Naturalization is the official term for obtaining citizenship. The more ties you have to Hungary, the sooner and easier you can become a citizen. However, eventually you become eligible even if your only tie is living here; that is when we talk about regular naturalization.
How to qualify for regular naturalization in Hungary
You become eligible for regular naturalization when you have had a Hungarian address card for at least 8 years (meaning the plastic address card, not the simple, paper-based accommodation slip). When you can apply for an address card depends on your status in Hungary: third-country nationals must apply for permanent residency first, which is available after at least three years of initial residency; EEA citizens can apply for the address card together with their registration card.
Before applying for Hungarian citizenship, you must also demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge of Hungarian history and culture. This is usually done by passing an exam on “constitutional studies” in Hungarian, which has both a written and an oral part. However, applicants may be exempt from this exam either if they are above 60 years of age, or if they have graduated from a high-school or higher-education institution where the language of instruction is Hungarian.
Applicants must also have a clean criminal record, they cannot be under prosecution, and they should not pose any threat to national security.
Preferential treatment in certain cases
Depending on your marital status and your family members, you might qualify for Hungarian citizenship sooner.
You become eligible for preferential naturalization after 3 years living in Hungary if you
- have been married to a Hungarian citizen for at least three years (or you are currently not married because your spouse has passed away), or
- have a child who is a minor and a Hungarian citizen, or
- are a minor adopted by a Hungarian citizen, or
- are either a refugee or a stateless person.
You may also become eligible for preferential naturalization after 5 years living in Hungary if you
- were born in Hungary, or
- became a resident of Hungary while you were still a minor.
How to apply for regular naturalization in Hungary
Before you can apply, you must take an exam on constitutional studies. The exams are organized regularly by the authorities, and you will be able to take it in Budapest. Once you pass, your certificate must be included with the application package, but you may also ask the authority to forward it directly to the Department of Citizenship and Native registry. The application package can be submitted to any government office in Hungary, and it should include all the documents that verify that you match the above listed criteria, as well as a few additional forms, and two passport photos.
The processing time for regular naturalization is about a year, which might seem a lot, but in fact it is more or less average compared to the procedure in other EU member states.
Becoming a citizen
Once your application is accepted, you will be called in to a government office to take an oath. In this, you will confirm that you want to become a citizen of Hungary, that you will observe its laws, and that you are committed to make Hungary prosper.
After that, you will receive a Hungarian ID document with which you will be able to apply for a Hungarian passport. From then on, you can take advantage of all the privileges available to Hungarian citizens, which include visa-free travel to 185 countries around the world, but also participation in the general elections every four years, and many more.
Get help from the best
The Helpers Team has ample experience providing assistance to foreigners living, working, and doing business in Hungary. Our Citizenship Team knows every procedure inside and out, and we are happy to help you whether you need support with regular or simplified naturalization. We offer a comprehensive package that covers the entire procedure, but you can also start with a single consultation to see if you are eligible and have all the relevant documents.
What is more, you may also try our free eligibility test to see if you qualify. It takes just a few minutes, and it will tell you whether it makes sense to proceed with a consultation. Otherwise you can also check out our services to decide how we can help you best.