If you have been living in Hungary for several years as an expat, perhaps you now identify yourself with the country, imagine your future here, would like to purchase land or participate in the political scene and obtain the right to vote. If so, you may be considering applying for citizenship. This article tells you what you need to know.
According to the statistics, about 174,000 foreigners applied for Hungarian citizenship from when the law was introduced in 1993 up until 2012. The average number of 8000 applicants per year doubled after the modification of the law in 2010.
After Fidesz’s victory that year and its initiative to make it easier to acquire citizenship, there were 39,000 foreigners living in Hungary who became citizens between 2010 and 2012.
The growth in the number of citizens was especially apparent among Hungarians living outside the border in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine: between 2010 and 2014, 450,000 of them received citizenship.
The reason for this huge increase was the so-called simplified procedure to qualify, which considers it sufficient to prove ethnic origin from Hungarian ancestors.
Simplified process for descendants of Hungarian citizens
The new regulation simplified the process, and the administrative and bureaucratic burdens were reduced. To benefit from this, you have to fulfil these requirements:
– You or your ancestors used to be Hungarian citizens, or can prove your Hungarian origin in another way.
– You can prove your Hungarian language skills.
– You have a clean sheet according to Hungarian law and there are no charges or processes in progress against you.
– Your citizenship does not jeopardise neither public security and order, nor Hungary’s national security.
Special attention is paid to proving your Hungarian language skills, which are tested by an educated associate during the application. The test is whether the applicant understands Hungarian and is able to communicate in the language.
However, even if you comply with the requirements and successfully complete the language test, the simplified citizenship does not mean that you will be able to vote in elections automatically. For this you need a reported and registered address in Hungary.
Obtaining citizenship does not automatically mean the possession of a Hungarian passport, since that needs to be requested via a separate procedure.
Claiming nationality – after 8, 5 or 3 years spent in Hungary
Even if you don’t comply with the above criteria for simplified citizenship but you would still like to apply, you can provided you have lived for at least eight years in Hungary without discontinuation. The period of eight years may be shorter under the following circumstances:
– If you were born in Hungary, later on left the country and now returned, you will be able to apply for citizenship already after spending five years in the country.
– If you are married to a Hungarian citizen or parenting a minor child who is a Hungarian citizen, you can ask for citizenship already after three years.
– In the rather unlikely case you know the Hungarian president personally and he approves your citizenship, it will be legally binding right away.
You will have to prove your knowledge of the language in these cases as well, unless you have completed a course and obtained a diploma in Hungarian at a recognised Hungarian university.
You can reclaim your Hungarian nationality if:
– If it was taken away from you in 1957, following the 1956 Uprising,
– You were released from Hungarian citizenship between 15.09.1947 and 02.05.1990, or
– You are a member of the Hungarian-German minority forced to move to Germany due to political reasons.
Necessary forms and documents
You can submit your application for citizenship together with the filled-in forms (which can be downloaded from http://www.bmbah.hu/index.php?lang=de) and the necessary attachments by the following authorities:
– at the Capital District Office of the Government Authority or the corresponding authority of the competent county
– at the Customer Service Office (“kormányablak“) or at the relevant Public Administration Offices (“okmányiroda“)
– at Hungarian embassies
– at the Immigration and Citizenship Office.
The documents, together with the application forms that need to be handed in, include:
– birth certificate and original certificate to prove your family status (in case you don’t have these available in Hungarian, you have to submit them in certified Hungarian translation together with a confirmation issued by a diplomatic representative),
– a valid registration card to prove your registration within Hungary,
– a certificate of good conduct.
The processing of your application will normally take 60 days after handing in everything. If your request is approved it needs to be confirmed by the Hungarian president. You will receive your certification of citizenship 60 days later. Based on this you can request a Hungarian ID card and a passport.