Tag Archives: visa

Long term residence permit part three (again!)

Whew!  It has been even quieter than usual here.  I do apologize.

If you have been following, since my last post I have been waiting for my residence approval. There was a complication. At the end of December I received a nice letter stating two things:

  1. My proof of income had been rejected as it was not in Czech.  This was my fault as I took a risk sending printouts from the website rather than certified copies.  FIO was able to give me a summary of all months in one giant statement and only charged one fee. 120Kč.
  2. They wanted me to prove I made enough money not only to support myself, by also my partner. In 2012 I had applied for a partnership visa with my Czech girlfriend, after nine months of trying to provide enough information to make them happy we finally broke up and I went back to Canada just long enough to reset my Schengen clock.  Being asked to prove I could support a partner I no longer had, and that they never accepted I had, was interesting.

So, I mailed (by registered mail) my updated a bank statements as well as a notarized místopřísežné prohlášení, a document my ex signed to state we were no longer partners.

On January 11th my application number appeared on the approval spreadsheet.  I had a friend call and make an appointment for January 28th.  This means my application took from October 15th to January 11th to be approved – 89 days.

On January 28th I went back to the Chodov office for my biometrics appointment.  They took my photo and fingerprints.  They also verified my address.

One complication.  They now wanted my expired residence card from when I lived here in 2014.  This is the first time it was mentioned, no one has ever asked to see it or verify it as I was starting over again.  I offered to bring it back when I pick up my card, that seemed to satisfy them.  They issued an approval document and gave me an appointment to come back to pick up the card (as well as pay the 2,500Kč fee in kolek).

The final steps:

On February 18th I went back to the office at Chodov and picked up my shiny new dlouhodoby pobyt and paid the 2,500Kč.  I am now legal until November 2017.

The following Monday I returned to the zivnostensky office where they copied my new residence card and issued my zivno with the same expiration date as my permit.

Total cost of this entire process:  2,880Kč (primarily the actual fee for the permit)

I’m now done this lovely process until the fall of 2017.

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Moved? Change of address on your initial six month visa.

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…..

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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.

The quick and easy visa process, part two – the appointment.

Getting there:

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.

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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.

The Appointment:

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.

Getting back:

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….

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…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!

Let me elaborate….

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.

Health insurance: 

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.

Final steps: foreign police and zivno office

Here you are with a nice new visa in your passport and an approved zivno.  There are only a few things left to do:

Register with the foreign police.  This has to happen within three business days of you entering the country with your new visa (even though if you are coming from within Schengen no one can tell when you entered).  Go to the foreign police office, take a number and wait.  **Note that there is a lot of different information on the internet about where to go but this office registered me, you can also find listings for other offices here.  This can be done alone but if you have a Czech friend now is a perfect time to ask them to come with you.  The foreign police spend all day registering people from outside of the Czech Republic but don’t speak anything but Czech.

Take your passport, your proof of medical insurance and a copy of your lease or housing document.  They will write your address in your passport and stamp it.  You are officially in!

**Another note:  The foreign police were not happy that I did not have my passport stamped when I originally entered the Czech Republic as a tourist even though this is the first time I have ever heard this and don’t think it applies to Canadians.  I did not argue, just apologized and he let it pass.

Now take your stamped passport back the folks at the zivno office and they will photocopy it and tell you to come back in a week for your final real zivno!  Even without this paper in hand you are legal and ready to look for work.

Only two more things to do:  taxes and social payment registration.

Approved! And health insurance….

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On April 22, 2013 I applied for my visa and on May 22 I had the all important email telling me I had been approved and my visa was ready for pickup in Vienna!  Not bad timing!  This also meant that regardless of when I actually picked up the visa my clock had now started and I had a visa until November 21, 2013.

The final piece of this puzzle is health insurance, you will need to take proof of insurance with you when you pick up your visa.  Requirements can be found here.  Keep in mind that if the insurance was not issued in the Czech Republic you will need to have the policy documents translated and this could be costly and time consuming.

I researched my options and decided to use Slavia.  They have a policy designed for foreigners and it perfectly meets the requirements for the visa.  There are some odd things in the requirements including things like coverage even if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you are injured – not a common thing to find in health coverage.

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.

Your insurance must cover the entire term of your visa so I purchased six months at a cost of 4,380Kc.  Buying it online saved me 20% but you can also get 10% off if you go ask in person.  IMPORTANT:  You will need the original documents as well as proof of payment – in my case as soon as I completed the online purchase I had a friend call and arrange for me to pick up my documents.

You won’t need an appointment to pick up your visa but it will have to be during opening hours which means being in Vienna early in the day –  I took the Student Agency night bus down and came back the same day.  Ten minutes at the Embassy and I had a nice shiny new visa in my passport!

Of course this is not over yet, next up registering with the Foreign Police and finalizing your zivno…

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…

Let’s get down to the basics first to avoid confusion later on.

IMPORTANT:  You have 90 days as a tourist here before you need to leave, the visa process can take up to 3 months to complete so get this started NOW.  You can not apply for the visa once you are beyond the 90 day window.  Many people stay beyond the 90 day window while the visa is being processed but technically this is illegal.

To stay in the Czech Republic beyond the 90 day tourist entry you will need a long stay “D” visa.  There are several reasons for applying for a long stay visa.

You could be a student, or find a company to hire you and help you get a visa, or you could become self employed and have a trade license.  Most English teachers coming to Prague now work as self employed contractors – it makes it easier for the schools to manage and in the end you make more money and have control over your own destiny!  With a work permit there are a lot of hoops for the employer to jump through and then if for some reason you lose your job you also lose your visa!  Not the best scenario!

For detailed information on visa types it is worth a read through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

We will be focusing on the “Long Stay D Visa For Purpose of Entrepreneurship” and the trade license or Živnostenský list”.

So which comes first?  The visa or the zivno (as it is commonly called)?  In a roundabout way the answer is both.

  1. Apply for and be approved for your zivno.
  2. Take your zivno approval letter to an appropriate Czech Embassy to apply for your visa.
  3. Once you have your visa take it back to the zivno office to get your true, official zivno!

The next posts will break it down further including timelines and what to do after this miracle occurs!