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Budapest

Work

Travellers on tourist visas in Budapest are not supposed to accept employment, but many end up teaching, doing a little writing for the English-language press or even working for foreign firms without permits. Check the English-language telephone book or advertisements for English-language schools in the Budapest Sun, which also has job listings, though pay is generally pretty low. You can do much better teaching privately (up to 4000Ft per 45-minute 'hour', depending on your experience).

For the most part, EU nationals can come and work freely in Hungary, though they do require a residency permit, which can only be obtained in Budapest (1500Ft). For non-EU nationals, however, obtaining a work permit (munkavállalási engedély) involves a considerable paper chase. You'll need a letter of support from your prospective employer, copies of your birth certificate, your academic record and results of a recent medical examination (including a test for exposure to HIV) costing about 20, 000Ft. The employer then submits these to the local labour centre (munkaügyi központ), and you must return to your country of residence and apply for the work permit (US$50 or equivalent) at the Hungarian embassy or consulate there.

When you return to Hungary, you have 15 days to gather all the documents required to apply for a one-year renewable residence permit (tartózkodási engedély; 5000Ft) through the Residency Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Immigration office at XI Budafoki út 60 in Budapest or through the main police station (főkapitányság) in your district or city.

Business hours

With rare exceptions, the opening hours (nyitvatartás) of any concern are posted on the front door. Nyitva means 'open' while zárva is 'closed'.

Very generally speaking, retail shops (including grocery stores) and department stores are open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 1pm on Saturday. In summer, some private retail shops close early on Friday and at least part of August.

Most neighbourhoods have a 'nonstop' - a convenience store open round-the-clock (or very late/early) that sells basic food items, bottled drinks and cigarettes. Many of the hyper-supermarkets around Budapest open on Sunday.

Banking hours change from institution to location but are usually 7.45am to 5pm or 6pm Monday, 7.45am to 4pm or 5pm Tuesday to Thursday and 7.45am to 4pm on Friday. The main post office in any Budapest district is open 8am to 7pm or 8pm weekdays and till noon or even 2pm on Saturday. Branch offices close much earlier - usually at 4pm - and are never open at the weekend.

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Doing business

The main source of information in English for businesspeople in Budapest is the Budapest Business Journal (BBJ; www.bbj.hu; 575Ft), which is an almost archival publication of financial news and business stories that has been around for nearly 15 years and appears on Monday. Another useful publication for businesspeople is the feature-oriented Business Hungary (900Ft), compiled monthly by the American Chamber of Commerce.

Following are some important addresses and/or useful sources of information:

American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary (266 9880; www.amcham.hu; V Deák Ferenc utca 10, 5th fl; M1 Vörösmarty tér)

British Chamber of Commerce in Hungary (302 5200, www.bcch.com; V Bank utca 6, 2nd fl; M3 Arany János utca)

Budapest Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Budapesti Kereskedelmi és Iparkamra; 214 1826; www.bkik.hu in Hungarian; I Krisztina körút 99; 18)

Economy & Transport Ministry (Gazdasági és Közlekedési Minisztérium; 374 2700; www.gkm.hu; V Honvéd utca 13-15; M2 Kossuth Lajos tér)

Finance Ministry (Pénzügy Minisztérium; 318 2066; www.meh.hu in Hungarian; V József nádor tér 2-4; M1 Vörösmarty tér)

Hungarian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Magyar Kereskedelmi és Iparkamra; 474 5100; www.mkik.hu in Hungarian; V Kossuth Lajos tér 6-8, 5th fl; M2 Kossuth Lajos tér)

For photocopying, digital printing and computer services like scanning, visit any of the eight outlets of Copy General (www.copygeneral.hu in Hungarian), including its district V branch (302 3206; V Kálmán Imre utca 22; 24hr; M3 Nyugati pályaudvar). A similar - and aptly named - place nearby is CopyCat (312 7636; www.copycat.hu; V Alkotmány utca 18; 7am-10pm Mon-Fri, 10am-8pm Sat & Sun; M3 Nyugati pályaudvar).

All the major courier companies are represented here, including DHL (06-40 454 545; www.dhl.hu), FedEx Hungary (06-40 980 980; www.fedex.com), TNT Express (431 3131; www.tnt.hu) and UPS (06-40 262 000; www.ups.com).

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