Passport, Visa, and Residence Permit
In order to enter Hungary, students need a valid passport. Passports must be valid for at least 3 months beyond their planned stay in Hungary/Schengen zone.
Certain country’s citizens need a visa to enter Hungary even as “tourists” and other citizens (such as U.S. citizens) do not need a visa to enter Hungary and spend less than 90 days. You may check on this link the countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Hungary. Please make sure to check not only the country, but also the type of passport, since regulations may vary for holders of ordinary, diplomatic or service passports!
But, every foreign citizen wishing to stay longer than 90 days in Hungary has to have a residence permit, regardless of citizenship. AIT’s program lasts more than 90 days, so every student (except EU citizens) needs a residence permit to stay legally until the end of the program.
Citizens of those countries who need a visa to enter, must visit a Hungarian Embassy or consulate (from now on we’ll call them consulate) in person and apply for the residence permit before coming to Hungary. The process takes 30-60 days. The consulate keeps the applicant’s passport and mails it back with a visa in it, once it is issued. With that single entry visa students can travel to Hungary and go to the immigration authority there in person to collect the residence permit (which will be ready to collect by then).
Citizens of those countries who don’t need a visa to enter can still choose to apply for a residence permit abroad at a consulate, OR they can choose to apply for it in Hungary after arrival. In this latter case students are considered “tourists” until they get their residence permit, so they are supposed to hold a plane ticket back home within 90 days from departure. And after having the residence permit in hand the plane ticket can be changed to a later date to match the ending of the AIT program.
Either a student needs a visa to enter Hungary or they don’t, AIT Staff is helping everyone with the necessary paperwork and useful information.
For those countries’ citizens who do not need a visa to enter there are pros and cons to applying for the residence permit still in the U.S., or after arrival in Hungary. (This depends on several aspects like where the student is living geographically in the U.S., or does the student plan international travels before traveling to Hungary, or are there any travel restrictions in the EU or not etc.) AIT will share all aspects to making this decision and updated information with students on time so they can choose the best way to proceed.
We do not list all aspects here since it can be complicated and also regulations may change. AIT monitors the changing regulations and provides suggestions to admitted students in time before the start of every semester.
You may make travel arrangements through any experienced travel agent. Each of the agencies listed below has had experience arranging travel to Hungary for North-American students:
You should be aware that the cost of a flight to Budapest can vary as much as several hundreds of dollars from one travel agency to another or "on-line". Shopping around to compare prices is a good idea.
When making your travel plans please bear in mind that prior the semester we are organizing an orientation period with useful academic and non-academic information. This is also the period of registration and visiting the Immigration Office for residential permits.
Due to jet lag, you might be very tired during the first few days. Therefore, we recommend you to arrive in Budapest one or two days prior to the beginning of your studies.
Health care and Insurance
AIT health care plan
The AIT health care plan was developed specifically for international students who speak English and are staying in Hungary for a semester. AIT is partnered with a health care service provider called Swiss Clinic (Swiss). Swiss provides access to 24/7 English speaking emergency assistance and response service and includes several non-emergency doctor appointments throughout the semester at Swiss' private clinics in different locations across Budapest. The AIT health care plan is included in the AIT tuition from 2022 fall.
The Hungarian immigration authority requires every international student to have a health insurance that meets the so called "Schengen visa requirements". Students can have this insurance from the U.S. or alternatively they may opt to purchase a Hungarian insurance policy through AIT that costs 47,500 HUF (approximately 163 USD).
The "Schengen visa requirements" are the following:
- A minimum coverage of at least 30,000 EUR (approximately 35,290 USD).
- Covers all member states of the Schengen Area.
- Covers any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent health attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death, including repatriation of remains
Please check with your insurer - or your study abroad office if your insurance is sponsored by your school - whether your current policy meets the "Schengen visa requirements" or if it can be extended to meet them. If not, please let the AIT staff know about that latest a month before your arrival, so AIT will prepare the AIT sponsored insurance plan for you. The AIT insurance plan is due after arrival.
Things to take along
Don't forget your passport, airline ticket, a major credit or debit card, and a sufficient amount of money in cash to cover immediate expenses upon arrival. A dozen extra passport-type photos may come in handy. We recommend that you carry important names and telephone numbers (such as AIT staff phone numbers and campus address) with you in your carry-on luggage.
It is important that you bring an ample supply of any medicine you frequently use. Take shoes and clothes appropriate for all seasons. Apartments come completely furnished with such things as furniture, sheets, towels, kitchenware, etc. Clothes dryers are not used in Hungary.
While traveling, keep your passport, cash, and a week's supply of any vital medication in your carry-on luggage. Although unlikely, it may happen that checked baggage is put on the wrong plane. At check-in time, make certain your baggage is labeled inside and out with your final destination: AIT-Budapest, Záhony u. 7., Budapest, 1031, Hungary.
The voltage used in continental Europe is 220 V. This renders most American appliances useless unless they are convertible, battery-operated, or you have an adapter. Note that the outlet geometry is also different. For battery-operated devices, it may be advisable to take a set of spare batteries along for the trip. Sometimes, it may be difficult to get the right size battery.