Hungary has been facing labor shortage because of demographic reasons. As a result, the government has taken steps to make it easier for foreigners to work in the country. These measures proved very successful, more than tripling the number of work permit applications over the last three years before the pandemic.
Work permit vs. EU registration: what is the difference?
Before diving into the numbers, it should be noted that foreigners coming to work in Hungary from different countries are subject to different rules. EU citizens, for example, can live and work in the country freely, but must register themselves with the authorities if their stay exceeds three months. By contrast, third-country (non-EU) nationals must apply for a work permit regardless of the duration of their stay. Therefore, to get an idea of how many foreigners came to work in Hungary, we should look at the sum of EU registrations and work permit applications. It is worth mentioning that the combined figure will still not reflect the number of foreigners working in Hungary with complete accuracy because not every registered EU citizen works in the country as well.
Please note that Serbian and Ukrainian workers do not need to apply for a work permit, and they only have to be reported to the authorities if their stay exceeds three months.
Work permit applications and EU registrations in 2020
The following table shows the number of work permit applications and EU registrations since 2017. We are limiting our scope to the past four years because previously the National-Directorate for Aliens Policing (OIF) only published the combined number of work permit and gainful activity applications.
Source: National Directorate for Aliens Policing (OIF)
As the table demonstrates, the number of work permit applications truly skyrocketed after the 2017 change in regulations, increasing by 218% in the span of three years. By contrast, the number of EU registrations stagnated over the same period. It would seem logical to assume that reduced international mobility due to Covid-19 led to a decline in both numbers, but the statistics show a different picture. While work permit applications decreased by 24%, EU registrations increased by 56%.
Why did the number of EU registrations increase?
The sudden increase in the previously stable number of EU registrations was driven by two main factors. Firstly, many EU citizens who had been living in the country continuously were only registered in 2020. Previously, they could live and work in Hungary for more than three months even without registering due to the lack of border control in the Schengen Area. When the borders were closed during the pandemic, these EU citizens had to register in the country to be able to travel between their homeland and Hungary.
Secondly, many UK citizens registered themselves in Hungary to avoid being treated as third-country nationals after Brexit. Those who did can exchange their EU registration card for a permanent residence permit until the end of 2021.
Need help? Get in touch!
Despite the turbulences of 2020, our relocation experts worked tirelessly throughout the year. We are proud to have assisted 72 work permit applications and 31 EU registrations in 2020.
Helpers Hungary is happy to assist you in everything related to EU registration, work permit and intracorporate transfer. Our services also include HR support and payroll administration. You can ask for a consultation by calling our office on +36 1 317 8570, by e-mailing email@example.com or by filling in our contact form.