Living & Working in Prague as a Self-Employed, Non-EU Person
A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Zivnostensky Visa
2020 Update: Since originally publishing this post, we’ve gotten a tonne of emails from people who want to live and work in Europe as a non-EU citizen.
The thing is, getting the visa to the Czech Republic is a bit…complicated. It’s not HARD, and it’s not IMPOSSIBLE, but it takes patience, and an ability to wade through Kafka-esque Czech bureaucracy.
And if you manage to do so, it comes with great reward…the right to work as a self-employed person in Prague, one of the coolest cities in the world!
For this reason, we paid a helper to guide us through the visa process. While we don’t recommend our original helper, we do recommend using Veronika Buriánková from 4expats.
We recommend Veronika because 1) we’ve met her, and really like her, 2) we have many friends who’ve used her with success, and 3) she speaks great English, meaning no “lost in translation” moments.
You can get in touch with Veronika at [email protected].
Note that if you use that email address to get in touch with Veronika, you’ll pay the same price and we’ll get a referral fee. If you’re like, damn those Wandertooths and their damn referral fees, that’s cool too: you can get in touch with her via her website, and never mention anything about us, and you’ll still get awesome service and we won’t get a fee. Either way, you pay the same.
Wondering Where to Stay in Prague during your time in Prague?
Check out our Prague Neighborhood Guide!
Our Personal Experience
(Skip this section if you only care about the “How To”)
So…you probably heard that we’re living in Prague. And you may have read — with intrigue, of course — about the Živnostenský list, the word for the type of working permission we got so we can legally live and work in the Czech Republic while working as freelancers.
We were able to get this freelance visa, even though one of us was no longer eligible for a working holiday visa (if you’re eligible for the Youth Mobility Visa, for the love of God choose that option) and we’re not EU passport holders.
You may have been all like: whaaaaaa….I can live in Prague? Even though I don’t have a sweet, sweet EU passport? Do tell!
We just finished the paperwork and visa process in August, and I got to say: getting a long-term visa to stay in the Czech Republic and then getting on the Živnostenský list is a bit of a doozy.
Also, let it be said: we are far from being experts. If getting on the Czech Živnostenský list was theoretical physics, and Stephen Hawking/the geeks at CERN were, like, the experts you want to consult to get your Živno (that’s what the cool kids call it), then I’d be an 8-year-old picking my nose while watching Bill Nye the Science Guy demonstrate momentum with a ping pong ball (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
So while we can’t claim to know everything, we have become relatively familiar with the process.
And with that caveat out of the way, I figured it might be helpful if I put together a basic overview of how went about about moving to Prague as Canadian freelancers (also applies to Americans/Aussies/Kiwis) without EU citizenship.
Step-by-Step Guide (The “How To”)
Steps for Getting a Long-Term Visa & Živnostenský List Permission for the Czech Republic
1. Save your money.
Seriously, to qualify for the long-term visa, you need USD $6,000 in your bank account. That’s $6,000 per person, so if you are a couple and you’re applying together, you’ll need $12,000 USD.
Loonies don’t matter over here, apparently. If you don’t have six-large, you can probably transfer money into your account from your credit card/parents/sugar daddy, proceed with step two, and then transfer it back. But you didn’t hear that from me.
2. Get proof from your banker.
Now that you’ve got the cash (yay – step one complete!), you need to get your bank to write a letter confirming you have the cash. Get a letter from your bank that meets the following criteria:
1) it’s on bank letterhead;
2) it states that you’re the owner of the account (if you have a joint account with someone else, the letter should only mention you; if you’re in a couple and each of you are applying for the Živnostenský list , you’ll need two letters: one per person);
3) it is signed in blue ink (not black, not purple…);
4) it is an original document (faxers and emailers need not apply);
5) it has an official bank stamp (if possible – this won’t likely be a kiss of death if your banker gives you a confused look when you ask for an official stamp); and
6) it has a business card with your banker’s name attached to it. Also — and this is super important —
7) it is an account to which you have a debit card. You’ll need to produce your debit card for this account later down the line (see step 6, below).
You’ll then need to get your bank letter translated into Czech, because this is the Czech Republic, duh…
3. Criminal Records!
That sounded wrong: you need to NOT have a criminal record to move to the Czech Republic (criminals need not apply).
If you’re American, you have a sweet advantage: you just sign an affidavit promising that you don’t have a record and get it notarized by a Czech notary (so you’ll have to do this once you’re already in the CR).
If you’re Canadian, you need to get a police record
Czech check at the Canadian embassy in Prague. It takes about a week, as well as several frustrating hours of your time and 900 Kč per person (~ CAD $46).
Once you’ve got your official Canadian criminal record check, you then have to get it apostilled by the Czech foreign ministry. This costs 600Kč, but the foreign ministry DOESN’T ACTUALLY ACCEPT MONEY. Yep – no cash; no credit. S
o you have to go to the FREAKING POST OFFICE, buy an official stamp-like thingy which is used as currency instead of actual currency, and then get it apostilled.
I’m not going to lie: we got kind of frustrated at this stage.
UPDATE: The Canadian embassy in Prague no longer provides criminal record checks, due to a change from the RCMP requiring finger printing. If you’re Canadian, get your criminal record check in Canada before you leave. While it’s possible to get one from overseas, it’s expensive and very time consuming. As we haven’t done this (get a criminal record check overseas using the new process), we can’t give you much info or answer questions on it. So save yourself the hassle and get it at home!
4. Paperwork from a Landlord.
Next, you need to find accommodation in the Czech Republic, and your landlord needs to sign two separate documents: 1) some sort of proof of accommodation (basically, a contract) and 2) a signed business address document. Let’s deal with each of these separately.
If you need help choosing an area of the city to live in, be sure to check out our Prague neighborhood guide.
Notarized Proof of Accommodation is needed for your long-stay visa, not your Živnostenský list permission. As your first long-term visa for the Czech Republic will be for 6-months, you need a contract for a minimum of 8-months.
It must be signed by the owner of the flat, and if there is more than one registered owner (i.e. a married couple owns the flat together), you need signatures from all of them.
Housing co-ops, where everyone in the owner owns a small piece of the whole, are pretty common in the Czech Republic, so you’ll need to make sure the place you’re looking at isn’t a co-op, as you’ll never be able to get everyone’s signature. Once the owner(s) has signed it, they’ll need to get it notarized.
Signed Business Address.
Being on the Živnostenský list basically means you have a sole-proprietorship which you’ll run from home. Because you’re running a business from your flat, you’ll need to get your landlord to sign off on that.
This doesn’t need to be notarized, but the address needs to match your proof of accommodation document. Some landlords can be a bit testy about foreigners running businesses out of their flats, so you need to find a landlord who understands the Živnostenský list process, otherwise it will be a huge hassle.
There is a Facebook group for finding accommodation in Prague, but beware: accommodation scams are rampant in Prague. The best thing to do before signing a lease is to be sure the “landlord” you’re dealing with is actually the owner, and not an owner’s representative.
If you work with a visa agency, they can run a title search for you to reduce the chance of getting scammed at this stage of the game.
(UPDATE: Your business address doesn’t actually have to match your residential address, but you must have a business address in the Czech Republic. You can apparently rent virtual business addresses for this purpose).
5. Get on the preliminary Živnostenský list.
If you’ve made it this far, congrats. Take a breath and chillax, maybe have a pilsner, because you’re well on your way. Now you have to register at the Živnostenský list office for a preliminary Živno*, or something like that.
It’s a big of a strange little cycle: They won’t actually give you the Živno until you have your long-stay visa, but the long-stay visa people won’t give you the visa until you’re on the preliminary Živnostenský list. Isn’t freelancing fun?
When you apply for the Živnostenský list, you have to choose the “categories” in which you want to work. If a category (say: web design) isn’t listed on your Živno, then you won’t be legally able to do web design.
The advice we got was this: register for only one job category when you apply, and choose the category you think you can find clients in the most easily.
For us, this was teaching English. If you want to do other work, wait until you’re ready to pick up your final Živnostenský list permission (Step 10 – below) and add more categories then.
*At this point, it’s worth mentioning again that we hired an agency to help us with all this. It may have been possible to do it without the agency, but we most certainly would have needed a Czech speaker and a helluv a lot of patience.
6. Make an appointment for the long-stay visa.
Once you’re on the preliminary Živnostenský list, you need to set about getting a long-stay visa. You have to do this at a Czech embassy from outside the Czech Republic. Most people go to the Czech embassy in Bratislava, Berlin, or Vienna. We went to Berlin.
Basically, our agency made an appointment for us, and we showed up with the above paperwork, some photos and the debit card for the bank account with our USD $6000.
We had an interview, during which they asked us about our flat, our qualifications for the jobs we proposed to do in the Czech Republic (teach English), our plan for finding work (networking, our roommates, using the career services from the school we did our Cert. TESOL through), our expected earnings per month (more than 14,000 Kč and less than 21,000 Kč per month is the sweet spot they want to hear) , and our understanding of the Živnostenský list requirements (have more than one client; pay the monthly social tax; file taxes in March).
During the interview, you want to focus only on clients and work within the job category you listed on your preliminary Živnostenský list permission.
After the interview, we paid our visa fee (~ €100 per person), and were told to come back in one month to 6 weeks to pick up our visas.
7. Wait for your visa and buy insurance.
To actually pick-up your visa, you need to show proof of insurance for the duration of the visa. The insurance must be valid for all Schengen states and cannot have exclusions related to your own stupidity (i.e. drugs, alcohol).
Our insurance cost us around 3,500 Kč per person for 7 months and there are places all over Prague where you can buy foreigner insurance.
8. Return to the Same Czech Embassy, and pick up your visa.
Take your proof of insurance. Make an appointment before you go. This step is pretty self explanatory.
9. Register at the Foreign Police.
This is one of two STEPS OF DOOM. You’re so close to the finish line, and yet there’s a real chance the foreign police will make you cry. We were not brought to tears, which I consider a huge success.
You need to go to the foreign police (Olsanska 2, Praha 3) within 3 days of arriving back in the Czech Republic after collecting your visa, and get a stamp.
When you get to the office, go to the info window and tell them why you’re there. Ideally you’ll have a letter (in Czech) explaining what you need or a Czech speaker to help. Then take a number and wait.
When you get called into the room, just shut up and give the policeman what he wants (passport with visa, receipt for your insurance and all insurance documents) and pray that nothing goes wrong. With any luck, you’ll walk out with a fancy stamp!
10. Take your fancy foreign police stamp to the Živno office.
I have no idea what happens at this stage, because our agency took care of it. But this is the other possible step of doom. Presumably, there are unicorns sitting at computers typing up work permits. But not friendly unicorns. It’s the only logical explanation.
If you don’t have an agency doing this for you, then for the love of God take a Czech speaker.
11. Wait two weeks, then pick up your Živno.
Congratulations. You are now legal to work in the Czech Republic. That was easy, right?
UPDATE: You don’t need to wait two weeks anymore…apparently it’s only a one-week wait.
12. Take care of additional paperwork and requirements.
You’ll need to get a social security number, and arrange to pay a social tax of about 1,800 Kč per person per month.
You’ll also need to file taxes in March and maintain organized invoices, which you’ll need when you try to renew your visa and Živnostenský list permission in 6 months (you can renew for up to 2 years at a time).
Breakdown of the Hard Costs to Get our Long-Stay Visa and Živnostenský List Permission
- Criminal Record Checks: 900 Kč per person (~ USD $41)
- Criminal Record Apostille: 600 Kč per person (~ USD $28)
- Živno Fee: 1,000 Kč (~ USD $46)
- Long-Stay Visa Fee (at the Czech Embassy in Berlin): €100 per person (~ USD $127)
Additional Expenses You Should Prepare For:
- Money in our bank: USD $6,000 per person (not really a cost, but you have to have the money).
- Travel to and from a Czech embassy: Obviously, this varies. The cheapest option is probably a day-trip to Bratislava.
- Insurance: It varies, but ours was 3,500 Kč per person for 7 months (~ USD $161), which I consider a wash, as we’d have to be paying for travel insurance anyway, and $23 per month is pretty reasonable.
- Agency fee: This varies hugely depending on who you go with. If you can find a Czech speaker who’s willing to help for a small fee, that’s probably the most economical option! We wouldn’t recommend our original visa agency, but nor will I drag their name through the mud. We DO recommend Veronika from 4expats. You can email her at [email protected]
Note: Obviously fees have a tendency to increase over time (funny how they never seem to decrease, huh?) So your actual costs might vary somewhat if you go through this process today.
And there you have it. Certainly not a comprehensive guide, but it’s a good start to the process if you’re interested in moving to Prague as a non-EU freelancer.
Interested in Part II: How we got long term residency in Prague?
Click here to read that story!
90 thoughts on “Introducing the Živnostenský List: Working in Prague as a Canadian or American (or Aussie…or Kiwi…)”
Awesomely helpful post! I’ve heard of North Americans getting freelancer visas in Germany, but I didn’t really know it was option in the Czech Republic. Brent and I are hoping to stay in Europe beyond the 3 months our Canadian passports get us, so we’re currently trying to figure out what’s easier: 1) Applying for freelancer visas somewhere or 2) Me getting my British passport (my Mom grew up in the UK) and then getting a partner visa for Brent (who has no convenient European relatives). Both options are kind of complicated.
It’s definitely an option, Jessica! Although, I must say the money isn’t great here when if comes to teaching. If you’re under 35, I’d go for the Youth Mobility Visa if you can!
My head is spinning reading this! What a process but yay for finally getting it and making it work! :)
Yeah – it was a huge hassle, but Prague is so freaking beautiful, especially on a nice day, that it’s worth it! Not sure if we’ll stay beyond our initial 6 month visa, but we’ve had a lot of fun here so far, and it’s a great way to stay in the Schengen Zone for longer than 90 days
Shut up whining, North Americans. It is near impossible for Czechs/Europeans to get longterm visas for your countries. We should not allow you come to ours so easily. Go home.
Thanks for your perspective.
broaden your horizon Jari. Certainly there are ways to stay there long legaly, go find it.
FINGER, You say — “It is near impossible for Czechs/Europeans to get longterm visas for your countries”. You are actually wrong. The worst and stupid bureaucracy I have seen is in continental Europe. The description of what needs to be done just to get a simple visa in Czech republic, is proof of the sheer incompetence with which things work in some countries. All the steps mentioned above could be done online, followed by one trip to some local office.
In US, there are many ways to work, short-term or permanent stay. I know this because I have hired many people from different countries. In US, you rarely, if ever, go to different offices, or sit in lines, or get stamps. In special cases it may happen, but it is rare. Most processes are done by mail, to just one address. You can use a lawyer on a fixed-fee basic OR if you can read/write in English, you can easily file application yourself.
One thing you will notice in US (and US is unique in this regard) is that, most things require just ONE STEP, ONE MAILING, and the form will often be ONE PAGE or SHORT.
For US, as a start, please consider J1 or H1 permits. But there are more options.
I would say second easiest is UK, far ahead and way more efficient than even Germany, and generations ahead of Austria, Switzerland, central/eastern European countries. BUT forms in UK often are MANY pages long, and contain many useless questions. But UK official people are almost always — very nice, will answer your questions and will try to actually help you (they dont look anger/upset all the time, like in many other European countries, they do not resent you for filing some papers, they do not work with the intention of failing you).
There is a reason why US remains the best (and biggest!) place for business/work, and there is a reason why no EU country (still) cannot match the efficiency and sensibility (of public sector/laws) of United Kingdom and USA. Things are simpler in USA and UK, and they just work. I know this from years of first-hand experience.
I am just shocked at how behind in the world many (not all) EU countries actually are in 2021. Even some Asian countries have raced ahead in efficiency and practices.
Great post! We just helped some clients get the freelance visa for Spain and, yep, it’s just as DUMB and full of steps. Just go let Geoff make out with that beer – he deserves it!
I’ve hear horror stories about the process in Spain, so good for you and your clients for sticking with it. We’ll have to share una caña one day and compare the process!
This is a very beneficial guide! I had been wondering how some Americans I came across ended up there – it seems like quite the process!
Yup – “quite the process” is pretty accurate. It’s too bad, because the $ in the Czech Republic isn’t awesome, so the market is really targeted towards people who want to stay 6 months or a year, but no longer. If you ever have any questions, let us know!
Oh man–and I thought applying for a student visa in Spain was a pain!
You mentioned something about 6 months–just how long is the long-term visa good for? Is it equally a pain to renew?
The initial visa is for 6 months. After that, you can renew for up to 2 years at a time. The thing that sucks though is you have to pre-pay your insurance for the duration of your visa, and few people can afford to pre-pay for 2 years worth of insurance! The renewal doesn’t require you to leave the Czech Republic, but seems to cost Ck 2500 for the visa and CK 100 for the Zivno/business license. Plus an agency if you use one. It can add up quickly!
Wow, that does sound like a lot to pay up-front. If you can swing it though, you’re golden!
Yeah – the initial outlay sucks. That said, Prague is a nice place to hang your hat for a while. Not sure if we’ll go through with a renewal. Wanderlust calls, and all that!
Nice post. I’m currently living in Czech Republic.
I just can add that is even easier and quicker when you do the tramits outside Prague. Other less crowded cities are much better for doing this.
That’s a really good tip Nelson. I have wondered whether it would be easier in Brno or Ostrava, and I guess it makes sense that it does. Hope you’re enjoying the CR!
And then after all is done and dusted, you decide to move to France Aaaaaagh!
Is that what you guys did? Too funny! We’d love to learn more about the visas in France, too. I’ve heard they can be a bit of an administrative nightmare :). Heading over to check out your site now!
Congrats and wrapping up the paperwork, and getting the visa.
Thanks Elaine – it was a bit of an ordeal, so we’re pleased it’s over with!
Hey nice work figuring out the visa stuff. Its quite an overwhelming process. I’ve been in Prague for about a month now and I have a youth mobillity visa which I noticed you mentioned at the beginning. I way over my head because everyone is giving me mixed reviews about what I need to do regarding taxes and a zivno and all that jazz. Do you possibly know anything about it or anyone with one that I could get in contact with? It’s amazing how few people know anything about it or can give me any help. I’m feeling quite lost. Also I’m showing this post to my flat mates who do actually need to get a visa and they are very thankful :)
Hey Marissa – I am SOOOOOOOO sorry I missed this comment. I hope you’ve sorted everything out now. For our renewal (which we’re doing right now), we used Zlata Meyers from Stay in CZ (http://stayincz.cz/) – she is insanely awesome, and has been amazing at answering our questions and figuring things out. The other great place to ask questions is the Facebook group Crowdsauce, where you can ask pretty much any question about life in the CR (where can I buy Kale? I got something in the mail – what does it say? How do I deal with taxes?), and someone will answer. It’s full of long-time expats and helpful and friendly Czechs, so it’s a great resource! Good luck :)
This has been really helpful. Thank you! My husband and I are planning to move to Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic to teach English in July. We have been trying to figure out where and how to apply for visas, and it’s been difficult to get correct information. I just want to clarify. Did you do all of this while physically in Czech? That’s been the part we’ve heard differing opinions on. Thank you again for the detailed post! I hope you guys are loving Prague (if you’re still there). It’s a truly beautiful city.
Awesome! I’ve heard Hradec Kralove is an awesome place, so I’m sure you’ll have fun! To answer your question: yes, we did this all once we were in the Czech Republic. We did our bank letter from Prague, but if you can do that before you leave home, that would probably be easier! You also have to leave the country for your visa appointment and to pick it up. We went to Berlin for that, but lots of people go to Vienna and Bratislava too. We used an agency to help us, and the first agency we used really sucked. The second person we used was awesome, so I’d recommend her if you want help. Her name is Zlata and she is at stayincz.cz (we don’t have any financial affiliation – we just have found her to be helpful!). Let us know if you have any more questions!
Thanks! That’s great to know! We visited HK last year and fell in love so we’re going back to stay for a while. Quite a bit smaller than Prague but much nicer to live (my opinion) but close enough to visit Prague. I do have another question. Did you guys teach English there? If so, I have a teaching license and 5 years of experience. Do you recommend getting TEFL certification if I plan to teach English or is it necessary? Thanks for all your helpful information. It’s exciting to see someone else who has done what we are wanting to do. Yay!!
We visited HK and Prague last summer and fell in love with Czech Republic. HK is quite a bit smaller than Prague which I kind of like for living and working. I wouldn’t miss a chance to visit Prague though. It’s such an amazing city! I do have another question. I think I read that you guys taught English. Did you have to have a TEFL certification or anything like that? I have a teaching license and 5 years of experience. Do you think that TEFL would be necessary for finding a job? Thanks for all the helpful information!
Cool – we will definitely have to come visit HK this summer…you’re definitely selling it! As for the qual., I can’t say for sure. We did our TEFL at Oxford House, and it was the “Cert Tesol” which is certified by Trinity College London, and is equivalent to the Celta in that it’s respected and recognised around the world, and by the big players like British Council. It was a great experience, and I’d recommend it just to get your feet wet with teaching, because TEFL is pretty different from a normal classroom experience, I would think! I would also recommend you get in touch with British Council Prague, as last year they were looking for teachers for a ministry project for teachers outside of Prague…you might be a great fit and the pay for that is better than standard!
Reading about how long and tedious obtaining both your trade licence and long term visa had me stressed out of my mind and I was only READING about it! It sounds like you keep taking two steps forward and five steps back! I plan to take a TEFL course in Prague but with how long the whole process seems to take, do you think it’s wise to start the application before one arrives in Prague? I really don’t want to be stuck in Prague after I finish the TEFL course unable to work and making a big hole in my savings while I twiddle my thumbs and wait for the authorities to approve my visas. What do you suggest?
Hey Y – good question! I actually don’t know if you CAN start the process before you arrive, because you need to have accommodation and Czech health insurance in-place before they will approve your visa, and I can’t see how you’d manage to get those in place without being in the Czech Republic to do so. When I’m talking to people, I always say the process is a bit tedious and inconvenient, but not difficult. I’d just suggest you get started on it as soon as you arrive :)
Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to let others know about this complex process. For most people who have göne through it, I doubt that very many would want to document it, step by step.
One question comes to mind: What is the difference between an Employee Card and the long-term visa plus Zivno? Is it such that the former is for those employed by a school as the sole income source whereas the latter is for freelancers picking up hours / lessons here and there?
I have been teaching in Istanbul fo rthe last 7 years and the bureacracy is mounting over here, year by year. Thank God our great school actually prepares all the docs, makes deposits into our accounts for a day to show the minumum amount needed, and then helps us out at the foreign police office. Having said that, I understand that the foreign police have banned our staff member from entering their building recently. It is also difficult here on your own, though.
I plan to make the move to someplace in the CR once I have things in place and understand what is needed.
Take care and thanks so much,
Thanks for getting in touch, and great question. Sorry to hear that things are getting more difficult in Istanbul…I had always heard Turkey is a great place to teach.
So…from what I know and hear…language schools in the Czech Republic, or at least in Prague, are very unlikely to sponsor non-EU citizens to teach here, and it’s therefore really hard to get the employee card as a teacher. That’s why the Zivno is such a good option. With an employee card, you are obviously an employee. With a Zivno, you are self-employed, and then get contracts with a few different clients (schools). You’re responsible for your expenses, taxes, and for getting your visa stuff sorted out. So yeah…you got it right in your summary!
I hope that helps, and good luck!
Hello! I have a friend that is helping me get a job teaching English in Prague and and I’m looking into getting this type of visa. My husband is also wanting to come to Prague with me, but he is a musician and doesn’t plan on working, he just wants to work on his music and record his new album. I know with other work visas in Europe allow a spouse can live with the person with the work visa. Do you know if that’s also possible with the Živnostenský list? Like I could get the visa and he could be allowed to stay because we’re married?
Thanks for getting in touch…that’s super exciting that you’re planning a move to Prague :). To answer your question, it should be possible. For the first 6 month visa, it’s kind of a ‘benefit of the doubt’ visa, where you tell them what you plan on doing during the 6 months. I *think* as long as you can prove you have enough $$$ to support yourselves, you should be fine. If, after the first 6 months, you want to stay in Prague on a long-term resident visa, you’ll need to prove that you (the working spouse) made enough every month to support the non-working spouse. We actually did something similar, as one of us was working minimally to set up a new business project. We were told we needed to make 20,000 per month as a family to be considered good to go. That said, the rules can change super quickly, so we’d highly recommend getting a visa consultant to help. We have some friends going through a somewhat complicated visa process right now, and they are using Veronika from 4 expats ([email protected]). Good luck, and let us know if you have any more questions – happy to do what we can!
This post rocks! I have a friend from America and we are planning to move to the Czech Republic together and stay there for a while! I was in Prague last year and the city is fascinating! I had a great time and I drank such tasty beer (the tastiest beer I have ever drunk was in Belgium, I can’t lie about this). Moving to Check Republic is a huge step but as a freelancer I believe that I will be able to live good there… I am European which also makes the steps way less…and easier. I don’t know how my American friend will go through all these steps but I believe that he will be strong enough! Thanks for the post! :) Greets!
I just renewed my zivno and have a long term residency based on that. I believe this is valid for 2 years. I know that I need to make a certain amount of money each month but if I decide to leave the country for 3 months for vacation can I still keep my long-term residency? I will also give up my apartment during these 3 months but I will keep my social security, health insurance etc. I will not be making any income at this time. Can you guide me on what I can do to make this work out or what I should do in general. All help is appreciated!
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – we’ve been travelling and offline for a few. I don’t know for sure, so its best to double check all I say, but my understanding is that you can put your Zivno on hold, which means you stop paying social tax during that time and are free to go wherever. I think that would probably be your best bet! Other than that, I have heard on Crowdsauce that you can leave the CR for 3 months (at a time? in a year?) and still maintain your residency, although I’m not too sure if that’s true. I hope this helps, and happy travels!
Thank you for your response! I will definitely check into it :)
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Great post! Living in Prague was one of the best times in my life. I moved to Europe to study my Masters Degree in Denmark and when I graduated stayed to live and work there. Half an year later I moved to the Czech Republic and lived in Prague for three years. I kept traveling around Europe and then I met my German husband. We moved to Scotland to work, but we often go back to Prague. Greets!
Karen! It seems we end up in the same places…I went to school in Denmark too, albeit on a much different level, attending in high school as part of an exchange, just outside Vejle on Jylland. Small world, but yes – Prague is a lot of fun! Thanks for stopping by :)
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This post is so extremely helpful. My husband and I leave for Prague Jan 24 2016 and I start at OxfordTEFL on Feb 8th.
I had a question regarding insurance,you mentioned it’s required for the Zivno list, are you referring to overseas health insurance? I’ve been trying to find a company, but if it’s something I can wait and just do there then I might wait. So far I’ve found GeoBlue but the cheapest rate for two people is $220 per month!
I am glad the post was helpful, and that’s awesome you’re heading to Prague to do your course with Oxford…they are an awesome bunch, and be sure to say hey to David, from Geoff and Katie :)
Re. insurance, you actually need Czech insurance, and it’s considerably cheaper than the international policies you’re getting quoted on. So, you’ll need an international policy at first, to cover you while you for the first little while, and then you can switch to a Czech policy, which will cover you throughout the Schengen Zone (most, but not all, of Europe). Let us know if you have any more questions, and I hope this helps!
Go home. Non Europeans don’t belong in our nation.
Progressive and insightful viewpoint…except not.
Okay, so I guess all take all of my money with me that I’m willing to pour into your economy because I love and respect Prague. Also, I’m half European… so… yeah.
Katie and Mathiew, how happy am i to read your blog tonight as our deadline for submitting the documents is getting nearer!!! we are a Canadian family of 4…2 adults and 2 children wanting to spend a year in Praha.We are over 35 years old. My intention was to apply for a zivno…while applying from Canada for a long term visa…1 year. My spouse shall apply for a family long term visa..can he apply for a zivno from our arrival in Praha?… We have a house to live in as we are trading houses with another family from Dablice. we have the lease contract in Czech language already from the 15th of Aug to the next Aug…. but just found out about the visa and zivno competition as we do not know which one we should prioritize…hoof! so confusing and we ask the staff at the Ministry of interior and they refer us to the MOI site..which gets us confused. I have a potential employer who is willing to help me apply for zivno…I will probably have an english teacher contract in preschool for @ 1600KC$ per working day..Kids will attend school…english private one..not that we can afford it but my dad will help me pay for their studies abroad..14000kc per year( for the 2 of them)…Meridian Int school
We are getting all our documents ready now and translated too for we have the intention to drive to Ottawa at the end of March for handing out all our papers…shall we make it? Can I apply for Zivno from abroad? Can I use my criminal check from the RCMP…stamped too …i will get it translated…and I will have a recent one as I apply for one this week. Where do I get the papers for my landlord to allow me to do business in his house…??? He sure will agree with it as he knows me…can i have a sample of a letter? May i write you some more..i got in touch with 4 expats and Centic agencies too 2 weeks ago…Thanks…M and R
Thanks for your comment – that’s really exciting that you’re planning a year in Prague with your family! Re. your visa / zivno, I can’t be 100% sure, because we can only speak from our personal experience. However, my understanding is that you need to get the visa first, and then once you have the visa, you can apply for the zivno. So….I would think you apply for the visa in Ottawa, and then apply for the zivno once you’re in Prague. Re. the landlord letter for permission to do business in the house, I don’t have a template, but Veronika from 4 Expats would definitely be able to help you out with that! I hope this helps and answers your questions and good luck!!!
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I know this post is old but thank you so much for it. It lightened up my day. It feels like this has been hidden from the internet. I’ve been only aware of popular visas in Germany, Spain and France. So yeah, I’m definitely going to contact 4expats first thing in the morning and start the process. I volunteered in Prague a year ago and enjoyed it so much…..and the czech beer. So good :)
I just have a question and was wondering if you have any experience with it:
I’m a filmmaker from South Africa and I have some contacts with artists in Prague that can hook me up with work etc….but I also have contacts with creative agencies in Berlin, Dublin and Krakow who would like to collaborate in the near future. I know I can go to Berlin for a few days to film or work on set or whatever….but can I legally get paid by a german production company while residing (and paying tax) in Czech? Or am I only allowed to do work in CR with that visa?
Hope you can help, thanx
I’m so glad to hear that! I know it can be overwhelming trying to find this info, which is doubly stressful when you’re trying to move to another country! As far as I know, you’ll be able to bill clients all over the world through your Czech company (basically a sole proprietorship). However, the visa will only give you permission to actually complete the work in the CR. Does that make sense? So you can only work in the CR, but you can get paid by a German production company (for work done in the CR). Do with that info what you will! And Veronika will of course have more of an idea of whether I’m telling you the right info – ha ha! This is just my best understanding, but I’m certainly not an expert!
OMG! :) thanks for this explanation! i can’t stop saying OMG! I have one question
I would like to travel to CR ,(my gf lives there) good thing is I do not need to get a schengen visa or sth like that..! :) Can I start this whole process while being there without visa on a stay of 90 days within the 180 day period??? (that’s how i think u did…:S )
Thanks for ur time for writing this post :)
Hey there! When we went to the Czech Republic, it was our first country in the Schengen Zone, so we got the 90-day stamp on arrival. We started the visa process after about 6 weeks, leaving 6 weeks remaining on our Schengen stamp, and picked up our long-stay visa on Day 89 in Berlin. So we never had to leave the Schengen, and we didn’t overstay our visa. If you hire a helper like Veronika to go through the process, she will be able to advise you on current processing times, etc., so you know when (in your 90-day Schengen allotment) you need to apply and get the process going.
Does that make sense, and answer your question?
Thanks for this helpful post! My boyfriend and I are planning to move to Prague in a few months (him to work remotely through his US employer, me to teach English). A few follow up questions…
1) You mentioned that you arrived on your 90 day tourist stay and started applying after about 6 weeks. Were you able to work/earn money while you waited for your paperwork to come through?
2) I read that most places will not allow you to sign a lease before you have your paperwork. If we are still there on the 90 day tourist visa (and applying for the freelance visa), how can we get proof of residency? We would like to rent an apartment for 12 months, but unsure if that is possible?
Glad you found it helpful :) Re. question #1, you probably wouldn’t be able to teach at a school without the Zivno, as that’s the document the schools/employers would need in order to legally hire you. 2) You need the lease to get the residency, so you’ll have to jump in and get an apartment with all paperwork before applying to your residency and Zivno paperwork. We never had problems with this, and landlords who are used to dealing with foreigners in Prague are used to signing the docs needed for the Zivno. Hopefully this makes sense? I think your first lease needs to be minimum 8 months long, so a 12 month lease should be fine!
I hope this helps!
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Hi Katie! Thank you so much for posting this. I arrived in Prague a few days ago and am looking to start the visa process ASAP. I studied abroad here in 2012 so I knew as soon as I got here this time that I would want to stay. Currently looking for jobs/apartments AND trying to figure out this visa stuff and man, is it stressful! Wanted to ask you a question about hiring someone to help you – how much did it cost? It sounds like Veronika really made things easier for you guys, but a friend of mine also mentioned that these agencies charge hundreds of dollars. I know a few Czech speakers who could help translate things, but depending on the price I’m thinking it might just be easier to hire someone. Thanks!
Hope you’re enjoying life back in Prague! Awesome that you took the leap to get back to such a great city :)
Honestly, I personally can’t imagine doing it without a pro, but I do know people who have. My biggest issue was that rules seemed to always be changing, and I found having an agent help us ensured we didn’t get caught in those random rule changes. That said, it’s of course possible to do i on your own.
I *think* (but I honestly can’t remember) it would cost a few hundred dollars with Veronika (probably best to send her an email as the prices vary based on what you need). Not an insignificant amount of money, but for us it was worth it, and I think it’s fair based on the amount of time it takes them.
I hope this helps and good luck with it all!!!
I read this wandertooth post about 4 months ago, (I gotta thank you guys for making this post by the way) and I started talking to Veronica.. she is very nice and kind, she replies all of your emails… here I just a month ago I moved to Prague, and I am able to work .. thanks to Veronica! .. trust me.. it’s not expensive! :)
That’s awesome feedback, Jose. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts. We hope you’re enjoying life in Prague!
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Do they have a long term visa for retirees age over 55? I don’t have plans to work or start a business but I can if I have to. If yes, what kind of visa and can I apply in Czech Republic? I have steady retirement income of over 5k a month and bank deposits. I am also a frequent visitor to Prague and I like to spend part of my retirement days in Prague. Please advise.
Thanks for getting in touch. We can only speak from personal experience, and about the type of visa we got. As we’re not in the same situation as you, we don’t have experience with that type of visa. I’d suggest you send Veronika an email and speak with her about your specific situation. We’re mere travellers like you!
Best of luck!
Hi there! Where did you get your insurance? Planning to apply a self-employed visa as well.
There is a very small insurance broker under Wenceslas Square. If you enter the metro near the Debenhams department store and walk straight when you get to the bottom of the stairs, it should be on your left. It it’s not there, it’s one aisle over.
That said, this is for the cheapest of the cheap insurance – basically the minimum you need for the visa. We have other comprehensive insurance through an overseas provider that we actually use. This is what we bought to satisfy the visa office, with no real intention of using it.
Your blog has helped us tremendously. We were able to get our self employed visa, and we just were approved for renewal. As for insurance, the rules have recently changed for that particular visa and now you must be on the public insurance instead purchasing private insurance so you might want to make sure you need to pre-purchase insurance as before.
Awesome!!! That’s great news, Lauren. Thanks for letting us know, and we hope you love Prague :)
We love Prague. We’re actually living and working in Hradec Králové which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Prague by train. There are lots of opportunities for native speakers here, and it’s a really nice, smaller city. A great option for those who are a bit intimidated by bigger cities and crowds. For a girl from the country (like me), it was a much better option. There is still a lot to do here and it’s close enough to Prague that we can go often.
It almost puts a real smile on my face reading about you guys making it through the torture of Cz bureaucracy and enjoying beautiful Prague!
I quick question: Could you possibly remember how long did it take for them to approve the long term visa from the day you applied?
I applied for the freelancer visa, after getting the Živnostenský list, about 85 days ago, and they said 60-90 days, so I’m wondering how much longer would I have to wait..
Thanks in advance! I hope you guys are having fund embracing new adventures!
I hope you guys are having fun and embracing new adventures!*** :-)
I think it took us about 6 weeks for the visa to be approved. I remember when we were applying, our visa agent told us the “waiting time” at the different embassies where it’s possible to apply (Berlin, Vienna, Bratislava, etc). At the time, Vienna and Bratislava were considered slow, and Berlin was able to do it much quicker, so we went to Berlin.
I would guess it just depends on how many applications they’re processing at the same time.
Wow, Thank you so much for the effort you put in to let us know the process.
I will try to see if this is applicable for me or not. (fingers crossed) where can we check the list of job or skill we are applicable for this visa.
You may well have changed my life. As a Yank intent on moving abroad, I had originally focused on the Netherlands (via DAFT). I spent a few days there, last week. Then, I decided to check out Prague’s technical scene (I’m a software engineer) this week. Good gracious, some very cool things are happening in Prague.
Over dinner, I happened upon your blog. I have already sent an email to Veronika in the intervening few hours.
A quick question, you mentioned that the “sweet spot” for expected earnings per month was more than 14,000 Kč and less than 21,000 Kč per month. I assume that range depends on the nature of ones’ profession. Would you mind elaborating?
Thank you so much,
We’re so happy to hear you found this info, and you loved Prague. It’s such a great city, and is a lot of fun to live there:) As I recall, there are also loads of software type jobs in Prague.
Re. the salary – yes. That sweet spot is for teaching English. I *think* the government has a range in its mind of what it thinks salaries for a position will be, and it essentially wants to be sure you’re being reasonable in terms of how much you can expect to make. I would expect Veronika can help you figure out what that means for an IT job in Prague.
There are quite a few Facebook groups for finding jobs in Prague, and I’d definitely suggest you join those to get started on your hunt. If you do a search in Facebook for a combo of terms “IT JOBS PRAGUE” or something like that, and hit “groups” then they should come up. Also, I can recommend joining the Facebook group “Crowd Sauce CZ” which is like a crowdsourced Q&A for life in Prague…any time you have a question about getting an apartment, best cell phone company, etc, Crowd Sauce can be pretty helpful!
Best of luck to you! And thanks for the note :)
Katie (& Geoff)
Lord have mercy. Thank you for taking the time to write this post and educate us. If I decide to do this, I will definitely use your link to your recommended helper. I can’t imagine doing this on your own. Two questions:
1) what if you have proof of monthly income from current clients that is significantly over whatever the threshold is for that particular job class? Do they care about the upper limit – I realize they don’t want you to BS them, but I have actual signed contracts for monthly amounts I could bring.
2) Does/How does this impact your ability to travel elsewhere in the Schengen countries? I’m US based – assume that I’m still restricted to the same 90 out of 180 days for any other country, and can just reset in Czech Republic?
I’m a little worried about what else might happen in the Czech police station, but maybe I’ll just leave that one alone.
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This post was super helpful, especially the upfront pricing (so many sites don’t want to tell you what they charge!). I have visited Prague a few times on a tourist visa and have decided to move there for at least a year. I have a lot of friends in the city willing to help me find work and a place to stay. My biggest question with all this is can I apply for the visa and the actual zivno in Prague while on a tourist visa or must I stay in the US for most of the process (until the obviously in-Prague steps)?
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I have a couple questions: Why do you recommend to get only one category on the ŽIVNOSTENSKÝ LIST? I am Czech and my boyfriend is American so I am just researching this for him but as far as I know, you can have as many categories as you want and it does not cost any additional fee if you tell them all the categories at once. But if you come after a month and want to add one- then you pay 500 crowns for that. I know this is the process for Czech people
so I was just wondering… why do you not recommend this?
My much more important question is: Once you have the ŽIVNOSTENSKÝ LIST- do you not have to pay the heath insurance? about 1600 crowns a month? Because this si what I have to pay plus I also pay for my social insurance- which is a little higher about 1900 crowns a month- but I am not 100% sure of this is necessary. So do you pay your health insurance or not? and if so- did you get the health insurance card from a Czech insurance company like VZP or 211 MV? or any other? Or do you not pay it bc you have to have the “travel health insurance” for the whole time? Thanks a lot :)
We were told it’s better to apply for only one category of the Zivno at the time of application, and add more after. The person advising us at the time said we were more likely to get approved that way. Once we had the Zivno, we had to pay social tax every month. We had to have health insurance that covered the duration of our visa as part of the application process, and had to purchase health insurance for the entire duration of any renewal we applied for. We used a local Czech company for the insurance, but it was not the public health insurance.
I hope this helps!
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Thank you for your sharing! I am overwhelmed by your helpful information! I plan to apply long-term visa to Czech as a freelancer, as I am checking some information online and it said that I need to state and clarify my “purpose” of staying there, wanna kindly ask you is it necessary to provide that? Coz under my understanding maybe “freelancer” is just to state that how could i make money to support my expense there. And plus, do I need to provide an explanation letter to introduce how I made and will make money as a freelancer? Is it necessary too? I am based in China and would be grateful for any information and help from you! Thanks in advance!
Thanks for getting in touch. I honestly don’t remember there being a section where we had to state our purpose, and from what I recall we didn’t have to write an explanation letter at all. We applied for the visa once we were already in the Czech Republic, and my understanding is that’s the only way you can apply for this particular type of visa. Sorry I can’t be of much help :( I hope this works out for you!
We are an American family of 3. Our son would be 14 or 15 at the time of our move. We are considering a move to the Czech Republic (Czechia). At the time of our move we will also have been residents of Mexico for 5+ years holding permanent residency visas in Mexico. It sounds like the long-term visa by a trade license (freelance) might be the best option for us. I currently am a freelancer working remotely from Mexico for clients in the US. I have a contract with one client that consistently provides me with $6000 USD per month. I do project management and operations management (managing the scope, timelines, teams, and budgets for writing projects), which I’m not sure is listed as a trade option, but my husband can register as an English teacher. We also have $125,000 USD in a 401k account (retirement account). Can we use the 401k account as proof of income? Would I be taxed on my freelance income from US clients? If so, how much?
Also, what are the requirements for health insurance? We are all in good health, but my son does have a pre-existing condition that most private insurance companies won’t cover, so we pay out of pocket for his treatment and medicine. Will that be a problem with the visa approval?
Do you think we would have an easy time gaining residency?
Also, is homeschooling legal in the Czech Republic? What is the price of a typical private high school in Prague and are there any schools that are taught in English?
Thanks for the comment and sorry for the short delay in responding. We’ll do our best to answer your questions, but to be honest we’re not experts in the areas you’ve asked about, so all we can do is talk about our own experience and point you in the right direction.
Agree that the trade license probably sounds like a good fit for you. We applied for the trade licence separately, but when it came to renew they took our income as a family, as we were married. We didn’t have any kids when we lived in Prague, so I don’t have any experience in terms of how much money they’ll want to see you earning to support a family of 3. My guess is that USD $6K+ would be more than enough, but I could be wrong. A visa consultant would be able to answer this question more accurately, I’m sure.
Re. the 401K as proof of income, I believe the answer is no. At least when we applied, we couldn’t use non liquid investments (aka, anything other than cash in a bank account) as proof of income. As a couple, we needed to have USD $12K in a bank account. You may need $12K, you may need $18K to account for your son, or it could have changed since we went through the process.
If you are on a Zivno, you will be taxed on any income you’re running through a Czech bank account (again, this is my limited understanding of the process). You would likely need to run the US client income through your Czech bank account to show that you were earning enough to stay in the Czech Republic, in which case, yes you would be taxed. I worked for an Australian client while on the Zivno, and the client paid me into my Czech bank account and I paid taxes on those earnings. I don’t remember the tax rate, but I think it was pretty low.
Re. insurance, we had to purchase insurance from a Czech insurer. We bought the cheapest policy we could find (I can’t remember the cost) because we never intended to use it, as we had better insurance from a worldwide insurer. I *believe* you can also pay to get onto the public system once your visa is approved and that may be a good solution for your son?
We don’t know anything about the school system in Prague as we didn’t participate or know anyone with school aged children, so can’t help you on that one.
Again, we aren’t experts. We’re simply people who went through the process. We used a consultant to help us navigate the process and would probably suggest you reach out to someone who specializes in gaining residency in the CR to do the same. We recommend Veronika (Vero) as we’ve had friends use her and say good things (the consultant we used was actually terrible and is now out of business). There are many others out there though! You can reach her at [email protected].
I hope this helps at least point you in the right direction!
Greetings from Canada! For now.
First, THANK YOU from the bottom of my Canuck heart for these posts. I am a freelance journalist who has visited Prague three times previously (including a three-month work stint on a contract a few years back), and the goal has always been to live and work there. With the world more than a bit topsy turvy currently, why not throw caution to the wind, listen to my heart and give it my all now? Seriously, why not? No reason. I’m preparing for a move this September. So I have scoured the internet relentlessly for weeks (now that I have decided that this is happening), and I have found virtually zero personal accounts about the process specifically for Canadians. I know that all of this is just your own experience and is not evergreen (and the events in your post happened a few years back), but this is an INVALUABLE resource.
That said – there is one thing that I am finding particularly daunting. I am VERY surprised that in all of my research, I have read virtually nothing about the fears and bowel-loosening panic of perhaps NOT being approved. This is considerably mind-numbing when it comes to signing a lease. Let me state that I fully understand the process that you have described. I understand why these steps need to be in place and their order. However — whether it’s an 8-month or a one-year lease, at the time of signing it, you don’t even KNOW if you’re going to be approved for the long-stay, right? So wasn’t there the extreme fear of, “Now we’re locked into this lease for xx amount of time, but our application for the long-stay might get denied, and then we’d have to go home after 90 days is up and…what? Break our lease? How does that work?”
I know that you guys (after all of the necessary hoop jumping) were approved (yay!), so I guess what I’m asking is: were you guys at all scared of this happening as a real possibility? Were you perhaps assured that it was highly unlikely that you’d be denied, so proceeded with a lease with confidence? Have you heard any stories of North Americans who followed the steps to the letter and then were denied, and had to leave and give up their apartment? Another website outlines the entire process from personal experience (and from helping others with their visas), and she says that “Most North Americans get approved.” But what’s the likelihood of NOT getting approved?
Trust me, I’m planning on being approved! There are lots of hoops, but other than that, it seems cut and dry. I just find it baffling that I have found nothing from anyone saying, “It seems crazy signing a lease without even knowing if we’d be legally allowed to stay, and we were scared.”
Also, any insight on purchasing a one-way ticket or a return ticket when initially flying over to Prague? I have heard that you might have a hard time getting into the country with a one-way ticket, so…
Anyhow, sorry for the ramble, but – real concerns! I hope that you can see where I am coming from. Any and all insight (even from others’ experiences that you have heard about) is vastly appreciated!
Thank you so much, and have a fantastic day!