As anti-coronavirus measures are lifted in the Czech Republic and traveling to and from the country once again becomes feasible, a lot of questions about what exactly that might mean remain unclear. We spoke with Petr Sezemský from Expat Zone to help us get a better idea of the current regulations.
Who can come to the Czech Republic, and from where?
At this time, travel to the Czech Republic is still highly restricted, but not impossible if you satisfy the right conditions. Rules for entry are divided into two main categories for newcomers and holders of a Czech [residence] permit.
Newcomers aiming to stay here long-term are allowed to come mainly for economic/study purposes or to visit family. However, with non-EU citizens who have to apply outside of the Czech Republic the agenda is still unavailable except for selected purposes (seasonal employment, key scientific personnel, medical/social workers).
All of them will need to have a doctor’s confirmation of having negative results for SARS-CoV-2 presence using an RT-PCR test (either via a form from the Czech Ministry of Interior, or a different confirmation containing the same information). The results cannot be older than four days. In some cases, the test can be undertaken within the Czech Republic.
What is the current status of the freedom of movement restrictions?
Along with the test, there is a requirement to restrict movement outside of domicile for 14 days only to work commute, trips providing elementary life-sustaining needs (such as groceries or medication), doctor appointments, urgent official matters, and funerals. In some cases, the doctor’s confirmation and movement restriction can be substituted by quarantine.
People who lived in the Czech Republic before the state of emergency (specifically EU citizens who lived here for over 90 days before March 12, 2020, or non-EU citizens who hold a long-term/permanent residence permit issued before March 12, 2020) are generally allowed to enter regardless of their purpose, but they will need to have the same doctor’s confirmation and restrict movement for 14 days.
Short-term travel is still restricted mainly to EU citizens employed in the Czech Republic who live abroad, medical reasons, passing through the Czech Republic, transportation, workers in critical fields, selected government officers.
Can Czech citizens and foreigners in the Czech Republic travel abroad?
Yes, travel abroad is currently possible for any purpose without restrictions from the Czech side (but not recommended). However, this by no means signifies the restoration of free movement as restrictions may apply in the destination country.
Which travel routes are currently open and which reasons for travel are acceptable?
It is possible to use any means to travel abroad (e.g. plane, car, train, etc.). Nonetheless, due to the differences in foreign policies, it is necessary to use given routes. Their up-to-date list can be found here; you’ll also find a map of ground routes.
Can friends and family visit us from other countries?
Long-term family visits are allowed upon undertaking the 14-day movement restriction and bringing a fresh negative SARS-CoV-2 test (described in detail above). EU citizens can be visited by their children younger than 21 years old and parents of such children, spouses, and grandparents, parents, or children dependent on the financial or other care of an EU family member residing in the Czech Republic. Non-EU citizens can be visited by spouses and their children younger than 18 years old.
Visits from friends are possible only upon satisfying conditions for newcomers as detailed above, therefore they can come mainly for long-term employment/study purposes.
Can we go on vacation or fly abroad yet?
Presuming the destination country allows tourist stay and you will satisfy conditions for return, yes. Some flights out of Prague airport have already resumed and you can find more details about air travel and which flights have resumed in the Czech Republic here.
What about visa applications that were interrupted during the crisis?
Applications that have to be submitted abroad (therefore mainly first applications of non-EU citizens) are still limited to selected fields connected to the current crisis. However, the government promises a gradual re-opening of the Czech consulates after the end of the state of emergency depending on the local situation in a given country.
This is advantageous for people who can apply from any Czech consulate as they will be among the first ones eligible to apply. It is possible to track the current situation regarding the possibility to apply at this website. Applications that have been submitted outside of the Czech Republic for other purposes are now being processed again. However, the possibility to pick up the permits is dependent on current entry measures in a given country. Alternatively, the visa can be picked up based on a power of attorney.
Applications in the Czech Republic can be submitted by post or other measures without the necessity to be personally present while applying. Important personal documents (such as passport/health insurance card, etc.) can be merely copied and their authenticity will be verified upon picking up the approved permit. At this point, there is no significant slowdown with processing these applications.
What about travel for residents with permits-in-process? Are bridge visas being issued?
Both applications submitted in and outside of the Czech Republic are now being processed and if approved, it is possible to pick them up. Bridge visas are issued only if a given person needs to travel outside of the Czech Republic, or if they are necessary for other official matter (such as extending trade license validity). There is a myth going around that people need to have it also while being in the Czech Republic, which is not true.
Do you have additional questions about travel restrictions? Ask them in the comments below or leave a comment on our Facebook page. You can also visit the Ministry of the Interior’s webpages for the most up-to-date information.