From Finland to the Czech Republic

Career strategies for young European scientists
Interview: Kathleen Gransalke, Labtimes 02/2015

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LT: What were the first steps you took, organising the stay abroad?

Johanna: I visited our future home town, Brno, for a few days together with my then six-month-old daughter before the start of employment. The visit was necessary in order to sign the contract, do a health check, open a bank account and rent an apartment. Once that was done, we could start organising the move, rent out our own place, make a list of all the different authorities we should inform, etc...

Grit: First I asked Tomáš Cajthaml if it would be possible to perform some of my postdoctoral research in his lab. Then I wrote project applications, which included a research stay in the Czech Republic.

World-famous father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, bred his peas in the garden of St. Thomas’s Abbey in Brno. Besides peas, he also studied bees. Picture: Mendel Museum, Masaryk University

LT: What paperwork was necessary? In Finland and the Czech Republic.

Johanna: In our case, we have needed a lot of paperwork because our stay abroad is longer than a year, which means we also move away from the Finnish social system. Researchers having a grant can apply to stay in the system, even if their visit abroad is longer than a year, but not if they have a salary – like me. *Sigh...* So firstly, from Kela [Finnish provider of social security benefits] we needed the E104 form stating we have left the Finnish social system, and with this we could apply to enter the Czech one. I also had to order marriage and birth certificates from the magistrate (and have them officially translated into Czech later). And, of course, the tax office needed to be informed about the rent and foreign incomes. In the Czech Republic, we first visited the insurance company to get health insurance cards. Next, we went to the immigration office to apply for Czech ID numbers. Once we get them, our next project will be re-registering our car in the Czech Republic, another round of paperwork...

Grit: If working abroad for more than one month and less than one year, it is necessary to apply for coverage by the Finnish social security system.

LT: Are there any issues with work permits or residence permits?

Johanna: As EU citizens, there have been no such issues.

Grit: If you stay longer than three months in the Czech Republic, it is necessary to register with the police. Whilst working at the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic and entering the Institute’s campus you need to have a magnetic identification card, which was organised for me on the first day.

LT: How about social services (health insurance, etc).

Johanna: Health insurance is obligatory but luckily my insurance at the University covers the whole family. Social benefits, such as child allowance, are income-limited and we are not entitled to any. My salary is thus our only income but luckily the cost of living here is well affordable.

Grit: I am covered by the Finnish social security system as long as I spend less than one year abroad. In addition, I have private travel insurance, which covers travel for up to three month periods, so I need to visit Finland every now and then in order to start a new journey. Since I supervise a Master student at the University of Helsinki I need to come to Finland regularly, anyway.

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Last Changed: 25.03.2015