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Driving in the Czech Republic

Some helpful advice on driving in the Czech Republic

COMMENTS (17)
VIEWS (47292)
BY EXPATS.CZ
PUBLISHED 21.04.2006
LAST UPDATED 11.12.2006





Written by Dominic Swire
for Expats.cz


Just glancing at the road signs in the Czech Republic can be enough to make you want to jump in a car and drive: Budapest down that road, Vienna down this one and Dresden over there. Yet while possession of a car may be the most convenient way of appreciating life in the very centre of Europe, the decision to drive in a country with one of the highest number of traffic accidents in central Europe should not be taken lightly. Expats offers a crash course (so to speak) of things to consider.

 

The first thing you need is a driving license. A license issued in any EU country is valid across the whole of the EU. Drivers from the USA, Canada, and other countries who are residing in the Czech Republic will need to get a Czech license to be able to legally drive here. A certificate of insurance, or ‘Green Card´ is also required. This is normally valid for three months and shows that you have full liability insurance.

 

Before setting off, make sure that you´ve not had any alcohol to drink (there´s a zero tolerance policy in the Czech Republic); that you and your passenger´s seatbelts are fastened - including those in the back; and that you´re over 18. The passenger in the front seat should be over 12 years old and a special baby seat is required for youngsters. Use of a mobile phone is not permitted while driving even though many Czechs do. Hands-free is ok, though.

 

The maximum speed allowed in built up areas is 50 km/hr; this rises to 90 km/hr on roads and 130 km/hr on motorways. The maximum speed for motorcycles is 90 km/hr. Both the motorcyclist and passenger must wear helmets. From July 2006 a new law will come into force stating that all vehicles must drive with headlights on at all times.

 

Driving in town can be a little hair-raising with trams, pedestrians, the odd pothole and often ill placed street signs to contend with. Don´t be fooled by the friendly bell from the tram driver. It means, “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” They show no mercy for other forms of transport. If a tram stops, it´s forbidden to pass it on the inside as this is where passengers alight. Drivers must also stop for passengers at crossings, although this is a new law and doesn´t seem to have filtered down to all Czechs (so don´t rely on it when you´re walking across the road); and don´t be alarmed by flashing traffic lights - or, rather, do: it means they´re not in service. In this case traffic approaching from the right has right of way. This rule is also sometimes applied at T-junctions, so watch out for cars pulling out in front of you from the right. All this, coupled with the fact that many Czechs don´t indicate, should keep you on your does.

 

If you want to take full advantage of travelling by car, the ‘pleasure´ of motorway driving is inevitable. So, unfortunately, is paying for it. Unlike many other countries, the Czech Republic has no tollbooths. Instead, you have to purchase a window sticker that needs to be attached to the inside of the windscreen. The stickers can be bought at petrol stations, border crossings and some post offices. Fill the sticker out with your car registration number and attach the shield-shaped portion to the bottom right hand corner of the windscreen. You have to keep rectangular part as proof of purchase and to show the police upon request. All rented cars should come with a motorway sticker already attached. If you´re caught without a sticker, you´ll have to pay a very hefty fine.

 

On the motorway, it is only permitted to overtake on the left side - but keep your eyes peeled all around you because this law is regularly flouted. Should the worst come to the worst and you are involved in a collision, bear in mind that it is forbidden to move your vehicle until there has been a police inspection. If the cars have to be moved for safety reasons then you should mark the position of both cars with chalk or lipstick before doing so (although, easy on the lipstick if it´s red - this could make the crash seem more gruesome than it actually is). In an emergency, motorists can call road traffic assistance, or UAMK on 1230 or 261 104 123. They operate 24 hours a day. You´ll find telephones every 2km on motorways. It is also possible to flag a UAMK van if need be. They´re yellow and display the symbol SILNICNI SLUZBA (road assistance).

 

Regarding fuel, the following is readily available in the Czech Republic:

 

Unleaded petrol 95 Oktan (NATURAL)
98 Oktan (SUPER PLUS)
Diesel (NAFTA)
LPG (PLYN or LPG)
Unleaded petrol Natural 95 is available in all petrol stations, Super plus 98 at most petrol stations.

 

A petrol cap with a lock is advisable to stop unscrupulous people filling up with your fuel.

If you´re lucky enough to find somewhere to park, try to take everything of value out of the car. If this is impossible, at least remove everything from view. Even an empty coat or bag may make a thief think there is might be a wallet inside. Unfortunately, cars that show any sign of coming from outside the country are more likely to be broken into.

Remembering all this should make your time on the road safe and more enjoyable.

 

Happy motoring!


Important Telephone Numbers

Emergency Call - phone 112
Czech Police - phone 158
Municipal Police - phone 156
Medical emergency - phone 155


Emergency Service - Road and Tow-off Nonstop Services

ABA - Autoklub Bohemia Assistance - phone 1240
Ustredni automotoklub - phone 1230
Servis 24 - phone 261 104 477 (for buses, coaches, lorries and trucks)
Skoda Assistance - phone 261 104 666


Speed Limits in km/h:

 

 

Built-up area

Outside built-

up area

Motorway

Motorcycle

50

90

130

Private car to 3.500 kg

50

90

130

Car with trailer or caravan

50

80

80

Truck over

3.500 kg

50

80

80

Bus

50

90

130


Minimum speed on motorways is 50 km/h.


Motorway stickers:

Validity

Type of vehicle*

Price in CZK

a) for one year
(valid from 1st.December 2004 to 31.January 2006)

1.vehicle up to 3,5 t

900,-

2.vehicle over 3,5t up to 12t

7000,- 

3.vehicle over 12t

14000,-

b) for 2 months
(valid from the day marked on the coupon and 2 immediately following months

1.vehicle up to 3,5t

300,-

2.vehicle over 3,5t up to 12t

1750,-

3. vehicle over 12t

3500,-

c) for 15 days

(the day marked on the coupon and 15

immediately following days)

1. vehicle up to 3,5t

200,-

2.vehicle over 3,5t up to 12t

650,-

3.vehicle over 12t

1300,-

 


Czech words appearing on traffic signs:


PRŮJEZD ZAKÁZÁN

closed to all vehicles

DÁLKOVÝ PROVOZ

by-pass

OBJÍŽĎKA

diversion

NEMOCNICE

hospital

CHOĎTE VLEVO

pedestrians must walk on the left

ZÁKAZ ZASTAVENÍ

stopping is prohibited

ROZSVIŤ SVĚTLA

lights on

BEZ POPLATKU

free of charge

ÚSEK ČASTÝCH NEHOD

area where accidents often occurs

NEBEZPEČÍ SMYKU

danger of skidding

PŘI SNĚHU A NÁLEDÍ 
CESTA UZAVŘENA

road closed due to snow or ice

POZOR DĚTI

attention children


User comments


Please log in to leave a comment or leave comment as guest
CZ (Guest)Published: 01:50:06 11.05.2013
PRŮJEZD ZAKÁZÁN is not actually closed to ALL vehicles. You may drive pass this sign, if you intend to park your car in the street. You may not use the street just to drive through it. This is used in residental areas to keep the traffic on the main roads. Not sure how this is enforced, though. PŘI SNĚHU A NÁLEDÍ CESTA UZAVŘENA does not mean the road is closed at the moment. It just gives you information that in case of snow or ice the road may be closed, which is done by installing a no-entry sign or simply not removing the snow..
Jennie (Guest)Published: 09:23:07 10.03.2012
I was told by my employer that Americans cannot simply trade in their license for a Czech one because America is not a signer of the Vienna Convention. They have to get the IDP. Can anyone confirm this?
John (Guest)Published: 11:49:18 07.03.2012
It's very important to mention the yellow-diamond signs. These make no sense to many foreigners, but they critically show who has right of way. If you see a yellow diamond before a crossing, it's your right of way. If not, be careful, and watch for cars to your right. Also, Americans may not expect such variation in speeds on the motorways. When changing lanes, you don't just look at your blindspot, but also look several hundred meters behind you to see if a car is about to pass at a crazy speed. Finally, navigation is a nightmare. If you want to get to Teplice, all roadsigns tell you how. But anywhere else requires knowing every tiny village name along the way. Street names are hard to identify. Best advice: get a satnav (or just enjoy Teplice).
Googie (Guest)Published: 12:31:44 21.02.2012
Try driving in India or Vietnam, and then you'll find that driving in the Czech Republic is a piece of cake!
Ali Saeid (Guest)Published: 03:02:45 07.03.2011
Hey i moved to the czech republic from ireland about 2 months ago and im am about to buy a car but before i do i just want to be sure, i have a european drivers license and i can get insurance no problem, i hav just two questions though, do you have to pay any kind of road tax or emissions tax or something like that? and can you drive rhd cars here or must the cars be lhd, thanks :)
Al Lindholm (Guest)Published: 10:04:59 25.05.2010
After researching this carefully with the transportation ministryat the highest levels and buying the Czech law publication on the matter, A US citizen my drive with his valid US license IF accompanied by a valid international driving license. A person who has residency established MAY also choose to get a Czech license which does not have to be renewed every year like the International Drivier's license. The Czech license if lost can also easily be replaced. Czech Driving schools for non Czech speakers can run 18,000 Kc.
Hanna (Guest)Published: 09:02:53 18.04.2010
As I have been living in Prague since I was born, your scared comments seem a little bit funny. Though most of them are actually true. Do not get in the way of a tram. It is really hard to stop such a heavy machine. And the drivers can get angry very easily It is true that there are problems with parking in the city center, because cars are not welcomed there. Otherwise the traffic is the same as for example in Paris. But out of Prague, be really careful. The highways are of a good quality. But during rush hours the speed changes frequently and many drivers are reckless. But the situation is not as dramatic as on the secondary roads. There are holes in the surface, cars are passing in at high speed. There are often no flangs. But you know, you can get used to nearly everything :).
Ed (Guest)Published: 09:21:19 17.03.2010
I came here with a Texas issued license and was told that as a legal resident I cannot use it to drive here. I read your most informative article where it is mentioned that in cases like mine, a czech license is required. That's fine......except I don't speak the language...Or is it not a requierement? What other options would I have apart of being condemned to use publick transportation for the rest of my "Czech life"? Tanks!
Makez (Guest)Published: 11:52:23 22.07.2009
I think one survives just fine driving in Czech Republic with normal caution. Of course one must be careful normal way at intersections and when changing lanes, clearly show about own intentions also with signalling. It is crucial to keep all mirrors adjusted to own use accurately. At Prague, of course parking place and finding it can make a problem. I had to once park during evening/night to a spot reserved for trash bins, and even so, my place was desired by many others, a man came to ask me will I vacant my place soon as I'm sitting in the car.
Trevor (Guest)Published: 09:22:33 20.07.2009
Good information, thank you! I have been there before but only as a passenger which I found to be a very scary exerience. This time I am thinking about giving it a go and making the drive from Prague to Odry myself. I think it will just take 1 time to get through it. I can't help but think about all the accidents however. My girlfriend is from there and it seems like a huge wreck is always reported in idnes.
Makez (Guest)Published: 09:32:02 16.07.2009
I drove in June 2009 about 3000 km in Germany, Czech Republic and Poland with my Corolla Verso ´06. I must say it was easier than I thought, even at Smichov Prague! We just got out before the floods, it was continous rain during the way back. All these advices in article apply to most of countries, not only for Czech Republic, so don't get too scared after reading them!
Duvivier (Guest)Published: 10:32:44 14.11.2008
This article is really very interesting. Do you know if their is some more specifics rules for the motorcycles ? It was told to me that they are not allow to drive between November and April. Is it true ? Thank you very much.
John Armitage (Guest)Published: 09:07:37 20.08.2008
Thanks for this, but more help for bikers would be nice - I am taking my bike there in September
Clive Vincent (Guest)Published: 12:34:49 15.07.2008
Thanks for taking the time to put this info on the Web Dominic.I am travelling to Prague in my motorhome so the info will be helpful. Regards Clive.
Amanda (Guest)Published: 12:12:33 19.06.2008
Thank you for a brilliantly informative page. I am considering working in Prague and was wondering about taking my car with me. After reading your article I have decided if I do move there I will not be taking my car! Too scary!
dave (Guest)Published: 10:00:19 13.06.2008
many thanks, going in just over a week, invaluable information.
James O Connor (Guest)Published: 12:47:37 24.08.2007
Very informative.Thank you.I plan on driving there from Ireland next summer,and need useful information like this.

 

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