Brexit Update – The United Kingdom left the EU at 00:00 CET on Saturday 1st February 2020. We take a look at what that means for UK citizens who are already in Hungary and for any Brits that may still plan to relocate to Hungary this year.

Many believed this day would never come. It did though and all UK citizens in Hungary who have not yet managed to establish Hungarian or perhaps Irish citizenship, ceased to be EU citizens on Saturday. There have been many articles over the last year or more, communicating what Brexit will mean for UK citizens living in Hungary and here we seek to provide clear guidance as to what to do, if anything, now that Brexit day has indeed arrived.

Brexit and Immigration

If you’re a UK citizen and already hold a registration card (Regisztrációs Igazolás) and address card (Lakcímkártya­) then the good news is that your residence status in Hungary is guaranteed, for life. You do not need to do anything right now, your existing cards will remain valid until the end of the transition period, which forms an important part of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU.

The transition period is currently set to expire on 31st December 2020, after which time one of the following options will apply:

  1. If you have already legally resided in Hungary for three years on 1st January 2021 then you will immediately be allowed to apply for a national permanent residence permit on preferential terms
  2. If you have not yet legally resided in Hungary for three years you will be allowed to retain your current cards and then once the three years has been completed, then apply for the aforementioned national permanent residence permit.

More information on Brexit and how it affects existing residents can be found by following this link.

Not yet established residence?

If you either plan to relocate to Hungary this year or already arrived but have not yet got around to registering, the good news is that during the transition period set out in the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU, UK citizens may continue to establish their right to reside in Hungary, as if they were still EU citizens. However, the clock is ticking and unless the transition period is extended, there are now less than 11 months until this window of opportunity closes.

On 1st January 2021, current legislation states that newly arriving UK citizens will be treated as the non-EU citizens they are and will need to apply for a combined work and residence permit if they wish to engage in work for a Hungarian company. However, there is always the possible that a bi-lateral agreement will be signed between the UK and Hungary, allowing for a more simplified process.

If you are in any doubt as to what to do, or would like more information on the process of establishing or retaining legal residence in Hungary, post-Brexit, please contact us here or at [email protected].

UK citizens with non-EU spouses

More positive news here. Any non-EU spouse of a UK citizen who is currently legally resident as the dependent of an EU citizen, retains the right to reside, post-Brexit. When the UK citizen attains the right to apply for permanent residence on preferential terms, the spouse and any other dependents also qualify, subject to some terms and conditions.

This also applies to any UK citizen who applies for residence during the transition period.

Public transport

One key issue that UK retirees to Hungary have always enjoyed is the majorly discounted national travel and the right to use the Budapest public transport system, free of charge.

Whilst it is reasonable to assume that this right will be lost after the transition period, our opinion is that as the transition period allows for all rights and benefits of EU membership to be retained by UK citizens, this right to discounted or free travel should be retained, at least for the rest of 2020.

In conclusion

Although the UK has now left the EU, in reality the transition period means that not much has changed. Watch this space for more information.