Since the Czech Republic joined the European Union, many of its cities have experienced a vast influx of expats. Prague, the capital, is one of the most budget-friendly European cities to live in. In recent years, the Czech Republic saw record numbers of tourists - 27.8 million, to be exact. In the country live close to 460,000 registered foreigners, with a third of them dwelling in Prague.
If you’re considering a move to the Czech Republic, you’ll need to prepare. Dealing with paperwork in a foreign country can be daunting, and opening a bank account is no exception. Luckily, opening a bank account in the Czech Republic is a relatively straightforward process.
The documents you’ll need to bring to the bank to open your account are:
- Two official identification documents, including: ID card, birth certificate, health insurance card, passport, proof of address, driving license or employee identification card.
- If you're a student and want to establish a student account, the bank will require a certificate of study or visa for the Czech Republic.
In addition to these documents, you'll need an initial deposit. The initial deposit varies from bank to bank, but is usually between 200 and 2,000 Czech koruna (CZK). This isn't a fee, but will serve as the first payment into your account.
Even as a foreigner, so long as you have two of the ID documents listed above, you shouldn’t have any issues opening a bank account.
Banks such as EquaBank allow you to open an account online without any hassle. You begin the process by filling out a form on their website. They’ll prepare your account and call you the next working day to set up an appointment. As this is a relatively quick process, you'll generally get an appointment within one day. The final process of signing the contract and officially opening your account must be done in-person at a local branch.
The Czech Republic has plenty of banks with English-speaking staff, making it easy to open a bank account in the country. Some of the most popular local retail banks are Česká spořitelna, Citibank, ČSOB (Československá Obchodní Banka), Equa Bank and Expobank.
The Czech Republic banks also have plenty of international partners, such as:
As an expat, you’re likely to bank with one of the following local retail operations:
- Number of branches: 14
- Number of ATMS: 100+
- Free accounts to students up to two years after their graduation
- Children’s accounts
- An expat centre that's designed for foreign clients
- Communications in German, English and French
- Number of branches: 3
- Number of ATMs: 3
- Accounts available:
- Citi® Premium and Citigold
- Please note that the Citikonto Plus account is now no longer available to new clients
- Cards available: Citi Life, Citi Classic, Citi CSA MasterCard World, Citi Gold, Citi BILLA, O2 Citi Classic, Shell MasterCard from Citibank and Citi Broker Consulting
- Number of branches: 42
- Number of ATMs: 100+
- Products available for expats:
- Online banking
- Contactless payment MasterCard
- Free transition from your original bank
- Open the account online
- Number of branches: 9
- Number of ATMs: 9+
- Products available for expats:
- Current Account Expo Active (2 contactless payment cards, incoming domestic payments free of charge, cash collections from all ATMs in the Czech Republic free of charge)
- Savings Account
As you can start the process of opening a Czech account online, you're able to get an appointment and sign the contract within 48 working hours. If you’re applying for an ATM card, it might take a few weeks before it gets delivered to your address. Czech banks are known to take a long time to deliver debit and ATM cards, even when their ads promise quick service.
At most Czech banks, you'll pay a flat monthly rate and a small fee for transactions. One exception is the Expat Center in Ceska Sporitelna in Prague, which eliminates all banking fees in exchange for a larger monthly fee. The usual monthly fee for a bank account in the Czech Republic is about 30 to 50 CZK.
It's worth researching banking fees, since these can vary greatly. There are also special offers that change every couple of months. Use of an ATM is charged, usually around 6 CZK for withdrawing from any home bank machine. If you use an out of network ATM, the fees are higher.
The annual fee for a debit card is between 150 and 200 CZK. If you lose your debit card, you'll have to pay about 2,000 CZK to have it blocked. To reorder your card, you'll be charged an additional fee. Credit cards are used less frequently, and are only available to Czech citizens and permanent residents.
Czech debit cards are usually Visa Electron. The account balance cannot be overdrawn unless you have applied specifically for an overdraft function. Interest is applied to overdrafts, as are service fees.
Fees for international money transfers vary as well. However, in most banks, users are also able to transfer money within 24 hours if they pay a large fee. The fee, again, depends on the bank - the price list for each transaction is generally available on the bank’s website.
One thing to note - Czech banks are in the habit of adding on fees for even the simplest of transactions. Currency exchange is no exception. Your bank may choose to mark up the mid-market exchange rate, or the rate at which banks buy and sell currency. This is the real exchange rate, but banks tend to add hidden fees so you end up paying more for your transfer.
There's another option, if you want to avoid these unfair fees and poorer exchange rate. If you have a bank account in the Czech Republic or know someone who does, you can use Transferwise to exchange money using the real mid-market rate.