous advantages: visa-free travel to 170+ countries, access to quality healthcare and education all over Europe, low taxes, and affordable cost of living.

Foreigners with Hungarian roots can easily obtain the country’s passport if they prove their ancestry.

Let’s explore all the requirements to become a Hungarian citizen by descent.

Hungary citizenship by descent
From past to passport: your journey to Hungarian citizenship by ancestry

Who can obtain Hungary citizenship by descent

Hungarian citizenship is based on the jus sanguinis, also known as a right of blood. It means any person whose ancestors were Hungarians can also become a Hungarian citizen. 

The specific number of generations back from which one can claim citizenship is not clearly defined. Typically, parents and grandparents are recognised as direct ancestors for citizenship claims. However, if a person can successfully trace and prove their ancestry to a more distant grandparent, they may still be eligible for citizenship.

The lineage must be direct. It means a person can’t become a citizen, for example, if only their uncle is a Hungarian.

A person doesn’t need to live in Hungary for a specific time with a temporary or permanent residency. They can apply for citizenship right away.

People with no Hungarian roots must obtain a residence permit. The easiest way to do so is to apply for the Hungary Golden Visa.

In this case, the person is not required to find a job, enrol in a university or marry a Hungarian. Instead, they invest in the country’s economy.

The main requirement for obtaining Hungary citizenship by descent is to prove ancestry with, for example, birth or marriage certificates.

Other requirements are:

  • prove the knowledge of the Hungarian language;
  • have no criminal record and no criminal proceedings;
  • not to be a threat to the country.

Citizenship by descent can be granted to any person with Hungarian roots, no matter whether they were born in Hungary or abroad.

Documents for applying for Hungary citizenship by descent

The documents that can serve as the proof of ancestry are:

  • state birth, marriage, and death certificates of ancestors;
  • ecclesiastical and archival certificates — they must indicate the exact source;
  • military record, work record or school certificate; 
  • other official documents that prove the ancestor's name, place, and time of birth.

All documents must be authenticated and, if issued in any other language other than Hungarian, translated. The copies must be certified.

The applicant’s lineage must be clearly traced. For instance, if an applicant’s connection to Hungary is through a great-grandfather, they also need to present details about their grandfather and father. Similarly, when tracing ancestry through the maternal line, it’s essential to provide both the maiden and married names.

Besides documents proving the ancestry, the applicant provides their identity document, such as a passport or an ID, a photo, a written CV, and an application form.

The person also completes a data sheet provided to the Domestic Registry of Births Abroad. It includes basic information about the applicant, their parents, and their knowledge of Hungarian.

If married, divorced, or widowed, the person writes another data sheet for the Domestic Registry of the marriage.

How to get citizenship by descent

Persons with Hungarian ancestry apply for a simplified naturalisation under which they are not required to reside in Hungary for a specific number of years. Thus, they don’t need to acquire temporary or permanent residence permits.

The obtaining period is not fixed and depends on the situation and background of each applicant.

2—3 weeks
Gather documents and fill out the application form
Gather documents and fill out the application form

The application form is completed in Hungarian and can be downloaded from the official website.

1 week
Translate and legalise documents
Translate and legalise documents

The applicant must translate documents into Hungarian; it can be done in Országos Fordító és Fordításhitelesítő Iroda (OFFI), The National Translation and Certification Office in Hungary, or by the Hungarian consul abroad.

The Hungarian authorities can also accept documents provided by EU translators with authentic translation rights.

1 day
File an application
File an application

The application itself can be prepared electronically and submitted at:

  • district office;
  • integrated customer service office;
  • Hungary embassy;
  • professional consular officer.

When applying, you must also undergo an interview with the officer.

1+ week
Wait for the decision
Wait for the decision

When a decision is made, the applicant gets a naturalisation certificate issued by the president of Hungary and an invitation to take an oath.

1 day
Take an oath of allegiance
Take an oath of allegiance

The applicant acquires Hungarian citizenship on the day of taking the oath. The naturalisation document loses effect if the oath is not taken within one year of the first invitation.

Ways to obtain Hungary citizenship if you don’t have Hungarian roots

Foreigners who are not ancestors of the Hungarian nationals can obtain the country’s citizenship if they marry a Hungarian or live in Hungary for a specific number of years.

By marriage. Foreigners married to Hungarian nationals obtain citizenship in 3 years if the couple lives in Hungary. Spouses residing outside the country have to be married for longer. The 5-year path applies to a couple with at least one child; 10 years is required if a couple doesn’t have children. 

Other requirements are to have no criminal record, no tax debts, and to prove knowledge of Hungarian. The marriage concluded in another country must also be registered in Hungary.

By naturalisation. The requirements to get naturalised are the following:

  • reside in Hungary continuously for 11 years;
  • have a registered address in the country;
  • have no criminal record and no criminal proceedings;
  • not be a threat to the public safety and national security;
  • pass the Hungarian language test.

Minors with a limited legal capacity, people over 60, and persons who obtained a degree from a Hungarian educational or higher education institution are exempt from passing the language exam.

It is possible to obtain citizenship faster, in 5 years, if a person was born in Hungary and resided in the country during their minor years.

How to become a Hungarian citizen through the Hungary Golden Visa

Wealthy foreigners can ease their path to a passport by naturalisation if they obtain the Hungary Golden Visa, which equals a residence permit. It is granted in exchange for investment in the country’s economy.

There are three options:

  • purchase of investment fund units — €250,000+;
  • real estate purchase — €500,000+;
  • charitable donation — €1,000,000+.

To obtain the Hungary Golden Visa, the investor must be over 18, have no criminal record, and be capable of proving the legality of their income. A spouse and financially dependent children can be added to the application.

The process of getting the Golden Visa takes at least 6 months. As a result, the applicant is granted a temporary residence permit for 10 years at once. It can be extended one more time for another 10 years. To maintain the status of a resident, foreigners don’t need to live in Hungary.

Investment properties in Hungary

11 benefits of Hungary citizenship

1. Moving to Hungary. With a Hungarian passport, a person can enter Hungary anytime and stay there for as long as they wish. At the same time, they are not obliged to live in the country to retain citizenship.

Hungary ranks 42nd out of 162 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index. It is also in the top 20 of the safest countries, according to the Global Peace Index 2023.

A Hungarian residence permit holder can also move to Hungary. The easiest way to obtain the status of a resident is to apply for the Hungary Golden Visa by investment.

2. Ease of movement within the EU. Hungary is one of the EU countries, which means its citizens can live and work all over the European Union without any residence permit.

The country is located in Central Europe, making travelling to many other European countries fast and easy. For example, it takes only 3 hours by car to travel from Budapest to Vienna, the capital of Austria.

3. Strong passport. The Hungarian passport has visa-free agreements with 171 countries and territories, including the US, the UK, Japan, and many others.

Hungarians can stay in Japan and the US for up to 90 out of 180 days and in the UK for up to 180 days a year.

4. Access to healthcare services. Hungary is a medical tourism hub. Foreigners choose it for high-quality healthcare and affordable prices. The cost of medical services is 40—70% lower compared to the UK and Scandinavian countries.

Hungarian citizens can obtain a European Healthcare Insurance Card, which allows them to get healthcare all over the EU under the same conditions as locals.

5. Education in Europe. 11 Hungarian educational institutions are on the list of top 1,500 universities worldwide. The best of them is the University of Szeged. Hungarian citizens can study in public universities for free.

They can also enter other European educational institutions without obtaining a student residence permit. The tuition fees are usually the same as for local students.

6. Lower cost of living. According to Insider Monkey’s estimations, Hungary is one of the most affordable countries in Europe. It is less expensive than Portugal, Poland, or Slovakia, which are usually considered the countries with the lowest cost of living. A person needs around €1,000 per month for a comfortable life in Hungary.

In comparison, one needs around €1,700—2,000 in Austria and €2,000—2,300 in Norway.

How to obtain Hungary citizenship by descent
The Danube is the second-largest river in Europe. It passes through many European cities, including Budapest, the capital of Hungary, depicted in the photo

7. Tax optimisation. Hungary has one of the lowest taxes in the EU. Personal income is taxed at a rate of 15%, and corporate income is taxed at 9%.

The Hungarian government has signed double taxation avoidance treaties with 80+ countries. Citizens of countries included in the list are exempt from paying taxes to both states.

8. Dual citizenship. Hungary allows its citizens to have two or more passports. It means a person whose country also allows dual citizenship doesn’t need to renounce their passport upon obtaining a Hungarian one.

9. Business opportunities. Hungarian citizens can easily start businesses and open bank accounts in the country. Hungary is a part of the European Economic Area that has a unified market with a free movement of goods, services, and capital.

10. Voting rights. Hungarian citizens can vote in elections on the Hungarian and European levels, allowing them to shape their future.

11. Historical richness and natural beauty. Living in Hungary means being surrounded by UNESCO World Heritage sites, historic castles, and thermal baths, along with vibrant cultural festivals and events throughout the year. Hungary also has diverse landscapes, including hills, forests, lakes, and rivers.

Key takeouts

  1. A foreigner can obtain Hungary citizenship by descent if they have a direct ancestor who is Hungarian.
  2. To prove their Hungarian roots, the applicant provides documents indicating the name, date of birth and place of birth of their Hungarian ancestor. It can be a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, or an extract from the archive.
  3. People who don’t have Hungarian roots can obtain citizenship by marriage or naturalisation.
  4. To ease the path to Hungarian citizenship by naturalisation, one can obtain the Hungary Golden Visa by investment.
  5. Some benefits of Hungarian citizenship are a strong passport, ease of movement within the EU and the EEA, access to quality healthcare and education, tax optimisation, and business opportunities.

Frequently asked questions

How to get Hungarian citizenship by descent?

To get citizenship by descent, one needs to:

  • be sure they have Hungarian roots;
  • gather documents proving the ancestry;
  • authenticate and translate papers and certify their copies;
  • file an application and undergo the interview in Hungarian;
  • wait for a decision and make an oath of allegiance to Hungary.

Generally, it takes several months to become a Hungarian citizen by descent.

Do I qualify for Hungarian citizenship by descent?

To qualify for Hungary citizenship by descent, a person must have a Hungarian direct ancestor and prove the ancestry with documents. They must also know Hungarian, have a clean criminal record, and not be a threat to the country.

Does Hungary allow dual or triple citizenship?

Yes, Hungary allows its citizens to have dual or triple citizenship. However, there are some countries like Iran or India whose citizens can have only one passport. 

People coming from these countries must renounce their citizenship upon obtaining a Hungarian one.

How far back can you claim Hungarian citizenship?

The number of generations is not established. Usually, Hungarian authorities consider parents and grandparents, but if the ancestry can be traced and proved further, a descendent can apply for citizenship as well.

What is the jus sanguinis citizenship in Hungary?

Jus sanguinis is citizenship by the right of blood. It means any foreigner with Hungarian ancestors can be a Hungarian citizen through citizenship by descent.

Do you have to speak Hungarian to get a Hungarian passport?

Yes, you must speak Hungarian to get citizenship in Hungary, whether by descent, naturalisation, or marriage.

People applying for a passport based on their ancestry don’t need to pass a Hungarian language test. Their language skill is assessed during an interview.

How do you prove Hungarian descent?

You must prove you are of Hungarian descent by providing official documents. They can be the ancestor’s:

  • birth certificate, marriage, or death certificates;
  • ecclesiastical and archival certificates;
  • military record;
  • work record;
  • school certificate.
How hard is it to get Hungarian citizenship?

It depends on the ground under which you obtain citizenship. 

People with Hungarian ancestry can get a Hungarian passport relatively easily. They must prove their Hungarian roots by providing documents on their ancestor’s citizenship and have some knowledge of Hungarian. They are not required to live in the country.

Obtaining citizenship by marriage or naturalisation is more complex. The applicant is required to reside in a country for a specific number of years and pass the Hungarian language test. 

Can I have dual citizenship in the USA and Hungary?

Yes, both the US and Hungary allow their citizens to have dual citizenship.

What documents do I need for Hungarian citizenship by descent?

To prove your Hungarian ancestry, you must provide documents indicating the ancestor’s name, place, and time of birth, such as their birth certificate. You must also attach your identification document, a CV, and an application form.

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