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The consumer

Consumer Profile
With a population of 9.8 million in 2020 Hungary has a fairly high population density of 107 inhabitants/km2. The birth rate is 8.8 per thousand and the fertility rate is 1.47 children per woman. The population is relatively ageing with a median age for women of 45.5 years and 41.5 years for men. The 65-plus age group represents 20.7%, the 55-64 age group 12.17%, 42.17% between 25-54 years and 24.9% between 0 and 24 (CIA, 2020).

In Hungary, 83% of 25-64 year olds have a high school or equivalent degree, higher than the OECD average of 74%. About 85% of men have such a degree, compared to 82% of women. In terms of employment, about 67% of 15-64 year olds are in paid work, a level comparable to the OECD average employment rate. According to surveys, most young people work in law, business management and engineering.
Purchasing Power
Hungary’s GDP per capita was USD 33,979 in 2019 (PPP - World Bank). Real wage growth has remained uninterrupted over the past  years. The richest areas are heavily concentrated around the capital and the Austrian border.

The per capita purchasing power of the inhabitants of Budapest is 123.3% of the Hungarian average, while that of the population of north-eastern Hungary is only 77.4% - in a study carried out by Gfk market research. The average purchasing power in Hungary is 44.5% of the EU average. The Gini index, which measures inequality in countries, rose to 30.6 in 2017, according to the latest available data from the World Bank. According to the OECD, the average per capita net adjusted disposable income of households is USD 16,821, per year, less than the OECD average of USD 33,604.

With regards to the 2019 gender equality index, Hungary scored 51.9 out of 100, about 15.5 points below the EU-28 average. Hungary is ranked 27th out of the 28 member states. Hungary’s scores are lower than the average of the 28 EU member states in all areas.
Consumer Behaviour
With the increase in the urban population, Hungarian consumers are expressing a growing interest in high quality convenience foods. This initially stimulated a demand for fast and processed food products, but awareness of health issues also created an interest in health and organic foods. The number of single-person households is increasing, as is the ageing population, which in turn should stimulate demand for non-essential products and smaller portions.
According to the Digital 2020 report, Hungary is a social media usage penetration rate of 62% in 2020, with 94% of these users accessing via mobile phones. The share of total advertising audience on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger is higher for users between 25-34 years old, followed by those between 35-44. Furthermore, Hungarian consumers are tending to increasingly favour online shopping. This sector had a turnover of EUR 2.2 billion in 2019, a 17% increase compared to the previous year. According to a study by eNet, ICT, clothing & sportswear, and consumer electronics are the product categories with the largest online traffic in the country, while the highest shopping cart value can be found in the construction and renovation category. As of 2020, nine out of ten Hungarians aged between 18 and 79 have already bought something online. Online shoppers in Hungary are not restricting their purchases to domestic online stores, and foreign online stores continue to attract an increasing number of visitors, as Hungarian consumers tend to prefer foreign brands.
There is a significant contrast between consumers living in large cities (mainly Budapest) and rural areas, as the concentration of shopping malls and major brands in urban centres influences consumers.
New carpooling and collaborative platforms such as Blablacar, Uber and Autosztunk have recently been developed in Hungary and are often used by young people.
Consumer Recourse to Credit
Hungarian banks are no longer burdened by toxic foreign currency borrowing (mainly Swiss Francs). According to figures from the national bank, lending to the household sector increased by 17% in 2019 (9% if the prenatal baby support loans are not taken into consideration). The annual value of new loans increased by more than 50% compared with 2018, reaching a historical peak of HUF 2,300 billion in nominal terms. The interest rate risk of new housing loans is moderate. The MNB does not consider the level of credit expansion to be overheated.

Major debit cards are accepted in Hungary. However, small businesses may sometimes not accept credit cards, or might require a minimum spend. According to data published by Statista, around 15% of payment cards in Hungary were credit cards in 2019, reaching a total of approximately 1.3 million (against around 8 million debit cards).
Growing Sectors
The growing sectors are: computers, electronics, travel and telecommunications.
Consumers Associations
Association of Conscious Consumers
Federation of the Consumer Protection Associations
 

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Importing & Distributing

Import Procedures
Many EU member states maintain their own list of goods that are subject to import licencing. In Hungary, import and export licences are issued by the Hungarian Trade Licensing Office (Magyar Kereskedelmi Engedélyezési Hivatal – MKEH).

The official model for written declarations to Customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). Goods brought into the EU customs territory are, from the time of their entry, subject to customs supervision until customs formalities are completed. Goods are covered by a Summary Declaration which is filed once the items have been presented to customs officials. The customs authorities may, however, allow a period for filing the Declaration which cannot be extended beyond the first working day following the day on which the goods are presented to customs.
The Summary Declaration must be filed by:

  • the person who brought the goods into the customs territory of the Community or by any person who assumes responsibility for carriage of the goods following such entry; or
  • the person in whose name the person referred to above acted.

The Summary Declaration can be made on a form provided by the customs authorities. However, customs authorities may also allow the use of any commercial or official document that contains the specific information required to identify the goods.  The SAD serves as the EU importer's declaration. It encompasses both customs duties and VAT and is valid in all EU member states. The declaration is made by the person clearing the goods, normally the importer of record or their agent.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Turkey and Macedonia also use the SAD. Information on import/export forms is contained in Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2454/93, which sets forth provisions for the implementation of the Community Customs Code (Articles 205 through 221). Articles 222 through 224 provide for computerised customs declarations and Articles 225 through 229 provide for oral declarations.

As part of the 'SAFE' standards advocated by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the 'Import Control System' (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Programme eCustoms, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the EU customs territory.

For further information, please visit the website of the EU Customs Union.

Specific Import Procedures
Consult the website of the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration for further information on specific import procedures.
Distribution channels
Until recently, small, independent, family-owned shops dominated Hungary's retail sector, especially in the less populated parts of the country. Thousands of these shops continue to serve rural populations, posing logistical challenges for distributors and suppliers. However, medium-sized, financially well-established heavy-discount chains are making inroads in Hungary's retail sector with retail units in smaller villages and other settlements. The most successful distribution companies in Hungary are wholly-owned subsidiaries of international chains, such as Auchan, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, DM, etc. The increasing share of discounters reflects the high price sensitivity of Hungarian customers and provides evidence of strong price competition leading to lower profit margins of grocery retailers. However, according to Euromonitor, supermarket chains are rationalising their networks, focusing on locations and outlets with the highest growth potential and less competition, resulting in a decline of total outlets in recent years. This also resulted in changes in the ownership of outlets.

Unlike the countryside, Budapest's retail sector has many prestigious superstores, shopping centres, hypermarkets, and supermarkets as well as large retailers such as Rossmann, OBI, Praktiker and IKEA. A typical distribution channel in Hungary is for importer-wholesalers to service retailers and end-users directly.

Currently, there are 121 shopping malls, and 164 hypermarkets in the country. The largest malls in Budapest are Arkad, KOKI Terminal, Westend, Arena and Mammut.

E-commerce has been growing in the retail sector, with a further jump due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Cash is still more dominant in Hungary but the number of retail transactions with bank or debit cards (Visa, Amex and Mastercard) has grown significantly in recent years.

Finally, it has to be noted that in April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the national government issued a decree that levied sector-specific taxes on the banking and retail sectors to help finance a crisis response fund. The progressive tax on retail grocery outlets, however, was structured so that only foreign retail firms were large enough to qualify for the tax.

Distribution market players

Distribution networks for consumer goods are rapidly developing. Small and medium sized local businesses and especially small independent retailers are losing their marketshare to foreign competition.
According to the latest figures by the USDA, hypermarkets account for 24% of all turnover, discount stores for 21%, supermarkets for 17%, and the market share of retail chains is 13%. The main international grocery retailers are:

  • Tesco (UK), the leader with 206 shops
  • Coop Hungary (Hungary) with 5012 shops, most of them are convenience stores
  • SPAR (Austria) with 493 shops, most of them are small supermarkets and convenience stores
  • CBA Group (Hungary main national retailer) with 2185 stores
  • Auchan (France) with 19 Hypermarkets
  • Lidl, Aldi, Penny Market (German) are the main discounter channels
  • Other brands include Réal and DM.
Retail Sector Organisations
Országos Kereskedelmi Szövetség - Hungarian Trade Association
Hungarian Chamber of Commerce

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Operating a Business

Type of companies

Korlatolt felelossegu tarsasag (KFT) is a Private Limited Company
Number of partners: No limitation on the number of partners.
Capital (max/min): Minimum HUF 500,000. Capital can be contributed in cash or in kind.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount contributed.
Reszveny tarsasag (RT) is a Public Limited Company
Number of partners: No limitation on the number of partners. There are two types of RT: closed company limited by shares or ZRT (shares not available to the public) and Public company limited by shares or NYRT (shares listed on the stock exchange for the public).
Capital (max/min): HUF 5 millionfor ZRT and HUF 20 million for NYRT
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount contributed.
Kozkereseti tarsasag (KFT) is a general partnership
Number of partners: Minimum two partners.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital required
Shareholders and liability: Members' liability for the partnership's obligations is joint and unlimited.
Beteti tarsasag (BT) is a limited partnership
Number of partners: No limitation on the number of partners. Two types of partners: active partners (General Partner) and sleeping partners (Limited Partner). There must be at least one of each type.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital
Shareholders and liability: Unlimited liability for General Partner.

Limited liability for the external partners (Limited Partner).

 
Setting Up a Company Hungary Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Procedures (number) 6.0 5.3
Time (days) 7.0 11.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

 

Cost of Labour

Minimum Wage
According to Eurostat, the minimum monthly wage for full-time employees is about HUF 161,000 in 2020.
In case of full-time employees hired for jobs requiring at least secondary school qualification or secondary vocational qualification, the guaranteed gross wage minimum stated for the application of a monthly wage is HUF 210,600.
Average Wage
According to the Central Statistical Office, as of April 2020 the gross average earnings were HUF 400,200.
Social Contributions
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers: 15.5%; plus 1.5% for the training fund contribution.
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employees: 18.5% (10% pension contribution and 8.5% health care and labour force contribution) without cap. An additional 6.5% health tax is payable on interest income and 14% health tax on capital gains.
 

Intellectual Property

National Organisations
Szellemi Tulajdon Nemzeti Hivatala (Hungarian Intellectual Property Office).
Regional Organisations
For the protection of patents: the European Patent Office (EPO). To control trademarks, designs and models: the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
 

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Tax Rates

Consumption Taxes

Nature of the Tax
VAT (Value Added tax - AFA: Általános Forgalmi Adó)
Tax Rate
27%
Reduced Tax Rate
A 5% rate applies to human medicines and certain medical products; books; live specimens or slaughtered and chopped (to some extent) meat of certain large animals (pigs, cattle, sheep, goats); poultry meat, eggs and milk (i.e., fresh milk and both UHT and ESL); internet services; catered meals; non-alcoholic beverages made on the spot; hotel services; sale of immovable property for residual purposes, provided that its size does not exceed 150 square meters in the case of flats, and 300 square meters in the case of detached houses.

A reduced rate of 18% is applicable for some basic foodstuff (e.g. milk, certain dairy products, products made from cereals, flour, and starch) and entrance to certain open-air public music festivals.

Other Consumption Taxes
Excise tax is levied on items such as mineral oils, alcohol and alcoholic beverages (products with an alcohol content of 1.2% or more by volume), beer, wine, other still and sparkling fermented beverages, intermediate alcoholic products, tobacco products, energy products (electricity, natural gas, and coal). The first domestic distributor of certain products, as well as the acquirer of goods that are brought from abroad and used for the domestic manufacture of own products that will be sold in Hungary, are liable to pay a product tax at different rates according to the product.

Certain products are subject to the environmental protection product fee, including tyres, packaging materials, batteries, commercial printing paper, other plastic products, other chemical products, other crude oil products, etc.

Registration tax is charged on passenger cars, motor homes, and motorcycles before they can be registered and put into service in Hungary; it is also payable by car fleet operators.

Telecommunications service providers are subject to a specific tax (HUF 2 per minute for calls made and HUF 2 per message sent for private individuals; HUF 3 per minute for calls made and HUF 3 per message sent for other entities).

 

Corporate Taxes

Company Tax
9%
Tax Rate For Foreign Companies
Corporations are residents for corporate income tax purposes if they are incorporated in Hungary or if their place of effective management is in Hungary. In determining the permanent establishment, Hungary follows OECD's model guidelines.
Capital Gains Taxation
In general, capital gains are part of the corporate tax base and are taxed at the standard rate of 9%. Capital gains arising from the sale of shares in Hungarian companies by non-resident companies are tax-exempt, with the exception of those of Hungarian property companies. Capital gains deriving from the disposal of investments may also be exempt provided that the taxpayer owns the Hungarian subsidiary (which cannot be a controlled foreign company) for at least a year and that the Hungarian authorities are kept informed of the acquisition of the investment within 75 days. Capital gains arising from the sale of an intellectual property benefit from a similar exemption, yet the reporting period of the acquisition is reduced to 60 days.
Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
All expenses incurred in deriving taxable business income may generally be deducted.

Grants made or assets that are transferred without consideration, as well as liabilities assumed or services provided free of charge, will qualify as business expenses if the taxpayer has a declaration from the recipient stating that the recipient’s profit will not be negative without the income received. Grants provided to a foreign person or foreign resident company are not considered as business expenses. Employee benefits and the fringe benefit tax payable on them are tax-deductible.
Bad debts can be deductible if supported by legally valid third-party documents stating that the receivable cannot be collected. Furthermore, 20% of eligible bad debts are deductible from the corporate income tax base if the debt was not settled within 365 days from the due date.

R&D expenditure can be deducted from taxable income, as well as investments that comply with energy efficiency objectives. 300% of the direct costs for R&D are deductible from the tax base (capped at HUF 50 million) if the research activity is carried out jointly with a higher education institution, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, or a research institute established by them.
Operating losses generated after the tax year 2015 can be carried forward for five years (up to 50% of the tax base calculated without losses carried forward), whereas the carryback of losses is not allowed. Taxes are usually deductible (not for the corporate income tax and the recoverable VAT).

Other Corporate Taxes
Local municipalities may levy a Local Business Tax (LBT) up to 2% on net sales revenues. Certain financial institutions such as payment service providers and intermediaries of currency exchange services are subject to a financial transactions tax of 0.3% (capped at HUF 6,000 per transaction, the tax base being the amount of the transaction exceeding HUF 20,000). Following the COVID-19 crisis, Hungary has introduced a "special tax on credit institutions" at a rate of 0.19%, with the tax base being the part of the adjusted balance sheet total, calculated based on the annual financial statements prepared for the second financial year preceding the tax year, exceeding HUF 50 billion. A special tax on retailers has also been established, which applies also to foreign resident companies that do not have a permanent establishment in the country (for example online webshops). Progressive rates of 0.1%, 0.4% and 2.5% apply (with the entities with a tax base of less than HUF 500 million being exempt).

The owner of a building is subject to property tax liability annually on the first day of the calendar year; the same happens with the owner of land. Rates and tax base are calculated according to the type of property.

The transfer of real estate or shares in companies holding Hungarian real estate is subject to transfer tax payable by the purchaser at a rate of 4% of the value of the property up to HUF 1 billion, and 2% on the portion of the value exceeding HUF 1 billion (capped at HUF 200 million per property, exceptions apply).

The most common types of stamp duty are gift duty and duty on transfers of property for consideration. Stamp duty is levied on movable and immovable property and property rights if they were acquired in Hungary, unless an international agreement rules otherwise.

Social security contributions paid by the employer amount to 17% of the employee's gross salary, of which 15.5% as social tax and 1.5% as a vocational training contribution.

Mining companies must pay a mining royalty based on the quantity of the mineral resources extracted under authority permit. An environmental tax applies, calculated on the basis of the quantity of emitted materials (e.g. sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, phosphorous, cyanides, etc.) multiplied by the respective fee rate.

Telecommunications service providers are subject to a specific tax (HUF 2 per minute for calls made and HUF 2 per message sent for private individuals; HUF 3 per minute for calls made and HUF 3 per message sent for other entities).

Other Domestic Resources
NTCA
Consult the Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 

Double Taxation Treaties

Countries With Whom a Double Taxation Treaty Have Been Signed
Hungary Tax Treaty Network
Withholding Taxes
  • Dividends:
    • 0 (if paid to legal entities)
    • 15% (if paid to an individual);
  • Interest:
    • 0 (if paid to legal entities)
    • 15% (if paid to an individual);
  • Royalties:
    • 0 (if paid to a legal entity)
    • 15% (if paid to an individual).

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