What UK Nationals In Hungary Need To Know After The End Of The Brexit Transition Period

  • 16 Mar 2021 7:18 PM
What UK Nationals In Hungary Need To Know After The End Of The Brexit Transition Period
If you are a UK national who was living in Hungary before 1 January 2021, the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement protects your rights. This means that you are free to continue life in Hungary following the end of the UK-EU transition period. You will need to take some action to keep all your rights and access to services, however. 

This guide tells you what you need to do in four key areas: residency, healthcare, travel and exchanging your driving licence. To get all the official UK government advice on what you need to do visit the GOV.UK Living in Hungary guide and sign up for email alerts to stay up-to-date.

1. Registering your residency

Hungary passed a law in December 2020 that gives UK nationals living in the country before the end of 2020 a secure residence status. If you were legally resident in Hungary before 1 January 2021, you are covered by the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement – this means that your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Hungary, provided that you take the necessary action to secure these.

In order to secure these rights, you need to apply for a new National Permanent Residence Permit in Hungary by the end of 2021 even if you already have an existing residency document.  All UK nationals and their family members who want to continue living in Hungary must apply before 31 December 2021.  You can find further information on the scheme at the website of the Hungarian immigration authority (National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing).

Under the new preferential scheme there is no minimum period requirement for residency. You just need to present your existing residency documents or show you were in Hungary before 1 January 2021 by submitting documents such as a work contract or a house rental agreement. Your existing residency documents will remain valid until 31 December 2021.

You can submit your application online on Enter Hungary, following the steps set out in the guidance put together by the Hungarian immigration authority.

You can also submit your application in person at the relevant regional immigration office, using a paper form. Please note that due to the coronavirus pandemic some restrictions have been introduced in in-person appointments at government offices. This means that you need to book an appointment if you would like to apply in person. You can do this at the website of the immigration authority.

Please note that you will need to visit a government office within 15 days of submitting your application, even if you do it online.  This is to allow the authorities to collect biometric data. The Enter Hungary platform will send a notification about this. 

Visit the GOV.UK Living in Hungary guide now to find out what you need to do.

If you arrive in Hungary after 1 January 2021, you will be subject to the immigration requirements that apply to all non-EU citizens. This means, for instance, you’d need a visa for anything beyond a short stay or certain working visits. You can find further information about visa and residence permit options at the websites of the Hungarian Embassy in London and the Hungarian immigration authority.

2. Ensuring you have health insurance

If you were living in Hungary before 1 January 2021, you will have life-long healthcare rights in Hungary for as long as you remain legally resident on the same basis as a Hungarian citizen. However, Hungary’s health system works differently to the UK’s.

If you are employed in Hungary, state health insurance is normally arranged through your employer. Insurance contributions will be deducted from your wages.

If you are self-employed, you can arrange to make voluntary contributions (in Hungarian) through the National Tax and Customs Administration Office.

If you are seconded to Hungary by your company, there are special rules regarding health insurance. You should contact your company’s HR department.

If you receive a UK State Pension or certain other benefits, you may be able to register a UK-issued S1 form and you will have the same access to healthcare as any other resident in Hungary.

You need to register and get a health insurance card called a “TAJ kártya” (“TAJ card”).

Register for healthcare

*  First register your stay with the National Directorate General for Aliens Policing.   
* If you have a UK state pension, ask the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team (https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/contact-us/overseas-healthcare-services-contact-us) for an S1 form and register it at your local Government Office (Kormányablak). 
* If you are self-employed, you may need to go to your local tax and customs office to arrange to pay social security contributions.   
* Bring your passport, registration certificate and employment contract (or S1 form) to the Government Office. 
* You will be issued with a TAJ number and a TAJ card. 
* Register with a GP using your TAJ card and bring it with you when seeking treatment.   

Visit the GOV.UK Living in Hungary guide for more information.

Find your local Government Office and check if you need to pre-book an appointment at Kormanyablak.hu. You can book an appointment here.

Using the NHS when visiting the UK 

If you are a UK S1 holder who was living in Hungary before 1 January 2021, you are entitled to use NHS services for free when visiting England, Scotland and Wales. 

If you are a resident in Hungary and do not hold an S1, you should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.  

Please see the GOV.UK Living in Hungary guide for more information, including for those in Hungary in different circumstances like students or posted workers.   

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) / Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

If you are resident in Hungary, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC for healthcare in Hungary unless you are studying here.

If you were living in Hungary before 1 January 2021, you may be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC for use when travelling elsewhere in Europe if you’re:
* a UK student in Hungary
* a UK State Pensioner with a registered S1
* a frontier worker with a registered S1

Apply now for a new UK EHIC here.

If you already have a UK-issued EHIC and it is still in date, you do not need to apply for a new one for travel in the EU, though an old EHIC does not cover Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. You can find more information here. Please also note that EHICs are only valid for the countries mentioned, so if you are travelling further afield you need travel insurance.

Even within Europe, EHICs are not an alternative to comprehensive travel insurance. They do not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back home. Make sure you have both an EHIC and a travel insurance policy that includes healthcare in place before you travel.

3. Checking you are ready for trouble-free travel

From 1 January 2021, you need six months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe. This requirement does not apply for Ireland. Nor does it apply if you want to enter or transit to Hungary as a resident of Hungary covered by the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. In order to prove this, you need to carry your residence document alongside your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application and old residence documents.

If you cannot show that you are resident in Hungary, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in Hungary.

If you renewed your current passport early and therefore had extra months added to its validity beyond 10 years, those additional months may not count towards the six months you must have left.

You can click here to check your passport's validity with the UK Government and know for sure if you need to renew it before booking a trip. You will need to renew your passport before travelling if you don’t have enough time left.

Entry requirements

You can travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism.

To stay longer than 90 days in any 180-day period to work or study, or for business travel, you must meet the entry requirements set out by the country you are travelling to. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit. Periods of time authorised by a visa or permit will not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Different rules will apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen Area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

Travel to the UK and Ireland has not changed.

4. Exchanging your driving licence 

You can use your UK driving licence for one year from the date you move to Hungary. After one year, you must exchange it for a Hungarian licence.

From 1 January 2021, you need to go to the Budapest government office to exchange your driving licence (XIII. district, Budapest Főváros Kormányhivatala, Központi Okmányirodai Főosztály, 1133 Budapest, Visegrádi utca 110.). For more details, please visit the Hungarian government's webpage (in Hungarian) here.

You will need to provide the following documents for the process:
* ID or passport
* Address card or any certificate of a Hungarian address
* Health assessment from GP
* Original driving licence

You do not have to take a driving test or exam to exchange your licence, nor do you need to provide a translation of the licence.

Please note that an International Driving Permit is not a suitable alternative to exchanging your licence.

If you want to drive back to the UK you can do so on your valid Hungarian licence without the need for additional documentation. And if you move back to the UK, you can exchange your Hungarian licence for a UK one without taking a test.

Check the GOV.UK Living in Hungary guide for future updates.

Staying up-to-date 

For all the latest official guidance for UK nationals living in Hungary visit the UK government’s Living in Hungary guide. You can sign up for email alerts with the latest official UK government updates about these topics in Hungary. Since 2017, British embassies across Europe have organised over 900 Brexit-related outreach events, with more than 510,000 Brits attending in person or online.

The British Embassy engages with British community groups and regularly shares information on their social media pages. 

Click here for more information.

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