This article was written by a member of our family of expat-friendly services, Petyovský & Partners.
For many foreigners who have found a home in the Czech Republic, a logical continuation of their cross-border journey, and the ultimate highlight of their stay in the country, can be the acquisition of Czech citizenship. Especially when – if permitted by their country of origin – it is possible to maintain both Czech and their original citizenship.
Next to acquiring Czech citizenship by birth (this happens if at least one parent is a Czech citizen), the typical way to acquire Czech citizenship is to apply for it after 10 years of continuous stay in the country. This way is available for those who already hold a Czech permanent residence permit and it is called naturalization.
Several key conditions must be met by an applicant before an application can be filed. The applicant must legally reside in the Czech Republic for a specific time and must live here most of the time, must be self-sufficient with no track of debts to authorities in the last 3 years. He/she must be well integrated into Czech society, and apart from having a clean criminal record he/she must not present a security threat to the country in general. One of the conditions is to demonstrate knowledge of Czech (B1 level) as well as orientation in the cultural, social, geographical, and historical realities of the Czech Republic.
In specific situations, however, legal exceptions can apply to more fortunate applicants. EU citizens, or spouses of Czech citizens, can apply for citizenship already after 8 years of stay in the Czech Republic, or 5 years respectively. Some graduates from Czech schools do not have to undertake the Czech language and realities exams.
The Citizenship Act, however, opens the path to citizenship for those who may not live in the Czech Republic but have Czech or Czechoslovak ancestors and would like to obtain Czech citizenship to fulfil a family legacy or to gain the opportunity to elevate their status from a third-country national to an EU citizen, thereby enjoying the associated benefits for living in the Czech Republic or elsewhere in the EU. These foreign nationals can acquire Czech citizenship by declaration.
The agenda of citizenship is very complex and multidimensional. While the decision-maker in is still the Ministry of the Interior, it is a different department with different methodic and practice, governed by a different legal act than the well-known one on the residence of foreign nationals. Unlike lower residence permit types, there is no legal entitlement to being granted Czech citizenship. Therefore, simply gathering the required documents and submitting them to the authority may not be sufficient. Furthermore, the proceeding can often last more than a year which can make every applicant impatient and uncertain. It is therefore advisable to engage an experienced advisor to navigate the process smoothly.
Photo courtesy of Canva.com, SIphotography.