COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions

Travel to and from abroad

Hungarian and EU / EEA citizens and their family members are free to enter Hungary without any quarantine obligation.

A person who arrives in Hungary from a country / territory considered by the epidemiological authority to be at epidemic risk must be quarantined.

Who can freely enter Hungary?

The following persons can enter Hungary without a special permit and quarantine obligation:

  1. Hungarian nationals;
  2. EU or nationals of EEA member states (except: United Kingdom);
  3. persons who have the right to move and reside freely in an EU or EEA member states;
  4. are family members of the above.

The following are considered as family members:

  • spouse;
  • a minor child with the spouse (including an adopted or foster child);
  • a dependent minor child of their own, who they exercise parental responsibility over (including an adopted or foster child);
  • the spouse's dependent minor child of the person exercising parental responsibility over him or her (including the adopted or foster child);
  • a person with parental custody over a minor Hungarian citizen, exercising parental custody, living in the same household as the Hungarian citizen.

Restrictions still do not affect freight traffic.

How can foreign nationals enter Hungary?

The following three groups of foreigners are distinguished:

  1. EU / EEA citizens: are free to enter, without any quarantine obligation;
  2. Citizens of countries with moderate entry restrictions: for a list of these see "From which countries can you travel to Hungary under moderate quarantine rules?"
  3. All other foreign nationals: essentially are not allowed to enter the country, but on request for fairness, the police might allow their entry.

An exception to the entry ban: the police may, based on a request for fairness, allow foreigners to enter, and also lay down specific rules of conduct. The leniency application must be submitted electronically, in Hungarian. It should set out the reasons for which it is seriously unfair and infringes their rights to refuse them entry. 

For details on reasons for fairness, see the next section.

The persons that have been allowed to enter must undergo a medical examination at the border

  1. Those with the suspicion of being infected by coronavirus cannot enter Hungary.
  2. Anyone who is not suspected of being infected by coronavirus must undergo quarantine for 14 days.

The leniency application can be submitted on the website of the police via a personal client gateway or company gateway or failing that, on the police's own form-filling interface. The application can only be submitted electronically, in Hungarian.

You can find the forms on the police e-administration page.

What do the police consider when evaluating a foreigner's leniency application?

It is important to note again: EU / EEA citizens and those entitled to reside in the EU / EEA, as well as their family members, can travel to Hungary without restrictions. Leniency applications only have to be submitted by other foreign nationals, provided that there is no facilitation in the rules that allow them to enter (see "Who is automatically exempt from quarantine rules when crossing the border?")

The application is evaluated by the responsible police according to the place of the planned entry (in case of arrival at Ferihegy Airport the 18th district’s Budapest Police Headquarter / BRFK).

The following reasons are considered as "cases of exceptional circumstances”:

participation in a court or official act in Hungary, which must be substantiated by an appropriate document;

  1. business activity or other employment certified by an invitation letter from a central government administration body, an independent regulatory body or an autonomous state administration body;
  2. access to health care with a referral from a health care institution or other with other relevant certificate;
  3. fulfillment of study or exam related obligations on the basis of student or learning status, if this is approved by a certificate issued by the educational institution;
  4. passenger travel in connection to carriage, if the purpose is to reach the place of departure of the carriage task (the place of commencement of work) or to return home after such work, if this is approved by a certificate issued by the employer;
  5. attending family events (eg. marriage, baptism, funeral);
  6. the care of a relative according to  Civil Code Art. 8 (cf. Section 8: 1 (1) 2);
  7. participation in an internationally relevant, major cultural, religious or sport event.

In addition, it is possible to indicate "other" reasons. Below we cover what we know are considered as such reasons.

Based on the previous information released by the police, we suppose that the leniency application was submitted in the interest of keeping families together, approval will be granted to non-Hungarian citizens who:

  • habitually reside in Hungary with their Hungarian relatives,
  • have a Certificate of domicile in Hungary, and
  • agree to undertake a two-week home quarantine upon entry.

Foreigners who have a residence permit and a Certificate of domicile can also be exempted.

In addition, in our experience, it may be useful to prove the existence of an employment relationship in Hungary and a brief description of the consequences of non-entry (for example, if there is no place to go due to flight cancellations or other circumstances). The success of a leniency application can be aided by any document that substantiates the facts presented, such as:

  • photograph of the Certificate of domicile,
  • any document proving the family relationship - in the case of an unregistered partnership, description of the circumstances of the cohabitation and the duration of the relationship,
  • the employer can write a letter stating their need of the employee that has been denied entry, with the attachment of the employment contract.

While there is no internal deadline for processing leniency applications, according to the ORFK's report, applications must be processed immediately.

When should leniency applications be rejected?

  1. If it is suspected that the applicant has not indicated an existing reason for entry;
  2. if, upon entry, the applicant refuses to present the document proving the reason for entry or if its authenticity raises doubts;
  3. for reasons of epidemiological, public security or national security.

Who can I turn to (appeal) against the rejection?

To the county (capital) police headquarters that have refused the application.

Who is automatically exempted from quarantine rules when crossing the border?

A.) Japanese and South Korean nationals in business matters involving related companies. If they travel between affiliated enterprises and are employees or senior executives of one of the enterprises. Upon entry, it must be probable that the entry is for business purposes.

B.) Migrant workers employed in the agricultural sector. Specifically persons from neighboring countries who travel to meet the labor needs of the agricultural sector (TEÁOR and TESZOR 01, 02 and 03) and are nationals of the neighboring state.

C.) Some countries have less stringent quarantine rules than the general rules, or require no quarantine at all. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Internal Affairs jointly decide from which country they grant relief. The list of countries and exemptions is constantly increasing, see "From which countries can you travel to Hungary under milder quarantine rules?" section!

From which countries can you travel to Hungary and return home under mild quarantine rules?

Serbia

The obligation to quarantine for Serbian and Hungarian citizens has ceased if they enter Hungary from Serbia.

Anyone that detects symptoms of coronavirus within 14 days of entry must notify the epidemiological authority (which is the local government agency) and may not leave their place of residence. If the disease is found to be an acute respiratory infection with cough, shortness of breath, or fever of at least 38 ° C, the affected person will be quarantined by the epidemiological authority.

Ukraine

Ukrainian citizens can enter Hungary within the band of 30 km form the border.

EU / EEA nationals are free to enter and have no quarantine obligations.

Although not necessarily mentioned in the relevant regulations, anyone who becomes ill within 14 days after returning from travel abroad and shows symptoms implying infection with coronavirus must be quarantined.

What are the requirements for the leniency application?

The leniency application can be submitted on the police website through a customer gateway or company gateway or failing that, on the police's own form-filling interface. The application can only be submitted electronically, in Hungarian.

You can find the forms on the police e-administration page.

The application may also be submitted through a legal representative or authorized representative. In the latter case, the power of attorney must be included in a private document of full probative value (such as a statement signed by two witnesses). The same proxy may submit the application on behalf of several persons, if the entry takes place at the same time and the reason for entry corresponds, however, in the present case a separate authorization must be obtained from each of them.

Close relatives may submit a joint application if they cross borders at the same time for corresponding reasons. In this case, one of them submits the application and obtains the authorizations as referred to above.

The application must specify the circumstances that merit special consideration and state which identity document will be used to cross the border. The document identification number must also be provided. The application must be accompanied by:

  • a copy of the document by which we wish to justify the reason for special consideration (where possible);
  • power of attorney if the application is submitted by proxy.

An application that does not comply with the substantive or formal requirements, in particular if the application is submitted in a language other than Hungarian, incomplete, does not contain or refer to the reason for a fair assessment of the application, and does not include a power of attorney in case the application is submitted through representation, will be automatically rejected.

Anyone who encloses a copy of a document with their leniency application is obliged to present the original document at the request of the police officer when crossing the border.

Who orders quarantine and how?

Ordering quarantine is a two-step process:

  1. Once we have crossed the border, the police will order, as a temporary measure, that we go to the address we have given and wait there for the decision of the epidemiological authority to order quarantine.
  2. The decision usually arrives within a short period of time (although it may be a few days) and informs which day we are required to remain in quarantine until, that is always the 14th day after entry.

It follows from the above that:

  • the day of entry does not count towards the quarantine deadline, but we are already obliged to go to the quarantine site and stay there - it is realistic to calculate being in quarantine for 15 days in total, including the day of our arrival;
  • if an application for a quarantine exemption has been submitted, this can be considered by the police until the epidemiological authority issues a decision;
  • once the quarantine has been ordered by the epidemiological authority that authority may be asked to lift it.

How can I presume that my application will be considered positively?

This is difficult to predict, as police practice is unpredictable in several respects. Based on our experience to date, the processing of applications has been inconsistent in the following areas:

  • In certain cases, the leniency application was accepted in advance, while others were told that the leniency application could only be done once they have reached the border;
  • There was also a case of the police rejecting an application because it was not submitted 7 working days before entry - this means it is almost impossible to predict when is the most appropriate date of submission;
  • The speed of decision making also varies, ranging from a few hours to several days. The time of the evaluation depends largely on the capacity of the police;
  • The form filler on the police website does not always work, and there has also been a case where the application was rejected because it was not submitted through a customer gateway by the applicant. Therefore, for those who have the opportunity we recommend using the customer gateway;
  • If the quarantine authority has already issued the quarantine order, the police will usually reject the ongoing leniency application.

What address can I identify at the border as the designated place to spend the 14-days quarantine?

At border crossing any address can be identified as a designated place to the police. This will be forwarded to the locally competent epidemiological authority. However, it is our responsibility to be available at this address at all times when the police are checking for compliance with quarantine. We should only identify an address where we can actually spend 14 days. However, this does not have to be a registered address and is not subject to any other restrictions. However, it is worth obtaining a statement of consent if we were quarantining at someone else's address.

Can I retrospectively ask to move to quarantine at another location or be exempted from quarantine?

For epidemiological reasons relocation is possible (for example in cases where the persons are in quarantine with a person at higher risk for severe illness) and exemption is also available. To change the location of the quarantine, contact an epidemiological authority that has issued the decision about the quarantine: if the request to change the address is found justifiable for epidemiological reasons, a new decision will be delivered and a new residence will be identified.

It may be worth contacting the local police station that checks the implementation of the quarantine, i.e. if the police do not see any obstacle in relocating the quarantine, authorities also might positively evaluate the request. 

Contacting the local police station might also be helpful: if we do not reside at the prior address upon police check, we might face the opening of an infringement procedure.

Retrospective exemption is authorized by the epidemiological authority; their decision is based on epidemiological discretion, having regard to all circumstances of the case. To the best of our knowledge, exemption can be granted if the person can provide a negative molecular biology test (SARS-CoV-2 test), no older than 4 days. However this is only one of the many aspects that are considered by the authority in granting exemption.

How long do I have to quarantine?

According to the regulation governing entry, for 14 days, but in practice this is more likely to be 15 days. This is because upon entering the country the police, as a temporary measure, immediately directs us to the place we identified as the place of home quarantine. We must reside there until the official notice. In our experience, the epidemiological authority, which is notified by the police that we have been added to the epidemiological register, sets the start of the 14-day quarantine deadline only the day after the day of our entry. Therefore the 14-day deadline should be counted as the day subsequent to the day of entry, not from the initial entry day. However, on the day of our entry we must already reside at the address we have identified as quarantine.

It is possible to be exempted from compulsory quarantine. For further information, consult the point "Is it possible to obtain exemption from quarantine after entering Hungary?".

Is it possible to obtain exemption from quarantine after entering Hungary?

Yes. Such an exemption should be obtained from the epidemiological authority ordering the quarantine. For more information, see chapter “Quarantine” of this guide. 

How do I get to the place of quarantine? What should I do until I get there?

There are no restrictions about getting to the place of quarantine; this is possible by car, public transport, or, especially when arriving at the airport, by taxi, or by getting a lift from someone. This person should ideally be someone with whom you are going to spend quarantine together, although this is not obligatory. It is possible to take someone else to the place of quarantine, because pursuant to the decree on restriction of movement, “necessary business requiring personal presence”, and “providing help to a person in need” are possible.

Before arrival, especially if the journey is long, it is recommended to contact the competent police station, because if the police arrive for a check before you arrive you may be penalised.

How do the police check compliance with the rules?

The police visit the person’s home at random times, and checks if he or she is there. This is possible because the epidemiological authority automatically sends each home quarantine order to the police, so they are aware of who should be in quarantine where, and for how long. In addition, the police may request the person’s data and contact details from the epidemiological authority or from healthcare institutions, but the data request can only apply for data related to the epidemiological situation, not to any other medical information.

It is possible to have the police checks substituted by a mobile application (see the relevant decree here). Installation of the software is voluntary. In this case, when installing the app, you have to take a photo, which the application compares to your photos in other databases. After registration the person concerned “is obligated to cooperate and to perform the action prescribed by the police using the software”. This means that when the police send a notification you have to take a selfie, based on which the facial recognition programme installed on the phone verifies your identity. In addition to this, the app also forwards your data location to the police. The police may only check the person installing the application in person, if it is suspected that he or she may have broken the rules of quarantine, or is not using the app as required, on time.

Who takes care of those in home quarantine or in a designated quarantine?

This is the mayor’s task.

What is a home quarantine ordered by the authorities, and what is a designated quarantine?

Home quarantine ordered by the authorities is when someone must be quarantined in their home (place of residence or place of stay).

Designated quarantine is when the person is sent to an isolation hospital or other institution serving as quarantine by the epidemiological authority.

If you would like to learn more about rules on quarantine, refer to chapter “Quarantine” of our guide.

What actions are subject to sanctions regarding travel to Hungary?

Mainly the following qualify as breaches:

  • a foreign person’s travel to Hungary without an approved leniency application;
  • not showing the documentation supporting the reason for travel;
  • non-compliance with the quarantine regulation;
  • leaving the 30-kilometer lane next to the border provided for commuters, and exceeding the 24-hour stay in Hungary;
  • non-compliance with the rules pertaining to the entry and stay of agricultural workers.

Is it allowed to leave Hungary?

Yes. For workers of certain sectors, this used to be subject to a permit, but now they are allowed to travel freely.

How are commuting workers affected by the entry rules?

The Ministers of Exterior and Interior may agree with the neighbouring countries that residents of these countries should be allowed to enter the 30-kilometer lane next to the border for a maximum of 24 hours.

Information about which border stations have been closed and which ones are open is available on the website of the police: http://www.police.hu/hu/hirek-es-informaciok/hatarinfo

As of the situation on 19 June 2020, the following rules apply to commuters from the neighbouring countries (see rules on other countries below):

Ukraine

Ukrainian citizens may enter the 30-kilometer lane next to the border.

What about cargo transportation?

The limitations do not apply to cargo transportation entering and leaving the country.

As a Hungarian citizen, how can I get information before going abroad?

On the website https://konzuliszolgalat.kormany.hu/, up-to-date information is available, broken down by country.

Information about which border stations have been closed and which ones are open are available on the website of the police:http://www.police.hu/hu/hirek-es-informaciok/hatarinfo

I'm stuck in airport transit. How can I get help with getting home?

You should turn to the consular service according to your nationality.

Which regulation can I refer to for the new provisions on border crossing?

Government Decree 291/2020 (VI. 16.) on the travel restrictions during the epidemiological preparedness period

The regulation changes frequently, so it is important to check if you are looking at the one in effect.

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