Last updated: June 6, 2022
Dateline: Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has some of the most gorgeous architecture in Europe, even if its awe-striking landmark building (pictured above) is filled with one of the most radical parliaments in the entire world.
Tree-lined streets with quaint shops and all sorts of exciting restaurants are easy to find in the city center.
We would certainly recommend checking out Budapest as a great city to live in(rather affordably too) as a Nomad Capitalist.
But if you’re so smitten with Hungary that you want to acquire Hungarian citizenship, then this article is for you.
We’ll get into the full detail of the fastest option for obtaining a Hungarian passport – through your descent.
Do you have Hungarian ancestry? You could stand to gain a European passport just because of that, according to the Hungarian citizenship law.
Becoming a Hungarian Citizen by Descent – The Basics
We have spoken before about the so-called “Lucky Sperm Club” – people whose family tree entitles them to a fast, cheap, and relatively easy citizenship by descent.
Numerous countries throughout Europe allow those with a bloodline tracing back to the continent to apply for second citizenship just by filling out paperwork and paying a fee.
However, this paperwork can be endless and the process is highly bureaucratic. Luckily, you don’t have to do it yourself if you don’t want to.
These cases usually take six months to two years to process, depending on the country and your particular circumstances.
Considering that European residency – not citizenship – would cost a lot of money in unrecoverable fees, paying a couple of thousand to a professional team, such as the Nomad Capitalist one, to get instant citizenship is dirt cheap.
And one citizenship by descent that almost no one talks about is the Hungarian one.
Similar to Italy’s citizenship by descent program, there is technically no limit on how far back into your family tree you can go to find a Hungarian ancestor, according to Hungarian law.
That’s really interesting.
For example, someone with the last name Almasy –one of the most common Hungarian last names – would almost certainly be able to obtain Hungarian citizenship.
The difference between Italy’s program and the citizenship program in Hungary is that Italian ancestry can only be claimed so far back as Italy existed in its current state.
Yet, in Hungary, if you can establish a paper trail that connected each generation to the next, and then all the way to you, you’d be eligible to apply.
Finally, you should note that Hungary allows dual citizenship – that’s great news if you want to add Hungarian citizenship to your passport portfolio.
The Application Process
First, you should establish if you’re even eligible to apply, even though Hungary has made it quite easy for its descendants to qualify.
You can apply on the basis of your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or even further generations, being Hungarian.
The important bit is to consider whether the ancestor in question was a citizen at the time that the person applying for citizenship was born.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy as Hungary follows the jus sanguinis citizenship law. This means that children of Hungarian citizens become Hungarian citizens by birth, no matter where Hungarian birth took place.
That should make it quite simple to determine if one of your ancestors makes you eligible for a valid Hungarian passport.
That said, there are a few notable exceptions when Hungarians could’ve lost their citizenship in the past:
- Hungarian citizens who left the country before 1929 and stayed abroad for 10 years or longer, or didn’t ask to maintain their Hungarian citizenship within ten years, lost their citizenship, according to the Act on Hungarian Citizenship.
- Before October 1, 1957, Hungarian women lost their citizenship if they married non-Hungarian citizens.
- Before October 1, 1957, children born to a non-Hungarian father and a Hungarian mother did not automatically get Hungarian citizenship by birth. The person may have become a Hungarian citizen by a statement, but his/her descendants then had to be naturalized.
- And, if the ancestor in question left Hungary before September 1, 1929, it is highly likely that his/her descendants were not born Hungarian citizens.
Let’s say the ancestor has lost the Hungarian citizenship for any of the reasons listed above (and not only), there might be a way to reacquire it by means of a statement (Simplified naturalization procedure), if the ancestors:
- Was a Hungarian citizen or is likely to be of Hungarian origin; (if you are basing your citizenship claim on a person who was not born in present-day Hungary, you have to go with a simplified naturalization procedure)
- Deprived the citizenship by expatriation between September 15, 1947 and May 2, 1990;
- Was obliged to resettle in Germany.
- has been married to a Hungarian citizen for at least ten years, or has been married to a Hungarian citizen for five years and they have children;
AND, if the applicant:
- certifies the knowledge of Hungarian language (this is checked by the authority receiving the application, you meet them for a short interview in which you say a few words about yourself, your family, and why you want to become a Hungarian citizen);
- has no criminal record and no criminal proceedings pending against the applicant;
What about some Case Study?
I have my great-great grandparents originating from Hungary. We have records that indicate that Barbara H. got married to Michael H. on 4 June 1910 in Perth Amboy, NJ. Barbara was born in Semily (is in modern Czechoslovakia) on 1 April 1888/1890 and Michael in Mihaljekov Jarek (is in modern Croatia) on 15 November 1880. Barbara left Hungary as Bora Murnik in March 1906 and Michael left in August 1901.
I don’t speak Hungarian but I am willing to learn it. So, am I eligible for Hungarian Citizenship by descent program?
Answer: One must base his citizenship claim on a person who was born in present-day Hungary territory. Otherwise (If you are basing your citizenship claim on a person who was not born in present-day Hungary) you have to apply through a Simplified naturalization procedure.
Simplified naturalization is a matter in which the basic legal requirement is to understand and communicate in Hungarian language on a sufficient level. In case your command of Hungarian language does not reach the intermediate level, you can’t expect a positive decision.
Once you determine that you’re eligible to apply, the process of actually doing so is rather paperwork-heavy.
You will need to fill out an application form in Hungarian (an aid in English is available) – this is the easy bit.
Then, you will need to present the following documents, translated to the Hungarian language and authenticated by a Consul:
- Your birth certificate.
- Your parents’ marriage certificates.
- The birth certificates of the relevant parent(s), grandparent(s), or great-grandparent(s).
- Documents proving the ancestor(s)’ name change if applicable, which is common when getting naturalized or married.
- Any other relevant official Hungarian documentation, e.g. old passports, civil or military records, ID booklets, soldier’s small book, school certificate, employment record book, address proof, parish/pastoral certificate, etc.
It’s key to establish a paper trail that would document your connection to the country.
Then, once all of the documents have been put together, you can apply for your Hungarian citizenship at your nearest Hungarian Consulate.
You must apply in person.
And the really good news? It all costs just around $110 consular fee to apply and get your Hungarian citizenship.
Should You Get Hungarian Citizenship by Descent?
All in all, Hungary can be a great country to get second citizenship in, even if your ancestors have lived in your home country for the last few generations.
With situation-based exceptions in Lithuania and Latvia, it’s rare to see a citizenship by descent program be so generous in its timeline.
Plus, the cost of obtaining Hungarian citizenship this way – or any other European Union citizenship for that matter – is incredibly affordable when you consider the true value of a valid Hungarian citizenship certificate and, accordingly, an EU passport.
For starters, having EU citizenship entitles you to travel virtually anywhere in the world.
In many cases, it is better than US citizenship, even before you consider the freedom of movement to live and work anywhere in the EU.
The one issue we see with Hungary is that they had imposed citizenship-based taxation in the past. Unlike the United States, however, the provision did not apply to dual national Hungarian citizens who lived outside of Hungary.
There is no saying they won’t change that, but for the time being, Hungarian citizenship is a great deal. And, there is an easy way to renounce this citizenship if you find that it’s no longer working in your favor.