Country Report: Naturalisation Last updated: 20/07/24


Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

The main criteria for naturalisation are laid down in Section 4(1) of the Citizenship Act as the following:

  • The applicant has resided in Hungary continuously over a period of eight years (there is a shorter minimum period for refugees);
  • According to Hungarian laws, the applicant has a clean criminal record and is not being indicted in any criminal proceedings before the Hungarian court;
  • The applicant has sufficient means of subsistence (no exact minimum amount defined in law) and a place of residence in Hungary;
  • Their naturalisation is not considered to be a threat to public policy or to the national security of Hungary; and
  • The applicant provides proof that they have passed the exam in basic constitutional studies in Hungarian, or provides proof for their exemption from such exam.

The minimum period of residence prior to the naturalisation application is shorter for a number of categories of applicants who are treated favourably. Recognised refugees and stateless persons are two of the categories benefitting from preferential treatment and are required to have resided in Hungary for a continuous period of at least three years (as opposed to eight) directly prior to the submission of the application.[1] However, regarding stateless persons the actual waiting time is 6 years, since they are not entitled to establish a domicile right after they were granted stateless status. In practice, this means that stateless persons at first have to apply for a national long-term residence permit and only after obtaining it together with the registered domicile can they apply for Hungarian citizenship. According to the Menedék Association, in practice after 3 years with an established domicile refugees cannot be granted citizenship because they usually have difficulties fulfilling the other criteria due to the lack of proper integration support.

As per the experiences of the HHC, having no stable accommodation (but living in a homeless shelter) and the lack of adequate Hungarian language skills are striking within the difficulties persons with international protection face as an obstacle upon the application for Hungarian citizenship. Moreover, the high fees of the Hungarian Office for Translation and Attestation Ltd.[2] might result in further obstacles when it comes to naturalisation.

Section 4(2) of the Citizenship Act clarifies the distinction between refugee status and subsidiary protection, by providing preferential treatment only to refugees, while persons with subsidiary protection fall under the general rule of 8-year-long previous residence in Hungary. Moreover, the Asylum Act expressly states that beneficiaries of subsidiary protection shall not be entitled to the conditions for preferential naturalisation made available to refugees in the Citizenship Act.[3]

The naturalisation procedure is conducted by the Government Office of Budapest. The application can be submitted at any local government office, which transfers the case file to the Government Office of Budapest. The HHC is aware of the practice in place at government offices, according to which the officer requires the applicant to write down the whole curriculum vitae again or a summary of it, or to fill in the application form in front of them, thereby controlling the Hungarian language skills of the applicant. There were cases in 2021 when even minors were requested to re-write their CV on the spot. In addition, case officers use a technical language with the applicant during the procedure which makes communication even more difficult.

According to the law,[4] the constitutional exam can be substituted by a certificate issued by an accredited school proving that the person had attended the programme equating to 8 years of elementary school. Nonetheless as per the experience of HHC, in 2020 the government offices did not accept the certificate of one specific school that is considered to provide a lower quality educational programme by the authorities. Applicants presenting such certificates were instructed by the officers to take the constitutional exam. In the view of the HHC this practice is unlawful as the mentioned school is accredited in Hungary and there is no legal basis for such a rejection for the certificate. Such practice was not reported in 2021 and 2022.

Regarding the problem of authentication of foreign documents – the relevant obligation of the authentication is provided by Section 14(5)(a) Citizenship Act – a study on Hungarian nationalisation written by Gábor Gyulai, expert on naturalisation and statelessness procedures in Hungary points out the following:

‘[O]fficial foreign documents must go through diplomatic legalisation (authentication) before submission, unless this would take an unreasonably long time (according to the declaration of the competent consular officer) or if this would result in seriously adverse legal consequences for the applicant. This latter exception could constitute an important safeguard for refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection; nonetheless, there is no information whether it is applied as such in practice.’[5]

According to the latest experience of the HHC, the authority upon a request for exemption accepts original documents without diplomatic authentication.

Menedék Association reported that since the 2021 amendment of Act I of 2010 on Civil Registration Procedure, no exemption regarding the submission of original birth and marriage certificates may be requested in naturalisation procedures. This legal modification caused difficulties for those beneficiaries of international protection who initiated such procedures in 2022. Menedék Association points out that although the amendment primarily concerns marriage procedures, it has been applied in naturalisation procedures too in practice. As a result, beneficiaries of international protection are requested to submit their original birth and marriage certificates and are thereby asked to contact the authorities of their countries of origin, should they lack the original copies of those documents. The government case-officers refer to paragraphs 118-125 of the UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees[6] when articulating such requests, according to which the acquisition of such documents from the national authorities cannot be regarded as re-availement of protection and cannot therefore be regarded as a reason to withdraw international protection. Menedék Association highlights, however, that persons of concern are not only afraid of their status being withdrawn, but also of the authorities of their countries of origin being aware of their whereabouts. Menedék Association reported a concrete case where a client from Palestine was specifically asked by the case-officer of the naturalisation procedure to travel to Tel-Aviv, Israel, to have the diplomatic legalisation of his documents via the Hungarian embassy there.[7]

There is an ex lege eventual practice of the Government Office of Budapest, according to which the authority summons the applicant for a so-called ‘data checking’. In fact, it is a proper interview held with the applicant about the very detail of their professional and private life, including questions regarding their family life, past, hobbies and everyday life in Hungary, worldview, income, housing, political opinion, religion and future plans etc. There are only hand-written notes taken by the questioning officer, but there is no copy of it served to the applicant. Since the procedure is not transparent, the interview’s role as to the result of the decision is not clear.

During the procedure the applicant might have a legal representative. According to the HHC though, the lawyer is not informed about any procedural steps. The Government Office of Budapest communicates exclusively with the applicant. In the HHC’s experience in 2021, legal representatives were not allowed to be present upon the submission of an application. The reason given by the authorities was either the existence of specific measures as a consequence of the pandemic, or the need to control the language competency of the applicant in Hungarian. A paper on the wall warns clients that the government office is not able to accept applications of persons accompanied by an assistant or an interpreter. Even in the case of minors this stance led to disputes. Nevertheless, ultimately, neither the legal guardian nor the lawyer were allowed to assist the applicant. Similar incidents were not reported in 2022.

There is no procedural deadline set out in the law concerning the maximum deadline for issuing a decision, although the Government Office of Budapest shall forward the applications for naturalisation to the Minister of Interior within three months.[8] In practice, the general procedural time takes at least approximately one year.

As the law states, decisions in connection with petitions for the acquisition of Hungarian citizenship by way of naturalisation or repatriation shall be adopted by the President of the Republic based on the recommendation of the Minister of Interior.[9]

The President of the Republic shall issue a certificate of naturalisation attesting the acquisition of Hungarian citizenship. Subsequently, the applicant must take a citizenship oath or pledge of allegiance, for which the mayor of the district of their residence shall send the invitation.[10] The naturalised person shall acquire Hungarian citizenship on the date of taking the oath or pledge of allegiance.

In practice, the applicant has to wait a long period – normally at least one year – to be issued a decision. Since the decision on granting citizenship is not administrative, it cannot be appealed, nor can judicial review be mounted against the decision. Therefore, the procedure for naturalisation lacks the provision of information and the most basic procedural safeguards of transparency, accountability and fairness.[11] The experience of the Menedék Association confirms the aforementioned. According to the association, besides some positive decisions, several applications from applicants with substantially similar background were rejected in the last years. In January 2020 some rejected applicants submitted complaints to the Ombudsman objecting the lack of reasoning provided by the Government Office. As a result of the procedure, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary issued a decision pointing out a few reasons why the applicants’ petitions were rejected. This positive development did not last for long though. As per information provided by the Menedék Association, in the following months the Ombudsman rejected the complaints, claiming to be unable to review the procedure of the President of the Republic – despite that these complaints concerned the procedure prior to the President’s decision. Furthermore, the Ombudsman pointed out that further complaints submitted by the applicant, would be rejected without an in-merit examination.

Menedék Association points out that reasons of rejection of citizenship applications were still not transparent in 2022. They highlighted that the applications of illiterate applicants are generally rejected. A newfangled experience of the Association is that case-officers of government offices request applicants to comply with further conditions lacking any legal basis, such as writing their CVs in Hungarian on the spot before the case-officer, or requesting the applicant to take another constitutional exam, although the applicant had taken one before starting the procedure.[12]

Refugee children and children having been granted subsidiary protection who were born in Hungary and did not obtain their parents’ citizenship by birth might obtain Hungarian citizenship by declaration taken five years after their birth under the Citizenship Act provided that their parents had a Hungarian domicile at the time of their birth.[13] As opposed to the naturalisation procedure described above, if the Government Office of Budapest rejects the declaration the applicant has the possibility to request a judicial review.[14] One declaration submitted in 2020 was rejected a year later. The HHC represented an applicant child whose application was submitted in 2020 but was rejected in December 2022. Menedék Association reported that the application for citizenship by declaration of a child of refugee parents was rejected t in 2022, as, according to the Government Office, the child might obtain the citizenship of his mother, based on the law in effect in the country of origin. As the parents of the child are refugees, they refuse to contact the authorities of their country of origin.[15] The pattern seems to show that the government office would consider eligible only the children of recognised stateless parents, even though the Citizenship Act does not mention such criteria. This raises serious problems, since contacting the authorities of the country of origin in order to prove that the child did not obtain citizenship might even result in the loss of refugee status. [16] According to data provided by the Government Office of Budapest, no child was granted citizenship by declaration.[17]

In 2022, 84 beneficiaries of international protection applied for Hungarian citizenship (55 refugees and 29 beneficiaries of subsidiary protection). In the same year, 14 refugees (6 Afghan, 1 Ethiopian, 3 Iranian, 1 Congolese, 1 Kosovan, 1 Cuban, 1 Palestine/stateless persons) and 13 beneficiaries of subsidiary protection (6 Afghan, 2 Congolese, 2 Syrian, 1 Somali person and 2 persons of unknown nationality) obtained citizenship. Out of the 27 people, 1 former refugee (Afghan national) and 3 former beneficiaries of subsidiary protection (1 Afghan national and 2 persons of unknown nationality) were minors. The applications of beneficiaries of international protection were rejected in 59 cases: the applications of 47 refugees (breakdown by the three main nationalities : 9 Afghans, 5 Kosovan and Russian and 4 Nigerian) and 18 beneficiaries of subsidiary protection (breakdown by the three main nationalities: 10 Afghans, 2 Iranians, 2 Somalis.).[18] The number of applicants showed a 28% decrease in 2022, in comparison with the previous year.




[1] Section 4(2) Citizenship Act.

[2] Website of the Hungarian Office for Translation and Attestation Ltd.:

[3] Section 17(4) Asylum Act.

[4] Section 4/A(2)(b) Citizenship Act

[5] HHC, The Black Box of Nationality: The naturalisation of refugees and stateless persons in Hungary, 2016, available at:, 18.

[6] UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, reissued in 2019, available at:

[7] Information received from Menedék Association by the HHC on 28 February 2023.

[8] Section 17(2) Citizenship Act.

[9] Section 6(1) Citizenship Act.

[10] Section 4(2) Citizenship Act.

[11] HHC, The Black Box of Nationality: The naturalisation of refugees and stateless persons in Hungary, 2016, available at:

[12] Information received from Menedék Association by the HHC on 28 Ferbuary 2023.

[13] Section 5/A (1) (b) Citizenship Act.

[14] Section 5/A (3) Citizenship Act.

[15] Information received from Menedék Association by the HHC on 28 Ferbuary 2023.

[16] Section 11(2) Asylum Act.

[17] Information provided by the Government Office of Budapest, 26 January 2023.

[18] Information provided by the Government Office of Budapest, 26 January 2023.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation