Visas for the Czech Republic

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Visas for the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs check but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration, but not Customs, at the first country and then continue to your destination where your baggage will have customs checks but there will be no further immigration controls. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.

Nationals of EEA countries (EU and (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry - in no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length.

Nationals of non-EEA countries will generally need a passport for entry to a Schengen country and most will need a visa.

Only the nationals of the following non-EEA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan*** (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work - see below). The counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa. However, New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they only visit particular Schengen countries.

If you are a non-EU/EFTA national (even if you are visa-exempt, unless you are Andorran, Monégasque or San Marinese), make sure that your passport is stamped both when you enter and leave the Schengen Area. Without an entry stamp, you may be treated as an overstayer when you try to leave the Schengen Area; without an exit stamp, you may be denied entry the next time you seek to enter the Schengen Area as you may be deemed to have overstayed on your previous visit. If you cannot obtain a passport stamp, make sure that you retain documents such as boarding passes, transport tickets and ATM slips which may help to convince border inspection staff that you have stayed in the Schengen Area legally.

Note that:

  • while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.

However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.

Further note that:

(*) nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel,

(**) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa and

(***) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.

Travel Document Requirements

For EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, passports and national identity cards only need to be valid for the period of their stay in the Czech Republic.

For all other nationals, passports/travel documents must be valid for a period of at least 90 days beyond the expected length of stay in the Czech Republic/Schengen Area.

EU nationals whose stay in the Czech Republic will exceed 30 days are required to register within 30 days on their arrival in the Czech Republic with the Alien and Border Police; other foreigners must register within 3 working days. In case you stay in a hotel or similar institution, the provider of the accommodation should arrange this registration for you.

Children inscribed in their parents´ passports are allowed to travel with their parents up to the age of 15. Once the child has reached the age of 15, a separate passport is necessary.

Getting to the Czech Repubic

By Plane

Vaclav Havel Airport - located about 10 km west of the centre of Prague, (Praha in Czech), is a hub of Czech national carrier – Czech Airlines (ČSA), a SkyTeam member.

Other international airports are in Brno (with flights to London, Moscow, Rome, Bergamo, Eindhoven and Prague), Ostrava (flights to Vienna and Prague), Pardubice, Karlovy Vary (flights to Moscow and Uherské Hradiště).

There are several low-cost airlines going to/from Prague (e.g. EasyJet from Lyon). Ryanair flies to Brno from London and Bergamo. Other nearby airports are Nuremberg (200 km) and Munich (320 km) in Germany, Vienna having a bus shuttle to Brno city (260 km to Prague, 110 km to Brno) in Austria, Wroclaw (200 km) in Poland (might be a good idea if you want to go to the Giant Mountains) and Bratislava (280 km to Prague, only 120 km to Brno) in Slovakia.

Airport transfers:

In order to transfer from Ruzyně Airport to the centre of Prague and beyond, you can take:

  • PragueTransfer - Minibus service. Prices range from 25€ for a party of 4 to 180€ for a party of 49.
  • - Minibus service. Prices range from 9€ for an individual to 3€ per person for a party of 15 (i.e. 45€)
  • Airport Express - Czech railways public bus service. 60 CZK per ticket. This bus stops at terminals 1 and 2. It connects to Metro line A ("Dejvická station"), Metro line B ("Náměstí republiky station"), Train Station Masarykovo and to Prague Main Train Station in 35 minutes.
  • Public bus lines - Tickets can be purchased at the arrivals halls of terminals 1 and 2, or from ticket machines placed at bus stops for 32 CZK. Tickets can also be purchased directly from the driver for 40 CZK. None of these services are direct to Prague centre but will take you to the nearest Metro station, where you can continue to the city centre. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes in all buses, trams and Metro and needs to be stamped after entering the bus. Routes servicing the airport are:
    • 119 Terminates in 24 minutes at the "Dejvická" Metro Station. Transfer to Metro line A for city.
    • 100 Terminates in western Prague ("Zličín" Metro station) in 18 minutes. Transfer to Metro line B for city.
    • 510 A night service every 30 minutes. Goes to the south of the city, but passes near the centre ("Jiráskovo náměstí" or "I.P.Pavlova" stops) which takes 42 minutes.
  • Taxi Airport authorised service. Rates are 28 CZK per kilometre plus 40 CZK per journey.

By Bus

International bus service runs from many cities in Europe with direct connections from Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland, Austria etc. Good service is offered by Eurolines bus company and Student Agency. Cheap tickets from Poland are offered by PolskiBus.

By Train

International train service runs from most points in Europe with direct connections from Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia; in summer also from Romania, Bulgaria and Montenegro.

From Germany:

EC trains operate every two hours from Berlin or Hamburg to Prague and Brno. Direct overnight sleeper car serves Cologne, Frankfurt and Karlsruhe. Cheap tickets on these direct trains are available at German Railways website, if bought in advance. The price begins at €19–39 for seat and €49 for couchette.

German Railways operate express non-stop buses every two hours between Nuremberg and Prague, fully integrated to German railway tariff. If you have an InterRail or Eurail pass, consider that these buses require compulsory reservation.

There are four daily trains from Munich to Prague (with a followup from Nuremberg), but they are slower than the abovementioned bus, because of slow and curvy (although pictoresque) railway at southwestern Czech border. The cheapest way is a Bayern-Böhmen-Ticket, valid up to Pilsen, combined with a Czech domestic ticket (see #Cheap ticket combinations).

If you cross the border in a local train (not EC or EN), consider taking advantage of the Bayern-Böhmen-Ticket or the Sachsen-Böhmen-Ticket. In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the ZVON transport system.

From Poland:

There is one direct EC train from Warszawa to Prague and other two to Ostrava, continuing towards Břeclav and Vienna. There are also direct sleeper cars from Warszawa and Kraków. The ticket for the daytime train costs €19–29, if bought at least three day in advance. For night trains there are is no such a cheap offer, but you can use a tricky combination, see #Cheap ticket combinations.

Apart from the long-distance trains there are very few local trains. For long-distance travel a semi-fast train from Wroclaw to Pardubice can be useful.

In local trains (not IC or EC), it is possible to buy a special cross-border ticket (Polish: bilet przechodowy) which is valid between the Czech and Polish (or vice versa) border stations and costs only CZK 15 or PLN 2. You can buy it from the conductor on the train (or completely ignore it if the conductor does not emerge before you reach the other border station, which happens) and combine it with domestic tickets of the two countries. In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the ZVON transport system.

From Slovakia:

As parts of former Czechoslovakia, the trains between Czechia and Slovakia are frequent. EC trains operates every two hours from Bratislava to Prague and Brno, and from Žilina to Prague and Ostrava. There is one daily train from Banská Bystrica, Zvolen and Košice to Prague and Ostrava. All these cities have also a direct overnight sleeper car connection to Prague.

Regular oneway ticket to Prague costs €27 from Bratislava and €42 from Košice. There is a return discount of (roughly) 30% called CityStar. Slovak railways also offer discounted online SparNight tickets in advance - e.g. the day train from Bratislava to Praha costs €15 and night train including couchette reservation from Košice to Prague €27.

From Austria:

EC trains from Vienna to Prague and Brno operate every two hours. From Linz to Prague there are two directs connections and two more connections with change in České Budějovice.

Cheap tickets to Prague, Brno and Ostrava are available at Austrian Railways website, if bought at least 3 days in advance. The price begins at €19 for Vienna-Brno, €29 for Vienna-Prague and Linz-Prague.

If you cross the border in a local train (not IC, EC), you can take advantage of discounted return ticket EURegio.

Cheap ticket combinations:

The full-price international tickets are quite expensive, so if no commercial discount fits your needs, you can combine domestic tickets to save money:

  • Buy a German / Austrian / Slovak / Polish domestic ticket to the Czech border point and then ask the Czech conductor for a Czech domestic ticket starting at the border point (the surcharge for buying the ticket in the train is CZK 40). Remember there is a significant group discount starting from 2 passengers. According to the Czech Railways website, conductors on international trains should accept payments in EUR.
  • On weekends, instead of the standard Czech domestic ticket, you can also buy online a network ticket called Skupinová víkendová jízdenka for CZK 600 (valid up to 2 adults and 3 children for one weekend day). You have to print this ticket on your printer or present it on the screen of your notebook.

The border point names are:

  • from Berlin: Schöna Gr.
  • from Vienna: Břeclav Gr.
  • from Linz: Summerau Gr.
  • from Bratislava: Kúty Gr.
  • from Nuremberg: Furth im Wald Gr. (trains via Schwandorf) or Cheb Gr. (trains via Cheb)
  • from Munich: Furth im Wald Gr.
  • from Košice: Horní Lideč Gr. (trains via Vsetín) or Čadca Gr. (trains via Ostrava)
  • from Warszawa and Kraków: Zebrzydowice Gr.
  • from Wroclaw: Lichkov Gr.

The Gr. means a border point to distinguish them from stations with the same name.

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