What all of us wish for when relocating to a new country is to complete the process fast, with the lowest level of stress possible, faultlessly and naturally, according to the law. Then, what if we want to get married or get the citizenship? We talked to Eliška Flídrová, the professional lawyer from ExpatLegal company that provides legal advisory for expats in the Czech Republic and asked her several questions which could be both future foreign newcomers as well as current Czech expats seeking the answers for.
1. As a foreigner from a non-EU country, what do I need before coming to the Czech Republic and intending to stay?
Czech visas are based on a purpose (i.e. study, work, business) and you are obliged to prove this purpose to the authorities. So depending on your plans, you need to apply for the particular type of visa and in case of work, you need to apply for the so-called employee card that combines both residence and work permit. Some nationals* have free entry to Schengen countries, where they can stay for 90 days within 180 days but only for tourist purposes. In case you want to study, work or do business, you need to have a visa (or employee card) right away.
2. I want to start a business. Will that grant me automatically a visa?
No. In order to obtain a business visa, it is not enough to start a company or obtain a trade licence. It is necessary to prove either that the company has already some history (turnover etc.) or that you have a solid business plan, pre-contracts, and financing.
3. I am an EU citizen. Are there any restrictions?
As an EU citizen, you can freely live, study and work in the Czech Republic. However, as a foreigner, you have to provide the Czech Foreign police with the details on your address. As an EU citizen, you can (you are not obliged to) apply for a residence permit – this can be useful in some situations, such as in negotiations with banks (loans, mortgages) as banks usually require some proof of residence in the country. Also in case you might think of applying for Czech citizenship, a permanent residence permit is a must.
4. How do I get the citizenship?
In order to ask for the citizenship certain conditions must be fulfilled – the most important one is to hold Czech permanent residence permit (which you can get usually after 5 years of stay). In most common cases you need to have a permanent residence permit for 5 years in order to apply for the Czech citizenship, but some exceptions may apply.
Also, you need to pass a Czech language and background exam – we recommend to do this as a first step. After that, you will need to collect a couple of documents from the country of your origin – namely birth certificate, marriage certificate and a fresh criminal records extract (not older than 6 months as of the date of filing of your citizenship application). All foreign documents must be apostilled or superlegalized (depending on the country of origin) and translated into Czech. On the day of filing of your application, you will also need to provide confirmations from the Tax Office, Customs Authority, Social Security Office and Public health insurance company that are not older than 30 days and that confirm that you don’t have any debts towards these authorities. Also, you should prepare your work agreements (for the whole time you live in CZ) and current confirmation of income that your employer should issue you. In case you study or studied in the past in the Czech Republic, also confirmation of study and diploma. The clerk will require your CV and motivation letter as well.
5. How do I start the company?
The most common type of company is a limited liability company. You can either establish a brand new one or buy an existing business. If you want to establish a company, the first step is to contact a notary public who will draft a founding deed. After that, you will need to provide a seat address, arrange trade licenses and bank account for the company. Also, you will need to provide the notary with a fresh criminal records extract of all directors from the country of their origin, which needs to be apostilled or superlegalized (depending on the country you come from) and translated into Czech. After all the necessary steps are fulfilled, the notary will register your company at the commercial register and you can start your activities.
6. I am buying a flat. What is the standard procedure?
There will be a set of contracts that you will have to sign. First is usually a reservation contract, or sometimes future purchase contract, that should give you enough time to arrange financing of the purchase. Other sets of contracts will be required by your bank (a pledge and a loan agreement). As a third step you will sign a purchase contract and in some cases also escrow agreement (with a notary, attorney-at-law or a bank), based on which your money will be secured with the escrow agent until the moment the ownership is transferred to you. After you sign the purchase contract, a request is filled with a cadastral office that will transfer the ownership.
7. I am getting married/divorced?
Once you find a place where you want to hold the ceremony, you should go to the local registrar office and register date of your wedding. If you are a foreigner, you will need to provide the registrar authority with documents from the country of your origin, such as your birth certificate, confirmation that you are not married and confirmation that according to the laws of your country you are legally competent to enter into marriage (this documents must not be older than 6 months as of the date of the marriage). You will also need to show your passport. Further, you will have to submit a certificate issued by the Czech Foreign Police that you may legally stay in the Czech Republic, whereas this certificate must not be older than 7 business days as of the date of the marriage.
In case you have been living in the Czech Republic and are seeking a divorce it is necessary to first consider whether the jurisdiction lies within the Czech Court. In order to decide it, it is necessary to check the relevant bilateral agreements, EU Regulation and the Czech Act on Private International Law. Please note that the jurisdiction might in some cases be different for the divorce, split of the common assets and also different for the custody of your children and maintenance. Once the jurisdiction is determined the next question is the governing law, which also can be found in several documents. When above-mentioned questions are answered and the answer on everything is Czech Court and Czech law the procedure of the divorce is quite easy and if the agreement between parties is possible doesn’t have to be expensive at all. The procedure for spouses without children takes usually around 6 months depending on the Court. When children are involved it can take the double time.
8. What rights do I have as a parent?
The Czech law grants exactly the same right to the mother and father, they both have parental responsibility, which is acquired by birth of the child. It means among others that both parents have the right to see the child and decide about the important things (education, medical issues etc.) in their life. Of course, parental responsibility also includes the obligations the parent has to care for the child and ensure their right maintenance. In case of the separation of unmarried parents no Court decision is required if the agreement (not necessarily written) between the parents work. In case of married parents before the decision on the divorce, the decision on the custody is required. The Czech law enables the shared custody (half of the time with each parent) or sole custody with visiting rights of the other parent. If some of the agreements between the parents doesn’t work, the Court might determine the custody as well as the maintenance.
9. What will happen to my assets after I die?
If your last habitual residency was in the Czech Republic your inheritance will proceed in here. The procedure is started automatically by the law, the Registrar Office notifies the Court of the last habitual residency and the Court starts the procedure and appoints the notary who will take all the steps in it. Before death you can opt for the last will where you will determine all your heirs, please remember that the Czech law doesn’t enable to exclude children completely unless special conditions are fulfilled. In case there is no last will the legal inheritance line will apply, generally speaking, we can say that firstly the spouse and the children are heirs and it follows by other family members. There is no special inheritance tax but the notarial fees will apply in all cases.
*Nationals of following countries are exempt from the obligation to apply for short term (less than 90 days) tourist visa: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macedonia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Salvador, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, UAE, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela; also Hong Kong and Macao and British citizens who are not nationals of the United Kingdom (British Nationals (Overseas): British Nationals (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Overseas Citizens, British Protected Persons, British Subjects
Please, note that the information provided in this article is of a general nature. Each case must be treated individually with regard to your particular situation. If you would like to discuss your case in detail do not hesitate to contact ExpatLegal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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