A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country of origin (or country of previous residence in case of statelessness) because he or she is in danger of suffering serious harm for reasons related to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group or has fled war, torture, or inhumane and degrading treatment. The full definition of a refugee can be found in the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
A refugee can solicit the protection of the country in which they find themselves – in this case, the Czech Republic. This is also known as asylum.
Subsidiary protection is granted in case you are not eligible for refugee status, but you cannot return to your country of origin or habitual residence if there are other serious reasons.
Asylum and subsidiary protection are together called international protection.
The national legal instrument that defines the criteria and circumstances for granting international protection in the territory of the Czech Republic is the Asylum Act. The Department of Asylum and Migration Policy (DAMP) of the Ministry of the Interior assesses and decides whether the criteria are met and whether you will be granted international protection in the Czech Republic. The DAMP also decides on the status of stateless persons.
As a member of the European Union (EU), the Czech Republic is also bound to apply the rules of the Common European Asylum System.
UNHCR in the Czech Republic does not assess and decide on asylum applications but monitors the quality of the asylum procedure.
How to apply for international protection in the Czech Republic
Before you apply, please consider this:
Who is a person in need of international protection?
You may be granted asylum:
- If you are not an EU citizen and you think you have been persecuted in your country of origin (or in your country of habitual residence, if you do not have any citizenship, or you fear persecution in your country of origin, so that you cannot return to your country of nationality (or residence).
- If you fear persecution for at least one of the following reasons (there are examples under each heading):
- Race or nationality
For example, you fear persecution because you are a part of an ethnic or language minority group.
For example, you fear persecution because you are a part of a religious minority or have converted to another religion.
- Member of a particular social group
For example, you have been subject to violence because of your sexual orientation or gender, or you fear persecution because of your family ties.
- Political opinion
For example, you are a journalist or blogger, a human rights activist, or you are seen as a government opponent.
- Race or nationality
You may be granted subsidiary protection if:
- If you think you are unable or unwilling to return to your country of origin (or to your country of habitual residence, if you do not have any citizenship) due to a risk of severe violation of human rights and freedoms in the form of, e.g. a death sentence or execution, torture, inhumane or humiliating treatment, or threat to your life or physical integrity due to indiscriminate violence resulting from an international or domestic armed conflict.
Please note that a poor economic situation and unemployment in your country of origin are not reasons for being granted international protection.
➡️ When and how to apply?
Ideally, you should express your intention to apply for international protection (make an application) immediately at the border upon your entry to the Czech Republic.
Contact the authorities (Foreigners Police at the places provided for in the Asylum Act, namely at a border crossing, at a reception center, at the Foreigners Police Department of the Regional Police Directorate (provided that the foreigner has come voluntarily) and at a detention facility if the foreigner is placed there. Exceptions are cases where the foreigner is in a medical facility or is serving a custodial sentence, protective treatment or is otherwise restricted in his or her freedom of movement. In such cases, an application for international protection may be made in writing directly to the Ministry) and tell them in simple words that you are a refugee (“uprchlík” in Czech) and that you want to apply for international protection or asylum (“mezinárodní ochrana“ or “azyl“ in Czech) in the Czech Republic because you are afraid to return to your country of origin, your life is in danger, or you have been persecuted in your country.
- Border checks at international airports:If you are entering the Czech Republic by air, make an application directly at border check at the airports. The police officers that will be checking your identity documents are trained to process asylum applications. At the Prague airport, you will be directed to the reception centre located at the transit zone of the airport.
- Reception centre Zastávka: If you are already on the Czech territory, you can make an application at the Foreign Police office at the reception centre in Zastávka u Brna or at one of the regional Foreign Police offices. The address of the reception centre in Zastávka u Brna is: Havířská 514, Zastávka. You can find it on the map here.
- Detention: You can also apply for international protection from a detention facility, but only within 7 days after you were apprehended and detained by the Foreign Police.
- Other places: You can apply for asylum from custody, a hospital, the Facility for Children of Foreign Nationals, or other similar places directly to the Ministry of the Interior. In such cases, an application for international protection may be made in writing directly to the Ministry. The contact details are: Ministry of the Interior, Department for Asylum and Migration Policy, International Protection Unit, Nad Štolou 3, P.O.Box 21/OAM, Prague 7, Post Code 170 34. e-mail: [email protected]. You can find it on the map here.
➡️ How is the asylum application formally registered?
The Department for Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior (DAMP) assesses and decides on all applications for international protection in the Czech Republic. It decides who is a refugee, and who needs subsidiary protection. DAMP also issues temporary protection visas to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
You can find more information on the DAMP more information on the DAMP website.
The foreigner who has lodged an application for international protection shall, in particular, be obliged to submit to fingerprinting and image recording in order to establish or verify his or her identity. The fingerprinting is carried out by the police and the image recording is carried out by the Ministry. In addition, the foreigner is obliged to surrender his/her travel document and to submit to a search of his/her person and belongings in case of a reasonable suspicion that he/she is hiding something that can be used as a basis for a decision, in particular a travel or other document, or an object endangering the life or health of persons or alcohol or other addictive substance. The foreigner shall also be subjected to a medical examination aimed at establishing whether he or she is suffering from a disease endangering his or her life or health or the life or health of other persons.
After all the necessary procedures have been carried out, the applicant for international protection is usually transferred to a residential center to await a decision in the first instance. The applicant may also request the possibility of living at a private address, which is then, however, entirely at his/her own expense.
➡️ What will happen next?
You will be taken to a reception centre for asylum-seekers to complete the first steps of the asylum procedure, such as identification and medical examination. Reception centres are closed facilities and the time spent there is therefore limited by law. The average length of stay is about 7-14 days; the maximum period set by law is 120 days.
The Refugee Facilities Administration of the Ministry of the Interior (RFA) operates facilities for asylum-seekers, recognized refugees, and detained foreigners and provides related services. It is responsible for the safety and security of clients in the facilities. For more information on the types and locations of the facilities, visit the RFA website.
➡️ What will happen after you leave the reception centre? Who will decide on your application?
Asylum-seekers have two options. Either they decide to live in private arrangements, or they are transferred to open accommodation centres. These facilities are intended for asylum-seekers who have no means to provide for themselves until they receive a decision on international protection.
All applications for international protection in the Czech Republic are assessed and decided by the Ministry of the Interior. The period set by law for rendering a decision is 6 months. It can be extended for certain reasons, such as the complexity of the case or a failure to cooperate with the decision-maker. At the end of the process, you may be granted asylum or subsidiary protection, or your application may be rejected (see later in the text more details).
For more details on the procedure and your rights, you can download our information leaflet.
➡️ What are your rights and duties during the asylum procedure?
As an asylum-seeker, you have the right and duty to stay in the Czech Republic until your asylum case is decided. You will be given a residence permit for asylum-seekers, (the Ministry determines the period of validity of an applicant’s international protection residence permit on a case-by-case basis, usually around 60 days) which is extended every one or two months.
As an asylum-seeker, you can benefit from the public healthcare system and start working 6 months after you have applied for international protection.
After the completion of the procedures at the reception center applicants (those who cannot afford to provide for their own accommodation) can choose to stay at one of the residential centers:
- Kostelec nad Orlicí (Rudé armády 1000, 517 41 Kostelec nad Orlicí)
- Havířov (Na Kopci 5, 735 64 Havířov – Dolní Suchá)
- Bělá – Jezová (Jezová 1501, 294 21, Bělá pod Bezdězem)
- Zastávka (Havířská 514, 664 84, Brno – venkov)
Applicants can leave the facility freely; they receive financial allowances but prepare their food themselves. The applicants can use the services of social workers, legal and psychological assistance, and can choose from a variety of leisure time activities, and voluntary Czech language courses.
→ find more information HERE
In the Czech Republic, elementary school is mandatory for children of age six to fifteen. If you have children of this age, they will have to attend school.
→ find more information HERE
During the asylum procedure, you have the right to free legal aid. The official of the Ministry of the Interior has the duty to inform you of your right to ask for free legal assistance from a legal counsel or another person engaged in the provision of legal aid or protection of refugees.
During the asylum procedure, you are also entitled to an interpreter in your native language or another language you are able to communicate in.
You can contact UNHCR at any time during the asylum procedure. UNHCR can be present during your asylum interview and look into your case file.
At all stages of the procedure, you can speak without fear because all you say, including your personal data, is treated as strictly confidential. No one may forward the data you provide to your country of origin or to other authorities that do not participate in the procedure.
It is important that you tell the truth, clarify possible vagueness and inconsistencies in your statements and explain in as much detail as possible why you left your country of origin. You are not allowed to leave the Czech Republic throughout the entire international protection procedure.
➡️ What if you receive a positive decision?
If you are granted asylum, you will obtain a permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic and the same rights and obligations as Czech citizens, except for the right to vote and conscription.
If you are granted subsidiary protection, you will obtain a long-term residence permit in the Czech Republic for the period during which subsidiary protection is granted, which is typically one year.
In both cases, you can benefit from the State Integration Programme.
➡️ What if you receive a negative decision?
If you receive a negative decision from the Ministry of the Interior, you have the right to appeal. Instructions concerning the time within which you may challenge the negative decision before the Administrative Court are stated in the text of the decision. You can ask a lawyer to assist you.
If you do not wish to appeal the decision on international protection you will be issued an exit visa in order to leave the Czech Republic.
→ find more information on where to seek assistance HERE