In setting up a local bank account in Hungary, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the country doesn't have laws that prohibit non-residents from opening an account here. Unlike becoming a taxpayer, you can still set up your own local bank account in Hungary without becoming a resident of any kind here. However, the bad news is not all local banks cater to non-residents. Their own processes of setting up an account would prove to be impossible for non-residents to complete. So in choosing a bank, go for one that's open to doing business with long-term tourists.
Now, if you do plan to move to Hungary and become a legal resident there, wouldn't it be better if you set up your account even before you go there yourself? While that's often the case, not all Hungarian banks allow this. Sure, most of them already have strong online platforms on which you can register for a local account, but a good many banks here require you to physically go to their branches in order to activate it. What you might be able to do, however, is to start the process online and just complete it when you go to Hungary.
So, in setting up a bank account in Hungary, what documents do you need to show? A valid ID, a valid residence permit/work visa, and proof of address. For your valid ID, most banks you'd ask for your passport, but some do accept local driver's license. And for your proof of address, your rental contract will do. Some banks might ask you to present your utility bills as further proof of address so keep them handy just in case. At the same time, they may also ask for proof of employment as well, most especially if you're an expat opening an account with them.
As already mentioned, most banks in Hungary already have stable digital platforms, allowing you to do your banking online when needed. As also mentioned, some might even allow you to set up or, at least, begin the process of setting up your local account here online. In any case, online banking has become the norm in Hungary. It's pretty rare for a local bank not to have, at the very least, their own website that you can log into. But when considering which bank to choose here, it's better to go for those that allow you to make transactions online.
Other considerations include the scope of the banks. The reason why setting up a local account in one of the bigger banks in Hungary is that the more branches there are, the easier to bank with them. It's most important that there's a branch near both your home in the country and your place of employment. But even when you decide to travel around Hungary, the bigger the bank, the likelier it will have a branch wherever you go. At the same time, going for international banks that also operate in Hungary is a good idea too. At least, with this option, you might be able to open another account in your home country as well.
With all that said, which Hungarian banks should you choose? OTP Bank is one of those major banks that's known nationally. But more than that, it has a strong online presence that can even allow you to set up your account with them from abroad. It's one of the very few banks in Hungary that allow you to do so. Budapest Bank, on the other hand, is an extremely popular institution that has several branches across the country. You won't have a hard time finding an ATM machine or possibly even a branch in the more rural areas of Hungary.
Here in Hungary, while setting up a bank account might prove to be challenging, doing so will make your new life easier. You can better manage your finances and save your money if you have somewhere safe to store them in.
And when you do get to save a lot, reward yourself by going for a luxurious Hungarian rental for your new home here!