Czech Visas and Residency Permits

A basic guide to the paperwork you'll need to enter -- and stay in -- the Czech Republic

SHORT-TERM STAYS
Citizens of European Union/European Economic Area Countries
If you're from a country in the European Union, or the countries Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you only require a valid passport, a diplomatic passport, or an ID card to enter and stay in the Czech Republic.

You are entitled to work without work permits (povolení práce) and can buy property.

It is recommended, though not obligatory, that you obtain a temporary residency permit if you intend to stay for more than 90 days. You can apply for the permit at the Foreigners' Police.

A temporary residency permit is advisable if you intend to work.

Citizens of Non-EU/EEA Countries
If you come from a so-called third state -- those that are neither the Czech Republic, another EU nation or member of the EEA -- you're subject to different requirements, depending on the length and purpose of your stay.

Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter the Czech Republic for stays of up to 90 days:

Argentina
Australia
Bolivia
Brazil
Brunei Darussalam
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Croatia
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
Hong Kong
Israel
Japan
Macao
Malaysia
Mexico
Monaco
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
San Marino
Singapore
South Korea
Uruguay
USA
Venezuela

If you are from any other state, please check with the Czech authorities concerning your visa requirements.

LONG-TERM RESIDENCY PERMITS
If you're from a third state and you intend to stay longer than 90 days, and/or you intend to work, it's necessary to obtain a long-term residency permit (povolení k dlouhodobému pobytu), which is valid for one year from the date of issue.

For the permit you'll need:

• A valid passport

• A copy of your work permit, or your study agreement if you're studying

• Proof of earnings (roughly 2,500 CZK per week)

• Proof of accommodation

• A clean Czech criminal record

• Two photographs

For proof of accommodation you'll need either a signed and notarized statement from the owner (potvrzení o ubytování), which can be obtained from the Foreigners' Police, or you'll have to submit the original or a notarized copy of the lease.

The application fee is 2,000 CZK and is paid in the form of a stamp duty (kolek). These are available from any post office.

Documents not in Czech must be translated and notarized by a recognized translator. (Sorry, this doesn't mean Czech friends.)

Applications for long-term residency permits must be filed no earlier than 90 days and no later than 14 days before the expiry of your current travel document.

This means that if you come to the Czech Republic without a visa, you can apply for the permit immediately after entering the country, and no later than two weeks before the 90-day visa period ends.

The process can take up to 180 days. In my case -- and this is only my experience -- approval took about 60 days. Incorrect information will only lengthen the time, so be sure to provide all the correct documents.

Hopefully, your employer will have someone help you. Even so, you'll have to apply in person -- alone or alongside them -- and applications are accepted only from Czech embassies or consulates abroad.

The Czech missions closest to the Czech Republic are:

• Dresden, Germany (Erna-Berger-Strasse 1)

• Vienna, Austria (Penzingerstrasse 11-13)

• Bratislava, Slovakia (Hviezdoslavovo náměstí 8)

EXTENDING LONG-TERM RESIDENCY PERMITS
This process is a bit simpler.

Applications must be made no earlier than 90 days, and no later than 14 days before the expiry of your current permit.

When applying you'll need:

• A valid passport

• A clean Czech criminal record, no older than three months

• A new work permit (work permits are only issued for 12-month periods and a new one must be obtained for each new employment period)

• Proof of accommodation

Applications for extensions can be made in the Czech Republic.

The fee is 1,000 CZK, again paid in the form of a stamp duty.

If you apply for an extension at the Foreigners' Police in Pankrác, the stamps can be purchased from the small photo stall in the lobby. The stamps are not available from the police themselves.

PERMANENT RESIDENCY
You can apply for permanent residency if you:

• Are the spouse of a Czech citizen

• Have resided in the Czech Republic continuously for three years if you're an EU/EEA citizen or five years if you're from a third state

One of the main advantages of having permanent residency is that you don't require a work permit for employment, nor do you have to visit the Foreigners' Police every year to extend your long-term residency.

When applying for permanent residency you'll require:

• A valid passport

• A copy of your marriage certificate -- translated into Czech and notarized, if it's in another language -- or proof of continuous residency and employment for the prescribed period

• Proof of accommodation

The cost of the application is 50 CZK, paid in the form of a stamp duty.

The permit is issued in the form of a small green book resembling a passport. Please note that this is not a travel document. If you're traveling outside the Czech Republic, even within the European Union, it's necessary to carry your passport.

It should also be noted that permanent residency in the Czech Republic is not the same as citizenship. As far as non-Czech states are concerned, your actual citizenship counts in matters of residency, lengths of stay, and the right to work.

FAMILY MATTERS
As mentioned above, if you are married to a Czech citizen, you're entitled to apply for permanent residency.

If you are married to an EU or EEA citizen and are a citizen of one of the third states, you will have to apply for long-term residency permits for stays of over 90 days, and if you intend to work for the following two reasons:

• You are not a resident of another EU/EEA nation

• Your spouse doesn't have special temporary residency in the Czech Republic

Permanent residency permits must be renewed every 10 years.

CONTACTING THE FOREIGNERS' POLICE
One of the more unpleasant aspects of staying in the Czech Republic is dealing with the Foreigner's Police. Ask anyone who's been and they’ll tell you about the lines, chaos and general confusion.

EU/EEA citizens are expected to make the trip if they intend to stay for more than 30 days. Registering with the Foreigners' Police should be done within 30 days of arrival.

Third state nationals are expected to register with the Foreigners' Police unless the place where they are staying -- a hostel or a pension, for example -- keeps a ledger of foreigners.

The main office of the Foreigners' Police is at Olšanská 2, Prague 3.

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