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The state will set up a data box for you in six months – whether you want it or not

From January next year, the number of data boxes in the Czech Republic will increase significantly. It will be mandatory not only for all legal entities, but also for all self-employed persons and some non-business entities. What will the setting up of mailboxes look like and is it worth setting one up yourself in advance?

muž komunikuje prostřednictvím datové schránky
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Who is covered by the new obligation?

The state has decided to significantly strengthen electronic communication from 2023. The aim should be to make the functioning of the state administration more efficient and faster. The data box will be newly mandatory for:

  • All legal entities, including institutes, associations, foundations, associations of unit owners or public benefit societies that have not had this obligation so far.
  • Every natural person engaged in business – until now, data boxes for self-employed persons were established only on the basis of their application.
  • “Digitally literate” non-entrepreneurs – these are all self-empowered natural persons registered in the basic population register who, although they do not yet have a data box, will communicate with the state via their electronic identity within the next year (or years). Typically, they will use their bank identity, eCards with chip or My ID service.

For the latter group, the state has created a presumption that if the individuals in question can use the Citizen’s Portal or a bank identity, then serving and communicating through a datacard will be a simple matter for them. Given the recent mass adoption of Bank Identity and its increased use, the mandatory data box will eventually apply to a large percentage of us. In case you fall into the third group, then you will get to know about the setting up of a data box at the time of logging in through the National Authentication and Identification Authority (NIA ) or through a message in your email. To access the data box, use the exact tool you used to communicate with the state, for example, the bank identity just mentioned.

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How should I proceed if I am subject to the data box obligation?

The good news is that you don’t have to take any active steps, go to the authorities or activate it online. The state will set up the data box for you itself by 31 March 2023. Once it is set up, you will receive your access details, together with basic information for use, by post.

Can I refuse a data box?

If you are an entrepreneur (sole trader, self-employed person, legal entity) and you do not want a data box, you are out of luck. You will have to start coming to terms with the idea of it. The only possible solution is to entrust a person with the management of the data box and thus avoid the obligation personally.

The only exception is for non-business people, who have two options:

  1. not to use any of the above mentioned electronic means such as My Identity, Citizen Portal, etc. to communicate with the state (this will not activate the data box),
  2. in the case of using the above mentioned electronic services and automatic establishment of the data box, one can request the Ministry of the Interior to make it unavailable. However, there is no need to go to the Ministry or to fill in complicated forms: anyone can make the de-access directly in the data box client portal.

How has the use of datacards worked so far?

Currently, all legal entities registered in the Commercial Register (commercial companies and cooperatives), as well as lawyers, tax advisors, executors and insolvency administrators are obliged to have a data box. It is also used by the state administration – authorities, courts, etc. So far, over 1.5 million boxes have been set up.

If an individual or a company is the owner of a data box, the authorities and courts must deliver all documents to them through it. An essential part of communication via data boxes is also the so-called fiction of delivery. After receiving a message in a data box, you have ten days to read it. Thereafter, a legal fiction is created that you have read the document, even if you have not logged in to 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. As a general rule, it is therefore recommended to check your mailbox and to set up notifications to alert you to any new messages.

Since this year, fiction delivery has also been applied to private messages, i.e. when, for example, two businesses communicate with each other. This typically applies to invoices, pre-action notices and the like.

Hint: We have covered the fiction of delivery in detail in our separate article.

In the opposite direction, however, the obligation to communicate electronically does not yet apply as a rule. 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 respect the instruction, you will receive a notice to correct the defect in your filing. And if you do not respect the notice either, a fine may follow. In the future, we will see a change in the law in this respect, which would extend the obligation to communicate electronically with the tax authorities only to entrepreneurs.

Tip: We have devoted a separate article to the procedure for setting up, managing or cancelling a data box.

It’s only seemingly free

The state offers us to set up a data box for free and does not forget to emphasize it. Communication with the authorities is also free. This is certainly an advantage over sending (registered) letters. Only commercial messages are charged, which now cost five crowns. Users thus pay for sending messages to banks, insurance companies, energy suppliers, but also to companies or private individuals. At today’s prices of the Czech Post, however, this is still a pittance.

Still, it can cost us a pretty penny to use a datacard. The stumbling block comes when archiving the messages delivered. Messages stay in your mailbox until you delete them or until it fills up. For a maximum of 90 days. After that, you can either archive the messages yourself and save them on your computer, for example. Or you can store them in a so-called data vault, for which you pay 120 crowns (for 20 messages) depending on the number of messages stored – or a surprising 29,500 crowns for 5,000 messages. This price is significantly higher than any commercial data storage.

However, you can also store messages of up to 1 GB in the Citizen Portal for free and for an unlimited period of time. The service must be activated.

Beware – unlike the data vault, however, the use of the Citizen Portal does not ensure the long-term verifiability of documents. This is the case with a simple download to a computer. In these cases, you have to maintain the long-term verifiability of the documents yourself. You can check whether a document is still verifiable free of charge directly in the client portal for data boxes, where you can also extend the validity of the time stamp on the message.

Is it worth setting up a data box in advance?

Yes and no. It depends more or less on your attitude to data boxes and electronic communication in general. If you know that you will fall into the group of data mailbox owners and you do not consider yourself a computer-savvy “geek”, you can get a data mailbox yourself a little earlier, so that you can get acquainted with it well in advance and even with the help of experts and set everything up in advance. You can then send your tax return early next year without stress and without wondering whether it has been lost somewhere.

If electronic communication in various ways is easy for you, then early preparation is rather unnecessary. Setting up early will not save you any significant money or relieve you of any obligation. But you can, of course, benefit from the advantages offered by a data bank earlier – you don’t queue at the offices, you don’t have to deal with office hours and you don’t pay expensive postage.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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