Getting legal in many of the countries in Eastern and Central Europe has long been known as a big pain in the butt, thanks in large part to left over communistic mindsets in the bureaucracies, xenophobia and lots of other obstacles.

But did you know that Hungary is a lot more open to outsiders than their Slavic neighbors. Ranked by some as the fourth easiest place to relocate to Europe, the business friendly environment is a more easily navigated when you have someone who knows their way to guide you…

This is not to say it’s as easy as in places like Singapore or Holland, it always helps to hire a professional who knows the system. When looking for someone to help you, friendly, adaptable and helpful are the important keywords to look for.

One firm that embodies this thinking has been helping expats get legal in Hungary for a couple years now, and these keywords well sum up the approach and client-oriented thinking of the firm Hunexpat. Having recently enjoyed the experience, I wanted to share with our readers some insights from their managing director László Marincsák.

THINK: It’s now 8 pm on a Tuesday and as I can see on your face your thoughts are still flashing around.
Yes, today has been a quite long day, indeed. I have just come from the Immigration Office that is always open until the evening hours once a week. We always try to take advantage of these slower hours, of course. But now it is very nice to take some relaxation.

THINK: You obviously work hard at what you do, but surely you also take time for taking a rest and going out?
Of course, I always like to keep active! It helps keep the mind and body sharp, which is indispensable for meeting the daily challenges; you never know what the day will throw at you. I make sure every day to do something to unwind, and I have some great colleagues who are always ready to help.

THINK: I’m just curious, who are some of the most common customers your firm helps?
Actually, Hunexpat is quite a small company, more personalized, and therefore we don’t focus too heavily on the needs of upper management in the multinational companies who typically are only here for a short while. Our service is more personal, which means we help especially the private foreign citizens, small business owners, students, as well as their family members who wish to live in Hungary for the long term.

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THINK: What does that mean exactly, what does your service include?
Let me ask you a question instead, if you don’t mind: what do you think is the first thing you need in case of moving an absolutely new country for long years?

THINK: Official papers, for sure...
That’s right. You cannot do anything without them. Making sure you have ALL the right papers is even more important, as is an awareness of the legal framework and the authority’s procedures, something our company provides our customers with whether they come from inside or outside the European Union. But we don’t just focus only on the permissions and other relevant official documents. One critical importance is having the right place to stay, a residential address for the visa process, and thanks to our partners, we also help in find the right rentals, house buying as well as other things like company foundation and auto rentals.

THINK: Good points, as I’ve recently learned. There’s a lot to cover, can you list what authorities and offices applicants have to deal with while getting their residence permit?
Well, it depends on the circumstances. Basically, the visa office always checks which country the applicant is coming from, so it is not a surprise at all that for citizens of an EU country, the process is much more simple, the applicant doesn’t have to hand in so many documents and certification to the Immigration Office, than is required for third country citizens. In those cases it is a question of whether the applicant is from a visa-obligated country because it has a huge impact on the process, of course.

Also, the purpose of the stay in the country is important as well, because they judge this too. What are the applicant’s main goals for their planned stay? It matters a lot whether the applicant applies for working or other gainful activity, business, studying or for family reunification (marriage). So, a successful application depends on many things and the processes the different offices run by. But in order to answer your question, the only requirement for the applicant at the immigration office is the requirement that they apply in person. In case of the other matters, for instance at the land registry, at the tax office or at the national office for translation and attestation, we take care of the papers and hand them in at the authorities when hired to do so.

THINK: If I remember right, I had to hand in approximately twenty documents for my residences permit application and fortunately I didn’t do anything special effectively not counting some signatures…
Yeah, there were quite a lot documents, but I think you’d agree with went very smoothly. When extending your permission the process is going to be very similar, so we hope you’ll look us up again then!

THINK: I will, definitely. Anyway, what made you decide to work in this field, did you find the expat law attractive at the university of law?
No, not at all, I mean we didn’t have this kind of subject at the university; this is a very small part of the law, which is important to be aware of in case of a successful process. My study years in Denmark might have been stimulating experiences where being in an international school I could get to know many people from numerous nations and found several friends among them.

And it might also be relevant to state that my Danish friends gave me a hand in the field of office processes, unburdening me of the stress there. Later on, as an entrant, I started to work at the Immigration Office in Budapest where I could get to know the process and rules as well, which has been very helpful.

THINK: Let me ask one last question: if someone would like to contact you, how could it be done?
The best way is to check our homepage at www.hunexpat.hu where messages could be sent or directly drop us a mail at info@hunexpat.hu. I suggest to people looking for a help describe their situation briefly and our colleagues are answering pretty quickly.

THINK: I can see you’re also on Facebook.
Yes, it is still quite incipient but we are working on it. Should be up and running soon!

THINK: Look forward to it… and thanks for the interview. I’m more than happy to introduce you to our foreign readers.
You’re welcome; it was also nice to have a chat with you.

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