Back at the end of January I started going to driving school and arranging to take the tests in order to get my class B (passenger) Czech driving license or řidičák.
This process turned out to be more challenging and took longer than I imagined. To be clear, I understand the traffic laws here and can say with no hesitation (and many people to confirm) that I am a very good driver. In Canada I had a car, bus and motorcycle license and worked in automotive for a decade. I’m not a new driver by any stretch. My Canadian license was expiring in February so I had to get things in gear.
After attending driving school, there are two parts to the process:
This takes place at the Magistrate Office in Prague 10. This is the only office in Prague for written tests. My school arranged the test date and time and I did not need to pay anything at this time. When you arrive go upstairs and find your instructor, they will register you with the office and take your documents.
You will need you identification – passport or dlouhodoby pobyt (long term residence card) with appropriate stamps and address information to prove you have been here at least 180 days. I also took my approval letter since I was still waiting for my long term residence.
Unless you have learned Czech really well, you will need a certified translator. The questions are tricky, even for native speakers. Likely your school will suggest or supply a translator. My advice here is to be very careful. My recommended translator was busy, so they suggested someone else. This translator had little to no experience with the test and was translating word for word as we went, meaning I was not getting the context and connotation of the words. Had I not studied a lot both in Czech and English it would have been a disaster. Cost of the translator: 1,500Kč
What is the test like?
I arrived early on February 12th and waited for the process to start.
Surprise! Even though I had had a vision and colour vision test at a doctor before I was allowed to attend driving school, there was a ten question colour vision test before I could start the main test. I am colour blind. This surprise threw me off completely and I struggled with the dot test as well as strange mathematical answers to some of the dot tests (not “what number do you see?” but “is the number “65-14, 65+14 or 76-2?”. I did pass, but just.
The main test is 25 multiple choice questions, some text and some with pictures. You have 30 minutes to complete it. With the challenges around the translation I completed it with 30 seconds remaining and passed by only one point. Some of the questions I knew already in Czech, most I had seen during my studies, but a few were entirely new. It would be nice if extra time was given to allow for the translation slowing things down. But a pass is a pass, no matter how slim, and I moved on. At the end you will receive a document confirming you passed.
Driving test (round one)
At the end of the same week I was scheduled to take the driving test. I had the option of going to the school in Dejvická, or meeting my instructor at the Magistrate’s office and being the first to be tested. I opted for the first test which found me there at 7:15AM on February 18th waiting with a healthy fear of the unknown. This fear, it turns out, was not unfounded.
There were a large number of driving school cars waiting in the parking lot behind the magistrate’s office. In the past police performed the test but now it is a dedicated group of magistrates. We waited for our tester to arrive.
There is a possibility they will ask you to do a walk around the car and identify all the mandatory safety equipment, this did not happen for me.
The test itself was from the office to the school location in Dejvická. Here is what happened:
- Magistrate came out and sat in the back of the car, directly behind me.
- I said good morning in my best Czech and apologized for my poor language skills. No response.
- He identified himself, his badge number and title and then explained the procedure to my instructor.
- I was instructed to leave the parking area and follow instructions.
- We went through the city, I was careful to not exceed the speed limit in any way.
- At one point we came to a no entry road, but I was given no instructions to turn so I slowed to a stop while waiting for instructions (my mistake was to hesitate). In the end I made a decision and turned left before instead of entering the no entry road.
- I was told three times to put both hands on the wheel, even though at the time I had both hands on the wheel (I was aware and very careful about this rule).
- We went through Karlovo náměstí and then through a series of smaller streets before rejoining the main road and going to Dejvická.
- We parked, nose in, in a normal parking spot.
I was then informed that I had failed due to not yielding to traffic on my right while going through the small streets around Karlovo náměstí. In the Czech Republic, if you are not on a main road you have to give way to traffic from the right, a rule I am very well aware of. There was no discussion, no debate, and I understood the magistrate when he called me špatný řidič which is Czech for bad driver.
This is one of the intersections in question, the sign is informing you to yield to traffic on your right:
Although I know I was aware of these intersections as I went through them, there was no traffic and nobody to yield to. I was really quite shocked at this turn of events, and then angry. Later in the day I felt slightly better when I learned the magistrate had failed all seven students at the school that morning. Statistically improbable. Worse still, the next test date was not until March 3rd, and of course would cost me an extra 880Kč!
Driving test (round two)
My Canadian license was set to expire on February 25th (my birthday). I took the opportunity before that to drive as much as possible around Prague and also away for a weekend in Žatec. I focused on the areas and routes between the school and the magistrate office. This made me feel better about the process and helped confirm that the assessment of me was incorrect – I actually look for traffic on my left and right even when I do have the right of way. I also took advantage of an offer from my instructor to do one more driving lesson the Sunday before the test.
I arrived at the magistrate’s office early on March 3rd, very nervous and concerned about the prospect of another bad experience. I was pleasantly surprised:
- The magistrate was late, he arrived at 7:45. This pleased me as it meant more morning traffic which I actually find easier to concentrate in (and ignore the test). He sat in the rear passenger seat so I could turn to speak to him.
- Again I used my best Czech to great him and explain I speak very little Czech. This time he acknowledged me. He was not friendly, but he was polite and spoke slowly so I could understand him.
- My instructor explained my driving history and what the issue was during the last test.
- I was instructed to drive to Dejvická via the more direct highway route using Barrandov most and the tunnels. My instructor told me where to turn if necessary.
- During the trip the instructor and the magistrate chatted about various things. I just drove carefully, watching the speed limit, and keeping two hands on the wheel.
- We arrived in Dejvická, I parked on the street and the test was over. No issues.
After waiting for a few moments at the school (and paying the extra 880Kč) I was given documents to take to the license registration office (registr řidičů)..
What license registration office?
This part of the process was a bit of a surprise to me. My instructor explained to me I would need to take all the documentation to the registration office at Vyšehrad, complete a form, supply a photo and then wait for 20 days while they process it. I was also told to wait until the next day for my test results to be entered into the system.
I decided to go to the office on the way home to get the required form to fill out and return the following day. This was fortunate as it turned out that two trips were not necessary. I needed:
- Test and training document supplied by the school and stamped by the magistrate.
- My dlouhodoby pobyt AND passport as I needed to prove I had been in the country more than 180 days.
- A photo (available in the office next door for 125Kč).
A very helpful woman explained in careful Czech that everything was now done on the computer and I could apply immediately as she would enter it into the system. I went off to get photos and she was nice enough to wave me back to her window to finish with me. Spend enough time at government offices here and these small acts of cooperation and kindness are truly appreciated. Other than a 50Kč fee to be paid when I pick up the license, there were no other fees.
I was given a small piece of paper and told to come back on March 23rd for my license. On further investigation I learned that is the maximum processing time and current processing information can be found online – 16 days at the time of this writing.
Wrapping it up!
- Driving school (as noted this is pricing for Czech students) : 10,980Kč
- Medical examination: 400Kč
- Translator: 1,500Kč
- First driving test: 700Kč
- Second driving test: 880Kč
- Photos: 125Kč
- License fee: 50Kč
Update: it was in fact 16 days. The day my application date appeared online, I went to pick up the license and was in and out in under five minutes.
What next? Even before passing the second test, I had already purchased a used car – an entirely new adventure you can read about in my next post.
I am a car guy, I love cars. My first car, when I was 10 years old, was a 1973 VW Beetle. I’ve had my license since I was 16, had many, many cars and driven more than the average number of kms both for work and pleasure.
One of my commitments to myself in moving back to the Czech Republic was that I would get a car. Of course this means I also need a Czech driving license. You are not able to get a Czech license on your initial six month visa, but once you have a residence permit you are not legally allowed to use your foreign license anymore. There are people who have lived here for years and still use a North American license but I am not willing to risk it.
Why is it a challenge? Canada does not belong to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. This means that in order to get a license here (or anywhere in Europe) I need to go to driving school.
What does driving school mean here?
|Class “B” – theory lessons:|
|Regulations on vehicle operation||5 lessons|
|Regulations on driving and maintenance||1 lesson|
|Driving theory and safe driving practices||3 lessons|
|Basic first aid||1 lesson|
|Revision and practice test||1 lesson|
|Class “B” – driving/practice lessons|
|Driving – closed course||2 lessons|
|Driving – light traffic||5 lessons|
|Driving – normal traffic||12 lessons|
|Driving – heavy traffic/difficult driving conditions||9 lessons|
|Vehicle maintenance practice||2 lessons|
|First aid practice||4 lessons|
One lesson = 45 minutes.
This is a rather large commitment! And prices range from 10,000Kč and up. In the end I chose a school called Amos, in Dejvická. It was recommended by my girlfriend and they offered me the course without charging an English language supplement. The instructor speaks as much English as I speak Czech, so although I don’t need driving lessons, I am getting Czech lessons out of this. If you don’t have any Czech, or driving experience, spend the extra money and get an instructor who speaks English.
You will need to find a doctor to give you a medical exam before you can start at school. This proved a challenge and in the end I found a very small clinic that did it for 400Kč. You can download the form here.
We have now completed all the necessary drives around Prague. The school also supplied me with badly translated English versions of all the pertinent regulations to study.
One grey area is that I am still waiting for my long term residence card. I have been assured that as long as I can prove I have lived here over 185 days, and can provide my passport and address information, they will allow me to take the tests.
Sites you might find useful:
Czech online test system. Note there are printed tests available and you can translate these as I have done.
Online intersection tests. Again in Czech, but it will give you an idea what to expect.
I am scheduled for a written test at the magistrates office in Vršovice. For this I have to bring a registered translator. Cost is 700Kč for the test (this will include the driving test fee). The translator charges 1,500Kč.
After this, but the same week, I will have the driving test at my school in Dejvická.
Once complete, I should receive the actual license in 10 to 20 days.
Total cost will be approximately 13,200Kč.
I’ll update with more on the experience once it is all done.
I was approved for my six month visa on May 4th, and although I didn’t pick it up until May 15th it expires 6 months from the date of approval That is November 4th. A little over six weeks from now. The appointment for the long term residence or, dlouhodoby pobyt, has to be at least 14 days before the visa expires. What this means is I realized last week I need to get moving!
These next posts will be a summary, if you want detailed information start back in November 2013 when I did this the first time. If you are new to the idea of moving to the Czech Republic you need to get a six month visa to start and can find details here.
You can find a list of official requirements as well as the application form on the Ministry of Interior website.
Step one: try to achieve a calm state of mind. There is some bureaucracy you will need to work through to pull this off, and it makes the initial six month visa and the trip to an embassy seem like a much nicer way to spend time.
Six weeks out:
Make an appointment at the appropriate Ministry of Interior office. In Prague they now have a central number for appointments and they will tell you where to go and when. If your Czech isn’t good (and I admit mine is still very poor) it is best to have a friend call. They will need your:
- passport number
- date of birth
- full name
- visa number
- visa expiration date
- home address (this determines what office to go to)
They’ll give you an appointment data and time, in my case I asked for a specific one.
Apply for your social service tax clearance letter. You’ve been paying your 1943Kč every month and now you need to prove it. Find the appropriate office to go to, which in theory is based on your account number. For some reason even though I went to the appropriate one I was told I had to go back to where I originally set up my social service account. I muddled through this in Czech and got a document listing all my payments to date (they issue this on the spot) as well as applied for a bezdlužnost which will take about four weeks and be sent to your home address. On the application form I had to the list reason for application and I put povolení k pobytu (residence permit). Cost: 0Kč.
Apply for your income tax clearance letter. Even though you likely weren’t working here the year before (or in most cases not even living here) you need a clearance letter to show you owe no taxes. You will need to go the appropriate finanční úřad (financial office). There seems to be some confusion, but I went to the one based on my residence address. You will need 100Kč for payment, get it in kolek from the post office as usual. This will take about four weeks as well and will be mailed. Cost: 100Kč.
Next stop živnostenský list extension.
Last month I moved to a new flat, which means I needed to change my address with the Ministry of Interior / Foreign Police. If you recall, after arriving back from an embassy with your shiny new visa it is necessary to go and register and have your address stamped into your passport. You have 30 days to change your address if you move. The good news is you can make an appointment to do this and if you live in Prague or Central Bohemia they now have one central number to do this. I would recommend having a Czech friend call and make an appointment for you. They will need your information including name, date of birth, passport number and new address location – there are different offices based on what district of Prague you live in.
You will need to take your passport as well as a housing document – either your original signed lease (in Czech) OR a notarized confirmation of housing. See details here, but remember these documents most be in the name of and signed by the actual owner of the flat and good for at least the duration of your visa. They will check the owner in the building registry.
My appointment was for one week later at the lovely office in Chodov…..
Which is, honestly, not my favourite place on the planet. It is always very busy with lots of stressed clients and equally overworked employees. Come early. Bring patience. What I learned this trip is that if you have an appointment you can go straight to the first floor, but what was not so obvious is that you need to go to the machine, find yourself on the list of people and then it will print you a number. You may need to scroll ahead quite some ways if you are early.
The good news is I was in an out in 30 minutes, no drama, my limited Czech was enough and I am now 100% legal again.
Back to Vienna: This is the third and final instalment in my “second time around” Czech long term residence visa process. If you’ve just stumbled upon my site and you are doing your first visa I recommend you start here with the more detailed posts from 2013. If you just want the summery start back at part one. I had my first visa appointment in Vienna on April 7th, 2015 and got the email saying I was approved on May 6th. That’s one month less a day for approval and well ahead of the expiry of my 90 day entry on May 20th. Whew! As I was busy with other things I didn’t go to pick the visa up until May 15th and did the normal midnight Student Agency bus to Vienna. Cost 979kc plus €4.40 for the Bahn. **Actually, I didn’t take the Bahn both ways – instead I walked the 11+ kms from Stadion to the Embassy since I arrived at 4:30 am and didn’t need to be there until 8:30. You see interesting things on the streets at 6:00 am, including cool old cars.
Once at the Embassy I handed in my passport, health insurance documents (including proof of payment) and waited about 20 minutes for it to be processed. When it was done they gave it back to me along with instructions to check in with the Foreign Police within three days of entering the Czech Republic. So, back to Stadion, back on Student Agency and back to Prague by 17:00.
Back in Prague: Visa in hand there were still four things that needed to be wrapped up:
Živnostenský List finalization: I visited the office where they copied my passport and visa and told me to come back next week. The zivno is active as of now, even if I don’t have a copy yet. Cost: nothing, as it was paid for last time.
Social Service Tax registration: I also dropped by the social service tax office, they gave me forms to fill out and told me to come back when I had my actual Živnostenský document. **A Czech person is helpful here.** Cost: nothing (but it will be 1943Kc per month)
Income Tax registration: The income tax office is in the same building as the zivnostensky office. All that was needed was a change of address as my account is still active. Cost: nothing.
Foreign Police registration: Ah. The foreign Police. Take a Czech friend with you. And a snack. And some patience. There were about 200 people in the building and it took about three hours to get in. When you arrive take a number for “tourist registration” and fill out the two forms the reception will give you. Cost: nothing
Elapsed time: If you are keeping score, the total time from start to finish – from the time I arrived and started applying for things to the time I had a visa in my passport and was legal to work – March 9th to May 18th or 71 days. Keep in mind I could have taken a slightly earlier appointment in Berlin and/or gone to pick up my visa one week earlier if I wanted to shave some time off this.
My total cost from start to finish for the Živnostenský, criminal record checks, visa and travel was 8,350kc (which is about $415 Canadian or €305).
At midnight on Monday the 6th of April I caught the Student Agency bus from Florenc. Transit time to Vienna should have been 4.5 hours, but the first bus had issues and we had to return to Prague and switch to another bus. My visa appointment was at 9:30 and I had considered taking the 3:30 am bus but, after my bus broke down, I was happy I had taken the midnight bus. The bus drops you at Stadion bus station on the U2 Bahn line in Vienna. My intention was to walk around all morning (I’ve been to Vienna twice and don’t have any need to see much more) but it was so cold that instead I went to Westbahnhof and hung out eating fresh bread, drinking tea and using the free wifi. Cost: Student Agency bus (return) 976kc plus two Bahn tickets at €2.20 each.
From Westbahnhof it is a pleasant 25 minute walk along Mariahilfer Strasse to the Embassy. There are also trams that will take you most of the way there. There are many nice shops and cafes on the way and you will also pass the Technical Museum. The entrance to the visa section is down the left side of the building.
I arrived a few moments early for my appointment and was greeted by the friendly staff who took all of my documents and my €91 (in cash, exact change required). Moments later I was invited into the office where I was asked a series of questions:
- what do I intend to do in the Czech Republic?
- how long do I intend to stay?
- how much money do I plan to earn every month?
- where do I live in Prague?
- how much is my rent?
- how many people do I share a flat with?
- do I have a Czech bank account?
- when did I first visit the Czech Republic?
- when did I arrive in the Czech Republic this time?
- when did I previously live in the Czech Republic?
At this point I also supplied copies of my previous visa and residence card. I brought up the fact that I am studying Czech and used a few well rehearsed phrases to emphasize this. Interestingly I was NOT asked what I would do if my visa was not ready by the time my 90 day Schengen limit expires on May 19th. The staff translated my statement into Czech, read it all back to me in English and then had me sign the application document. I received a stamp in my passport to show I had applied for a visa and a receipt with a reference number. The staff informed me that the process can take up to three months, but that I would likely hear from someone sooner by email. They were friendly, polite, helpful and even thanked me for being so well organized. The entire visit lasted about one hour.
When I originally booked my ticket I chose the 15:40 return bus that would get me to Prague around 20:00. Out on the street at 10:30 in the morning I was at a loss as to what to do, so I returned to Westbahnhof and used the free internet to look for an earlier bus. Student Agency allows free changes up to one hour before departure so I was able to switch to a 12:40 bus that would get my home by 17:00. This left time for a stroll, lunch at the Stadion shopping centre and then onto the bus with time to spare.
Of course there was construction on the way home and we had to take a rural detour….
…but it was a good trip and I was happy to be back home and into my bed. 10.5 hours bus travel time for a one hour meeting! And now I wait, patiently, for the email to tell me my visa is ready to be picked up. Watch for the final installment sometime soon!
If you have been following me, you know I already had a visa and residence permit once and am back to do it all again. If you are new here and stumbled upon my blog while looking for Živnostenský list or Czech immigration information, I recommend you start at the beginning. Even though I had a visa before, because I let my residence permit expire I need to start from scratch.
This post will cover from the start of the process to waiting for the visa appointment and I will post more once things move ahead. This process is for someone here on a trade license (Živnostenský list). I’ve included actual dates so you can see the real timeline here in 2015. If things have changed from 2013 I will make an effort to update the original postings to reflect this. As I arrived in the Schengen Zone on February 19th, I am on a bit of a timeline to pull this off by May 20th.
Useful information: The Ministry of the Interior website.
Canadian criminal record check: I applied at the Embassy in Prague on March 9th, it was ready for pickup on March 10th. You can get this in Canada before you come, but it is no faster, no cheaper and won’t be in Czech so you will need to pay to get it translated. Note that they are only open from 9:00 until 12:00 but you can make an appointment for afternoon if necessary. Cost: 1,000kc.
The criminal record check needs to be super-notarized by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minsterstvo zahranicnich veci) located at #5 Toskansky Palac, very close to the castle. It is often busy and I arrived at 13:00 to be the first in line when they opened at 13:30 – I was in and out in five minutes. Cost: 600kc (note, you will need to pay this by “kolek” which are financial payment stamps available at the post office – they won’t accept cash).
We aren’t done! Take your super-notarized Canadian criminal record check to a notary (there are Czech Points all over Prague) and have an official notarized copy made – you will need this copy for your Živnostenský list. Cost: 60kc.
Czech criminal record check: Because I lived here for two years, I needed to get a Czech criminal record check (rejstřík trestů) as well. There is a good explanation of this process on Prague.tv. The article says the wait will be long but I was in and out in five minutes and was able to pay the fee in cash, they didn’t need koleks. Cost: 100kc (not the 50kc stated in the article).
Housing document: You will need some proof of housing, a lease or doklad ubytovani. This document must be signed by the registered owners of the flat and notarized – they will check it to make sure they are the registered owners. It must be good for at least the duration of your visa plus the waiting period, so try to get one that is either open ended or at least good for one year. Cost: 60kc? Or zero if your landlord is nice like mine is.
Proof of funds: You need a document to prove you have at least 110,000kc available to you. I had my Canadian bank provide this proof of funds before I left Canada but note it can’t be more than three months old. You will need a card that can access this account. You will also need a certified translation, I had mine done at Grabmuller, if took three days. Cost: $20 (from my bank in Canada) plus 400kc for the translation.
Passport photos: Available at most photo shops or even photo booths in the metro. Cost: 100kc
Živnostenský approval letter: I won’t go into detail on this, please look at my previous postings for the how and why of the trade licence. Or, stop by the office in Prague 7, room 203, and get details about what you will need. They do speak English and are vey helpful. Cost: 1,000kc.
The initial visa appointment: Now, before, during or after this you will need to have made an appointment at a Czech Embassy somewhere. From Prague the most common are:
Berlin. I emailed them on March 16th, they replied to my email but asked me to call the embassy, and they could have fit me in as early as March 25th.
Bratislava. When I managed to get through to someone on March 17th they were booking appointments for the middle of June!
Vienna. This is where I have my appointment, I finally managed to contact them by phone on March 17th and was able to get an appointment for Aril 7th. This is the same embassy I used last time. Note: they wanted me to email them all of my documents including my zivnostensky list BEFORE they would give my an appointment, but I managed to convince them to make the appointment and then scanned and emailed things as I got them.
This is the end of part one, watch for an update after my visa appointment on April 7th.
We are almost there! See my previous post for some important information about your biometrics appointment and the logistics of booking it and getting to it. Arrive early, it will take some time to figure out where to go. Bring a Czech friend if you have one, this will help getting in but your friend won’t be allowed to stay with you during the actual meeting.
Bring your notification letter and of course your passport. You won’t need any payment right now.
The appointment itself was quite simple. They:
- Confirmed my name and date of birth from my passport.
- Asked me my address – this was a test to see if you know where you live and it matches what is in your passport.
- Took my photo with a digital camera.
- Scanned fingerprints from both my left and right pointer fingers, they did it several times to see if they match. Strange process.
- Had me sign a document, in Czech, that allows them to collect all this data.
- Gave me a document that told me when to come back for my biometrics card – for me it was scheduled for almost exactly three weeks away.
- Gave me instructions to bring 2,500Kč in koleks as payment (payment stamps available at the post office).
And that was it! It only took 10 minutes at the most (other than the nightmare getting into the office).
Only one more visit and I’m done. Until next time.
From my previous post you should have a general idea about what documents you need for your long-term residence permit, some things are self explanatory but others need some comment.
If you aren’t applying for your long-term residence permit, you might as well stop right here – it gets pretty boring! I promise to write some more general interest posts soon!
Proof of accommodation:
This is one of the three documents that determines how long your permit will be good for, you will need to get your landlord to do a new one and have it notarized. Try either for an open ended permit or a two year period, this doesn’t mean you can’t move or change things – it is just to get you the maximum residence permit. All the same rules apply as to your original housing document.
This one is a little annoying! Since you have to pay up front, it’s a big out of pocket expense. I opted for one year insurance through Slavia since my passport will be expiring in early 2015 and I will have to reapply no matter what. 12 months cost me 9,600Kc while 24 months would have been 18,000Kc. If you didn’t buy this in person last time note that Slavia will offer you a discount as soon as you tell them it is cheaper online, no questions asked. Again the same rules apply for coverage limits. Shop around, you might find better than Slavia but I wasn’t able to, I have never made a claim on my insurance so I can’t offer any opinion as to how good the company is.
It’s important you take your existing policy and card, your new policy and card as well as proof of payment to the meeting. Make copies of everything.
EDIT: When returning in 2015 I found the health insurance situation had changed, I ended up using Czechinsure.com, and spoke with Simon Morton. The process was easier, was in English, and was only 7,500kc for 12 months through a better company than Slavia.
Proof of income:
The requirement is an average of 14,000Kc per month from a minimum of two employers. I use Fio Banka and they were able to print me a copy of my bank statement, stamp and sign it, all in an instant and at no charge. Of course you won’t have the requested six months worth of bank statements since you won’t have been working that long! Take what you can, the Ministry of the Interior may ask you to send more in as they become available. If you have not had direct deposits you can have your students sign an affidavit to show they have been paying you every month, as I didn’t need this I don’t know the details. If you have any teaching contracts, in Czech, take along a copy – they might not ask but it can’t hurt.
Income tax clearance letter:
You will need to prove that you have no outstanding taxes from the previous year, even if you weren’t working or even in the country! This clearance letter is called a bezdlužnost and must be applied for at the tax office that handles your area (your business address). You will need to take a copy of your passport including the page showing your address, your income tax registration number and payment in the form of a 100Kc kolek (purchased at any post office). When I applied I was told it would take five weeks and it was done in less than three weeks.
Unless your Czech is really good, take a friend – even for Czechs this is a bureaucratic nightmare with a lot of running around. The application took me two hours and visits to at least four offices.
Social service tax clearance letter:
Hopefully you have been making your 1890Kc per month social service tax payments. You will need two documents from this office and will need to apply in person at the appropriate office based on your post code. They will print and stamp a letter showing the date of all payments you have made, but you will have to request a clearance letter which will take approximately three weeks to be completed. Czech is very helpful here but I did it alone and they were very friendly.
Živnostenský list extension:
This may be one of the simplest things, a quick trip to the zivno office and 100Kc cash payment and you will have your extension in one week. They give you a ten month extension, hopefully long enough to get your residence permit.
Long-term residence application form:
You can either go to the office and pick one up, or print it from here. It is in Czech and English but must be completed in Czech. Have the same friend who will accompany you to the meeting go through this with you, if you aren’t sure of anything just leave it blank until the meeting.
That’s about if other than the copies of documents listed in my first post!
Next, the meeting! Easier than you think.
If you’ve been here more than four months it is time to start planning your renewal. You need to apply for your long-term residence permit a minimum of 14 days before your original short-term visa expires. Some of the documents you need will take time to get so don’t leave this until the last minute! You can find the official requirements here, and as always this is based on my personal experience (your results may vary).
If you are reading this I am assuming you are: a North American, living in the Czech Republic, working on a živnostenský list and currently holding a short-term visa for the purposes of business. You also must have been working and paying your social service tax every month!
Unlike the original visa, you don’t have to leave the country to apply for your residence permit. This saves you travel but be prepared for the huge amount of bureaucracy you need to navigate. The long-term permit is valid for up to two years based on the shortest validity of three things:
- Health insurance policy
- Housing document
I will go into more details in further postings but here is the checklist of documents you need to gather:
- Proof of accommodation. This is the same as what was needed for your original visa, but try to get this new one either open ended or valid for two years.
- Health insurance. You will need to buy another policy, prepaid for up to two years (hopefully you have some funds set aside for this!).
- Your passport, of course. Copy the information and visa pages.
- Proof of income. You require a minimum average of 14,000Kc per month. Copies of any contracts you have, in Czech, will also be helpful.
- Income tax clearance letter (bezdlužnost) to prove that you have no outstanding taxes.
- Social service tax clearance letter plus a list of all the payments you have made to them.
- A copy of your original živnostenský list.
- A notarized copy of your živnostenský extension (valid for ten months).
- A passport photo.
You do not need proof of funds or a criminal record check this time.
Things to consider:
If you plan to do this yourself, a Czech friend will be essential! I muddled through most of the offices but needed help with some things and would have been lost without help during the actual meeting.
Costs: this is relatively cheap. Your biggest expense will be for your health insurance, mine was 9,600Kc for one year. Allow a few hundred more for some forms, notarization and fees. The actual application is free but you will need 2,500Kc for your biometric card when you are finally approved.
A bridge visa. When you go for your appointment request a bridge visa, there is no charge and they will issue it immediately. Mine is valid for six months and allows multiple entries into the country – essential if you plan to travel!
This Will Take Time! I have heard horror stories of people being in process for years, but you can continue to work as long as you keep your bridge visa and živnostenský valid.
What’s the first step?
Make an appointment for your application meeting – I made mine for three weeks before my short-term visa expiry.
You can find the contact information here, you need to apply at the appropriate office based on where you live. The numbers are hard to get through to and they likely won’t speak English so have a friend call.
In the next postings I will go into more detail about documents…..
Holding thumbs that this all works out for us!