I abhor paperwork. If I could avoid it, I would. If I could get someone to do it for me, I would be so happy. I am lucky to be working for a company that is very conscientious of such things, and has always provided me the much-needed help in navigating the jungle of Hungarian paperwork and bureaucracy. I know that some foreigners may not be so fortunate to have such kind of assistance so I thought of putting together this guide to help others when it is time to renew their TAJ card.
First, the basics.
What is it and why is it important?
TAJ stands for Társadalombiztosítási Azonosító Jel and it is your Hungarian social security number. You need this card so you are covered for medical care in Hungary, as long as you are paying your contributions. You also get discounts on purchases of qualified medication.
I experienced this first hand when I had to buy something for my blood pressure (I know, right??), and I could not avail of the discount as my TAJ card was expired. Thankfully, the medicine I needed was not that expensive, and I could still purchase it even without my new TAJ card. But if it happens that the medicine was expensive, and the discount that came with the card was sizeable, imagine what big help that would be to you.
Who needs a TAJ card?
Foreign nationals living and working in Hungary for more than a year will need to get a TAJ card. This also applies to European Economic Area (EEA) citizens who are living in Hungary for more than one year and do not have a valid European Health Insurance Card.
What do you need to renew your TAJ card?
Here are the documents you need to bring:
- Valid passport – original, and photocopy of the page of your personal data
- Residence permit – original and photocopy
- Expiring social security card – you will need to surrender this to the OEP officer
- Address card – original and photocopy
What application form do you need?
You also need to fill up an application form for card renewal. It is available at the entrance of the OEP office (Hungarian National Health Insurance Fund or Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár).
But I suggest to download it from the website of the National Health Insurance Fund Administration (Nemzeti Egészségbiztosítási Alapkezelő), fill it in electronically then print, to save some time. Some people cannot read Hungarian, and I have not seen English forms at the OEP office, so it is probably better to do complete this form at home or in the office with a Hungarian who can help you. I did my previous form at work, and my manager helped translate for me.
Click this link to get the application form. The form you need is the first one; choose whether you want to fill it in manually or electronically.
It is not so difficult to fill in by yourself if you know basic Hungarian, plus there is also Google translate. But here is a quick guide I made to get you started. This is a form for a lady named Holly White, whose mother’s maiden name is Skyler Lambert. The form will follow the “Surname – Given Name” order.
All the items under Hivatal tölti ki! will be for the OEP officer to fill in, so leave them blank. Your form is ready!
When and where do you go?
In Budapest, the OEP office is at Teve utca no. 1/a-c (2nd door in the street), zip code 1139. If you are taking Metro line 3, the station is Göncz Árpád városközpont (formerly Árpád híd station).
Entrance of OEP is next to the building’s main entrance. There is usually a queue outside, so you won’t miss it.
- Monday-Tuesday-Thursday: 8:00 – 15:00
- Wednesday: 8:00 – 17:30
- Friday: 8:00 – 13:00
Outside Budapest, you will probably need to go to the Kormányhivatal of your town or city.
My advice is to be at the OEP office 15-20 minutes before 8:00 am, as there is usually a queue and people will get a queue number once the doors open. If you already have your application form and documents, it is fast and efficient.
The officer will collect your check your documents, return your originals, take your expired TAJ card and process your new one. In my experience, it only took 11 minutes from the time my number got called to the time my new TAJ card was issued. Talk about efficiency!
During the lockdown period due to the coronavirus pandemic, people can also call 1818, the Hungarian national phone customer service hotline. English-speaking operators can assist you in getting an appointment for your TAJ card renewal.
There you have it! It doesn’t seem to be so daunting now, right? I hope this helped someone today. If you have questions or comments, please drop them in the comments section below!