exit visa

Until December 1989, a valid passport did not give Czechoslovak citizens the ability to travel to most countries, but only to some countries in the so-called socialist camp. For travel to other countries, the passport had to be complemented by an exit visa, which limited its validity temporarily and territorially. The exit visa contained information about which states, for what purpose, how many journeys, and for what time it could be used. Issuing an exit visa was a complex bureaucratic process that could prevent an inconvenient person from going abroad at any time, even if he had a valid passport. The application for an exit visa had to be recommended by the employer, the Military Administration in the case of men, the Czechoslovak Bank, which confirmed the allocation of currency on a so-called foreign exchange pledge. An application for foreign currency assignment had to be filed half a year before the scheduled trip, and typically some 10% of the applications submitted were granted. The trip was usually allowed for 20 days. If the applicant appealed against the non-assignment of currency and the bank accepted the appeal, the money was allocated for only ten days. An exit visa was issued by the State Security Department of the local Department of Passports and Visas. If a citizen was not followed by State Security and his trip was recommended by his employer, he could travel for 20 days on average once every ten years.

The Communists introduced the exit visa system on 23 February 1948 and it was only abolished on 4 December 1989.

Also see: leaving the Republic

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