The Czech Visa system is often very confusing, especially because changes are made to the law on a regular basis. The best places to find the latest information are the Ministry of the Interior and the Foreign Police. The best website to visit is www.mvcr.cz/cizinci.
Should you need to fill in forms – which you will almost certainly need to do – you can pick them up from the Ministry of the Interior. When you submit them, make sure they are the originals, as photocopies and printouts are not allowed. You will not receive the forms back though, so it is a good idea to photocopy them for your own benefit. Should you submit documents not in Czech, you should also make sure that they are officially translated. The documents should also not be older than 6 months when they are submitted, otherwise they will be rejected.
The rules above apply for both EU and non-EU citizens. It is also the case that after living in the Czech Republic for five years uninterrupted, both EU and non-EU citizens can apply for permanent residency in the country.
Residence Permits for EU Citizens
If you are a resident of an U country (or Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway) and plan on staying in the Czech Republic for more than 30 days, you will have to tell the Foreign Police your place of residence. Should you want to stay for three months or longer, you’ll be able to apply for a Certificate of Temporary Residence, which can be applied for at the Ministry of the Interior. The length this certificate is valid for is unlimited and it will be needed should you need to do a number of important things, such as register a car, get a mortgage or obtain a Czech driving licence. Unlike non-EU residents, EU residents are not assigned a rodné číslo (birth number) though, which is almost like a National Insurance number in the UK.
When you apply for a Certificate of Temporary Residence, you will also need to submit:
- Details of why you are staying in the Czech Republic (only if this is for business, employment or study reasons).
- Proof of medical insurance (not needed for stays relating to business, employment or study reasons).
- Proof that you have accommodation in the country.
- Passport photos.
Residence Permits for Non-EU Citizens
If you are from a country outside of the EU and don’t need a visa for a short stay (such as the USA), you are only allowed to stay in the Czech Republic for a maximum of 3 months in a 6 month period. This period starts from the moment you enter any country that is part of the Schengen Zone, which includes the Czech Republic. If you want to carry out a paid activity in the country, you will need to apply for a visa though, even if you are staying for less than three months. If you have a short-stay Schengen visa, you can stay for the period shown on it, as long as it is not more than 3 months.
If you are looking to stay in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a long-term visa, which is also referred to as a long-term residence permit. When applying for this, you will have to provide a number of details, and you will also have to tell the authorities what the purpose of your stay will be. When applying for long-term residence, you will automatically receive a rodné číslo (birth number), and you will also receive this when you apply for permanent residency.
A long-term visa is based on the purpose of your stay. If you are coming to the Czech Republic for employment, you must be able to prove that you have already been hired by an employer, who will then provide you with a work permit. Work permits take up to 30 days to process, but you don’t need to wait to receive it before you continue with the rest of the application process. This is because you will be given a reference number, which you can then use for the rest of the application.
Other valid documents for the purpose of stay include:
- Confirmation from the university you will be attending, should you be coming to the Czech Republic for study purposes.
- Proof that you’ve been entered in the correct register or records should you be coming to the country for business reasons.
If you have a spouse working in the Czech Republic, you are able to apply for a long-term visa for family reunification purposes. This will be based on the reason for the spouse being in the Czech Republic. For this process, you will need to have a specially legalized marriage certificate, as well as birth certificates for all children in the family. You will also need to prove that you have sufficient funds available for your stay, unless your visa is for work reasons. To prove this, you can submit a bank statement, although you will have to show that you can make withdrawals from this account while you are in the Czech Republic.
Now that the purpose of your stay has been sorted out, you will be able to begin with the various other documents you need to submit. The first thing you must do is make sure your passport is valid for three months after your stay finishes and that it also has at last two empty pages in it. You also need two passport photos as well.
Proof of accommodation is also needed before you are allowed a visa. This is easy to provide, as well you need to send off is a letter of confirmation from the owner of the property you will be staying in that you are permitted to stay there.
Medical insurance is also needed if you are applying for a visa for the Czech Republic. You do not need this if you are applying for a long-term visa based on work though, as the employer is legally bound to provide this. You will need proof of insurance for the period you are in the country before you start employment though.
For those applying for a renewal of their long-term visa, there is no need to obtain an extract from the Czech Criminal Register, as the Ministry of the Interior will do this. You might be asked to provide documentation from any other country you have legally resided in for longer than 6 months in the last 3 years though, which should show your criminal status within the country you resided in. You might also be asked to provide similar documentation from your home country as well.
When it comes to the amount of time it takes for a long-term visa to be processed, the Ministry of the Interior is allowed to take up to 90 days, although for more complex cases this can be extended to 120 days. When you have all of your documentation ready, you should book an appointment at your closest Czech embassy – most countries in the world have one of these. If you are already in the Czech Republic, you will have to travel to Dresden (Germany), Bratislava (Slovakia) or Vienna (Austria), all of which are reasonably easy to get to. They will look through the paperwork and then tell you when you can pick up your long-term visa.
When you re-enter the Czech Republic with your long-term visa, you are allowed a maximum of 3 days to register with the Foreign Police in the area you are residing in. Those living in Prague will find that the registration process will usually take longer for those living in Prague than for those living in other areas of the Czech Republic.
If you are applying for long-term residence (a stay longer than 90 days) for the first time, you will be issued with a long-term (6 month) visa instead. If you want to renew your stay after this, you will have to apply for a long-term residence permit. Foreign nationals applying for this will need to pass a Czech language test, which will test their proficiency in the Czech language (the level needed is that of someone who has studied a course for a year).