Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Getting a visa appointment…a lesson in patience

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Now you have your zivno approval in hand as well as a tidy pile of other documents.  You need an appointment at a Czech Embassy, in case you missed this point there are no Czech Embassies in the Czech Republic – you need to leave.  If you are a Canadian the good news is you can go to any Czech Embassy on the planet to apply for your visa, but keep in mind you need to return to the same embassy to pick it up.

Being based in Prague there are three embassies within easy reach:

Berlin

Bratislava

Vienna

Click the links to get the contact information and hours.  I emailed all of them the moment I knew I would have my zivno approval letter in a few days.  Vienna emailed me back within hours to say they could fit me in the next week!  What luck and don’t expect this – it is non uncommon to wait a month or more for the initial appointment, this is the reason you need to get this process going as soon as you arrive on your 90 day tourist entry.  Interestingly Bratislava emailed me a week later to say they could see me in a month and I never did hear back from Berlin.

As soon as you have your appointment date book your trip.  For Vienna I went by Student Agency bus – it was cheap and the timing worked well although you either have to take a night bus or stay the night as your appointment will always be in the morning.  Book your bus well in advance and save money!  It’s a good excuse for a couple of days in Vienna.  If you do go to Vienna I recommend Hostel Ruthensteiner as it was an easy 25 minute walk to the Embassy the next morning and the hostel was really nice!

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Next step:  the visa appointment.

Applying for your zivnostensky list

Okay, so you have a pile of paper ready to go.  Time to get the process moving.

Zivnostensky office:

Go to the office in Prague 7 at nábřeží Kapitána Jaroše, room 203.  You can find hours and information here.  Arrive and take a number. As an aside there is a fantastic tourist attraction here – the old old elevators that you have to catch as they go by.  Once you get in you might be pleasantly surprised – the staff here were friendly and helpful and spoke excellent English.

You will need to give them:

  • a completed application form (they will provide this and tell you what to do)
  • the notarized copy of your original criminal record check (keep the true original, you will need it for your visa)
  • both copies of your business address form – note that they will go online and check the property registry to ensure the person is the legal property owner
  • 1000Kc

They will copy your passport.  If you have a Czech friend take them with you and have them sign a power of attorney so they can act on your behalf if you are out of the country.

One thing they will ask you is what you want as your  trades.  You can choose as many as you want and can add to the list later.  In my case I put English teacher, tour guide and business consultant.  Note that these are all unregistered trades – anything officially recognized like doctors, lawyers, engineers etc is a different process that I won’t go into at all.

The friendly people will then send you on your way and tell you to come back in one week or so.  In may case they called three days later to tell me I could pick up my approval earlier.

What you will receive is an approval form saying that they will issue you a zivno as soon as you come back with a visa – you are not legal to carry on business yet.  Add this approval letter to the pile of paper you need to take to the Embassy.

Next stop – the visa application…

Hungry? Let’s eat!!

Some days it seems my brain works something like this: “sleepfoodfoodfoodfoodworkworkfoodfoodfoodfoodsleep”.

You get the idea, food is pretty high up my priority list.

For those of you new to Prague, or just looking to try something different, here are my personal picks:

For a great relaxing tea room try Čajovna Durama at Trojanova 4.  No pressure, nice environment (non-smoking), free wifi and fantastic masala čaj.  A very close second are any of the Mama Coffee locations – always a pleasant atmosphere with free wifi and a selection of snacks too!

Natures perfect food:  Pizza!  After trying many pizza slices I’ve settled on Kebab Star & Pizza at Národní 18.  45Kč gets you 1/4 slice (not a pathetic 1/8th slice) of fresh and crispy delicious pizza.

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I’m a vegetarian and when I am feeling particularly hungry I head to one of two Govinda locations (Soukenická 27 or across from Smíchovské náměstí).  95Kč gets you the set menu meal and for an extra 10Kč you can have free seconds!  Come 30 minutes before closing time at the Soukenická location and get a discount.

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Special occasion?  Friends in from out of town?  Try Maitrea or its sister restaurant Lehka Hlava (Light Head).   Maitrea is located just off of Old Town Square at Týnská ulička 6/1064.  Fantastic food and a very beautiful atmosphere.  Even the non-vegetarians in the group will rave about it!  Maitrea has managed to take traditional Czech cuisine and reinvent it as vegetarian food.  Expect to pay 200-300Kč per person depending on your tastes.  Reservations recommended for busy times.

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For those times I have a craving for something sweet Kumbál Kavárna a Mléčný Bar at Heřmanova 408/12 in Praha 7 is an easy choice.  A fantastic selection of desserts awaits and the prices are low enough to justify two or maybe three pieces if you just can’t decide.

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This should be enough to get you started and I will add more places as I come across them….

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A day in the life…..am I a teacher or a public transport specialist?

ESEL opens doors....
ESL opens doors….

Congratulations to me!  I survived my first full (22 teaching hour) week as an ESL teacher in Prague.  Whew.

Wondering what this looks like?  A brief summary of the highs and lows:

Sunday:  Lesson planning, fun!  Yes I could have done it during the week but to get a running start I spent all day Sunday creating lesson plans for my week ahead.  A little work now and hopefully less stress during the week.  It gets easier the more you do and I’ve gone from the 3 hours per lesson it took during school to a mere 30 minutes for something basic.

Monday:  8am class – private one to one with an executive who wants conversation with a native speaker.  Cancelled!  And I had such a nice plan for the first lesson.  1-3, back to back beginners classes – a new experience but I enjoyed it.  Downside is that it is 40 minutes from the centre (tram, metro, bus) but the upside is I teach the same lesson twice which is great practice.  430 class – a nice one to one with someone who just wants to improve her English in a business environment.  A good end to day one.

Tuesday:  More of the same, a good conversation class followed by more time on the metro and back to back intermediate classes.  6pm class – cancelled.

Wednesday: What, another cancellation?  All that time on Sunday is starting to look like a bad idea, but at least I now have a stock pile of lessons for the next classes.  Great news!  My first true private student (from my ad on Expats.cz) has signed up for Friday!  Already hoping to build independence from the school.  Back to back beginners classes that went very well – you can see the improvement so quickly, it is very rewarding.

Thursday: A free morning, relax and sleep in and buy some groceries.  Back on the metro again for back to back intermediate classes with a fun group of people.  6pm cancelled as well.

Friday:  A great conversation class to start the day at 8am, makes up for the 30 minutes of commuting.  Fun advanced class as well.  Ended the day in style with a nice tea at my favorite tea room while giving my first true private lesson.

Reflections?  Some lessons go well, some go poorly and generally the students enjoy it no matter how you feel.  Fake it if you have to!

It Is A Lot Of Work! I know it will get easier, but with 5 of 8 school based classes cancelled my net for the week was around 3,500 czk (don’t do the conversion, it will make you cry).

Week two under way!  Full class load so far and excited to see how it goes.

Stay tuned.

Prague flood photos….

It’s amazing what a week of solid rain will do.

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You have got to live somewhere!

An odd thing about this process, well ONE Of the odd things among many, to apply for your zivno you need to have a place to live and place of business in the Czech Republic.  Of course you can’t technically live here for more than 90 days until you have your visa which you need your zivno to get.   Makes perfect sense, right?

Confirmation of housing:

Find a place to live.  There are lots of ways to do this including Expats.cz for flatshares and entire flats, Bezrealitky.cz for privately advertized flats and Sreality.cz for flats mostly from realtors (fees involved).  But be careful!  Every house and flat is registered with a land registry office and the person who signs your documents must be the person registered to sign for the property.  Usually this is the flat owner but some building have a strange communal ownership system where you would need 51% of the people to sign.  Renting a share is great, but not if you can’t get that all important signature.

Have the landlord give you a letter stating the details of your tenancy.  Include the start date, end date (or open end date), rent amount and of course all your personal details including your passport number and date of birth.  Have them notarize the document at a notary or Czech Point office.

IMPORTANT:  This has to be your real residence, after this is all done the Foreign Police may come to check up on you, so make sure your name is on the buzzer, the mailbox and the flat if possible.

Confirmation of business address:

Since you are self employed, you need a place of business.  It does not matter if you never ever do business here it is just an address and it is most convenient to use your home address as this is where official correspondence will go.  Once again your landlord needs to give you a letter stating they are authorizing you to do business at this address, you will need two copies but they don’t need to be notarized.

Photos:

While you are out running around anyhow, get 4 passport sized photos done at either a photo booth in the metro stations or most camera shops.  You will need them for the visa process.

We are getting there, almost time to actually do something.