Brexit: How does the UK leaving the EU affect Brits in the Czech Republic?

With the deadline fast approaching, the British Ambassador helps us answer some of the key questions for expats living in the Czech Republic

Tom Lane

Written by Tom Lane
Published on 16.12.2020 11:30 (updated on 16.12.2020)

It’s been four years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and we are finally reaching the departure lounge as the transition period finishes at the end of this year.

Waking up on New Year’s Day will also see many UK nationals waking up across Europe into a new reality with some things staying the same and some things changing for expats.

We spoke to British Ambassador Nick Archer in order to create our comprehensive guide to help expats living in the Czech Republic prepare for Brexit.

Residence

It is key to have applied or have temporary or permanent residency status in the Czech Republic in order to continue living and working in the country.

This is ideally something that should already have been done, but applications may well be sent after the transition deadline. However, the process will be slightly more complicated as Brits will have to prove they indeed were present in the Czech Republic before the end of 2020.

PRIVATE PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m2

V stráni, Praha 5 - Košíře

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m2

U Mlýnského kanálu, Praha 8 - Karlín

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 70m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 70m2

Slovinská, Praha 10 - Vršovice

Archer said:

"The main thing is to get a residence document and we've been talking about this now for two years, I know that lots of people have already done that, you have a choice, some people are eligible for permanent residents and others who are not yet there are eligible for temporary residence and the criteria are for temporary residence are not demanding, so if you're here and registered before the end of this year, then that is a very straightforward process through the ministry of the interior.

Employment

Your employment in the Czech Republic won’t be impacted by Brexit assuming you have a residency confirmed. You can remain in the country on temporary or permanent residency if you don’t have a job at the time of the transition period ending.

Complications may, however, arise if you work in a country that neighbors the Czech Republic and regularly commute.

Archer said:

"If you are a so-called frontier worker--the Czechs call them commuting workers--who lives in the Czech Republic but maybe works in Germany or Austria, you will be able to continue but you will need a bit more documentation and in this case, the place to start is with your employer because people will see that proof is required from the employer, but whilst this may involve a bit of bureaucratic effort at the beginning, it should still be possible."

"To give you one example of the potential complexity, some people because of the nature of their work, will qualify as frontier workers and get that certified by their employer and carry on essentially, others may for bureaucratic reasons fall into a separate category as a provider of services, that's actually one of the few aspects of this which is part of the future relationship talks which as people will have seen are continuing as we have this conversation.”

Driving

If you are someone who drives and currently has a British licence but plan on staying in the Czech Republic, you will need to trade your licence in for a Czech one.

This shouldn’t impact your ability to drive in the UK upon return and according to Nick Archer is a relatively easy process.

“This is theoretically very straightforward; you take your British license to the Ministry of Transport office and you swap it. There have been two worries that people have had about this, the first is that some Czech ministry of transport officers have not been clear about their own rules and we've been working really hard and I hope therefore everyone who works at the Ministry of Transport is now familiar with what they have to do, if anyone is still encountering difficult then feed it back to us.

"The other worry that one or two people have expressed is that if they have a Czech license and they go back to Britain on holiday, the British police or traffic wardens will be confused by it. They won't. There are lots of people driving around Britain on foreign licenses, take a look at it if you want to reassure yourself, there is nothing on it that will be in Czech that will confuse [the police] or create a problem in Britain.”

Healthcare

If you are employed in the Czech Republic, then the healthcare you receive will remain the same as you are paying into the Czech health system. An issue that may arise is if you are a pensioner or student living in the Czech Republic.

“If you are a student, you need to apply for a new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) because the old one might not be valid anymore after 31st December 2020,” Archer said. The new EHIC card will be valid only in your country of study – the Czech Republic.”

“If you are a state pensioner with a UK-issued S1 certificate, nothing will change for you in the Czech Republic. However, for travelling outside the Czech Republic to other EU countries, you will need to apply for a new EHIC card which will cover you for such travels.”

“If you are a state pensioner but you do not have a UK-issued S1 certificate, apply for it now. For information on how to apply, please check the gov.uk website." 

Nick Archer is the British Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Photo: British Embassy Prague
Nick Archer is the British Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Photo: British Embassy Prague

Pension

Having access to your pension should not be impacted by the UK leaving the European Union and should you become a pensioner while in the Czech Republic, this will also be the case.

Moving back to the UK

If you decide to move back to the UK and you are a British citizen, that would be, of course, allowed, it is different however if you plan to move with a partner, who isn't British.

According to the withdrawal agreement, if your relationship existed before Brexit date, you can return to the UK with your spouse (provided they are Czech or other EU national) as long as it is before Mar. 29, 2022 and they will be able to apply under the EU settlement scheme. After this date, they will need to follow general UK immigration rules for third party nationals.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, 1+1 - Studio, 35m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+1 - Studio, 35m2

Plzeňská, Praha 5 - Košíře

Apartment for rent, 4+kk - 3 bedrooms, 32m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 4+kk - 3 bedrooms, 32m2

Přímětická, Praha 4 - Michle

Family house for sale, 100m<sup>2</sup>, 200m<sup>2</sup> of land

Family house for sale, 100m2, 200m2 of land

Božídarská, Praha 9 - Horní Počernice

Family house for sale, 100m<sup>2</sup>, 1m<sup>2</sup> of land

Family house for sale, 100m2, 1m2 of land

Božídarská, Praha 9 - Horní Počernice

Leaving the Czech Republic to live in another EU country

This is a slightly grey area and is likely to differ depending on the type of residency you have in this country.

Temporary residence means this will not be possible as free movement for British citizens will end on Dec. 31, but having permanent residence in the Czech Republic gives people rights under the EU directive for long-term non-EU residents. These include the possibility to move to another EU country, under certain conditions.

The key advice would be to speak to the relevant authorities in the country you are planning to relocate to.

Archer added: “The right that European Union citizens enjoy to move effortlessly to another European Union member state and live and work there is a right that British citizens will generally speaking, not retain after Brexit. It's a little bit more complicated than that because if you have permanent residence in the Czech Republic then you're very likely to have through that residence the same rights as Czechs, that's the same as EU citizens. If you have a temporary residence, you're very likely not to."

“This is an area where privileges that people have enjoyed will not automatically continue and they will depend on what status Briton's have in the Czech Republic from Jan.1 and so anyone who is thinking of that needs to make inquiries and those inquiries will need to be made to the authorities of the potential new country of residence or country of employment and the Czech authorities.”

Passport gates

Sadly, a less happy story for expats living in the Czech Republic, regardless of which type of residency you have. E-gates at Prague airport are currently only for EU citizens, so from January, these can’t be used and British people will have to go through border officials.

Archer said:

"What's happening at the UK end is not that EU citizens are being excluded from the passport gates, but more nationalities are being allowed; South Koreans, Americans, Canadians are now going through the same e-passport gates at Heathrow as are European Union citizens.

"The other thing happening at the UK end is that we have notified the EU that we are no longer willing to accept travel on the basis of an identity card. That going to come anyway because identity cards are horribly easy to forge, they aren't secure. What happens to Britons at this end, is that we will not in the future be allowed to go through EU passport gates.

Pets

New guidance has been released on the transportation of pets between the EU and the UK. According to the UK government website, there will be no change to the current health preparations for pets entering GB from 1 January 2021.

Your pet must have one of the following documents when returning to GB from the EU: an EU pet passport (issued in the EU, or in GB before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country, the AHC issued in GB used to travel to the EU – which you can use up to 4 months after it was issued or a UK pet health certificate (for travel into GB only).

They do however advise people living in the EU that if they travel with their pet using a UK-issued pet passport, they should speak to their vet who will help to ensure they are compliant with EU Pet Travel Regulations. Whereas if they have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, they can use it to bring their pet to GB.

Other things to note

  • Some banks have decided to close accounts registered to British people living abroad, but this is something you should have been informed about if it was the case.
  • The way parcels are sent from the UK to Europe may change. The DHL website suggests that you may need to fill in a commercial or pro-forma invoice a similar process to the one used for sending parcels outside of Europe.
  • Mobile data is currently being discussed as part of the future relationship talks, but it is potentially the case that data charges could be implemented if no deal is agreed as it would be up to the phone carriers to make this decision.

The British Ambassador said he expects things to be “a bit bumpy” at the start as we get used to new rules and regulations following the transition period.

The UK government currently has a service that allows you to see how your specific circumstances may be impacted from the start of next year which you can access on the GOV.UK website. The Ministry of the Interior in the Czech Republic recently updated their guidelines around Brexit and the latest information can be found on their website.

Note: This article was written and published ahead of the completion of the future relationship trade talks and will be updated when any more information is confirmed.