|Preface Last Updated: 5/12/2005
After a sluggish recovery, both politically and economically,
following the "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, the Slovak Republic is
now referred to as the "Tatra Tiger" in reference to its rapidly
growing economy and attractiveness to foreign investors.
Slovak history can find its roots in the Great Moravian Empire,
founded in the early ninth century. The territory of Great Moravia
included all of present West and Central Slovakia, the Czech
Republic, and parts of neighboring Poland, Hungary, and Germany.
Saints Cyril and Methodius, known for the creation of a Slavic
alphabet, came to Great Moravia in the early tenth century as
missionaries to spread Christianity upon the invitation of the king.
The empire collapsed after only eighty years as a result of the
political intrigues and external pressures from invading forces.
Slovaks then became part of the Hungarian Kingdom, where they
remained for the next 1,000 years. Bratislava became the Hungarian
capital for nearly two and a half centuries when the Turks overran
Hungary in the early 16th century.
Revolutions inspired by nationalism swept through Central Europe
during the mid nineteenth century, led to the codification of the
Slovak language by Ludovít Štúr in 1846. These events helped to
stimulate the formation of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy in
1867. As language and education policies favoring the use of
Hungarian, which came to be known as forced Magyarization, grew
stricter, Slovak nationalism continued to blossom. Slovak
intellectuals cultivated closer cultural ties with the Czechs, who
were themselves ruled by the Austrians. After the dissolution of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire post WWI, the concept of a single Czecho-Slovakian
unified state came to fruition. Tomáš Masaryk signed the Pittsburgh
Agreement, declaring the intent of the Czech and Slovaks to found a
new state, in May 1918 and a year later became Czechoslovakia’s
After the 1938 Munich agreement that forced Czechoslovakia to
cede territory to Germany, Slovakia became a Nazi puppet state led
by the Catholic priest Jozef Tiso. During this period, thousands of
Slovak Jews and Roma perished in concentration camps in the
Holocaust. The Slovak National Uprising, a resistance movement
against the fascist Slovak state, occurred in 1944 with the
participation of Slovaks, Russians, Americans, French and other
allied forces, but was put down by Nazi forces. At the conclusion of
WWII, the reunified Czechoslovakia was considered within the Soviet
Union's sphere of influence. The Communist Party, supported by the
U.S.S.R., took over the political power in February 1948 and began
to centralize power. The Slovak-born Communist leader Alexander
Dubcek presided over a thawing of communist power, known as Prague
Spring, which was halted by an invasion of the other Warsaw Pact
nations in 1968.
After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989, Slovak
nationalism began to grow and some ambitious politicians spurred on
the drive for political independence. In June 1992, the Slovak
parliament voted to declare sovereignty and the federation dissolved
peacefully on January 1, 1993. The HZDS party, led by Vladimír
Meciar, ran the government from 1992 to 1998. His authoritarian
style as Prime Minister created international concerns about the
democratic development of Slovakia. The succeeding governments led
by Mikuláš Dzurinda were committed to democratic and market-oriented
reforms and the country joined both NATO and the EU in 2004.
Bratislava, a small and cheerful capital with an accomplished
cultural life, is only one of many tourist attractions in Slovakia.
The mountains and numerous castles throughout the countryside greet
an increasing number of visitors each year. Košice, the largest city
in Eastern Slovakia, is the gateway to beautiful wooden churches,
world-renowned national parks, and a rich cultural heritage shared
by millions of Americans.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 5/12/2005 9:39 AM
Slovakia, located in the very heart of Europe, has an area of
18,859 square miles (48,845 square kilometers), slightly smaller
than the state of West Virginia. To the northwest, Slovakia borders
with the Czech Republic, to the southwest with Austria, to the south
with Hungary, to the north with Poland, and to the east with the
Ukraine. The terrain includes the high Carpathian Mountains (The
Tatras) in the north, the low Carpathian mountains in the center,
the foothills to the west, and the Danube River Basin in the south.
Slovakia is mostly mountainous; approximately 80% of the territory
is 750 meters or more above sea level. The highest point is
Gerlachovský Peak, 2,655 meters above sea level.
Slovakia is a land of beautiful, wide valleys, which were created
by the Váh, Nitra, and Hron Rivers. Most of the land is drained by
the Danube, the largest river in Slovakia, which empties into the
Black Sea, and its tributaries (Morava, Váh, Hron and others). The
Dunajec River drains a smaller part of Slovakia; it is a tributary
of the Visla, which empties into the Baltic Sea. The longest river
in Slovakia is the Váh, which is 242 miles (390 kilometers).
In the eastern part of the country lie the woodlands of the
Carpathian Mountains. The breadbasket of Slovakia, the Podunajska
Plain, lies further south along the Danube River. In the woodland
regions oak, birch and spruce grow abundantly up to the tree line.
Mountain pine and alpine vegetation grow above the tree line.
Because the country lies on the crossroads of several different
plant systems, unique flora abound. The entire territory of Slovakia
is rich in fauna and most animal species live in the mountainous
The climate in Slovakia is a mixture of continental and ocean
climates and has four distinct seasons. The mountain regions affect
the weather much more than the geographical location of the country.
The warmest and driest regions are the southern Slovak plains and
the Eastern Slovak lowlands where the average temperature is 10
degrees C and average annual precipitation is approximately 500 mm.
In the High Tatras the average temperature is 3 degrees C and annual
precipitation is 2,000 mm. The coldest month is January; the warmest
is July. During winter the temperatures in the mountain valleys are
substantially lower than on the mountain peaks, and temperature
inversions are quite common. Bratislava is moderately dry with
average temperatures ranging from –1 degree C to –4 degrees C in
January and from 19.5 degrees C to 20.5 degrees C in July. The
maximum daily temperature in July is approximately 32 degrees C.
Annual rainfall varies from 61 to 101 cm. Bratislava ranks among the
warmest places in Slovakia.
Bratislava is father north than Maine. It shares a latitude
designation with Minot, ND. During the winters the sun rises at 7:30
and sets about 16:00. The skies are often overcast, and snow and ice
storms occur. During the summer, sunrise is before 5:00 and sunset
is about 21:00.
Population Last Updated: 5/17/2005 7:52 AM
Based on the May 2001 census the Statistical Office of the Slovak
Republic states the country has a population of 5,379,455.
Population growth rate is almost zero. The ethnic breakdown of the
population is 85.8% Slovaks, 9.7% Hungarian, 1.7% Romany (or
Gypsies), 0.8% Czechs, and the remaining 2.0% is made up of
Ruthenians, Ukrainians, and Germans. Unofficial estimates place the
Roma population at about 6-10%. The average density is 106
inhabitants per square kilometer. The official language is Slovak.
The majority of the population is Roman Catholic (69%). Lutheranism
is the second most practiced religion (9%), and a significant part
of the population of Eastern Slovakia is Greek-Orthodox and Orthodox
(4.9%). Other smaller religious groups such as the Jewish community
are active in Slovakia.
Despite its modern European economy and society, Slovakia has a
significant rural element. About 45% of Slovaks live in villages of
fewer than 5,000 people, and 14% in villages of less than 1,000.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 5/12/2005 9:44 AM
On January 1, 1993, the Slovak Republic became an independent
state. The partition of the former Czechoslovak federation, known as
the “Velvet Divorce” was accomplished democratically and peacefully.
On September 1, 1992 the Slovak Parliament approved the Constitution
of the Slovak Republic, creating the necessary framework for the
democratic development of society. Its political system is based on
the three fundamental branches of government: legislative,
executive, and judicial.
The official head of state is the President who is elected by
popular vote through a secret ballot for a five-year term. The Prime
Minister is the head of government. Virtually all executive powers
of government belong to the prime minister, but the president serves
as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, can grant pardons, and
has the right to return legislation to Parliament.
Slovakia's highest legislative body is the 150-seat unicameral
National Council of the Slovak Republic (Parliament). Delegates are
elected for 4-year terms on the basis of proportional
representation. The Slovak political scene supports a wide spectrum
of political parties. The influence of leftist and nationalist
parties has declined in the past several years. The main political
parties are as follows:
HZDS Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
SDKU Slovak Democratic and Christian Union
KDH Christian Democratic Movement
KSS Communist Party of Slovakia
SNS Slovak National Party
ANO Alliance of New Citizens
SMK Hungarian Coalition Party
Slovak citizens have the right to vote at the age of 18 years.
The country's highest appellate forum is the Supreme Court; below
that are regional, district, and military courts. The Slovak
Republic also has a special Constitutional Court, which rules on
constitutional issues. The 13 members of this court are appointed by
the President from a slate of candidates nominated by Parliament. In
2002, Parliament passed legislation that created a Judicial Council.
This 18-member council, composed of judges, law professors, and
other legal experts, is now responsible for the nomination of
judges, disciplinary actions and other administrative
recommendations. All judges, except those of the Constitutional
Court, are appointed by the President from a list proposed by the
After a summer 2003 parliamentary shake-up, the coalition
government lost its narrow parliamentary majority and now controls
only 67 of the 150 seats; however, the coalition (consisting of SDKU,
SMK, KDH and ANO) is relatively stable because of the parties'
similar political philosophies and reform agendas. The main
priorities of the coalition are ensuring a strong Slovak performance
within NATO and the EU, fighting corruption, attracting foreign
investment, and reforming social services such as the health care
system. Slovakia officially became a member of NATO on March 29,
2004 and joined the EU on May 1, 2004.
Slovakia is a member of the United Nations and participates in
its specialized agencies. It is also a member of the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade
Organization (WTO), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD). It is part of the Visegrad Four (Slovakia,
Hungary, Czech Republic, and Poland), a forum for discussing areas
of common concern. Upon the division of Czechoslovakia in 1993,
Slovakia and the Czech Republic entered into a Customs Union, which
facilitates a relatively free flow of goods and services.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 6/3/2005 4:57 AM
Slovakia is a delightful destination for culture. Slovak culture
is an integral part of Central European society and hence is closely
tied to the cultures of neighboring countries. Slovakia boasts a
variety of cultural, artistic, and craft traditions. A stay here
would not be complete without seeing the variety of items produced
by local tradesmen and artists. These include vibrantly-painted
ceramics, hand-embroidered tablecloths and linens, wooden toys,
hand-made dolls, painted wooden eggs, and a variety of other
enchanting folklore objects.
The main authority supporting culture is the Ministry of Culture
of the Slovak Republic www.culture.gov.sk. National cultural
institutions supported by the Slovak Ministry of Culture cover
visual arts, performing arts, music, dance, literature, libraries,
and folk art. Important national cultural institutions include the
Slovak National Theater www.snd.sk, the Slovak Philharmonic
www.filharm.sk, the Slovak National Museum www.snm.sk, and the
Slovak National Gallery www.sng.sk.
Opera has a long tradition in Bratislava www.bratislava.sk, and
the Renaissance-style Slovak National Theater maintains a lively
schedule of performances in Slovak or with translations into Slovak
from September through June. Just opposite the theater, in the
neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque building called the Reduta, the
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra performs an annual series of concerts,
also from September through June. Tickets to both the opera and the
symphony are readily available at reasonable prices. The summer
months are filled with the music of outdoor concerts, drama
performances, and puppet shows, most of which are free, during the
annual July-August Cultural Summer concert series. A number of movie
theaters in Bratislava show English language films with subtitles.
There are many historical monuments of various architectural
styles in the Slovak Republic. Slovakia lists 18 historical towns,
as well as 9,518 unmovable and 14,354 movable national cultural
monuments. Listed historical towns are: Bratislava, Svätý Jur, Nitra,
Trencin, Trnava, Banská Bystrica, Banská Štiavnica, Kremnica, Zilian,
Bardejov, Kezmarok, Košice, Levoca, Spišská Sobota, Spišská Kapitula,
Štiavnické Bane, Podolínec, Prešov. Slovakia has five sites on the
UNESCO World Heritage list: the medieval mining town of Banská
Štiavnica; the well-preserved, fortified medieval town of Bardejov;
Špiš Castle, a settlement of 45 buildings with the traditional
features of a central European village called Vlkolínec, and a
system of caves called the Slovak Karst. Visit http://whc.unesco.org/.
For a complete look at Slovak museums, visit www.muzeum.sk. Other
important heritage sites include the traditional wooden churches in
In the last half of the nineteenth century an interest in
preserving the Slovak national identity began to emerge. A cultural
institution, the Slovak National Foundation (Matica Slovenská) was
established in 1863. Later, in 1893, the Slovak Museum Society was
also founded in Martin, and in spite of the extremely difficult
conditions imposed by the Austro-Hungarian rulers, museum
collections were brought together. Today the Matica Slovenská
maintains the Slovak National Literary Museum, the National
Cemetery, and the A.S. Pushkin Literary Museum in the city of
Martin. There are also a variety of open-air museums where
traditional Slovak life has been preserved and in the town of
Cicmany, a tranquil mountain village, residents continue to live in
beautifully kept, typical, dark wooden houses decoratively painted
in white folklore designs.
Education in the Slovak Republic is compulsory from ages 6-16.
Pre-school establishments are composed of nurseries and
kindergartens. Nurseries provide care for children up to 3 years of
age, mainly for the children of employed mothers. Kindergartens
serve children from 3 to 6 years of age. Their main function in
addition to caring for children is preparation for primary school
attendance. There are public and private childcare institutions
available in most cities www.centrum.sk. Primary schools provide
general as well as ethical, artistic, health, physical and
environmental education. They also offer religious education.
Primary education lasts for nine years and the curricula vary mainly
in the higher grades. There are public, private and church schools,
offering a variety of opportunities for language instruction.
Secondary education is comprised of three types of schools:
gymnasium (academic high schools), secondary specialized schools and
secondary vocational schools. Applicants must pass selective exams
for entrance into all types of secondary schools. There are public,
private and church schools available in most cities, some offering
international exit exams accredited in Europe. In bigger cities
there are bilingual secondary schools offering study possibilities
in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Hungarian
Currently, there are 27 institutions of higher education in the
Slovak Republic: 20 public institutions (independent institutions,
financed partly from the State budget, public or private sources,
and entrepreneurial activities), 3 state institutions (established
through the Slovak government, financed through respective
Ministries), and 4 private institutions. As of this post report,
there is no tuition charged at public and state institutions, only
administrative fees. However, plans are underway to begin to charge
tuition. Currently, 95 percent of students in higher education are
enrolled at public and state institutions. Most public and state
institutions offer degrees up to the PhD; private institutions
currently offer largely undergraduate degrees.
Slovak institutions of higher education are part of the European
education and research area, open to foreign students and offering
accredited and transferable credits and degrees for any further type
of study or research abroad. Comenius University, located in
Bratislava, has an independent unit called the Institute for
Language and Academic Preparation, where foreign students are
prepared for Slovak universities in the Slovak language (www.srk.sk,
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 5/12/2005 9:55 AM
Since 1998 Slovakia’s once troubled economy has been transformed
into an economic success story that leads the region in economic
growth. In its “Doing Business in a 2005” report, the World Bank
named Slovakia as the world’s top reformer in improving its
investment climate over the last year, allowing it to join the top
20 economies in the world for ease of doing business. The country’s
low-cost yet skilled labor force, low taxes (19% flat tax rate for
individuals and corporations plus no taxes on dividends), liberal
labor code, reformed pension and healthcare systems, privatized
banking and corporate sectors and favorable geographic location have
helped it become one of Europe’s favorite investment markets.
However, regional disparities remain and western Slovakia is far
more prosperous and developed than the eastern portion of the
country. Since the election of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda’s
coalition government in 1998, cumulative foreign direct investment
has increases approximately six fold to USD 11.46 billion at the end
of the third quarter in 2004. Germany is the largest investor in
Slovakia, followed by Austria and the U.S. (according to Embassy
Commercial ties with the U.S. are strong and growing. A recent
survey by the U.S. Embassy showed U.S. investment in Slovakia at
over USD 3.0 billion for current and future commitments. In 2004,
American exports to Slovakia grew 14.2% from their level in 2003
while imports from Slovakia grew 19.8% during the same period. The
American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia with 120 U.S. companies in
its membership and the U.S. Commerce Department’s American Business
Center are also active in providing assistance to U.S. businesses
and promoting U.S.-Slovak business ties.
Retail prices are about the same as those in the U.S. even though
the price of labor has not increased to the same level. Consumer
price inflation dropped to 2.5% on an annualized basis through March
2005, the currency (the Slovak Crown) has appreciated significantly
against the U.S. dollar and the Euro in recent years, unemployment
has dropped from 20% to 13% in the past two years, and real GDP grew
5.5% in 2004, the fastest expansion among economies in Central
Almost 75% of Slovakia’s trade is with EU members, though it
imports nearly all of its oil and gas from Russia. The country's
export markets are primarily OECD and EU countries. Germany is
Slovakia's largest trading partner, purchasing 28.7% of Slovakia's
exports and supplying 23.8% of its imports in 2004. Other major
partners include the Czech Republic (13.3% exports, 13.2% imports),
Italy (6.4%, 5.6%), Russia (1.2%, 9.4%), and Austria (7.8%, 4.3%).
Slovakia’s main import products include machinery and transport
equipment, intermediate manufactured goods, chemicals and
miscellaneous manufactured goods. Exports consist mainly of
vehicles, machinery and electrical equipment, base metals, chemicals
Automobiles Last Updated: 5/12/2005 9:55 AM
While the public transportation system in Bratislava is more than
adequate, all incoming employees are encouraged to ship a car to
post. Many of the government-provided housing units are located
quite a distance from the Embassy; although most employees do not
drive to work, they find it much easier and more convenient to have
a car at their disposal. The bus routes to these homes are limited
and may be unpleasant in the excessive heat or cold. In addition,
neighboring cities like Vienna, Prague and Budapest, as well as
towns and historic sites in Slovakia, are within easy driving
distance of Bratislava.
The Slovak Republic has strict standards on automobiles.
Registration costs approximately $240. The vehicle’s technical
parameters are needed to complete registration. This information
includes length, width, height, tank capacity, cylinder capacity,
horsepower, weight, and consumption. As of the writing of this post
report, to register, all cars must pass an inspection designed to
assure that vehicles meet emission standards, are roadworthy and
have certain safety features. Two such safety features that are
often missing from American-made cars are fog lights and mud flaps
for the rear tires. If a car shipped to post lacks these items, the
GSO section can assist the employee in locating a company to install
them at the employee’s expense.
European specification cars are easiest to maintain and register,
but American specification cars are allowed in the country under
strict conditions and must be re-exported. Local dealers, such as
Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW, maintain inventories of only
European specification spare parts. Employees shipping American
specification cars to Slovakia should purchase minor spare parts,
such as spark plugs, filters, and spare hoses, in the U.S. and ship
them to post in their household effects. The GSO section will also
assist employees in obtaining local liability insurance that is
required for all vehicles, in taking the car for its technical
inspection and in obtaining local license plates. Fees for these
items are the responsibility of the employee.
High quality fuel, oil and antifreeze are available locally, but
prices are more expensive than in the United States. Accredited
employees can receive a refund of 19% VAT and the consumption tax on
fuel purchases for one car. Besides general VAT refunds, diplomats
do not receive discounts on maintenance, spare parts or other
Diplomats can purchase and resell one tax-free automobile during
their tour. When selling an automobile that was imported into
Slovakia tax-free, employees must be aware that if the purchaser is
anyone other than another accredited diplomat, the purchaser will be
required to pay local taxes based upon the fair market value of the
vehicle at the time of the sale. If a U.S. diplomat purchases an
automobile in Slovakia, based on the April 28, 2004 VAT law, the VAT
is refundable. Neither the employee nor a potential purchaser of the
vehicle would be obliged to repay the VAT to the GOS, provided that
the vehicle has been registered in Slovakia for at least two years.
If the vehicle has not been registered for two years, then the
employee would be obliged to repay the full VAT refund (unless the
purchaser is a diplomat). See GSO if no VAT refund was received on a
car you wish to sell or if you have any other questions.
All car owners must purchase local liability insurance. The rate
of this insurance depends upon the size of the engine (horsepower),
with costs ranging from $300 to $700 per year. Owners should
investigate purchasing collision coverage from an American company
that writes policies for automobiles in the Slovak Republic. At this
time only Clements International and Harry M. Jannette
International, L.L.C. provide this coverage. Rental vehicles are
available in Slovakia, although the rates for American-sized
vehicles can be quite high, particularly when taking the car outside
of the country.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 5/11/2005 12:19 AM
Local mass transportation is reliable, widespread and
inexpensive. Most trams and buses run from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00
midnight. Some start as early as 4:30 a.m. A bus or tram ticket is
the equivalent of 50 to 75 cents per trip. Information is provided
at www.dpb.sk. See also www.imhd.sk/ba, which is an all-English web
page about transportation in Bratislava. To use the public transport
system, buy a ticket in advance from a newsstand or a ticket
machine, and stamp the ticket on the trolley, bus, or tram in the
ticket-stamping box. Trams, electric cars, and buses always have the
right of way on Bratislava’s streets.
Cabs are readily available and the cost per mile is less than
taxis in the United States. It is recommended to call ahead rather
than pick a cab on the street since cabs charge more for picking
someone up off the street. Check with the Embassy for the name of a
recommended cab company. While tips are not necessary, the Embassy
recommends rounding up 10 to 15 crowns.
In Bratislava roads and sidewalks are continually being repaired
during the summer months. It is not uncommon to find roads in
residential areas that serve both directions of traffic, but only
have enough room for one car. Sidewalks are often used as parking
Slovakia has a full array of signs to help foreigners navigate
the streets. The streets of Bratislava may be hard to navigate in
the beginning, but the town is not large enough to cause significant
problems. Maps may be purchased for very reasonable prices and are
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 5/12/2005 9:59 AM
The major highways connecting Slovakia and its western
neighboring countries are generally multi-lane divided, and all
weather. Roads to other surrounding destinations like Krakow, Poland
or Ukraine are usually single lane undivided. Major highways,
consisting of 313 km, are almost entirely localized in the
Bratislava, Nitra, Trnava, Trencín and Zilina regions; they are
salted and plowed during snowy and icy weather. However, the harsh
winters contribute to extreme wear and tear on these roads and
traffic jams increase the pollution. Further, the highway connecting
Bratislava to Slovakia's second largest city, Košice, is not
complete. Drivers are relegated to smaller secondary roads, which
slowly wind through small villages. Secondary roads do not
necessarily have a bureaucracy-supported plowing mechanism in place.
As with the rest of continental Europe, driving is on the
right-hand side of the road. Most neighboring countries have imposed
a “road tax” that must be paid to drive on the freeway divided
highway system. Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic offer
highway stickers valid for one year, as does Slovakia. The annual
cost for a sticker in Austria is $95, for the Czech Republic $43,
for Hungary $155 and Slovakia $36. There are 7/10 day and one month
options as well. All stickers can be purchased at the borders. All
may be purchased at gas stations too.
Other means of transportation are also possible. The Bratislava
airport is growing and now boasts twelve carriers, including
discount airlines. If purchased in advance, flights throughout
Europe are inexpensive, although destinations are limited. See
details at www.airportbratislava.sk. Vienna International airport,
with direct flights to many parts of the United States and to most
major cities in Europe, is conveniently located 45 minutes by car
from Bratislava, barring delays at the border. Trains to other parts
of Slovakia and to neighboring cities and countries are frequent and
inexpensive. A round trip ticket to Vienna costs about $10. Railway
information is at www.zsr.sk. Regional bus information is found at
www.cp.sk and www.eurolines.sk. On all websites look for the British
flag for English translations.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/12/2005 10:03
The national telephone system is adequate and is being upgraded.
International direct dialing is available from residences and at the
Post Office. Rates to the U.S. from residences are about 32
cents/min plus tax. The rate also depends on the type of calling
program. For example with “ST POHODA” the rate to the U.S. is
approximately 15 cents/min plus tax. Many callback services exist,
some through the internet. International phone cards are also
available at the Post Office for about 17 cents/minute. AT&T and MCI
services are also available, though more expensive. See
www.usa.att.com/ and http://consumer.mci.com/ for details. Fax
services are available in a few shops in the city.
There is a tiered billing system for all types of phones. It is
cheaper to call landline to landline than it is landline to cell
phone. Likewise it is cheaper to call a mobile phone from a mobile
phone on the same wireless network than it is to a mobile on a
different network or landline.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 5/12/2005 10:04 AM
Cellular phone services are available from T-Mobile and Orange. A
cell phone is provided to State Department employees for official
use when they arrive at post. Many of these carriers have special
rates for calling abroad. See the individual carriers for details.
All necessary information about services can be found in English
versions on the web pages www.t-mobile.sk and www.orange.sk. Spouses
and dependents may choose a monthly plan or use the pre-pay option.
However, the monthly plans require a contract for a minimum of two
years and the working spouse must sign the contract and acquire the
Cellular phones brought to post purchased in other areas of the
world must be tri-band or quad-band to be compatible with European
protocol. Websites for phone manufactures or instruction manuals
should have this information. It is suggested to buy phones on the
local market if this information is not known. The phone must also
be “unlocked” so that a SIM card for a domestic service provider
Internet Last Updated: 5/11/2005 12:20 AM
Several local companies offer Internet; at this time Slovak
Telecom dominates the market. Other Internet providers include
Nextra, Slovanet or UPC cable company, which also provides high
speed Internet called Chello. The annual rate is approximately $250.
There are several types of Internet connections. Basic “Dial up”
connections with a low speed of 56kbit/s cost about $3/month.
Employees have found dial up frustrating and cancelled services
shortly into the contract. ISDN services with the speed of 64kbit/s
charge $20 for calling programs and $10 for Internet access, plus
pre-minute charges. Chello and DSL are increasing in popularity;
monthly costs differ depending on the speed of data down streamed.
For example 384/64kbit/s runs about $26/month, or one of the fastest
DSL connection with 1536/256kbit/s is $60/month. Local competition
induces promotions such as free installation. Annual contracts are
All the important information is found on the web sites:
www.slovaktelekom.sk, www.upc.sk, www.nextra.sk, and www.slovanet.sk.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 5/11/2005 12:21 AM
Bratislava has a Diplomatic Post Office (DPO—similar to APO) for
all incoming and outgoing mail. Outgoing first-class mail and parcel
mail take only 3-7 days to reach CONUS destinations. Incoming mail
averages one week to reach post, although some items can take up to
eight weeks, unpredictably. DPO mail is received and dispatched via
the Military Postal Service and the USPS. Content restrictions are
based on USPS restrictions; check with your local Post Office.
Please note DPO weight and size restrictions are a maximum 66 lbs.
and no larger than 72” combined length and girth. Address is as
Unit 5840 Box xxxx
APO, AE 09736-xxxx
Box numbers are:
AMB 0010, DCM 0020, CLO 0030, CONS 0040, DAO 0050, ECON 0060, GSO
0070, IPC 0080, ISC 0090, ITO 0100, MGT 0110, MSG 0120, ODC 0130,
PAO 0140, ORA 0150, POLG 0160, RSO 0170, FSC 0190, EXBS 0200
For personal mail sent via pouch please refer to 5 FAH-10H-520
for the list of prohibited contents. Address mail to:
5840 Bratislava Place
Dulles, VA 20189-5840
Local mail service is currently not reliable for parcel mail.
Parcels have arrived opened or very overdue and occasionally they
have just disappeared.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 5/11/2005 12:21 AM
Armed Forces Network (AFN) decoders are available for purchase
from embassy staff or may be purchased at military posts. New
decoders cost about $500 and there are no monthly service fees. A
satellite dish is required; some houses have satellites already.
Radio in the region provides entertainment and information
formats. BBC World News and Blue Danube Radio (Vienna) provide news
and entertainment in English on the FM dial. Car radios that have
digital tuners must be switched to European standards (l00 kHz
increments) to receive all FM stations (U.S. standard is 9 kHz).
Cable is generally preferred for television reception. Slovakia
has two channels of Slovak public TV and two private nation-wide TV
channels. Cable TV is available in most parts of the country. Most
residents use 3ft satellite dishes and receivers to tune in to
European satellite services. These services, cable and satellite,
offer a handful of English-language channels-CNN, BBC, TNT, Sky
News, Eurosport, etc., and German, Czech and Russian channels.
Enhanced services are available with the use of decoders and service
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
5/17/2005 9:05 AM
Local publications are of interest to those with Slovak language
skills. The Slovak Spectator, an English-language newspaper, is
written and produced in Bratislava by an English-speaking staff. The
International Herald Tribune is widely available in large hotels and
Using the DPO address is the best method to ensure delivery of
U.S. publications. Most periodicals are received within one to two
weeks via pouch. Personal subscriptions to specialized publications
and technical journals are recommended.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 5/11/2005 12:21 AM
The embassy has a contract with an excellent American doctor. The
doctor, a spouse of an Embassy Vienna employee, works on post once a
week and has an on-call phone for emergencies. She acts as a point
of contact and referral service for medical needs that may arise
with embassy employees. Any complex or emergency cases are medevaced
to Austria. These cases are handled by the hospitals in Vienna and
Hainburg, approximately 90 and 30 minutes from Bratislava
respectively. These facilities also provide specialist practitioners
in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics and Surgery.
Additionally, the Regional Medical Officer based in Vienna provides
medical support. A regional psychiatrist is also posted there and is
available for psychiatric and counseling services to adults and
children in the official American community. In general, RMO
recommends that personnel obtain any treatments, except for the most
minor or routine medical care, outside of Slovakia. Furthermore,
U.S. Government employees may be seen at U.S. military hospitals in
Germany, a six to eight-hour drive away.
The embassy also has a contract with two local English-speaking
doctors when the American doctor is unavailable. Staff and their
families have used local facilities without incident in
non-emergency situations. Practitioners for Cardiology and Internal
Medicine can be located in Bratislava. Hospitals do not have
ambulance services. Private ambulances are slow to transport injured
persons to the hospital and cannot provide any type of medical
treatment enroute, including stabilization of patient. When
necessary, the Embassy’s doctor recommends going to the Military
Hospital for care. It is the best supplied, funded and organized
facility in Bratislava.
Competent dentists practice in Bratislava. Many Americans will
find fees for service generally well below U.S. prices. Americans
are generally satisfied with dental work done locally.
Local ophthalmologists and opticians are dependable. Glasses may
be obtained locally and at U.S. military hospitals in Germany for
somewhat lower prices than in the U.S.
You should plan on bringing a three-month supply of prescriptions
you regularly use (e.g. birth control pills) or fill them though
mail-order pharmacy services in the U.S. Most prescriptions can be
found. However, it is wise to arrive with several months supply of
name brand prescriptions.
Community Health Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:06 AM
General sanitation in Bratislava is good. The water is
fluoridated and safe to drink. However, the majority of employees
and locals utilize bottled water as their main source. Some
employees’ housing contains old and rusty water pipes, which produce
discolored water. Fluoride-fortified vitamins or fluoride tablets
for children are available through the embassy doctor.
People practice standard European hygiene. Streets and sidewalks
are relatively well kept due to daily sweeping. Garbage collection
is regular, and sewage disposal is good.
In winter months, the city streets are plowed regularly during
heavy snowfall. Residential streets are always last for clearing.
Main roads in Bratislava are generally in fair condition in winter
due to innumerable summer construction projects. Secondary roads may
be poorly maintained compared to U.S. roads. The embassy suggests
always using caution during winter storms. During ice storms, even
the main roads are treacherous. Sidewalks are often not cleared of
ice and snow. This directly impacts the employees living within
walking distance of the embassy. The winter months can produce
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in some individuals due to the
short hours of daylight and overcast skies.
According to the Ministry of Health, air pollution is the
foremost environmental problem in Slovakia. Bratislava struggles
with air pollution problems during the entire year due to its
geographic location, dense automobile traffic, chemical industry and
the burning of fossil fuels. The high levels of pollution play a
part in the increased number of respiratory illnesses, onset of
adult asthma and difficulties with routine colds or flu. Finally,
the close proximity to two operational Soviet designed nuclear
reactors (both within 120 km of Bratislava) poses a potential health
and environmental hazard.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:08 AM
Immunizations should be current upon arrival. If necessary, shots
can be completed in the Embassy Health Unit when the doctor is
available or Embassy Vienna’s Medical Unit. Additionally, a series
of three injections preventing tick-borne encephalitis is
recommended in this region. These shots are available upon arrival
and are administered by the embassy doctor.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 5/18/2005
The Embassy has four eligible family member positions, all of an
administrative nature. While we make every effort to employ spouses
and dependents in these positions, the jobs turn only every two to
three years. The International School of Bratislava (QSI) and the
British International School (BIS) encourage applications if
eligible family members are qualified teachers. They also accept
applications for substitute teachers. Please contact the Embassy for
The Embassy has a bilateral agreement allowing spouses of U.S.
Government employees to work on the local economy without a work
permit (although they still have to pay local taxes and social and
health insurance). Better paying jobs on the local market include
teaching English. Local salaries are not commensurate with salary
levels in the rest of the European Union or the U.S. Slovak language
is usually required.
American Embassy - Bratislava
Post City Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:17 AM
The capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, lies on both
banks of the Danube River at the foothills of the Low Carpathian
Mountains. Its southern district borders on Hungary and Austria
shares its western border. Vienna is 65 kilometers from Bratislava,
Budapest 200 kilometers, and Prague 321 kilometers. The city has a
population of 428,672 inhabitants.
Archaeological finds support evidence of man's presence on the
territory of Bratislava since ancient times. The Celts were present
during the 4th and 5th centuries. The Slavs arrived in the area
during the 5th and 6th centuries. In A.D. 833 theGreat Moravian
Empire came into being, and Bratislava is first mentioned in
historical sources in A.D. 907 as the city of “Brezalzuspurc.”
During the 10th and 11th centuries, Bratislava gradually became
the seat of government for the Hungarian State and was largely under
Hungarian influence. Its advantageous position helped Bratislava to
become the capital of the Habsburg part of Hungary in 1536. As the
capital, Bratislava was the coronation town for the reigning
Hungarian kings and queens. St. Martin's Cathedral was used as a
coronation church until 1830 and during this period of almost 300
years, 11 rulers (including Maria Theresa) and eight royal consorts
were crowned there.
The period of the late 18th and first half of the 19th century is
known as the Slovak National Revival and saw significant historic
events and movements toward a new Slovak identity. Important among
them were the first efforts to codify literary Slovak made by the
Bratislava Seminary through its leader, Anton Bernolák. Finally,
Ludovít Stúr, the leading personality of the Slovak national
movement, succeeded in codifying the modern Slovak language. The
1830s were marked by the development of manufacturing in Bratislava
and the introduction of modern transportation. Steamships, also
capable of sailing upstream, appeared on the Danube. In 1840,
horse-drawn trains ran on rails as far as Trnava and later also to
Sered. Ten years later, passengers traveled by train to Pest (now
part of Budapest).
On the first of January 1919, Bratislava became part of the newly
constituted Czecho-Slovakia and was duly proclaimed the capital of
Slovakia. It began to use the name of Bratislava instead of
Pressburg, its name under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On March 14,
1939, Bohemia and Moravia became a protectorate incorporated into
the German Reich, and Slovakia became a puppet state of Nazi German
for six years with Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest, as its president.
A codex that sharply discriminated against its Jewish population was
instituted, and subsequently thousands of Jews were deported to
extermination camps. On August 29, 1944, Slovak resistance fighters
began an insurrection, the Slovak National Uprising, against the
pro-Nazi government in Bratislava and the German troops stationed in
The uprising, centered in the town of Banská Bystrica, lasted two
months before it was put down at a terrible cost in lives and
property. An American mission was sent to aid the uprising; the
Nazis captured and executed most of its members in December 1944. In
early 1945, Soviet forces broke through German defenses, and on
April 4th they reached Bratislava. After 1945, but particularly in
the 1960s, Bratislava became the center of numerous independence
efforts of the Slovak people. These resulted in the signing of the
Constitutional Law on the Czecho-Slovak Federation in 1968 at the
Bratislava Castle. However, in the wake of the restoration of
totalitarian rule that followed the 1968 Soviet-led invasion,
Slovakia was left with a government and parliament whose real powers
were severely limited. After the 1989 Revolution, discussions with
Czech and Slovak officials were instituted to find a mutually
acceptable formula that would divide powers between the two states
but maintain a common Czechoslovak state.
Finally, on January 1, 1993 Slovakia was declared a free and
independent state. After centuries of Hungarian and Soviet
repression, Bratislava today is a dynamic city with a youthful
population and a rich, picturesque history. There is a general air
of modernization taking place. Reconstruction and renovation of old
buildings in the historical district are a part of daily life here.
The city will have to deal with major problems like public and
personal transportation, parking lots, and housing construction. In
spite of all these temporary inconveniences, Bratislava is a
pleasant place to live.
Security Last Updated: 5/16/2005 7:32 AM
The Slovak Republic has a "medium" rate of crime, although
violent crime is relatively uncommon; however,reasonable precautions
should be taken. Visitors, including Americans, are popular and
generally welcomed by all segments of society in Bratislava. If you
walk alone at night, keep to populated and well-lit areas. Pay
attention to your wallet, purse, handbag and cellular telephone, as
all are popular targets. Pickpockets tend to utilize distraction
techniques to confuse their target, preferring locations such as
shopping centers, markets and public transportation in the vicinity
of the Old Town, near major hotels where foreigners stay and tourist
Slovakia experiences auto theft problems. Anti-theft devices have
had only limited effectiveness. Please consider this when deciding
what type of car to bring. We will be happy to provide you with
updated information at your request. Mercedes, Volkswagens and other
up-market European cars are favored targets. The use of anti-theft
devices such as alarm systems and "The Club" is encouraged.
U.S. Government employees traveling to Slovakia on offical or
personal business should notify the Embassy in advance of their
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:19 AM
The Embassy is located at Hviezdoslavovo námestie 4 and 5 in the
center of Bratislava. The original building was purchased in 1947
and was opened as a Consulate in March 1948. The German Trade Bank
used the premises, which contain some 15,000 square feet of space,
before World War II, and in the 19th century, they housed Slovakia’s
first steam powered printing press. In 1950, the Consulate was
closed at the height of Stalinist repression when all contacts with
the West were severely restricted and Western consulates and
libraries were closed. The U.S. Government retained possession of
the building, however, which many Slovaks report gave them hope
during this bleak period.
First steps to restore a U.S. presence in Slovakia were taken with
the arrival of a U.S. consul on October 3, 1990. Temporary offices
in the nearby Hotel Devin were occupied until the building was
renovated. The U.S. Consulate was rededicated on May 27, 1991, 41
years to the day after it was closed. Operations returned to the
building in July 1991, the USIS Library opened in October of 1991,
the first tourist visas were issued in November, and in 1992 it
became a Consulate General.
When the Slovak Republic became an independent country in January
1993, the Consulate General became the American Embassy of
The Embassy signed a lease obtaining the adjoining building in
February 1995. The main Chancery and the Annex now house the
Executive Office, Political and Economic sections, Regional Security
Office, the Defense Attaché’s Office, the Management Section, the
Community Liaison Office, General Services Office, the Public
Affairs Section, the Computer Center, the Occupational Health Unit,
and the Consular Section. Located away from the Chancery but in
close proximity are the Commerce Department and the Office of
The Management Section provides a health unit, mail service,
community liaison, customs clearance, housing and other
administrative services for the official Mission. The Embassy is
open Monday through Friday from 0800 - 1700 hrs. The telephone
numbers are 421-2-5443-3338/5443-0861; the fax numbers are
421-2-5441-5148 (Management section), 421-2-5443-5439 (Executive
office) and 421-2-5443-0809 (Consular section). In emergencies, the
duty officer may be reached at 421-903-703-666.
Sponsors meet employees arriving by air at Schwechat
International Airport in Vienna, Austria. Inform the Embassy in
advance of your travel plans. There is also taxi, bus and train
service from the airport to Bratislava. If you are driving to post,
provide your itinerary in advance and go directly to the Chancery.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:20 AM
At the present time, the Embassy has no temporary quarters
available to incoming employees. However, there are several hotels
within walking distance of the Embassy that provide Western-style
rooms within per diem. Most restaurants are moderately priced and
less expensive than in the United States.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:20 AM
Permanent housing is provided by the Embassy, which handles the
leasing process as well as any maintenance problems that may arise.
The housing handbook delineates those areas for which the Embassy
will be responsible and those that the employee must handle. The
Interagency Housing Board assigns housing based upon availability at
the expected date of the employee's arrival, the employee's rank and
family size. The housing pool consists of a mix of houses and
apartments. Most employees with children are assigned to detached
Furnishings Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:27 AM
The Embassy provides basic furniture, furnishings and equipment
for all government-supplied housing. Furnishings are mostly of
neutral color schemes to accommodate taste to the greatest possible
extent. The Embassy will not incur any expense to accommodate
differences in personal taste. When items such as new or newly
upholstered furniture, carpets, drapes, etc. are already on hand,
they will be issued in lieu of new purchases.
Basic items of furniture, furnishings and equipment which are
provided by the Embassy for residences are:
American spec furniture for the bedrooms (box springs,
mattresses, frames, headboards, dressers, bureaus and night tables),
living room (sofa, loveseat, chairs, coffee table, lamp tables),
dining room (table with chairs, china cabinet) and study/den (desk,
chair, bookcase) and an adequate number of lamps for each room;
Area rugs for occupied bedrooms, living room and dining room. The
Embassy does not provide wall-to-wall carpeting, throw rugs,
carpeting in hallways or bathrooms, carpet runners or carpets for
In order to provide privacy and security, the Embassy installs
window coverings for all residence windows. For windows without
coverings, subject to availability of funds, the Embassy GSO section
will provide residents a choice of materials, which have been
procured by GSO. However, once installed, GSO will not change these
coverings based on personal tastes of occupants. Adequate window
coverings include: interior blinds, draperies and sheers. Exterior
roller blinds are not considered "adequate window coverings".
Two wardrobes per adult and one per child.
Appliances and electrical equipment will include one stove, one
freezer, one refrigerator, one washer, one dryer and one vacuum
cleaner. Most units have dishwashers provided by the landlord.
Two transformers for appliances.
Snow shovel if appropriate.
Lawn furniture: table and four chairs, lawn umbrella.
Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.
The following furnishings are not provided:
Prior to installation of any personally owned appliances, GSO
must be contacted for approval. Any unusual costs involving either
installation or demounting will be borne by the employee;
Replacement incandescent bulbs;
Small household appliances such as toasters, toaster ovens, coffee
pots, irons, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, radios,
televisions, stereo equipment, etc.;
Bedspreads, pillows or shower curtains;
Gardening and lawn care tools;
The climate in Bratislava is temperate and is similar to the climate
found in many parts of the northern part of the United States.
Houses are well heated, but not air-conditioned, and few windows
have screens. There are no special restrictions on furnishings that
may be brought to post.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:22 AM
Slovakia has dependable electricity, gas and water. Arriving
employees should not have problems due to lack of utilities. All
residences have been tested for water purity and are within
international standards. Utility bills are sent monthly and the
final usage bill (balancing the pre-paid bill with actual usage) is
sent either quarterly or biannually.
Telephone service is also dependable, but toll rates to other
parts of Europe, the United States and other continents are more
expensive. The telephone company does not provide itemized phone
bills unless a customer requests it. The cost for an itemized copy
is about $1. It is also possible to use long distance calling cards
for calls to the US and it is cheaper. Calling cards GLOBAL PHONE or
TELECARD can be purchased at any post office around the country.
Some employees use the internet to speak with friends and families,
as many programs are free.
The voltage for electricity is 220v operating at 50 cycles.
Employees should ship step-down transformers in their household
effects if they anticipate that they will need more than the two
transformers that the Embassy provides. Small appliances using 220v
are available locally and have a wide range of prices.
Food Last Updated: 5/13/2005 7:41 AM
Bratislava has several large supermarkets whose stocks vary
according to the season, but it is possible to find most things
locally. During the spring and summer there are several large
markets, and many small vegetable and fruit stands and two markets
in the city where it is possible to find locally produced fruits and
vegetables. During the winter the supermarkets have a very limited
supply of fresh, appetizing perishables. Some employee families pay
premium prices for fruits and vegetables shipped to vegetable and
fruit stands during cold weather. Ground beef and premium beef cuts
tend to be difficult to find. It is common to see Austrian and
German food products available. Bread and sweets abound in the small
shops. Stores stock a large assortment of pastries filled with
custard or chocolate and are generally not as sweet as most American
sweets. During the summer there is an abundant supply of ice cream.
The larger western-style supermarkets maintain refrigerated
sections for meat and dairy products. Local meat shops will store
meat and raw sausages in non-refrigerated sections. Vegetables,
fruits, breads and pastries are stored uncovered in open bins. Food
sanitation reform has recently received attention from the
Additionally, fresh foods may be purchased in Hainburg or Kittsee,
Austria across the border all year round at higher prices. Hard to
find American items may also be found in Austria. Due to
Bratislava’s central location, employees often take advantage of the
three military commissaries available in Germany and Italy, a five
to eight hour drive away.
There are numerous cafes and restaurants throughout Bratislava.
They are particularly concentrated around the Old Town area. The
variety and number of ethnic and international cuisine is limited.
Most restaurants offer traditional Slovak food. This consists of
schnitzel or pork and/or chicken in a cream sauce. Typical
accoutrements include potatoes and fried vegetables. The winter
months limit the quality and quantity of salads. Employees with
special dietary needs (e.g. kosher, vegetarian) may feel limited.
Clothing Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:38 AM
Apparel worn in Bratislava is much like that in the Northeastern
United States. Most Slovaks dress conservatively. The younger people
dress in a more avante-garde style. “Informal” is the most widely
used term for social functions. Depending on the event this
generally means no jeans, and slacks and dress shirt for men and a
cocktail dress or slacks for women. Wardrobes should include warm
winter clothing: a warm coat, scarves, hats, gloves, and warm,
thick-soled boots. As in other Central European posts, there are
several balls throughout the winter for which formal wear is
desirable for mid-level and senior officers and their spouses (e.g.,
tuxedo for men; and a long formal dress for women).
Many Americans use the internet for at least part of their
clothing needs. However, Bratislava has plenty of places to shop to
fit a plethora of price ranges. Malls, Old Town boutiques, and the
pedestrian shopping street provide a reasonable selection of Western
European clothing and locally manufactured clothing. Less than a
half-hour away there is a designer outlet mall in Parndorf, Austria.
Also some residents shop in Vienna for a greater variety. Prices
tend to be higher in Austria than the U.S.
The American discount culture has yet to catch on, so shoes and
other regularly priced items are more expensive. VAT refunds
combined with sales, however, make clothes very affordable. Styles
may also differ from what is popular in America.
Men Last Updated: 5/12/2005 10:14 AM
There is a limited supply of extra large men’s sizes. Men’s
underwear generally will not have a fly. Anything imported from
America is overpriced. European sizing tends to be smaller than the
U.S. so a large here is an American medium.
Women Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:37 AM
Most women will find low-heeled shoes practical for Bratislava’s
cobblestone streets. Good quality women’s shoes are available in the
stores here, but you may want to bring a supply of walking shoes.
Women do not go to the grocery store in sweats. There are
difficulties finding a large selection in the following items: large
women’s size shoes (U.S. size 9.5 and above), larger dress sizes for
women (above size 12), and small junior size clothes in more
conservative styles. Anything imported from America is overpriced.
European sizing tends to be smaller than the U.S. so a large here is
an American medium.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:39 AM
European-manufactured toiletries are available in Bratislava in
ample supply at many of the stores like Tesco, Carrefour and
Hypernova and other shops such as Billa, Delvita, and smaller shops
all over Slovakia. Metro is where one can purchase dairy products,
toiletries, beverages, and canned and frozen food in bulk. Cosmetics
are available in a myriad of prices, however American brand names
are more unusual. Cigarettes and name-brand liquors are available in
the duty free stores and in local shops at reasonable prices. Good
quality household cleaning supplies are available in all major
supermarkets. Bratislava has three military bases about five to
eight hours away in Germany or Italy; if there is a product brand
you are partial to (like toilet paper) you may be able to get it
there. In the short-term if families require “must haves,” bring an
extra supply in your household goods and check out the local economy
when you arrive at post.
U.S. postage stamps may be purchased at post at the mailroom.
There is also a supply of free brown wrapping paper for mailing
packages. Wrapping paper, cards and ribbon are available in local
stores at low prices. Paper, envelopes, and padded envelopes are
available, but are in metric sizes. Bring a supply of good quality
bonded paper for personal communications that require quality
Parents with babies should bring everything required if they
prefer certain American manufactured items. There is a large IKEA in
Bratislava which stocks good quality children’s furniture and baby
furniture. Another option is to drive to the nearby military bases.
They offer good selections on baby furniture as well as baby
clothing. European manufactured baby foods are in ready supply and
In general, party supplies can be purchased locally. If items are
not found in Bratislava, try Austria. It is possible to order
novelty items through mail-order catalogs from the States. Our DPO
mail system makes shopping American stores over the internet quite
Beautiful glassware, crystal and pottery are manufactured and
available locally at good prices. Closets are rare in the houses
here, as elsewhere in Europe. GSO does provide wardrobes within
reason upon request. Some Americans also may wish to ship barbecues,
hibachis and lawn chairs if they do not want to buy them here.
Christmas is a wonderful time in Slovakia. Artificial Christmas
trees may be brought or purchased here. Many personnel buy live
Christmas trees, which habitually appear about 7-10 days before
Christmas at the Christmas Market, vegetable markets or grocery
Basic Services Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:00 AM
Service can be slow and sometimes spare parts and materials are
difficult to find. Embassy workmen can handle most day-to-day
problems in U. S. Government employees’ homes. Most routine auto
maintenance can be taken care of satisfactorily, if American
specification parts are not required. Post recommends bringing an
adequate supply of commonly needed American specification auto parts
if you own an American specification automobile. Some auto supplies
are available at the military bases.
Men and women at post use the local beauty shops located
throughout the city. Haircuts, perms, treatments, etc. are generally
less expensive than in the U.S. Good quality European hair products
are used, but methods and techniques used by hairdressers may differ
somewhat from those in the West. Facials, manicures, pedicures, and
massages are plentiful, good quality, and at low prices. Shops
charge for each item used. For example, they charge a minimal fee
for both shampoo and conditioner.
There is a U.S. washer and dryer located in the Embassy for TDY/community
use. Drycleaners are dispersed throughout the town; each Tesco has
pre-pay services near or inside each store.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:42 AM
Help for cleaning, cooking, shopping, childcare, gardening,
driving, etc., is widely available. Payment and fees are negotiable,
and are very reasonable compared to prices in the U.S.
The employer must be willing to train the employee so that the
work can meet his or her standards. Many younger Slovaks have
sufficient English skills. Most Slovaks are not familiar with
Western appliances so care should be taken to train employees in
their use. If possible, try to retain the domestics of your
Household help costs between 100 and 120 SK per hour in
Bratislava, less in surrounding towns. Slovak insurance for social
security and taxes should only be paid if the staff is full-time.
Management should be able to help with tax information.
There are several agencies in Bratislava that find and train
domestic help, but the prices are usually higher than hiring an
employee directly. Other good resources for finding domestic help
are the CLO coordinator, the International Women's Club of
Bratislava or the ex-pat community.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:43 AM
Slovakia’s population is largely Roman Catholic and there are
many Catholic services conducted in Slovak in Bratislava. The next
largest denomination is Lutheran. Several other Protestant
denominations as well as Jewish, Eastern Orthodox and Mormon (LDS)
congregations are also present. There are several international
churches conducting services in English, including Catholic,
Lutheran and Baptist. Other churches provide translation
At Post Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:46 AM
QSI International School of Bratislava opened in September 1994 as a
private non-profit educational organization. The School offers
English language instruction for students from Preschool, age 2,
through secondary school. QSI offers the International Baccalaureate
Program for High School age children. The School is accredited in
the U.S. by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
The school has approximately 200 students and enjoys a student to
staff ratio of 4 to 1.
The School term is from the last week of August though the second
week in June. The curriculum includes English, Math, Cultural
Studies, Science, Foreign Language, Music, Art, Drama, Swimming and
Physical Education. Numerous activities are available, including:
soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, dance, chorus, chess club,
QSI is located in Karlova Ves, a 15-minute drive from the town
center. A bus service is available to transport children to and from
The British International School (BIS), established in 1997,
provides high quality English education for the expatriate and local
communities of Bratislava. BIS offers instruction for students from
Preschool, age 2, through secondary school. The School is a member
of the Nord Anglia Education Group, the leading private sector
provider of educational services in Britain. The school is a member
of the European Council of international Schools and is also an
accredited center of the University of Cambridge Local Examinations
Syndicate for the International General Certificate of Secondary
Education (IGCSE) examinations.
After school activities include soccer, basketball, judo, dance,
choir, art, a camping club, computer club and other seasonal
The school term is from the first week of September through the
first week in July.
The school is located on two sites in Dúbravka, a 15-minute drive
from downtown Bratislava. A bus service is available to transport
children to and from school.
Preschools are numerous and very good in Bratislava. The main
English language preschool that Embassy children have used is called
Brilliant Stars. In addition, there are numerous Slovak preschools
that embassy children have attended that are excellent. At that age,
the children are able to pick up Slovak language skills that will
come in handy for the rest of the tour. There is no shortage of good
preschools in Bratislava in numerous languages.
Away From Post Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:47 AM
Post has a “school away from post” allowance for all grades. At
present there is at least one child attending high school away from
post. The schools available in Slovakia do not provide special
education programs. The best contact for information about schools
used by American students living abroad is available through:
The Office of Overseas Schools
United States Department of State
Washington, D. C. 20520
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/11/2005 10:57 AM
American students in Slovakia pursue academic work under the
auspices of various foundations and privately funded programs. Among
the facilities is City University Bratislava www.cub.sk, which uses
Distance Learning teaching methods: books, audio and videotapes, and
computer software. Methods used are based on similar correspondence
sourses used at The Open University located in the UK. City
University Bellevue, Wasthington also has campuses in Slovakia
www.cityu.edu. There are three branch locations: Bratislava, Trencin
and Poprad. Instruction is in English and most of the faculty come
from America. Several universities conduct courses in English
including the University of Economics in Bratislava (UEB)
www.euba.sk, , Comenius University (CU) www.uniba.sk, and the Slovak
Technical University www.stuba.sk.
Additionally, the following schools have English language
curriculum in Vienna: Webster University, Diplomatic Academy of
Vienna, Danube Cultural Institute in Vienna (DCIV), International
Business School of Styria, International University, Open
University, Lauder Business School, and Vienna International Fine
Art Academy (VIFAA). Their offerings include many weekend seminars
of historical and cultural interest.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:05 AM
There are many hiking paths around Bratislava, which are heavily
used by people out for a stroll, hikers, and runners. Cycling and
in-line skating are popular here, and there are some bike paths
where children can ride safely. Outdoor tennis is also very popular
in Slovakia. There are numerous courts, but most have to be reserved
for a set time during the entire season (May-October) at a
reasonable price. Indoor courts are more difficult to find, but do
exist and are available during the winter. Bratislava and the
surrounding area have several nine-hole golf courses and driving
ranges. There is also an increasing number under construction and
operating throughout the country. Employees often play golf in
nearby Hainburg, Austria. Many large companies host annual golf
tournaments. In 2002 a new 18-hole championship golf course opened
in Tale, about three hours away.
There are several indoor pools offering swimming all year round.
There are fitness centers and gymnasiums available at various
locations around the city. Variety and quality of equipment may be
limited. Through the International Women’s Club numerous fitness
classes are available, including Aerobics, tennis, hiking, tai chi,
etc. The first weekend of October there is a world-class marathon
run in Košice, Slovakia. It is the second longest continuously run
marathon in the world.
Both cross-country and downhill skiing is possible all over Slovakia
and in locations close to Bratislava. The Carpathian Mountains
provide the full range of possibilities with high, steep runs in the
Tatras and Fatras, and gentle sloping runs in the low Carpathians.
The most popular spectator sports are soccer and ice hockey.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:06 AM
Slovakia is a beautiful country to visit, although knowledge of
the language greatly facilitates getting around; many Slovaks
outside of large towns do not speak English. There are many lakes
for boating (motor boats are forbidden) and swimming, mountain
streams, and large rivers to hike along, and numerous fascinating
caves to explore. Slovakia has more castles per capita than any
other country in Europe. Other historical monuments also abound.
National parks and historical sites do not open until May 1 due to
the possibility of snow in March and April. Entire towns are
constructed of traditional wooden houses, and cathedrals are filled
with treasures from the past.
The largest impediment to touring Slovakia is that only 313
kilometers of highway have been constructed. The highway system is
almost entirely located in the Western part of the country along the
borders of Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. The secondary roads
often wind through small villages and may suffer traffic delays.
Secondary roads may also be poorly maintained compared to U.S.
Entertainment Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:05 AM
Opera has a long tradition in Bratislava www.bratislava.sk, and
the Renaissance-style Slovak National Theatre maintains a lively
schedule of performances annually from September through June. Just
opposite the theater, in the neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque
building called the Reduta, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
performs an annual series of concerts, also from September through
June. Tickets to both the opera and the symphony are readily
available at reasonable prices. The summer months are filled with
the music of outdoor concerts, drama performances, and puppet shows,
most of which are free, during the annual July-August Cultural
Summer concert series. All operatic performances are in Slovak or
have Slovak titles. Even with competent Slovak skills, it is
recommended one study the story of the ballet or opera one will
There are several movie theaters in Bratislava. Many are in the
malls, including an I-Max theatre. These theatres show American
movies in English with Slovak subtitles. Movies appear about the
same time to a few months behind theatres in America. Generally,
animated children’s movies are dubbed into Slovak; however, theatres
may show special screenings in English. Video purchases and rentals
are available, but these are almost always dubbed into Slovak and
require a European VCR.
Social Activities Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:03 AM
Many opportunities exist in Bratislava to make contact with the
expatriate community. Embassy personnel, business representatives
and journalists often entertain each other at informal dinners,
receptions, and theater performances. The American Chamber of
Commerce also provides a venue for economic and commercial personnel
to pursue business contacts.
The Embassy CLO arranges evening and daytime social outings for
the diplomatic community such as wine tastings, dinners, tours of a
ceramic factory, game nights, shopping excursions, spousal lunches
and other family oriented activities.
The International Women’s Club offers numerous activities and
opportunities for foreign women living in Bratislava to get
acquainted with each other and with English speaking Slovaks.
Various interest groups within the club provide opportunities for
women to tour cultural facilities, participate in arts and crafts,
practice foreign language skills, and participate in a variety of
sports and other activities.
In general, social relationships with Slovak citizens are not
difficult to establish whether or not one possesses Slovak language
skills. The Slovaks are very warm and receptive to someone reaching
out to make friends.
Official Functions Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:12 AM
Because the Slovak Republic is only twelve years old, the
diplomatic community is still growing. Currently there are 39
embassies in Bratislava and almost 25 honorary Consulates. Suitable
residences are difficult to find and there is a scarcity of large
chanceries. Consequently, few large official functions occur outside
of National Day celebrations. Most embassies host official functions
at local hotels, restaurants and other facilities.
Senior Embassy officials and their spouses can expect a busy
official social life in Bratislava. It is not unusual to participate
in official functions several nights a week and, on occasion, to
have more than one function a night. Lunchtime functions from
1200-1400 hrs. and cocktails from 1800-2000 hrs. are common.
Business cards, both professional and person, may be obtained
locally at reasonable prices. Local printing is good quality.
Special Information Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:08 AM
Private language tutoring is widely accessible. Comenius
University has a program for teaching foreigners the Slovak
language. Please see www.uniba.sk/e_index.htm for details. Post
contract with local Slovak language teachers for employees and
eligible family members. This service is provided free of charge.
Post Orientation Program
When arriving at post, an Embassy sponsor will help with the
practical side of being settled and familiarization with Bratislava
followed by an orientation briefing given by the CLO coordinator.
The CLO in coordination with the Management Section has prepared a
welcome packet with information about the city, and maps are
available. The staff sponsor and section heads will provide
briefings on Embassy activities. The Regional Security Officer gives
new arrivals a security briefing. Each September CLO arranges an
orientation luncheon for embassy spouses.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:15 AM
Most arriving employees choose to fly to Vienna, due to its
proximity to Bratislava. Several American carriers serviceVienna's
Schwechat airport with code-sharing arrangements with European
airlines. Delta, United and Northwestern are three airlines that fly
into Vienna. There are usually several flights daily from the East
Coast of the U.S. using one of the American carriers. The Embassy
will provide official transportation to all new arrivals.
Employees should make sure that they bring sufficient appropriate
clothing in their accompanied baggage. In August, temperatures can
vary from 10 °C to 35 °C (50°F to 95°F), and snow can fall as late
as April. Depending on the point of origin, the normal time for
delivery of unaccompanied airfreight is about three weeks after an
employee’s arrival at post and six to eight weeks for surface
freight. Unaccompanied air freight and surface shipments should be
U.S. Embassy Bratislava
Hviezdoslavovo Namestie 4
Slovak Republic via ELSO
Customs, Duties, and Passage Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:49 AM
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:49 AM
Employees assigned to the Slovak Republic do not need a visa. The
Embassy will notify the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the
employee has arrived at post. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will
then issue a residency card. This card, in conjunction with an
employee's passport, is used to show status within Slovakia and for
exit and reentry into the country. At present, U.S. citizens do not
need visas for entry into any of the countries neighboring Slovakia,
except for Ukraine.
The only weight restrictions on unaccompanied airfreight and
surface shipments are those that are contained in the employee's TM
4. There are no special charges, quotas, waivers or exemptions
needed for these shipments. The restrictions on automobiles are
currently being adjusted. As of this time post is working with the
Slovak government to find out what the new diplomatic automobile
restrictions will be.
Passage Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:48 AM
There are no special restrictions on the free passage of
individuals and goods among countries in Central Europe, other than
those that are generally known - drugs, contraband, weapons, etc.
There are no inoculations and special tests that employees must take
when traveling between counties in the region
Pets Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:48 AM
Rabies shots must be current, not less than one month and not
more than one year old, for entry of a pet shipped by air to Vienna.
A veterinarian must issue a valid International Certificate of
Health within ten days before your arrival in Vienna. As long as
your pet has the above documentation, no quarantine restrictions are
required. Veterinarian services are available in Bratislava, and
most of the veterinarians speak English. For travel within the EU,
your pet needs a current EU Pet Passport. These may be purchased
from a local veterinarian. Pet food is more expensive in Europe in
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:24 AM
Employees intending to ship firearms and ammunition to Slovakia
or to purchase them after arrival must first obtain specific
authorization from the Chief of Mission through the Post Security
Office. Please advise the make and caliber of the weapon, and your
reason for wishing to bring it. All personally owned firearms must
be registered with Slovak Authorities. Approval may be granted for
only one of the following:
Handgun, not to exceed .38 caliber or 9 millimeter;
Rifle, not to exceed .45 caliber; and
Shotgun, 12 gauge or smaller and 100 rounds of ammunition.
The above-listed firearms may be shipped (but not mailed) to post
without an export license, provided they are consigned to U.S.
personnel for their personal use and not for resale.
Personnel leaving Slovakia to return to the United States, and
desiring to import weapons into the United States, should consult
the U.S. Customs office at Embassy Vienna concerning proper
documentation and procedures.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 5/11/2005
The Slovak Crown (Koruna) is the official currency. One koruna
contains 100 halier. Notes of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 5000
Koruna exist. Coins in circulation are of 1, 2, 5, 10 Koruna, and
10, 20, and 50 halier.
The Embassy cashier will perform accommodations for permanently
assigned personnel and official visitors. Slovak Crowns can be
withdrawn from numerous ATM’s (bankomats) located throughout the
city. The bankomat will work with your U.S. debit or credit card and
provides a favorable exchange rate. In addition, currency can be
exchanged at any bank, hotel, or at the currency exchange booths
around the city. Credit cards are widely accepted in stores,
restaurants, and hotels, in Bratislava. Many automated teller
machines accept Most, Plus and Cirrus debit cards.
Common practice is to tip up to 10%, depending on the level of
The metric system of weights and measures is used in Slovakia.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:23
U.S. diplomats must pay a 19% VAT (value added tax), but it is
refundable. Due to reciprocity, there is no maximum limit for VAT
refunds for U.S. representatives in Slovakia. There is, however a
minimum. Receipts must total at least 1000 SKK to qualify for the
The VAT for fuel for one car per accredited diplomat is
refundable. The consumption tax for fuel is also refundable.
VAT is refundable for automobile purchases; however, the cars
must be in country for three years after registration or the VAT
must be refunded if the vehicle is sold to a non-diplomat. As of
January 1, 2005 two cars may be purchased per two years
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 5/17/2005 9:03 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
A Concise History of Slovakia, Elena Mannová (ed.), hard cover,
354 pp. ISBN 80-88880-42-4. A history of Slovakia, capturing the
basic lines and problem areas of historical development in the
present territory of the Slovak Republic. Emphasis is placed on
long-term continuity or discontinuity of political systems, elites,
historical consciousness and so on, integration into wider units and
exchanges of cultural influences between the individual ethnic
Slovak History Chronology and Lexicon, Dusan Skvarna and spol.,
384 pages, hard cover. ISBN: 80-08-00400-2. A history of Slovakia in
two parts: The chronology of the Slovak history from ancient times
up to the modern age and a lexicon of 330 key words explaining the
important events of the Slovak history. It also contains an index
and a genealogy of the Arpad and Habsburg Houses as well as a list
of rulers and presidents on the Slovak territory.
Changes of Changes (Society and Politics in Slovakia in the 20th
Century), Lubomír Lipták, Tvrdá väzba., 167 str. ISBN 80-88880-50-5.
Views on the modernization of society in Slovakia in the 20th
century, development of the urban middle class, civil society, and
the national movement as part of the moderization processes. The
author combines historical analyses with approaches from ethnology,
sociology and political science to examine the collective memory of
Statistical Yearbook of the Slovak Republic 2004, Slovak Academy
of Sciences, Statistical publication covering the last five-year
period with, selected social and economical indicators in long term
series, published and updated annually, includes CD-ROM.
A brief history of Slovakia is available at
Resources for up-to-date news include the following. Unless
indicated, all are in the Slovak language.
Daily news publications (none published Sundays or holidays): Sme
(perhaps the most-respected newspaper, www.sme.sk), Nový cas
(widest-circulation newspaper, tabloid, brief articles with some
serious news, heavy on gossip, www.bleskovky.sk), Pravda (serious
newspaper, tied with Sme for highest circulation among serious
Weekly news publications: The Slovak Spectator (English-language,
summaries of news of the previous week, travel and culture tips,
www.slovakspectator.sk), Týzden (serious news and commentary,
conservative slant, www.tyzden.sk), Plus 7 Dni (serious news as well
as celebrity gossip, lifestyle articles, www.plus7dni.sk), Live
(serious news, celebrities, fashion, sports), Formát (mostly news,
travel, lifestyle articles)
Local Holidays Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:47 AM
Slovakia observes the following official holidays:
Slovak Republic Day 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Good Friday The Friday before Easter Day
Easter Monday The Monday after Easter Day
Labor Day 1 May
End of the Second World War 8 May
St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day 5 July
Slovak National Uprising 29 August
Slovak Constitution Day 1 September
The Day of the Virgin Mary of Seven Sorrows 15 September
All Saints Day 1 November
Day of the Fight for Freedom & Democracy 17 November
Christmas Eve 24 December
Christmas Day 25 December
St. Stephen's Day 26 December