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April 5, 2024
9 min

Hungary Golden Visa: Costs, Terms and Benefits

Brittany Collins

The new Hungarian Residency by Investment program, or the Hungary Golden Visa, will enter into force in 2024. The program presents an opportunity for foreigners to obtain residency in Europe with investments starting from €250,000.

With a host of advantages, Hungary Golden Visa stands as an appealing option for individuals seeking long-term residency in an EU country. The program will offer various avenues for potential investors, such as involvement in a local real estate fund, property acquisition or charitable contributions.

Hungary Golden Visa: Costs, Terms and Benefits

Hungary Golden Visa: Costs, Terms and Benefits

What is the Hungary Golden Visa

The Hungary Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment program that allows foreigners to obtain European residency by investment. The investor can include their spouse and children in the application.

Applicants can choose one of three fields:

  • purchase of real estate fund units — €250,000+;

  • property purchase — €500,000+;

  • donation to an institution of higher learning — €1,000,000+.

Upon making the investment, applicants and their families are granted a temporary residency permit in Hungary, which allows them to live, work, and study in the country.

After 10 years, investors can renew their permits for the same period. In three years of living in Hungary with residence permit investors can apply for permanent residency.

The Hungary Golden Visa program offers several benefits, including visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, access to healthcare and education in Hungary, and the ability to live and work in a European Union member state.

While the investment is the main requirement, applicants typically have to meet other eligibility criteria, such as having a clean criminal record, demonstrating financial stability, and providing proof of health insurance.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants

An applicant for the Hungarian Golden Visa must:

  • be over 18 years old;

  • have a valid travel document;

  • confirm investment;

  • have sufficient funds for travel, food, and accommodation for the whole stay in Hungary;

  • have a legitimate income source;

  • not be subject to deportation or prohibition of entry to Hungary;

  • not threaten the state policy, national security, or health interests of Hungary;

  • be a non-EU and non-EEA citizen.

The investor can include their family members in the application. This applies to spouses in registered marriages and children under 18 years old.

Documents for obtaining a Hungary Golden Visa

The preliminary list of documents includes the following:

  1. Valid travel document.

  2. Two photos.

  3. Health insurance.

  4. Written intention to fulfil the investment condition.

  5. Documents confirming the legality of the income.

  6. Bank statements.

  7. CV for each family member over 18.

  8. Marriage and divorce certificate, if applicable.

  9. Birth certificates, if applicable.

  10. Residence permit form when applying for residency.

Hungary Golden Visa by Real Estate Investment

To qualify, the applicant buys residential real estate for at least €500,000. When buying an apartment or house, a foreigner pays a 4% stamp duty, as well as administrative and other fees.

Investing in real estate in Hungary offers several benefits, including:

  1. Affordable prices. Prices for Hungarian real estate are among the lowest in the EU. Residential real estate in Hungary costs €1,160 per m². For comparison, Spain’s housing costs are about €2,000 per m², and Portugal’s — €2,500 per m².

  2. Stable market. Hungary’s real estate market has shown stability over the years, with steady growth in property prices, particularly in urban centres. Real estate in Hungary allows one to save savings or receive additional income: Hungarian houses and apartments rise in price by an average of 14% annually.

  3. Rental income potential. With the growing tourism industry and a rising number of expatriates and students, there is a strong demand for rental properties in Hungary, especially in popular cities like Budapest. Rents in Budapest have increased by a record 19% in 2023.

  4. Short-term rentals. Hungary is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. Investors can capitalise on this by investing in properties for short-term rentals, such as vacation apartments or Airbnb listings, to cater to tourists looking for accommodation options. The average cost of renting a 3-bedroom apartment in Budapest centre is €50 per day.

The Hungarian residential real estate market has witnessed a notable surge in both house and apartment prices in recent years, culminating in the peak of the house price index in 2023. This trend can be attributed to several factors, including inflation, heightened investor demand driven by low-interest rates, incentives for families to acquire new homes, escalating material costs, and a shortage of labour.

In terms of transaction volume, Budapest ranked third among the Hungary regions, recording 2.44 thousand transactions in the same month. Specifically in Budapest, purchases of residential properties for investment purposes reached their pinnacle in December 2022, accounting for over 50% of transactions, before declining to 36% by September 2023.

Hungary Golden Visa program — real estate investment

In Budapest, a person can buy a four-bedroom apartment in a modern residential complex for €673,000. Purchasing property like this in enough to participate in the Golden Visa program

How to Apply for a Hungary Golden Visa: Step-by-Step Process

The new program is yet to come into effect, and there is currently no precise data on the details of the process. In the preliminary stage, we can assume that the process takes approximately 6—8 months.

1

2 to 4 weeks

Preparing documents and applying for the Guest Investor Visa

When the package of documents is ready, the application for a Guest Investor Visa can be submitted to the Hungary consulate in the country of origin.

First, the investor provides documents for getting a Guest Investor Visa that allows entering Hungary and making an investment. After fulfilling the investment condition, the investor applies for residency.

2

About 2 months

Guest Investor Visa approval

If the application is approved, the applicant is issued a Guest Investor Visa for 2 years. It gives the right to enter Hungary to apply for a residence permit by investment.

With a Guest Investor Visa, one can stay in Hungary for over 90 days within a 180-day period, as well as enter and leave the country multiple times.

3

Up to 3 months

Fulfilment of investment condition

Within 93 calendar days from the date of their first entry to the country with a Guest Visa, the applicant is required to fulfil the investment condition to become eligible to apply for a residence permit.

4

2—3 days

Resident permit application approval

Once the investment is made, the applicant can apply for a residence permit.

After its approval, the investor books an appointment to submit biometrics to the immigration authority.

5

Up to 3 weeks

Submitting biometrics and getting a residence permit

On the appointed day, the investor submits fingerprints and takes photos. The immigration authority sent residency cards to the applicant’s address in Hungary within 21 days.

Residence permits will be valid for 10 years and are subject to one renewal for another 10 years.

Prospects of Obtaining Hungary Permanent Residence and Citizenship

Foreigners can obtain Hungary permanent residency after 3 years of living in Hungary. Eight years after getting permanent residency and registering an address in the country, a foreigner becomes eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalisation.

Hungary allows having several passports, so one will not have to renounce their first citizenship after naturalisation unless their country of origin requires them to do so.

Citizens of Hungary can travel to over 171 countries without obtaining a visa in advance. For example, to enter the USA, Canada, or Australia, a Hungarian citizen only needs an Electronic Travel Authorisation.

11 Benefits of Living in Hungary with a Golden Visa

1. Residency in Europe. The Hungary Golden Visa program provides a pathway for non-EU citizens to obtain residency in Hungary, a member state of the European Union. This residency grants individuals the right to live, work, and study in Hungary, as well as travel freely within the Schengen Area.

2. Flexible investment options. One of the key benefits of the Hungary Golden Visa program is its flexible investment options. Participants can choose to invest in Hungarian government bonds, which are considered safe and low-risk investments.

3. No physical residency requirement. Unlike Cyprus and Portugal residency programs, the Hungary Golden Visa does not require participants to reside in Hungary for a minimum amount of time each year. This flexibility allows individuals to maintain their residency status while living elsewhere if desired.

4. Family reunification. The Hungary Golden Visa program extends to family members, including spouses and dependent children. This means that the main applicant can include their family in the residency application, providing them with the same rights and benefits.

5. Potential path to citizenship. While the Hungary Golden Visa program initially grants temporary residency, participants may eventually be eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship after meeting naturalisation requirements, such as a period of continuous residency.

6. Affordable cost of living. Hungary generally has a lower cost of living compared to most European countries. Housing, groceries, transportation, and leisure activities are often more affordable, allowing residents to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. The estimated monthly expenses for a family of four amount to €2,500, excluding rent. A single individual will pay €700, excluding rent.

7. Rich cultural heritage. Hungary boasts a rich cultural heritage, with a vibrant arts scene, historical landmarks, and traditional festivals. Residents have access to world-class museums, theatres, music performances, and architectural marvels such as the Buda Castle and the Parliament Building in Budapest.

8. High-quality healthcare. Hungary has a well-developed healthcare system, with modern hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. Both public and private healthcare services are available, providing residents with access to high-quality medical care at affordable costs.

9. Education opportunities. Hungary is home to several prestigious universities and educational institutions, offering a wide range of programs and courses in various fields. The University of Szeged is Hungary’s leading internationally ranked education institution, accredited by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

10. Safe and stable environment. Hungary ranked 13th most peaceful nation in the world under the Global Peace Index report. The country is known for its safety and political stability, making it a secure place to live and raise a family. Low crime rates, efficient public services, and a strong rule of law contribute to a peaceful and stable living environment.

11. Natural beauty. Hungary boasts picturesque landscapes, including the scenic Danube River, beautiful lakes such as Lake Balaton, and lush countryside dotted with vineyards and thermal springs. Residents can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and water sports in these stunning natural settings.

Hungary residence permit by investment

Lake Balaton, often referred to as the "Hungarian Sea," offers opportunities for swimming and sailing, as well as picturesque landscapes and charming lakeside towns

Tax System in Hungary

Personal income tax is levied at the rate of 15%. This category includes any sources of income an individual might have, such as:

  • salary,

  • capital gains,

  • crypto transactions,

  • dividends,

  • interest income.

The income tax in Hungary is one of the lowest in the EU, and in certain cases, a deduction is applied, so it is possible to optimise taxes further.

Corporate tax rate is 9%, the EU’s lowest. Hungarian tax residents pay corporate tax on their worldwide income, while non-resident businesses are only required to pay tax on the income from their activities in Hungary.

VAT rate in Hungary is 27% and is usually included in the prices of goods and services. For dairy products, the tax is an 18% rate. For medical products, books, and newspapers, the tax rate is 5%.

Property taxes include stamp duty, VAT for the primary real estate, and annual building and land taxes. Local governments define rates of these taxes, which may depend on the area in square metres or the market value of the property.

The stamp duty for the title transfer rate is 4% for the amount under 1 billion forints, or €2.6 million, and 2% for the exceeding amount. The stamp duty must be paid no later than 90 days after the purchase and closure of the sale deal. VAT for primary real estate is 5% and is usually included in the property price.

Tax relief. Hungary has entered into numerous tax treaties, also known as double taxation treaties, with various countries, such as: Australia, Canada, Singapore and Indonesia. These treaties aim to prevent double taxation of income earned by individuals and companies with cross-border activities.

Double taxation treaties typically cover taxes on income, including personal income tax, corporate income tax, and sometimes other types of taxes, such as capital gains tax and withholding tax.

Cost of Living in Hungary

The cost of living in Hungary can vary depending on the city or region you’re in and your lifestyle choices. Generally, Hungary is considered to have a relatively affordable cost of living compared to many Western European countries. Here are some typical expenses you might encounter in Hungary.

Housing. The cost of housing can vary significantly depending on the location and type of accommodation. In cities like Budapest, the capital, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre could range from €400 to €700 per month, while outside the city centre, it might be somewhat cheaper.

Food. Groceries are generally affordable in Hungary, especially if you shop at local markets and supermarkets. Eating out at restaurants can also be reasonably priced compared to Western Europe. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant might cost around €5 to €10, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant could cost around €25 to €50.

Transportation. Public transportation in Hungary, especially in Budapest, is efficient and relatively inexpensive. Monthly passes for public transportation in Budapest typically cost around €30 to €40. Taxi fares are also relatively affordable compared to Western Europe.

Utilities. The cost of utilities such as electricity, heating, water, and garbage varies depending on the size of your accommodation and your usage. On average, utilities for a typical apartment could range from €100 to €200 per month.

Healthcare. Hungary has both public and private healthcare systems. Public healthcare is generally more affordable, especially if you have social security coverage. Private healthcare services are also available at higher costs.

Entertainment and leisure. The cost of entertainment and leisure activities, such as going to the cinema, visiting museums, or participating in recreational activities, can vary. Budapest offers a wide range of cultural and recreational opportunities at various price points.

Key Takeaways on Hungary Golden Visa

1. Hungary Golden Visa program, also known as the Residency by Investment program, offers individuals a compelling opportunity to obtain residency in Europe through investment.

2. With flexible investment options starting from €250,000, the program provides a pathway to long-term residency in Hungary, a member state of the European Union.

3. A distinctive feature of the Hungary Golden Visa program is its flexibility, allowing investors to finalise their real estate purchases after the approval and issuance of their residency visa applications. This flexibility sets it apart from other EU residency programs.

4. The program offers several benefits, including residency in Europe, visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, access to healthcare and education in Hungary, and the potential for a path to citizenship. Additionally, Hungary’s affordable cost of living, rich cultural heritage, and safe environment make it an attractive destination for individuals and families alike.

5. With a straightforward application process and a range of investment options, the Hungary Golden Visa program presents a valuable opportunity for individuals seeking to establish residency in Europe and enjoy the many benefits that Hungary has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Hungary have a Golden Visa?

    Yes, the Hungary Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment program that allows foreigners to obtain European residency by investment.

    Applicants are required to invest in one of three fields:

    • purchase of real estate fund units — €250,000+;

    • property purchase — €500,000+;

    • donation to an institution of higher learning — €1,000,000+.

  • Can I Get Residency in Hungary if I Buy a House?

    Yes, you can buy a house or apartment in Hungary without any restrictions. Residential property purchase for at least €500,000 gives foreigners a chance to obtain residence permits under the Hungary Golden Visa program.

  • How do I get a Hungarian Residency Permit by Investment?

    Foreigners meet eligibility criteria and participate in the application process. Normally, it takes several steps, including collecting documents and making an investment.

  • How much is a Residence Permit in Hungary?

    It depends on the investment option. Applicants are required to invest in one of three fields:

    • purchase of real estate fund units — €250,000+;

    • property purchase — €500,000+;

    • donation to an institution of higher learning — €1,000,000+.

  • How Long Does it Take to Get a Hungarian Residence Permit by Investment?

    It takes 7—8 months. The exact time depends on individual circumstances and the provision of reliable information by the applicant.

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