Hungary - Consular Information Sheet
June 1, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Hungary is a stable democracy with
a market economy. Tourist facilities outside Budapest are widely
available if not as developed as those found in Western Europe.
Many of the goods and services taken for granted in other Western
countries are not yet available outside the capital. Visitors
considering a trip are encouraged to read
the Embassy's consular web site: http://www.usis.hu/consular.htm.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is
not required for tourist stays of 90 days or less. If you plan
to reside or study in Hungary, a residence permit must be obtained
from the nearest Hungarian Embassy or Consulate in the U.S. before
entry into Hungary. Additional information concerning entry requirements
can be obtained from
the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary at 3910 Shoemaker Street
NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 362-6730, Internet
http://www.Hungaryemb.org, or the nearest Hungarian Consulate
in Los Angeles or New York.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry or departure.
CRIME: Hungary has a low rate of violent crime. However,
street crime, which occasionally involves violence, has increased,
especially at night near major hotels and restaurants and on public
transportation. Theft of passports, currency, and credit cards
is a frequent problem, especially in youth hostels, at train stations,
and on public transportation. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport
should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest
U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The number of burglaries has risen
substantially, and vehicle thefts, particularly of high value
automobiles, is a major problem.
Foreigners may also experience problems with excessive billing
and/or extortion at some restaurants and nightclubs featuring
"adult entertainment." Do not order beverage or food
service without first seeing a menu and verifying the cost. The
Consulate offers an informational brochure on tourist scams and
high theft areas that includes a list of restaurants/ nightclubs
to avoid. To consult this advisory, please visit the following
part of the
Embassy's consular web site, http://www.usis.hu/tourist.htm.
The number of highway robberies has increased over the past few
years. Drivers should be cautious when stopping at gas stations
and highway parking lots (especially at night), and while fixing
flat tires or other mechanical problems. There have been reports
of scams perpetrated on unwitting victims while traveling on the
highways. This potential scam involves someone who attracts the
driver's attention by saying that there is something wrong with
the car (e.g. a smoking hood, or a flat tire) in order to encourage
the driver to pull over to the shoulder of the road. Once pulled
over, while the driver is busy inspecting the alleged trouble,
these scamsters will remove purses, passports, etc. from the car
and drive away. Luggage and valuables should not be left unattended
inside any vehicle.
Tourists who become a victim of a crime in Hungary are strongly
encouraged to call a 24-hour multi-lingual crime reporting telephone
number from 8am to 8pm at (36-1) 438-8080 (after hours: 06-80-66-00-44).
There is also a 24-hour police Tourinfo office that provides service
in English and in German and is located in one of downtown Budapest's
busiest tourist areas: Vigado Utca 6, 1051 Budapest. Alternatively,
tourists may visit the Embassy to file an incident report.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's Pamphlet,
A Safe Trip Abroad, for
ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available
by mail from the
Superintendent of Public Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) web site at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: At best, adequate medical treatment
is available in Hungary, as hospital facilities and nursing support
are not comparable to those in the United States. Physicians are
generally well trained although there is a lack of adequate emergency
service facilities. A language barrier can exist as well, if one
does not speak Hungarian. Doctors and hospitals usually expect
immediate cash payments for health services.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's bureau
of consular affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers
at 1-(877)-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-(888)-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299),
or via CDC's web
site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, 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.
Safety of public transportation: good
Urban road conditions/maintenance: good
Rural road conditions/maintenance: fair
Availability of roadside/ambulance assistance: good
In Hungary, the number of fatal traffic accidents is approximately
1,200 per year. Also, there are approximately 7,000 traffic accidents
per year that result in serious injuries. Road travel is more
dangerous during the Christmas season, summer months, and at night.
Roadside assistance is generally available. Ambulance service
can be reached by calling 104 and the police can be reached by
Bus, train, and taxi services are readily available for inter-city
Hungarian highways are generally in good condition. In urban
areas, roads and road maintenance are also good. However, in rural
areas, roads are narrow, badly lit, and can be in a state of poor
repair in some places. These small rural roads are often used
by pedestrians, agricultural machines, and farm animals. This
requires increased caution on the part of drivers.
Hungary has a policy of zero tolerance for driving under the
influence of alcohol. Police often conduct routine road checks
where breath-analyzer tests are administered. Persons found to
be driving while intoxicated face jail and/or fines. Possible
penalties for a car accident involving injury or death are 1 to
5 years in prison.
Police have also instituted a more widespread practice of stopping
vehicles to check driver identity documents in the search for
illegal aliens and residents in Hungary, and to check vehicle
registration and fitness documentation, particularly in Budapest.
Hungary recognizes international driver's permits (IDP) issued
by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American
Automobile Touring Alliance when presented in conjunction with
a state driver's license. American drivers' licenses will be accepted
in Hungary for one year after arrival, provided that a certified
Hungarian translation has been attached to the license. Those
with IDPs do not need to have the license translated, but must
present both documents together. After one year in Hungary, U.S.
citizens must obtain a Hungarian driver's license. For further
information on this procedure, please contact the ACS office of
Embassy in Budapest. The e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The speed limit for cars and motorcycles on the limited access
highways is 130 km per hour (approximately 81 mph); on highways,
the limit is 110 km per hr (approximately 69 mph); and, in town
and village areas, the speed limit is 50 km per hr (approximately
30 mph). Also, special seats are required for children under age
12. Physically handicapped people are exempted from paying fees
in any parking area.
In the past, it was commonplace for fines to be collected on
the spot by the police for any alleged traffic violation. Now,
tickets are written up by the police, thus documenting the infraction
and payable fines. The police will give the offender a postal
check (money order), on which the amount of the fine to be paid
is written, and this postal check can be presented and paid for
at any Hungarian post office. Sometimes, in disputes about the
fine or the offense, the police will confiscate the person's passport
and issue a receipt for the passport as well as an "invitation"
letter to appear at a police station the next day or the day after
to resolve the dispute. The passport is given back after resolution
and/or the payment of the fine.
Seat belts are mandatory for everyone in the car. Unless another
instruction sign is displayed, yielding right of way is prevalent.
Making right turns during a red light is prohibited. Flashing
the high beams means a driver is giving you precedence at an intersection
or calling your attention to the presence of something that may
affect your driving.
The Hungarian authority responsible for road safety is the national
police headquarters, telephone: 36-1-443-5651. At the national
police headquarters, English is not widely spoken. "Utinform"
provides road condition information in Hungarian at tel: 36-1-322-7052.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
see the Department of State's bureau of consular affairs home
page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific
information about Hungarian driver's permits, vehicle inspection,
road taxes and mandatory insurance, please contact the
Hungarian national tourist organization office in New York
via the internet at: http://www.gotoHungary.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the government of Hungary's civil aviation
authority as category one, in compliance with the international
aviation safety standards for the oversight of Hungarian air carrier
operations. For further information, travelers may contact the
department of transportation at 1(800)322-7873, or visit the
FAA internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at (618)-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Hungary's customs authorities encourage
the use of an ATA (admission temporaire/temporary admission) carnet
for the temporary admission of Professional equipment, commercial
samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA
Carnet headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International
Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues
and guarantees the
ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information,
call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to email@example.com, or
visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. laws. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons
violating Hungary's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested
or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in
illegal drugs in Hungary are strict and convicted offenders can
expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The acceptance of traveler's checks
and credit cards is not universal. The presence of ATMs is increasing
in Budapest and other major cities.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on the international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction please refer to CA's web site, http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html,
or telephone the Department of State at (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY ADDRESS: Americans living in
or visiting Hungary are encouraged to register at the consular
section of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, and obtain updated information
on travel and security in Hungary. The U.S. Embassy is located
at v. 1054 Budapest, Szabadsag Ter 12; telephone (36-1) 475-4400
between the hours of 8am - 5pm, or, if calling after 5pm, (36-1)
475-4703/4929. The Consular Section's fax is (36-1) 475-4188/4113,
Consular Section's web site is located at: http//www.usis.hu/consular.htm.
The web site has been published in both the English and Hungarian