Hungary flag Hungary: Business Environment

Business Practices in Hungary

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Kwintessential Guide, Simple and informative guide to the basics of Hungarian business etiquette
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Commisceo Global, Hungarian business culture as per Commisceo Global
Opening Hours and Days
Normal business hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Businesses and government offices often close early on Friday afternoons.
Shops are open 7 days a week from 9/10:00 a.m. until 7/9:00 p.m. A few post office branches remain open on Saturdays.
 
 
 

Public Holidays

New Year 1 January
Memorial Day: Revolution for Independence 15 March
Easter Monday March or April
Labour Day 1 May
Pentecost Monday 20 August
Saint Stephen's Day 23 October
Holiday of the Republic 1 November
Christmas Holidays 25 and 26 December
 
Holiday Compensation
Occasionally, if a national holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the Saturday before or after is a working day in order to have a free Monday or Friday.
 

Periods When Companies Usually Close

End of the year holidays 22/23 December - 2/3 January
 

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Hungarian business culture is quite formal, courteous and relationship oriented.

Hungarian organisations often follow a hierarchical structure. It is therefore recommended to be respectful and formal towards executives and managers, who will make all major decisions. Employees are not always expected to give their opinions in the decision-making process.

Personal relationships are an essential part of doing business in Hungary, as are contacts and networks. Business relationships are usually built on trust and familiarity, so they often involve socialising outside the workplace. Business lunches and dinners are common for getting to know people, but formal negotiations are not normally held over meals.

First Contact
First contact is generally established by telephone, and followed up by an email. Appointments must be made two months ahead of time, and it is necessary to confirm them in writing. Being introduced by someone known and trusted can facilitate the relations. For that reason, having a local representative to arrange introductions and to guide you through Hungarian business protocol is advised. It is often difficult to schedule meetings on Friday afternoon, from mid July to mid August and from mid December to mid January.
Time Management
Punctuality is extremely important, so it's advised to arrive about ten minutes before the scheduled meeting time. Given that cities usually have heavy traffic, you should leave early for a meeting. Even though business meetings are expected to start on time, that is not the case when it comes to public events, which typically start with a delay of 5 to 10 minutes. It is not common to stick to a strict meeting schedule or agenda, and spontaneity is often a driving force.
Greetings and Titles
In a business context, greetings usually consist of a firm handshake. Direct eye contact should be expected. It is advised to state your name and present your business card. It is recommended to address your counterparts by their titles and family names, unless you are invited to do otherwise.
Gift Policy
In the context of business relationships, gifts are neither necessary nor expected. Small presents, like a diary or pen engraved with the company logo, or a souvenir representing the country you are coming from are acceptable but not necessary. Around Christmas, Hungarian businessmen may exchange symbolic gifts, such as a bottle of wine or similar. Outside of the office, if invited to a business partner’s home for a meal, it is normal to present the host with flowers, chocolates or a bottle of liquor or wine.
Dress Code
The dress code varies depending on the sector and the level of the meeting, but it is generally formal and conservative. Men usually wear a suit and tie, whereas women wear a suit or elegant dress, complemented with good quality accessories.
Business Cards
Business cards are usually exchanged at the beginning of a meeting without formal ritual. It is recommended to have one side of the card translated into Hungarian, and one side in English. Hungarian style cards usually include all necessary business information, personal details, and occasionally have advanced university degree information as well.
Meetings Management
Hungarians usually begin business meetings with small talk. Meetings are considered necessary to exchange ideas, but agreements are rarely reached on the spot.

Projects should be well researched and backed by convincing arguments, and presentations should be thorough and accurate. Confrontational behaviour or high-pressure sales tactics don't often work when negotiating, and should be avoided. Knowledge, background information and hard facts are appreciated. Decisions are often not made on the spot. Talks can last for extended periods of time, and only when management has had time to reflect and discuss can agreements be reached. Hungarians tend to be flexible and well prepared business negotiators. As their main goal is to obtain a final agreement, they don't mind compromising.

Hungarian communication tends to be indirect. However, debate is regarded as healthy. Also, it's advised to avoid exaggeration. Stories, anecdotes, and jokes are often used to prove points; and debates tend to be prolonged. Promises made during meetings are usually respected, but agreements are only binding when written, so it's advised not to rely on verbal agreements.

Business meals usually take place in restaurants, and being invited to a business contact’s home is rare - and is only to be expected if the business relationship turns into friendship. Business lunches are common, but dinners are the preferred meal for meetings. Both business lunches and dinners tend to be formal, unless stated otherwise. When a business dinner is more for entertaining than discussing business, it will not be as formal and the Hungarian counterpart is expected to inform about it beforehand.

Sources for Further Information
Business Culture Cultural Atlas Expatfocus Commisceo Global

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Latest Update: November 2022

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