Pursuing Czech citizenship
Written by: Halka Jaklová
Photo by: René Jakl
Are you living as a foreigner in the Czech Republic, and are you interested in becoming a Czech citizen? You have the following options.
Acquiring and losing citizenship in the Czech Republic is governed by Law No. 40/1993 Coll. This law stipulates that one can acquire citizenship either automatically by being born or adopted here, or by declaration (relates to former Czechoslovak Federative Republic citizens), or through the granting of a request. The latter method relates to practically all foreigners and persons with no citizenship. Each request is handled on case by case basis, so it is up to the interior ministry to grant it. Success is contingent upon the meeting of the following legal conditions: primarily, residency in the Czech Republic for at least five years, as well as proof of the loss of one’s former citizenship (excepting persons with no citizenship and refugees), no convictions for willful criminal acts in the last five years, knowledge of the Czech language, and fulfillment of the legal obligations relating, for example, to insurance and taxes. Most of the conditions can be waived for legally stipulated reasons, except for convictions. Permanent residency is absolutely necessary for approval, but it can be shortened from five years, for example if one is married to a Czech citizen or is a refugee.
Applications for the granting of Czech citizenship can be submitted at regional offices (in Prague at municipal district offices and in Brno, Plzeň, and Ostrava at the city halls). An application can be written in free form, as there are no legal stipulations as to content, but who is submitting it, which matter it relates to, the reasons behind it, the authority it is intended for, should all be clear, and a brief outline of the applicant’s reasoning should be included. The required documentation and a CV must also be enclosed.
The authority that is competent to deal with the application will fill in a questionnaire with you and verify your knowledge of the Czech language in an interview. It will append its own statement to the application, a referral from the municipal office of your place of residence, and other documents, and will send the documentation to the interior ministry via the foreigners’ police office, which will also attach a statement. The ministry may summon you for a personal meeting, and later may grant you Czech citizenship through the issuing of a Certificate on the Granting of Citizenship, for which you must pay an administrative fee and take an oath of allegiance. A decision of rejection can be appealed to the interior minister.