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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Hungary 2019 Crime & Safety Report

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Hungary at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Embassy in Budapest does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens’ Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

Review OSAC’s Hungary-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Crime Threats

There is minimal risk from crime in Budapest. Compared to 2017, Hungary's overall crime rate for 2018 decreased, or did not change significantly, in all major crime categories. Non-confrontational crime against property showed a minor decrease. Property crime (e.g. theft, robbery) somewhat decreased or remained stagnant, as did violent criminal acts against persons (e.g. aggravated assault). Street crime (e.g. pickpocketing, petty theft, theft from unattended vehicles, vandalism) is the most frequently reported type of crime. Budapest's major train stations, public transportation systems (i.e. tram, subway, bus) and most tourist-frequented areas are popular venues of such thefts. Per Hungarian law, non-violent property crime with damages less than HUF 50,000 (approximately U.S. $186) does not appear in the crime statistics, as law enforcement considers those minor offenses. Crimes committed against U.S. citizens are generally crimes of opportunity, not crimes targeting U.S. citizens specifically.

Reports of overcharging at some restaurants, clubs, and nightspots, especially in those areas of the city frequented by tourists has been a concern; there has been a significant decrease in the number of those incidents since the police took measures to counter the problem. The consumption (or honeypot) scam, is one in which criminals grossly overcharge victims, typically men, for drinks; it had been common in previous years, but the number of such incidents decreased in 2018. Police have shut down clubs for this activity, and pay attention to any such crimes when reported. Victims of crime should call police immediately. Before entering these clubs, always ask about prices. For more information, review OSAC’s Report Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.

Violent crime rates remain low in Hungary. There was a decrease of homicides from 224 in 2016 to 178 in 2017, and that number has not changed significantly in 2018. A large percentage of homicides are the result of domestic violence. Consequently, the successful investigation rate is high, since police are aware of the suspects.

Residential crimes remain a concern despite the fact their numbers have been decreasing. Home alarm monitoring systems continue to be the most popular security deterrent for home defense.

Organized crime activities remained constant in 2018. Organized criminal groups control most prostitution operations, stolen car rings, trafficking in human beings, human smuggling, and narcotics/tobacco trafficking. The organized crime division of the Hungarian National Police, in partnership with a U.S. Embassy-supported task force of U.S. law enforcement officers, continues to combat the problem of organized crime.

Transportation-Safety Situation

For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Road Safety and Road Conditions

In 2018, there was an increase in vehicle accidents due to the growing number of vehicles, and Hungary being a transit route to the Balkans and other countries in Eastern Europe. There has been a minor rise in the number of accidents causing fatalities, but the number of serious injuries in the first three quarters of 2018 decreased compared to the same period in 2017. Authorities have not yet published full year statistics. The number of drunk drivers apprehended and those driving under the influence of some kind of narcotic substance increased. Speeding and reckless driving remain a concern.

For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s Report Driving Overseas: Best Practices.

Public Transportation Conditions

Recommended Taxi services in Budapest:

  • City Taxi: +36-1-211-1111 or download the City Taxi App.
  • Taxify: download the Taxify App.
  • Fotaxi: +36-1-222-2222 or download the Fotaxi App.

 

For information on ride sharing, review OSAC’s Annual Briefing Report Safety and Security in the Share Economy.

Terrorism Threat

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There is minimal risk from terrorism in Budapest. Hungary has not been a target country for terrorism. Hungarian authorities continue to exercise countermeasures, led by the Counter-Terrorism Center, to prevent attacks from occurring in the country. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Civil Unrest

There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Budapest. In 2018, political demonstrations after national elections mobilized thousands of people dissatisfied with the victory of the governing party. Apart from a few minor incidents between some participants and the police, most gatherings were peaceful. Towards the end of the year, demonstrations sparked up in response to a new law that would alter overtime work requirements. Again, while the demonstrators numbered in the thousands, the protests remained generally peaceful. Avoid large public gatherings, especially political rallies and demonstrations, due to the potential for violence.

Religious/Ethnic Violence

Apart from a few minor incidents, no religious or ethnic violence occurred in 2018.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

In recent years, spring flooding has closed roadways and has affected low-lying towns and areas along the Danube and Tisza Rivers.

According to the Kövesligethy Radó Seismological Observatory, approximately four to five 2.5–3.5 magnitude earthquakes occur every year in Hungary, causing no damage. Earthquakes causing light damage occur every 15–20 years, while stronger, more damaging 5.5–6 magnitude quakes happen about every 40–50 years. Hungary registered two earthquakes in 2018; the stronger of the two measured only 3.1 on the Richter scale and centered on Gyékényes, near the Croatian border.

Critical Infrastructure

In 2010, the reservoir at the Ajkai Timföldgyár alumina factory in Ajka, just north of Lake Balaton, released 600,000-700,000 million cubic meters (158-185 million gallons) of toxic sludge. A wave up to three meters (nine feet) high inundated seven neighboring villages. At least eight people died, and more than 120 others were injured, many with severe chemical burns. Prompt action neutralized the alkalinity of the sludge before it reached the Danube River.

Personal Identity Concerns

The public mood is strongly anti-migrant due to concerted government propaganda. The refugee and Roma populations are often a target of discrimination and intimidation. There is no significant presence of extreme ethnic nationalist groups. 

Drug-related Crimes

Hungary is a transit country for drugs from Turkey and Asia to Europe. Police report that Hungary is increasingly becoming a consumer of drugs, particularly among teens, who primarily prefer synthetic drugs.

Police Response

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Report all incidents of police detention or harassment to the Embassy Budapest at +36-1-475-4164, Monday-Friday during normal working hours or after hours at +36-1-475-4444.

Crime Victim Assistance

If you are the victim of crime, call 112 to summon police, ambulance, or fire emergency assistance. U.S. citizens should notify ACS as well.

The Hungarian Ministry of National Economy and the Hungarian National Police have a hotline for tourists scammed at restaurants and clubs. The hotline, at +36-1-438-8080, operates 24-hours a day with English and German capability.

For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.

Police/Security Agencies

During the peak tourist season, multilingual students often accompany police patrolling major tourist areas. A police-run tourist information office operates every day from 0800-2000 at 2 Sütő Street in District 5, receiving complaints and rendering assistance in English and German.

The National Police, Riot Police (Készenléti Rendőrség), and Counter-Terrorism Center (TEK) operate within the Interior Ministry. The National Bureau of Investigation investigates major criminal cases as part of the Riot Police. TEK, founded in 2010, remains independent from the National Police, and has primary jurisdiction for SWAT operations nationwide.

Medical Emergencies

For emergency/non-emergency patient transportation, call +36-1-311-1666

SOS Hungary Medical & Assistance Service (a private medical service company) is available for transportation service at +36-1-240-0475.

Police, ambulance, and fire emergency assistance: 112

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

For medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.

Available Air Ambulance Services

Medical professionals at the scene determine any need to transport via air ambulance.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Hungary.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Budapest Country Council meets four times a year and has approximately 30 members. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Europe Team with any questions.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Embassy, Szabadság tér 12, H-1054 Budapest

Embassy operating hours are Monday-Friday 0800-1700, but some sections of the Embassy may have different hours. All offices close on Saturdays, Sundays, and U.S. and Hungarian holidays.

Embassy Contact Numbers

During office hours: (36-1) 475-4400

After-hours emergency calls: (36-1) 475-4703/4924

American Citizen Services:

(36-1) 475-4164 (regular business hours)

(36-1) 475-4444 (after-hours and on weekends)

Fax: (36-1) 475-4764

Website: http://hu.usembassy.gov

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens in Hungary should register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service that helps the Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency. Visit the Embassy website for the most current information.

Additional Resources

Hungary Information Sheet

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