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Can I start a business as a foreigner in the CR?

Yes, you can.

You don’t need any residence card in the CR to open ‘živnost’ (a trade), you can do it with your European ID card and the same rules apply to you as to any Czech “živnostník”.

That said, the Czech residence card “Certificate of Registration (Temporary residence certificate)”, and the Czech ID number “rodné číslo” that comes with it, would make the process easier and faster – you wouldn’t need a Criminal Record extract.

What type of business can I do with a trade licence?

The trade licence covers most areas of business. It is very likely you’ll be able to perform what you had in mind with only a trade licence. Or become self-employed without a trade license – if you are an artist or author etc.

The law classifies several types of trades. They differ in the requirements you need to fulfil to be eligible to register.

  1. Unqualified trade. Many areas of work are accessible and grouped as unqualified trades (‘živnost volná’).  With one licence covering all areas – e.g. teaching, translating, web design, consulting and other eighty professions. 
  2. Vocational, professional and permitted trades. Only when trades require certain technical or professional qualifications (e.g. construction, massage, cosmetic services, running a restaurant), it is necessary to apply for individual trade licences for each trade and substantiate the application with an appropriate diploma, authorization or certificate. 

Overview of activities under the unqualified trade are listed under Annex 4, vocational trades, profesional and permitted trades under Annex 1, 2,3 of the Trade Licensing Act. Download the full list, or the more detailed description of different trades (vocational trades page 2-29, professional trades page 20-30, permitted trades page 31-38, free unqualified trades page 39-71), and read the Annexes.

What are the steps to opening a trade license?

Acquiring a trade licence certificate is a reasonably straightforward, though somewhat drawn out, process.

The office which issues the trade licences is the Živnostenský úřad (ŽÚ). In Brno, it’s located at Malinovského nám. 3. Now they have an English speaking officer there, so you can set up an appointment for English-speaking clients by clicking on “objednat se na pobočku“.

The documents required are pretty much like those that are needed for obtaining any other official papers in this country (see the question about the documents you need below), including a clean criminal record (in case you don’t have the Certificate of Registration for EU citizens). You will also have to provide proof that you can use the address you have given as your registered place of business.  For more details about the documents necessary for application keep reading below “What documents do I need?“.

At the Živnostenský úřad, one of the employees will check your documents to make sure you have everything needed, and then fill in the application form online with you.

The cost is 1,000 CZK. You will receive a “certificate of incorporation” document within a couple of days. 

Where is the TL office and how can I set up appointment in English?

Submissions and changes can be made at any Trade Licensing Office in the CR – not only the one according to your registered address.

Trade Licensing Office in Brno is located here:

  • Živnostenský úřad města Brna, Malinovského náměstí 3,
  • 4th floor
  • Tel: 542 173 316
  • E-mail: zu@brno.cz
  • Office hours:
    • Monday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
    • Wednesday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
    • Friday 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Now they have English speaking officers and you can make an appointment with them. Just go to the booking portal and click on “objednat se na pobočku” and continue with English option. 

What documents do I need?

List of documents to bring to obtain your trade licence:

  • Passport or ID
    • A temporary Residence card is not necessary but helps to skip the step of requesting the Criminal Record. The card is issued by the Immigration office in approx. one month (read the guide on Temporary Residence for EU)
  • Criminal Record, not older three months,  from the state of applicant’s nationality or the state of their last stay.
    • For most EU nationals this may be requested at any CzechPoint as Výpis z rejstříku trestů s přílohou. See what CzechPoint is in our guide on Criminal Record. (UK nationals need to request the document in the UK.)
    • In case you hold the Certificate of Registration (Temporary residence) for EU citizens or Temporary residence permit for a family member of an EU citizen or Permanent residence card, your last stay is in the CR and the Trade Licencing Office will not request the Criminal Record from you. This does not apply to UK citizens.
  • Lease or approval or other document proving the legal grounds for use of place of business. An address of your official seat of business. It can be a lease contract or written consent of the owner of the property, a standard lease is sufficient unless it states explicitly that you are not allowed to conduct business. Instead of the valid lease, you can ask your landlord / any property owner to sign a Consent for registering a business address on this form signed by the property owner. Or you can of course rent an office space or virtual office (e.g. here, here or here) with a PO box is an option too.
  • Documents proving professional or other qualification (if required by law for qualified, professional and vocational trades, see the question about the type of business above)
  • Payment of the service fee – 1.000czk

All documents must be translated into Czech. The regular translation is fine.

How much are the fees?

The basic administrative fees at the Trade Licensing Office are as follows:

  • 1,000 CZK for the first notification of trade, regardless of the number of trades or activities
  • 500 CZK for every subsequent notification/change
  • 100 CZK for a printed extract from the registry

It is possible to pay the fee in cash or with a credit card at the Trade Licensing Office.

What are my other obligations?

In case you haven’t filled out a form (Jednotný registrační formulář) at the Trade Licensing Office to register you at the responsible offices automatically, you have to do it separately.

1. Tax Office

You need to inform the Tax office “Finanční úřad” that you became self-employed. You can register by filling in the form “Přihláška k registraci pro fyzické osoby“, download here, and deliver in person or by post to any Financial office (list of offices in Brno here) within 15 days from starting to provide the business services.
There is no fee. If you have “a data mailbox“, you have to use it.

You will receive a DIČ – tax number in a letter in about two weeks confirming the registration.  The DIČ is your ID number for communicating with the Financial office and if you are a VAT payer, you need to have it on every invoice.

You don’t pay the income tax until after the end of the calendar year. Then you have to file an individual’s tax report before the end of March. For more details, read the answer to the question “How much income tax do I have to pay” in the guide on Being self-employed.

If you would like to apply a flat tax paušální daň” (the one fixed monthly payment to cover social security, health insurance and income tax, read more here), you need to report it to the Tax office from the first day of your active business (or at the beginning of a year until January 10), by filling an online form “Oznámení o vstupu do paušálního režimu and then printing, signing and delivering the form to the Tax office.

2. Social security

You can register by visiting the office Městská správa sociálního zabezpečení at Veveří 7 (just with your ID) or filling in a form “Oznámení o zahájení samostatné výdělečné činnosti“, fill and print out here, or download pdf,  and delivering to the office in person or by post before the 8th of the month following the month in which you started to provide the business services.

Depending on whether your business is an extra or main activity or if you are in the flat tax mode, you might have to start paying your monthly premiums. In any case, after the end of the calendar year, you will have to submit an overview of your income in a yearly report. Read more about “Do I have to pay monthly fees” and “How do I calculate the social security contributions” in the guide on Being self-employed.

3. Health Insurance

Finally, in case you are in a public health insurance system (are you?), you have to inform your health insurance company about starting the business. Every company has different forms, contact them directly, within 8 days from starting to provide business services.

In case you are in prepaid commercial health insurance for foreigners, you don’t inform them. Having a business is unrelated to commercial health insurance.

Depending on whether your business is an extra or main activity or if you are in the flat tax mode, you might have to start paying your monthly premiums. In any case, after the end of the calendar year, you will have to submit an overview of your income in a yearly report. Read more about “Do I have to pay monthly fees” and “How do I calculate the social security contributions” in the guide on Being self-employed.

Regular payments

When starting your business, you have to decide whether the business is your “main activity” – then your social security and health insurance will be primarily and monthly paid by you, or it will be your “extra activity” and the social and health insurance will be primarily and monthly paid by your employer or the state (in case of students/retired/parental leave).

If the business is your “main activity”, you are expected to regularly pay minimum social security and health insurance from the first month.

The income tax is paid back for the past year. The fiscal year in the Czech Republic matches the calendar year; tax return for the past year must be filed by 31 March, unless you hire a professional certified tax consultant, in which case the submission date is end of June.

Alternatively, if the business is your main activity, and your turnover won’t exceed 1 million CZK in a calendar year, you can opt for a “flat tax” rate including income tax/social security/health insurance for 5 995 CZK  monthly (2022) and then no more calculating or accounting after the end of the year is necessary.

For more details on obligations and payments towards the Financial Office, Social Security Administration and Health Insurance please read the guide Being self-employed.

Can I start a business as a foreigner in the CR?

Yes, you can.

Any foreign national can apply for a trade licence when holding a long term visa, residence permit or temporary residence – being it for any purpose: business, employment, studies, family reunion.

If you don’t have a long-term residence card or long-term visa, and you need the trade license first in order to apply for the long-term visa, you can get a temporary licence for the purpose of the application.

What type of business can I do with a trade licence?

The trade licence covers most areas of business. It is very likely you’ll be able to perform what you had in mind with only a trade licence. Or become self-employed without a trade license – if you are an artist or author etc.

The law classifies several types of trades. They differ in the requirements you need to fulfil to be eligible to register.

  1. Unqualified trade. Many areas of work are accessible and grouped as unqualified trades (‘živnost volná’).  With one licence covering all areas – e.g. teaching, translating, web design, consulting and other eighty professions. 
  2. Vocational, professional and permitted trades. Only when trades require certain technical or professional qualifications (e.g. construction, massage, cosmetic services, running a restaurant), it is necessary to apply for individual trade licences for each trade and substantiate the application with an appropriate diploma, authorization or certificate. 

Overview of activities under the unqualified trade are listed under Annex 4, vocational trades, profesional and permitted trades under Annex 1, 2,3 of the Trade Licensing Act. Download the full list, or the more detailed description of different trades (vocational trades page 2-29, professional trades page 20-30, permitted trades page 31-38, free unqualified trades page 39-71), and read the Annexes.

What are the steps to opening a trade license?

Acquiring a trade licence certificate is a reasonably straightforward, though somewhat drawn out, process.

The office which issues the trade licences is the Živnostenský úřad (ŽÚ). In Brno, it’s located at Malinovského nám. 3. Now they have an English speaking officer there, so you can set up an appointment for English-speaking clients by clicking on “objednat se na pobočku“.

The documents required are pretty much like those that are needed for obtaining any other official papers in this country, including a clean criminal record (see the question What documents do I need below). Obtaining the excerpt from the criminal register can often be the biggest obstacle. You have to get it from your home country, from most countries get an apostille (or super legalized) and translate it all into Czech. If you are an EU family member then you are not required to present a criminal record.

You will also have to provide proof that you can use the address you have given as your registered place of business. For example, if you plan to use the flat you rent as your seat of business, you will need a lease signed by your landlord. For more details about the documents necessary for application keep reading below “What documents do I need?”.

At the Živnostenský úřad, one of the employees will check your documents to make sure you have everything needed, and then fill in the application form online with you.

The cost is 1,000 CZK.

You will receive a “certificate of incorporation” document within a week. You will be issued a temporary trade license if you need to yet apply for a business visa and come back to the Trade Licensing Office once the visa has been issued.

Where is the TL office and how can I set up appointment in English?

Submissions and changes can be made at any Trade Licensing Office in the CR – not only the one according to your registered address.

Trade Licensing Office in Brno is located here:

  • Živnostenský úřad města Brna, Malinovského náměstí 3,
  • 4th floor
  • Tel: 542 173 316
  • E-mail: zu@brno.cz
  • Office hours:
    • Monday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
    • Wednesday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
    • Friday 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Now they have English speaking officers and you can make an appointment with them. Just go to the booking portal and click on “objednat se na pobočku” and continue with English option. 

What documents do I need?

List of documents to bring with you to obtain your trade licence:

  • Passport with a visa for a stay over 90 days or a long-term resident permit.
    • Long term visa or resident permit may be submitted within 90 days after obtaining the provisional license
  • Excerpt from the Crime Register from the state of applicant’s nationality or the state of his last stay – must not be older than 3 months and needs to be super-legalizedapostilled1. And translated to Czech2. Ask your embassy or national authorities where and how can you get this.
    • In case you hold the Permanent Residence card or Temporary residence for EU family member or Long Term Residence for the purpose of Studies / Research / Family Reunion, the Trade Licencing Office will not request the Criminal Record from you.
  • Documents proving professional or other qualification (if required by law for vocational/professional/permitted trade)
  • Document proving the legal grounds for use of place of business – lease contract or written consent of the owner of the property, a standard lease is sufficient unless it states explicitly that you are not allowed to conduct business. Instead of the valid lease, you can ask your landlord / any property owner to sign a Consent for registering a business address on this form signed by the property owner. Or you can rent an office space or virtual office (e.g. here, here or here) with a PO box is an option too.
  • Payment of the service fee – 1.000 CZK

1. The superlegalization/apostille is not required from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Belarus, BiH, Montenegro, N.Korea, Kosovo, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldavia, Mongolia, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

2.Translation needs to be done in the CR by a certified translator here. Except:  Certified translations from Algeria, Cuba, Ukraine, Vietnam and formal Yugoslavia (BiH, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia) are recognized in the CR.

How much are the fees?

The basic administrative fees at the Trade Licensing Office are as follows:

  • 1,000 CZK for the first notification of trade, regardless of the number of trades or activities
  • 500 CZK for every subsequent notification/change
  • 100 CZK for a printed extract from the registry

It is possible to pay the fee in cash or with a credit card at the Trade Licensing Office.

What are my other obligations?

In case you haven’t filled out a form (Jednotný registrační formulář) at the Trade Licensing Office to register you at the responsible offices automatically, you have to do it separately.

1. Tax Office

You need to inform the Tax office “Finanční úřad” that you became self-employed. You can register by filling in the form “Přihláška k registraci pro fyzické osoby“, download here, and deliver in person or by post to any Financial office (list of offices in Brno here) within 15 days from starting to provide the business services.
There is no fee. If you have “a data mailbox“, you have to use it.

You will receive a DIČ – tax number in a letter in about two weeks confirming the registration.  The DIČ is your ID number for communicating with the Financial office and if you are a VAT payer, you need to have it on every invoice.

You don’t pay the income tax until after the end of the calendar year. Then you have to file an individual’s tax report before the end of March. For more details, read the answer to the question “How much income tax do I have to pay” in the guide on Being self-employed.

If you would like to apply a flat tax paušální daň” (the one fixed monthly payment to cover social security, health insurance and income tax, read more here), you need to report it to the Tax office from the first day of your active business (or at the beginning of a year until January 10), by filling an online form “Oznámení o vstupu do paušálního režimu and then printing, signing and delivering the form to the Tax office.

2. Social security

You can register by visiting the office Městská správa sociálního zabezpečení at Veveří 7 (just with your ID) or filling in a form “Oznámení o zahájení samostatné výdělečné činnosti“, fill and print out here, or download pdf,  and delivering to the office in person or by post before the 8th of the month following the month in which you started to provide the business services.

Depending on whether your business is an extra or main activity or if you are in the flat tax mode, you might have to start paying your monthly premiums. In any case, after the end of the calendar year, you will have to submit an overview of your income in a yearly report. Read more about “Do I have to pay monthly fees” and “How do I calculate the social security contributions” in the guide on Being self-employed.

3. Health Insurance

Finally, in case you are in a public health insurance system (are you?), you have to inform your health insurance company about starting the business. Every company has different forms, contact them directly, within 8 days from starting to provide business services.

In case you are in prepaid commercial health insurance for foreigners, you don’t inform them. Having a business is unrelated to commercial health insurance.

Depending on whether your business is an extra or main activity or if you are in the flat tax mode, you might have to start paying your monthly premiums. In any case, after the end of the calendar year, you will have to submit an overview of your income in a yearly report. Read more about “Do I have to pay monthly fees” and “How do I calculate the social security contributions” in the guide on Being self-employed.

Regular payments

When starting your business, you have to decide whether the business is your “main activity” – then your social security and health insurance will be primarily and monthly paid by you, or it will be your “extra activity” and the social and health insurance will be primarily and monthly paid by your employer or the state (in case of students/retired/parental leave).

If the business is your “main activity”, you are expected to regularly pay minimum social security and health insurance from the first month.

The income tax is paid back for the past year. The fiscal year in the Czech Republic matches the calendar year; tax return for the past year must be filed by 31 March, unless you hire a professional certified tax consultant, in which case the submission date is end of June.

Alternatively, if the business is your main activity, and your turnover won’t exceed 1 million CZK in a calendar year, you can opt for a “flat tax” rate including income tax/social security/health insurance for 5 995 CZK  monthly (2022) and then no more calculating or accounting after the end of the year is necessary.

For more details on obligations and payments towards the Financial Office, Social Security Administration and Health Insurance please read the guide Being self-employed.

General info

There are basically two ways you can carry out commercial activities on your own in the Czech Republic.

Trade Licence, ‘živnost’

The easy way is to set up a trade licence, in Czech ‘živnostenský list‘, or as often shortened to ‘živnosťák’.

This enables you to work independently, in your own name, freelance. In Czech, we say you have a ‘živnost‘ (a trade). It is particularly appropriate if you have some kind of service to offer –typical examples in the case of expats include teaching (especially language teaching), other activities in the educational sector (for example examining), translating and interpreting. But the areas covered by a trade licence are very wide, including the manufacture and sale of various products, services in the health and beauty industry, internet-based jobs and a lot of other activities.

Limited liability company

The second means of making a living here is to set up a limited company. As a rule, this is the route taken when it is a question of larger-scale undertakings, usually involving either other partners or employees or both. Read the section Setting up a company for more details.

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