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Latest travel advice for Slovakia including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-23T17:30:28.249+00:00: Latest update: this advice has been reviewed and re-issued without amendment

Information and advice for British nationals travelling and living in Europe, following the result of the EU referendum.

Make sure your passport is in a presentable state before you travel. The Slovak authorities can refuse entry if your passport is worn or damaged, or looks as if it’s been tampered with.

Most visits to Slovakia are trouble-free.

If you need to contact the emergency services in Slovakia call 112.

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

There is a risk of petty crime, especially in Bratislava. Pickpockets operate around the main tourist areas, particularly the popular Christmas markets, and foreigners are easily identified and targeted. Take precautions against bag snatching and mugging. Don’t leave valuables unattended. If you put your jacket or coat on the back of a restaurant chair, make sure any valuables are kept securely elsewhere.

Some visitors to Bratislava have been given ‘spiked’ drinks and woken several hours later to find all their valuables gone. Be wary of drinks offered by strangers.

Be vigilant at Bratislava airport. Keep valuables and cash with you, rather than in checked baggage.

Foreign-licensed cars have been targeted by criminals. If you have a breakdown, lock the vehicle if you leave it. Remove all valuables from your car when parking.

Be aware of ‘road pirates’ who target foreign-registered cars. Some will stab a tyre at a petrol station, then follow their target until the car stops; they then offer assistance and rob the target. They might also simulate a breakdown and ask for help. You should not leave belongings in view in your car. If you decide to stop to check the condition of your/their vehicle, only do so in a well-lit public area such as a service station. Make sure you lock your car and in general be extremely wary of anyone offering help.

If you’re stopped by the police and asked to pay a fine for speeding or other traffic offences, you should be given a receipt for any money paid. If the officers refuse to give you a receipt, call 158 (police) to make sure you’re dealing with genuine police officers.

Taxi drivers sometimes attempt to overcharge tourists by adding unauthorised supplements or by not setting the meter at the start of a journey. Insist that you will pay only the fare shown on the meter.

When making payments don’t let your credit card out of your sight.

Report the loss or theft of a passport to the closest police department as soon as possible. Ask the police authorities to provide you with a statement or confirmation of the loss/theft.

Don’t leave your passport as a deposit, for example in hotels or with car rental companies.

Road travel

It is a requirement under Slovak law to have at least valid third-party motor insurance cover for your car.

You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 6 months. If you intend to drive in Slovakia for longer than 6 months, you should exchange your UK driving licence for a Slovak one before the 6-month period runs out.

Children under 150cm tall or under the age of 12 must not sit in the front seat of moving vehicles and must use an appropriate child restraint Only use registered car rental companies. You can find a list of car rentals on this Slovak Business Directory website.

Although in reasonably good condition, many main roads have only a single carriageway in each direction making overtaking difficult. Road markings are difficult to see in poor weather.

The standard of driving is not high and can be aggressive. Beware of oncoming cars overtaking on your side of the road (particularly on bends and hills).

In 2015 there were 274 road deaths in Slovakia (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 5.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.

In winter, equip your car for severe driving conditions. The use of winter tyres is a requirement by law in Slovakia when there’s snow or ice on the road. All vehicles must have headlights switched on all year round. Speed limits in towns have been reduced to 50kmh.

Drivers with any trace of alcohol in their body will be arrested. There is zero tolerance for both alcohol and narcotics. If you are involved in an accident while driving the police will give you a breath test regardless of who is to blame.

A new electronic toll system was introduced in Slovakia on 1 January 2010. It applies to all vehicles with a weight of over 3.5 tons. All truck drivers are strongly advised to study the new rules and pay the necessary fees. Failing to do so may result in fines from €1,655 to €2,655.

More information on the toll system and a road network map is available on the website of the toll system operator or from their call centre on +421 2 35 111 111, which is available 24/7 and in English.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Slovakia.

Public transport

If you use public transport you should buy a ticket before boarding the vehicle. Tickets can be purchased using the ticket machines at the public transport stops and in some of the newspaper stands. Immediately after entering the vehicle the ticket must be marked by a marking machine placed inside of the vehicle. An unmarked ticket is invalid and may result in a fine from 50 to 70 Euros.

For more information on using public transport in Bratislava, visit the DPB website.

Foreign students may not qualify for discounted fares even with a student card. Check with your public transport provider for further information.

Swimming and water sports

You should observe local rules and regulations on publicly accessible lakes, rivers and other water sources. Jumping into unknown waters can result in serious injury, including paralysis or death. Check with local authorities or sporting organisations for further information and advice.

Skiing and hiking

If you ski or hike in the Slovak mountains and need help from the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service (HZS), you will have to meet their full costs. These could range from €116 to €9,960 depending on the size of the operation. Anyone ignoring or violating HZS commands or laws will be liable for a fine of up to €3,320. Make sure you have sufficient insurance to cover any rescue costs. Mountain rescue services instructions in English can be found on the Mountain Rescue Service website

Physically handicapped travellers

Slovakia, in general, does not cater for those who are physically handicapped. Some effort is now being taken to make buildings more accessible, but the vast majority of buildings only have steps rather than ramps.

Terrorism

There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Unruly or rowdy behaviour between 22:00 and 06:00 is illegal and could attract the attention of the police. Bratislava has become a popular destination for stag parties and tourists have been fined or imprisoned for causing a public nuisance.

You must carry your passport with you at all times as identification. Keep it safe in a zipped up pocket or secure bag, and keep the details separately in case you lose it.

British citizens resident in Slovakia should note that the Residence Permit card issued in Slovakia (Trvaly Pobyt) is not considered acceptable proof of identity and cannot be used to travel outside Slovakia. You will need to use your passport to leave the country.

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as a military establishment or somehow security related, may result in problems with the authorities.

Don’t get involved with drugs in any way. Penalties for smuggling, possession and use of drugs are severe.

It is an offence in Bratislava Old Town to drink alcohol in the street. There may be exceptions for seasonal markets (such as the Christmas Market) and outside seating areas of restaurants and bars.  But drinking alcohol (for example bought in a supermarket) in other public areas could result in a fine of €33.

You must carry ID at all times (British passport and if you have one, also your Slovak registration card).

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity  

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Slovakia. They are also accepted for a return to Slovakia if you normally live there.

Visas

British citizens don’t need a visa to enter Slovakia.

British Overseas Territories citizens, British Overseas citizens, British nationals (Overseas), British subjects and British Protected persons should contact the Slovak Embassy to check whether a visa is required.

Registering with the Slovak authorities

If you plan to stay in Slovakia for a longer period of time, you should register with the police within 3 days of arrival. You’ll need your passport, 2 photographs and proof of accommodation. You’ll have an option to apply for a Slovak ‘green card’, which can be used as proof of your ID, while your passport is kept in a safe place. Visit the website of Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic for further information.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

The standard of medical facilities in Slovakia varies. Doctors are generally very good and medical equipment is constantly being improved. However, many hospitals are under-maintained and there are few English- speaking receptionists and nurses.

If you’re visiting Slovakia you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Slovakian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

Money

The currency of Slovakia is the Euro.

Make sure you bring enough money and keep it safe. Travellers’ Cheques are the safest way to carry money but make sure you buy them from an organisation with agents in Slovakia. Change cash and Travellers’ Cheques at proper banks or bureaux de change. Kiosks, although legal, offer poor exchange rates and there is a greater risk of theft. You can’t exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.

ATM machines accept UK bank or credit cards (Cirrus, Maestro or Visa) are common. Shops - particularly in the main tourist areas - increasingly accept credit cards, but are sometimes reluctant to accept cards issued by foreign banks. Check first that the shop will accept your card and that it can be read (there are sometimes problems with “Maestro”). Check your statements carefully when you get home.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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Select a country below:

  • British Embassy Bratislava

    Title:British Embassy Bratislava
    Email:britishembassybratislava@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Panská 16
    811 01 Bratislava
    Slovakia

    Contact: Telephone: +421 2 5998 20 00
    Fax: +421 2 5998 22 37
    Visiting:
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Service of Process (Documentary Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Legalisation Service (Other Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
  • Department for International Trade Slovakia

    Title:Department for International Trade Slovakia
    Email:commercial2@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    Panska 16
    811 01
    Slovakia

    Contact: Enquiries: +421 2 5998 2000
    Visiting:
    Services:

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