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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 it's also growing as an expat destination. A small and safe land-locked 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 over 2,000 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, Germans, Romanis, 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 industrial sectors include electronics, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel production, machinery manufacturing, and chemical production. Thriving service-based sectors include financial services, commercial services, tourism and teaching. 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 adequate and has improved in recent years, 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 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.

Essential Info for Czech Republic

Population: Above 10 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: Parliamentary 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. Although one koruna technically divides into 100 haléřů, denominations that are smaller than one koruna are no longer in use. 

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)

Driving: On the right

Public Holidays in Czech Republic

 

2020

2021

Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State

1 January

1 January

Good Friday

10 April

2 April

Easter Monday

13 April

5 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

Independence 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 Bay

26 December

26 December

Safety in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is generally a safe country. Although organised crime and petty theft do exist, foreigners who exercise basic safety precautions will likely experience no problems.

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 in recent years pickpocketing has been on the increase, especially in tourist hotspots or on crowded public transport. Pickpocketing rings can be very well organised and members may carry weapons or become violent – so if a confrontation does occur, it is best for expats to relinquish their possessions instead of resisting.

Car theft and car break-ins are common, especially in Prague. Avoid parking in poorly lit or isolated areas and never leave valuables visible within 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 somebody on the street) and do not let anyone assist when using an ATM. ATMs in busy areas like hotels, shopping malls or airports are preferable to those in out-of-the-way or isolated spots.


Emergency response 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 extreme situations, expats should use the general EU emergency number (112) as call centre operators are multi-lingual and can help with fire, police or ambulance services. For minor emergencies, it is best to contact local numbers.

There are several English-speaking and 24-hour hospitals in Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic.

Useful emergency numbers:

  • EU general emergency: 112

  • Czech police: 158

  • Fire: 150

  • Ambulance: 155

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 since as they do not require a work permit. However, non-EU citizens should be aware that they will need a work permit to take up 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 engineering, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, especially in the automotive industry. Finance, tourism and IT are growing industries. 

Most foreigners find work teaching English in the Czech Republic, or within the tech industry, in engineering or fulfilling various roles within multinational companies that have offices in the country  


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, for those expats with the right credentials, there are 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. The Czech government also runs public employment agencies which list job opportunities and assist with applications. Otherwise, employment opportunities can 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

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).


Fast facts

Business language

Czech, with English and German spoken and understood in some business circles.

Hours of business

Business hours are generally from 8am to 4.30pm or 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Greeting

A firm handshake while maintaining direct eye contact.

Business 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. 


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 until getting to know someone 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 valued and considered. 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 doing business in the Czech Republic

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

  • 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

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

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

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 whether one is an EU or non-EU national. This 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 falls within the Schengen area, so nationals of countries that are part of the Schengen scheme, as well as select other nationalities, do not need to apply for a tourist visa or visit visa 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.


Long-term residence permits for Czech Republic

Non-EU nationals staying in the Republic for longer than 90 days will need to obtain a long-term residence permit. There are various types of long-term residence permits.

Expats whose primary purpose of stay is for work will have to apply for an Employee Card or a Blue Card. These are primarily work permits but serve a dual purpose as 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.

There are also long-term residence permits granted for the purpose of study, research, and family unification. 

A long-term residence permit is granted for a maximum of two years and can be renewed.

However, expats intending to stay for longer than 90 days but less than a year should apply for a long-term visa instead of a long-term residence permit.


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. In addition to this, they are 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 EU and non-EU nationals alike after five years of stay in the country under a long-term visa or long-term residence permit.

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

Cost of Living in Czech Republic

The cost of living in the Czech Republic is fairly low compared to other countries in Europe. The Czech capital, Prague, is inexpensive when compared to major European capitals. Prague ranked of 97th out of 209 cities in Mercer's 2019 Cost of Living Survey, ranking well below cities such as London, Dublin and Milan.

However, as with anywhere in the world, there are bound to be things that aren't so inexpensive – in the Czech Republic, the cost of entertainment and healthcare is similar to its European neighbours rather than cheaper. 


Cost of accommodation in Czech Republic

Generally, the cost of accommodation and utilities in the Czech Republic are average compared to the rest of Europe.

For the past few years, the Czech housing market has been oversupplied due to the many luxury properties built before the global financial crisis to accommodate the many expats in the Czech Republic. In the past, this meant that quality housing was available at a reasonable price, but recently the market has begun to recover and the cost of accommodation is rising. Accommodation in Prague, in particular, is more in demand and therefore more expensive. 


Cost of transportation in Czech Republic

Expats should not find transport in the Czech Republic to be very expensive, as both public transport and petrol are relatively inexpensive. Expats can purchase a small car for 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 is not 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, while taxis are a slightly more expensive option.


Cost of schooling in Czech Republic

Public education in the Czech Republic is inexpensive but, because of the language barrier, most expats send their children to private or international schools. Unfortunately, these schools have notoriously high fees. Expats with children are advised to try to negotiate with their employer for an allowance for this as part of their employment package.


Cost of food and clothing 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. 

Clothing is one of the few things that is expensive 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 the Czech Republic chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Prague in March 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

 

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CZK 18,000 - 20,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

CZK 14,000 - 16,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CZK 30,000 - 35,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

CZK 20,000 - 25,000

Shopping

 

Milk (1 litre)

CZK 20

Dozen eggs

CZK 45

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CZK 160 

Rice (1kg)

CZK 38

White bread (loaf)

CZK 25

Pack of cigarettes

CZK 105

Utilities

 

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

CZK 3.50

Internet per month (ADSL)

CZK 490

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

CZK 4,300

Eating out

 

Three-course dinner for two in mid-range restaurant

CZK 800

Big Mac Meal

CZK 145

Bottle of beer (local)

CZK 40

Cappuccino

CZK 55

Coca Cola (330ml)

CZK 33

Transport

 

Taxi (1km)

CZK 28

City-centre bus fare

CZK 24

Petrol (per litre)

CZK 32

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 one accept certain realities and help ease culture shock.

For the most part, expats are won over by the “art culture” that this country has to offer, as well as the 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, 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 lines or key Czech words to help them get around. Road signs are also almost always 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. When meeting a local for the first time, they may seem cold and unwelcoming because Czechs don’t generally smile or spend time chatting. In time, they may open up but still aren't likely to openly express emotion in the way some expats may be used to.

The usual greeting is a handshake with eye-contact, and it may take some time to graduate to being on a first-name basis, if at all. Kissing and hugging between acquaintances is quite rare, but may only be appropriate if between close friends.


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 will 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. In most instances, do not expect them to make an extended effort to be polite or accommodating – there are generally no pretences.

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. Paperwork must include an official stamp to make it legal. Furthermore, it is necessary to save every piece of paperwork received from an official, as they may ask for it later on.


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. It is normal to see older people pushing strollers on the streets, as grandparents often babysit their grandchildren.

Accommodation in Czech Republic

Expats moving to the Czech Republic will be pleased to know there are few restrictions on foreigners when it comes to buying and renting property. With a variety of homes to suit all needs and tastes, expats will be spoilt for choice.


Types of accommodation in Czech Republic

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 which is in Czech, required to purchase a property.

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, 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 a accommodation, the next best option is to initially stay in short-term accommodation while looking for something suitable for the long term.

Many of the same properties are listed on both local websites at cheaper rates, and on websites aimed at the expat market, which are posted at an extreme markup. Those with a good gasp 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

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. Utilities are usually not included in the rental price and are to be paid by the tenant.

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.

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 have to endure 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 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.

The Czech Republic has reciprocal healthcare agreements with other countries. In particular, EU citizens have access to free medical care in the Czech Republic through their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

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.


Health hazards in Czech Republic

There are no major health risks in the Czech Republic at present. Tap water is safe to drink, though expats should exercise common sense. Food-borne diseases are not a major concern as long as meals are prepared in hygienic conditions.

Expats travelling to remote areas where they might be bitten by bats or ticks should get appropriate vaccinations for rabies and tick-borne encephalitis. 


Emergency services in Czech Republic

Emergency services (Záchranná Služba) 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.

However, most expat parents who choose to enrol their children in private or international schools instead, as the language of instruction in public schools is Czech.

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


Public schools in Czech Republic

Teaching in the Czech Republic's public schools is conducted entirely in the Czech language. This includes university. Some expat parents are discouraged by this but there are advantages to expat children being taught in Czech – namely, it's a good way for them to learn the language and thus assimilate into the new 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 can 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 fees paid by parents. 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 including school fees as part of the contract negotiation.

International school 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

It is very easy to get around the Czech Republic as the country offers many different transport options including trains, subways, trams, buses, taxis, air travel and ferries. It is not necessary to own a car and this can even be an inconvenience in big cities such as Prague, where parking is extremely limited and car break-ins have been known to occur.


Public transport in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has an integrated public transport system which includes trams, metros, buses and ferries. This system has a universal ticketing infrastructure and tickets can be bought online or at the station. Trains also serve to connect Czech cities but they are not integrated into the same system as these other forms of transport.

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. Most other European countries can also be reached by bus from the Czech Republic.

Trains

Trains are not included in the Czech Republic's integrated transport system and thus are not part of its ticketing system. The national rail carrier is České dráhy and there are two private rail companies in operation, RegioJet and LEO Express. 

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, Slovakia and Poland) and regional services to most large cities in the Czech Republic. 

There are several rail options depending on one's purpose for travel, including night trains, express trains, and nostalgic trains (historic steam train journeys). 

Trams

The Czech Republic has several tram systems in various cities, the most developed of which is in Prague. Each tram stop has a list of trams and their routes. 


Taxis

Taxis in the Czech Republic are infamous for taking advantage of foreigners. If unable to speak Czech then expats 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 – otherwise, if hailing a taxi on the street, use officially registered taxis. These can be identified by their yellow roof lights bearing the word "TAXI". A taxi from a legitimate company will also have the company name, as well as the taxi's licence number and 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 diminishing language barrier issues.


Air travel in the Czech Republic

There are close to 100 airports in the Czech Republic, six of which are international airports. The main airport is Václav Havel Airport Prague and the country's flagship carrier, Czech Airlines, is based there.

It's possible to travel within the country by plane, but this can be expensive and the country's small size renders it unnecessary.


Driving in Czech Republic

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. Expats holding an EU driving licence can use it in the process of buying a car. The licence is valid across the whole of the EU. However, drivers from other countries will need a Czech licence as well as a certificate of insurance (‘Green Card’).

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 with the lack of cycle-friendly roads and sidewalks, although there are a handful of cycle paths in some public parks. The hilly terrain of the country, and Prague in particular, can also be a challenge for cyclists, along with its picturesque 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 trains allow bicycles to be brought on board and may even provide bicycle racks for storage.

Expats should note that the country's zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving extends to cycling.


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, T-mobile and Vodafone. 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

There is 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. Payment plans can either be prepaid or postpaid and it is easy to navigate available packages for each of these on the English versions of their websites.

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 seem to be 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 ADSL. Many apartments don't come with a landline installed, though, and it can take months to get through the red tape required to install 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 24-hour branch in Prague) but expats should be aware that they still might encounter language difficulties, as the people working in post offices rarely 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 (Česká koruna), with its international abbreviation being CZK. The crown is divided into 100 hellers (haléřů) but coins with a value of less than one crown are no longer in use.

  • 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

Selected chain stores, restaurants and tourist attractions may accept payment in Euros but these are few and far between, and the exchange rate at such places is often poor.


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 UniCredit, Raiffeisen Bank and HSBC also operate in the country.

Bank opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. 

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.

The Czech Republic is still very much a cash economy but credit cards are becoming more widely used. Expats should, however, inquire whether restaurants and hotels do in fact accept credit cards before attempting to make a purchase. 

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 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.

Generally, income tax is set at 15 percent. Those earning an income exceeding 48 times the average salary are liable to be charged at a tax rate of 22 percent. 

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.


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.