Protocol in Hungary – part 1

Have you ever been facing to a situation that your business partner is coming from a totally different country? Where the rules and habits are „upside down” and the culture both business and general way looks ununderstandable? Have you ever been waiting for someone for an hour or more and after his arrival he did not even looked like feeling bad about it? Learning about protocol (not just protocol in Hungary) helps you to avoid „uncomfortable surprises” while meeting with someone you have never met before.

This topic will consist of two parts. In this first part we are going to talk about the origin of protocol and the protocol in Hungary. Also I will explain why it is at least good to know the protocol and I will explain the difference between protocol and etiquette. In the second part I will bring a few examples and curiosities from Europe, Asia, America and Africa.


First things first, what is protocol? It is a word of Greek origin, had been created during the Byzantine Empire (330-1453 A.D.) from the words „protos” (meaning: first) and collos (meaning: size). Protocollon used to mean „sticked on the front of the book”. Flyleaf, like the ancestor of the carton in the libraries, was a quite important document, its meaning probably was changed to the order of official relationships and the regulation.
Protocol handles corporate etiquettes as a basic know how. Nowdays it is the collection of the rules which orders the way of official contact between diplomats.
In an ordinary sense its based on habit rules and etiquette skills.
Protocol exists in a business protocol meaning as well. This „science” helps people to adjust to each others habits and rules. I will bring exmaples about it soon.

Many people mixes up protocol and etiquette. There are two impotrant differences between them. In one hand while protocol is word of Greek origin until etiquette is a word of French origin and had been created in the heyday of absolutism, in Versailles. In the other hand etiquette is the ruled system of ways of social contact.

Now let’s see some business examples from all over the World. Today we are going to talk about protocol in Hungary.

Protocol in Hungary


Punctuality has number one priority when meeting a Hungarian. Indeed, arrive earlier if possible. A few, 5-10 minutes late is still forgivable especially if the excuse of being late is the traffic. This will not have effect ont he result of the meeting.

Protocol in Hungary - No meetings without a coffee. (Photo: Business Management Hungary)

Protocol in Hungary – No meetings without a coffee. (Photo: Business Management Hungary)



Well, the protocol in Hungary lets you to give gift, but it is usual mostly in Christmas time and anyway not necessery either. Aware of wines: Hungarians are proud of their wines so you’d better inform first.

Dress code

When it comes to business Hungarians are traditionals: suit and tie. Elegance and being tidy are an absolute necessity. Hungarians prefer dark colours. The smaller the company is, the less formal dress code is valid.


Even if Hungary is in the middle of the corruption list of Transparency International, this mostly effects underpaid (or overpaid?) government officials. We have to mention the healthcare services where giving small gifts or some money to the doctors or to nurses might bring you some advantages. In small companies, when mostly the owners make decisions corruption doesn’t really have sense.

General information

Hungarians respect status and hierarchy. Greetings usually start with a handshake. Hungarians are trying to get in a closer relationship with the partners what doesn’t mean clear friendship. They just like spending time with building the relationship.
They use business cards: title is always written, family name is written first in Hungarian.
The management likes to examine all aspects and angles of the deal before going for it what might make a longer decision time.

To the end: the quote of the day. I hope you enjoyed. The topic will be continued and if you have any more questions regarding the facts of protocol in Hungary: contact us!


In great affairs men show themselves as they wish to be seen, in small things they show themselves as they are.


(Nicholas Chamfort)


Business Management Hungary

published on LinkedIn 16/11/2015 by Business Management Hungary