Road Conditions and Safety: Roads in Slovakia are generally safe and well-maintained. Four-lane highways exist in and around Bratislava. Most roads outside of developed areas; however, are two lanes only. Aggressive drivers attempting to pass at unsafe speeds pose a serious hazard.
- Use caution when driving outside urban areas at night. The roads are narrow, winding, and poorly lit.
- From November through March, Slovakia experiences heavy snow. 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. The law requires winter tires for snowy conditions, and chains are necessary in certain mountainous areas.
Traffic Laws: You must use seatbelts and headlights at all times. It is illegal to use cellular phones while driving.
- Children under 12 year of age, weighing less than 80 pounds in weight or less than 5 feet in height must use a car seat or a booster.
- You must have a motorcycle license and wear a helmet to operate a motorized two-wheeled vehicle.
- Reflective safety vests and first aid kits must be in each vehicle.
- Driving under the influence of ANY alcohol is a crime under Slovak law. The blood alcohol tolerance level is zero percent. Police stop cars randomly to perform breath tests.
- If you get a ticket, you can pay the fine in cash on the spot to the officer. If you cannot pay the fine on the spot, you will receive a notice to appear later at a police station, and the fine will be higher. Reportedly, foreigners are sometimes cited for more expensive violations than they commit, in an attempt to collect extra money from people who may not know the rules well.
As of January 1, 2016, you need to buy an electronic vignette to use certain highways and motorways. A vignette is a sticker that fixes to the windscreen to be clearly visible from the outside, showing that you?ve paid to drive along those roads. You can purchase it online.
You must obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) prior to your arrival if you intend to drive in Slovakia. You can get an IDP in the United States from the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
- U.S. citizen visitors may drive with a valid U.S. state license, if accompanied by a valid IDP for the duration of their 90-day stay. Visitors who are long-term residents in Slovakia must apply to exchange their U.S. state driver?s license for a Slovak driver?s license within a specified time period after receiving a residency permit.
- More information is available from the Dopravny Inspektorat at the district police department in your place of residence.
- For specific information concerning a Slovak driver?s permit, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Slovakia in Washington, D.C.
- Additional information about driving in Slovakia can be found on the Embassy website.
Public Transportation: Buses, trolleybuses, and trams are mechanically safe and generally reliable. We recommend using clearly marked taxicabs.
- On public transportation, you must validate a ticket upon entering the vehicle. The ticket is valid for your entire journey. Major cities also offer tickets by SMS message through a local telephone service provider.
- In most cities, you can buy passes valid for periods ranging from 24 hours to one year. Children from six to 15 years of age pay reduced fares.
- A ticket inspector will fine passengers who are traveling without a valid ticket; inspectors board transportation at random. The ticket inspector will have an identification card and must provide a receipt for the fare.
- More information is provided in English on the Bratislava city transport website and websites of other cities with public transportation.
See 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.
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in?Slovakia.
The quality and availability of medical facilities varies. A limited number of doctors speak English.
- For any emergency, including medical emergencies, call 112.
- English-speaking dispatchers are usually available.
- Individuals with medical emergencies are transported to one of four main hospitals in Bratislava:
- Children?s emergencies are handled at Bratislava?s Children?s University Hospital.
- Ambulance services are widely available.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
- Without Slovak health insurance, ambulance service starts at 120 euros per transport.
- Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
- You may need special insurance for hiking and skiing, which is available from local providers.
- If you stay longer than 90 days, you need local health insurance.
- The tick-borne encephalitis vaccination is recommended. Contact your doctor for more information.
We do not pay medical bills. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in its original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription. Check with the Slovak Ministry of Health to ensure the medication is legal in Slovakia.
The following disease is prevalent:
- Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) can result from the bites of ticks commonly found in the bushes and grass of forests in Slovakia at lower and middle elevations. They are most active from spring to late fall especially in the northern regions of Trencin and Zilina. Low risk exists throughout the rest of the country. Transmission occurs throughout the year, with highest activity from June through September.
- Even though the CDC does not explicitly recommend the TBE vaccine, other official European sources have recommended the TBE vaccine for travelers who plan to stay for extended periods or who plan to camp and stay outdoors. Vaccines are available through a general practitioner or a pediatrician in Slovakia but are not available in the U.S.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health facilities in general:
- Adequate health facilities are available throughout the country.
- Doctors, hospitals, and ambulance services in Slovakia expect cash payment unless the patient can present an insurance number from the Slovak National Insurance Company or show proof of private insurance prior to needing medical care.
- Travelers should make efforts to obtain complete information on billing, pricing, and proposed medical procedures before agreeing to any medical care.
- Nurses may speak little or no English.
- Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
- Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions.
- The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery
Although Slovakia has many elective/cosmetic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, the quality of care varies. If you plan to undergo surgery in Slovakia, make sure that emergency medical facilities are available, and professionals are accredited and qualified.
- People seeking health care overseas should understand that medical systems operate differently from those in the United States and are not subject to the same rules and regulations. Anyone interested in traveling for medical purposes should consult with their local physician before traveling and visit the CDC Medical Tourism for more information on Medical Tourism.
- Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information on Medical Tourism, the risks of medical tourism, and what you can do to prepare before traveling to Slovakia.
- We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation in the event of unforeseen medical complications.
- Your legal options in case of malpractice are available through the Office of Supervision of Healthcare Providers, at the Public Health Authority. Official communication is in Slovak language only.
- Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription, are often readily available for purchase.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
- Slovakia does not allow the importation of medication unless the traveler shows the prescription and the amount necessary for the trip. Please review Slovakia?s rules on medication at the Slovak Ministry of Health.
- Officially licensed medical providers can be verified at https://www.portaludzs.sk/overenie-poskytovatela-zdravotnej-starostlivosti
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
- Surrogacy is illegal in Slovakia.
- Foreigners do not regularly travel to Slovakia for ART services.
Water Quality: In Slovakia, tap water is potable. Bottled water and beverages are also safe.
Air Quality: Cities in Slovakia have air pollution levels similar to those in major U.S. cities. Levels are generally low during the warm season but sometimes worse than U.S. standards in the cold season. Visit the European Environment Agency?s website for information on air quality in Slovakia.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
- Do not purchase counterfeit or pirated goods. They are illegal in the United States and you may be breaking local laws as well.
- Driving under the influence is a crime and may land you in jail. The blood alcohol tolerance level is zero percent.
- It is illegal to take photographs of security or military installations. If you violate this law, authorities may confiscate the pictures and recordings, issue a reprimand or fine, or even expel you from the country.
- If you are over 16 years of age or older, you are required by law to carry a passport and/or a Slovak identity card at all times. A photocopy of your passport is not sufficient, although we recommend that you keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place.
- Slovak customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export of firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, et al. Contact the Embassy of the Slovak Republic or a Slovak consulate in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
- Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI U.S. Citizens in same-sex marriages or civil unions who travel to or reside in Slovakia may face difficulties and legal issues, as the country does not recognize same-sex unions and adopted a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2014. Same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults is legal. Slovak law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and classifies crimes based on sexual orientation as hate crimes, though these laws are not always enforced. Prejudice and societal discrimination persist. LGBTI persons occasionally report that they receive anti-LGBTI verbal abuse in the form of slurs. However, Bratislava and Kosice have hosted annual Pride parades without major incident since 2010.
Travelers with Disabilities: Slovak law requires that public areas be accessible to persons with disabilities. Many older buildings and areas, however, have not been retrofitted. Navigating most Slovak cities with a visual impairment or on a wheelchair is difficult due to the many obstacles and barriers on sidewalks and in public transport. Guide dogs are allowed in all municipal spaces, but may not be allowed in private shops, restaurants, and hotels; it is advised to call ahead to inquire. See our Traveling with Disabilities page.
- Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and small towns may lack sidewalks.
- Some municipal spaces, such as post offices, hospitals, shopping centers, and libraries have either an elevator or platforms to accommodate customers who cannot use stairs. Small restaurants and shops are less likely to be accessible.
- Traffic lights in some city centers have a sound signal for the visually-impaired, however, it is reported that they are often out-of-service. Public signs for the visually-impaired are uncommon.
- The state television channels provide broadcasting for the hearing-impaired, and important national events frequently have visible sign language interpretation in real-time.
- Public transportation and the railway system stations generally lack elevators and do not provide easy access for people with mobility issues. This is true even in the capital city of Bratislava.
- Only a few buses are equipped with lowering platforms, while trams have none.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
Slovakia has seen an increase in the number of demonstrations in response to political events. Though still relatively rare, small, and so far peaceful, demonstrations and gatherings always have the potential to turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Please see the U.S. Embassy?s website for safety and security messages.
Crime: while crime is relatively low, street crimes against tourists do occur in tourist areas.
- The most common crimes reported include pickpocketing and cell phone and bag/purse theft, particularly during the summer months. 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.
- Be alert to criminal schemes. Thieves, including adults and/or children, often work in groups or pairs. In many cases, an individual or group distracts the victim, sometimes with musical instruments or pets, so that others can pickpocket.
- Criminals target tourists at nightclubs with ties to organized crime. In the past, such establishments have presented foreign customers with inflated bills and threatened those who refuse to pay. They also spike drinks with disabling drugs and take the impaired victims to ATMs and coerce them to withdraw funds until they empty their accounts or the card is blocked.
- Domestic and foreign organized criminal organizations are well established in Slovakia. Though uncommon, violent incidents sometimes do occur.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. Report crimes to the local police by dialing 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (421) (2) 5443-0861 or + (421) (2) 5443-3338. The Embassy?s emergency after-hours number is + (421) 903-703-666.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
- English-speaking operators are normally available for emergency calls.
- Once an individual reports a crime, the police must investigate it according to local laws and procedures.
- Embassy employees are not able to act as your personal legal representatives or resolve private legal disputes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find temporary accommodation and arrange flights home in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: Within Bratislava the tourism industry is generally regulated and rules are enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically available to support organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available in the city. Outside Bratislava and throughout the country, the tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections of equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified by either the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Please visit the Embassy?s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Slovakia.
Slovakia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Slovakia for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
Traveling Through Europe: If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.?
- Your passport should be valid for at least six months upon arrival in the Schengen. If you plan on transiting a Schengen country review our U.S. Travelers in Europe page.
- You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.
- For additional information about visas for the Schengen area, see the Schengen Visa page.
Carry proof of sufficient funds (such as a credit card) and make sure your medical insurance policy covers all costs if in need of hospitalization and medical treatment in Slovakia.
- Upon arrival in Slovakia, you must register with the local Border and Alien Police within three working days if you are staying in a private home. Hotels and official accommodation providers will register you automatically.
- If you want to reside in Slovakia or stay longer than 90 days, you must apply for a temporary residency and/or work permit. You should complete the application process through the Slovak Embassy in Washington, D.C. prior to arriving in the country. If you decide to stay longer at the time of our arrival in Slovakia, you should begin the process upon arrival as the process normally takes longer than the 90 days allowed visa free. Read the requirements on the U.S. Embassy website and prepare your application before traveling. Many required documents, such as an FBI clearance, are easier to obtain in the United States. To follow up on the status of a request, please contact the FBI directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Slovak authorities strictly enforce residency laws. Foreigners who stay beyond 90 days without a residency permit may be ordered to depart, or may even be deported with a possible ban on re-entry to the entire Schengen area.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Slovakia. A medical examination, including an HIV/AIDS test, is required to obtain a Slovakian residency permit.
Military/Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Travelers: While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Slovakia under the (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees, and contractors must have valid passports. Active-duty military personnel are encouraged to obtain a tourist passport before leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel. DOD travelers should consult with their unit for clearance before leaving the United States.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Slovakia for information on U.S. – Slovakia relations.