By Nataša Randlová Partner - Czech Republic Randl Partners, advokátní kancelář, s.r.o. David Smolar Randl Partners, advokátní kancelář, s.r.o.
The rules on travel to and residence in the Czech Republic changed for UK nationals on 1 January 2021. This question and answer explains.
1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?
After 1 January 2021, UK nationals are considered third-country nationals (and need permission to stay or work in order to be able to enter the Czech Republic and to access the Czech labour market) with the following exceptions:
- UK nationals (and their family members) who documented that they started residing (working) in the Czech Republic during the transition period from 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2020 will retain their right of residence and will not need permission to stay. These individuals will not need to obtain permission to work either but will retain free access to the Czech labour market.
- UK ‘cross-border workers’, i.e. frontier workers (who started working in the Czech Republic by the end of the transitional period, but without residing here permanently or temporarily) retain the right to maintain access to employment. They may apply for a special certificate (which is recommended), however, it is not necessary: according to the information provided by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, it is sufficient if these workers are able to document that they retained the right to maintain access to employment (e.g. in the event of an inspection).
- Posted UK workers will be allowed to finish the planned period of posting (a special permit will be issued to all these workers by the Labour Office; the Labour Office will contact the receiving entities and lead the through the process). According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs recommendation, posted workers should continue to be treated in accordance with the Posted Workers Directive (and national transposing legislation).
As regards proof of residence, UK nationals may use any means deemed sufficient, such as an employment contract, confirmation of studies in the Czech Republic, lease contract for a flat, etc. However, the Ministry of the Interior recommends that UK nationals apply for a certificate of temporary or permanent residence prior to the end of 2020.
Information from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is accessible here (in ENG).
2. BUSINESS TRAVEL
2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?
At a national level, we currently do not have any information as to whether UK nationals need to apply for business visa after 1 January 2021. However, a visa-free regime is expected for stays of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period (this is not yet confirmed).
However, should work be performed in the Czech Republic, the relevant permission for these purposes will be required.
2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?
We do not know whether UK citizens will be entitled to visa-free entry. However, we recommend that UK citizens should have passports with sufficient validity ready (for short-term stays not exceeding three months, passports should be valid for at least another three months after the end of the stay and should also not be more than ten years old).
2.3 Do UK nationals need additional permission to work for business travel from 1 January 2021 in the event of no deal?
Unless one of the exceptions listed above applies, UK nationals will, as a rule, need special permission to work in the Czech Republic.
3. EMPLOYMENT AND RESIDENCE
3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in the Czech Republic from 1 January 2021?
With the exceptions stated above, UK nationals who travel to or start working in the Czech Republic after 1 January 2021 will, as a rule, be treated as third-country nationals. As regards stays in the Czech Republic, a visa will most likely be required for long-term stays. For short-term stays, we do not currently have any information on visa-free entry at the national level. Permission to work will be generally always needed (there are, however, certain limited exceptions to this rule).
3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals?
Quotas apply only with respect to specific countries. No quotas are currently in place with regard to the UK or UK nationals and, to our knowledge, no quotas are currently being considered.
3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?
As regards the most common categories of permission to work, third-country nationals may work in the Czech Republic based on the following:
- employee card: generally, combines both permissions to stay and work;
- blue card (for highly qualified workers): combines both permissions to stay and work;
- intra-company employee transfer card combines both permission to stay and work;
- work permit: permission to work (can be combined with a short-term Schengen visa or long-term visa/permission to stay).
Please note that third-country nationals do not always need permission to work. There are certain (very) limited exceptions, for example for short-term stays for work purposes (only for certain activities not exceeding seven consecutive days or a total of 30 days in a calendar year), posting of workers by employers residing in other EU member states pursuant to the Posted Workers Directive, etc.
3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?
The timing very much depends on whether just stay or work or both are involved, as well as on the type of permission (or permissions: in some cases, a combination of multiple permissions might be necessary, i.e. one for stay, one for work). For example, processing of the employment card (‘dual permission’ to work and stay) takes approximately three months.
3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable?
The fees due depend on whether it concerns just stay or work or both are involved, as well as on the type of permission (or permissions). For example. an employee card would cost CZK 1 000 (approximately GBP 34), an employment permit plus short-term Schengen visa (should it be required) would cost CZK 500 plus EUR 80 (i.e. approx. GBP 88), etc.
4. FRONTIER WORKERS
4.1 What formalities apply to UK frontier workers working in the Czech Republic but living in another country from 1 January 2021?
Unless a frontier worker started working in the Czech Republic prior to the end of 2020 (see above), s/he is to be regarded as a third-country national and would, as a rule, need permission to work in the Czech Republic.
5. PERMANENT RESIDENCE
5.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence?
Third-country nationals may obtain permanent residence after five years of legal stay in the Czech Republic. There are exceptions: for example, under certain conditions, permanent residence may also be granted after two years of uninterrupted temporary residence by the third-country national in the Czech Republic if such s/he isa family member of a Czech or EU citizen.
6. SECURING RESIDENCE AND WORK STATUS
6.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?
As stated above, UK nationals living and working in the Czech Republic prior to the end of 2020 may, under certain conditions continue to live and work in the Czech Republic (especially if they are able to prove they meet the conditions).
We recommend that UK nationals apply for a certificate of temporary or permanent residence as soon as possible, by 31 December 2020 at the latest. By 31 December 2020, the application must be filed not processed. In order to apply for certificate of temporary residence, no limit on the length of prior stay in the Czech Republic has been set.
If an application for a certificate of temporary or permanent residence has not been filed by the end of 2020, the situation may be more difficult. However, based on the information communicated by the authorities, the stay and work rights of UK nationals living and working in the Czech Republic prior to the end of 2020 should nonetheless be preserved (even without a certificate) provided that the UK national has and can provide sufficient proof of his or her status (see above, e.g. employment contract, confirmation of studies in the Czech Republic, lease agreement for a flat, etc.).
An alternative approach may be for UK nationals to obtain permanent residency in another EU member state, if they are eligible.