Visa in the Czech Republic

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As a country that has been the victim of aggression repeatedly throughout history, the attitude to the issuing of visas and entry the Czech Republic generally is extremely generous. Given the generosity and warmth of the Czech people, this may be no surprise. As would be expected there are some bureaucratic hoops to jump through, but, with a little research, some of these can be sidestepped, too.

The initial question is fairly obvious, that is, “Do I need a visa?”. Depending on the length of the stay and the purpose for it, travelers may not.  Citizens of countries in the European Union, who are not visiting for profit, can stay in the Czech Republic for up to ninety days without being required to hold a visa. Similarly there are over forty other countries whose citizens may be eligible for visa-free status, but some restrictions apply to a handful of these countries.

If the visitor is not simply on holiday or on a stop-over, or if they do not come from one of the many accepted countries, they may be required to attain a Schengen (short-term) visa. The purposes that demand a Schengen are many and varied and include visit for profit, such as almost any kind of paid work including business trips, sport and cultural purposes, visiting to receive or provide medical treatment and visiting to study or carry out scientific research. However, attaining a Schengen allows the holder to enter any of the Schengen states, which includes most European countries west of Estonia, Poland and Hungary.

To gain a Schengen, the applicant must complete the obligatory forms, present their travel documents stating their itinerary and produce a suitable photograph. Application must be made in person and can be made within three months of the planned visit, but it strongly recommended that it be made more than fifteen days before travelling to allow sufficient time for processing. The cost of an adult Schengen visa is EUR 60 ($US 80) and a Schengen visa for a child from six to twelve years of age is EUR 35 ($US 48), although many children benefit from a visa fee waiver.

Should a planned stay in the Czech Republic be longer than ninety days, a visitor will need to apply for a long-stay visa. These documents require a longer period for processing and should be lodged no later than ninety days before the intended travel date. While a long-stay visa is required for all the profit-making purposes as listed for a Schengen visa, it is worth noting that this document is also the first step to gaining permanent residence, so the review process is significantly more stringent. The cost of a long-stay visa is CZK 2500 ($US 135) but residents of neighbouring countries or countries of the European Union can gain exemptions for family members.

Finally, it is important to note that it is mandatory that visitors on short or long-stay visas provide evidence of current travel medical insurance. This must be valid for all countries in which they will travel and consist of a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 ($US 40,000).

Applications for visas should be lodged at Diplomatic Missions of the Czech Republic, although for long-stay visas and permanent residence visas, an online application process has become available called VISAPOINT. However, while steps have been taken recently to streamline the application and issuing process for visas to the Czech Republic, the benefit of enquiring in person cannot be underestimated. In most cases, applying in person is essential, but there is also a great deal to be gained through a face-to-face conversation with the relevant officers. Any bureaucratic process will take time, but the Czech Republic makes efforts to reduce the stress and cost of the task.

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