Residence Permit
February 16, 2024
Reading Time: 8 min

The Hungary Golden Visa Program: a guide on obtaining a residence permit by investment

In November 2023, the Hungarian government announced the launch of a new Golden Visa Program. Subsequently, in December of the same year, they decided to close the existing residency-by-investment program.

Starting in 2024, Hungary will accept applications from foreigners for Golden Visas, also known as residence permits by investment. The minimum sum of contributions under the program is €250,000.

Hungary Golden Visa in 2024
The Hungary Golden Visa Program: a guide on obtaining a residence permit by investment

Hungary Golden Visa: an overview

The Hungary Golden Visa is a residence permit for investors and their close family members. The program has three investment options:

  • real estate purchase;
  • purchase of units of real estate investment funds;
  • donation to a higher learning institution.

To apply for the Golden Visa, investors must contribute €250,000+ to the country’s economy, meet the program’s requirements, and undergo the application process, which takes several months. Upon approval, they obtain a residence permit valid for 10 years.

11 benefits of the Hungary Golden Visa program

1. Visa-free travel. Hungary is a Schengen country, so its residents visit the Schengen Area without visas. The allowed stay is 90 days in a 180-day period.

2. Tax optimisation. The income tax in Hungary is 15%. In comparison, personal income in Italy, Greece, and Spain is taxed at 43%, 44%, and 47%, respectively.

The corporate tax in Hungary is 9%, while in Portugal, it is 31.5%, and in Greece, it is 22%.

Income and corporate taxes in Hungary are among the lowest in Europe.

3. Moving to Hungary. Golden Visa holders can enter Hungary at any time, even if the borders are closed to foreigners. They can live there permanently or visit the country only occasionally.

Hungary is the 18th safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index 2023, and one of the most affordable countries in Europe. It is enough to have around €1,000 per month for a single person to live there. In comparison, in Italy, maintaining a similar lifestyle would cost €1,500.

4. Access to high-quality education. Hungarian universities are included in the QS World University Ranking and belong to the top 1,000 educational institutions in the world. According to the rating, the best Hungarian university is the University of Szeged.

Hungarian diplomas are recognised all over the EU, in the UK, and in the US; thus, Hungarian graduates can easily find jobs in these countries.

5. Access to high-quality healthcare. Hungary is a country known for medical tourism. Foreigners usually come to enjoy thermal and mineral springs, which are beneficial for skin and blood pressure and help with relaxation in general. It is also popular to use the services of dentists and plastic surgeons.

Prices in Hungary are much lower than, for example, in Scandinavian countries, but the quality is competitive.

6. Rich nature and architecture. The foundation of Hungary dates back to the 9th century, but people lived on its territories long before that. Many historical sites, such as fortresses, churches, cathedrals, streets, and squares, are left from the old days.

Having a mostly flat landscape, Hungary is surrounded by mountains and hills. The second largest European river, the Danube River, flows through the country.

Hungary residence permit by investment
Buda Castle, depicted in the photo, as well as Fisherman's Bastion and St. Matthias Church, located in Budapest, belong to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

7. Opportunity to work and do business in Europe. All Hungary Golden Visa holders can run their businesses, be employed, or work as CEOs in their companies.

8. Affordable real estate. On average, property prices in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, are significantly more affordable when compared to other European capitals. Specifically, one square metre in Budapest costs approximately 2.5 times less than in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, and 2 times less than in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

9. Opening bank accounts in Europe. Hungarian residents can open bank accounts in Hungary and other European countries quickly and easily. Usually, they are only required to provide their passport and a residence permit.

Non-residents usually hand in more documents, and the process takes more time for them. They can also be denied opening a bank account at all.

10. A status for a long time. The Hungarian residence permit is granted for 10 years right away. The investor is not required to gather documents and apply for an extension every 1—3 years.

In comparison, the Spanish Golden Visa must be extended after 3 years, and the Portuguese one every 2 years.  

After 10 years, the investor can renew their residence permit for 10 more years.

11. Citizenship in 11 years. Foreigners can obtain permanent residency in Hungary after 3 years of residing in the country with a residence permit. 8 more years later, foreigners are eligible for citizenship.

Hungarian citizens can visit 171 countries visa-free, including all the Schengen states, the UK, Japan, and Singapore.

Investment options under the Hungary residency by investment program

Purchase of units of real estate investment funds for €250,000. The real estate fund must be registered with the Hungarian National Bank.

A donation to a higher learning institution of at least €1,000,000. This money supports education, scientific research, and artistic or creative activities. The chosen institution must be maintained by a public interest trust foundation performing a public task. 

The purchase of real estate. To qualify, the investor buys real estate for €500,000+. To qualify, the investor buys real estate. The chosen property must be residential and approved by the Land Registry.

Upon buying real estate, the investor pays a stamp duty:

  • 4% — for a property under 1 billion forints, or €2.6 million;
  • 2% — for a property costing more than 1 billion forints, or €2.6 million.

The administrative fee depends on the number of applicants. A single investor pays €280+, while a family of four is required to pay €1,120+.

Examples of properties eligible for the Hungary Golden Visa

Requirements and documents for obtaining the Hungary residence permit by investment

Requirements for investors and their families. The main applicant must:

  • be over 18;
  • have a legitimate source of income;
  • have health insurance;
  • come from a non-EU or non-EEA country;
  • have a clean criminal record;
  • declare any illnesses or severe health conditions, if any.

The investor can add their spouse, minor children, and financially dependent parents to the application.

If any applicant has a valid residence permit in another Schengen country, this must be declared.

Documents. When applying for Hungarian residence, the applicant has to submit the following documents:

  • copies of all applicants’ passports; the validity period must be at least 12 months;
  • two passport photos for every applicant — not older than 1 month;
  • health insurance for all family members;
  • a written confirmation of intention to fulfil the investment condition;
  • a copy of the marriage certificate, if applicable;
  • copies of the birth certificates, if applicable;
  • proof of the legitimacy of the income;
  • CVs for each family member over 18;
  • detailed bank statements indicating a cash balance;
  • a residence permit form;
  • a confirmation of investing.

Other ways to obtain residency in Hungary

Employment. Residence permits are granted to employees, highly qualified workers, and intra-corporate transferees. 

Employees get residency if they work for remuneration and are in an employment relationship. 

Highly qualified workers obtain a so-called EU Blue Card. To be eligible, they must earn a certain sum of money calculated by the Hungarian government and have the qualifications to do the job.

Managers, specialists, or trainee employees can be intra-corporate transferees. It means they can be transferred from a company branch outside the EU to a branch in Hungary. The main requirement is to be employed by the company as a manager, a specialist, or a trainee for at least 3 months.

Self-employment. Persons can obtain residency if they plan to work for remuneration as a self-employed worker. They can also be the owner or manager of a legal entity or a member of such an entity's executive, representative, or supervisory board.

A self-employed worker must be registered in Hungary as a self-employed entrepreneur.

Studying, doing research, or performing an official duty. Foreigners can obtain residency if they plan to study at a Hungarian university for more than 3 months. The requirements are the following:

  • to be accepted in a Hungarian educational institution as a full-time student or to attend a preparatory course;
  • to prove the appropriate language skills necessary to pursue the studies;
  • to have a travel document valid for the intended period of stay;
  • to have accommodation;
  • to have sufficient financial means;
  • to have health insurance.

Residence permits for scientific research are granted to persons who intend to conduct scientific research in Hungary. They must have a hosting agreement with a scientific organisation.

A residence permit for official duty is issued to people who stay in Hungary to study, perform educational or scientific activities, or train within the framework of an international agreement. Staff of scientific, educational, or cultural institutions operating in Hungary are also eligible if they work on an international contract.

Family reunification. Close family members who can obtain a residence permit are:

  • a spouse;
  • minor dependent children;
  • dependent parents;
  • siblings or linear relatives if they can't support themselves for health reasons.

A relative living in Hungary must have a residence permit or permanent residency.

Hungarian and other European Golden Visa programs: a comparison

CountryMinimum investmentObtaining timeCitizenship
Malta€150,0006—8 monthsIn 5 years
Italy€250,0003+ monthsIn 10 years
Hungary€250,0006+ monthsIn 8 years
Greece€250,0006+ monthsIn 7 years
Portugal€250,0008—10 monthsIn 5 years
Cyprus€300,0003+ monthsIn 5 years
Spain€500,0005+ monthsIn 10 years

To become EU citizens as soon as possible, Cyprus and Portugal are probably the best countries.

If you want to obtain a status for life and never extend it again, you might want to look at the Cyprus and Malta permanent residency programs. Hungary might also be a good option, as its residence permit is granted for 10 years at once.

If you want to add your relatives, check out the program's requirements. The Portuguese program, for example, allows you to add your siblings to the application. It is possible to add children and parents of any age under the Italian, Spanish, and Maltese programs. The applicants for Maltese permanent residency can also add their grandparents.

Purchasing real estate is possible under Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Malta, or Spain's Golden Visa programs. Italy and Portugal don’t have such an option.

For optimising taxes, the Italy and Greece Golden Visa programs would probably be the best, as investors can pay a flat tax on their income. Cyprus and Hungary also offer attractive tax rates.

Obtaining a permanent residence permit and citizenship in Hungary after the Golden Visa

The temporary residence permit holder can apply for permanent residency after 3 years of continuous living in Hungary. During this period, the foreigner can’t leave the country for more than 4 months at once and for more than 9 months in total.

The resident is eligible for a Hungarian passport after 8 years of living in the country with permanent residence. They must pass tests on the Hungarian language and the country's history.

How to get a Golden visa and move to Hungary: a step-by-step guide

The processing time for obtaining a Hungarian residence permit depends on the individual situation of each investor and takes 6+ months.

PT6M
1 day
Preliminary Due Diligence
Preliminary Due Diligence

Immigrant Invest conducts a preliminary check of the investor, which helps to discover and reduce the risks of a refusal to a minimum.

Certified Compliance Anti Money Laundering Officers undertake the completely confidential check. The investor provides only their passport.

2 weeks
Documents collection
Documents collection

Immigrant Invest lawyers provide the investor with a list of required documents. Then, lawyers translate and notarize them.

Application for the Guest Investor Visa
Application for the Guest Investor Visa

On behalf of the investor, lawyers apply for the Guest Investor Visa, which is the first step to a residence permit.

The Guest Investor Visa is issued for 2 years. The investor must visit Hungary and apply for a residence permit within this period.

Up to 93 days
Visit to Hungary and fulfilment of investment requirements
Visit to Hungary and fulfilment of investment requirements

The investor has 93 days after arriving in Hungary to invest in a chosen project and apply for a residence permit.

The investor must keep their investment for at least 5 years.

3 days
Application for a residence permit
Application for a residence permit

Lawyers help the investor apply for an RP. 

The application is considered within several days. When it is approved, the investor books an appointment with a migration office to take fingerprints and get a residence permit.

Up to 3 weeks
Up to 3 weeks Submission of biometrics and obtainment of a residence permit card
Up to 3 weeks Submission of biometrics and obtainment of a residence permit card

On the appointment date, the investor provides original documents, submits biometrics, and takes a photo for a residence permit card. The document is issued within 21 days and sent by mail to the chosen address.

1+ month
Optional: Relocation to Hungary
Optional: Relocation to Hungary

Once the investor receives their residence card, they can move to Hungary. After entering the country, they have three days to register their place of accommodation on the electronic platform of the immigration authority for procedure initiation.

Cost of living in Hungary

Hungary is an affordable country to live in. In 2024, living there is almost two times cheaper than in Scandinavian countries like Norway or Denmark and 30% more affordable than in France or Germany. The prices there are similar to those in Portugal or Poland.

The average gross salary in Hungary is around €1,500; after taxation, it decreases to €1,250.

One person must have at least €650 without monthly rent to live in Hungary, and a family of four, consisting of parents and two minor children, needs around €2,300.

Housing and utilities. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Budapest costs €600 per month. Depending on location, the price for renting a three-bedroom apartment in Budapest ranges from €800 to 1,000 per month.

You need to pay around €150 per month for utilities, including electricity, water, heating, cooling, and taking out the garbage in Budapest. The Internet for a month costs approximately €15.

Food. A person spends around €10 for a meal in an inexpensive restaurant, and a cup of coffee costs €2.

A food basket consisting of bread, milk, cheese, eggs, chicken fillets, some fruit, and vegetables costs around €30. A bottle of wine and domestic beer bought in a supermarket are €5 and €1.5, respectively.

Transportation. Residents usually buy monthly passes for all types of public transport for roughly €30. There are discounts for pupils, students, parents of small children, and pensioners. Children under 14 use public transport free of charge.

Taxis are much more expensive. Taking a taxi from, for example, Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport to the city centre is approximately €50.

If you're driving a car, a litre of gasoline would cost you around €1.5.

Entertainment. A person pays approximately €9 for a cinema ticket, and €50—100 is the cost of a ticket to a theatre. Visiting Szechenyi Thermal Baths on weekends costs €31.5.

The price for a monthly gym membership is around €50.

An overview of taxes in Hungary

Personal income tax is 15%. It is paid on domestic-source income and foreign-source income if a person resides in Hungary. Individuals also pay a social security contribution of 18.5%.

The corporate tax rate in Hungary is 9%.

Property taxes. When buying a property in Hungary, a person pays stamp duty:

  • 4% — for real estate costing under €2,600,000;
  • 2% — for real estate costing over €2,600,000.

They also pay a 5% value-added tax that is usually included in the price of real estate.

The value-added tax. The standard rate is 27%. The reduced rate of 18% applies to products like milk and dairy foods, products made from cereals, flour, and starch, and services that grant admission to musical and dancing events.

Some pharmaceutical products, audio and printed books, newspapers, district heating services, certain live performance activities, commercial accommodation services, internet access services, and local dining services are taxed at 5%.

Double taxation agreements. Hungary has signed double taxation treaties with over 80 countries, including the UK, China, and the USA. 

Foreigners from these countries don’t need to pay taxes to both states.

Key takeouts: Hungary Golden Visa program

  1. The new Hungary Golden Visa program was launched in 2024. It allows foreigners to obtain a residence permit for a minimum investment of €250,000.
  2. There are three investment options: real estate purchase, units of real estate investment funds purchase, or a donation to a higher learning institution.
  3. The benefits of the Hungary Golden Visa include the ability to reside in Hungary, visa-free travel within Europe, opportunities for tax optimization, access to high-quality education and healthcare, the chance to work and conduct business throughout Europe, and a 10-year residency status.
  4. When participating in the program, an investor can add their close family members: a spouse, minor children, and dependent parents.
  5. It is possible to obtain Hungarian citizenship after 11 years of living in the country.

Frequently asked questions

Does Hungary have a Golden Visa program?

Yes. The new Golden Visa program was launched at the beginning of 2024. Under it, non-EU and non-EEA citizens obtain Hungarian residency by investing at least €250,000. Investment options are real estate purchases, units of real estate investment funds purchases, or donations to a higher learning institution.

How much should you invest in Hungary to get citizenship?

It is not possible to get Hungarian citizenship by investment. However, a person can obtain a residence permit if they invest at least €250,000 in the Hungarian economy.

Which EU countries have Golden Visa programs?

Besides Hungary, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain have Golden Visa programs.

Can you get a permanent residence permit in Hungary?

Yes. One is eligible for permanent residency after living in Hungary for at least 3 years with a residence permit.

What is the cheapest Golden Visa in Europe?

Golden Visas of Greece, Portugal and Hungary are the most affordable in Europe. Investors can get a Greek, Portuguese or Hungarian residence permit if they invest a minimum of €250,000.

Can I get a residence permit in Hungary if I buy a house?
How to get a Hungarian passport?

A foreigner must first get a residence permit. It can be obtained by investment, employment, studying at a Hungarian university, or reunification with a family.

3 years after the foreigner gets permanent residency, and after 8 more years, they can apply for Hungarian citizenship. The whole path takes at least 11 years.

How do I become a resident of Hungary?

You can become a Hungarian resident if you invest at least €250,000 in the country’s economy.

Other ways to obtain a residence permit are employment, studying, or reunification with a family.

What is the investment visa in Hungary?

The Hungarian investment visa is also called the Golden Visa. It is granted to foreigners who contribute to the country’s economy. There are three investment options: real estate purchase, units of real estate investment funds purchase, or a donation to a higher learning institution. The minimum investment sum is €250,000.

How to become a Hungarian citizen?

To become a Hungarian citizen, a foreigner must first obtain a residence permit. The easiest way is to invest at least €250,000 in Hungary’s economy.

The investor can obtain permanent residence after holding a residence permit for 3 years and maintaining the requirements. In 8 more years, they can apply for citizenship.

What are the benefits of a Hungary Golden Visa?

Some benefits of the Hungary Golden Visa are:

  • moving to Hungary and travelling within Europe visa-free; 
  • tax optimisation;
  • access to high-quality education and healthcare;
  • opportunity to work and do business in Europe;
  • resident status for 10 years and citizenship in 11 years.

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

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