Zivno visa is a commonly used term for a long-term visa for the Czech Republic, based on a Trade License (Zivno), also referred to as a Business visa, Freelance visa, Self-employed visa, Zivnostensky visa or (Ew) Z-list visa. All the names refer to a visa based on you working as a freelancer. This type of visa is mainly used by English Teachers, IT specialists or Creatives/Artists. Wanna know what to do to get the Zivno visa? Read on, we provide a detailed guide on getting the Zivno visa below.
First of all, let’s clarify a few things:
- zivno visa is not an official immigration term, it is an abbreviation of “Zivnostenske opravneni” visa which basically means a visa based on your “Zivnostenské opravneni” – Czech word for a trade license/freelancing license/business license. The official name is a Long-Term Visa with Business purpose of stay.
- zivno visa is meant for foreigners moving to the Czech Republic as non-EU citizens who intend to work as contractors/freelancers or run their own business. Most typically English Teachers (since language schools usually do not offer employment, just contract based work), software developers or other freelancers (tattoo artists, etc.).
- zivno visa used to be super easy to get for Americans, Australians, Canadians, South Africans and other native English speakers who were coming here to teach English. Unfortunately, this is no longer true. It is still easier to get than other visa types and still easier to get for Americans/Australians/Canadians then for other nationalities such as Indians, Russians, etc. but you need to be really well prepare for the process.
Now, when we have some things clear, let’s see what is the process of getting the zivno visa and what documents are required.
How to apply for the zivno visa
If you do not hold any long-term visa or long-term residence permit in the Czech Republic, you will have to apply for the zivno visa through some Czech Embassy (applying in the Czech Republic is not possible). For most nationalities in the World, it must be the Czech Embassy in the country of their origin or in the country where they hold a long-term or permanent residence permit (i.e. if an Indian national permanently resides in UAE, he/she can either apply for the zivno visa in India or in UAE).
Some nationalities (i.e. Americans, Australians, Canadians, Mexicans, etc.) have the exception that they can apply for the zivno visa through any Czech Embassy in the World, as long as the Embassy accepts visa applications. So, say, an American teacher can apply for the zivno visa through the Czech Embassy in the USA, in Germany, in China or anywhere else. If you wanna see the whole list of countries whose citizens can apply for the zivno visa anywhere in the world, go to this link of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. It is only in Czech but you can easily google translate it or in most cases also guess the country names since they are alike in Czech and English (i.e. Mexiko vs Mexico).
Step by step process of applying for the zivno visa
Now you know if you have to apply for the visa in the country of your origin or if it can be done somewhere else. What to do next?
- Choose the Embassy where you want to apply (in case you have the opportunity to choose) and check their availability. Most Embassies are booked for weeks/month in advance so everything must be well planned.
- Collect all the required documents – we are listing the documents below.
- Prepare for the immigration interview – part of the zivno visa process is an immigration interview usually conducted at the Embassy. The Officers will ask you about your business plan, your housing in Prague, education, experience and how much you know about the Czech tax/social security/health care system.
- Go to the chosen Embassy, pass the interview and submit your zivno visa application.
- Wait – the official approval time for the zivno visa given by the immigration law is 90-120 days. In can be anything between two weeks and even longer than four months. It depends on many factors.
- Provide additional documents or conduct additional interview – as mentioned above, the process is getting more complicated for everyone. So, even if you submit all the required documents, the MOI (Ministry of the Interior responsible for visa decisions) can request some additional documents or invite you for additional interview.
- Collect your approved visa – once your zivno visa is approved, you have to go back to the Embassy where you applied for it and collect it. Czech private health insurance will be needed for that.
- Activate your zivno (trade license) and get registered for paying income tax, social security (and public health care – where applies) and be good for a year 🙂
What documents are needed for the zivno visa
Now, you know the process ahead, one important part is still missing though – what documents you will actually need to get the zivno visa. Here you go the list:
- application form
- passport – can not be older than 10 years, must have at least two blank pages and must be valid for another 1,5 years
- 2 passport sized photos
- proof of accommodation – this is one of the most trickiest documents – regardless the Embassy you apply through (i.e. even if you are an Indian applying in India), you have to present a document showing that you have accommodation arranged at least for a year. Finding a place to live if you are not physically in the Czech Republic is close to impossible so this part is usually hard. Get in touch with us through the form on the right if you need more info about how to solve this problem.
- proof of funds – you need to show that you have equivalent to at least 124 500 CZK (effective from 1.4.2020) in your account. You should also keep the money there during the whole process since the MOI might want to see that you still have enough before your approval.
- trade license + other documents on the purpose of your stay – you need to prove that you have a real business plan related to the Czech Republic. So the trade license (zivno) is a must for everyone. In case of English Teachers, we also usually use a few letters from different language schools saying that once your visa is approved, they will be happy to hire you as a freelance English Teacher. This will not work for so called “digital nomads” since they do not really have any links to the Czech Republic.
- health insurance – health insurance is only needed to collect your visa so you do not need to worry about that when submitting your application. Also, different rules apply for different nationalities and age groups. Get in touch with us to find out more.
- criminal check – even though this document is officially only required “upon request”, the MOI requests it every time. You officially need the criminal check from the country of your origin and from all the countries where you have lived for longer than 6 months in the last three years. Conditions apply so please get int touch to find out more.
- medical check – this document is still a real “upon request” document and we have only seen the request once in 8 years we have been in business. So you do not need to worry about that now.
Wow, the article is already super long and we have just barely scratched the surface. There are many other things you need to keep in mind, such as:
– your lease agreement must be signed by the real owner of your flat
– the flat must be listed as a flat (sometimes they are listed as business space, etc. to reduce cost when building it)
– the duration of your lease agreement will determine the validity of your visa
– your criminal check must be apostilled/superlegalized before you can use it in the Czech republic
– all documents must be originals (not scans, no copies, etc.)
– all documents must be in Czech/officially translated into Czech
– some nationalities can contribute to the public health care system, some can not
Even though there are tens of similar rules which are super important for your zivno visa application to be successful, if we had to list them all here, you would have never read the blog. That is also why people hire us – to make sure that you follow all the rules and that your zivno visa process is as smooth as possible without unnecessary mistakes and delays.
Get in touch with us not through the contact form on the right or through our general Contacts page and let us take care of your zivno visa process, or just ask us questions. We’ll be happy to hear from you in any case! 🙂
Jan&Daria on behalf of the whole Move To Prague team – your experts in zivno visa.