Czech Republic travel guide
About Czech Republic
A historic jewel at the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic packs a sizeable punch for such a small country; from majestic castles to medieval towns, elegant spa resorts to scenic national parks, it has much to offer international visitors. It is also, lest we forget, the birthplace of the world’s finest beer.
At the heart of it all is the culture-crammed capital, Prague. Dubbed the “city of a thousand spires,” it comprises beautiful churches, cobbled lanes and medieval bridges, all watched over by a fairytale castle. Add to that a mix of ancient monuments, fine dining, old breweries, bustling markets and lively jazz clubs. There really is never a dull moment.
Yet those who fail to venture beyond the city boundaries are truly missing out. Located just a short drive from the capital are some extraordinary attractions; the hot springs of Karlovy Vary; the giant gothic castle of Karlštejn; the church made of human bones in Kutná Hora; and the city of Plzeň, where pilsner beer was born.
Formerly part of Czechoslovakia, since the Velvet Divorce of 1993 – when Slovakia and the Czech Republic parted company – the latter has emerged the more popular with tourists. And to understand its appeal one must consider its assets; the stunning wine-growing region of Monrovia, home to rolling hills, traditional food and the spirited cities of Brno and Olomouc; the snow-capped mountains of Krkonoše; the otherworldly rock formations of Český Ráj; the wild forests of Šumava National Park; and the historic town of Český Krumlov, a fully deserving UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And yet, for all this, the Czech Republic is far more than the sum of its sights. This is a nation of proud, forthright and friendly people, eager to take a significant role on the European stage. It may only be a small country – and a relatively new one – but the Czech Republic leaves a big impression.
78,866 sq km (30,450 sq miles).
10,550,085 (UN estimate 2016).
135 per sq km.
President Miloš Zeman since 2013.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis since 2017.
Last updated: 22 March 2019
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Over 300,000 British nationals visit the Czech Republic every year. Most visits are trouble-free.
If you’re living in or moving to the Czech Republic, visit our Living in the Czech Republic guide in addition to this travel advice.
If you need to contact the emergency services call 112.
Carry your passport with you at all times for identification. The police may fine you or arrest you if you fail to do so. Keep copies of your insurance policy, European Health Insurance Card, ticket details and a 24-hour emergency number in a safe place and leave further copies with family or friends in the UK.
When using public transport you must validate your ticket when you board or you could be fined.
Only buy alcohol from legitimate places like supermarkets or bottle shops. Make sure the bottle has an original, untouched seal around the cork or cap. See Crime
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Czech Republic, attacks can’t be ruled out.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks
Safety and security
Most visitors to the Czech Republic experience no difficulties but you should be aware of street crime and petty theft, particularly in Prague.
Prague city police advises visitors of the following:
- always exchange currency at a currency exchange office or bank, never on the street as this money is often counterfeit
- avoid contact with women and men acting as street prostitutes as they are often pickpockets
- take care when using cash machines
- the sale and distribution of drugs is illegal and the drugs are often hazardous counterfeits
- be aware of consumption charges in night clubs; they are often high. Be careful with consumption cards, which carry high financial penalties if they are lost before the bill is paid
Take care of yourself and your belongings in the same way as you would do in the UK. Take precautions against pickpockets and bag snatchers and don’t leave your belongings or food / drinks unattended.
Petty theft is a problem, especially in major tourist areas in Prague. Try to avoid busy carriages on the metro and trams, which are favoured by pickpockets. There is also a risk of pick-pocketing on flights from the UK. It is best to keep your passport and valuables with you before and during your flight.
Beware of bogus plain-clothes policemen, who may ask to see your foreign currency and passport. If approached, don’t show your money, but offer instead to go with them to the nearest police station. If you suspect that you are dealing with a bogus police officer, you can call 158 or 112 to check their identity. No police officer in the Czech Republic has the right to check your money or its authenticity.
Report any thefts in person to the Czech police within 24 hours and get a police report crime number. Prague police station (Jungmanovo namesti 9, Prague 1 – nearest metro stop is Mustek) is open 24 hours and has English translators. There’s also a police station at the airport where you can get a police report. It’s possible to obtain a reference number for a crime related incident by reporting it to a police station in the UK, but it’s much better to report the crime in the Czech Republic.
If your passport is lost or stolen you will need to obtain a police report and apply for an Emergency Travel Document from the British Embassy in Prague.
Every lamppost in Prague has a 6-digit number posted at eye-level. Should you require assistance from the police or emergency services, these codes will help pinpoint your location if you’re unable to offer an exact address.
If you’re travelling in a group keep a careful note of your hotel telephone number and address in case you are separated from the rest of your party. Leave contact details of your travelling companions with a friend or relative at home who you can contact if you get separated from your group.
If you travel on public transport you must buy a ticket before you travel and validate it via the machine when you board. You’ll be fined on the spot if you are travelling with a ticket that has not been validated. The fine, usually 800 crowns (around £22.00), is paid directly to the ticket inspector. You should get a receipt. If you can’t pay the fine the police will be called and you may go through identity checks. The fine can be higher if you’re unable to pay on the spot. You can buy tickets at most large hotels, metro stations and at many newspaper stands (‘Trafika’) and convenience stores.
Every year there are accidents involving trams. Take extra care when near tram tracks and make sure you look both ways. Trams can’t stop quickly.
Seasonal flooding (normally during the Spring) occurs occasionally. Check the Ministry of Agriculture website for more information. By selecting ‘Enter’ you’ll see a map of the country which showing any current flood warnings.
It’s safer to use a major taxi company like Tick Tack tel: 14 144 or AAA tel: 233 113 311. If you do pick up a taxi in the street, always check the fare per km before getting in. Some taxis can charge highly inflated prices. The rates should be clearly marked on the side of the taxi.
You can drive using a UK Driving licence.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to be able to drive in the Czech Republic and other EU/EEA countries as a visitor after 29 March 2019.
There are 3 types of IDP. Check that you have the correct permits covering all countries where you will be driving - you may need more than one IDP. For full information, check this guidance page.
You should also check guidance on driving in the EU after Brexit for information on other additional documents you may need to carry.
If you’re living in the Czech Republic, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
In 2016 there were 610 road deaths in Czech Republic (source:Department of Transport).This equates to 5.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2016.
If you’re planning to drive to the Czech Republic, you may like to consult the green line motoring helpline run by the Czech Central Automobile Club (UAMK), which has information available in Czech and English (telephone: 00 420 1230).
To drive on motorways you’ll need to buy a special vignette (sticker) from a Post Office, petrol station, bureau de change or at the border. Failure to display a valid vignette can result in a fine. More information about vignettes can be found on the website of the Czech Ministry of Transport.
There is a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
You must have your headlights on dipped beam when driving anywhere in the Czech Republic, even during the hours of daylight.
All private cars, including those of foreign visitors, must carry the following items by law:
- fluorescent green high visibility safety jacket
- first aid kit, warning triangle
- complete set of spare bulbs
- complete set of electric fuses
- spare wheel or special tyres repair set
You need winter tyres between 1 November and 31 March.
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Czech Republic, attacks can’t be ruled out. You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public places, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Some bars and restaurants in the city centre don’t allow access to stag groups. Drunken or offensive behaviour is dealt with according to Czech law and may result in detention and or fines.
You may be fined if you attempt to cross a road or tram tracks within 50 metres of a designated crossing point (commonly marked by ‘zebra’ style crossing or traffic lights). You may also be fined if you cross at a pedestrian crossing if the green pedestrian crossing light is not lit.
Same-sex relationships and civil partnerships are legal in Czech Republic but same-sex marriages aren’t recognised in Czech law. Public displays of affection may be frowned upon or attract unwanted attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
You should carry your passport with you at all times for identification.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change from 29 March 2019. If your adult passport was issued over 9 years ago, you may be affected. You should use this tool to check your passport is still valid for your trip before booking travel.
Adult and child passports should have at least 6 months’ validity remaining on your date of travel. If you renewed your passport early, extra months would have been added to your new passport. Any extra months on an adult passport will not count towards the validity requirement, so some passport holders will need to have more than 6 months remaining in order to travel.
You can check your passport here.
If the UK leaves with a deal, travel to the EU will remain the same as now until at least 31 December 2020. You will not need to apply for a visa to travel or work in the EU during this time.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the rules for travelling or working in Europe will change after 29 March 2019.
The European Commission has proposed that in a no deal situation, if you’re a British Citizen, you would not need a visa for short stays in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU. You would be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Visits to the Schengen area within the previous 180 days before your date of travel will count against the 90-day limit.
If you’re intending to stay in the Schengen area for longer than 90 days, or your stay would take you over the 90 days in the 180-day limit, you may need to get a visa before you travel.
Travel to EU countries currently outside the Schengen area (Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus) would not count towards the 90-day total.
On arrival in the Schengen Area, you may be asked to confirm that you have sufficient funds available for the duration of your stay. As non-EEA nationals, different border control checks will apply, and you may also be asked to show a return or onward ticket. UK nationals would not have an ongoing right to use the separate lanes provided for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals.
The 90-day visa-free period does not entitle you to work in the Schengen area. Most countries will require a visa and work permit.
You should check with the The Embassy of the Czech Republic what type of visa, if any, you will need.
If you intend to stay longer than 30 days, you need to register with the Czech Foreign Police.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from the Czech Republic.
It is very difficult to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes in the Czech Republic.
Scottish bank notes can be exchanged in ERB Bank in Prague 5. Check with the bank beforehand that they still offer this service:
ERB Bank Exchange Štefánikova 78/50, 150 00, Prague 5
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019, access to healthcare for British nationals travelling or living in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland is likely to change. More information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting the Czech Republic is available on the NHS website.
You should still get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. UK-issued EHICs will remain valid until 29 March 2019 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
The EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Czech nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
The UK government has or is seeking agreements with countries on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after 29 March 2019. The NHS website and this travel advice will be updated with further information on travelling to the Czech Republic as the circumstances change.
Whether you’re travelling before or after 29 March, it is important to take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes cover for emergency medical treatment and associated costs. The existing EHIC arrangements are not an alternative to travel insurance, as some health-related costs, including for medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment, are not covered. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
If you’re living in the Czech Republic, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In the Czech Republic guide.
If you intend to settle permanently in the Czech Republic you need to either obtain Form S1 (previously E106), which indicates that you have made full National Insurance contributions in the UK, or to arrange health insurance with a commercial company on arrival. For further advice contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle), Durham House, Washington, Tyne & Wear NE38 7SF, United Kingdom, +44 191 218 1999, Overseas.Healthcare@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about something that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.