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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Hungary. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • International trains from Budapest may be subject to security and passport controls. See Local travel.
  • When crossing Hungary's borders, carry your passport, avoid large groups and follow the advice of local authorities. See Local travel.
  • Terrorism is a threat in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities in recent years. See Safety and security.
  • Avoid protests and demonstrations as they could turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Hungary. The Canadian Embassy in Budapest provides consular assistance and limited services to Australians in Hungary. The Australian Embassy in Vienna can also assist. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Hungary is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter Hungary without a visa in some circumstances.

In other circumstances, you'll need to get a visa before you travel to Hungary.

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 up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Hungary has strengthened controls at its borders, particularly those with Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria. Travellers may experience lengthy delays. Always carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen Zone. Make sure you get a legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area (including Hungary) for the first time.

Avoid large groups in border areas and follow the advice of local authorities.  

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

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

The currency of Hungary is the Forint. Only change money at banks or other authorised dealers. Don't use street money changers.

Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between Hungary and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Hungary, you will be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

Most banks in Hungary have ATMs that accept major international cards. Take care when receiving bank notes as some notes that are no longer valid may still be in circulation. 

Safety and security

Crime

You could encounter petty crime in Hungary, especially on public transport and in railway stations, markets and other places popular with tourists. Car thefts and highway robberies also occur. Thieves have staged roadside emergencies to persuade drivers to pull over and then stolen items from the distracted driver's car.

Some clubs and restaurants that do not list prices charge exorbitantly (mostly in the business district of Pest). Disputes about overcharging can lead to violence. Security guards may compel you to pay. Taxi drivers and others may receive commissions for taking tourists to such establishments.

There have been reported instances of drink spiking in Budapest. Never leave your food or drinks unattended. Don't accept snacks, drinks, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly on public transport and in places frequented by tourists.
  • Carry only what you need for the day. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location. Keep your passport and other identity documents separate from each other.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • When travelling by overnight train, secure your compartment from the inside. Don't leave luggage unattended at any time.
  • Don't leave valuables in your car. Park in a secure facility, wherever possible.
  • Look out for possible threats when stopping at petrol stations and at highway parking areas, especially after dark.
  • Always check the price of food and drinks before ordering.
  • Be wary of unsolicited invitations to socialise and offers of assistance from taxi drivers.
  • Keep an eye on local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Homosexuality is legal in Hungary. Legislation forbids and punishes sexual discrimination, but the official government website for Human Rights notes general homophobia in Hungarian society. There have been instances of harassment and violence directed at homosexuals. More information: LGBTI travellers

Civil unrest and political tension

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.

  • Monitor the news and other sources for information about possible demonstrations.
  • Avoid all crowds, protests and demonstrations, as they could turn violent.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Europe. In recent years, terrorists have staged attacks in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by tourists. A number of planned attacks have also been disrupted by European security services in recent years.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Local travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. 

  • Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone.
  • Monitor border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.
  • Make back-up plans in case of disruptions or delays.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Road Travel

Highways are generally in good condition, but driving in rural areas can be hazardous due to poor road maintenance and insufficient street lighting. Use snow tyres in winter.

Hungary has some road rules that Australian drivers may not be familiar with:

  • outside towns, vehicle headlights must be on at all times, including during daylight hours
  • vehicles travelling on the M1, M3, M5 and M7 motorways must display a vignette (toll card), which is sold at petrol stations and post offices as well as online.

Police do not issue on-the-spot fines for traffic offences. Instead, they issue a ticket indicating the amount of the fine, which can be paid at any post office. Police can keep the passport of a driver who disputes a fine or offence. They will then issue a receipt and a letter requesting that the driver report to a police station. The passport will only be returned once the dispute is settled.

More information: Road travel

 

Driver’s Licence

A foreign driver’s licence can be used for one year from arrival in Hungary. A driver’s licence issued in a language other than Hungarian must have an official Hungarian translation prepared by OFFI.

Train travel

Take good care of your belongings when travelling by train. If you travel by overnight train, try to avoid travelling alone and secure your compartment from the inside.

Taxis

Some taxi drivers may receive a commission to recommend certain bars, clubs and restaurants to passengers. Never ask a taxi driver to recommend a bar or club. If a driver offers to take you to one, or you are approached on the street with an invitation to enter a club, treat that advice with caution. Pre-booking a taxi from a reputable local company is recommended.

 

Public transport

Foreign visitors are often caught out by the public transport ticket system in Budapest and subsequently fined by inspectors. Fines for travelling without a valid ticket are expensive.

  • 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 a rail line, except on the subway, where you can change between lines with one ticket.

See the Budapest Transport Authority website for more information on ticket conditions and prices.

Smoking is banned at all public transport stops in Budapest. Hefty fines apply.

Rail travel

You need to book before travelling on Super City trains. If you board without first making a reservation, you could be fined.

When travelling by train, arrive well in advance of your departure time.

River cruises

If you plan to join a Danube river cruise, read the health and travelling by boat pages for advice on staying safe and healthy.

Air safety

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

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

Possessing or trafficking drugs will be dealt with severely in Hungary. If convicted, a lengthy prison sentence and heavy fines can be expected

More information: Drugs

Other laws

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

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. Large fines apply.

Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence. Police can confiscate licences from drunk drivers.

There are heavy fines for minor driving infringements. Penalties for serious driving offences can include imprisonment.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Hungarian dual national males between the ages of 18 and 40 can be conscripted into the armed forces in exceptional circumstances (such as a state of emergency).

Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Hungary before you travel for up-to-date information relevant to your personal circumstances.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks  

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.

Medical facilities

Medical treatment in Hungary is adequate but hospitals and other medical facilities vary in quality: many are below the standard you may find in Australia. In rural and border regions, facilities can be particularly limited.

There is no private in-patient hospital facility in Budapest. Some doctors speak English, but it is not widely spoken by other hospital staff.

Doctors and public hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for services.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police:  112 - always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

The Hungarian National Tourist Office has a 24-hour helpline (telephone +36 1 438 8080 to assist tourists who are victims of crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

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 issuing of provisional travel documents but not passport or notarial services. If your passport has been lost or stolen in Hungary, obtain a local police report and seek a letter of facilitation from the Canadian Embassy in Budapest. Carry the letter with you to the Australian Embassy in Vienna, where you can arrange a replacement passport.   

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: canadainternational.gc.ca/hungary-hongrie

You can access the full range of consular services 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: austria.embassy.gov.au

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, 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 in Hungary can have widespread impacts.

Every year, flooding in the northeast region of Hungary, along the watershed of the upper Tisza River, causes severe damage to housing and displaces 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.

If a natural disaster occurs:

Additional Resources