Are you bound for Hungary in the coming weeks or months? If you’re planning to move there long-term, then you are likely thinking seriously about bringing your household belongings and even your vehicle with you. Yet, you may wonder if this will be exorbitantly expensive due to high import taxes being levied by Hungarian customs. To help you understand the costs and paperwork involved with importing items into Hungary here is a brief overview.
Household Goods: What Import Duties Must You Pay?
Hungary has made importation of your household belongings quite appealing – as they don’t impose an import duty (if you’re going to be living in Hungary for more than 12 months). In fact, unlike many other nations, you can continue to bring in shipments during your stay in Hungary. Many countries limit your ability to import shipments duty-free to a specific window after you first move – but Hungary isn’t among them. This makes the logistics of getting all of your belongings to your new home much easier and less demanding.
There are a few regulations that you must follow to enjoy duty-free importation of your household goods. Upon leaving the country you must bring all the items imported with you. You’re not permitted to leave anything in Hungary, meaning you can’t sell, lease or give away any items during your stay. If you do so, you’ll be required to pay the import duty which was originally waived – on just the items that you don’t re-export when your stay is complete (1).
You also have to show that you’ve owned these items for at least six months, and that they were personally used by you (2).
Household Goods: What Paperwork Must You Provide?
Proof of Residence
Hungarian customs requires proof that you’ll be living in the country for at least 12 months, in the form of a Resident Permit (valid for a minimum of one year). If you have a Resident Permit that is good for less than this minimum time frame – you’ll have to provide a Bank Guarantee. This is a deposit for the amount of import duty you’d traditionally be charged, and it is held in escrow during your time in Hungary. If you fulfill your obligation and re-export all your items upon leaving the country, this deposit will be returned to you at that time.
Customs will also need to see a copy of your passport, and a detailed inventory. This should be written out in English, include valuations for your items, the date and the signature of the shipping company you’ve hired. A separate packing list is necessary as well, and also your Air Waybill (if shipping via plane) or Bill of Lading. You may also need to show your Work Permit, Hungarian ID (if you already have one) or Registration Card.
Hungarian customs also requires proof that you’ve had your permanent residence outside of the European Union (EU) for at least the last 12 months. A variety of paperwork is acceptable for demonstrating this fact, including utility bills, a rent agreement or lease, a letter from your employer and so on (3).
Further, customs needs an official statement supporting your claim, that you’ve owned the items you’re importing for at least the last six months. Whether you’re required to show additional proof (such as purchase receipts) isn’t mentioned (4). Finally, if your Residence Permit is good for less than a year, and you’re required to have a Bank Guarantee – you’ll need paperwork confirming that it’s in place.
Additional Forms and Situations
This list of documents may not be comprehensive, as certain specific situations may require additional paperwork. For example, your employer in Hungary may need to provide a Letter of Guarantee, promising to pay the duties if you fail to re-export any items once your work contract is finished. It’s not clear whether a personal Bank Guarantee from you can nullify this requirement.
You may also need to submit a Letter of Authorization or even a Power of Attorney to customs, giving your shipping company or agent permission to act on your behalf (5). Due to the changing nature of import regulations and required documentation, it is always recommended that you contact Hungarian customs when making plans to import your goods.
Your Vehicle: What Import Duties Must You Pay?
Import Duty, VAT and Registration Tax
Sadly, the information on this question is rather murky, as reputable sources disagree. Some hold that if you have a Residence Permit that’s valid for the space of at least a year – you can import your personal vehicle free of any import duty (if it also has a catalyzer installed) (6). Others don’t list this exception, saying that a duty will be incurred (and this will vary depending upon the shipment’s country of origin) (7).
In addition, Hungary also has a value-added tax (VAT) and registration tax for vehicles, which further complicates the calculation of what you’ll need to pay. One source lists the range of import duty and VAT combined, as standing between 23-51% (8). Another source has the VAT at 27%, plus an unspecified import duty (9). Registration tax may be additional to all of these fees.
With such conflicting information available, it is wise to contact Hungarian customs directly – to confirm the current import fees for vehicles.
Other Import Regulations
The amount of import duty, VAT and registration tax aside – there are other regulations you need to be aware of. All vehicles must pass the technical standards mandated in the EU. You may also need to have a catalyzer installed – though this requirement may only apply for duty-free importation (if this is possible). Finally, if your vehicle was manufactured more than four years ago, it is required to undergo an environmental inspection (which you must pay for) (10).
Your Vehicle: What Paperwork Must You Provide?
According to other expats on the ground in Hungary – the process of importing your vehicle can be quite difficult and demanding. They recommend hiring a reputable international vehicle transport company to take care of all the heavy lifting for you (11). The confusion seen above concerning the applicable import duties confirms this point – and an experienced shipper will have the most up-to-date information at their disposal.
Yet, you’ll still have to provide a list of paperwork to your shipping company, so it can be presented to customs. Documents needed include the title and registration for your vehicle, and your purchase invoice with the date and price listed (the original forms, not copies). You’ll also need to give customs a copy of your Driver’s License, Work Permit or Residence Permit and your passport. You need to have proof of liability insurance as well – though evidently this isn’t available for cars manufactured in the U.S.
If you are using a third-party agent, then you’ll need to give customs a Power of Attorney (or perhaps a Letter of Authorization), giving them permission to act on your behalf. If importing your vehicle duty-free into the country is possible, but your Residence Permit is for less than 12 months – a Bank Guarantee should also be necessary. Finally, a special “Declaration of Auto” is required by Hungarian customs. This form officially records your statement about the condition, make and model of your particular vehicle (12).
More for Expats:
Part 1 – People and practicalities
Part 2 – Wages, living standards and doing business
Part 3 – Expats about the dark side of living in Hungary.
Part 4 – Living costs in Budapest
Part 5 – Moving your belongings to Hungary
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(2) Found in Atlas Int’l Hungary Customs pdf
(4) Found in Atlas Int’l Hungary Customs pdf
(8) Found in Atlas Int’l Hungary Customs pdf
(10) Moverscom page on Customs Regulations in Hungary
(12) Moverscom page on Customs Regulations in Hungary