Sunday, August 8, 2010

Birth Number

When I got back from vacation I had two notices in my mail box. One from the post office telling me to come sign for a letter and one from the foreign police telling me to pick it up within 10 days. I had no idea what this was all about. I wondered if I was getting deported or something. Well it turns out I’ve been issued a Czech Birth Number.

Rodné číslo is better translated as a birth registration number and all Czechs have one. This number is recorded on one’s birth certificate, is valid for life, and cannot be changed unless under certain special circumstances. They use this same system in Slovakia too.

The number is 10 digits long and it can always be divided 11. The format is YYMMDD/XXXX. The first six digits are a person’s birthday followed by a slash and four more numbers. You can tell a person’s gender because the number 50 is added to the MM for women. The first three digits after the slash indicate where the person was born and the last number makes the whole thing divisible by 11.

Kind of like a U.S. Social Security Number, Czechs use their birth number for all sorts of things. It’s used on health and social security forms, for taxes, and employment contracts. Lucky for me, work provides me with a mobile phone, but if I wanted to get one on my own I have two options. I could buy phone credits or I could get a contract for service, but the contract normally requires a birth number.

When I arrived here I asked about getting a birth number. Foreigners can apply to the Ministry of the Interior for a birth number but the application takes about 30 days and costs 1,000 Kč (~$50). Since I didn’t seem to have a need for it I didn’t bother applying for one. And I didn’t want to volunteer for more Czech bureaucracy.
I’m still not sure how I received a Czech birth number. Maybe it was part of getting my visa renewed? But that was back in April and my birth number was issued in July. Who knows? IBM HR is now updating my birth number with the health insurance and social security companies. It looks like I’ll also get a new VZP card with the updated number.

EDIT: I will only receive a new VZP, with the updated number, once I have received permanent residence in the Czech Republic. You can normally apply for permanent residency after you have been here for five years and pass a Czech language test given by the state.


  1. Did they use your real birthday or the day you arrived in the Czech Republic?

  2. You may get another one soon. I gather the Czech Government is considering changing it because it contains too much easily read info (ie birth date) and so is a gift to identity thiefs!