Electrical current is 230 volts, 50 Hz. European-style
two-pin plugs are standard.
Hungarian (Magyar) is the official language, but German
is widely spoken, especially in the areas close to the Austrian
border. English is spoken in tourist areas and most
Taxi drivers and waiters expect a tip of 10 to 15% in Hungary.
Waiters should be handed the cash, rather than have it left on the
table. Most people in the service industry expect to be tipped
about 10 to 15%.
Most visits to Hungary are trouble-free, but normal precautions
against petty crime should be taken. Pick pocketing and bag
snatching are common in Budapest, especially on crowded public
transport and other places frequented by tourists. Some bars, clubs
and restaurants in Budapest charge outrageous prices by means of
scams that target foreigners in particular. Be cautious of
invitations off the street to dine in certain establishments or of
recommendations by taxi drivers who are often in on the scam. All
political demonstrations should be avoided, as they have led to
violence in the past.
All travellers to Hungary must carry official identification at
all times; photocopies are not acceptable.
A handshake is the standard form of greeting when doing business
in Hungary and in mixed company it is usually women who initiate.
Conservative suits and ties are standard business dress and
business people should be addressed by their title and surname.
Business cards are often exchanged; Hungarians usually list their
surnames first. It is useful to have a local representative when
doing business in Hungary who can set up meetings and act as an
interpreter. It is important to invest time on building
relationships; socialising is a key element of this and
face-to-face meetings are vital. Punctuality is vital to all
occasions, and cancelling a meeting at the last minute may be
detrimental to a business relationship. Due to the communist legacy
there is an aversion to risk and plenty of red tape and therefore
negotiations can be slow-moving and patience is required. Although
Hungary remains male-orientated, being female is not a disadvantage
to doing business. Business hours are usually from 8am to 4pm
Monday to Friday, though summer hours tend to be shorter.
The international access code for Hungary is +36. The outgoing
code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g., 0044 for
the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g., (0)1 for
Budapest. There are often high surcharges on calls made from
hotels; it is cheaper to use public telephone boxes or calling
cards. Local directory assistance is available by dialling 198, and
international directory assistance is 199; callers may have to hold
for a few moments, but English-speaking operators are available.
The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming
agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are
available in the main towns.
Travellers to Hungary with goods purchased in the EU for
personal use do not have to pay customs duty on 3200 cigarettes, or
400 cigarillos, or 200 cigars, or 3kg of smoking tobacco; 10 litres
of spirits; 110 litres of beer; 20 litres of fortified wine, such
as sherry or port; and 90 litres of wine. Travellers arriving from
non-EU countries do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes,
or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g of smoking tobacco, or a
proportional mix of these. Alcohol allowances (for passengers over
17 years) include 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; perfume
up to 50g and 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods for personal
consumption to the value of EUR175 per adult or EUR90 for children
under 15 years. Prohibited items include fresh meat and dairy