Living in Budapest (Essentials)

Currency & Banking

The Hungarian forint (HUF) is the currency of Hungary. ATM machines are readily available in Budapest and accept most major Visa and MasterCard credit and bank cards. If you arrive in Budapest without forints, simply exchange some US dollars for forints at the airport or train station, or withdraw forints from an ATM machine. You will likely incur transaction fees with each withdrawal. Check with your bank about the least expensive option for withdrawing cash while abroad.

Be sure to notify your bank with the dates and locations of your travels. If you do not notify your bank, it may detect your purchasing activity as unusual and may freeze your credit or debit card.

Personal checks, cashier checks, money orders, etc., cannot be readily exchanged, as international banking is quite slow. However, it is a good idea to bring some personal checks along in case, for example, you would need to send in graduate school applications.


The voltage used in continental Europe is 220 volts, while American appliances run on 110 volts. Most recent appliances are “dual voltage,” meaning they can operate on both types of currents. Look for a label on your appliance that says something like “100/240V” or “110~220V AC” to make sure that it is dual voltage. To use a dual voltage appliance in Hungary, you need an adapter plug (not a converter), since the electrical outlets in Europe are different from those in North America. Note that Hungary uses the Type F electrical plug. Adapters can be purchased for just a few US dollars.


You will have internet access in you apartment, which is paid along with your utility fees. Most cafés and restaurants have free wi-fi connection.

Please check the next section for how to obtain cell phone data.

Telephones / Cell Phones

The country code for Hungary is 36. To dial a Hungarian number from within Hungary or Europe, you must dial +36 (the + sign can be substituted by 00) followed by the area code (1 for Budapest, or 20 or 30 or 70 for mobiles) and a seven digit number.

It is convenient and adds to your safety to have mobile data on your phone while in Hungary. There are three ways to do that:

  • Option 1: Some US packages include data and phone usage in Hungary, or it can be added for a fee. Check with your provider before you travel.
  • Option 2: If you have an unlocked phone, you can purchase a Hungarian pre-paid SIM card in Hungary to have data and phone access. Check with your provider before you travel if your phone is locked, and consider unlocking it for a fee.
  • Option 3: You can buy a phone with a pre-paid SIM card in Hungary.

Mobile phones can be purchased in Budapest, but you will need to have a residence permit. Obtaining the residence permit takes a few weeks, and you might need a phone sooner. So, we asked former students about their experiences:

  • There are three mobile companies in Budapest: Telenor, Vodafone, and Telekom. They suggest Telenor or Vodafone.
  • You can only buy a pre-paid mobile at one of the Telenor or Vodafone shops. You can find them in every shopping mall and many more locations in Budapest.
  • To obtain a phone, you need to bring your passport and residence permit. But what the companies actually ask for depends on the service administrator at the shop. Often, they only ask for your passport or accept the receipt you get at the immigration office before you get your residence permit.

For international calls, you are advised to use online calling applications (e.g., WhatsApp or Skype).


The closest post office to the BSME Building is at Keleti Railway Station.

Courier Mailing Services:

To receive mail, see addresses for letters and packages under the BSME Budapest Office.