What are your options if you are coming from Ukraine to Hungary?

February 27, 2022

Last updated on 13 March 2022.

Now that many people are forced to leave Ukraine for Hungary, here is some crucial information for crossing the border and what kind of assistance they can expect once in Hungary.

The below information is not complete. We will keep updating it as new information becomes available. Watch this space, or follow us on Facebook.

Crossing the border from Ukraine

  1. Hungarian citizens and other EU nationals can enter Hungary without restrictions.
  2. As before, Ukrainian citizens with a biometric passport can enter Hungary visa-free and stay for 90 days within a 180-day period (so it does not have to be an uninterrupted 90 days). During this time they can apply for residency or a work permit as per usual, or ask for “temporary protection” (more below).
  3. In a new decree issued on February 24th, Hungary has granted visa-free entry to everyone coming from Ukraine who is either a Ukrainian citizen, or a third-country national staying in Ukraine legally.
  4. Temporary protection is now available to everyone fleeing Ukraine (so, even Ukrainians without a biometric passport, or third-country nationals currently in Ukraine for any reason can ask for this status). However, for those who are able to enter as per categories (1)-(2), we recommend that they cross the border using their visa-free status, and decide later whether to apply for the temporary protection or another type of resident permit when inside Hungary.
  5. However, male citizens of Ukraine between the age of 18-60 are now banned from leaving the country, so they might be held up on the Ukrainian side of the border.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are fleeing Ukraine without a biometric passport or other documents usually required to enter the Schengen zone, you can only enter Hungary directly from Ukraine for now. If you first crossed to e.g. Romania and you do not have suitable papers, you should cross back to Ukraine and then to Hungary. Alternatively, you may decide to stay in Romania or try to leave for a country that will accept you without a biometric passport (if you are Ukrainian) or an EU visa (if you are a third-country national).  

Temporary protection for people fleeing war

In Hungary, requesting refugee status is usually quite a complex and lengthy procedure. Because of the current crisis, however, the EU directive 2001/55/EC has been invoked, which defines giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons. In Hungary, it is implemented in decree 56/2022 (II.24.), which is in force as of 10 pm CET on 24 February 2022, and it will remain in force at least until 1 June 2022. (It can be extended later.)

The temporary protection is available for

  • Ukrainian citizens coming from Ukraine, and
  • third-country citizens who are in Ukraine legally.

Technically, temporary protection is not available to third-country citizens without valid travel documents. However, since this is clearly an emergency, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee suggests that even people without papers should be allowed to enter Hungary. If you are forced to leave Ukraine without valid documents at your disposal (whether Ukrainian or other national) and you get held up at the border, you can ask for help from the Helsinki Committee.

Apply for temporary protection in Hungary

Anyone fleeing from Ukraine can apply for so-called “temporary protection”. You should be able to do this on the border, and UPDATE: since Monday, registration centers are available on Mándok and Tarpa, complete with PCR tests, photo booths and personnel to start the procedure. If you are allowed to cross the border without issues, you can choose to register for temporary protection at these centers or later on at a regional immigration office where you are staying.

UPDATE: At the moment, you will be allowed to enter Hungary without a visa even if you are entering from a non-EU country and would normally require a visa. However, according to the legal team of Menedék Association for Migrants, you should apply for temporary protection as soon as possible after crossing the border to give you legitimacy in Hungary for an extended period, together with the right to receive support (see below).

UPDATE: As of 7 March 2022, there has been a change to who can apply for temporary protection in Hungary. Third-country residents of Ukraine are no longer eligible. The status of Hungarian citizens is unclear. Click here to learn more.

Your rights under temporary protection

If you decide to apply for protection, the processing time is officially 45 days, during which you can get accommodation at a reception center. If you can take care of accommodation for yourself (you can stay at relatives or friends in Hungary), you can also choose to stay there.

Under temporary protection you become eligible for various forms of support beside accommodation and food provision, such as Hungarian language course or reimbursement of various costs connected to your stay in Hungary. If you seem to be staying for a more extended period, you can also get a work permit. You can find a complete list here.

According to both Hungarian and EU law, it is clarified that being a beneficiary of temporary protection does not interfere with applying for refugee status – which is a more permanent status, with different rights and options. However, as we said above, applying for refugee status in Hungary is quite complicated, so for now, temporary protection should allow you to stay at least until the conflict in Ukraine is over.

Immigration Office

Starting from 11 March 2022, the Immigration Office at Harmat utca, Budapest is open every day, including weekends and holidays, for people coming from Ukraine, whether they are asking for temporary protection (available to Ukrainian citizens) or for temporary residency (available to third-country nationals).

Address: 1108 Budapest, Harmat utca 131.
Open: every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Get help, and take care

In Hungary, the Menedék Association for Migrants and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee are among the most prominent associations that provide legal and humanitarian aid to migrants and asylum seekers coming to Hungary. If you are affected by the current events in Ukraine, contact them to receive support. If you are not affected, please consider donating to support the work of various NGOs in this humanitarian crisis.

Find information for asylum seekers here:

Donate here:

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