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Czech driving licences for foreigners explained

I often hear many questions from foreigners regarding obtaining a Czech driving licence. Do I need to exchange my driving licence for a Czech one? How long does it take to change your licence? How exactly do you exchange your driving licence in the Czech Republic? And it seems like it doesn’t matter if I’m talking to an EU citizen, a driver from UK or from India – everyone is equally confused. So, in this article I’m going to answer all those questions about foreigners’ driving licences in Czechia for you. I even made an info-graphic for you explaining all the scenarios for driving with or without a Czech driving licence as a foreigner. Enjoy!

Do I need to change my foreign driving licence for a Czech one?

If you intend to stay and drive in Czech Republic for more than 6 months and your driving licence wasn’t issued by an EU country, you must obtain a Czech driving licence. And the opposite is true, as well. Regardless of your citizenship, if your driving licence was issued by an EU-member state, or if you are planning to stay in the Czech Republic for less than 6 months, you are free to use your foreign driving licence.

International Driving Permit for driving in Czech Republic

It’s important to note that if the information in your driving licence is not stated in Latin alphabet (for example, it’s in Russian, Arabic, Thai etc.) or if it misses your photo, you may come across problems here. In such case I recommend you getting your licence officially translated or getting an International Driving Permit. You need to do this before you leave the country that issued your driving licence.

An International Driving Permit or a certified translation of your licence are required in Czech Republic alongside your foreign driving licence if the latter doesn’t provide the necessary information in letters that a Czech police officer could read.

Can I change my foreign driving licence in Czech Republic?

A foreigner can exchange their valid foreign driving licence for a Czech driving licence if they intend to stay here for more than 6 months, and they can prove it. Also, you can only exchange your foreign driving licence for a Czech one if your current one complies with the requirements of one of the Convention on Road Traffic – the 1968 Vienna Convention or the one from 1949 signed in Geneva.

If you hold a driving licence that was issued by one of the EU-member states you don’t need to change your foreign licence for a Czech one, even if you are planning to live here for more than 6 months. But you can! For example, if your foreign licence got expired or damaged, you may want to exchange it for a Czech one. It is better than being forced to leave Czech Republic to get a new driving licence abroad.

You cannot exchange your foreign driving licence for a local Czech one, even if you intend to stay here for more than 6 months, if…

  1. Your foreign driving licence doesn’t comply with the requirements of the above-mentioned Conventions.
  2. Your foreign driving licence wasn’t issued by an EU-member state

If that’s the case, you will have to take driving lessons, pass exams and, basically, apply for a Czech driving licence from the scratch. I published a separate article about Czech driving schools, classes and exams for foreigners where you can read more about this.

Does my driving licence comply with requirements for exchange?

Considering that the above-mentioned Conventions have been ratified by a significant number of countries, there is a good chance that your driving licence does comply with the description set by those Conventions. Follow these links to check if the country issuing your driving licence has ratified the Vienna Convention or Geneva Convention.

Example of a Romanian driving licence that can be used in Czechia because it complies with the form defined by Conventions on Road Traffic

If you have doubts, here is a simple guideline. Your driving licence complies with those conventions if…

  1. it is a pink plastic card (54 x 86 mm) or a paper document,
  2. it has the words “driving licence” written on the front side in the national language of the country issuing it,
  3. your details stated on it are listed in Latin alphabet and in a certain order.

The required order of the information on the driving licence according to these international Conventions on Road Traffic is the following:

  1. Surname
  2. Name
  3. Date and place of birth
  4. Date of issuance
  5. Date of expiration
  6. Name or stamp of the issuing authority
  7. Licence number
  8. Your photo
  9. Your signature
  10. Groups of vehicles for which the licence is valid
  11. Additional information or limitations listed as codes

Numeric codes on a foreign driving licence

The codes used in the last field on your licence are an interesting thing that is good to know. These codes aren’t unified across all nations, but nevertheless they can contain some valuable information if you have the right national legend of codes at hand. For example, my Czech license states “01.06” which means that I must wear glasses or contact lenses while driving.

If you are curious, you can check this complete list of codes used on Czech driving licences. Unfortunately, the English version of the page doesn’t show the codes, so flip to Czech and use Google Translate.

Who can get a Czech driving licence as a foreigner?

So, you are a foreigner who wants to get a driving licence in Czech Republic. Let’s say that you are in one of these three scenarios in which you actually can get a Czech driving licence:

  1. Having a foreign driving licence and after reading the above information you decided to change your driving licence for a Czech one.
  2. You realized that as a foreigner you must obtain a Czech driving licence because you’re planning on staying here for 6+ months and your current driving licence wasn’t issued by any of the EU-member states.
  3. You successfully passed driving exams in Czech Republic and you’re ready to apply for your driving licence.

How to get a Czech driving licence as a foreigner?

Here is what getting a Czech driving licence will take for a foreigner:

  • Your residence permit in Czech Republic must exceed 1 year, i.e. you need to have obtained a valid long-term or permanent residence here.
  • If you currently have a foreign driving licence, it must be issued by an EU-member state or it must comply with the rules of the above-mentioned International Conventions on Road Traffic.

If you meet these two criteria (or if you don’t have any driving licence yet), here is what you need to do to get a Czech driving licence or to exchange your foreign licence for a Czech one:

  1. Go to the Drivers Register in Prague, it’s located here, next to the Vysehrad metro station. In any other city in Czech Republic, you can approach the Municipality or Town Hall.
  2. Find the check-in counter and ask to have the form called Žádost o vydání řidičského průkazu (Application for Driving Licence) printed for you. You can’t print this form anywhere else, because it must contain a special barcode with your data that only the Drivers Register can generate. You can make an appointment beforehand if you understand Czech, but I think it’s not worth it – just go there.
  3. Present the following to the clerk:
    • Filled in Application form from the Drivers Register,
    • Valid ID or your passport,
    • 200 CZK if you want to get your Czech driving licence within 20 days, or 700 CZK to get it within 5 working days,
    • If you want to exchange your foreign driving licence, bring it with you (you will need to hand it over and the Drivers Registry will send it to the original issuer abroad)
    • If you just passed your Czech driving exams, bring the confirmation with you.
    • Your long-term or permanent residence document that shows that your residence has been granted for at least 1 year.

Proof of residence for EU citizens in Czech Republic

That last point in the list above might be a problem for those of you who are EU citizens. Many don’t bother to register any residence in Czech Republic since they don’t really have to. If that’s your case and you still don’t want to obtain any long-term or permanent residence in this country, there are some alternatives.

Basically, you have to find a way to prove that you intend to stay here for more than 6 months. Even though the exact requirements often depend on whether the clerk had a coffee that morning or not, these are the types of documents that typically work as a proof:

  • History of your residence provided by the Immigration office (50 CZK per page)
  • Apartment rental contract
  • Work contract
  • Copy of your Czech Trade Licence (if you’re an entrepreneur)
  • Czech bank statement showing that you pay some regular bills here (e.g. electricity, gas)

When to apply for a driving licence in Czech Republic?

If you are not fresh from a driving school (i.e. if you are not getting your first driving licence in Czechia), don’t waste time. You must take the above-mentioned steps withing a three-month frame following the day on which your long-term or permanent residence was granted to you.

Honestly, I think it’s not a big deal if you do it later – you can use the “I was abroad” card. But, the official rules are clear – you have 3 months after obtaining your residence to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Czech one.

If you are applying for your first Czech driving licence after successfully passing driving exams, hurry up. You must apply for your driving licence within 6 months after passing your last driving exam.

How long is the processing time for a Czech driving licence?

The processing time for a Czech driving licence is 5 or 20 working days. It depends on the fee you choose to pay when you submit your application. Prague residents can monitor the progress of their application on this page. The table at the bottom of the page shows if your Czech driving licence is ready for you to pick it up.

The first column shows the day of submitting the application. The second one states the status of your application. And, the third column shows the date from which you can pick it up if it’s ready.

Once your driving licence is ready you can pick it up from the same office where you submitted your application. It is also possible to have somebody else pick it up on your behalf. You just need to sign a power of attorney in their name.

Czech driving licence for foreigners (info-graphic)

If your head is spinning when you try to navigate in all the possible scenarios involving obtaining a Czech driving licence for a foreigner, I hear you! Here is a simple, yet complete, info-graphic that shows you exactly when a foreigner should (or can) exchange their foreign driving licence for a Czech one. You can download a PDF version of it here.

Czech driving licence for foreigners (info-graphic)

Loving this info-graphic about using a foreign driving licence in Czech Republic and getting a Czech licence? I’m happy if you find it useful. This work is possible thanks to our supporters who buy us coffee to keep us going. Become one of our coffee donors. We’ll appreciate that!

Foreigner’s driving licence lost or stolen in Czech Republic. What to do?

Your lost or stolen driving licence can be replaced by a Czech driving licence if you are planning to reside in Czech Republic for over 6 month and your foreign driving licence complied with the requirements of the above-mentioned Conventions on Road Traffic. To replace your lost or stolen foreign driving licence with a Czech one follow these steps:

  1. Immediately report the problem at the nearest Municipal Authority or Town Hall – ideally wherever you have your residence in the Czech Republic. If you live in Prague, go directly to the Drivers Register, next to Vysehrad metro station.
  2. Report the loss, theft, damage, or destruction the Czech Police and to the Embassy (or the Consulate) of the country that issued your driving licence
  3. The Embassy (or Consulate) will check with the local authorities in the issuing country to make sure your driving licence was, in fact, valid and they will issue a paper confirming its validity. Take that paper to the Czech Police.
  4. The Czech Police will then issue a paper confirming your report of the event
  5. Take this report from the police to the Municipal Authorities or the Drivers Register (wherever you first reported your problem) and they will issue a temporary driving licence for you. It is also called “Confirmation of loss, theft, damage, or destruction of driving licence”

Temporary Czech driving licence

The good news is that you can get a temporary driving licence in Czech Republic on the spot. If you are in a situation when your current driving licence was stollen or lost, you may not want to wait for 5 or 20 days to get a Czech driving licence. Or, maybe you don’t intent on getting any Czech driving licence at all, but you need to be able to drive tomorrow. This is when a temporary driving licence can come handy.

To get a temporary driving licence in Czech Republic in addition to the above mentioned 5 steps you need to submit some extra documents. Luckily, it’s not a very difficult list. When you bring your papers, you also need to bring the following:

  • a colour or black-and-white photo, 35 x 45 mm (although they might be able to source your photo in their internal system or take a picture on the spot)
  • in case you reported a damage, you should also bring them your damaged driving licence
  • filled out form which you can obtain at the Municipality/Town Hall (Drivers Register in Prague)
  • show them some ID or Passport
  • pay the administrative fee of 50 CZK.

Your temporary driving licence or the “Confirmation of loss, theft, damage, or destruction of driving licence” basically replaces your foreign licence for the next 30 days. But keep in mind it is only valid in Czech Republic. You cannot use it in other EU countries, or anywhere else abroad. I recommend you applying for changing this temporary licence for a proper Czech driving licence within the next 30 days.

How to get an International Driving Licence in Czechia?

It might be a good idea to get an International Driving Licence in Czech Republic if you’re planning to travel outside the EU. Or sometimes, even within the EU, when you’re abroad you’ll notice that some car rental companies insist that you should have an IDP in order to rent a car. Note that the correct name for it is IDP, not IDL – Permit, not Licence.

Example of International Driving Permit issued in Prague, Czech Republic (Source: auto.cz)

Technically, it’s just a translation of your driving licence filled on a special form. A form that has been agreed between countries during one of the above-mentioned Conventions on Road Traffic. You should carry it along with your driving licence to prove the validity of your Czech licence abroad.

There are two types of IDPs in Czech Republic, and they differ by the form they use for the layout – either the Vienna option or the Geneva one. Depending on your travel destination, you’ll need to figure out which of the two Conventions that country had ratified. Then you need to get the right form of IDP while you’re still in Czech Republic. My advice: don’t bother, just get both. 🙂 After all, each only costs 50 CZK.

In Czech Republic the bodies responsible for issuing International Driving Permits are the Ministry of Transport or any Municipality, or a Town Hall. However, keep in mind that in Prague it’s specifically the Drivers Register mentioned earlier.

Processing time for IDP in Czech Republic

There is no processing time – you get the permit in a couple of minutes after you pay the 50 CZK fee. All you need is to bring your Czech driving licence, your ID, and a photo – 35 x 45 mm. Ask for “Mezinárodní řidičský průkaz” if they don’t speak English.

Final thoughts on dealing with Czech driving licences for foreigners

I hope I manged to answer most of your questions about handling your driving licence in Czech Republic as a foreigner. As always in this country, every process comes with a bit of bureaucracy. But once you know what to do, you can handle everything driving licence related without stress. If you liked this article, let me know. I write this kind of useful breakdowns when my readers buy me delicious coffee here. 😉 I enjoy every drop of it. Thank you! I wish you safe roads.

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