Working as a freelancer in Hungary

Hi,

A lot of expats dream of becoming self-employed: we would like to help you to make that dream come true.

Can foreigners work as self-employed in Hungary? What are the formalities to work as a freelancer?

What are the pros and cons of this status: social security, tax system, etc.?

How is the freelance market in Hungary?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience,

Kenjee

Hello

I worked in Budapest for six months in the late 1990ies, and it was difficult to make a living as an ESL instructor, but I was certainly able to do it. 
Returned a couple of years ago, and found that it wasn't a viable option in the least.  Individuals had to have a tax id # or be sponsored by someone who would be paying taxes on any income earned.  Teaching ESL 'under the table' just simply wasn't an option any longer. 
As for other fields of employ, I have no idea, but my experience was that Hungary is a tough nut to crack for employment; the Hungarians are fiercely proud and protective of their own culture/country/heritage --justifiably so -- and many even continue to resent the Treaty of Trianon. 
Never-the-less, if you can find a way of befriending some of the locals, they'll be just a fiercely proud to defend you as their own personal friend, so  . . . it's a beautiful history and culture and--dare I say?--Language too! if I could find a way of making a decent living in Budapest, I'd be there on the next plane!

Kenjee :

Can foreigners work as self-employed in Hungary?

Yes. EU Citizens by default, and nationals from other countries with the correct type of visa (i.e. which includes a right to work).

Kenjee :

What are the formalities to work as a freelancer?

Being self-employed and being a freelancer are a bit different in Hungary. Self employed is having a business structure as a sole proprietor, which includes all the formalities of taxes being paid by the business owner. Freelancing is usually intermediate, or infrequent work aside of a normal job. There is also a special type of freelancer called an "original producer". This is someone who just sells something they grew or made personally (like at a farmers market). There are very specific rules for original producers such as the original producer must sell direct to the consumer (i.e. which would preclude many sales over the Internet).

Someone doing freelance work needs to inform the tax authority that they will be doing freelance work in addition to their job, and then they get a tax number which they take to a printer and have the required receipt books printed out with this tax number on it. All transactions are suppose to be recorded in this book and a receipt given to the customer.

I say suppose above because there is a huge black work market in Hungary, and I have to too often ask specifically for receipts that are suppose to be given to me without me having to ask. A receipt means the freelancer has to report the transaction and pay income taxes, which they too often try to avoid. But the tax authorities have quite a bit of power in Hungary to levy heavy fines both to the freelancer not giving a receipt AND the person not getting a receipt. So expats should be aware of risks they take in not asking for and getting receipts.

Kenjee :

What are the pros and cons of this status: social security, tax system, etc.?

Being a freelancer without a day job is uncommon here. Most self employed people simply start a business.

Kenjee :

How is the freelance market in Hungary?

Pretty active for Hungarians. Seems everyone is doing side jobs here. Expats, much less so. Excepts are in areas were linguistic barriers are less an issue such as fields where Hungarians are more likely to speak a foreign language such as in business consulting, IT or language related fields.

Not sure about freelance work, suppose if you were good with the internet and could set up web sites or something like that there could be a need for it here.
I know wages are low so freelance work at home would be nice.
I was offered a job just by being with my Hungarian husband while we went into one of the money changing shops. They had a sign written in Hungarian saying they were looking for an English speaking person. Sort of odd since many can't read Hungarian who only speak English.
He joked with the guy telling him he would like to see me out of the house working and the guy was serious said no problem I could work as a clerk in the shop without having to speak any Hungarian.
Probably was not a great paying job, I wasn't even serious enough to even ask.
I also wonder if those people handing out flyers for tour bus rides in the city speak much Hungarian or not, I see people who really don't seem to be Hungarians at all handing those out. Probably again, not a big paying job and most likely just commission.
If someone is desperate to work they probably could find a little something here.
IT skills are needed here for international firms.
I have no interest in working in HU and my job skills while they pay good in the US are not that great paying here in Hungary. I can deal most casino games and worked for years in Las Vegas in casinos, here in HU I do not think it is a huge paying job and one would have to be young or well connected to get hired.
I also am a hairdresser in the US and my friend from Calif. worked at a well known salon here in Budapest 10 years ago and said the pay was so low she had to quit.
Tips were so low she couldn't believe it, she didn't speak Hungarian and perhaps most clients thought she was only a helper and not a trained stylist. She was getting 100 forint tips for highlights!!
Around the year 2000, we were on holiday in Hungary. My husband was reading the paper and saw an add for a skilled machinist.He at that time was doing that in the US and the pay was good. He called for fun to see how much they paid in Hungary.
It was about equal to $4.00 an hour!! Many highly trained people here so skilled hand work does not pay like in other countries. Wages have gone up slightly since 2000 but not very much.
We used to go to a dentist that did freelance dental work at home after her day job working on teeth for a gov. office.
It was so odd, she had a chair and small office in her flat. Her husband was cooking pasta on the stove and her toddler was riding his trike in the flat while we waited our turn to have our teeth looked at.
My SIL is a chemistry teacher at one of the universities in Budapest, she does freelance house cleaning on Saturdays. Not promising here .

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