COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Slovakia is a markedly developed European nation and a member of the Schengen travel area and the Euro zone. Some tourist
facilities are not as developed as those found in Western Europe, particularly outside the major cities, and some goods and
services common in other European countries are occasionally unavailable in Slovakia. The official language is Slovak; English
is not widely spoken outside of tourist destinations. Read the Department of State Fact sheet on Slovakia for additional information on U.S. relations with Slovakia.
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SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: If you are going to live in or visit Slovakia, please take the time to enroll with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you do, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements, and help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
Local Embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy, Bratislava
Address: Hviezdoslavovo námestie 4, 811 02 Bratislava
Mailing address: U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box 309, 814 99 Bratislava, Slovakia
Telephone: (421)(2)5443 0861 or (421)(2) 5443 3338
Emergency after-hours telephone: (421) 903 703 666
Facsimile: (421)(2) 5441 8861
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a valid passport to enter Slovakia. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the day you plan to depart from Slovakia.You may visit Slovakia for up to 90 days for tourism or business without a visa. Slovakia is part of the Schengen Agreement along with 23 other European countries. The maximum stay for tourism or business in the Schengen zone is 90 days. For further details about travel to and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen Fact Sheet.
All foreigners seeking entry into Slovakia must carry proof of a medical insurance policy that covers all costs for hospitalization and medical treatment in Slovakia. Border police have the right to request evidence showing you have sufficient funds to stay in Slovakia, generally in the amount of $50 per person per day. Visit the Embassy of Slovakia website for the most current visa information.
If you are staying overnight in Slovakia, you must register with the local Border and Aliens Police within three working days. If you are staying at a hotel, you will be registered automatically. Visit the Embassy of Slovakia website for the most current information.
If you want to remain in Slovakia longer than 90 days, you must apply for temporary residency and/or work permits soon after you arrive. However, you should read the requirements on our Embassy website and begin preparing your application before you travel, as many required documents are easier to obtain in the United States. For example, U.S. citizens must submit a certificate not older than 90 days showing the results of a fingerprint records check by the FBI. This process can be very time consuming. Under current policy, authorities in Slovakia cannot take fingerprints for this purpose. Some documents, particularly the FBI criminal history record as well as criminal histories from some other countries, usually take three months or more to receive. Please note that Slovak authorities only accept the standard FBI clearance, not the expedited clearances through FBI “channelers.” In addition, Slovakia requires that many documents intended for official use in Slovakia be authenticated (i.e., to have an apostille) and translated into Slovak. The major exception to this is the standard version FBI background check, which the Slovak government exempted from the authentication requirement for this version only. See our sections on Judicial Assistance and Notarial/ Authentication Service for more information on apostilles.
Since 2012, the Slovak authorities have strictly enforced the residency law as written, and have been unwilling to make exceptions or special extralegal accommodations that may have been possible in the past. People who stay beyond 90 days without a residency permit are typically forced to leave the entire Schengen area for a period of three months to a year.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors. However, a medical examination that includes an HIV/AIDS test is required for obtaining a residency permit in Slovakia.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Civil disorder is rare in Slovakia, although strikes and demonstrations may occur. You should be vigilant in protecting your security, bearing in mind that even demonstrations meant to be peaceful may turn violent. Avoid street demonstrations whenever possible.
Slovakia remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Slovakia’s open borders with its neighbors (except for Ukraine) allow for the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country without the knowledge of Slovak police.
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Take some time before travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Police forces suffer from a lack of manpower, resources, and equipment. Local police do not usually speak English. Western visitors, especially short-term visitors such as tourists and students, are the primary foreign targets of street crime. The majority of street crime is non-violent. The most common crimes reported include pick-pocketing and cell phone and bag/purse theft, particularly during the summer months. Other crimes reported in the past include the less common robbery, and drugging and robbing of unsuspecting victims at nightspots and bars. Most thefts reported by U.S. citizens occur at crowded tourist sites (such as Bratislava’s Old Town area) or on public buses, trams, or trains. Thieves in Slovakia often work in groups or pairs. In most cases, one thief distracts the victim, another performs the robbery, and a third person hands off the stolen item to a nearby accomplice. Groups of street children are known to divert tourists’ attention so that a member of their group can pickpocket the tourists while they are distracted.
Foreigners and minorities, particularly non-white individuals, have been victims of racially motivated incidents in Slovakia, and may be especially subject to various types of harassment, such as verbal abuse.
Both indigenous and foreign organized crime groups are well established in Slovakia. They do not target U.S. citizens or other foreign individuals and tend to coexist peacefully in tourist districts so as not to scare away tourist dollars. Though not common, violent incidents sometimes do occur.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but you will be breaking local law too.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Slovakia is 112. English-speaking operators are normally available. Non-Slovak speakers sometimes report difficulty communicating with police, as many officers speak only Slovak. Once an individual reports a crime, the police must investigate it. Some individuals who have had a dispute with a private individual in Slovakia report they felt the police were overzealous in conducting such investigations. The Embassy can provide basic information about local law and has a list of local lawyers on its website. Embassy employees are not able to act as personal legal representatives or resolve private legal disputes.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Slovakia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for instance, engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. While you are overseas, U.S. laws don’t apply. If you do something illegal in Slovakia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know the laws of the country you are visiting. Driving under the influence is not allowed under Slovak law; the permissible blood alcohol level is zero, and driving while intoxicated is a crime. If stopped, a driver who is found operating a vehicle while intoxicated will experience a trip to the police station at a minimum.
Taking photographs of security/military installations (for example, military bases, government buildings, nuclear power plants, etc.) is prohibited in Slovakia. If you violate this law, authorities may confiscate the film, issue a reprimand or fine, or even expel you from the country. Serious cases may be reported to and handled by local and/or military police.
Everyone in Slovakia over 15 years of age, including U.S. citizen visitors, is required by law to carry a passport at all times. It is not sufficient to carry a photocopy of the passport, although we recommend that you keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place. The police have the right to ask U.S. citizens for identification, and only a passport showing legal entry and/or legal residency status is adequate evidence.
A document other than a passport may not be considered sufficient proof of identity and legal status in Slovakia. If you are asked for your passport with residency permit and you do not have it, you risk a spot fine and/or detention by the police.
If you are arrested in Slovakia, authorities are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Slovak customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Slovakia of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, etc. You should contact the Embassy of Slovakia in Washington, D.C. or one of the Slovak consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
If you are a women traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on Travel.State.gov.
LGBT RIGHTS: Official protections for lesbian and gay individuals in Slovakia are technically the same as in other European Union countries, which were required to harmonize regulations relating to human rights and anti-discrimination. Same-sex relations are legal with the same age of consent as for opposite-sex relations. There is no legislation allowing for civil union, marriage, or adoption. Much of society adheres to traditional ideas of marriage and family, and it is not rare for negative opinions about LGBT individuals to be publicized. The first gay pride parade in Slovakia was held in Bratislava in 2010 but was disrupted by attacks by extremist groups. The parade was repeated in 2011 and 2012 without major incident and with more effective cooperation between police and organizers. There are several gay and lesbian venues in the capital as well as in several other cities across Slovakia. There are occasional reports of anti-gay slurs or altercations between gay and lesbian people and extremist individuals. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
ACCESSIBILITY: In Slovakia, accessibility and accommodation for individuals with disabilities are different from the United States. Slovak law requires that public areas be accessible for persons with disabilities, although these regulations have only been in force in the last decade, and many older buildings and areas have not yet been retrofitted.
Getting around in Slovak cities and towns may be difficult at times, since many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and small towns may lack sidewalks altogether. Public transportation and the railroads provide fairly good methods of traveling throughout the cities and throughout the country, but most stations lack elevators and do not provide easy accessibility for people with disabilities. Although there are plans to upgrade municipal bus fleets, currently only some buses and no trams are equipped with lowering platforms for travelers with disabilities. Taxis are a good means of transportation, although many are unlicensed and may seek to charge unreasonable fares to tourists.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are available in Slovakia, although the quality and availability varies within the country. For any emergency, including a medical emergency, call 112 within Slovakia free of charge. An English-speaking dispatcher should be available. According to the level of the medical emergency, the dispatcher may send an ambulance, which may be medically equipped and staffed by paramedics or a physician if the patient’s condition warrants it. Only a limited number of doctors speak English. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payment for health services unless the patient can present an insurance number from the Slovak National Insurance Company. This includes ambulance service, for which the cost begins at 120 euro for those without local Slovak health insurance. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more. Medical prescriptions issued in the United States are not valid in Slovakia. If a prescription is needed, a local doctor must issue it. Medicines are generally available locally at pharmacies, where customers ask the pharmacist for every product including over-the-counter medicines; if they are not available under the U.S. drug name, you should consult the pharmacist or a local doctor for a local substitute. The Ministry of Health administers the use of medicines, and medicine brought into Slovakia for personal use may be subject to comparison against the list of those authorized for use in Slovakia.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You should not assume your health insurance will be valid when you travel overseas. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy isn’t valid overseas, it’s a very good idea to take out another one created especially for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Slovakia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Roads in Slovakia typically are safe and well maintained. Four-lane highways exist in and around Bratislava. However, most roads outside of developed areas are two lanes only, and aggressive drivers attempting to pass at unsafe speeds pose a serious hazard. Due to poor lighting and narrow, winding roads, we do not recommend nighttime driving outside of built-up areas.
Slovakia commonly receives heavy snow from November through March. Snow removal is not adequate on rural roads. Roads in the mountainous northern part of the country are particularly prone to hazardous conditions during winter months. Winter tires are required by law when there are snowy conditions, and chains are necessary in certain mountainous areas.
In Slovakia, vehicles travel on the right side of the road. Headlights must be used at all times (day and night) throughout the year. The maximum legal speed on highways is 130 kilometers per hour (78 mph). On smaller roads, the maximum speed is 90 kph (54 mph). The limit in towns is 50 kph (31 mph). It is strictly prohibited to use cellular phones while driving. Safety reflection vests and first aid kits must be located in each vehicle. Seat belts are compulsory and baby car seats are required for all children less than 36 kg (80 lbs).
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime under Slovak law. The blood alcohol tolerance level is zero percent. Penalties for drivers involved in car accidents involving injury or death are decided by a court of law. Penalties for minor offenses are not generally large, but foreigners are sometimes targeted for additional sums. If you suspect this has occurred, you should ask for a written receipt and note the name and number of the traffic officer imposing the fine.
A highway user decal is required for travel on most major roads outside of Bratislava. The decal is valid for the calendar year, and is available at gas stations, post offices, and some newspaper kiosks. Short-term stickers are available and are valid for seven days or for one month.
Taxi companies generally provide reliable, safe, and economical services. Avoid independent cabs that do not prominently display a company name. Taxis sometimes overcharge in areas frequented by tourists. You can expect higher charges when you randomly stop a cab on the street. Radio-dispatched taxis are often much more reliable and less expensive.
Buses, trolleybuses, and trams are mechanically safe and generally reliable, but there have been reports of thefts on city transportation or of harassment by the transport police. On public transportation you must have a time-ticket validated after entering the vehicle (valid for 15 or 60 minutes), or a prepaid zone ticket (valid for 24 hours, 48 hours, 3 days, 7 days, 1 month, 3 months, or 1 year). Different ticket validities and fees apply in towns outside of Bratislava. Children from 6 to 15 years of age pay reduced fares. Passengers who are traveling without a valid ticket will be fined by the ticket inspector. The ticket inspector must have an identification card and must provide a receipt for the fine. More information is provided in English on the Bratislava city transport website.
A motorcycle driver’s license and helmet are required to operate a motorized two-wheeled vehicle. Small motorcycles are not allowed on highways. All traffic regulations apply.
Tourists intending to drive in Slovakia are required to have an International Driving Permit. A U.S. driver’s license alone is not sufficient to drive in Slovakia; it must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit, which you can get in the United States from the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. U.S. citizens who are not residents of Slovakia may drive with a valid U.S. state license, if accompanied by a valid International Driving Permit, for a maximum of 6 months.
If you do not have a U.S. state driver’s license, you may apply for a Slovak driver’s license at the Dopravny Inspektorat in the district of your place of residence in Slovakia. Completion of the regular driving course and a written examination (in Slovak) are required for issuance of a Slovak driver’s license. For specific information concerning a Slovak driver’s permit, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Slovak Embassy in Washington, D.C.
U.S. citizens who are long-term residents in Slovakia and are in possession of a U.S. state driver’s license must apply for exchange of a U.S. state driver’s license for a Slovak driver’s license. Conditions for the exchange are set by the Law on Road Traffic effective from February 2009. Under the law, the issuing country must be a member either of the Geneva Convention (the United States ratified the Convention in 1950) or Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.
The law requires residents of Slovakia who hold U.S. state driver’s licenses to apply for exchange of their license within 60 days of the time period starting 185 days after the day their residency permit was issued. The applications are filed with the Dopravny Inspektorat at the district police department in the place of residency in Slovakia. The Slovak license is issued in the EU format and may be used in all EU countries.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Slovakia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Slovakia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Slovakia dated February 5, 2013, with updates to Crime, Criminal Penalties, and LGBT Rights.