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Preface Last Updated: 5/12/2005 9:30 AM

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 first president.

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 woodland regions.

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
SMER Direction
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 Judicial Council.

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 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, the Slovak Philharmonic, the Slovak National Museum, and the Slovak National Gallery

Opera has a long tradition in Bratislava, 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 For a complete look at Slovak museums, visit Other important heritage sites include the traditional wooden churches in Eastern Slovakia.

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 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 (,,

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 data).

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 Europe.

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 and minerals.


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 services.

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 See also, 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 spaces.

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 highly recommended.

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 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 Regional bus information is found at and On all websites look for the British flag for English translations.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/12/2005 10:03 AM

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 and 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 and 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 phone.

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 will work.

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 normal.

All the important information is found on the web sites:,,, and

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 follows:

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 memberships.

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 some bookstores.

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 8:21 AM

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 details.

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 Slovakia.

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 sites.

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 proposed trip.

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 Bratislava.

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 Defense Cooperation.

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 dwellings

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 parquet floors;
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;
Surge protectors;
Gardening and lawn care tools;
Electrical generators;
Central air-conditioning.
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 government.

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 8.5”x11” paper.

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 good quality.

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 easy.

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 stores.

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 predecessor.

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


Dependent Education

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, etc.

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 school.

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 activities.

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
(703) 235-9600

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, 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 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), , Comenius University (CU), and the Slovak Technical University

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. roads.

Entertainment Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:05 AM

Opera has a long tradition in Bratislava, 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 attend.

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

Language Tutoring

Private language tutoring is widely accessible. Comenius University has a program for teaching foreigners the Slovak language. Please see 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 addressed to:

U.S. Embassy Bratislava
Hviezdoslavovo Namestie 4
Bratislava 81102,
Slovak Republic via ELSO
Antwerp, Belgium

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 general.

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 11:23 AM

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 service.

The metric system of weights and measures is used in Slovakia.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/11/2005 11:23 AM

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 VAT refund.

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 unofficial publications.

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 groups.

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 the Slovaks.

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,, Nový cas (widest-circulation newspaper, tabloid, brief articles with some serious news, heavy on gossip,, Pravda (serious newspaper, tied with Sme for highest circulation among serious papers,

Weekly news publications: The Slovak Spectator (English-language, summaries of news of the previous week, travel and culture tips,, Týzden (serious news and commentary, conservative slant,, Plus 7 Dni (serious news as well as celebrity gossip, lifestyle articles,, 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

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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