Let’s start with some brief statistics to begin. As of mid-June 2023, approximately 3 450 000 data boxes have been set up. The graph showing their establishment since 2009 showed a very gradual increase until the beginning of 2023, followed by a sharp rise to more than double the number. The current number, however, is far from representing over three million individuals. On the contrary: it is mainly made up of legal entities (and authorities). In the case of individuals, the numbers are often boosted by the fact that one person sets up a data box as a sole trader, often followed by another, personal box through which, for example, property tax on residential property and other private matters can be dealt with.
The increase has been helped by the obligation to set up data boxes for sole traders and also by the epidemic of covid, which has uploaded electronic communications in all respects. The often compulsory use of electronic mail in the context of employment has then removed many people’s shyness even in adopting this form of communication for private purposes. The more than 98% success rate of delivery of messages and the saving of a considerable amount of money also adds to the situation and official communication via datacards will soon become the norm.
Who is obliged to have a data box?
A data box is currently mandatory for:
- All legal entities, including institutes, associations, foundations, associations of unit owners or public benefit societies, which until recently did not have this obligation.
- Every natural person engaged in business – until recently, data boxes for self-employed persons were established only upon their request.
However, if an individual or company is the owner of a data box, the authorities and courts must serve all documents through it.
However, the obligation to communicate electronically does not apply in the opposite direction. Until now, submissions can be sent to the authorities in any way. The only exception in this respect is the tax administration, to which tax returns and other documents must be sent exclusively electronically. This applies to all owners of data boxes established by law (i.e. not voluntarily).
If you do not follow the instructions to send documents electronically, you will first receive a notice to correct the defect in your submission. This year an increased number of such filing defects have been noted. If you do not comply with even the notice, a fine may follow.
What about the fiction of delivery?
In general, a document that arrives in the data box of a legal or natural person is deemed to have been delivered at the moment the person logs in to the data box. However, if this does not happen within the next ten days, the so-called fiction of delivery occurs. It is valid that after the message has been delivered to the data box, the natural or legal person has ten days to read it. Thereafter, a legal fiction is created that the person has read the document, even if he or she has not logged into the data box at all. This has a major impact, for example, on the running of the various time limits for making representations, appeals, etc.
However, this principle can also be applied in certain forms in the opposite way, i.e. when communicating with the authorities. For example, there is a recorded case of a techno party whose participants literally devastated municipal land and disturbed the surrounding area for several days with their noise. However, it cannot be said that this was an unauthorised event. In fact, the organisers duly submitted the application via a data box and, when no one replied, they took the opportunity to consider the application approved.
As of 1 January 2023, the rule on the delivery fiction has been amended to the effect that if the tenth day of delivery falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, then data messages that have not yet been opened by the user will not be automatically delivered and the last day of the delivery fiction period will be the nearest following working day.
How do I know if someone has a data message and what kind?
Data mailboxes provide a fairly detailed system of searching for recipients, so that a person can be found even if we are not sure, for example, exactly how to spell their name. In addition to entering the name and surname, it is also possible to enter the personal (business) number of the person, or enter the address (registered office or residence) and select from a list of names associated with the address. Of course, it is also possible to enter the mailbox ID itself, but this must be noted due to the difficulty of remembering.
Sometimes, however, the opposite problem can arise. This is when a citizen is sure that the authority he needs to communicate with has a data box. However, he is unable to find it in the list provided. For example, when entering the term “office of Prague 6”, the system offers 11 possible offices such as the customs office, the military office or the labour office, but none of them is an official office of the municipality. If you want to find it, you need to type “Municipal district of Prague 6”. In these cases, where the commonly used term does not match the official name of the office, it is then worth going directly to the institution’s website first and then entering the address “for sure” in the data box.