Birth Numbers - Rodne Cislo looks at the functions of Birth numbers

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Published on 22.02.2006 13:27 (updated on 22.02.2006)

Written by David Creighton

It´s an ongoing topic on the message boards. Some people say you need it; others say you don´t. We´re talking about the rodné číslo, best translated as birth registration number in English. All Czechs have one, but many foreigners living and working in the Czech Republic are still scratching their heads about whether it is needed. Is it essential? Governments around the world have introduced national identification number systems which are used to keep track of citizens as well as for taxation, social security and healthcare purposes.

The systems vary from country to country, and in the Czech Republic there are two principle forms: the občanský průkaz (colloquially known as an občanka) or identity card, and the birth registration number. The former is issued to all Czech citizens when they reach age 15, and they are obliged to carry the ID card at all times. The latter is given to all Czech citizens at birth, and the number is recorded on the birth certificate. The number is valid for life and cannot be changed unless under certain special circumstances.

The first part of the number is the date of birth of the holder in YYMMDD format. The second part consists of four digits. Both are separated by a slash. For women the number 50 is added to the month part of the number, so for an example a birthday in April is shown as YY54DD/XXXX.

The birth registration number is used in all sorts of situations. For example Czechs need to indicate it on health and social security forms and on tax returns. When taking on a new job the number will be one of the details needed when arranging all the paperwork. And when signing an employment contract the birth registration number will often be shown under the details of the employer and employee.

Birth registration numbers for foreigners?

For expats living in the Czech Republic there has been some confusion about whether a birth registration number is needed. Although foreigners don´t have all the benefits and obligations that Czechs do, non-Czechs obviously have to follow the rules of the land, such as paying tax or social security contributions. Thus, having a birth registration number, which is requested by social security offices and healthcare companies, would seem logical, even if you are a foreigner, because you have to deal with these institutions if you are here legally.

Getting the right information can be difficult, but it is generally agreed that it is advantageous to have a birth number, and if you are a foreigner working legally in the Czech Republic then you should have one.

The situation has been clarified greatly by Czech entry to the EU. Basically all EU citizens who come to work live and work in the Czech Republic must have a birth number. This is a reflection of the harmonisation of government administrations, such as social security and healthcare provision, across the European Community.

Before Czech entry to the EU citizens from other European Union countries could have a birth registration number, but different agencies issued it. For example, when I applied for my number I had to go to Brno, to a branch of the Czech Statistical Office, which issued the birth registration number. The application process was fairly painless and I got the certificate showing my number, on the spot. Now the application process is simpler and less confusing.

For EU citizens the birth number registration process starts immediately when applying for a residence permit (temporary or permanent), so that if you apply for a permit for first time you will be automatically assigned a birth number. Bear in mind that even although having a residence permit isn´t compulsory you are expected to apply for it, and having one is essential if you want to buy property for example. You should therefore apply for the birth registration number at the relevant foreigners´ police. Unfortunately, the process can take a long time, even up to a year, so be prepared for delays. If you already have a number this will be valid because it essentially stays the same. If you are a renewing an existing permit that was issued before the EU accession then you should check with the foreigners´ police about the requirements, but basically there shouldn´t be any problems.

For non-EU residents the situation is basically similar, although of course they aren´t subject to EU regulations. You should apply for a registration number if you are applying for long-term residence (dlouhodobý pobyt) or permanent residence (trvalý pobyt). If you are renewing an existing permit you should check with the foreigners´ police about requirements, but again, there shouldn´t be a problem. Again, as with permits for EU citizens, delays in processing the number can be long. For both EU and non-EU citizens there is no fee if you apply at the foreigners´ police.