Czech residency for foreigners

Jitka Pechová of the Counselling Center for Refugees (Poradna pro uprchlíky) explains the laws covering foreigners living in the Czech Republic

The conditions regulating the residence of foreigners in the Czech Republic and their movement in and out of the country are set out in Act no. 326/1999 Coll., on the Residence of Foreigners in the Czech Republic.

Under this act, a foreigner is deemed to be a person other than a citizen of the Czech Republic (including European Union citizens).

(The Aliens Law does not apply to foreigners who have applied for asylum and to people who have been granted asylum in the Czech Republic (both these groups fall under the legal regime established on the basis of Act no. 325/1999 Coll., on Asylum), to foreign nationals staying in the Czech Republic under a special act providing for the temporary stays of foreign armed forces or to foreign nationals having applied for residence permit for the purpose of temporary protection or having been granted residence permit for the purpose of temporary protection.)

The governmental authorities of the Czech Republic exercising powers related to the residence of foreigners in the Czech Republic include the Foreigners' Police and the Border Police, the Czech Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the individual diplomatic and consular offices abroad.

Entry, Border Control

Foreigners may enter the Czech Republic at places designated as points of entry - specific locations along the border, international airports or, as the case may be, a train crossing an international border.

Upon crossing the Czech border, the foreigner must undergo border control, if required by the police. Exactly which documents a foreigner must present upon his/her entry to the Czech Republic depends both on the foreigner's nationality and on the length and purpose of his/her stay in the Czech Republic.

As a general rule, citizens of EU member states or other countries that have visa-free relations with the Czech Republic must present only their passport at border control. Foreigners who need a visa to enter the Czech Republic must, in addition, present proof that they have sufficient funds to pay for their stay in the Czech Republic (cash, bank account statement, international credit card or an invitation verified by the police), a certificate of health insurance that will be used to pay the costs of treatment related to an injury or sudden illness and confirmed accommodation.

If the Czech Republic is only a stop en route to another country, foreign nationals must also have a valid visa for their destination and proof that they have the means to continue their journey into that country.

Temporary Residence

The Aliens Law provides for two regimes of residence: temporary residence and permanent residence.

A foreigner may temporarily reside in the Czech Republic:

  • without a visa

  • on the basis of a short-term visa, long-term visa, diplomatic visa or a special visa

  • on the basis of a temporary residence permit

    A short-term visa is:

  • an exit order

  • a transit visa

  • an airport visa

  • a residence visa for up to 90 days

  • the "Unified Schengen Visa" (valid until a decision to cancel controls on Czech border is adopted)

    A long-term visa under the Aliens Law is:

  • a residence visa for over 90 days

  • a tolerance visa

    Note!

    Citizens of the EU and citizens of other countries that have signed the necessary international treaties with the Czech Republic may reside in the Czech Republic without a visa, provided that the intended stay is temporary. Further special cases are provided for in the Czech legal rules and regulations (e.g. a foreigner serving a prison term in the Czech Republic, a pilot or another member of an international airlines crew, etc.).

    Residence of a Foreigner Born in the Czech Republic

    If a foreigner is born in the Czech Republic, their stay - for a period of up to 60 days following their birth - is considered temporary.

    In this period, the parent must apply on the child's behalf for basically the same type of visa or residence permit, under which the parent him/herself is staying in the Czech Republic. This must be done in all cases, unless the infant leaves the Czech Republic within 60 days of his/her birth. If the application cannot be filed, for reasons beyond the parent's control (e.g. the mother's health condition of the mother after she has delivered the child), the parent must immediately report these reasons to the police, and file an application once these obstacles have been removed.

    The following must be attached to the application: the infant's passport; if the infant does not have a passport, the parent's passport; the infant's birth certificate and a certificate of its health insurance or, as the case may be, a sworn statement of the parent that he/she will bear all the costs incurred in relation to the health care provided to the infant.

    Reporting the Foreigner's Residence in the Czech Republic:

    The following text explains the fundamental duties of a foreigner to report his or her residence in the Czech Republic.

    Foreigners residing in the Czech Republic under a long-term residence visa or a residence visa issued for up to 90 days are required, within three days of entering the Czech Republic, to notify the police of the date their stay begins, where they'll be living during their stay and how long they'll be staying for.

    Foreigners authorized to reside in the Czech Republic without a visa also have to notify police of the date their stay begins, where they'll be living during their stay and how long they'll be staying for. This can be done at the Foreigners' Police office closest to their residence, within 30 days of entering the Czech Republic - presuming, of course, that their stay is longer 30 days. (If the foreigner is living in a hotel or a hostel, it's the hotel or the hostel that must fulfill this duty.)

    Should the foreigner's place of residence change during their stay, they must report this change to the local Foreigner's Police office.

    The Duties of the Foreigner:

    In addition to other obligations specified in the Aliens Law, the foreigner has, in particular, the following duties:

  • to report at an office of the Foreigners' Police one day after being released from imprisonment, if he/she doesn't have a valid passport or visa (if necessary for his/her residence in the Czech Republic)

  • to identify him/herself if requested by the police, presenting his/her valid passport or certificate of his/her residence permit, and to prove that his/her residence in the Czech Republic is justified (e.g., by a valid visa)

  • to report any changes of his/her surname and marital status to the police

  • to surrender any certificate issued by the police upon the expiry of its validity (save for the travel identity card and visa used by the foreigner to leave the Czech Republic)

  • to report any loss or theft of certificates issued by the police (e.g., the passport)

  • in cases specified by the law, to undergo procedures such as having his/her fingerprints taken, having image records made and undergoing medical examinations, etc.

  • to prove that the foreigner has resources sufficient to reside in the Czech Republic, if requested by the police

    Travel Documents:

    The following documents will be recognized as travel documents in various instances:

  • a public document recognized by the Czech Republic as a travel document

  • a public document verifying information of the foreigner's citizenship, his/her identity, information on the document's validity and the foreigner's photograph, provided that the instrument is a public document issued by a foreign country

  • an identity card from an EU member state

  • alien's passport

  • travel identity card

  • travel document issued by the Czech Republic under an international treaty

    Some documents are issued by the Foreigners' Police only upon request:

    An alien's passport will, if requested, be issued to a foreigner living in the Czech Republic on a residence permit who doesn't hold a valid travel document (passport). The foreigner must prove that he/she cannot get the passport in any other way. An alien's passport may also be issued to a minor (under 15 years of age) residing in the Czech Republic under a decision on substitute guardianship.

    A travel identity card is issued if it's requested by a foreigner who does not hold a valid passport and is unable to get a passport in any other way.

    The police will issue a travel identity card to a foreigner, without him/her applying for one, in the following cases:

  • their short-term visa is declared invalid

  • a decision on the invalidity of their long-term visa or a decision to annul the foreigner's residence permit becomes legally effective

  • the validity of a permanent residence permit expires

  • the visa is granted to enable the residence of a foreigner whose exit from the Czech Republic is not possible for reasons stipulated by law

    The police will also issue a travel identity card to a foreigner not holding a valid passport and who has been legitimately deported from the Czech Republic.

    The police may seize a foreigner's passport upon checking the foreigner. The police may do so only if the statutory conditions have been met - in particular, if the foreigner presents a passport that has not been issued in his/her name, or if a passport issued by the police is found to be invalid. If the police, upon checking the foreigner, seize his/her passport, they must provide the foreigner with a written confirmation. Having received the passport, the local police station must decide whether to keep or return the passport within 15 days.

    An unedited version of this article was originally published on the Doma v České republice website.

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