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Slovak Republic (Slovakia)

If you’re travelling to the Slovak Republic, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to take normal precautions.

Consular Advice for groups taking weekend breaks in Bratislava

  • Be aware that groups of tourists may be tempting to pickpockets so ensure that your valuables are stored securely. Storing passports or wallets in pockets or in other places where they can be seen could make you a target. You should be particularly cautious at airports, bus stations and train stations but also in pubs, nightclubs and restaurants as these are the locations most frequently targeted by pick pockets;
  • If you are planning to go to a night club, be aware that even very safe cities can become dangerous at night. Not all night clubs are well run. Some bouncers have been known to put whole groups out on the street at the first sign of any trouble and this could expose you to the risk of being set upon even if you are an innocent bystander. If you see any trouble, whether or not it involves you or your friends, put your own safety first and leave immediately.
  • Reports of cards being used to obtain money fraudulently are not unknown. Protect yourself by ensuring that your card is within your sight at all times and your pin number is hidden. If you are told that a payment was not authorised, ask for the receipt and check that this is actually the case, do not continue to authorise payments using the same card and code as you may be inadvertently authorising multiple payments.
  • If you are staying in a shared room in a hostel, make sure that your valuables are secured in a safe. There have been cases in which travellers have awoken to discover that they have been robbed of their passports, money and other valuables overnight.
  • Make sure that the taxi company you are using is reputable. You can ask hotels or other accommodation providers to call you a taxi from a reputable company or alternatively, you can do an internet search to find numbers of well-established English speaking taxi companies operating locally that you can call to bring you to your destination. In Bratislava, calling a taxi from a reputable company is not only safer but also less expensive than hailing a taxi on the street.
  • When travelling on buses and trains, check whether you must validate your ticket. If validation is required, failure to do so will result in substantial fines and no exceptions will be made for foreigners;
  • Be aware that drinking on the street is forbidden in Bratislava except in clearly delineated areas such as terraces during the summer. Noise is also forbidden in Bratislava after 10pm. The Slovak Police will not hesitate to impose penalties on supporters who break the law.
  • If you decide to go to a party, do not go alone and make sure that you know where you will be and that you have the means to get home independently and safely.
  • Remember that 112 is the common emergency number that can be used anywhere in the EU should you need urgent assistance (ambulance, fire and rescue, police).

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Slovakia by dialling:

Police: 158

Fire: 150

Ambulance Service: 155

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Slovakia is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Slovakia but you should take sensible precautions. Particular care should be taken in crowded places such as nightclubs, bars and cafes.

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place 
  • You must carry your passport with you at all times as identification. Keep it safe in a zipped up pocket or secure bag, and keep the details separately in case you lose it.  You should also leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Slovakia, report it to the local police immediately. The number for emergency services in Slovakia is 112. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Bratislava if you need help.

Driving

The roads in Slovakia are modern and well maintained. If you are intending to drive, make sure that you are fully acquainted with the rules of the road as well as mandatory vehicle equipment and maintenance requirements such as winter tyres.

If you are planning to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught. The drink/driving limit in Slovakia is zero
  • Particular care should be taken on secondary roads which may not be cleared of snow and ice in winter

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Personal identification

You should carry your passport or passport card at all times as identification so we advise you to keep a separate photocopy of your passport and other ID in case you lose it.

Public Transport

When using public transport, particularly buses or trams, tickets must be validated immediately upon entering the bus or tram. Failure to do so can attract on the spot fines of €50 and inspectors will insist that the fine is paid irrespective of the circumstances.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol in unapproved public places such as squares and parks is prohibited in the Old Town area of Bratislava. There may be exceptions for seasonal markets (such as the Christmas Market) and outside seating areas of restaurants and bars.  But consuming alcohol (for example bought in a supermarket) in other public areas could lead to a fine of €33.

Antisocial behaviour

Making excessive noise between 10pm and 6am is against the law. Rowdy behaviour could attract the attention of the police. Bratislava has become a popular destination for stag parties and tourists have been fined or imprisoned for causing a public nuisance.

Illegal drugs

Do not get involved with drugs in any way. The penalties for smuggling, possession and use of drugs are severe.

Health

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

European Health Insurance Card

As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.

Apply for your EHIC and find out more information.

The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

You must have a valid machine readable Irish passport when entering and leaving Slovakia and you must carry your passport with you at all times as identification. Keep it safe and keep the details separately in case you lose it.  If you’re a tourist or short-term visitor, we recommend that you should also leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.