Living in Prague

Based on QS Best Student Cities ranking, Prague belongs among the world’s top 50 cities for students.

You will find plenty of resources about living in Prague on the web, as there is a large international community in Prague. Here we give a summary of the basic information relevant to you.


How to get to Prague – coming by air

Prague has a modern and spacious international airport located approximately 17 km (c. 10 miles) northwest of the city center. The airport is named Václav Havel Airport Prague in honor of the first president of the Czech Republic. It handles around 250 flights a day to more than 100 destinations around the world. Some 50 passenger airlines operate at the airport and more than 11 million passengers pass through it every year. Direct flight destinations from Václav Havel Airport Prague include London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Seoul, and Dubai, to name but a few.


Visa and Long-Term Residence Permit

Note: This text is for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, replace the legal text of the law. The residence of foreign nationals in the Czech Republic is governed by Act no. 326/199 on the Residence of Aliens in the Territory of the Czech Republic.

Citizens of the European Union and citizens of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland do not need a visa in order to visit or stay in the Czech Republic. However, they are obliged to report the place of their stay to the appropriate Foreign Police Department within 30 days of entering the territory if the intended duration of their stay exceeds 30 days. (If you reside in a Charles University dormitory, this obligation will be fulfilled by the dormitory office.)

Citizens of other countries ("third countries") needvisa or a residence permit for their stay. This visa/permit also allows its holder to travel within the Schengen area (https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/).

International students arriving to study at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University may apply for one of the following:

  1. Long-term visa (over 90 days) for the purpose of studies. Note: While you may find information elsewhere that this type of visa is only granted for a period of at most 6 months, this is not in fact the case: If you provide confirmation (in the form of your acceptance letter from the university) that you shall be studying for the entire academic year, your visa will be granted for this period, including the summer holiday.
  1. Long-term residence permit for the purpose of studies.

Where to apply: You must apply outside of the Czech Republic for a visa or long-term residence permit (first-time applicants). This usually means in your home country at a Czech embassy or consulate. For a list of missions to the Czech Republic and other useful information on entry and residence, see the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, https://www.mzv.cz/jnp/en/information_for_aliens/index.html.

Note that to collect your visa you will need to submit a proof of Comprehensive Health Insurance at the embassy/consulate. See the following section for details.

Timing: From the time you apply for a visa/residence permit, the procedure usually takes 60 days. As there may be a waiting time for submitting an application or the process might be delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, we advise applying for your visa as soon as possible after receiving your acceptance letter from the university. For further details about the procedure, we recommend the following links:

Long-term visa details:
https://www.mvcr.cz/mvcren/article/a-visa-for-a-stay-of-over-90-days-long-term.aspx
(choose Purpose “studies”)

Long-term residence permit details:
https://www.mvcr.cz/mvcren/article/third-country-nationals-long-term-residence.aspx
(choose Purpose “studies”)

What is the difference between a “visa” and a “residence permit”?

There is no significant difference between these two types of legal stay. Generally, students are advised, if they are applying for the first time, or if they plan to study for one year only, to apply for a long-term visa for the purpose of studies, and for the following year(s) apply for a long-term residence permit (which can be done from the territory of the Czech Republic once you have stayed there your first year). However, both ways are possible! To help you choose which way to go, here are some of the practical differences:

Before arrival: The official processing time is 60 days for both visa and residence permit; however, students have more often experienced delays in obtaining a residence permit (probably because granting a residence permit involves a more complex administrative procedure).

After arrival: Students with a visa (code D/VC) living in Charles University dormitories are registered at the Foreign Police Department by the dormitory office and do not have to go to Foreign Police or Ministry of Interior (MOI) in person.

Students obtaining a residence permit are in fact first issued with a short-term visa for the purpose of collecting the permit (code D/VR) and must make an appointment and register within three working days at MOI. At this registration, biometric data are collected. The student then must pay a second visit to MOI to pick up the long-term residence card.

Prolongation: A visa is for a maximum of one year and cannot be prolonged. Nevertheless, students are entitled to follow with an application for a long-term residence permit on the territory of the Czech Republic rather than applying from outside the country. A residence permit is also given for the duration of one year and can be prolonged. The administrative procedure and required documentation is similar for either method.

Before departure: Residence permit holders must return their long-term residence card to the MOI office before departure.

Should you need more information on the visa process, please contact the Czech Embassy or Consulate in your country. For general questions, you can also turn to the Student Wellbeing Advisor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Zuzana Biskupová, at biskupova@ufal.mff.cuni.cz.


Health Insurance and Medical Care

  • Citizens of the European Union with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are entitled to necessary and urgent care. For additional care, they may have to pay or arrange for commercial insurance for foreigners.
  • Citizens of other countries: CHANGE FROM AUGUST 2021! As of August 2nd 2021, the Foreign Nationals Residence Act newly stipulates the obligation for foreign nationals entering the territory (with the intention of staying more than 90 days) to have travel insurance covering comprehensive health care and for the coming five years (i.e. from August 2nd 2021 to August 2nd 2026), this insurance may be taken out with Pojišťovna VZP, a.s. only: https://cizinci.pvzp.cz/
    This obligation does not apply to foreign nationals covered by Czech public health insurance, or if their health insurance is paid for on the basis of an international agreement or if they hold a valid EHIC or GHIC health insurance card.

Medical Care in the Czech Republic is generally easily accessible. You will receive information from your particular insurance company on contractual medical centres and assistance service telephone numbers. After arriving in the Czech Republic, you will also receive a "Student Orientation Handbook" from the Student Affairs Department that includes a list of medical centres and their contact details.

Be prepared that you may have to pay for medical treatment first and then claim it through the insurance company afterwards. Read the insurance contract carefully and its instructions on how to proceed with a claim. Note: Most insurance contracts do not cover psychological help; should this be important to you, ask about this specifically. Students of Charles University have access to free psychological counselling (allow for a waiting time for an appointment).


Accommodation

For our students we provide accommodation in student dormitories. Monthly rent ranges from 3500 to 7000 CZK depending on the quality and type of room. Most of our students stay in the Kolej 17. listopadu dormitory in Troja, which is about half an hour by public transport or bicycle from the university building in Malá Strana.

Alternatively, you can rent a flat or share a flat with other students; in this case advertisements in Prague.net or Prague.tv might be helpful. A detailed account of housing in the Czech Republic is provided in an official information brochure of the Ministry of Regional Development. If you decide not to use university accommodation please inform us as soon as possible.


Food

Almost every type of international cuisine is offered in Prague – from Italian to Japanese and Mexican. For overviews of shops offering speciality food, we recommend prague-stay.com, expats.cz and uncorneredmarked.com.

Students of Charles University are entitled to discounts in any student canteen (“menza” in Czech); prices are low as they are subsidized by the state. A list of canteens/refectories is provided here. Menza Právnická and Menza Arnošta z Pardubic are the two nearest to the computer science building in Malá Strana.

Alternatively you can enjoy the countless restaurants in Prague. Zomato.com provides a searchable list of restaurants offering lunch menus in Prague.

There are also many grocery stores, small supermarkets (local ones, Albert, Lidl), and hypermarkets (Tesco, Interspar, Kaufland) in shopping malls, with convenient opening hours.


Transportation

You will not need a car while living in Prague: Trams, buses and the metro can take you absolutely anywhere you want to go and they have very frequent schedules. Public transport in Prague is operated by The Prague Public Transit Co. Inc. We recommend buying a monthly or quarterly pass valid for all means of city transportation, which is offered at a discounted rate for students.

There are also cycle routes in Prague. Practical information to help you in arranging your bicycle trips in the capital are given on the website Cyklistická (in Czech, containing a link to the routefinder Prahou na kole). The way from the student dormitory in Troja, where most of our students live, to the university building at Malá Strana takes about 30 minutes, depending on your condition and the route that you choose.


Climate

Moderate with four seasons. In winter, you can get snow and freezing weather as well as quite pleasant days with temperatures above zero, in summer it can be very warm, up to 35 °C (95 °F). The average temperature in January, the coldest winter month, is -5 °C (23 °F), and in July, the warmest summer month, around +23 °C (73 °F).


Student Club

ESN CU Prague (formerly Charles University International Club) is a student club which organises various social, cultural and sport events for both international and Czech students, and generally helps international students to handle their stay in Prague. In particular, it organizes Orientation Weeks at the beginning of every semester and regular social and cultural activities, as well as trips during the whole year. In general, it helps the international students with their first steps in Prague

 

Charles University, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
Ke Karlovu 3, 121 16 Praha 2, Czech Republic
VAT ID: CZ00216208

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