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Travel Security Advice for the Czech Republic

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

The Czech Republic is located in the heart of Europe. Tourist facilities in Prague are at the level of those found in most European capitals, while travelers can expect lower standards outside of Prague. Please read the Department of State's Background Notes on the Czech Republic for additional information.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS:

Americans living or traveling in the Czech Republic are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy at the Department of State's travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security within the Czech Republic. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates.

The U.S. Embassy in Prague


Tržiště 15, Prague 1, 118 01 Czech Republic
Telephone: (420) 257 022 000 or (420) 257 022 023
Emergency after-hours telephone: (420) 257 022 000
Facsimile: (420) 257 022 809

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

The Czech Republic is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter the Czech Republic for up to 90 days within any 180-day period for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the periods of stay. For further details on travel into and within Schengen counties, please see our Schengen Fact Sheet. All foreigners seeking entry in the Czech Republic must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs for hospitalization and medical treatment in the Czech Republic.

Visas are required for U.S. citizens for longer stays and in order to work or study in the Czech Republic. In such cases, it is recommended that travelers apply for a visa at least 3-4 months in advance of going to the Czech Republic. The Embassy of the Czech Republic's website provides the most current visa information.

The Czech Government requires travelers to the Czech Republic to have proof of finances to pay for their stay and proof of travel/health insurance. Minimum coverage of the insurance has to be $45,000. According to the Czech Government, a health insurance card or an internationally recognized credit card with health insurance included will generally be accepted as proof of insurance to enter the country.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for U.S. citizen visitors to or U.S. citizen foreign residents of the Czech Republic.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found at these links. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Civil disorder is rare in the Czech Republic, although strikes and demonstrations may occur. U.S. citizens should be vigilant in protecting their security, bearing in mind that even demonstrations meant to be peaceful may turn violent. Americans are advised to avoid street demonstrations.

The Czech Republic remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, the Czech Republic's open borders with its neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current the Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

The Czech Republic generally has a low rate of crime. However, street crime - particularly pick-pocketing and occasional muggings - is a problem, especially in major tourist areas in Prague. Travelers are encouraged to be especially vigilant in Prague's restaurants and train stations, and on public transportation around the city center. Incidents of pick-pocketing were reported in significant numbers during 2009, often taking place on trains, trams, or the metro. Pickpocketing rings in the Czech Republic can be professional and highly organized. These rings have been known to have as many as six to eight members operating against the same target or group of targets. Most victims of pickpockets in the Czech Republic report being jostled and distracted in a crowded area, which made them unaware that their wallet or valuables were being stolen. Keep a copy of your passport in a safe place separate from the passport itself; this copy can help you to apply for a new passport if yours is lost or stolen.

Visitors are also advised to change money only at banks or legitimate money kiosks. An offer to change money by an unknown person on the street is most likely a type of scam. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widely available throughout major cities in the Czech Republic. Most Czech ATMs offer instructions in multiple languages and allow access to U.S. bank accounts.

There have been reports that criminal organizations are illegally obtaining users' ATM card numbers and PIN codes by electronically "skimming" the information from victims' cards at ATMs. This activity has reportedly occurred at ATMs in public areas, including within bank lobbies covered by security cameras. Visitors requiring ATM services should attempt to use machines at more secure or heavily traveled and monitored locations, which may include commercial banks, large hotels, and the airport. Some ATM's have a green translucent security device at the card input, which is designed to inhibit the addition of an illegal skimming apparatus. Although not beyond compromise, the machines with these security enhancements may be more secure than standard ATMs. Personal bank account activity should be regularly and closely monitored while abroad.

Auto thefts and break-ins are common in the Czech Republic, especially in major cities. To avoid vehicle related crimes, it is recommended that travelers use parking garages and anti-theft devices. U.S. citizens are also advised not to leave valuables in plain sight inside vehicles, as this increases the possibility of theft.

Visitors should be alert to the potential for substantial overcharging by taxis, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. Some taxi drivers charge unsuspecting foreigners two or three times more than the standard rate. It is recommended that you call for a taxi, rather than hail one on the street; otherwise, visitors should obtain a taxi at one of the clearly marked "Fair Place" taxi stands regulated by the Prague municipality. All taxis should be clearly marked. To minimize the possibility of being overcharged, it is advisable to obtain a price estimate in advance and ensure that the meter is used.

Violent crime, while infrequent nationwide, is becoming more common in Prague. Travelers should be aware of the reported use of rohypnol and other “date rape†drugs in the Czech Republic. Caution should be used when accepting open drinks at bars or clubs, and drinks should not be left unattended.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the beginning of this sheet or the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates). This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the "911" emergency line in the Czech Republic is 112. English-speaking assistance is not always available from the local police, but the police headquarters at 9 Jungmannovo Naameesti in New Town usually has an English-speaker available.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Czech laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Czech customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the Czech Republic of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, etc. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C. or the Consulates General of the Czech Republic in New York or Los Angeles for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please also see our Customs Information page.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Prague has adequate Western-style medical clinics with English-speaking doctors and dentists; however, the Czech medical system is organized differently from the medical system in the United States. Even though central emergency rooms exist in most hospitals, patients are often sent to the facility which treats the specific medical condition (i.e., broken noses are sent to the ENT specialist rather than to the general practitioner). There are family practices in the Czech Republic that function on a similar basis to those in the United States, but they are located mostly in big cities.

All major hospitals accept credit cards as a method of payment. Private specialists usually expect cash payment for health services, though some private facilities accept credit cards as well. Administrative staff at the majority of Czech medical facilities do not speak English. Hospitalization in the Czech Republic is much more liberal than in the United States; conditions that would be treated on an outpatient basis in the United States are often treated on an inpatient basis in the Czech Republic. Ambulance services are on par with U.S. standards. Response time is generally less than 15 minutes. Ambulance companies generally expect payment at the time of service. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Please note that because euthanasia is not permitted under Czech law, U.S. living wills providing for no exceptional interventions to prolong life cannot be honored in the Czech Republic.

Travelers who plan to participate in camping or hiking in long grass or woodlands from April-October run the risk of both Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease. All travelers should take precautions to prevent tick bites. While there is no vaccine for Lyme disease, visitors may obtain a vaccine for Tick-borne encephalitis in a three-shot series. The first two shots are given 2-4 weeks apart, and the last shot 9-12 months after the second.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Travelers should note that road fatalities are occurring at an increasing rate in the Czech Republic, placing it amongst the most lethal places to drive in Europe. First-class roads in the Czech Republic generally meet European standards; however, on side roads, drivers should be prepared to encounter uneven surfaces, irregular lane markings, and sign placements that are not clear. Streets in towns are not always in good condition. U.S. drivers should pay special attention to driving on cobblestone and among streetcars in historic city centers. Traffic lights are placed before the intersection and not after as in the United States. Speed limits are 50 km/h in towns, 90 km/h outside of towns, and 130 km/h on highways. An International Driving Permit (IDP) must accompany a U.S. driver's license; failure to have the IDP with a valid license may result in denial of an insurance claim after an accident.

Persons driving into the Czech Republic should be aware that a road usage tax sticker is required to drive legally on major highways. Signs stating this requirement are posted near the border, but they are easy to miss. The stickers are available at gasoline stations. The fine for failing to display a valid sticker is assessed on the spot.

For specific information concerning Czech requirements for driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Czech Tourist Authority offices in New York by telephone at (212) 288-0830 or by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Czech Republic's national tourist office and the Ministry of Transport.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of the Czech Republic's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Czech Republic's air carrier operations.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children's Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated July 21, 2008 with updated information on Crime and Medical Facilities and Health Inform.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to the Czech Republic HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

Regards

The SW Team.......

 

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