What to bring from home: The Bank Letter
Action Step: Download & print this Bank Letter Example and bring it along with a blue pen to your bank to get your bank letter. If you are requesting the bank letter by email, download an email this example to the appropriate bank representative.
Q: Is the bank letter REALLY the only document I need to get before I come to Prague?
A: Yes! As an American citizen, that’s all you need. The rest of the visa process will take place in Prague.
Q: My bank doesn’t have a blue pen. What should I do?
A: We know it sounds crazy, but the Czech government strongly prefers blue. You can bring a blue pen to the bank if necessary.
Q: My bank didn’t know what a stamp was/didn’t have a stamp. What should I do?
A: By “bank stamp,” we just mean an ink stamp that says the bank’s name on it. Most banks do have this. See the examples below to check what it looks like. If your bank really doesn’t have this, it’s okay to have a letter without it (as long as you have the banker’s signature in blue ink).
Q: I don’t have enough money in my bank account. What should I do?
A: As mentioned, you could borrow some money from parents or friends just to get the letter printed with the appropriate amount. After that, you can transfer the money back to your parents/friend/whomever.
Q: My bank is online and doesn’t have any physical branches. What should I do?
A: Call your bank, explain the requirements, and ask them to mail you the letter. You may want to ask if you can email them an example of exactly what you need. Be aware that they may take a while to get this done, so start a bit earlier. In our experience, you may have to call several times and annoy several bankers, but they should eventually get you the letter you need. If you really can’t get the letter, you do have the option of opening a different bank account (either in the US or once you arrive in Prague - see step #2 below).
Q: I’m in Prague and I don’t have the letter yet. What should I do?
A: There are two options:
- Call your bank back home and ask for them to send you the letter in the mail. Remember, it needs to be an original letter (not a scan/fax/copy/anything else). If the bank is not willing to mail it abroad, you could have them send the letter to your parents (or give it to a parent in person at a branch) and then your parents can mail it on to you in Prague. Make sure that your name is on your mailbox in Prague so it can be successfully delivered. Also, ask for it to be sent using a tracking number so you can check in on the letter.
- You can open a Czech bank account, and transfer in the necessary funds. Generally either EquaBank or Fio Bank are good choices for expats. You’ll need to bring your passport and a lease to show that you live in Prague. Some banks may require a local (Czech) phone number as well. They should let you set up the account on the spot. Then you can use a service, for example Transferwise, to send yourself the funds. Transferwise has a much better rate for international transfers than traditional wiring. It can take approximately 3-10 days to get the money transferred over. Once the funds have reached your account, you can then get the bank letter. Make sure to get it in Czech (not English!) and then you won’t have to pay to get the letter translated.
Q: I have the equivalent of 120,000 CZK in credit/stocks/something else, can I use that?
A: No, it has to be cash in an account.
Q: I lost my debit card linked to my account/my card was stolen. What should I do?
A: Try to get a new one ASAP. If you are already in Europe, your bank may not be able to send the card internationally. In that case, you could try to have a parent pick up the card and then mail it to you, or have the bank mail the card to a parent who can then mail it on to you. Ask your parent to send you a picture of the new card before you send it. If you are going to apply for your visa before you receive the new card, then at least you’ll have the picture of the card and can explain that the card was lost/stolen but you will receive the new card soon. If you don’t have the new card or a picture of it when you’re applying for your visa, it’s not ideal, but make sure to bring a different debit card and explain that your old card was lost/stolen. Offer to send in a picture of the new card once you receive it.