Slovakia Basics

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The Basics

Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from March to October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Two round-pin plugs are used, similar to other European countries.

Money: The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. The Euro replaced the Koruna (SKK) as the official currency in 2009. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at almost all hotels and restaurants in popular tourist areas such as Bratislava, and shops are increasingly accepting credit cards, but it is best to check beforehand. ATMs accepting international cards are common.

Currency Exchange Rates

EUR1.00 = USD 1.11GBP 0.86CAD 1.45AUD 1.62ZAR 16.03EUR 1.00NZD 1.67
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Slovak is the official language, which is closely related to Czech. English and German are the most commonly spoken foreign languages, although English is not widely understood outside Bratislava.

Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. A visa is required.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid upon arrival, but no visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from Slovakia. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no vaccinations required for travel to Slovakia. No special precautions are necessary, except for visitors intending to spend a prolonged period in the forests and rural areas, in which case a vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis should be considered. Slovakia has a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, providing emergency healthcare on the same terms as Slovak nationals. EU travellers should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them. However, it's still recommended that visitors take out comprehensive medical insurance, including mountain evacuation. Hospitals are available in all major towns, and pharmacies and clinics exist in the tourist areas and smaller towns, but little English is spoken.

Tipping: Ten percent tips are becoming increasingly common in restaurants, and Slovaks may also round up bills to the nearest euro. Taxi fares are usually rounded up by an extra one or two euros.

Safety Information: Slovakia is generally a safe country to visit and most visitors will experience a trouble-free holiday. In the cities though, it's wise to be careful of personal possessions due to incidents of pick-pocketing and bag snatching, particularly in popular tourist areas and on public transport.

Local Customs: Visitors should maintain eye contact with locals when talking or shaking hands, as this is interpreted as a sign of honesty and sincerity. Knowing even a few words in Slovak will be well received, and guests are expected to remove their shoes when entering someone's home. Rowdy behaviour and loud noise are not allowed between 10pm and 6am; travellers must carry passports with them at all times for identification purposes. Bratislava has become a popular destination for stag parties and boisterous tourists have been fined or imprisoned for causing a public disturbance.

Business: Slovakians tend to be fairly formal in their business dealings, particularly the older generation, and women may encounter some chauvinism. The normal greeting is a handshake. Although business may be conducted in English or German, an interpreter should be arranged and all written documents should be translated into Slovakian. Punctuality and politeness are always appreciated. Most businesses open Monday to Friday from about 9am to 5pm.

Communications: The international dialling code for Slovakia is +421. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). Network coverage is very good and travellers will only need to bring a passport to purchase a local SIM card. Most hotels and cafes have wifi, though the connection may not extend beyond the reception or dining area in rural guesthouses.

Duty Free: Passengers arriving from EU countries do not need to pay duty on any items provided they are for personal use or intended as gifts. Travellers to Slovakia from non-EU countries do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 4 litres of wine or 1 litre of distilled liquor and spirits.