Relocating to Prague? Find out whether or not you need a residency permit, and how you can apply for one if you do
Before filling out the visa application, first read this page carefully!
To live, work and/or do business in the Czech Republic as a foreigner, you need to apply for the correct Czech visa or Residence Permit that matches your status.
Without a Czech Republic visa or residence permit, you will not be able to remain in the country more than a few months, (the time limit varies by nationality -- for example, US citizens are allowed 90 days), and you will not legally be able to work at all.
If you are an SRO owner, this is by far the easiest way to qualify for a visa if you are not an EU citizen, and the visa application can be done from your home country. Get more information on SROs using the menu at your left, or by contacting me.
CZECH 'VISAS' FOR NON-EU CITIZENS
EU citizens do not need a visa to live and work in the Czech Republic.
A Residence Permit is not mandatory, but it is highly advisable to get one as it is generally required to establish certain services for foreigners living in this country, and you will definitely have need of it if you intend to live and work in the Czech Republic. It is your only real proof that you are "officially registered" to live and work here.
Please be advised:
At Czech Point 101 we offer to assist new EU arrivals with getting their residency permit. Please be aware that application for a residency permit at an embassy could take up to six months while applying directly to the Foreign Police within the country obligates them to process your application within 3 months.
CZECH VISAS FOR NON-EU CITIZENS
(Please note that this information applies to long-term visas and not to tourist visas)
Please relax, get comfortable, and prepare for a long read.
If you are not an EU citizen, the visa process is far more complex and requires diligence, patience, and typically several attempts before you get it right.
Please feel free to read the comments below or request our free six-page Czech visa guide which details the entire process, step-by-step, but first it is very important to understand one thing:
The visa process inevitably takes a lot of time.
Despite a lot of claims to the contrary, the truth is that there is no way to accurately tell how long your visa application will take. Therefore, do not formulate any plans that absolutely depend upon getting your visas on or by a certain date. This is a common recipe for failure.
The visa process is nearly always subject to a lot of delays and mistakes.
The process itself can be extremely confusing, even nonsensical at times, and will generally cause you a lot of stress and expensive delays to your plans, especially if you have not allowed yourself enough time to complete the process and actually receive the visa.
Generally, we advise everyone to allow at least six months to collect the required paperwork, apply, and receive your Czech visa.
The process may of course end up taking less time, but this is generally a very good guideline, and you should plan accordingly.
This is because the entire visa application process includes detailed, somewhat confusing instructions which must be followed exactly, and each of the many offices you must contact in order to complete the process may give you different and occasionally conflicting instructions.
In addition, you cannot actually apply for the visa from within the Czech Republic. Instead, you must travel outside the country to the nearest Czech Embassy to apply, and this could entail several trips and a lot of waiting in lines.
Note: The only difficult thing about doing this from your home country is that you will need proof of your residence or accommodation. For this they will typically ask for a rental contract as well as the Land Registry documents proving the address as well as the owner.
The Application Process -- Step by Step:
We've tried to explain the entire process for you as completely, and understandably, as possible on this page.
Please read this entire page carefully, and then request our free six-page Czech visa guide, which contains instructions on how to go through the entire application process correctly, on your own or with assistance.
It is very common to have your Czech visa application rejected several times before you get it right, or at least that they will hold your application with existing paperwork as they request more, resulting in numerous lengthy delays.
Again, for your own benefit, please begin your visa application process at least six months prior to when you will need the visa, unless you are paying a professional company to submit the visa application for you, in which case start at least 3 months early.
Double check with whichever Czech embassy you are using to submit your application, to insure that all the necessary paperwork is ready, exactly as they specify.
You'll be very glad you did!
The Correct Czech Visa is Critical to Your Plans:
Remember that your visa is critical for both your job and business, and your ability to stay in the Czech Republic after you move here if you are not an EU citizen.
If it's late -- or denied -- your plans are in trouble: you could lose your job, your ability to rent an apartment, or even be forced to leave the country if you do not have your visa by the required date.
Please be advised that one of the most common reason we have seen foreign citizens fail in this country is due to visa delays!
The standard waiting period quoted by the embassy is not always correct, and serious delays can arise if there are any problems or mistakes in the paperwork which need to be corrected and resubmitted.
It is very common for your Czech Republic visa to arrive several months after the day you agreed to start your job. Thus, often your employer will be forced to give the job to someone else. This can cause irreparable delay and financial damage to your plans, as you will have to find another job (often times requiring you to move to another apartment in another town) and then reapply for your visa all over again.
Especially for young people looking only to teach English for a year in the Czech Republic, this typical and very common situation is enough to force them to cancel their plans and return home.
More on Czech Republic Visa Requirements:
Sometimes your Czech employer will be able to help you prepare and submit your paperwork, and it pays to ask if this assistance is available, but assume that most often you will simply be on your own once you arrive in the country, despite promises to the contrary in some cases.
In addition, keep in mind that you will need both a job (with a written contract translated into Czech and notarized) and an apartment or flat (with a written lease translated into Czech and notarized) before you will be able to even apply for your visa.
Equally important to remember is that you cannot apply for your visa from within the Czech Republic itself, as stated above.
All Czech Republic visa applications must be to either the Czech embassy in your home country, or in person at a Czech embassy or consulate nearby, such as Vienna (Austria), Dresden (Germany) or Bratislava (Slovakia).
If your visa is approved, (normally you will receive an initial answer within 30-60 days), you will also have to return to the embassy, in person, to receive it.
If it sounds like a pickle to get a job and rent an apartment before you can even apply for your visa, you're right -- it usually is.
Furthermore, all paperwork must be translated into Czech, and some office personnel you will deal with during the lengthy application process may speak Czech only. If this all sounds like a bit of work, trust me, it is and you need to be thoroughly prepared for every contingency!
If you make any mistakes during the application process, your visa can be substantially delayed, endangering your employment contract -- putting a serious dent in your planned arrival dates and living arrangements -- even preventing you from staying in the country.
Common mistakes that may cause your Czech Republic visa to be denied include:
• Not printing your visa application forms in red ink, on A4-sized paper (called "legal size" in the USA), and filling it out in blue ink
• Not registering with the Czech Immigration Police -- at the correct location and in the correct district -- within three days of entering the country after taking possession of your temporary visa from the embassy where you filed your application
• The temporary visa is required to be filed within 3 days of re-entering the country in order to receive your standard one-year visa
• Not having your documents translated into Czech and certified by the Czech Consulate, Czech Embassy or a licensed court translator and notary in the Czech Republic
Common sources of confusion about the Czech Republic visa process:
• If approved, your visa will allow you to live and work legally in the Czech Republic. This visa is in addition to the Czech Work Permit which your employer will have to arrange for you after you arrive, but before you apply for your visa, in order to have permission to hire you as a foreigner
• Should you lose your job for any reason, you will lose your visa and be required to leave the country within 30 days.
The visa is emphatically not a "right to live and work anywhere" in the Czech Republic - it is only for the specific job you apply and qualify for. If you apply for a new job, you must reapply for a new visa. Lose the job, lose the visa, lose the right to stay!
How to Get Started and Where to Get Help:
We recommend therefore that everyone start their visa application process about six months before they intend to move to the Czech Republic.
It also pays to plan a two- or three-month trip to the Czech Republic, to stay in the area in which you plan to reside permanently, and search for work. The best time to come is early April, when the weather is warming up and schools are looking for teachers to hire for the coming school year (which starts in September), if you plan to teach English.
Czech Embassy and Consulate List
This article was written in February 2006.
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