The honorary consular service is an important service and contribution to Hungary’s foreign service missions abroad assisting Hungarian citizens living, staying or just visiting in a foreign country.
However, the honorary consular system is not a Hungarian invention. The Office of Foreign Missions was created in the United States by an act of Congress on October 1, 1982 to assist the diplomatic community in the USA. OFM in the United States is celebrating its twentieth year of operation. However, the honorary consular system was originally codified on April 24, 1963 in Vienna.
Many embassies are finding that having honorary consuls represent their country is a more cost-effective way to handle consular interests in the United States. There are now more than 920 honorary consuls representing diplomatic missions in America, almost double the number of career consuls. Honorary consuls are most often U.S. citizens with established contacts in the business world. OFM has recognized the important role of honorary consuls and is including them in its outreach activities.
Hungary currently has 18 honorary consuls on U.S. territory, 16 of those on the mainland, 1 in Hawai and 1 in Puerto Rico.
Typically, major cities and hubs where larger Hungarian communities reside would be selected as places where honorary consuls will be appointed. These cities in the continental U.S. are Atlanta (Georgia), Boston (Massachusetts), Charlotte (North Carolina), Cleveland (Ohio), Denver (Colorado), Hamden (Connecticut), Houston (Texas), Miami (Florida), New Orleans (Louisiana), Sacramento (California), Saint Louis (Missouri), Saint Louis Park (Minnesota), Salt Lake City (Utah), San Francisco (California), Sarasota (Florida) and Seattle (Washington).
The Honorary Consuls typically provide some of the following services:
- Consular authentication, consular certificates: signature notarization, authentication of legal documents and apostille.
- Passport administration and information.
- Hungarian citizenship administration and information.
- Information on visas to Hungary and immigration.
- General information on official administration in Hungary.
- Meet and assist with nationals on matters affecting their social well-being.
- Provide advice and recommend appropriate legal representation for nationals who contact the consulate.
- Translation services.
Some of the honorary consuls are long-time renowned personalities in U.S.-Hungarian relationships, including Laszlo Bojtos (Cleveland), Eva Voisin (San Francisco), Jeno and Krisztina Megyesy (Denver), and George dePozsgay (Miami).
Books can be written about the functions, stories and roles of Hungarian honorary consuls in the United States. However, the overriding principle is the proper representation of a nation and service to its citizens. When you travel to foreign destinations, you might as well look up the local honorary consul, give them a call, just say hello or have a nice, tall foamy cappuccino and a blueberry muffin with them at their favorite coffee shop.
written by Adam Topolansky