The acquisition of Hungarian nationality – with the exception of simplified naturalisation

As specified by the Hungarian act on nationality, aliens who have been living in Hungary for a defined period of time have the opportunity to acquire Hungarian nationality. Persons who are family members of a Hungarian citizen, or have been living in Hungary since they were minors or have other strong ties with Hungary, have preferential ways of naturalisation. Preferential naturalisation is also an option for persons under special protection, such as refugees or stateless persons. The adoption of the existing Act on Nationality was monitored by the former Committee of Experts on Nationality of the Council of Europe. The ratification of the European Convention on Nationality, adopted in 1997, required only minor modifications of the Act to achieve maximum compliance with the requirements specified in the convention.

A Hungarian citizen acquires Hungarian nationality by law (ex lege), that is, automatically or through descent (ius sanguinis), regardless of the place of birth. To reduce the number of stateless persons, Hungarian law has applied for more than a hundred years ius soli (right of the soil) for children of unknown parents found in Hungary. The existing Act on Citizenship, Act LV of 1993 on Hungarian Citizenship introduced a new measure to reduce the number of stateless persons: unless proven otherwise, a child of stateless parents who was born in Hungary shall be regarded as a Hungarian citizen.

Thus Hungarian legislation complies with the requirement of the Convention on Children’s Rights that stipulates that a child must acquire a nationality and with several UN and European Conventions that aim to prevent and reduce statelessness. These intentions have been present in Hungarian public law since 1880, when the first modern act on nationality came into force.

The acquisition of Hungarian citizenship on application, through naturalisation:

The requirements and procedure of naturalisation include some traditional elements as well as rules that were integrated into Hungarian law on nationality through Hungary’s international commitments. As in other states, requirements of naturalisation are intended to measure the relation between a state and its would-be citizen and the degree of the applicant’s integration into Hungarian society.

The general conditions for conventional naturalisation are: proper accommodation and income in Hungary; clear criminal record; naturalisation is without prejudice to public security and national security; the applicant is obliged to pass an examination on the Hungarian constitution in Hungarian language (unless he or she is exempt by law).

It is a prerequisite that the applicant be an alien residing in Hungary, that is, a person holding a document that entitles him or her to permanent residence in Hungary and his or her address be recorded in the registry of citizens’ personal data and address. Similarly to relevant regulations in other states, Hungarian regulation specifies that the period before the submission of the application for naturalisation is different for the various categories of persons:

  • a person who is not entitled to preferential procedure may submit an application for naturalisation after eight years of residence in Hungary,
  • a person who was born in Hungary or settled in Hungary, immigrated or received a registration document as a minor or is a stateless person may apply for naturalisation after 5 years,
  • the spouse of a Hungarian citizen whose minor child is a Hungarian citizen, a refugee or an adult person who was adopted by a Hungarian citizen as a minor may apply for naturalisation after three years of residence in Hungary,
  • the required period of residence may be reduced for minors if the minor applies for naturalisation together with his or her parents or for minors whose parents acquired Hungarian citizenship,
  • the President of the Republic may grant exemption from certain requirements if Hungary has a great interest in the naturalisation; however, the applicant still has to have a registered address.

A minor adopted by a Hungarian citizen may be naturalised regardless of his or her place of residence.

The following persons are exempt from the obligation of the examination on Hungarian constitution: incapacitated persons, or persons with partial capacity, a person who is at least 65 years old, a person who graduated in an institute of education where the language of the instruction is Hungarian, and a person whose health has deteriorated irreversibly and to such a degree that a competent healthcare institution certifies that he or she is unable to pass the examination.

The applicant may submit an application for change of name along with the application for naturalisation in order to omit name elements that are not used in Hungary or to apply for the Hungarian version of his or her first name,. This option is intended to contribute to the successful integration of the naturalised person. The name change starts to apply when the person acquires Hungarian citizenship.

Since 2011, application for naturalisation can be submitted to the registrar of the local government, the territorial authorities of the Office of Immigration and Nationality, the integrated helpdesks of the Government and – abroad – to Hungarian consuls. The Office of Immigration and Nationality examines whether the conditions specified by law exist, and prepares a proposal for decision. The President of the Republic decides about conventional application for naturalisation, on the basis of a proposal by the Minister of the Interior.

The applicant acquires Hungarian nationality in the course of a ceremony in front of the mayor of his or her place of residence, in the form of an oath.

The acquisition of Hungarian citizenship through declaration:

A person who lost his or her Hungarian citizenship through deprivation, dismissal (before 1990) or as a person obliged to resettle in Germany (after 1945) may re-acquire citizenship through declaration.

Before 1957, Hungarian citizenship was acquired through filiation if the father was a Hungarian citizen. Persons with a Hungarian mother and a non-Hungarian father who could not acquire Hungarian citizenship because of this regulation may acquire Hungarian citizenship through declaration.

Stateless persons who are residing in Hungary, were born in Hungary to non-Hungarian parents but the state of nationality of the parents did not recognise the child as its citizen may also apply for Hungarian citizenship through declaration.