Czech cities struggle with financial, logistical fallout from unreported residency

Foto: Eva Odstrčilová

Hundreds of thousands of Czechs fail to report a change in permanent residency years after moving elsewhere to study, work or even raise a family. This leads to problems determining the proper current and future capacities of kindergartens, schools and waste collection, reports.

For example, in the streets of Brno, people often place rubbish outside containers, Iveta Jurenová, deputy chair of a waste collection agency says.

"It’s difficult when you find no address label on a box, for example, to determine who threw it away. And although the costs of disposal are high, they are usually borne by the city.”

If Brno had an accurate count of how many people lived in each district, garbage collection would be easier to organize. Because people move most often to bigger cities but do not change their permanent residence, smaller municipalities tend to get more money per capita, notes Brno City Hall spokesman Filip Poňuchálek.

“The city must ensure the smooth operation of transport infrastructure, sewage systems and education for the actual number of people. But it receives funds only for the number of people with permanent residence.”

Brno,  photo: archive of Radio Prague International

According to the Czech Statistical Office, Brno has about 380,000 residents, but according to Poňuchálek, at least 40,000 more people actually live in the city. In Prague, the difference is even more striking. About 1.3 million people report permanent residence in the Czech capital, but city officials estimate over 1.5 million actually live there.

There is no law requiring people to is not illegal to report a change in permanent address, and the Ministry of the Interior has no plans to change that, spokesman Ondřej Krátoška says, because it is unclear which authorities would check who actually lives where.

“Checking the address of every resident would be very difficult to implement in practice. The control mechanisms would probably be placed within the competence of the municipalities, and the question remains whether the costs would outweigh the benefits.”

About six years ago, the Ministry considered renewing the so-called temporary stay regulation, requiring people to report a change in permanent residence of more than 90 days. But other ministries objected to the proposal and it was withdrawn.

Some big cities are looking for ways to motivate people to announce a change of permanent residence – Brno, for example, rewards them with an annual transport pass. A similar system is being prepared in Olomouc. Others, such as Hradec Králové, argue incentives will not solve the problem and are advocating requiring changes in permanent residence to be reported.