How Can I Live and Work Abroad in the Czech Republic?

Do you feel stuck in your job? Are you considering a career change? Maybe you already own a successful small business, but you feel like it has plateaued. Do you simply want to gain more experience and build your resume? If any of the above applies to you, you should consider working abroad. During this age of technology, the world is becoming both smaller and larger simultaneously. The world becomes smaller as we become more connected via technology and with the ease and speed of travel. This means moving abroad has become less of a personal upheaval as you are able to remain in touch and visit loved ones back home. Meanwhile, this connectedness opens up a world of possibilities for, say, a small business owner in Iowa. With the click of a button he can connect via video conference with a businessman in Japan. As the world gets smaller, you will undoubtedly come into contact with people from all over the world in your professional life. Now, it is more important than ever to step out of your comfort zone, learn new languages, embrace new cultures, and accept that there is more than one method to do things. Whether it is for a year, or ten years, working abroad can be invaluable to your personal and professional growth.

Why should I move to the Czech Republic?

When trying to select a country to move to, the Czech Republic might not even cross your mind, but it should. The Czech Republic has a stable economy which is based mainly on tourism and export. Located in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is well situated for commerce. With over a million residents, the capital city of Prague will present you with plenty of professional opportunities. Rich in history with beautiful architecture and numerous museums, Prague is a great place for an expat to live. Financially, Prague is a great option as the cost of living is fairly low compared to many other European capital cities. Prague also boasts a low crime rate making it a safe option for those with families. To make your choice even easier, the Czech Republic has numerous visa options.

Which visa is right for me?

If you wish to create a business in the Czech Republic you have the choice amongst a number of structures. You can create a limited partnership (k.s.), joint stock company, cooperative, joint venture, or general commercial partner (v.o.s.). But most likely you’ll choose a limited liability company (s.r.o.) or open up a branch office. If you aren’t interested in creating an s.r.o., you can choose the route of obtaining a work permit, but this is a challenging task as well. As a foreigner, you can only be hired for a position if the employer can prove there are no Czech or EU residents who could perform the job more proficiently. The process for obtaining a work permit usually begins while you are still in your home country as you will need to secure a specific job in order to file an application. Your permit is only valid for one specific job for a set period of time. For example, if you enter the Czech Republic with a work permit for a marketing company, you could not legally change companies or work at a restaurant on the weekends. You would need to restart the process for each job change. The application process includes: a copy of your passport, information regarding your intended job function and employer information, a letter from the employer stating he or she is employing you, bank statements, proof of residency in your home country and in the Czech Republic as well as sworn translations and notarization of a clean background check, college degrees, certificates, and other relevant proof of qualification.

An easier to obtain and more flexible option is a trade license or Živnostenský list (Zivno). This is a type of license that essentially allows you to work as a freelancer or self-employed. The Czech Republic recognizes three trades: free trades, craft trades, and regulated trades which require you to have specific qualifications. In other words, there is a trade license for all different types of work. Unlike the work permit, the trade license requires you only to choose a sector or sectors in which you plan to do business i.e. marketing and education and from there you are free to add and drop clients. You can obtain this license while in the Czech Republic. The best option is to enter the Czech Republic on a 90 day tourist visa, then start the application process as soon as possible. To apply for this license you must be over 18 and have a clear criminal record. The documents you need to obtain this visa are similar to the documents needed for a work permit. You will need your passport, an extract from your criminal record and proof of place of business (your place of residence can be your place of business if approved by your landlord). Again, all of your documents must be translated into Czech. While this option comes with more freedom, you will have the added responsibility of figuring out your own monthly taxes  and you are liable to all consequences of owning your own business. The application process is rather difficult if you don’t speak Czech so it is worthwhile to hire an agency to assist you. When all is said and done, this option will run you about CZK 6,000 . You are not legally allowed to begin invoicing clients until your license is approved.

What should I expect from Prague?

Finding an apartment in Prague can be difficult, especially if you are in a crunch for time. In recent years there has been an influx of expats moving to Prague and this is reflected in the price and availability of apartments. Finding an apartment in a foreign country can be daunting due to the language barrier, but you shouldn’t let this deter you. Most realty websites will have an option for English translation, although when you contact the realtor it will be hit or miss if he or she actually speaks English. Two reliable websites are SReality.cz and expats.cz. While both of these websites offer you comfort in knowing the properties are legitimate, they are expensive and you will pay one month’s rent in realtor fees. Facebook is another option for finding an apartment. While this option is much less vetted, you can find great properties and you will save hundreds of dollars by cutting out the middle-man. You can also opt to pay a membership fee to access various databases of apartments which operate sans realtor. Prague is broken up into about a dozen neighborhoods with Praha 1 being the city center and Praha 13 being on the outskirts. Prague 2, 3, and 5 are nice locations which are near the city center but not overrun by tourists. Prague’s public transportation system is well connected so if you live near a tram or metro stop, you can travel to the city center within thirty minutes of almost anywhere.

Speaking of the metro, if you plan to live in Prague for longer than three months, it is absolutely worthwhile to buy a year public transportation pass. You will need a photo ID to buy the pass and it will cost you around 160 dollars. You can purchase it at Prague Public Transit 

Central Office at Na Bojišti 5, Prague 2. This pass will get you on all public transportation an unlimited amount of times for a year. Keep the pass on you while you take public transportation in case you need to show it to officials.

As tourism grows in Prague, so does the number of English speakers. Although it is not essential to learn Czech (a difficult language for English speakers) it is good to know the basics. You will be treated more kindly at restaurants and shops if you attempt to speak some Czech. Professionally, it is a wise decision to invest time in learning Czech if you have Slovakian, Polish, or even Croatian clients as these languages are similar. With that being said, it will also behoove you to create a good relationship with a professional translation company. Having accurate translations of official documents will be important throughout your time abroad. From translating your diploma in order to obtain a visa, to translating your freelancing website to gain more clients, a professional translation company like lingy can help ease your transition to life abroad. Now is the time to take the leap, the Czech Republic is waiting for you!