Hungary

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Monday, 23 March 2015.   This advice has been thoroughly reviewed and updated. It contains new information, including on public transport and river cruises (see Local travel). The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Hungary.

Hungary overall

Summary

* You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions. * There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Hungary for the most up-to-date information.

Hungary is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with 25 other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Hungary without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.

Entry into Hungary can be refused if you have failed to pay a previous fine levied in Hungary. You should contact the Embassy or Consulate of Hungary for guidance on paying any outstanding fines.

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) who are carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

You should avoid protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Extremist groups have used national holidays, such as 15 March (date of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution), 20 August (St. Stephen’s Day) and 23 October (Republic Day) to stage demonstrations during commemorative events.

Crime

Petty crime occurs in Hungary, in particular on public transport and in railway stations, markets and other places frequented by tourists. When travelling by overnight train, you should secure your compartment from the inside. Do not leave luggage unattended at any time.

Some clubs and restaurants do not list prices. You should check the cost before ordering as certain bars, clubs and restaurants (mainly in the business district of central Pest) charge exorbitant prices. Disputes about overcharging have been known to lead to violence. Security guards may compel you to pay. Be wary of seemingly helpful taxi drivers, who may receive commissions for taking tourists to such establishments, and of other unsolicited invitations to socialise.

Social attitudes to homosexuality are not as liberal as in Australia. There have been instances of harassment and violence directed at homosexuals. See our LGBTI travellers page.

The Hungarian National Tourist Office has a 24-hour helpline (telephone (1) 438-8080) to assist tourists who are victims of crime. Local police have created a website with general safety tips for travellers to Hungary.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Hungary. Most banks in Hungary have ATMs which accept major international cards. Take care when receiving bank notes as some notes that are no longer valid may still be in circulation. Do not use street money changers.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the General advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Public transport in Budapest

Foreign visitors are often caught out by the ticket system in Budapest and subsequently fined by inspectors. Follow passenger information notices, which are usually printed in English. Validate your ticket before starting your journey (before you get to the platform if travelling by Metro and immediately after boarding buses, trams and trolley buses). Keep your ticket until the end of your journey and show it to inspectors on request. New tickets must be purchased and validated each time you change lines.
Fines for travelling on public transport without a valid ticket are expensive.
More information on ticket conditions and prices can be found at the Budapest Transport Authority .

Driving in Hungary

While highways in Hungary are generally in good condition, driving in rural areas can be hazardous due to poor road maintenance and insufficient street lighting. The use of headlights is compulsory outside towns, including during daytime. The use of snow tyres is recommended if driving during winter. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Motorists must buy a vignette (toll card), available from petrol stations and post offices, to use the Hungarian motorways M1, M3, M5 and M7.

River cruises

Danube river cruises are becoming increasingly popular with tourists, We strongly recommend you review the General health advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Hungary.

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Hungary, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for drug offences in Hungary are severe and may include lengthy prison sentences. See our Drugs page.

Smoking is banned at all public transport stops in Budapest, within five metres of the entrances to public buildings, and in restaurants, bars and cafes. Heavy fines apply in case of infringement.

Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence. Police have the right to take driving licences from drunk drivers. There are heavy fines for minor driving infringements. Penalties for serious driving offences can include imprisonment.

Local authorities can request to see identification at any time. You must carry your passport with you at all times. A photocopy is not acceptable.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

While there is no general conscription for military service in Hungary, dual national males between the ages of 18 and 40 may be conscripted into the armed forces in exceptional circumstances such as a state of emergency.

Prior to travel, Australian/Hungarian dual nationals should seek advice from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Hungary.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of public medical facilities in Hungary's large cities is reasonable. Some doctors speak English, but it is not widely spoken by other hospital staff. In rural and border regions facilities can be limited. Private medical facilities are well equipped and meet international accreditation standards but are very expensive. Private hospitals often insist on confirmation of insurance cover or guarantee of payment before admitting patients. Doctors and public hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for services.

Emergency medical assistance can be obtained by calling 112 and asking for an ambulance.

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 112. You should also obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Hungary. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Budapest provides consular assistance to Australians in Hungary. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents.

Canadian Embassy, Budapest

Ganz utca 12-14,
1027 Budapest, Hungary
Telephone: +36 (1) 392-3360
Facsimile: +36 (1) 392-3390
Email: bpest@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/hungary-hongrie.

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Austria:

Australian Embassy, Vienna

Mattiellistrasse 2
A1040 Vienna
Telephone: +43 1 506 740
Facsimile: +43 1 513 1656
Email: austemb@aon.at
Website: http://www.austria.embassy.gov.au/

If you are travelling to Hungary, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Floods and snowstorms occur in Hungary and may have widespread impacts. Every year, flooding occurs in the northeast region of Hungary, along the watershed of the upper Tisza River, causing severe damage to housing and displacing families. Hungary experienced severe flooding along the Danube River in early June 2013.

During snowstorms, parts of the country may close down and be isolated for days.

In the event of severe weather, you should monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.