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Moving to Czech Republic

As one of the most developed and industrialised economies in Central Europe, expats moving to the Czech Republic will find that the country is not only a popular tourist destination, but also a growing expat destination. A small and safe landlocked country, the Czech Republic is the western part of the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (Czechoslovakia), which split to form two separate states in 1993.

Tourists flock to the country’s commercial, social and cultural capital, Prague, to marvel at its historical buildings and natural beauty, the central focus of which is the city’s imposing castle. Outside of the capital, there are more historical landmarks to be seen; the country has countless castles, keeps and ruins, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The majority of the Czech Republic’s population is Czech; other ethnic groups include Slovaks, Ukrainians, Germans, Vietnamese and Poles. The main language is Czech, which can present an element of culture shock for new arrivals. Although many of the younger Czech population are able to speak English as it is taught in most schools, older generations may be unable to converse in English, especially outside the larger cities. German is also a common second language in the Czech Republic. Expats should make at least some attempt to learn Czech if they want to converse with the local population.

Most new arrivals will find themselves living in Prague, which is the site of the European headquarters of many international companies. Recently, the city’s economic structure has become less industrial and more service-oriented. Strong sectors include machinery, manufacturing, tourism and finance. All of these industries are ideal for expats looking for opportunities to work in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic has a developed transport system, with Prague having an established network of trains, buses, trams and a metro. Expats living in Prague may get by without owning a car, but those living outside of the city will likely need a vehicle for getting around. 

Healthcare in the Czech Republic is of a high standard, with most large medical facilities centred in Prague. Many doctors and dentists are able to speak English. Healthcare is free to all citizens and is provided through compulsory contributions to a state-approved insurance fund. Most expats working in the country will qualify for Czech public healthcare, depending on their residency status. The Czech Republic also has reciprocal health agreements with some countries, so expats should explore their options in this regard.

Those with children need not worry about their children’s education when relocating to the Czech Republic. There are a number of international schools in Prague, all catering to different nationalities.

Prague has ranked highly in numerous international liveability surveys and the country generally offers expats a high standard of living. Despite an increase in accommodation costs, the general cost of living is affordable relative to West European standards and foreigners are generally able to maintain active and enriching lifestyles in the country.

As Czechs are known to be some of the heaviest beer drinkers in the world, it goes without saying that there is a thriving social scene, with many pubs and restaurants offering expats a good night out. Due to its central location in Europe, there are also many opportunities for travel outside of the Czech Republic for a weekend break or extended holiday.


Fast facts

Population: 10.7 million

Capital cityPrague (also the largest city)

Neighbouring countries: The Czech Republic is bordered by Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Slovakia to the southeast and Austria to the south. 

Geography: The country is landlocked and can be divided into two main areas geographically; Bohemia to the west and Moravia in the east. Bohemia is ringed by low mountains and its landscape is defined by hills, plains and plateaus. Moravia is defined by rolling hills and valleys.

Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic

Main languages: Czech is the official language, but German and English are also spoken.

Major religions: Predominantly non-religious with a Roman Catholic minority

Money: The currency is the Czech koruna (CZK), sometimes called the Czech crown in English.

Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory but foreigners may be expected to tip more than their local counterparts. In most cases, expats can tip by rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10 korunas or, if in a restaurant, adding 5 to 10 percent of the total to the bill.

Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. 'Type-C' and 'Type-E' European-style plugs with two round pins are used. 

International dialling code: +420

Internet domain: .cz

Emergency contacts: 112 (general emergencies), 158 (police), 155 (ambulance), 150 (fire)

Transport: The country is well-conntected in terms of public transport, especially Prague. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.

Embassy Contacts for Czech Republic

Czech embassies abroad

  • Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 274 9100

  • Embassy of the Czech Republic, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 243 7908 

  • Embassy of the Czech Republic, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 562 3875

  • Embassy of the Czech Republic, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6290 1386

  • Embassy of the Czech Republic, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 431 2390 

  • Embassy of the Czech Republic, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 668 1135

  • Honorary Consulate General of the Czech Republic, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 9 306 5883


Foreign embassies in Czech Republic

  • United States Embassy, Prague: +420 257 022 000

  • British Embassy, Prague: +420 257 402 111

  • Canadian Embassy, Prague: +420 272 101 800

  • Australian Consulate, Prague: +420 221 729 260 

  • South African Embassy, Prague: +420 267 311 114

  • Irish Embassy, Prague: +420 257 011 280

  • New Zealand Honorary Consulate, Prague: +420 234 784 777 

Public Holidays in Czech Republic

 

2021

2022

Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State

1 January

1 January

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Liberation Day

8 May

8 May

Saints Cyril and Methodius Day 

5 July

5 July

Jan Hus Day

6 July

6 July

Day of Czech Statehood

28 September

28 September

National Day

28 October

28 October

Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day

17 November

17 November

Christmas Eve

24 December

24 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December

Pros and Cons of Moving to Czech Republic

When moving to a new country, mixed emotions such as excitement and nervousness are natural, and even seasoned expats may struggle with the decision of a particular move. In these situations, it can be helpful to learn about the specific quirks and characteristics of living in a certain place.

Every country has its positives and negatives, and the Czech Republic is no exception. Below is one expat's account of the pros and cons of moving to the Czech Republic.


Accommodation in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Good value for money

Since the Czech Republic joined the EU, the real estate market has been booming, thanks to the influx of foreigners, the rapid growth of the country's middle class and the strength of the Czech koruna. Despite high demand, accommodation in Prague is still cheaper than in other major European capitals. Considering that living in Prague means being at the centre of a rich and diverse culture with easily accessible attractions such as museums and historical sites, living in the Czech Republic is excellent value for money.

- CON: Apartments aimed at foreigners are often more expensive than those for locals

Housing specifically advertised to foreigners is typically more expensive than those aimed at locals. Bargains can be found, but many of the websites that advertise these bargains tend to be in Czech. 


Lifestyle in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Thriving social scene and lots of outdoor activities

Due to the influx of tourists and expats, the social scene in Czech Republic is diverse. In Prague in particular, expats will find a wide variety of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from. For the more outdoorsy types, the Czech Republic is bordered by mountains and its forests are well preserved, which presents many opportunities including cycling around the countryside or hiking during the summer. In winter, there is cross-country- or downhill skiing.


Safety in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Low crime rate

The Czech Republic is a relatively safe country. Crime rates are low, and the European emergency telephone number is available for foreigners who don’t speak the local language.  

- CON: Increasing rate of pickpockets 

More and more opportunistic pickpockets are beginning to operate in the Czech Republic. Whenever in a crowded place, foreigners are advised to be mindful of their valuables.


Working in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Great salary and benefits packages for expats

Most expats who relocate to take up employment in the Czech Republic are in senior positions. Compared to locals, foreigners are generally well paid. Oftentimes, the company pays for accommodation and other expenses during that person’s stay in the country.

- CON: Bureaucracy in government departments

In the Czech Republic, the Ministry of the Interior handles immigration and this institution is highly bureaucratic. Assuming that all of the necessary paperwork for work permits and visas has been submitted and approved, expats must then report to the Foreign Police once they arrive in the country. This process in itself can also be cumbersome, often requiring the submission of documents that were already submitted to the Ministry of the Interior for the initial work permit application.


Transport in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Public transport is cheap, efficient, easy to use, safe and clean

The Czech Republic’s public transport system is well managed. In Prague, one-month passes can be purchased which can be used for any kind of public transport (tram, subway or bus). Schedules are strictly followed so passengers can rest assured that they will get to their appointments on time. Information on travel times and connections is easily accessible online and regular schedules are posted at the stops.

- CON: Local taxis may try to scam foreigners

Czech taxi drivers are notorious for charging highly inflated rates and taking unnecessary detours in order to guarantee higher fares. 

- CON: Getting a local drivers' licence can be difficult

For expats from certain countries, the process of fulfilling Czech driving requirements can be arduous. For the first three months of their residency, they may drive on an International Drivers Permit. After this period, they will need a Czech licence to continue driving.

Some countries have an agreement with the Czech Republic allowing nationals to simply exchange their home-country licence for a Czech one, and anyone with a drivers' licence from an EU country can continue driving on their existing licence. However, those from non-EU countries without such an agreement will need to take driving lessons for a certain number of hours before finally taking theoretical and practical tests assessing their driving ability. 


Culture shock in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Plenty of expat organisations

There are a number of expat organisations in the Czech Republic. Most of these cater to a wide range of interests. They also have a strong online presence, which makes them easy to find. Expats find it easier to make friends in the Czech Republic once they attend one of the many events organised by expat groups.

- CON: Poor customer service

Perhaps a legacy of communism, customer service in the Czech Republic isn't great. In a grocery store, even if there is enough manpower to open another cash register, customers often still wait patiently in line, not bothering to complain to the store manager about opening another register. In some auto shops, an oil change can take the whole day with customers being at the mercy of the mechanic assigned to do the job. Somehow, it is accepted as a norm and nobody seems to complain.


Cost of living in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Affordable goods and services 

Everything from real estate to food, utilities and healthcare is reasonably priced in the Czech Republic. Staples such as bread, potatoes and meat are of good quality and are inexpensive. Household goods, furniture and electronics from familiar Western brands are easily accessible in malls and specialty stores. Furniture is also reasonably priced since there are a lot of highly skilled craftsmen in the country.

- CON: Petrol is expensive

As is commonly the case in Europe, petrol in the Czech Republic is more expensive than in many other countries around the world.


Healthcare in Czech Republic

+ PRO: Healthcare system is good and inexpensive

The healthcare system in the Czech Republic is generally good, and those with an insurance card are eligible for nationalised healthcare. There are doctors in each district but new arrivals are free to choose their personal doctor.

The approach to medicine is westernised and it is relatively inexpensive compared to other western states. Patients often pay a minimal fee for consultations, but many other services are free, including lab tests. Most doctors also speak English, even in cities outside of Prague.

- CON: Impersonal approach

During a visit to a doctor, medical staff may come off as grumpy and waiting times at hospitals are long. Although most doctors speak English, nurses and medical staff might not.

Doctors can be curt and may appear to be unsympathetic, but this is a normal element of Czech medical culture. Those from a country in which doctors always take time to discuss matters and answer questions should note that this is generally not how things work in the Czech Republic.

Safety in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is considered a safe country in general. Although organised crime and petty theft do exist, expats who exercise basic safety precautions aren't likely to fall victim.

The country has a stable government, there is a low risk of natural disasters, and road accident rates are relatively low.


Crime in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a low crime rate, although opportunistic crimes such as pickpocketing can be an issue in high-risk areas like tourist hotspots or on crowded public transport. The best way to avoid becoming a target is to keep all valuables out of sight and to be vigilant in crowded areas.

Car theft and car break-ins occur occasionally, especially in Prague. Avoid parking in poorly lit or isolated areas, and never leave valuables visible in the car.


Scams in Czech Republic

ATM and money-changing scams are fairly common – always change money at a reputable bureau de change (not through someone on the street) and do not let anyone assist when using an ATM. ATMs in public areas such as hotels, shopping malls or airports are preferable to those in out-of-the-way or isolated spots.


Emergency services in Czech Republic

There are a number of police and emergency bodies operating side by side in the Czech Republic. The foreign police (cizinecká policie) is the most useful for expats, although it's also possible to approach the local state police (policie České republiky) – if a police station does not have an interpreter, they will find one to help from a neighbouring district.

For emergency situations, expats should use the general EU emergency number (112) as call centre operators are multilingual and can assist in dispatching local fire-, police- or ambulance services to the location of the caller.

Working in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic's favourable economic climate has attracted many expats in recent years. With a stable economy and close transport links to Germany and Russia, there are also increasing investment opportunities in the country.

EU citizens are able to easily live and work in the country as they do not require a work permit, whereas non-EU citizens do need a work permit to gain employment in the Czech Republic.


Job market in Czech Republic

New arrivals will have to compete with the highly educated local labour force. The majority of expats working in the Czech Republic will find employment in Prague, but there are also opportunities in smaller towns and cities, particularly in the tourism sector.

The Czech Republic's main industries include tourism, finance, IT, real estate and manufacturing, especially in the automotive industry. Finance, tourism and IT are growing industries.


Finding a job in Czech Republic

With a highly educated and skilled workforce, competition for top jobs in the Czech Republic may be fierce. Nevertheless, expats with the right credentials and experience will find opportunities to explore in the country. It is recommended that expats secure employment in advance of moving to the Czech Republic.

Job opportunities can be found through online job portals or by directly contacting a local recruitment agency. Otherwise, employment opportunities may be found by looking for postings on the websites of specific multinational companies.  

Czech is the main language of business and potential employers might expect resumes and applications to be in Czech. 


Work culture in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a favourable business environment, and foreigners should not have trouble adjusting to working life in the country. The business culture in the Czech Republic is mostly formal, and building personal relationships is important to doing business successfully.

Doing Business in Czech Republic

Expats doing business in the Czech Republic will find themselves in one of the most developed and industrialised economies in Central Europe. The Czech Republic has taken strides in developing its economy and has moved closer towards a more Western style of business in recent years. Its ascension to the European Union in 2004, along with its central position in Europe, have made it an attractive destination for international foreign investment and a number of international corporations have their European headquarters in the country. 

The Czech Republic is considered to have a good business climate, as reflected in its ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. The country ranked 41st out of the 190 countries surveyed and came first in trading across borders. It also scored well in categories such as getting electricity (11th) and resolving insolvency (16th). Despite this, the country did do poorly with regards to ease of dealing with construction permits (157th) and ease of starting a business (134th).

How individuals conduct themselves during business in the Czech Republic can have a great impact on how fellow business associates perceive them. Expats should take some time to understand common business practices and etiquette in Czech Republic to become familiar with their corporate culture.


Fast facts

Business hours

Business hours are generally from 8am to 4.30pm or up to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Business language

Czech and English, although German is used in some business circles.

Dress

Business attire is generally formal and conservative. Women should wear business suits, modest dresses or formal skirts. Men should wear dark suits with ties. Business-casual and other less formal attire may be accepted in some industries.

Gifts

If invited to a local's home, flowers or a bottle of good-quality wine or spirits are acceptable. A small gift from one's home country is also acceptable. Gifts are usually opened when received. 

Gender equality

Women are considered equal and there are no restrictions on women in the workplace, although men still hold the majority of senior positions. 

Greetings

A firm handshake while maintaining direct eye contact.


Business culture in Czech Republic

Expats may initially perceive the reserved Czech manner to be cold and impersonal, but Czechs are actually warm and hospitable people. They are generally private people until one gets to know them on a more personal level, although it could take many meetings to reach this stage.

Communication

Initial greetings may be formal and reserved. Czechs may be somewhat indirect and non-confrontational in their communications during business meetings. It’s not uncommon for a Czech associate to answer with a vague “we will see” or “it is difficult” (neither of which are favourable answers) rather than giving an outright “yes” or “no” response. 

Hierarchy

Business structures in the Czech Republic are hierarchical and decisions are made from the top down, although the group’s opinion may be considered in some cases.

Relationships

Networking is very important in the Czech Republic and it is vital to build and maintain relationships. Business may be conducted slowly with initial meetings scheduled to get to know each other and ascertain the trustworthiness of associates before a deal can be made. Expats must, therefore, exercise patience.

Values

Family is valued highly in Czech culture. Family ties are deeply rooted and family time is important. As such, it is unlikely that work commitments will extend over weekends or public holidays.


Dos and don'ts of business in Czech Republic

  • Do be on time. Punctuality is important and taken very seriously in Czech business.

  • Do arrange meetings well ahead of time as Czechs are not fond of impromptu meetings at the last minute

  • Don't address somebody by their first name unless invited to do so

  • Don't try to rush things. Business decisions can take time as associates get to know a person and decide whether they are trustworthy.

  • Do shake hands and maintain eye contact when greeting

Visas for Czech Republic

Whether planning a short visit or a permanent stay in the Czech Republic, expats should be aware that visa laws differ according to nationality. The applicant's nationality will determine the processes they need to follow and which visas they are eligible for in the Czech Republic.


Short-term visas for Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a Schengen country, so nationals of countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement, as well as a select few other nationalities, need not apply for visit visas for a stay of 90 days or less. This includes citizens of the EU and the EEA as well as Switzerland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. 

Expats not eligible for visa-free entry will need to apply for a Schengen visa prior to arrival at their nearest Czech embassy or consulate in order to be granted entry to the Czech Republic.

Schengen visas entitle their holders to 90 days of travel within a six-month period to any Schengen-area country, including the Czech Republic. If travelling to multiple destinations, expats should be sure to submit the Schengen visa application to the consulate of the country in which they will spend the largest amount of time.

While in the country, expats can apply to extend the validity of their Schengen visa by a further 90 days.


Long-term residence permits for Czech Republic

Non-EU nationals staying in the Czech Republic for a year or more will need to obtain a long-term residence permit. This must be for a specific purpose such as work, study, research or family unification. Long-term residence permits are renewable and are granted for a maximum of two years.

Those intending to work will have to apply for an Employee Card or a Blue Card. These are primarily work permits but serve a dual purpose as long-term residence permits. A Blue Card is issued for positions requiring a high qualification, while an Employee Card is issued for positions that do not require a high qualification.

EU nationals are entitled to live and work in the Czech Republic without needing to apply for work permits or resident permits.


Certificate of temporary residence in Czech Republic

To stay for more than 90 days in the Czech Republic, EU citizens must report their intentions to the Foreign Police Department. They are also entitled to apply for a certificate of permanent residence if they wish but it is not a precondition of their stay.


Permanent residence permit for Czech Republic

Permanent residency can be applied for by both EU and non-EU nationals after five years of continuous residence in the country. Once granted, a permanent residence permit is valid for 10 years.

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Work Permits for Czech Republic

Citizens of the European Union (EU) don’t need a work permit to take up employment in the Czech Republic seeing as they have a right to work in all EU member states. 

Expats from outside of the EU will, however, have to apply for a working residence permit for the Czech Republic. This will either take the form of a Blue Card (for skilled work) or an Employee Card (for unskilled work). Both of these cards are dual-purpose in that they grant the holder the right to reside and to work in the Czech Republic for the specified period. 


Applying for a work permit for Czech Republic

Those who need a work permit must first secure a job, as permits are only granted to foreigners who have already found employment in the Czech Republic. Before an application can be made, Czech employers must prove to the state that no locals are qualified for the advertised job. Once this has been established, expats can move forward with their work permit application.

As work permits are tied to a specific job and employer, they are invalidated once foreigners change employers or positions.

Once a work permit has been granted, successful applicants are typically given a special visa for the purposes of entering the country to pick up their work permit in the form of a Blue Card or Employee Card. Work permits are valid for a maximum of two years but can be extended.

*Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their relevant embassy or consulate for the latest official details.

Cost of Living in Czech Republic

The cost of living in the Czech Republic and even Prague, its capital, is fairly low compared to other countries and major cities in Europe. Prague ranked of 97th out of 209 cities in Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living Survey, ranking well below cities such as London, Dublin and Milan.

That said, as with anywhere in the world, there are a few things that don't come so cheaply – the cost of entertainment and healthcare among them. 


Cost of accommodation in Czech Republic

Generally, the cost of accommodation and utilities in the Czech Republic is similar to the rest of Europe, although the cost of accommodation is rising. Accommodation in Prague, in particular, is more in demand and therefore more expensive than in smaller towns or cities.


Cost of transport in Czech Republic

Expats should not find transport in the Czech Republic to be a major expense as both public transport and petrol are relatively inexpensive. Expats can purchase a small car at a reasonable price, although thanks to a well-developed, reliable and inexpensive public transport system, many expats (especially those living in Prague) may find this isn't a necessity.

There are a variety of different passes available for the public transport system in the Czech Republic and expats can get excellent value for money if they buy a monthly pass and use public transport regularly.


Cost of schooling in Czech Republic

Public education in the Czech Republic is cheap but, because of the language barrier, most expats send their children to private or international schools which, unfortunately, have notoriously high fees. Expat parents moving for work purposes are advised to try to negotiate with their employer for an allowance for this as part of their employment package.


Cost of food in Czech Republic

Groceries are not expensive in the Czech Republic and expats from Western Europe and the United States will find themselves spending much less money on food than they are used to. Some common grocery stores in the Czech Republic include Tesco, Billa and Albert. 


Cost of clothing in Czech Republic

Clothing is one of the few expensive items in the Czech Republic, particularly brand-name items. Expats should take advantage of the many vintage clothing stores in Prague where they might be able to find good-quality clothing at a more affordable price. 


Cost of eating out and entertainment in Czech Republic

Eating out at restaurants in the Czech Republic costs around the same as it would in the rest of Europe. Alcohol and tobacco, however, are less expensive, especially the locally brewed beer for which the country is renowned. 


Cost of living in Czech Republic chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Prague in April 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

 

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CZK 15,000 - 25,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

CZK 11,000 - 19,500

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CZK 25,000 - 45,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

CZK 18,000 - 30,000

Food and drink

 

Milk (1 litre)

CZK 20

Dozen eggs

CZK 45.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CZK 150.90

Rice (1kg)

CZK 39.60

White bread (loaf)

CZK 26

Pack of cigarettes

CZK 111.50

Utilities

 

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

CZK 3.60

Internet per month (ADSL)

CZK 512

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

CZK 5,080

Eating out

 

Three-course dinner for two in mid-range restaurant

CZK 800

Big Mac Meal

CZK 150

Bottle of beer (local)

CZK 41.50

Cappuccino

CZK 57.80

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CZK 35.50

Transport

 

Taxi (1km)

CZK 28.50

City-centre bus fare

CZK 24

Petrol (per litre)

CZK 39.50

Culture Shock in Czech Republic

Expats moving to the Czech Republic may experience some degree of culture shock. Although the country has one of the most open and Westernised cultures in Central Europe, it also has practices and traditions that new arrivals need time to get used to.

Studying some of the nuances of the culture can make the first few months in the Czech Republic not only more tolerable but also more enjoyable. Keeping an open mind will certainly help new arrivals to accept certain realities and ease culture shock.

For the most part, expats are won over by the “art culture” that the country has to offer, as well as the relatively low cost of living. However, genuine friendship (achieved with a little persistence and patience) and dependability in business are also qualities that endear foreigners to the Czech Republic.


Language barrier in Czech Republic

The vast majority of people in the Czech Republic speak the Czech language, and many, particularly the older generation or those outside major urban centres, don't speak English at all. Therefore, an expat who does not know the language or doesn’t have any Czech ties – be it a friend, relative or relocation company – may have a difficult time settling in. Before moving to the Czech Republic, expats should learn a few basic phrases or key Czech words to help them get around. Road signs are also generally in Czech.

When looking for employment in the Czech Republic, knowing the language is a great advantage and may even be essential in some cases. Most public offices only offer forms and instructions in the Czech language. On top of that, television shows, movies and radio are all in Czech or are dubbed in Czech.


Meeting and greeting in Czech Republic

On a personal level, it can be quite difficult to make friends with Czechs. The usual greeting is a handshake with eye contact, and it may take some time to graduate to being on a first-name basis. When meeting a local for the first time, they may seem cold and unwelcoming because Czechs don’t generally smile or make small talk. In time, they may open up but still aren't likely to openly express emotion in the way some expats may be used to.


Dining in Czech Republic

When dining at a restaurant, or in a social setting, it isn't unusual for complete strangers to say "dobrou chuť" (enjoy your meal) to others at a table. The appropriate response would be to say “dobrou chuť” if the other party is also about to enjoy their meal, or “děkuji” (thank you) if they are not eating.


Religion in Czech Republic

There is no single predominant religion in the Czech Republic, and in fact, most of the population is not religious. However, the influence of its predominantly Catholic culture during the early part of its history can be seen in its historical architecture, sculptures and other pieces of artwork.  

In general, Czechs are very tolerant of different religions and lifestyles. As a result, expats living in the Czech Republic should find it easy to practice and embrace their faith without fear of being criticised.


Communication in Czech Republic

Czechs are usually straightforward and direct in the way they communicate. When doing business, it is important to put everything on paper. Czechs often do business through verbal communication and a handshake. This is mostly due to the non-confrontational manner typical of the Czech people. When things go wrong, though, this makes it difficult to determine who is at fault. Thus, if it is a matter of great importance or involves a lot of money, getting a contract in place is necessary.


Bureaucracy in Czech Republic

Although most private firms now conduct their business online, the Czech Republic is still a country of paperwork. Whether opening a bank account, buying property or sorting out a legal matter, an overwhelming number of documents and signatures are still required. 


Family in Czech Republic

Family is important in Czech culture. Family gatherings are a common practice during the weekends or on special holidays and are often the centre of the social lives of locals.  

When a child reaches adulthood, they customarily move out of their parents’ homes, but it is still common for children to live in the same town as their parents. Thus, the closeness between grandparents and grandchildren is maintained.

Accommodation in Czech Republic

Expats seeking accommodation in the Czech Republic will be pleased to know that the country has a variety of homes to suit all needs, tastes and budgets. In addition, there are few restrictions on foreigners when it comes to buying and renting property.

Single expats or young expat couples usually opt to rent accommodation in the Czech Republic rather than buy, particularly if they are unsure of the length of their stay. In addition, many are put off by the extensive amount of paperwork, all of which is in Czech, required to purchase a property.


Types of accommodation in Czech Republic

There is a wide variety of rental options for expats to choose from, and apartments and houses alike can be found in a variety of styles from contemporary to baroque and beyond. There are also communist-era apartment buildings available, but these are best avoided as many are in a state of disrepair as a result of poor maintenance and construction.

Furnished, semi-furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in the Czech Republic, with a variety of properties available in Prague especially. Many single expats choose to rent rooms in shared flats or houses, while couples and families often prefer to rent bigger apartments or houses for themselves. 


Finding accommodation in Czech Republic

Accommodation can be found in newspapers, online, or through a local real estate agent, and should ideally be secured in person and in advance. If it is not possible to travel to the country before moving there to secure accommodation, the next best option is to initially stay in short-term accommodation while looking for something suitable for the long term.

Websites aimed at the expat market will generally have listings posted at an extreme markup compared to what a local would pay. Those with a good grasp of Czech that are able to understand and navigate local websites will be able to find accommodation at cheaper prices. 


Renting accommodation in Czech Republic

Deposits and fees

When renting accommodation, a deposit equivalent to one or two months’ rent is usually required. By law, this deposit should be returned to the tenant in full within one month of vacating the property. This is provided that it is left in a good condition; if anything is damaged or broken, costs for repair or replacement may be deducted. To avoid being accused of causing damage that was already there when moving in, expats should take date-stamped pictures of any areas of concern before the start of the lease.

Lessees who find an apartment through an agent will also have to pay a commission fee – usually one month's rent – once they have found an apartment.

Leases

Leases can be for either an indefinite term or a fixed term such as six months or one year.

There are usually two versions of the lease: one in Czech with the other being an English translation. However, in any legal matter the lease in Czech will be prioritised, so expats should have a Czech-speaking friend or preferably a professional translator look over both two contracts to ensure that the terms in both are the same.

Utilities

Utilities are usually not included in the rental price and are to be paid by the tenant. Expats should keep this extra expense in mind when drawing up their budget. The lease should specify the various utilities to be paid to the landlord in addition to the cost of rent.

Healthcare in Czech Republic

The standard of healthcare in the Czech Republic is generally high – in fact, the country's healthcare scheme has been praised as one of the best in the EU. The affordability and standard of medical treatment has even seen the country emerge as a popular destination for medical tourism in Europe.

It is compulsory to have health insurance in the Czech Republic, whether through a public or private health insurance provider. Czech citizens, residents, and anyone working for a Czech employer are automatically insured under the country's public healthcare system and pay monthly contributions. Other long-term visitors will have to use a private insurance company and short-term travellers are expected to have appropriate travel insurance.


Public healthcare in Czech Republic

Many doctors are in public hospitals are Western-trained and able to speak English, though this is not always the case. Some expats using the public sector have also complained of doctors being short-tempered or unsympathetic, but this is largely due to the high turnover of patients and short consultation times and shouldn't be taken personally.

Although Czech public healthcare is excellent and heavily subsidised, patients might experience long waiting periods before receiving treatment. 


Private healthcare in Czech Republic

Czech private medical care is excellent and the staff at private hospitals are highly qualified. Although private healthcare tends to be more expensive than public healthcare in the Czech Republic, many private hospitals are better equipped to cater to expat patients. This is because private medical centres have a higher proportion of English-speaking staff and because private clinics have a more service-oriented approach to providing medical care. A further advantage is that patients often do not have to wait as long to receive treatment as they might at public hospitals. 


Health insurance in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic provides free medical care to Czech citizens, permanent residents and foreigners working for a local company through compulsory contributions to an approved Czech health insurance company. The largest health insurance company is the state-owned Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna (VZP). Czech citizens, registered foreign residents and employees of companies based in the country must make regular contributions to this fund. It is mandatory for employers to pay a portion of the monthly fee with the employee contributing the remainder of the fee. Under this scheme, expats are also usually required to pay a small stipend for treatment received.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Expats in the Czech Republic without an EHIC, who do not have permanent residency and are not employed by a Czech company are not entitled to free medical care. However, it is still compulsory to have health insurance and expats staying in the country for over 90 days will be required to show proof that they are covered under a private healthcare scheme. In such a case, it is imperative to arrange for private insurance in advance. Those staying in the country for less than 90 days will need to show proof of travel health insurance.


Pharmacies in Czech Republic

Pharmacies, some of which can be found attached to hospitals, are widely available in the Czech Republic with some open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expats should note that prescriptions are only valid for a set period of time. Prescriptions from emergency services expire after two days, antibiotic prescriptions expire after five days, and all other prescriptions expire after two weeks.


Emergency services in Czech Republic

Emergency services in the Czech Republic are generally good, as are ambulance response times. In the case of an emergency, dial 112 to be connected to the EU emergency line. This guarantees an English-speaking operator. Otherwise, Czech medical emergency services can be reached on 155.

Education and Schools in Czech Republic

The education and schools sector in the Czech Republic is in a healthy state. Even better news for expat parents is that their children can attend public school at no cost, provided that they are EU nationals or legal residents. This is the case from pre-primary school up to and including university. But, seeing as the language of instruction in public schools is Czech, most expat parents choose to enrol their children in private or international schools instead.

Schooling is compulsory from the age of six to 15. The school year runs from early September to late June.


Public schools in Czech Republic

Teaching in the Czech Republic's public schools is conducted entirely in the Czech language, with either English or German taught as a second language. Some expat parents are discouraged by this but there are advantages to expat children being taught in Czech, the biggest of which is that it's a good way for them to learn the language and subsequently assimilate into the culture more easily, which is especially important for expats planning a long stay in the country. Some schools take difficulties with the language into account when assessing students in subjects such as Czech language and literature.

It is always a good idea for parents to visit schools of interest before enrolling their children. This can be done at official open days or may be arranged by request. Conditions in public schools may vary widely, and some are more amenable to and equipped for having foreign students than others.


Private schools in Czech Republic

Private schools in the Czech Republic are partly funded by the state and partly funded by tuition. Some of these schools are bilingual, teaching in both Czech and English, or sometimes Czech and German. Expat parents who can't quite fit international school fees into their budget but are still concerned about their children having difficulties with the Czech language may find these schools to be an ideal solution.


International schools in Czech Republic

Most international schools teach in English and are perhaps most useful for expats planning to reside in the country for a relatively short period of time, as the continuity in curriculum minimises disruption in the child's education. Common curricula offered by international schools include the International Baccalaureate (IB), the American curriculum, or the British curriculum. Prague in particular has a high concentration of international schools.

International schools can be expensive, so if moving to the Czech Republic as part of an international relocation package, it is worth negotiating for school fees as part of the relocation contract.

International schools can vary widely in ethos, curriculum, quality and size. Although there are a number of schools to choose from, space may be limited and parents are advised to start the application process as soon as possible.

Transport and Driving in Czech Republic

Expats will find it easy to get around in the Czech Republic, whether by its extensive public transport system or by car. Public transport is robust and generally preferred, with a wide variety of options including trains, subways, trams, buses, taxis and ferries.

It is not necessary to own a car. Indeed, owning a car could be an inconvenience in big cities such as Prague, where parking is extremely limited and car break-ins have been known to occur. Arranging a local Czech drivers' licence can also be a long and difficult process. While nationals of certain countries can continue to drive on their existing licence or exchange it for a local one, others will have to face a complicated procedure to obtain a local licence, including extensive testing.


Public transport in Czech Republic

Trams

A number of Czech cities have tram systems, most notably Prague. In Prague, trams run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are a quick way to get around, making them a popular mode of transport. Operating hours vary in other cities.

Trains

The national rail carrier is České dráhy and there are a few private rail companies in operation, including RegioJet, Leo Express and GW Train Regio. 

The biggest and busiest railway station in the Czech Republic is Praha hlavní nadráží, situated in Prague. This station offers long-distance travel to several neighbouring countries (including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland) and regional services to most large cities in the Czech Republic. 

Metro

Prague is home to the country's only metro system, which is popular among commuters and travellers alike. Continually expanding, the track is over 37 miles (60 km) long, serving more than 60 stations.

Buses

If expats cannot find a train route to a city or village in the Czech Republic then a bus will most likely get them there. In some cities, local buses are the preferred form of transport, running 24 hours a day.

Local and regional buses are usually run by the state, while services crossing over the border into other European countries are often via private bus companies.


Taxis in Czech Republic

Taxis in the Czech Republic are infamous for taking advantage of foreigners. If expats are not able to speak Czech, they should write down their destination to avoid wrong routes as a result of mispronunciation.

It's best to arrange a taxi with a reputable company beforehand, but when hailing a taxi on the street, only use officially registered taxis. These can be identified by their yellow roof lights. A taxi from a legitimate company will also have the company's name, the taxi's licence number and its rates printed on both doors.

Alternatively, rideshare apps such as Uber and Liftago operate in the Czech Republic. Many expats prefer using these apps as it gives them more control over routes and service prices while minimising language barrier issues.


Driving in Czech Republic

Many expats will need to go through a lengthy process to legally drive in the Czech Republic, though there are some exceptions to this. Those already licensed to drive in the EU can continue to do so using their current valid licence. In addition, certain countries have agreements in place with the Czech Republic allowing nationals to simply exchange their foreign licence for a local one.

However, expats from non-EU countries without agreements with the Czech Republic will need to obtain a Czech drivers' licence. This can be a long and arduous process.

For the first three months of their residency, expats can drive on an International Driving Permit. To continue driving, they will need a Czech licence. To obtain one, expats must attend a local driving school for a prescribed number of hours and pass written and practical exams. Tests are usually available in English, German or Czech – those unable to take the test in any of these languages will be allowed to make use of an official translator during testing.

Road signs are mostly in Czech and driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Cars in the Czech Republic must have their lights on at all times. Roads in the big cities are in good condition but the trams, narrow streets and lack of parking might make a journey less than pleasant. 


Cycling in Czech Republic

Cycling is more commonly viewed as a sport and recreational activity than as a means of transport in the Czech Republic. Expats used to getting around by bicycle are likely to be disappointed by the relative lack of cycle-friendly roads and sidewalks. The hilly topography of the country, and Prague in particular, can also be a challenge for cyclists, not to mention its picturesque but bumpy cobblestone sidewalks.

In some cities, there are bicycle-renting schemes where bicycles can be picked up at one location and dropped off at another. Some forms of public transport allow bicycles to be brought on board, though this is sometimes restricted by area, for example only outside of the city centre.


Walking in Czech Republic

Travelling by foot in the Czech Republic is usually not necessary thanks to its excellent public transport infrastructure. When crossing the road, keep a sharp eye out for approaching cars or trams, as trams have right of way even at a pedestrian crossing.

Keeping in Touch in Czech Republic

Expats have a variety of options for keeping in touch in the Czech Republic thanks to its well-developed telecommunications infrastructure.

Internet, mobile, landline and postal services are widely available and affordable, making it easy for expats to communicate with friends and family back home. While there is a distinct lack of local English-language print publications, there are many online resources to keep expats in touch with both local and international news. 


Internet in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a high rate of internet penetration, so connectivity shouldn't be a problem for expats. Wireless connections are more common than fixed lines in residential households and businesses alike, and in public places, expats will not struggle to find free WiFi connections around the big cities.

While there are many reliable Czech service providers to choose from, some of the most popular are UPC, O2, and T-Mobile. UPC, in particular, is quite popular amongst expats in Prague as it seems to have wide location coverage, reasonable prices, reliable staff and English-speaking customer service providers.


Mobile phones in Czech Republic

Expats looking to set up a mobile phone in the Czech Republic will find a variety of affordable packages available which can be tailored to suit individual needs.

The most prominent mobile operators in the Czech Republic are T-Mobile, O2 and Vodafone. Both prepaid and postpaid options are available and it is easy to navigate available packages for each of these on the English versions of the websites of mobile providers.

To get a postpaid phone, expats will need to sign up for a 24-month contract. To do this, proof of address and identity documents are required.

Expats wishing to bring their phone from home may find that their phone is blocked in the Czech Republic and therefore unusable. Fortunately, there are mobile companies that can unblock phones in these cases so that they can be used in the country.


Landline telephones in Czech Republic

Private landlines are not very popular in the Czech Republic, but can be obtained if required. Landlines are most beneficial for people who want to call friends and family within the Czech Republic and the European Union, or those who require a landline to facilitate installation of high-speed internet. Many apartments don't come with a landline installed, though, and it can take some time to arrange one.


Postal service in Czech Republic

The service provided by the Czech Postal System does not have the best reputation, although it does offer affordable prices. It is, however, recommended that important documents and packages should be sent via private couriers instead, despite the extra cost.

There are post offices located in several locations around the country (including a 22-hour branch in Prague) but expats should be aware that they still might encounter language difficulties, as the people working in post offices don't always speak English and the documents are still mostly in Czech. Ideally, bring someone to act as a translator, whether a professional or just a Czech-speaking friend.


English media and news in Czech Republic

Unfortunately, there are no printed English-language newspapers in the Czech Republic. While it is possible to read local news in English, this will have to be done online. The Prague Post, formerly a printed English-language newspaper, is one of the most popular online sources for Czech news in English, along with The Prague Daily Monitor. Radio Prague does broadcasts in several languages, including English, and publishes English-language news online. 

Banking, Money and Taxes in Czech Republic

The banking system in the Czech Republic is modern and expats should not have too much difficulty finding their way around it.

It is relatively easy to open a bank account and apply for a credit card in the Czech Republic. Despite being a member of the EU, the country still uses the Czech crown as its currency. It is legally bound to adopt the Euro as its currency at some point in the future, but much of the Czech public is strongly opposed to this.


Money in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic’s currency is the Czech crown (koruna), with its international abbreviation being CZK.

  • Coins: 1 CZK, 2 CZK, 5 CZK, 10 CZK, 20 CZK and 50 CZK

  • Notes: 100 CZK, 200 CZK, 500 CZK, 1,000 CZK, 2,000 CZK and 5,000 CZK


Banking in Czech Republic

Expats who plan on living in the Czech Republic for more than a couple of months will need to open a Czech bank account, especially if they are receiving their salary in korunas.

There is no shortage of banks in the Czech Republic and some banks even have services that cater to the needs of expats. The largest bank in the Czech Republic is Česká spořitelna. Some international banks such as Citibank, HSBC and Western Union also operate in the country.

Expats will be able to use their foreign debit and credit cards in the Czech Republic; however, some smaller shops and restaurants only accept cash.

Those who need to make transfers from their home country should use a foreign exchange centre as banks do not offer good rates for large transfers. 

Opening a bank account

It is not difficult for expats to open a bank account in the Czech Republic. All they need to produce is their passport and one other form of identification, although some banks might also ask for proof of address in the Czech Republic.  

Expats will also need to provide an initial deposit when opening a bank account in the Czech Republic. Different banks will have different minimum amounts. 

Transaction fees in the Czech Republic can be very high and are charged in addition to a monthly bank account fee. 

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs in the Czech Republic are easily found in urban centres and many will have a language option, allowing expats to operate them in English or whichever language they choose. Expats should be aware that most ATMs will charge a fee, especially when withdrawing from a foreign bank account.

International credit cards are accepted in the Czech Republic but expats are eligible to apply for a Czech credit card should they wish to do so. The application process may vary from bank to bank. 


Taxes in Czech Republic

Expats who spend more than 183 days within a tax year in the Czech Republic are considered tax residents. Those who fall into this category will be taxed on their worldwide income unless their home country has a double-taxation treaty with the Czech Republic. Expats who are not tax residents of the Czech Republic are only taxed on their income earned in the Czech Republic.

As tax matters can be complex for expats, it is recommended that they consult a specialist tax advisor who has experience with expats.

Expat Experiences in Czech Republic

When considering a move to a new country, there is nothing more useful than hearing real-life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences in the Czech Republic. Please contact us if you live or have lived in the Czech Republic and would like to share your story.


Kevan is a Canadian expat who has been living and working in the Czech Republic's second largest city, Brno, since 2004. He moved for romance, a new experience and a change of outlook, and is still there 17 years later. He shares his experiences in the city and tips for expats thinking about making the move in his interview with Expat Arrivals Kevan Vogler

Juris is a Latvian expat that's been stuck in Czech Republic for about 5 years now thanks to a crazy redhead Czech woman and few mystical forces working against him. He moved his entire life to Czech, specifically Ostrava, in 2016, when he and his wife welcomed another little human into their lives. A few years later, in 2020, when everything fell apart from Covid, a new daughter decided to make their lives a bit more complicated. Read about his experiences since moving to Czech Republic. 

Juris Sloka

Expatova is an American expat living in a small village close to Prague in the Czech Republic. She relocated along with her son and Czech husband in order to be closer to his family. In her interview with Expat Arrivals she discusses the pros and cons of life in the Czech Republic and provides plenty of great advice to help new arrivals get settled in. 

Debbie Liebenberg is a South African expat who moved to the Czech Republic in 2012 to teach English. Although she misses South African food, especially the fresh fruits and vegetables, Debbie loves the distinct seasons of Prague, its efficient public transport system, affordable accommodation and feeling safe enough to walk around on her own at any time. Read more about her expat life in Prague.

Grace Bantol is a Filipina expat living in the Czech Republic. Driven by ambition and her relentless search for greener pastures, she migrated to the USA for a job opportunity. It was there that she met her Czech husband. They moved to the Czech Republic with their 10-month-old son in June 2011 to be closer to his family. Grace is now a stay-at-home mom and works part-time teaching English. Read more about her expat life in the Czech Republic.