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All You Need to Know About Hungarian Citizenship by Descent

Jordan Levy-Bograd
Jordan Levy-Bograd

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A Hungarian passport is one of the most sought-after passports in the world, since it allows visa-free travel across Europe, and also to the USA and Canada, among other countries. Along with that, it also gives you European citizenship that allows you to live and work freely anywhere in the European Union (EU).

However, obtaining Hungarian citizenship requires you to reside in Hungary for 8 continuous years before you can apply for citizenship. You can fast-track this process if you have Hungarian ancestors or if your spouse is Hungarian by birth. Hungarian citizenship by descent is available to anyone who can prove their Hungarian ancestry, even if it dates back to the 19th century!

Read on to find out all you need to know about obtaining a Hungarian passport by descent.

Hungarian Citizenship by Descent

How does Hungarian citizenship by descent work?

The Hungarian citizenship law is based on the principles of jus sanguinis, Latin for “right of blood”, which states that a person gets Hungarian citizenship by birth from a Hungarian citizen parent. It is applicable only to children born to parents, either or both of whom are Hungarian citizens. It does not apply to children born in Hungary to parents of other origins.

So, if either your mother or father is of Hungarian descent, you can obtain Hungarian citizenship by descent through the simplified naturalization process.

The fundamental benefit of the simplified naturalization process is that the applicant does not have to live in Hungary on a regular basis for a longer amount of time, nor does it require the Applicant to establish that his or her livelihood is guaranteed in Hungary. They don’t even need to work or have a bank account to obtain Hungarian citizenship by descent. All they need to do is prove their Hungarian heritage through a paper trail.

Hungarian citizenship by descent for Jews

The Jewish and Hungarian communities have a long history together. In the past, Budapest — Hungary’s capital and home to Europe’s largest synagogue – was the epicenter of the Jewish population in Europe. For this reason, the Hungarian citizenship by descent Jewish people can benefit from is applicable to all Jewish individuals with Hungarian ancestry, regardless of where they live in the world.

Under provisions issued within the context of the Law dated 26.5.2010, Jews of Hungarian heritage who live in foreign countries on a permanent basis may make an application for Hungarian citizenship by descent in line with the “simplified process.” The amendment to the law is an important aspect of Hungary’s national strategy, which includes assistance for Hungarian minorities living outside the country and the prevention of an advanced assimilation process.

Types of citizenship procedures

There are three types of procedures for obtaining a Hungarian passport by descent:

  • Simplified Naturalization: this is the process you have been reading about till now. All you need to do is apply for citizenship and prove that you are a direct descendant of Hungarian parents or ancestors. You will also need to prove that you can speak basic Hungarian.
  • Naturalization: this option is available to those who have already been living in Hungary for a few years. Depending on whether you’re single, married, and/or have children, you may be required to pass a citizenship exam.
  • Citizenship by declaration: this is another simplified form of naturalization but is only applicable to individuals who lost their Hungarian citizenship when they left the country between September 1947 and May 1990. It is also applicable to stateless individuals under the age of 19 who have been residents of Hungary for at least 5 years before the application.

What proof do you need?

Documents from the Hungarian archives will be necessary to verify that you are a descendant of immigrants who departed Hungary or that one or both of your parents are of Hungarian origin. You can begin the process of immigrating to Hungary as soon as you can establish and prove a chain of generations. You must also be able to speak basic Hungarian to be eligible.

Many documents proving that you have Hungarian ancestors in the past are acceptable. For example, historic Hungarian papers such as your ancestors’ birth, marriage, and death certificates, a soldier booklet/certificate, a registration certificate for schooling or graduation, employment registration, and synagogue records, among others.

You must also declare that you do not have a criminal record under Hungarian law and that no criminal proceedings are pending against you in a Hungarian court. The authorities will also verify that your receipt of Hungarian citizenship by descent does not violate national security.

Can you be a citizen without Hungarian ancestry?

Yes, you can be a citizen of Hungary without being of Hungarian or Jewish descent. But this path is longer and includes being a resident of Hungary for a minimum of 8 years before being eligible to apply for citizenship. Hungary does not offer citizenship or residency by investment, so if you are not of Hungarian origin, you must go through the “normal” process of citizenship.

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