How to be prepared for an internship in Hungary?

How to be prepared for an internship in Hungary?

Did you fall in love with the romanticism of Eastern Europe? Did you find the internship of your dreams in the home of thermal baths and wine? Here are a few practical things you need to know before you make a move to Hungary.

4 steps for an internship in Hungary

Visa and registration in Hungary

Since Hungary joining Schengen area in 2007, visas and residence permits issued in any other Schengen Member State are also valid in Hungary. These regulations, however, are applicable only if you stay for fewer than 3 months. If you stay for a longer period of time, your visit falls under the regulation of national authorities.

Learn more about the Schengen Visa here.

EU/EEA citizens

As a citizen of the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein or Switzerland, you are in luck: there is no need to apply for a work permit! However, your employer will need to register you with the appropriate Hungarian authorities.

You will also need to register at the appropriate authorities. To do this, you must present your valid travel document (preferably your passport) and other documents like your internship agreement or contract. It will costs around 3 euros in local currency (1000 HUF) that you will have to pay on the spot in the form of fiscal stamps that can be purchased at a post office.

If the duration of your internship exceeds 3 months, you are obliged to register with the local municipality. If your stay lasts fewer than 3 months, registration is not obligatory but recommended. It helps legitimize your stay in the country even more than your internship agreement.

Non-EU citizens

Third-country nationals who are exempted from visa requirement (listed in Annex II of 539/2001/EC Council Regulation) may lodge their applications for a residence permit in Hungary, directly at the regional directorate of the Office for Immigration and Nationality in Hungary.

If you are a citizen of a non-EU/EEA country, you will need to apply for a Residence Permit, especially if you intend to stay in Hungary for longer than 3 months. You need to apply for this visa at the Office for Immigration and Nationality. Keep in mind that these processes require lots of documents and have a fee. So..Prepare the documentation in advance!

Upon arrival in Hungary, you are required to register with the local municipality the same way as mentioned above for EU/EEA citizens

Here and here you can find more information about an entry for long stay for both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens.

Registration for the tax number and the social security number

The registration for a tax number is compulsory if you work in Hungary and even more so if you are going to have an income in the country. The Hungarian system is rather bureaucratic and registering is not as easy as in, say, some Western European countries. Here is a guide to applying for the said numbers and here you can find the official information issued by the government. However, it is best to contact your future employer in Hungary since they are the ones that will have to file your claim to the Tax Office anyway. Also, since most of the available documentation and explanation is in Hungarian only, you will need to rely on the help of a local, preferably your employer. For your convenience, you can find the most important form for filing for a tax number with a basic English guide here.

Working as a foreign intern

Although most internships in Hungary are unpaid, some may include a salary. While the offered wage may seem low, the price levels in Hungary are much lower than in Western European countries. Your living costs will also be lower.

Completing an internship in Hungary is an amazing opportunity. You can experience a working culture and environment unique to the country. Budapest is a highly cosmopolitan city with many foreign workers and exchange students. You can feel like you’re in a completely multinational environment. However, there might be language barriers in cities and towns outside of Budapest. Indeed, many people (especially members of the older generation) don’t speak fluent English. Learn a few words in Hungarian and you’ll have no problem whatsoever.

Hungary is considered to have a formal and hierarchical business culture. So, interns are not treated the same way as in a more egalitarian country. You are still asked to perform your tasks as instructed but the level of initiative required from interns is lower than, say, in the Netherlands.  However, the newer generation of entrepreneurs and employers are changing in their attitude and give more of a free hand in their operations.

Insurance for foreign students

Check with your national insurance if they cover medical and other costs in Hungary. As an EU citizen, you are entitled to basic health care if you possess the blue EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). If you are a non-EU citizen but you are insured in an EU member state (e.g. because of your studies), you also possess such an EHIC and have the same rights as an EU-citizen.

However, it is still recommended to obtain health insurance in Hungary or compulsory if you are a non-EU citizen and have no health insurance in an EU member state. The Hungarian health care system is public with some private hospitals and institutes which require separate payment. You can be insured by obtaining an agreement with the appropriate health insurance fund office according to your location.

Find more information about both public and private health insurance here. It is best that you contact your employer/internship provider about the nearest hospital/clinic/GP. Also, you can find more information about the so-called TAJ card with the TAJ number (which is basically the social security number) here, together with some additional information about the tax registry.

Expat groups and information for foreigners

If you are new in Hungary, you might feel slightly overwhelmed or even lost. Worry not: there are expat and foreign communities that can help you start your life in Hungary. InterNations and the like help you connect to other expats living in your area to start building your own community!

Besides these, you can find groups like “Hungary EXPATS :)”, “EXPATS IN HUNGARY” and “Budapest Expats Group” on Facebook. It will help you find out more about the professional as well as the leisure side of living in Hungary.