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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 “Temporary residence certificate”, and the Czech ID number “rodné číslo” that comes with it, would make the process easier and faster.

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

The trade licence covers all areas of business. It is very likely you’ll be able to perform what you had in mind with only a trade licence.

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

  1. Unqualified trades. Most 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. Professional and vocational 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 unqualified trades and professional or vocational trades is listed in the Annex No 4 to the Trade Licensing Act. Download the full list here 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. In Brno, it’s located at Malinovského nám. 3. Now they have an English speaking officer there ;), let us know and we will set you up.

The documents required are pretty much like those that are needed for obtaining any other official papers in this country (see the question below), including a clean criminal record from your home country.

You will also have to provide proof that you can use the address you have given as your 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 from your landlord (standard lease is sufficient unless it states explicitly that you are not allowed to conduct business).

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 can I find the trade licensing office, 'živnostenský úřad'?

Submissions and changes can be made at any Trade Licensing Office in the CR – not only 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 an English speaking officer there ;), let us know and we will set you up.

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 from the state of applicant’s nationality or the state of his 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 Authorizations, translations and interpreting
    • In case you hold the Certificate of Temporary or Permanent Residence, your last stay is in the CR and Trade licencing office will not request the Criminal Record from you
  • Documents proving professional or other qualification (if required by law for licensed trades)
  • Document proving the legal grounds for use of place of business – lease contract or written consent of the owner of the property
  • Payment of the service fee – 1.000czk

It is important to remember that all documents not in Czech must be officially translated into Czech and notarized and must not be older than 90 days. See our guide on Authorizations, translations and interpreting for tips and directions on that topic.

How much are the fees?

The basic administrative fees at the Trade Licensing Office:

  • 1,000 CZK for declaring a trade, on the basis of commencement of business operation.
  • 500 CZK for every subsequent declaration of a trade, regardless of whether one or more trades are declared at the same time.
  • 1,000 CZK for the acceptance of the application for a licence for the purpose of commencement of business operation.
  • 500 CZK for acceptance of every subsequent application for licence.

It is possible to pay the fee in cash at the Trades Licensing Office or via a postal payment or through a bank transfer.

What are my other obligations?

Following registration at the business court (done through the Trades Licensing Office), you will have to go through two more important steps.

1. Tax Office

The first is to receive your ‘DIČ’, or the Tax ID Number, from the tax office.

There are five Financial Offices (‘finanční úřad’) in Brno: Brno I, Brno II, Brno III, Brno IV and Brno Venkov. Your registered address determines which office is yours (ask at the Trade licencing office, they’ll inform you which one you belong to. Or google it.)

You have to have the tax ID number before you start doing any business (it must appear on all your invoices, for example) or within 30 days after obtaining the trade licence.

2. Social security

You also have to register at the social security office (Městská správa sociálního zabezpečení, at Veveří 7) to arrange for monthly social insurance payments.

You have to register before the 7th of the month following your trade licence registration.

3. Health Insurance

Finally, you have to inform your health insurance provider about starting the business.

Regular payments

The fiscal year in the Czech Republic matches the calendar year; tax returns must be filed by 31 March, unless they are prepared professionally by a certified tax consultant, in which case a later submission date is possible.

Before the end of April, a form of a summary of your income and expense has to be submitted to the social security office and health insurance office too. Both offices will balance arrears and overpayments for last year and calculate deposits for next year.

Accountant and tax advisers can be recommended by BEC if needed.

For more details on obligations and fees 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 first the trade license in order to apply for the long-term visa, you can get a temporary license for the purpose of the application.

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

The trade licence covers all areas of business. It is very likely you’ll be able to perform what you had in mind with only a trade licence.

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

  1. Unqualified trades. Most 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. Professional and vocational 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 unqualified trades and professional or vocational trades is listed in the Annex No 4 to the Trade Licensing Act. Download the full list here 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. In Brno, it’s located at Malinovského nám. 3. Now they have an English speaking officer there ;), let us know and we will set you up.

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 below). Obtaining a criminal record can often be the biggest obstacle. You have to get it from your home country, get an apostille (or superlegalise) and translate it all into Czech.

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 from your landlord (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.

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 can I find the trade licensing office, 'živnostenský úřad'?

Submissions and changes can be made at any Trade Licensing Office in the CR – not only 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 an English speaking officer there ;), let us know and we will set you up.

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 licence
  • Criminal Record 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 legalized or with an apostille
  • Documents proving professional or other qualification (if required by law for licensed trade)
  • Document proving the legal grounds for use of place of business – lease contract or written consent of the owner of the property
  • Payment of the service fee – 1.000czk

It is important to remember that all documents not in Czech must be officially translated into Czech and notarized and must not be older than 90 days. See our guide on Authorizations, translations and interpreting for tips and directions on that topic.

How much are the fees?

The basic administrative fees at the Trade Licensing Office:

  • 1,000 CZK for declaring a trade, on the basis of commencement of business operation.
  • 500 CZK for every subsequent declaration of a trade, regardless of whether one or more trades are declared at the same time.
  • 1,000 CZK for the acceptance of the application for a licence for the purpose of commencement of business operation.
  • 500 CZK for acceptance of every subsequent application for licence.

It is possible to pay the fee in cash at the Trades Licensing Office or via a postal payment or through a bank transfer.

What are my other obligations?

Following registration at the business court (done through the Trades Licensing Office), you will have to go through two more important steps.

1. Tax Office

The first is to receive your ‘DIČ’, or the Tax ID Number, from the tax office.

There are five Financial Offices (‘finanční úřad’) in Brno: Brno I, Brno II, Brno III, Brno IV and Brno Venkov. Your registered address determines which office is yours (ask at the Trade licencing office, they’ll inform you which one you belong to. Or google it.)

You have to have the tax ID number before you start doing any business (it must appear on all your invoices, for example) or within 30 days after obtaining the trade licence.

2. Social security

You also have to register at the social security office (Městská správa sociálního zabezpečení, at Veveří 7) to arrange for monthly social insurance payments.

You have to register before the 7th of the month following your trade licence registration.

3. Health Insurance

Finally, you have to inform your health insurance provider about starting the business.

Regular payments

The fiscal year in the Czech Republic matches the calendar year; tax returns must be filed by 31 March, unless they are prepared professionally by a certified tax consultant, in which case a later submission date is possible.

Before the end of April, a form of a summary of your income and expense has to be submitted to the social security office and health insurance office too. Both offices will balance arrears and overpayments for last year and calculate deposits for next year.

Accountant and tax advisers can be recommended by BEC if needed.

For more details on obligations and fees 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 is 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 industry, and a lot of other activities.

Limited liability company

The second mean 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.