So. You’ve been living in the Czech Republic for five or ten years and, with 2021 fast approaching, you’re on your way to another anniversary of life abroad and wondering if you might be eligible for citizenship. The good news is: You are eligible! The not so good news is that they aren’t going to make it easy on you.
Learning The Language
Most expats who live here quickly find that fluency in the Czech language, while most appreciated by locals, is not necessarily a requirement for life here. Like so many other European countries, one can absolutely get by with only a basic understanding of the language as many Czech’s speak fluent English. Knowing a few words like, for example, “prosím,“ “děkuji,” “ano,“ “ne,“ and “nasheldanou,“ are about all you need to get by – at least for a while. The Czech government has a higher standard if you wish to attain citizenship.
Essentially, you’ll need to have basic fluency as you will be tested on speaking, listening, reading and writing. You will also need to display a basic knowledge of The Czech Republic’s constitutional system, culture, society, geography and history or, as they put it, “knowledge of life and institutions.”
Life In The Czech Republic
To be clear, there are different requirements as to the time one has to have lived in the country in order to qualify for citizenship. For EU nationals, one must only have resided in the Czech Republic for three years (with the majority of that time spent as a permanent resident). For what are called “Third Country Nationals,” one must have resided in the Czech Republic as a permanent resident for at least five years.
In either case, when applying for citizenship, the applicant needs to prove that he or she has resided in The Czech Republic for a total of at least half of the total length of the period stated above.
Fortunately, if you can prove your residency and have a solid handle on the language, the rest is really just about paperwork – assuming you don’t have any sort of criminal history at home or abroad.
What sort of paperwork? Let’s take a look.
When submitting for Czech citizenship, you will need to present the following documents:
- An application form
- A birth certificate
- A marriage certificate or registered partnership certificate (if you have entered into a marriage or registered partnership)
- A divorce certificate or certificate of dissolution of registered partnership (if applicable)
- Spouse’s / partner’s death certificate (if applicable)
- A Penal Register record or its equivalent issued by an appropriate court or administrative body of another state (in certain cases it may be replaced, for example, by a statutory declaration not older than 6 months)
- Curriculum vitae – Applicant shall provide information about his or her stay in The Czech Republic, travel abroad during this period, work or other paid activity or study, and information regarding family and social life, etc.
- Czech language and civic knowledge examination certificate
- Documents proving applicants stay in the Czech Republic and trips abroad (for example a statutory declaration about trips abroad and stay in the Czech Republic)
- A confirmation that applicant has no unpaid taxes in the tax records of the Financial Administration and the Customs Administration of The Czech Republic
- A Proof of the Origin of applicants financial resources for living expenses in The Czech Republic (for example, an attestation of pension receipt, proof of foreign earned income, proof of income from applicants spouse, etc.)
- A Certificate of Employment along with applicants income documentation if the applicant is employed, and employment contracts or certificates relating to applicants jobs in the past
- A Study Certificate or applicants last school report or diploma if applicant is studying in The Czech Republic or has studied here in the past
The Ministry of the Interior may also request additional documents from the applicant concerning things like his or her employment and/or business activities in the country, proof of public health insurance and compliance with obligations related to taxes, levies, fees and social security.
When submitting this information you’ll need to submit, for the most part, original documents (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate) but in some cases, certified copies will be sufficient.
Of course, if you came over from the U.S. these documents will all need to be officially translated into the Czech language and any official documents from the U.S. will need to have been certified with an Apostille by the Secretary of State from wherever the documents originated.
What Is The Cost of Applying?
You’re probably assuming there’s a fee for the application and you would be correct – though it’s not too bad. It costs 2000 Czk if submitting an application for an adult and just 500 Czk if submitting for a child.
Once you’ve submitted all of the required documentation, it can take up to thirty days for the regional government office to submit the application to the Ministry of the Interior and, from there, it can take up to one hundred and eighty days to receive a decision. It is important to note that not all applications are approved. If approved, you’ll receive what is called the “Charter on the granting of citizenship of The Czech Republic,” and from receipt of that document, you will have up to one year to take the Oath of Citizenship.
Those from the U.S. may be wondering if becoming a Czech citizen means you have to renounce your U.S. citizenship. Fortunately, as of the time of this writing, you do not. The two governments allow dual-passport holders, but they do so tacitly. When arriving in the U.S., you only show your U.S. passport. And when returning to the Czech Republic, you only show your Czech passport.
Doing Things The Right Way
When considering applying for Czech citizenship, if you want to take the stress out of the equation, you may want to consult an attorney who can help make sure you have everything required and that it’s all been properly prepared. Our friends at Legans (https://www.legans.cz/en) specialize in this field and can be an excellent resource for you in terms if making sure all of the “i’s are dotted and t’s crossed.” If you’re considering submitting an application, we can’t recommend them more highly.
Are you considering applying this year? Leave us a note in the comments and tell us what you love about the Czech Republic.