Czechs are more reserved than Americans, and will be nervous about a typical American "let's get down to business" approach. Start slowly by building a few good relationships. Let your new Czech friends introduce you to their contacts, and soon you will have a good business network. An attempt to take the city by storm with a flurry of quick meetings and barrage of e-mails is more likely to arouse suspicion than business. Czechs prefer to get to know you -- to learn about your background and your company, and then, if they are comfortable with you, get down to deal-making around the dessert course, or even at a follow-up meeting. Most Czechs want to build long-term, two-way business relationships, and will be put off by too much emphasis on an immediate sale. Because Prague is a small, tightly knit city, word-of-mouth reputation is extremely important, and news about you -- good or bad -- can spread quickly. Political and business circles often interlink, and it is common for individuals to move from a ministry job to the private sector and back to the government over a several year period. Therefore, it is important to maintain strong contacts, even if your associate leaves the firm you are dealing with. The business custom is to be punctual - even early - for appointments and engagements. It is best to start arranging meetings several weeks before your visit, as Czechs are reluctant to arrange impromptu meetings at the last minute. Business partners do not usually call each other by their first names, and Czechs may be offended if their foreign visitors address them by their first names without first being invited to do so. It may take several meetings to establish a sense of rapport and a more relaxed attitude.
There are no outstanding travel advisories warning against travel to the Czech Republic. All Americans are advised, however, to be continually aware of their surroundings and be alert to suspicious activities or individuals. Prague and other Czech cities are very safe by U.S. standards, but visitors are encouraged to exercise common sense precautions and be particularly wary of Prague's famously efficient pickpockets and occasional mugging/violent street crime. Be careful in and around train stations and when boarding and exiting trams. Taxi drivers, particularly those at train stations and those hailed on the street, are notorious for overcharging; occasionally becoming abusive if exorbitant fares are not paid. We suggest you phone for a taxi (your hotel can advise on honest drivers) or have the hotel arrange transport. If you must hail a taxi on the street, agree on an estimated fare with the driver in advance.
U.S. passport holders (not U.S. resident aliens or refugee document holders) may visit the Czech Republic for tourism or business without a visa for 90 days. For this purpose, "business" is defined as consultations, negotiations, etc., but not employment reimbursed from an employer located in the Czech Republic. For stays longer than 90 days or for purposes other than tourism/business, a new law requires any foreigner to obtain a visa in advance from a Czech Embassy or Consulate. Foreigners are no longer allowed to change their status from tourist to student or worker, or to extend their stay while still in the Czech Republic. Instead, a visa must be obtained from outside the country. The Czech Government expects that visa processing may take two or more months.
Local time is Eastern Standard Time plus 6 hours. A typical Czech working day is 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, with a break for lunch. The workweek is 40 hours (Monday through Friday). When scheduling meetings or events to which Czech business guests are invited, it is best to avoid Friday afternoon (and Friday morning, if possible), as many Czechs have country houses to which they travel as early as possible on Friday. Czechs regard weekends and holidays as near-sacrosanct family time, and they avoid allowing business to intrude on this time. As is the case in much of Europe, it is harder to make business appointments and contacts in the Czech Republic during August and close to major holidays, such as Christmas or Easter week. Unlike in the U.S., if a Czech holiday falls on the weekend, the government does not observe that holiday on the preceding Friday or on the following Monday, and no work day is taken off in honor of that holiday.