How to get visa to Hungary and the different types of visas

The Schengen Area is a border-free zone, established by the Schengen Agreement, in which the member states acknowledged the abolishment of their internal borders. The purpose of this agreement is to facilitate the free and unrestricted movement of people, goods, services and capital between member states and to apply common rules for controlling external borders.

The Schengen Area consists of 22 member states, most of them are members of the European Union, and four non-EU countries; Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein. It is important to note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom do not issue Schengen visas.

The Schengen Area cannot function efficiently without a concerted visa policy therefor the EU has established a common visa policy for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Schengen States of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period and for transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States.

The Schengen regulations are only applicable for a stay not exceeding 90 days. Rules for a stay longer than 90 days are laid down by the national law of the member states concerned.

Hungary is part of the Schengen Area since 2007 (21th December), this means that visas and residence permits issued by one of the member states of the Schengen Area (Schengen Member States) are valid also for Hungary.  The same applies vice versa, visas and residence permits issued by Hungarian authorities are valid for the entire Schengen Area too.


The EU has established VIS, the Visa Information System, that enables member states of the Schengen Area to exchange visa data with each other. The main purpose of this system is facilitating checks and the issuance of visas, fighting abuses, protecting travellers, helping with asylum applications, enhancing security. Eu-LISA, the European Agency for large-scale IT systems is responsible for the operational management of VIS.

Common visa policy

Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area from certain non-EU countries are required to hold a visa. Regulation No 539/2001 and its successive amendments set out a list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and a list (so called “positive list”) of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement.

It is important to know that a visa is only a preliminary permission for entry, which does not authorize its bearer automatically to enter the country. The traveller may be requested to provide proof of the existence of the conditions of his entry and stay in the member state and, if he is not able to fulfil this, he may be returned from the border.

The second element of the common visa policy is the EU Visa Code. It sets out the procedures and conditions for issuing visas for the purpose of short stays and airport transit.

The third element of the common visa policy is the uniform format of the visa sticker.

Types of Schengen visas

Airport transit visa (A)

Authorizes the bearer to enter the international zone of the airport and to remain there until the time of the departure of the flight to the destination country. There are only some countries whose nationals are obliged to apply for an airport transit visa. These countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka.

There are other categories of people whom shall be exempt from the requirement to hold an airport transit visa.

  • Holders of a valid uniform visa, national long-stay visa or residence permit issued by a Member State.
  • Third-country nationals holding a valid visa issued by Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, United States of America.
  • Third-country nationals holding the valid residence permits issued by Ireland, United Kingdom, Andorra, Canada, Japan, San Marino or the United States of America.
  • for family members of citizens of the Union effective under the 2004/38/EEC.
  • Holders of diplomatic passports.
  • Flight crew members who are nationals of a contracting Party to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Short stay uniform visa (C)

Authorizes the bearer to a single, double or multiple entries and, in case of an uninterrupted stay, to a stay of maximum 90 days, while in case of an interrupted stay, to a stay of altogether maximum 90 days within the 6 months counted from the date of the first entry.

How to apply for Schengen visas?

According to the Visa Code, “applications shall be lodged no more than three months before the start of the intended visit. Holders of a multiple-entry visa may lodge the application before the expiry of the visa valid for a period of at least six months.”

Uniform visa applications have to be submitted at the representation of the country which is the main destination of the visit. If it is hard to decide what is the main destination of the visit, then it is best to go to the consulate of the first country you intend to visit.

If it has been established that a Hungarian consulate is responsible for issuing a Schengen visa, it has to be chosen which one of them. The general rule is that an application can be handed in to the consulate which is in the country

  • a) where the applicant resides legally and has a habitual residence (the applicant holds a permit that makes a stay longer than 3 months possible – e.g. residence permit),
  • b) the applicant does not have a habitual residence or right for long term stay, but at the moment stays legally there and gave reasons for applying at that consulate.

Documents needed for visa application

  • Certification of legal residing
  • Travel medical insurance
  • The financial coverage of the expenses has to be certified
  • The purpose of the entry has to be certified

This is a non-exhaustive list, the consul dealing with the application process is going to define what documents are needed for the application in a certain case, and it is changeable time to time.

Seasonal employment visa

Seasonal employment visa entitles the holder for single or multiple entry, and for employment for a longer than three months and maximum six months period. The validity of the visa is maximum one year. The applicant has to dispose a seasonal work permit issued by the competent labour center. The permit has to define the exact place and time of the seasonal work.

Entry for long stay (period exceeding 90 days)

Regulations on a stay exceeding 90 days fall within the competence of national authorities, therefore there is no uniform routine among the Schengen Member States. Foreign nationals requesting entry to Hungary with a purpose of a long stay may submit a residence permit application.

Please find our other article on how to get a residence permit in Hungary here.

Questions regarding immigration law? Would like to receive Hungarian passport?  Contact us!

dr. Dobos István attorney at law (ügyvéd; Budapest)

T:+3630 3088151