Czech Republic > Moving

How To Move To The Czech Republic - The Definitive Guide

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Apply For A Visa
Find A Job
Rent Property
Buy Property
Register For Healthcare
Open A Bank Account
Learn The Language
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Apply For A Visa

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The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, and also of the Schengen area. All countries which signed the Schengen Agreement legally abolished their internal borders with other signatory countries. People, goods, services and capital may flow across these borders without restriction.

If you are a citizen of a Schengen Agreement country, you may visit the Czech Republic whenever you wish. There are 22 European Union (EU) countries which are members of the Schengen Agreement, plus four non-EU states; Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

However, several EU countries have not joined the Schengen Area. If you are a citizen of one of those countries, you are allowed to visit another EU country, including the Czech Republic, without applying for a visa. You may stay for a limit of 90 days within any 180 day period, on one trip or several. Under the Schengen Agreement rules, your identity documents are supposed be checked and swiped into a security computer system (known as SIS) when entering and leaving the country. Your passport must not expire until after your visit has ended.

The United Kingdom (UK) has triggered Article 50 to leave the EU. Negotiations are ongoing, but at present the exit date is expected to be in March 2019. The UK has never been part of the Schengen Agreement, and it is currently predicted that future access to the Czech Republic by citizens of the UK will continue to be on the same basis as at present.

Citizens of the following countries may visit the Czech Republic for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period without a visa or any restrictions: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Salvador, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Uruguay, Vatican and Venezuela.

There are also a number of countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Hong Kong, Macedonia, Macao, Montenegro, Serbia and Taiwan) whose citizens are allowed to visit the Czech Republic for a period of 90 days within a 180 day period without a visa, as long as restrictions are met. These restrictions usually include having a biometric passport less than ten years old, while the visit should be purely for tourism reasons with no engagement in a profitable or business activity. Border staff may ask about the purpose of your visit, and might have to present evidence of your hotel bookings and so on in order to prove this.

For all non-EU visitors, your passport must not expire until ninety days after your visit is expected to end.

If you are a citizen of a country from outside the EU and the Schengen Agreement, and is not included in the lists above, you can apply for a short term visa. This will allow you access to the Czech Republic and any other Schengen Agreement country for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period. You must obtain this before you arrive at the Czech border or airport, and you must then register with the police within three days of your arrival.

Access to the Czech Republic does not grant you an automatic right to work or seek asylum in the country, or to stay more than the 90 day limit.

Everyone entering the Czech Republic should have adequate means to support themselves financially whilst they are there, and enough funds to get themselves home again. You cannot arrive in the Czech Republic and expect to be financially supported by the state.

Adequate health insurance is highly recommended in case the unexpected happens. EU citizens must bring along their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to ensure access to emergency medical treatment on the same basis as local citizens.

If you are driving in the Czech Republic, make sure your driving license and insurance meet the legal requirements. Be aware that road deaths in the Czech Republic are very high compared to the EU average.

Border staff will detain anyone included on the SIS security warning system. These people are very likely to be refused entry to the Czech Republic. The warning system may be triggered for factors such as criminal convictions which led to a prison sentence of more than one year, evidence that the individual is involved in criminal activity, or a previous forced removal by deportation or expulsion.

If you are the non-EU family member of an EU citizen, such as a grandparent, spouse or child, you will have the same rights of access as EU citizens as long as you can provide the necessary documents to confirm your status as a family member. Couples in a long-term relationship who have not married or had a civil ceremony will be asked to provide a range of documents confirming a their relationship.

Citizens of EU countries may apply for temporary residence permits should they wish. This will help with any later permanent residency applications, but is not a condition of their stay. Citizens from outside the EU must obtain a temporary residence permit in order to stay longer than three months. Application forms are available on the website for the ministry of the interior for the Czech Republic.

All original documents you submit must be in Czech, or in notarized translations into the Czech language. You must submit all documents within the deadlines, otherwise the application process will be terminated. A lot of documents to confirm your identity, appearance and residency are required so you will need to be organized.

It will take up to 30 days to complete the application process. Make sure you have applied at least 30 days before the end of your first 90 days in the country. If you overstay without the temporary residency permit in place, you run the risk of deportation.

If you want to stay in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days and you are the citizen of a country outside the EU, your application for a long term visa must have been processed and approved before you even arrive in the country. You will need to apply via the Czech embassy or consulate in your home country. By law, there are very few exceptions that allow applications to be made from within the Czech Republic.

You will need to be organised when preparing the paperwork. A range of original documents will be needed to confirm your identity, appearance, intended accommodation, ability to finance your stay and clean criminal record.

However, non-EU citizens may make an application for permanent residency from within the Czech Republic. You will need to attend an appointment at the ministry of the interior. Your biometric data will be collected and uploaded to the official identity computer system. The process should be completed within 60 days if made within the Czech Republic, and 180 days if made via a Czech embassy abroad. Under certain circumstances, the deadlines can be halted or extended.

If you can prove that you have Czech origin, you may apply for permanent residency even if you have not lived in the country before. However, you must still go through the application process and submit all required documentation within the deadlines. In addition, you will need to include a CV and set out in writing why your application should be approved beyond the fact of your Czech origin.

Many of the application procedures require payment of a fee by the applicant. The details can be found on the Ministry of the Interior website.

When you are living in the Czech Republic, you must not: - Overstay the length of your residency if it is limited
- Work unless you are legally permitted to do so
- Take part in criminal or antisocial behaviour
- Expect the Czech state to pay your living costs

Whether you need a work permit or not will depend on your citizenship and the residency documents you hold. Check your entitlement carefully before accepting work; if you are caught working illegally, you cannot argue that you did not understand the rules, and you will be deported. Please refer to our employment section in the Czech Republic country guide for further information about work permits.

After five years of continuous temporary residency in the Czech Republic, EU citizens may apply for permanent residency. You will need to file an application, along with all supporting documentation, at a Ministry of the Interior office.

If you are an EU citizen and also a family member of another EU citizen, and have been for at least 12 months, you may apply for a permanent residence permit after two years of continuous residency in the Czech Republic.

If you are deported from the Czech Republic, whether for criminal activity or overstaying, you will not be allowed to return for a period of between one and five years. You may also receive a substantial fine, which will accrue interest for the period it remains unpaid. You will not be allowed to return until the fine and all the interest has been paid in full, even if this is many years later.

Find A Job

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If you are a citizen of a European Union (EU) member country, or you are the family member of one, you have a right to live and work in the Czech Republic without restriction. This also applies to citizens from Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland and Norway. You should register your location with the local police within 30 days of arrival as well as registering for taxes on property and income. You can apply for a temporary residence permit if you wish, which will allow you to vote, obtain a mortgage and prove eligibility for the permanent residency visa after five years. However, this is not mandatory. You will need to register with one of the seven public health insurance funds, since you and your employer must by law contribute to your public health cover.

If you are arriving from outside the EU, you must apply for and be granted a work permit before entering the Czech Republic. An employer can only offer you the job after they have advertised the vacancy for at least 30 days, and they must keep evidence that this was done. There will be an application fee for the work permit, which will only allow you to work for the named employer on the permit.

If the job requires specific qualifications, you must have a certificate to prove that you meet this requirement. If this certificate has been issued outside the Czech republic, in a country which does not have an agreement on mutual recognition of educational certification, then you will need to have your qualification examined by a relevant Czech academic institution. This application can take up to thirty days to complete.

It will take up to four months to process a work application, and it will normally expire after a period of 24 months.

If at any time you decide to change employer while working in the Czech Republic, both you and your prospective employer must complete the same work permit application process, including the 30 day vacancy advert which forms the labor market test. Again, a fee will be due, and you cannot start work with your new employer until you have received the new work permit. If you wish to stay with the same employer beyond the permitted two years, you will need to apply for an extension to the work permit.

The Green Card was a combined residency and work permit issued to citizens from a list of identified countries including Australia, Montenegro, Croatia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, USA, Serbia and Ukraine. However, the Green Card scheme was withdrawn in 2014 and replaced with the Employee Card.

If you are a highly skilled professional, you can apply for the EU Blue Card. This is a combined residency and work permit which lasts for two years. You should have received at least three years of relevant training for the job you have been offered, and received a relevant University degree or skilled vocational qualification. An official government website advertises vacancies for jobs requiring high levels of skill for which the EU Blue Card scheme would be an appropriate immigration option.

If you are caught working in the Czech Republic without the necessary work permit or residency permits, you will be deported. Your employer will, by law, have to pay all the costs associated with your deportation. These include accommodation, food, transport and other fees. Since these costs can be significant, and there is no appeal against them unless the employer can prove they were given false documents, you will find it hard to find employment without obtaining all the necessary permits.

Once you have legally and continuously lived in the Czech Republic for five years, and you meet all the other conditions required, you can apply for a permanent residency permit. Once you have been approved and received the permit, you will be free to work in the Czech Republic without obtaining a further work permit.

If you are an asylum seeker and have lodged an application for international protection, you will not be allowed to work for six months. If you break this law, you are complicating your asylum claim and may jeopardize it. After six months, you can apply for a work permit. This will be issued by your local labor office. In these circumstances, the labor market test will not be applied. Once your asylum application has been successful and you have been granted international protection, you will have the same free access to the labor market as Czech locals, and therefore will no longer need to have a work permit.

Whilst you need a respectable knowledge of the Czech language in many workplaces, there are particular locations where fluent English will be an acceptable alternative.

Fluent English speakers are in particular demand for jobs in leisure and tourism venues which serve international visitors. Bars, restaurants and hotels offer a wide range of seasonal opportunities, especially in Prague. Many of these jobs are not well-paid, but will allow you to establish yourself in your new home and to learn some basic Czech language skills. This might be helpful in the future, as employers will feel confident you are here to stay.

A number of international companies operate in the Czech Republic, which has easy access to Germany and other major European economies, yet has much lower costs than its neighbors. The common language spoken within those companies is English, though some will also support Czech language learning amongst their employees. They will usually be looking for higher level skill sets which cannot be met by the local available workforce.

English is taught in schools across the country. Proficient English speakers who have teaching qualifications will have a good chance of finding teaching work, though you must be prepared to comply with the government and school standards.

Most expats who teach English in the Czech Republic will be self-employed individuals working for an agreed hourly rate. This set up will introduce a some uncertainty to your income, but if you are good at what you do and are well-liked by your students, your reputation will bring in plenty of work. Once you have enough work coming in, you will be free to pick and choose which language schools you wish to continue working with. You will mostly be teaching English to young and older adults in a class setting, and less frequently providing one to one tutoring. Many people like the enthusiasm and dedication of this age range.

Reed is a global recruitment firm, which has offices in Prague and Brno. Grafton is also a good source of employment for English speaking job hunters in the Czech Republic.

People from affluent countries are not usually attracted to the Czech Republic because of the salaries. However, whilst the pay might seem modest, living costs are also very reasonable. Housing might be expensive in Prague compared to the rest of the country, but it’s still much cheaper than Hong Kong, Singapore or Central London. Czech people tend to be open minded and sociable, which makes integration for expats in the Czech Republic easy. You are expected to work hard to earn the money you need to support yourself, but a good work/life balance is also achievable here. It can therefore be a good country in which to earn enough for a respectable standard of living whilst enjoying the cultural life and beautiful natural landscapes on offer.

Rent Property

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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

Buy Property

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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.

Register For Healthcare

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QUICK LINK: Czech Republic health insurance

If you have an emergency in the Czech Republic, call 112. An operator will be able to assist you in English. Most calls are answered within seconds, and you can call from any phone or cellphone.

Whilst 112 is the easiest option, especially for English speakers, other telephone numbers are also available for specific emergency services in the Czech Republic, as follows:

• 150 – fire brigade
• 155 – rescue/ambulance
• 156 – metropolitan police
• 158 – police

Visitors to the Czech Republic are required to carry a passport with them at all times. If the police ask for identification and you do not have it, you may be fined or arrested.

European Union citizens who visit the Czech Republic should bring a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them. In the event of an accident or medical emergency, this will cover the basic costs of emergency care. The only fee you will have to pay is the standard 30CZ that all local patients pay per consultation during office hours. If you receive the emergency treatment during holidays, weekends or after 5pm each night, the standard fee of 90CZK will be charged.

This protection applies even if the emergency is related to a pre-existing medical condition, or if you are pregnant, as long as you have not arrived in the country to give birth.

You cannot order an EHIC retrospectively, and whilst a provisional replacement certificate is available, this involves a stringent bureaucratic process which will be stressful if you are trying to obtain it in the midst of a medical emergency. The best way to avoid stress is to order your EHIC well in advance of your trip and bring it with you.

The service delivering your emergency care must have a contract with one of the Czech public healthcare insurance funds. If a doctor or medical centre is run privately, the EHIC will not cover the cost of any of the treatment. This is because the EHIC will only give emergency access at the same level to which the local citizens are entitled. If you take a hotel’s recommendation for an emergency doctor, for example, and later find out you were treated privately, there are no conditions under which you will be reimbursed under the EHIC programme.

A multi-language free phone app explaining the EHIC terms and conditions in user friendly language has been developed by the European Commission. It explains more about the treatments, costs and procedures for reimbursement, so is worth looking up on your smart phone.

Every visitor to the Czech Republic should obtain private medical insurance and have the documents to hand. The EHIC insurance is only available to citizens of the EU, and is strictly limited to emergency medical treatment. All other costs must be paid for by the patient, including medical repatriation and ongoing medical treatment following the emergency. Citizens from outside the EU do not have EGIC coverage, and so must pay all medical bills, emergency and otherwise, from their own pocket. Whilst the medical care in the Czech Republic is significantly cheaper than many other European countries, costs will soon mount up. Insurance is an affordable way to avoid huge medical bills.

If you have to attend a medical centre, either as an impatient or as a hospital patient, contact your medical insurance company as soon as you can. They will give you advice about what they will cover and from whom.

Since the cost of medical treatment in the Czech Republic is cheaper than many other areas of Europe, it has become a popular destination for overseas medical “tourists”. However, you cannot just turn up for treatment, especially if you want your home country’s health service to pay for it.

Anyone leaving the UK to live in the Czech Republic should apply for form S1. This will show your record of national insurance contributions, which can be used to calculate your entitlement to state medical care in your new home. You should be able to understand your entitlement to exportable benefits once this process is completed. If you need help and information about this, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle), Durham House, Washington, Tyne & Wear NE38 7SF, United Kingdom. Their phone number is +44 191 218 1999, or you can email them at

Everyone who arrives in the Czech Republic for work will have to register with one of the public health insurance funds. There are seven to choose from:

Vseobecna zdravotni pojistovna
Vojenska zdravotni pojistovna
Ceska prumyslova zdravotni pojistovna
Oborova zdravotni pojistovna
Zamestnanecka pojistovna Skoda
Zdravotni pojistovna ministerstva vnitra CR
Revirni bratrska pokladna, zdravotni pojistovna

Your chosen insurance company will send you a registration card to show you are a member of their fund. You will pay them a percentage of all your earnings, and your employer will also make a contribution. There are some groups who are exempt from making payments. These include dependent children, students under the age of 26 and pensioners. Some vulnerable adults will also receive an exemption.

Whenever you attend an appointment at any medical centre in the Czech Republic, including with a GP or dentist, you will need to show your public health insurance registration card. You will then be charged a standard 30CZ patient fee, and the rest of the costs will be covered by your insurance. This charge is also applied to prescriptions, lab tests and other medical services. The standard fee for out of hours services is 90CZ, but these services can be hard to find. Some dentistry work requires a fee of 90CZK, plus additional charges where set out by the insurance scheme rules.

Whilst the standards of medical care and dentistry in the Czech Republic are as good as those found in many other European countries, mental health care here does not have the financial or staff resources to meet the ever growing needs of a modern country. The Psychiatric Care Reform Strategy is being implemented in an effort to transform a service which currently targets high volume numbers of patients for short bursts of care into one which gives greater emphasis on the needs of the individual. Reducing the treatment of mental health patients by drugs is one of the aims of the strategy, with recognition that many patients need to have more face to face therapy from a qualified professional to address their needs.

For those who cannot or who do not wish to receive state supported health services, another option is to totally depend on private sector medical care. The medical facilities and services available in this sector have undergone a dramatic transformation since the Czech Republic became a member of the EU in 2004. The country has become a popular destination for patients wanting to receive cost effective private treatment, which has in turn driven investment into the sector.

The best way to cover the significant costs that even a relatively simple operation or prolonged illness can incur is by taking out comprehensive medical insurance. Accidents and poor health usually strike unexpectedly and can dramatically affect your finances in a very short space of time. Insurance prevents medical bills being an added burden during a time of need.

When you are given a prescription note for medication, you must present it to the lekarny or pharmacist, within strict deadlines. These are:

• One day for prescriptions issued by the emergency services
• Three days for prescriptions issued for antibiotics
• One week for all other medicines

If you fail to meet these deadlines, you must ask your GP for a new prescription. You will incur another standard patient fee for doing so.

Whilst alcohol forms a normal part of socializing in the Czech Republic, drunken and offensive behaviour is not tolerated. Some bars and restaurants will prevent large groups such as stag parties from entering their premises. The police will detain and fine people whose drunken behaviour causes problems for others.

It is possible to obtain homemade liquor at very cheap prices in the Czech republic. As you probably know, there are very real medical risks associated with these products. Of even greater concern, in 2012 a number of deaths from methanol poisoning occurred after people bought what they thought were legitimate products from their local shops. At the time, there were suggestions that significant quantities of illegal liquor were being sold in shops, bars and restaurants. To keep yourself safe from harm, only purchase alcohol from legitimate sources. Supermarkets and off licenses sell alcohol in just about every neighbourhood in the Czech Republic. Check that the bottle is correctly sealed and shows no signs of tampering. If you are in any doubt about a bottle’s origin or are concerned by any indication it may have been tampered with, do not drink it as it really could kill you.

The Czech Republic has high levels of underage drinking; reportedly the highest in Europe. Many shop workers do not ask for age identification when selling alcohol to minors. Hospital admissions and alcohol related deaths amongst teenagers are a source of concern. Parents should be aware of this and monitor their children’s social activity.

Take care when crossing roads and tram tracks. In addition to the normal risks of being hit by a moving vehicle, fines are imposed if you are caught crossing within 50-meters of a designated crossing point. These will usually be marked crossings on the road or a set of traffic lights. If you cross when the green crossing light is not showing, you may again be liable to receiving a fine.

Open A Bank Account

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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.

Learn The Language

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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

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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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