How to move to

The Czech Republic

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Find A Job


The Czech Republic is currently in a period of economic growth, and, while the level of unemployment is low, the country still has skills shortages in a number of areas. Although under Czech law, an employer may only offer a job to a foreigner if they cannot find a suitable Czech or EU national to fill the role, opportunities for work for expats remain good. While speaking Czech is desirable, especially outside Prague, it is not essential, as many international companies conduct business in English. Speaking good German may also be an advantage.

EU citizens may live and work in the Czech Republic without need of a work permit or visa. These are necessary for all other nationals.

In order to work in the Czech Republic, you will need a long-term residence permit with the right to work. There are two types: the Blue Card and the Employee Card.

Blue Cards are available only to people who have high-level professional or university qualifications in an area that is in demand in the Czech Republic, who have been offered a full-time job contract for at least one year, at an agreed salary that is a minimum of 1.5 times greater than the average gross Czech annual salary.

Once issued, the Blue Card is valid for the length of your employment contract plus three months, but for no longer than two years in total. Employee Cards cover all types of employment. The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs maintains a registry of jobs eligible for Employee Cards and a registry of jobs eligible for Blue Cards.

You must have found a job before you can apply for either type of card, and only certain jobs are eligible. In the case of Employee Cards, the job must have been found via the Central Register of Jobs eligible for Employee Cards. This does not apply to jobs eligible for Blue Cards, but if you receive an offer via another route, you need to check that the job covered by this scheme (you can do this on the register website). In all cases, the employer must be able to prove they cannot find a suitable Czech or EU candidate.

Once you have secured a job offer and contract, you must complete the relevant Employee Card or Blue Card application form, which can be found on the website of the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and a Visa application form, which can be downloaded from the website of the Czech embassy in your country.

In both cases you will need also to supply supporting documentation. This differs slightly between the two types of Card.

Blue Card:

• Your passport, which must be up-to-date, and have at least two blank pages for the visa.
• Two recent passport photographs of yourself.
• Proof of accommodation in the Czech Republic.
• Your employment contract.
• Certificates or notarised copies of your higher professional or university qualifications, accompanied by a professional translation into Czech.
Medical insurance from an authorised provider for a minimum of 40 days.
• You must also be able to supply a criminal history document, translated into Czech, upon request.

Employee Card:

• A valid travel document.
• Two recent passport photographs of yourself.
• Confirmation of availability of accommodation.
• Visa fee.
• Contract of employment or agreement on work activity.
• Documents proving you possess relevant qualifications for the job, with a translation into Czech.
• A criminal history document, with a translation into Czech.
• You must also be able to supply a medical report upon request, with a translation into Czech.

At the time of writing, the visa fee in both cases is CZK 5000. Decisions on visas take up to 90 days, and you may be asked to come to the Czech embassy for an interview.

Average salaries in the Czech Republic are lower than in the UK or USA -- they can be up to 50% less, proportionally -- but the cost of living is correspondingly lower, and professional expats can expect to live in reasonable comfort. In most cases, you can expect to spend a third to a half less on rent, groceries and public transport. The legal working week is 40 hours, with a leave entitlement of 20 days. Your spouse, if they are not Czech or an EU citizen, must go through the same application process if they wish to work.

In addition to the registries kept by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, jobs that may be eligible for Blue Cards are advertised via major employment websites, including LinkedIn and Glassdoor, and via some international recruitment agencies. There are skills shortages in engineering and related technical professionals, medicine, ICT and teaching. Employers tend to prefer a more detailed CV rather than a resumé, covering qualifications, experience and significant work achievements.


Apply For A Visa/Permit


The Czech Republic attracts millions of visitors each year. But depending on your nationality and the purpose of your trip, you may need a visa to travel there.

This article will walk you through the types of visas needed to visit the Czech Republic, based on which country you are coming from, your nationality, how long you’re planning to stay, and the reason for your trip. It will also outline how to apply for a work permit or residency status.


Visas

The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, so if you’re an EU citizen, you can go there without worrying about a visa. Visitors from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway – can also enter visa-free, so long as they have a valid passport or ID card. The Czech Republic is also a part of the Schengen Area.

Citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and several other countries do not need a visa, as long as they are planning to visit for business or pleasure and stay less than 90 days in a 180-day period. They must also have a passport issued within the last 10 years, which is valid for at least three months after their planned date of departure from the Schengen Area. For more information on the Schengen visa requirements, see here.

The Czech Republic offers three types of visas.


Schengen Short-Term Visa

This visa is valid within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days, and can either be an airport transfer visa (type “A” visa) – valid for a layover within the Czech Republic – or a short-term visa (type “C” visa) – for the purpose of tourism, business, culture, sport, study, scientific research, employment or training.

For an airport transfer visa, applicants will need to fill out an application form and bring with them:

• a passport photo
• a valid passport
• documents proving the continuation of their journey to their final destination and their intention not to enter the Czech Republic

For a short-term Schengen visa, applicants will need to fill out an application form and bring with them:

• a passport photo
• a valid passport
• travel health insurance
• biometric data, such as fingerprints
• documents proving the purpose of their journey, their accommodation plans, their financial means and their intention to leave the territory

The fee for this visa is €60 for adults and €30 for children between six and 12 years of age.


Long-Term Visa

Long-term visas are intended for applicants who expect to stay more than 90 days in the Czech Republic for health, culture, sport, family, study, research, or entrepreneurship purposes. People who plan to stay longer in the Czech Republic, including for university or employment, should apply for a long-term residence permit.

To apply for a regular long-term visa, applicants need to fill out an application form and bring with them:

• two passport photos
• a valid passport
• travel health insurance
• biometric data, such as fingerprints
• a copy of their criminal record, from their home country and any state they lived in for more than six months in the last three years
• documents proving the purpose of their stay, their accommodation plans and their financial means

The fee for this visa is 2,500 CZK, or about €100, for most applicants.


Long-Term Visa For The Purpose Of Collecting A Residence Permit

These visas are single-entry visas for applicants who want to stay in the Czech Republic for several months and plan to apply for a long-term residency permit. The visa allows for 60-day stays in the Czech Republic and is valid for six months.

Spouses and family members looking to join visa-holders will need to apply for a Schengen visa. Then, once they are in the Czech Republic, they can apply for either a residency permit – if the family member already in the Czech Republic is an EU national – or a long-term visa – if the family member is not. For that, the spouse or family member will need marriage or birth certificates translated into Czech, along with the other information specified above.

Once granted the long-term visa, applicants and any family members need to inform the Foreigners’ Police Office about the place and length of their stay in the Czech Republic within three business days.


Work Permits

All non-EU and non-EFTA citizens will need an employment permit and a residency permit or an Employee Card or a Blue Card. Both cards are ways to combine employment and residency permits into one document.

Work permits are issued by the Labor Office, and require a work permit application, an administrative fee of 500 CZK, and information about the job offer, including the potential employer, the position, the place of work, and how long the job will last for. These are usually issued only for internships or shorter work periods, and both Blue Cards and Employee Cards are used for regular long-term employment.

Blue Cards are for highly qualified foreigners who will work in the Czech Republic for more than three months and are sponsored by an employer. If approved by the Ministry of the Interior, Blue Cards automatically come with a long-term visa. Applicants must apply before arriving in the Czech Republic, with:

• an application form
• two passport photos
• a valid passport
• travel health insurance
• biometric data, such as fingerprints
• a copy of their criminal record, from their home country and any state they lived in for more than six months in the last three years

They will also require supporting documents, such as:

• an employment contract that is valid for at least one year and includes a salary that’s at least 1.5 times the average gross yearly salary in the Czech Republic
• a university degree certification
• proof of accommodation (e.g. a rent agreement)

The fee for this visa is 5,000 CZK, or about €200, for most applicants.

Employee Cards are for foreigners who will work in the Czech Republic for more than three months, but who may not be highly qualified or work full-time – jobs only need to offer 15 hours per week. These cards also come with a long-term visa, and they require the same application material as the Blue Card, except that, in place of university qualifications, they ask for proof of financial means. Also, your employment contract does not need to be for a specific length of time or amount of money, if you are applying for an Employee Card.


Residency

Long-term residency is available for people who have been living in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days and intend to live in the Czech Republic for more than a year (including time spent with a former visa).

The application must be filed in person, and requires a completed application form and supporting information, dependent on the reasons for your longer stay. Most applications will require:

• a passport
• proof of accommodation
• a photograph
• proof of financial support
• health documents

For more specific requirements, visit the Ministry of the Interior’s website, and select the reasons you are applying for the long-term residence permit.


Get Health Insurance


Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property



Renting Property

Renting a property in the Czech Republic can be an excellent way to acclimatize yourself to your new home. For many, the cost of property purchases combined with low wages means renting is the only realistic option.

There is a huge array of rental property available which will suit all household units and budgets. You can choose from flats in vibrant city centers to family homes in the countryside. Properties can be fully furnished, meaning you move into a ready-made home, or you can pay less to rent an unfurnished property.

Many people choose to find a property without the services of an estate agent in the Czech Republic. Landlords advertise their properties in local newspapers as well as on both business and property listing websites. Do not pay a reservation fee or pay anyone claiming to work for the landlord. Cash should never form part of the rental process.

Local estate agencies also operate throughout the Czech Republic. Anyone can set up an agency and work in one. No training, qualifications or associate membership is mandatory. However, the estate agent will be doing more than showing you available properties. They will be overseeing your contract, liaising with the landlord when repairs are needed, and should be there as a source of help if you run into problems with the landlord. As a new tenant, you will be paying them for their services. Try to find an agent who has been personally recommended by someone you trust.

It common to advertise accommodation using the number of habitable rooms plus kitchen facilities. So, 3+1 means three habitable rooms and a kitchen, while 2+kk means two habitable rooms plus a kitchenette.

When the letting is agreed and the contract is signed, the estate agent will invoice you for their up-front fee. This normally be one to one and a half times the monthly rent. You should have received notification of the fee before you agreed to take on one of their properties.

In the event that someone else has agreed to pay the estate agent’s fee, such as your employer, get that agreement in writing, along with any key conditions. Should you leave the employer within a short time and be asked to make repayment, or the employer later says they never agreed to pay the estate agent’s fee, the legal protection of a written agreement will be invaluable.

If you want to check the ownership of a property that you are thinking of renting, you can find this on the real estate register or katastr nemovitostí.

Although this website is in Czech, it is a useful resource. It will help you identify situations where ownership is different to what you have been told, or where multiple people own the same address. In these cases, withdraw from the process and do not sign a tenancy agreement, even (perhaps especially) if the rent was a bargain.

There are laws to protect tenants and landlords. For the protection of all parties, a written contract should be produced, setting out conditions that everyone agrees to. All parties should then sign the contract.

The contract will normally be written in Czech. Do not take assurances from the estate agent, landlord or any other intermediary that the contract is standard and contains normal rental terms. Ask someone you trust who speaks Czech to read it to you and explain anything you are unsure about. If you have to go to court at a later date, the signed contract confirms your agreement to all the clauses, regardless of what you did or did not understand within it.

Tenancies can be arranged for six months, but this will often be more expensive than a longer term let. If you definitely want to stay longer, be wary of verbal assurances that the contract can be renewed. Some landlords are honest, but if an estate agent or landlord lies to get you to sign, knowing that the tenancy must end in six months, there is nothing you can do about it. You will then have the hassle of moving again, as well as facing more costs, possibly including another estate agency fee.

Most tenancies are offered for a period of one to two years, and you will need to hold a residency permit before you sign the lease.

As an expat, you should ask for a break clause to be placed in the contract. Think twice if the landlord is unwilling to accept this. Legally, you can only end the contract early if there is a break clause or if you have met some very specific conditions. These involve sudden and unavoidable events such as being made unemployed. If you have had any control over the circumstances, such as resigning from work, obtaining a dog or deciding to relocate back to your home country for whatever reason, then you will have to pay the rent for a full three months after you have given notice to leave. The three months start on the first of the month after you have given written notice.

At the end of the tenancy agreement, if you and the landlord decide to continue, then make sure you both sign a new contract. Some landlords agree to continue the arrangement verbally, just to return a few months later with the news that you must leave the following week. Dishonest landlords may also suddenly increase the rent by a significant amount, or even retrospectively impose the new increased rent. Without a written contract to fall back on, you will find legal protection weak and expensive to access. With a written contract, the landlord knows that any amendment to the terms will be rejected by a court. With a verbal contract, it will come down to who the court believes.

You will be asked to pay a security deposit when you sign the contract. This will be at least equivalent to a month’s rent. To get it back, you will need to leave the flat in the same condition you found it and be up to date with your rent payments. To ensure there are no problems with the deposit, make sure you and the landlord have photographs of the property on the day you move in and the day you leave. There is a standard handover document that is agreed at the end, where the landlord agrees in writing that the condition of the property is acceptable, so your comparable photographs are essential at this time to resolve any disputes.

In addition to the estate agent’s fees and the security deposit, the first month’s rent will also be paid when the tenancy agreement is signed.

Occasionally, utility bills are paid by the landlord. If this is the case, this will be included in the tenancy agreement. If something has not been included in your tenancy agreement, you cannot later argue that it is the landlord’s responsibility to pay it. Most tenants will pay the utility bills themselves. How many people live in a property affects the amount that will be charged for utilities, so be aware how many people lived there previously.

You can contract with the utility provider directly. If you set up a SIPO account at the post office, you can have the utility bills paid in equal monthly installments, which helps budgeting. Alternatively, you can ask the landlord to remain the utilities account holder. You will then pay the landlord a monthly amount, and at the end of a set period (at least once a year) you will pay any additional amounts due, or the landlord will give you a refund. The landlord should keep all utility bills and be able to produce them on request. Make all payments to the landlord by bank transfer, so that you are able to produce evidence of them should any dispute occur.

During your tenancy, you will be personally responsible for all minor repairs needed while you are living in the rented property. You have a legal obligation to complete them before you vacate the property at the end of the lease.

Minor repairs include marks on the wall, flooring and ceilings. For many tenants this may mean painting the property before you leave. Other repairs may include the sewer and plumbing systems, heating and hot water systems, and electrical points such as the doorbell, lights and electrical switches. Electrical appliances are also covered by these rules, so if a fridge goes wrong you will have to repair or replace it. There is a ceiling limit for the year, based on 100 CZK per metre squared (including any ancillary areas such as a cellar or balcony); after that limit is reached, any further repairs during that year will become the responsibility of the landlord.

You will normally be allowed to sublet the property or to move relatives in, unless the contract specifically excludes this. Given the degree to which you are financially responsible for the condition of the property and its contents, you need to choose your room-mates carefully.

You may be able to repaint the walls another colour if you wish. However, check with your landlord and bear in mind that when you leave, they must be repainted to the same colour as they were originally.

If you wish to end your contract early, you will need to give three months’ notice. An email will not be accepted as a legally enforceable notice. You are strongly advised to send a letter by registered post, and to keep the evidence that it was sent. The three months’ notice will start on the 1st of the month following your written letter.

The landlord cannot normally give you notice to leave before the contract expires. There are some specific circumstances, such as the landlord needing the property to house his or her dependent family, or if you have violated terms of the lease. In these cases, the landlord must give you three months’ written notice that you are to leave the property. If you are in rent arrears of more than three months’ rent, then the landlord only has to give you written notice of one month to leave.

On the day you leave the property, you should be present when the landlord makes a visit. Both of you should take photographs and discuss any outstanding repair works. If the landlord is happy that you are leaving the property in an acceptable condition, then they will give you a handover form confirming this. If they do not offer one, insist on receiving it.

There is no statutory timeframe within which a landlord must return the security deposit. However, after three months of asking for it to be sent, it would be reasonable to start legal action. If you have the handover form, the landlord will not be able to argue that they are holding the money for repairs


Buying Property

The Czech Republic has enjoyed years of stability, and followed up its creation in 1993 with full membership of the European Union in 2004. Citizens of any nationality and residency have been able to purchase real estate in the Czech Republic since 2009. The only remaining restrictions were for agricultural and forest lands, but these were abolished in 2011.

Conveniently located near major European economies and offering a lifestyle and urban environment attractive to Westerners, the country is an attractive location for international property purchasers.

Both expats looking for a comfortable home and overseas buyers wanting buy-to-let opportunities regularly invest here. You can legally purchase your property as an individual, or under a Czech registered company, known as an SRO. You should seek professional taxation advice to determine which option is best for your personal circumstances.

There have been a number of identified property scams where overseas purchasers have lost their investments, including one run by two British men who used their financial services backgrounds to sell the scam through legitimate independent financial investigators. There is also a degree of mortgage fraud across the country. Schemes where you buy property off plan in the expectation it will be built are particularly prone to problems, either because they are scams, or because it takes years for the property to be completed.

To make the situation more precarious, anyone in the Czech Republic can become an estate agent. No training, qualifications or experience are required. Once the mandatory license has been obtained, which requires nothing more than a fee, any individual can offer their estate agency services to the public.

As there is no mandatory requirement to join a professional regulatory body, you cannot be sure that your agent has a clean criminal record. An association for estate agents does exist, but it is not a regulatory body that takes action against dubious or criminal activity in the sector.

There are also hazy practices regarding agency fees in the Czech Republic. Some buyers use the services of estate agents without being aware that they will have to pay a fee for the services.

As a result, you must tread carefully. Those already living and working in Prague can use their trusted friends and work colleagues to recommend estate agents, developers, lawyers and surveyors. If you are buying from overseas, make sure you do not use lawyers and surveyors who are recommended by or have a connection to your estate agent or developer, unless you have good reason to do so and have thoroughly researched them yourself. Make sure everyone you do business with, including the estate agent, gives you a written notification of the charges that you are expected to pay for using their services, and what is included within those services, including taxes.

You are also strongly advised to visit the property you are purchasing before any money is invested in it, and to appraise it carefully. Even if you find a property on a real estate agency page, there are no guarantees that the property or the site itself is genuine.

In 2015, Cenovamapa launched an app which showed the selling price for individual properties across the Czech republic. It uses the real estate transactions recorded at the cadastral offices as its source material. The app has allowed people in the Czech Republic to access information about individual property sales and obtain a clear picture of what properties are worth for the first time. As a result, the site has been hugely popular with potential buyers as well as property professionals. If you are considering a purchase in the Czech Republic, you will find it useful to register on the site for free and use it for research.

Once you have found a property you want to buy, you will probably be asked to pay a reservation fee. Never pay the reservation fee in cash at any time, it should be deposited into an escrow or client account. Your notary will draw up a reservation agreement. The agent will no longer market the property to other buyers at this stage. If you are applying for a mortgage to purchase the property, the paperwork must be completed at this stage. This may take about six weeks.

Typically, mortgages will be limited to 85 percent of the property purchase price. The amount and percentage will be calculated on the risk of each individual customer and their circumstances. Mortgages are typically loaned for 25 years. It is common to find a fixed interest rate for the first five years, which gives a period of certainty about what your mortgage outgoings will be.

If the property has been purchased for buy-to-let, some mortgage lenders will include the rental income as part of their calculations. However, that raises the risk that tenants may not be easily sourced, or may default on rent payments. If you cannot easily cover the mortgage for a long period without rental income, you have a higher risk of default on the mortgage. Therefore, there may be a higher interest rate charged in these circumstances.

You can also obtain a mortgage as a Czech registered company, known as an SRO, but again the interest rate will be higher than if you purchase as an individual with personal assets.

Make sure you seek reliable advice from a trusted source, and ask lots of questions, as mortgage documents have complicated clauses and will not be in English.

When the purchase contracts are signed, you will pay the purchase price into an escrow or client account. Alternatively, the mortgage lender will forward the funds to the escrow account.

The notary will then register the contract with the land registry. It will take up to six weeks before the land registry completes their procedures and you become the legal owner of the new property.

The capital city of Prague is the most expensive place to purchase property in the Czech Republic. However, given its easy access to international flights and strong business community, combined with the lifestyle on offer, Prague is the location most expats and investors want to invest in. It offers the world’s seventh busiest metro system and the bus routes are heavily used, making it an attractive location for good transport links. As many tenants are unable to afford a car, potential buy-to-let landlords need to consider the transport links in order to match a rental property with local demand.

For those able to look further afield, such as city of Moravia, the difference in the price of properties for sale will make even modest budgets go much further.

For further information about buying property in the Czech Republic, you may find Nathan Brown’s book helpful. Nathan runs Czechpoint 101 and his team welcomes queries and requests for help from anyone considering a property purchase in the Czech Republic.


Move Your Belongings


Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare


QUICK LINK: Czech Republic health insurance

Statutory healthcare is provided by a number of government-approved insurers, and you have the right to choose between them (the biggest is VZP, which covers around 60% of the population).

If you are employed and you are covered by an insurer chosen by your workplace, your deductions will come directly from your salary. Your employer will typically also pay a percentage of the insurance premium.

Medical insurance is compulsory and the majority of expats are eligible for the state insurance system. The government subsidises health insurance for the unemployed.

If you are not eligible for the state system, you may be eligible for VZP’s subsidiary insurance company, Pojištovna VZP. This is a health insurance scheme specifically for foreigners, is linked to AXA, and is recognized by the Department of Migration and Asylum Policy of the Ministry of the Interior.

If you are going to be in the country for more than 90 days, you must have proof of coverage, so even if you are planning to apply under Pojištovna VZP it is advisable to sort out your insurance before you go, with a private provider if necessary.

Expats who do not have a residency permit may also be eligible for one of two contractual schemes run by the General Health Insurance Company (GHIC).

If you are employed, then your employer will register you for healthcare, but if you are self-employed you will need to do it yourself. You can apply online via the PVZP website, or by phone. Expats report that staff on the other end of the phone line are helpful and speak good English.

Your insurance will be valid once the premium is paid and undertaking the process online may entitle you to discounts: as much as 20% for full family coverage. Note that PVZP’s ‘exclusive’ package is the only one to offer coverage on pre-existing conditions: double check if this applies to you.

You can also go through an intermediary: Hamilton Hudson has signed an exclusivity agreement with the Czech government and is licensed to arrange coverage for expats.

Once you have signed up you will receive your insurance card, which will include your personal identification number (rodné císlo). You must take this with you to any surgery or hospital appointments as proof that you are insured, otherwise you could be denied treatment or have to pay. A copy of your child’s insurance card will be kept at their school or summer camp, and in the location of some after-school activities.

If applying for a visa, consider taking the following steps when applying for insurance:

• apply for Complex Health Insurance
• make sure that you have coverage to a minimum of 60 000 EUR
• have coverage provided by a Czech Health Insurance company
• get your coverage through an official Health Insurance Agent registered with the Czech National Bank

These steps should ensure the validity of your insurance for a visa application.


Open A Bank Account


When making cash purchases in the Czech Republic, you will always need to use the country’s own currency, known as Czech crowns or Karuna. You will usually see this written as CZK, Cz, or KC. Whilst the Czech Republic is a member of the EU, the country did not join the Eurozone and therefore retained its own national currency.

You may find it convenient to pay in Euros or US dollars when visiting souvenir shops or tourist restaurants. However, where establishments are happy to accept foreign currency, the exchange rate will be very poor; so the amount you pay will be much higher than if paid in the local currency. In addition, any change due would not be given in Euros or US dollars.

Instead, head to an ATM to withdraw Czech crowns, or pay by credit or debit card. If you don’t have a card or bank account operating in CZK, you are likely to be charged a currency conversion fee, and the conversion rate may be poor. Shop around to find the best credit or debit card offers for making payments in foreign currencies.

ATM machines are widely available in town and city centres. They will normally have an option on screen to complete the transaction in English if you are using a card which was not issued in the Czech Republic.

Occasionally you may find someone on the street offering attractive exchange rates. They may be hanging around near a currency exchange booth or a bank. Under no circumstances make a transaction with these people, as you will be given counterfeit money or be subject to some other criminal act. You will not be refunded by the authorities or your insurance company.

There are 100 hellers or halers in a Czech crown, and you will see them included in shop prices. However, heller coins were withdrawn in 2008! As a result, you will never be given change in hellers; the amount you are paying will be rounded up to the nearest crown.

The Czech coins are available in the denomination of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Czech crowns. Banknotes in circulation are 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 Czech crowns.

Bank branches are open Monday to Friday, but are closed at weekends and on public holidays.

If you are living in the Czech Republic for any length of time, it will be useful to set up a bank account in the country. Carefully research the account charges for current accounts on offer. Some are free if you deposit a minimum amount each month. However, most will charge a monthly fee, and the amounts can vary enormously.

You are also likely to be charged an annual fee for your debit card, which many expats will not be used to. On top of that, you will be charged for all ATM withdrawals. Some will charge more for an ATM withdrawal from a machine which belongs to another bank. Occasionally you can track down an account which gives you up to two cash withdrawals a month without paying a fee.

The charges and interest rates for overdrawn accounts will also vary enormously. If you are very careful with money, you can ignore this aspect when choosing an account, but remember that sudden illness or emergency circumstances may cause you to leave the country unexpectedly, which might make it hard to stay on top of your banking in the Czech Republic.

Most banks in the Czech Republic offer a service to bank online. The charges for doing this will vary, as will the security procedures to keep your money safe.

Many banks in the Czech Republic will try to serve you in English, but how successful this is will depend on the member of staff you come into contact with. If you ask, it is likely you will be able to speak to someone who can communicate with you in fluent or sufficient English.

One bank, the Česká spořitelna has designed a bank account specifically for expats. All their services can be accessed in English, French and German. Like some other banks, they also allow you to operate two foreign-exchange accounts, which may help you manage financial commitments back in your country of origin.

Once you have decided to open an account, you will need to visit a branch in person. This applies even if you open an online account. Bring your original identity documents with you for the bank staff to check. The Czech government takes money laundering seriously and amended the anti-money laundering act in 2016, reflecting the demands of the EU directives on this matter. This increases the responsibility of all banks to check who their customers are, identify signs of criminal activity and respond appropriately. There has been a strengthening of the laws concerning who owns assets (such as trust funds and companies) and the true beneficiaries of those assets.

It is possible to obtain a credit card if you are a permanent resident in the Czech Republic. Interest rates are much higher than those offered for loans, so you should try to cover the full repayment each month.

Over the past thirty years, it has become normal practice to leave tips in restaurants, cafes and bars in the Czech Republic. Sometimes the service charge will be added to the bill and presented for your approval, in which case you do not leave any further amount. If a service charge has not been added then you should leave a tip. The normal guide price is 10 percent of the bill’s total. You can add more for excellent service if you wish; if the service was truly terrible, don’t leave a tip. However, bear in mind that the type of happy, exuberant service that US customers enjoy is not always the custom in Europe. Previously, good service was expected to be reserved. Don’t confuse a serious waiter with bad service!

Tips given to taxi drivers are also appreciated. You can usually round up to the notes you are handing over or tell the driver how much in total you would like to pay. It’s normally less than 10 percent and will depend on the fare and the cash notes you are using.


Transfer Money


There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

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Learn The Language


Czech is the official language spoken in the Czech Republic. It is spoken by almost everyone living there, unless they have been brought up in another country. However, English is part of the mainstream education system in the Czech Republic and has been for almost 30 years. As a result, most young people will have a basic grasp of English, whilst many who have travelled or who work in an English-centered industry will be fluent.

German is also widely spoken. The proximity of the two countries and some similarities between the two languages mean a lot of people have at least a basic grasp of German. Newspapers printed in German can usually be found in city centers.

Unfortunately, the Czech language is difficult to learn. However, Czech people are sympathetic to this problem, and will try to help anyone who is struggling. Luckily a great many resources are available for anyone willing to make the effort to learn the language.

There are a number of websites that teach Czech words and phrases available. Many of these sites are free, and learning is based around games or fun activities. These sites aim to teach you the basics to get by, and include:

• Duolingo
• Loecsen
• Surface Languages
• Local Lingo
• 101 Languages

A number of YouTube videos about speaking Czech are also available. An advantage of these videos, as with the websites listed above, is that you can hear the way words are pronounced. YouTube presenters will also often respond to questions and recommendations from their audience.

Grammar and phrase books can be readily found on the websites of book retailers and other online stores, where you will often find reviews from previous customers. Such books have been redesigned and enhanced over the past twenty years, making the Czech language more accessible.

For those who want personalized help learning Czech, there are a number of private language schools, especially in Prague. These offer courses of different lengths, times and level of difficulty.

The Czech language uses different forms to denote the level of formality between the parties talking to each other. Informal terms would conventionally be used within close friendships and family members, whilst formal terms would be used for everyone else. If you get confused on this don’t worry, you will not cause offense. However, do remember to include an individual’s title or rank, should they have one, such as doctor or professor in all written correspondence, even if you are sending a quick email.

The good news for fluent English speakers who don’t speak Czech is that they can still find work in the Czech Republic. Hotels, bars, restaurants and shops in Prague and other tourist areas will always be seeking polite, cheerful and fluent English speakers to serve their international customers, who seldom have even the basics of the Czech language. Obviously there are disadvantages to this type of work. It can be seasonal and precarious, and you may be asked to work flexible hours. You are likely to be working late nights and weekends, as well as over holidays. Despite this, you will still have to compete hard for the job, and if you are obtaining a work permit, the employer must show that no suitable locals applied for the advertised post.

Many international businesses operate in the Czech Republic. They are drawn by the country’s proximity to important European economies such as Germany, whilst enjoying the much lower costs of property and staff that are on offer. International companies will often bring in their own highly qualified, skilled employees from overseas, and there will be a close liaison with the company’s international head office. As a result, it is normal in these companies to communicate in English throughout the working day.

Even if you are able to conduct all your business in English, be aware of cultural and business practices in the Czech Republic. They may have an impact on the success of your job interview or sales pitch. Arrive on time and appropriately dressed. There should be no exception to this, whatever the location. Anywhere connected to business or formal social events is likely to have a smart dress code, so unless you are told to the contrary, wear a suit or at least a jacket and coordinated outfit. Greet people confidently and with a firm handshake. Introduce yourself with a pleasant smile, and remember the names of the other people who are introduced to you. Avoid greetings which can be misinterpreted as personal intrusion. In the UK “How are you?” or “Are you OK?” are a mark of politeness, but a Czech business contact will think it is an inappropriate question.

When discussions are underway following introductory small talk, avoid direct hard selling, or boasting, as these are not appropriate in the Czech culture. Instead, think ahead about what the other party needs and whether you can deliver that, and at what cost. Make the sales discussion revolve around their needs and listen to what the other person is saying. Business cooperation can develop into a long term relationship which benefits both sides, and lead to you being recommended to other people within the business community.

If you have been invited to someone’s home, it is important to arrive punctually and be clean and presentable. You should bring a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers for your host. Do not be surprised if you are given a pair of indoor shoes to wear; it means you should leave your own shoes at the door. Many Czech households include grandparents as well as parents and children. Dogs and cats are greatly loved by many Czech families. As soon as you have finished eating, your plate will be taken away even if others are still eating. If you are offered seconds, your acceptance infers praise for the cook. As always, do not drink and drive; the high level of deaths on Czech roads means the police will come down hard on anyone caught over the limit.

Many Czech people dealing with you in a business relationship will prefer emails. This allows them time to absorb any English phrases or words they are unsure of. Avoid jargon, and keep your sentences short and to the point.

When you are living in the Czech Republic, you will need to buy a license to watch TV or listen to the radio. Subscriptions fund television channels ČT1 and ČT2, whilst channels Nova and Prima are funded by advertising income. You can also obtain further TV channels by purchasing a digital box and connecting it to an existing aerial. You can then watch channels such as ČT24 (for news), ČT4 (for sports), 24cz (for politics), Top (for shopping) and Očko (for music videos) without making subscriptions or other payment. With all these channels you will find some access to English programmes containing Czech subtitles, but the content will be overwhelmingly broadcast in Czech, which will help you learn to speak the language.

Cable services may be an option for TV viewing if you can pay the monthly subscriptions, and if the cable company has connected the street in which you live. Most city dwellers will gain easy access, but it is rarely an option along quiet country roads. Subscriptions to satellite television are usually the best option for those wanting to watch English channels in the Czech Republic.

If you are in a part of the Czech Republic which has been affected by the 2014 changeover to the Astra 2E and Astra 2F satellites, you may find a subscription for IPTV from UKTV2C is a good alternative.

Access to physical newspapers published in English will depend on your location within the Czech Republic, as imports will rarely go beyond airport vendors or newsagents based in prime tourist and popular expat areas. However, access to UK and US newspaper websites is easy; some are free whilst others have paywalls. There is nothing to stop you subscribing to a US or UK digital newspaper.

The Prague Monitor is a daily online news site in English which can be emailed to you each day. The online Prague Post is more of a news blog, written by a diverse group of contributors, which includes domestic and international content.


Choose A School


Under the Czech Republic’s constitution, every child in the country is entitled to receive free education at primary and secondary school. Furthermore, those who successfully gain at place at a public university do not pay tuition fees.

The education of young children in the Czech Republic has been legally compulsory since 1774. Today all children must receive an education from the age of 6 until they are 15. In reality, many children start nursery at the age of three and few will leave before the age of 18. Academic high achievers and those training for skilled vocational careers will continue their education into early adulthood.

Education in the Czech republic is delivered through co-educational classes. The school year starts on the 1st September each year, and children join the school year appropriate to their age. Some children may have to repeat a school year if they don’t make sufficient progress.

The strategic direction of the education system in the Czech Republic is driven by the ministry of education, youth and sports. However, it is the 14 regional municipalities across the country who deliver the educational services through nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and the higher vocational schools. Both the ministry of education and the regional municipalities are responsible for funding educational institutions and services. The exception is universities, which are solely funded by the ministry of education.

Since the 1990s, private schools have in operation in the Czech Republic. They receive a state contribution towards their running costs, and receive the rest of their funding from fees paid by the pupils’ parents.

The standard of education in each educational establishment is monitored by the Czech school inspectorate. They examine the quality of management, the efficient use of funds, the educational achievements and exam results of students in each establishment, and adherence to educational regulations. This includes delivery of the national curriculum as set out by the national teaching standards authority.

Teaching methods and textbooks used in classrooms must be chosen from the ministry of education’s approved list.

Teachers will continually assess the progress of their pupils. Reports and parents’ evenings are used to communicate that progress with families. Feedback to families is important in a selective education system where tests determine the direction of a child’s educational opportunities.

Children with special needs in the Czech Republic have a legal right to be educated in a mainstream school. Parents of these children can also ask for their offspring be placed in a special unit of a mainstream school if an appropriate one exists, or to attend a specialist school for their needs. The circumstances will all depend on the child’s needs, their parents’ wishes and the facilities available in the area.

Nursery schools welcome children between the ages of three and six. Places are free, although some contribution towards additional costs may be requested. Whilst nursery attendance is not compulsory, most Czech children will attend them at some point of their early childhood.

Your local primary school will sit in a catchment area, but available spaces may be taken up by pupils from other areas. Years one to five will be delivered here. At this stage, all subjects will be delivered by one class teacher.

Access to year 6, the next stage of education, will usually be determined by an entrance exam, the content of which has been approved by the school’s head teacher. Some head teachers use alternative means of selection, but this is the exception.

Children will either gain places at:
• the gymnazium, which is the local secondary school;
• the střední odborná škola – or SOŠ – which delivers secondary technical education;
• or the střední odborné učiliště – SOU – which is the secondary vocational school

Teachers at these schools deliver the one or two subjects in which they have specialist knowledge.

Gymnazium students receive a general academic programme of education leading to their final exams, known as the maturita. Whilst less than one in five pupils attend a gymnazium, almost one in five gymnazium schools is run privately.

Secondary technical schools lead to either the maturita exams, or vocational technical preparation for number of career specialisms. Laboratories and workshops provide practical learning opportunities. Almost a quarter of these schools are run privately.

Just under half of the secondary school population attends a secondary vocational school, although that percentage is decreasing over time. The courses which last up to three years, and lead to a final exam and certification, whilst the four year courses end with the maturita exams. About 50 percent of the course will deliver practical training. Roughly one in six secondary vocational schools are run privately.

Higher professional schools deliver training for higher level technical professions where a university degree is not required. After successfully completing the course, which lasts between two years and three and a half years, the student can use the title DiS. This stands for specialist with a diploma. About one in three higher professional schools are private schools.

Higher education in the Czech Republic is delivered free of charge to the students attending a state institution, although there are many private higher education institutions available too. All applicants must have passed the maturita, entrance exam and any other admissions criteria an institution imposes. Competition for places is strong, so only about half of all applicants will receive a higher education place.

It is possible to obtain a bachelor’s degree from a higher education institution which is not a university, whereas universities offer a variety of degrees, from bachelor level to PhDs.

Parents looking for an international school in the Czech Republic have a decent selection to choose from. Most are based in Prague, but others are based in Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary, Olomouc and Ceske Budejovice. Boarding schools, a Montessori school and a Lycee Francais are well-established here, but the sector is dominated by coeducational day schools delivering their educational programme in English.

The council of international schools, the New England association of schools and colleges, the council of British international schools and the agency for French education abroad are the accrediting bodies which have approved international schools in the Czech Republic. When viewing international schools, they will inform you which body has accredited their particular school.

Nine English speaking IB world schools operate in the Czech Republic, leading to the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Amongst these is Prague’s International School, which also delivers a curriculum leading to a US high school diploma, and the Riverside School, which delivers educational programmes to meet US, UK and IB exam requirements. The Carlsbad International School in Karlovy Vary offers a boarding option for students wishing to obtain an IB qualification.



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