Step 3: Understanding the Živno (Trade License)


There are a few ways to work legally in the Czech Republic, but if you're an Expat (and do not already have an offer for full-time employment from a Czech firm) the best way to get started is by applying for the Živnostenský list, informally known as having a Živno, or a trade license.

Both EU citizens and non-EU citizens will want to apply for a Živno. The difference is that Non-EU citizens must apply for the Živno during the process of applying for a visa, and the applications are somewhat intertwined. An EU citizen can simply skip the visa process and apply for the Živno straight away. We'll help you do both in the next lesson.

How does one legally work in the Czech Republic?

In the Czech Republic, work for an employer is usually governed by one of three types of contract:

  1. pracovní poměr (HPP) – a "classic" employment contract, for full or part-time work, of fixed duration or permanent.
  2. dohoda o pracovní činností (DPČ) – a contract for work that does not exceed 20 hours a week.
  3. dohoda o provedení prace (DPP) – a contract for temporary work to complete a project. Your work may not exceed 300 days in any calendar year.

So where does the Živno come in?

“Having a Živno” is the informal way of saying you have a registered trade license on the Živnostenský List. With a Živno, you are self-employed and work independently. Živno workers do not require one of the contracts listed above.

There is a list of about 80 fields of work that do not require extra formal qualifications or certifications, and there is a list of trades which do require formal qualification or certifications. You can only work in fields that you have registered for. Ideally, you’ll choose 1 to 5 fields or trade when you register for the list. Don’t worry—if you want to work in a different field later, you can always go back to the Živno office later and add that trade to your list.

Each month, you'll invoice your clients for work you've done.

The Živno allows you to invoice many clients but you should not work on a Živno if you are only invoicing one company at the end of each month. A company is not allowed to be your only client, if you are a Živno worker. In this is the case, they should hire you as an employee and give you an employee contract. But if you primarily work for one client, it's okay, as long as you make sure that you have at least one other client, even a private student that you teach a few hours a month.

Pros of having a Živno:

  • It’s the easiest way to get started working when you first move to Prague, without waiting to find full time employment with a company on a work contract.
  • If you're an EU citizen, you can apply and have your trade license in hand in 7-10 days, whereas a work contract can take up to a few months. If you're a non-EU citizen, you can work within 7-10 days of getting your visa.
  • You'll have independence and flexibility. You can sign up for work you enjoy and easily quit or decline projects that aren’t right for you.
  • You can work for several companies or clients at a time. Many Živno holders work for multiple schools, multiple tour guide companies, have multiple private clients or work as freelance programmers or marketers for multiple larger companies.
  • You can work for individuals instead of companies, doing things like private language lessons.
  • Your hourly wage is generally higher to compensate for your Social and Health Insurance payment responsibilities (see below)

Cons of having a Živno:

  • You are responsible for paying your own Social Security (approximately 2388Kc/month in 2019)
  • You are responsible for registering for and paying for Czech health Insurance (approx. 2208Kc/month in 2019)
  • No paid vacation or sick days. You are an hourly worker, so you are only paid for the hours you work.
  • You  work for only one company or client. Some companies will try to hire full-time employees on a Živno (rather than a full-time contract) to avoid paying the workers’ social and health insurance. This is not allowed. To make sure you are using your Živno properly, make sure that you invoice more than one client, at least every couple of months. This could mean teaching a few hours of private English lessons a month, or having a side-gig that you invoice for.
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Think the Živno is right for you?

If you think registering for the Živnostensky List is right decision for you, then, move ahead to the next lesson to learn more! See you there.