Business Visa for 3rd-Country Nationals
If you are not an EU-citizen with a 'Schengen passport' you will have to apply for a Business Visa based on a Trade License or SRO company if you want to live in Czech Republic unless you have a permanent residence permit, or a (temporary) residence permit based on marriage / relationship / partnership or a visa for employment / student purposes (provided that the job / studying will still remain the main purpose of stay).
In case you want to have an SRO company and do not want to live in Czech Republic, a Business Visa is not necessary. It is not possible to have a Trade License and not live in Czech Republic.
It is only possible to apply for a Visa outside Czech Republic. You will have to apply at the embassy in the country of origin unless you are US citizens or certain other national that is entitled to apply at an embassy outside their home country.
The landlord must give a written permission to register a Visa on the address. The rental contract alone is not enough, so also use this template with a notarized signature of the landlord: Doklad o zajisteni ubytovani.pdf
No need for a work permitWith a Business Visa you do not need a Work Permit. A Work Permit you only need if you have an Employment Visa (for a job as employee at a Czech-based company). A freelancer with a Trade License is not an employee, he / she is self-employed as independent contractor / sole proprietor external of the organisation. When you worked previously for a foreign company as employee, it is usually easier to invoice them as self-employed after relocation to Czech Republic.
Applying for a permanent Residence PermitIt is not possible to get a permanent Residence Permit right away. One must have a valid visa or residence permit for a total of 5 years in order to apply for the permanent Residence Permit, not sooner. The one exception is through marriage. In such case, it is possible to apply after only 2 years.
3rd-Country National without any visa or residence permit:With a Trade License (živnostenský list) or SRO company you can apply for a Business Visa. Note that only directors of an SRO can apply for a business visa, shareholders *can not*.
Many nationalities have a visa-free entry for a limited amount of time, typically between 30 and 90 days, allowing to travel to the Schengen zone / Czech Republic once the D-visa has been approved. If you do not have a visa-free entry, you may have to apply for a short-term C-visa to get to Czech Republic.
In any case, once in Czech Republic you have to report within 3 days to the foreign police to activate your D-visa and once that is done, 3 days to activate your Trade License. Note that the D-visa is country-specific (meaning: for Czech Republic only)
Requirements for a D-Visa for Business purposes
- extract of the criminal record + apostille stamp / super legalized from your home country, not older than 90 days *,
- proof of at least 149.000 CZK (2022) for living expenses for the duration of your stay (bank statements, payment card, other proof),
- Proof of Residence in Czech Republic; rental contract + landlord's permission (we have a template),
- Commercial Health Insurance by a Czech insurance company (unless you can be in Public Health Care, US citizens on a zivno, for example),
- Proof from the živnostenský úřad that you are entitled to get a Trade License (we provide it)
Note I: US citizens can use an afidavit from the US embassy in Prague instead of the 2 US criminal extracts (state and federal) for the Trade License registration, other nationalities can not.
For many people, the 149.000 CZK is a problem, but if you are not able to show that you have enough money for living expenses in Czech Republic or do not have proof of residence (or a fake proof) your Visa application will be rejected.
Official Business Visa detailsBusiness Visa details on the website of the Ministry of Interior (external link)
Addresses and Telephone numbers of Foreign EmbassiesFor contact information of foreign embassies click here: Embassies on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (external link)
3rd-Country National with Tourist Visa or Visa-Free Entry:Some people, come here on a Tourist Visa or have a Visa-Free Entry (American citizens and a few others), and want to change this Visa into a Business Visa. There are six issues with this:
- A 'Visa-Free Entry' is not a visa, so it is not possible to extend or 'upgrade' to a Business D-Visa in Czech Republic, you need to apply for a Business Visa from scratch outside Czech Republic,
- it is not possible to change the purpose of stay from 'tourist' into 'business', you need to apply again for a Business Visa from scratch, usually in your home country,
- it is not possible to apply for a temporary C or Bridge Visa while waiting for the longterm Business Visa. Only when extending a (Business) Visa a Bridge Visa can be applied for if the old Visa expires before the Extension is ready.
- The D-Visa application has to be made outside Czech Republic. You will have to apply the embassy in the country of origin (except for US citizens and a few other nationalities who can travel to Bratislava, Berlin, Vienna or another embassy outside their home country).
- Processing the Visa application will take up to 3 months, so it can happen your tourist stay / visa free entry will end before your Business Visa is ready, and in that case you are staying illegally in the Schengen-zone. Some stay in a country outside the Schengen zone (UK, Croatia etc), to stop the 'Schengen-clock' while waiting for the visa.
- Staying longer in Czech Republic than the the tourist visa / or the visa free entry-while waiting for the D-Visa- is officially not allowed, you may risk getting a Business Visa refusal because of this.
3rd-Country National with D-Visa, changing purpose of stay:If you have already a D-Visa for employment or student purposes, then it is possible to change the purpose of stay into 'Business', provided that:
- you have had a visa for at least 5 (FIVE!) years,
- and there is at least 60 days left on the original visa on the moment of filing the extension,
- and you comply to all the requirements of the Business Visa.
NOTE that is is not necessary to change the purpose of stay to business in order to apply for a Trade License. You can be employed or be student and have a Trade License at the same time, as long as being employee or student remains the main purpose of stay.
Details on changing purpose of stay for a longterm residence permit (external link)
IMPORTANT - 2 Critical steps after receiving the Visa at the Embassy:After receiving at the Embassy the visa sticker in your passport, you can enter Czech Republic. You have to report within 3 days after arrival to the Foreign Police in order to get a red stamp with your residence address in your passport.
After getting the red stamp, you have to report within 3 days to the Trade License office, and show your passport with this stamp. If you come later or not at all, the tradelicense will automatically be de-registered and you will have to start the process for the tradelicense all over again (!)
Therefore, we recommend to come to us the same day the police stamped your passport, and we will take care of the Trade License office. Once you are reported at the tradelicense office, it will issue a tradelicense with IČO number (so you can start to invoice) and we can continue registrations at the tax office and social office on your behalf (see next page).
IMPORTANT (updated jan 2021): the Trade License needs to be valid when you renew your visa3rd-Country Nationals that have a Visa or Residence Permit need to have a valid Trade License registration every time in order to renew the Visa / Residence Permit. If the Trade License is not valid at time of Visa / Residence Permit renewal (renewing can normally only be done *while* your old Visa / Residence Permit is still valid), you can start from scratch again - so do not let it expire!
Previously, it was a requirement to pick up a paper from the Trade License Register, and *then* you could go to the embassy. Then, there was a period that the Trade License Register would send that paper to your home address, but they stopped doing that because appparently, the embassy does not need it anymore for regular renewals. Now it is *only* possible to pick up that paper in the very last days of the validity of your Trade License if you do not manage to file for a Visa / Residence Permit renewal in time. That paper will keep the Trade License 90 more days 'alive' so you can get your renewed Visa / Residence permit. If it takes more than 90 days: the Trade License expires irrovakably, and you will have to start from scratch again.
Also: if you do not present your renewed Visa / Residence Permit within 3 days after validation at the Foreign Police at the Trade License Register then the Trade License expires, despite having a valid visa.
Business Visa ExtensionThe Business Visa Extension is a long, complicated process that requires more and different documents than the original Business Visa application. Hire someone to do this for you, because it is absolutely incomprehensible, frustrating and mindboggling, especially if you do not speak Czech.
We advise to start the visa entension and Trade License renewal process at least 2 months before the expiration date of the visa / residence permit. An application for visa- or residence permit renewal can be filed earliest 3 months and latest 14 days before expiration of the old visa / residence permit, so contact us in time!
Requests from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Far-East, Asia, Africa, South-America etc.Unfortunately the Ministry of Interior has become very strict for 3rd-country nationals from a non-western country. In practise, getting a Business Visa on basis of a Trade License can be quite challenging.
Opening an sro company is also not a guarantee for getting a Business Visa.
As with all visa applications, a good preparation, providing all requested documents and a good explanation of why you want / need to start a business in CZ (ideally with a letter of intent stating a cooperation with a CZ client / business) will increase your chances. However, the decision is to the embassy personnel and ultimately the foreign police. As a visa application depends on the person, no two cases are the same.
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