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Business Culture in Hungary is characterised by business communicationbusiness etiquettebusiness meeting etiquette, internship and student placementscost of livingwork-life-balance and social media guide

Hungary is a landlocked Central European country, the 16th largest in Europe (93,030 km2). It is a member of the European Union since 2004 and a member of the Schengen area since 2007. Its neighbours are: Slovakia, to the north; Ukraine, to the north-east; Romania, to the east; Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the south; and Austria to the west. The Hungarian territory consists mostly of plains and hills. Hungary’s climate is temperate, being influenced by three important climate zones: oceanic, continental and Mediterranean. Consequently, it can experience dramatic weather changes. The annual average temperature is 9.7°C (49.46°F) across most of the country and 11.2°C (52.16°F) in Budapest. The population of Hungary totals 9.6 million and with a population of 1.7 million inhabitants, Budapest has the role of economic and political centre of the country. The largest Hungarian cities, beside Budapest, are: Debrecen (205,000), Miscolk (178,000), Szeged (164,000), Pécs (159,000) and Gyõr (126,000).

Hungary has a birth rate of 9.1‰ (2012), and a slightly higher death rate, at 13‰ (2012). The age distribution of the population is: 15.6 % are 14 years old or younger, 69.2 % are between the ages of 15 to 64 and 15.2% are 65 or older. Hungary’s main ethnic group is Hungarian (92.3%). Its most numerous minorities include: Romany (5%), Germans, Romanians, Slovakians, Serbians and Ukrainians.

Hungary is in the Central European Time Zone and is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1) during the winter months and two hours ahead of it (GMT+2), to accommodate Daylight Saving Time (DST), from March to October.

The weather in winter is rather cold, cloudy and damp, or windy, while summers are warm to hot and dry.

For further information on Hungary, please see below:

Xenophobia: being a foreigner in HUNGARY

Hungary welcomes international business opportunities. In business, Hungarians consider personal relationships crucial. Face-to-face discussion is absolutely essential in business matters and a solid relationship relies on repeated visits and phone calls.

In their business dealings, Hungarians tend to be formal, adhering to hierarchical organizational structures, and yet expressive, with typical negotiations taking place through open dialogue. Hungarians are also generally outspoken and for this reason some foreigners may perceive them as abrupt, rude or even cruel. However, they always provide evidence in support of their words and when they cannot reach an agreement they tend to explain why and may propose new talks.

In business and in private life, the right relationships are important and common sense and discernment are much. The Hungarians’ tendency towards distrust and suspicion can be attributed to historical reasons, so unpleasant points are discussed to mitigate future business problems as much as possible. The first meeting is always characterized by a reserved attitude but, once the ice is broken, Hungarians are rather passionate and their verbal exchanges can be very intense and spirited.

A Hungarian business partner can easily turn into a friend. Nevertheless, building a trusting relationship usually takes a long time. A good sociable atmosphere at work plays a bigger role than other factors (business results, financial statements). When they feel part of an inspiring project, Hungarians show passion, originality, generosity and industry. Important decisions are usually made by the top management, which may sometimes slow down the talks.

International business in HUNGARY

This section focuses on the general business environment in Hungary. In the first section, we examine the attitudes and values of the people, while the section presents a business-related perspective of the education system, training and placements in Hungary.

Knowing the attitudes and values of your business partner can be extremely important for opening and maintaining effective relationships with your foreign partners. This will allow you to avoid mistakes that could result in cultural barriers, which could hinder your success in a particular country.

How can the work-life balance be described, in the case of Hungary? What is the Hungarians’ attitude to foreigners and what subjects should be avoided? All these pieces of information may become extremely valuable when doing business in Hungary. The following section will highlight essential attitudes and values and their consequences in business practice in Hungary.

Young people are enthusiastic about trying their chances abroad or in different areas in Hungary, but the older generation is generally reluctant to move around, being attached to the places and the people they are used to. Of the most numerous minorities in Hungary, 5% of the population are Romany, who are extremely poor and often find work in the grey and black sectors of the economy, which still accounts for a considerable portion of the GDP. Due to cultural prejudices and the status of the Roma population in Hungarian society, it is best not to bring up the subject in conversation.

The economy in Hungary is improving despite the economic difficulties and the introduction of austerity measures by the government. Unemployment is around 10% and competition for a job remains high. Workers with specialist skills have more chances to find a job and graduates can find work in one of the main companies with subsidiaries in Hungary. Normally, graduates will be faced with fierce competition from qualified local professionals. So, it is good to know Hungarian when in search of a job. English and German are also widely spoken in Hungary, particularly by the younger generation.

Some of the major industries are: mining, metallurgy, textiles, chemicals, construction, processed food, motor vehicle manufacturing and agriculture. Among the areas of recent growth, one can find the domains of retail, services, telecommunications, finance, machinery, and the pharmaceutical industry.

General education

In Hungary, school is obligatory between the age of 5 and 16. Most schools and kindergartens are set up and run by the state, local governments, minority local governments, legal entities (foundations, churches, etc.) and natural persons. Only 10 per cent of children attend private institutions.

Primary schools are obligatory, and may have 4, 6 or 8 grades. General secondary schools continue primary school education up to the 8th grade and conclude with the so-called maturity examination. Secondary vocational schools currently provide upper secondary general and pre-vocational education in grades 9-12/13 (an extra year is included in certain programmes starting with a language preparatory year). The secondary school leaving examination qualifies for higher education entry.

Beginning with September 2013 (following the Vocational Education and Training Act of 2011), there will be a secondary vocational education in parallel to the general one from grade nine. The pupils undertaking it will obtain a “vocational secondary school leaving examination”.

The new VET Act of 2011 launched a three year-programme (grades 9-11). In some schools this offer became available in 2012, and as of September 2013 vocational schools can only offer this type of training. Graduates can go on with their studies at post-secondary non-tertiary level or in higher education only if they complete three more years of a full- or part-time general education programme in order to pass the secondary school leaving examination. In the new structure of vocational education, graduates can acquire a secondary school leaving certificate within two years. Those who do not have this certificate but pass the master craftsman examination and at the same time accumulate five years of work experience can enter post-secondary VET. (

In Hungary, 81% of adults aged 25-64 are the possessors of an equivalent of a high-school degree. This situates Hungary above the OECD average of 74%.

Out of the best 44 universties in Hungary, half are located in Budapest. (, the other half being spread throughout the country.

All the signatory countries of the Lisbon Convention (Hungary inclued) allow the possessors of a valid school leaving certificate who qualify for higher education studies in their home country to also qualify for higher education studies in the other countries. However, an appropriate knowledge of either Hungarian or English needs to be demonstrated. Sometimes additional qualifying courses (preparatory courses) are also necessary.

To join a master’s degree program, a relevant Bachelor’s or equivalent degree diploma is needed.

To apply for doctoral studies at an institution in Hungary, you need a relevant diploma or Master’s degree program.


Scholarships fall under two systems: bilateral agreements and scholarship pool. Romania benefits of the second category.

Scholarships can be received for: semester/partial studies for a period established in advance; postgraduate studies; full / partial PhD studies; postdoctoral studies; research stay; and summer courses.


Where do local residents and expatriates send their children to school?

Most Hungarians use the public school system. Children normally go to the local public schools in their area. In almost all Hungary, public schools are the only option.

In Budapest, there are several international schools and private bilingual schools; they all charge tuition fees. International schools are very expensive for ordinary Hungarians and so these schools are available to a small minority.

Most expatriates send their children to international or private schools. International schools accept students (non-native speakers) at all times throughout the school year, and provide language support. If the family plans to be in Hungary for an extensive period, private bilingual schools can help children attain an effective knowledge of Hungarian while studying some subjects in their native language. These possibilities are characteristic rather for Budapest and main cities than for the rural areas. International schools frequently have wait lists.

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Educational standards

Just as in other European countries, the educational standards are similar for all levels of education. This offers the advantage of compatible education with other counties. During undergraduate studies, certain specializations require the students to go through a practical work experience.

Student Placements

A placement involves the placement of a student in a temporary work, school or research environment to acquire valuable experience profitable in the long run.

There are several student organizations facilitating student placements in Hungary: the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IASTE) helps students find summer placements for science and engineering; AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) facilitates the exchange of information on programmes for students and recent graduates worldwide; the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme helps students with vocational training and business placements and is funded by the European Commission.

In the private sector, placements can be found more often in multinational companies, which are, many of them, based in Budapest.

Other issues such as transport infrastructure

To go to Hungary you can use the airplane, train, bus or car. All the transport networks are available around the country and generally respect s the international rules.

Airport – most important airports are Budapest Airport, located at 16 km from Budapest city. It could be reached by bus or train. Other airports are Heviz-Balaton Airport, Debrecen International Airport, Gyor-Per Airport, Pecs-Pogany Airport all of them related wit tourist or economic centres.

A network of about 7.600km of railways and 1515 km of highways are available to travel around the country. The main cities are connected through railway and highways.

Public transport in Budapest includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and underground trains.

More details about transport infrastructure in Hungary could be found on:

Cultural taboos

Hungarians consider their country as part of Central Europe, rather than Eastern Europe. The expression Central-Eastern Europe can also be deemed appropriate. Some topics are safe (such as sport, the economy, culture, history, food, and family); while other more delicate subjects should be avoided (religion, politics, minorities, salaries and living costs).

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