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What is the National Card?

Those arriving in Hungary for long-term employment (longer than 90 days) must have the appropriate permit. One form of this is the National Card, which is a special type of permit available only to citizens of certain countries. The list of these countries is determined by the Hungarian government.

The permit type is one of the types of permits subject to the merged permit procedure, which provides the right to reside and work at the same time.

This type of permit was introduced by the Immigration Act in force from 2024. The National Card does not fall within the scope of guest worker permits or permits which can be requested by highly qualified workers.

Who can apply for the National Card?

Citizens of the below listed countries can apply for a National Card, regardless of educational level. There are no legal restrictions related to this type of permit in terms of educational attainment, both low- and high-competence employees are entitled to a National Card.

Country list from 09.07.2024:

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Republic of Belarus
  • Moldova
  • Republic of Montenegro
  • Russian Federation
  • Serbia
  • Ukraine

For which employment cases can the National Card be applied?

The National Card can be requested in the following cases:

  • Local employment contract with a domestic employer, including workforce-leasing
  • By the manager or owner of the company, if in addition to this position he actually performs work in the company
  • Whose employment in Hungary is based on their employment relationship with an employer established in a third country to fulfil an agreement concluded with a domestic employer
  • Within the framework of an intra-group transfer, where the employer from outside the EEA (sending company) sends the employee to work for a Hungarian company within the same company group.

What does the National Card entitle to?

The National Card entitles its holder to work at a specific employer, place of work and position, as well as to stay in Hungary during the validity period of the permit.

How long is the National Card valid?

The National Card can be requested for a maximum of 2 years and can be extended for up to 3 years at a time. The validity of the permit issued shall be determined by the Office based on the planned length of employment.

In addition to the above, the validity of the permit is also influenced by the applicant’s passport: the validity of the Hungarian Card must be determined in such a way that the passport remains valid for at least three months after the expiry of the permit.

When considering the application for a permit, the authority is entitled to limit the permit to a shorter period than the requested time, if it considers it justified on the basis of any circumstances (e.g. health insurance, housing).

Situation of family members

The holder of the National Card may also be joined by their family members in Hungary, and the authority issues them a residence permit for family reunification purposes based on the employee’s (the family’s supporter) Hungarian Card.

In Hungary, a family member of the holder of the National Card can only work with a valid work permit.

Special requirements related to applying for a National Card

There are no legal restrictions related to the National Card regarding the job positions that can be filled. The National Card can be applied to any FEOR number.

The so-called shortage profession list previously related to the permits of Serbian and Ukrainian citizens has been abolished with the Immigration Act effective from 2024.

The employee must have the level of education required for the job to be filled. A certified OFFI translation of the qualification document must be attached to the application.

The salary must comply with the generally applicable minimum wage (based on FEOR number) for the job.

Application process

The application for the National Card may be submitted in possession of a specific job offer and subject to prior agreement on a specific employer, place of work and position.

If the applicant is not present in Hungary, the first application is submitted in person at the Hungarian consulate located in his/her country of origin or residence.

If the applicant entered as a tourist, he or she can apply for his or her first application online, through the EnterHungary website of the immigration office.

If the applicant is already in Hungary and renews his/her permit, he/she must submit his/her application for extension online. The request for extension shall be submitted no later than 30 days before the expiry of the period of validity.

The application for the National Card may also be submitted by an employer without the personal presence of the applicant, in which case the application must be submitted via the website of the immigration office called EnterHungary.

The evaluation period for the National Card application is 21 days.

The peculiarity of the National Card application is that the labour office does not conduct an administrative procedure during the evaluation, even though the process is subject to a merged permit procedure.

Special case of starting work in case of National Card

The employment of citizens according to the above list (in employment cases detailed above) can also be started before the National Card is issued, for a maximum period of 90 days.

The conditions for this are that the employee:

  • can travel to Hungary visa-free
  • has not worked in Hungary for the previous six months.

The maximum period of employment before the National Card is issued depends on whether the employee has stayed in the Schengen zone in the six months before starting work. If so, the possible duration will be shortened by the number of visa-free days of stay used.

The application for the National Card may be submitted before the start of work or at any time during the 90-day period.

Employment can be continuous if the National Card is issued by the end of the maximum period of 90 days. Otherwise, the employee must be quit and can only start working again after the National Card has been issued.

Change jobs

If there is a change in employment data (position, place of work) or a change of job, the employee must apply for a new permit, which can be any type of work permit. Only after the immigration office approval decision has been issued can the work start under the new terms and conditions of employment or with a new employer.

The holder of the National Card is entitled to switch to another type of permit in Hungary.

Possibility of permanent residence

National Card holders and their family members may apply for long-term residence rights in Hungary if the related conditions are met.

If you need help applying for a National Card, please contact our office at the contact details on the website.

Official information about the application process and the necessary forms can be found on the website of the National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing.

Information on the processing fees for licence applications can be found here.

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