Uncategorized, 7 September

How to import Household Goods and Vehicle Into Hungary

A Guide for expats in Budapest: Importing Your Household Goods and Vehicle Into Hungary

Hungary, and especially its capital – Budapest, has many benefits which make it an appealing long-term destination for many professionals, expats and international students. Budapest features an affordable cost of living, especially if you’ll be working remotely or you’ll receive a set sum from your multinational company for living expenses, and also boasts a rich cultural scene, which makes finding an interesting outing a breeze. On top of that, wine connoisseurs will find find variety to choose from (with 22 distinct wine regions within Hungary).

Yet, choosing to pick up stakes and relocate to Hungary is only the first step, as an international move is a long and somewhat complicated process. You’ll need to have all of the appropriate paperwork prepared and hire a qualified international moving company, to help you through each step of your journey. That said, it’s important that you learn the basics of what you’ll need – so you won’t be caught unawares at some point down the line.


Household Goods: The Duties You’ll Pay

The question of import duties is no doubt foremost in your mind, as these can add tremendous additional cost if your’e planning move to Budapest or one of the other major cosmopolitan cities in Hungary for work or study. Fortunately, Hungarian customs permits you to import your used personal household belongings without paying any import duty upon them. This is provided that you meet a few simple guidelines, such as having lived outside of the country for at least the last 12 months. You’ll also need a Residence Permit valid for a minimum of one year, in order to be eligible for duty exemption.

If your Residence Permit doesn’t meet this benchmark, you can still import your items without paying any duty. You will, however, be required to provide a Bank Guarantee for the full amount of the import duties for your shipment (and any additional costs associated with it). This Bank Guarantee must be issued by a Hungarian financial institution and be in Hungarian Forints (HUF). These funds will be refunded to you, as long as you don’t rent out or sell your items while in the country, or leave them behind when you move away.

Be aware that if you decide to remain in Hungary after your Residence Permit expires – your goods must go through another customs clearance or be exported at that time (4).


Household Goods: The Documents You’ll Need

In order for your shipment to clear Hungarian customs, you’ll need to provide the required paperwork. This includes showing customs your passport and a packing list for your shipment.


Comprehensive Inventory

A separate comprehensive inventory is also needed, and this should include monetary values, the date and your signature. Be aware that the appliances and electronics included in your shipment, should have their manufacturer and serial number listed. You should also provide photos of any antiques or paintings in your shipment. Reputable sources disagree about whether this inventory should be written in English or Hungarian – so you may want to give customs a copy of each.


Bank Guarantee and More

You’ll also need to present your Original Bill of Lading or Air Waybill to customs, and proof of a Bank Guarantee (if required for your shipment). A Letter of Guarantee from your employer within Hungary is also required. This letter should say that if you fail to take your goods with you when leaving the country or if you sell them – then your employer will pay the duties incurred.

You’ll also need to obtain a Work Permit within Hungary, before you shipment arrives. A separate Work Certificate issued by the company you’ll be working for, is also mandatory documentation.


Residence Permit

As described above, your Residence Permit must be valid for more than 12 months, in order to receive upfront duty exemption. You are to submit this to customs and it must be obtained before your shipment arrives at its point or port of entry into Hungary. You also need to provide your lease or purchase contract, for your residence inside the country (a copy is suitable).


Power of Attorney

If the international moving company you’ve hired or another third-party agent will be acting on your behalf to clear your goods through customs – then a Power of Attorney must be filed and submitted. This must be the original document written in Hungarian, and it must bear the signatures of at least two witnesses.

An Authorisation Letter seems to be an acceptable substitute, if you prefer to provide this instead of a Power of Attorney.


Documentation of Residence Abroad

Another requirement for import duty exemption, is having lived outside of Hungary for the last 12 months before your shipment arrives. You must give customs proof of this fact, and acceptable documentation includes utility bills in your name or a copy of your apartment lease in your origin country. A written statement from your employer in your previous country of residence, would also fulfil this requirement.

In addition to this paperwork, at least one source mentions that a written statement by you is also needed. This should attest that you’re changing your place of residence to Hungary and that you’ve been living in a non-EU country for a minimum of the last year. This statement could replace other documentation, but this isn’t clear – so speak to Hungarian customs to learn more.


Customer Statement

Separate from the statement just covered, this written document says that you’ve both owned and used your household belongings for a minimum of six months. As this is one of the prerequisites required to be eligible for import duty exemption – if this additional statement is needed, be sure not to omit it from your paperwork.


Vehicle Importation: The Duties You’ll Pay

Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary

According to the respected non-profit International Association of Movers (IAM), import duty exemption is not available. Instead, IAM states that you should expect to pay duty based upon the country from which your shipment is originating. In addition, registration tax will be due, and this is calculated based upon what environmental class your vehicle falls into. A further 27% value-added tax (VAT) will also be assessed on your vehicle.


Exemption May Be Possible

Other reputable sources differ, stating that as long as you meet certain criteria – your vehicle can be eligible for duty exemption. Among these requirements is that your vehicle have a catalyzer installed. If it was manufactured more than four years ago, it’s also required to undergo an environmental inspection – and be deemed to be in compliance with Hungarian regulations.


You’ll also need a Residence Permit, though if this is good for under 12 months – a Bank Guarantee for the full amount of the duty, VAT and extra fees is required. Finally, U.S. vehicles can require additional mechanical work, in order for them to adhere to Hungarian technical standards.


Typical Import Duty

If you’re not able to meet these requirements for exemption, then the typical import duty is 23 – 51%. The exact amount you’ll pay will be determined by your particular vehicle. It appears that VAT is in addition to these rates, and the registration tax mentioned above could also be charged.



Vehicle Importation: The Regulations You’ll Encounter

Liberty Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

When trying to bring your vehicle into the country, it’s important that you’re aware of the applicable regulations. When shipping your vehicle from the U.S., you should keep your license plates with the vehicle. You’re also permitted to bring your vehicle into Hungary and drive it for up to 3 months, while the customs clearing process is underway.


Upon receiving clearance, your vehicle is required to undergo an inspection by the Technical Test Station. Be aware, that this inspection requires your vehicle to adhere to EU technical standards – and your vehicle may require modifications in order to pass. After successfully clearing all of these hurdles (or perhaps while waiting for customs clearance), you’ll be given a Hungarian registration number. This will authorise you to legally drive your vehicle in all EU-member nations.



Vehicle Importation: The Documents You’ll Need

St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest, Hungary

A number of documents must be presented to customs, in order to bring your vehicle into the country. These include your receipt or purchase invoice (the original, no copies) – and this should have the date when you bought the vehicle and the price you paid listed. According to veteran international shipping company A1 Auto Transport, you’ll also need both the vehicle title and registration issued by your country of origin. Copies of these documents are not permitted. Customs will also need to see your driver’s license, Residence Permit, Work Permit and passport.


Declaration of Auto

Unique to your vehicle importation, this document states pertinent details about it – such as the condition it’s currently in, the manufacturer and the model. It’s recommended that you speak with either Hungarian customs or your shipping company (or both), to ascertain what information should be covered.



Hungarian customs requires you to submit proof of liability insurance. Unfortunately, sources indicate that this type of insurance that’s valid in Hungary, is not available for cars manufactured in the U.S. – so it’s quite likely that you won’t be able to import these vehicles. Whether liability insurance for foreign brands which have been assembled in the U.S. (such as Hondas made in factories within the country, rather than in Japan) isn’t specified.

Since the information available on this point is rather vague – you’d be well-served to contact Hungarian customs and your shipping agent. They’ll be able to help you determine, if procuring liability insurance for your particular vehicle is possible (and if this is still required).


Power of Attorney

Just as with your shipment of household belongings – you’ll need to provide a Power of Attorney if your shipping company or other third-party agent will be acting on your behalf to clear your vehicle through customs. The same requirements apply, and this must be written in Hungarian and include signatures from two witnesses.


Bank Guarantee

While listed among the required paperwork by several sources, if duty exemption is possible – then this may not be required. It’s best to contact Hungarian customs, to discuss whether a Bank Guarantee will be needed in your case.