Business Travel by US Dep. of State

A. Business Customs

Business practice and etiquette in the Slovak Republic is a cross between that of western Europe and the United States on the one hand, and eastern Europe and Russia on the other. Slovaks are generally well disposed towards Americans. While English as a business language is increasingly accepted in the Bratislava area, German is more common throughout the country. Russian is widely understood but may not always be welcomed. Many, but by no means all, Slovak companies have English speakers among their top managers; U.S. business representatives should be prepared to do business through interpreters and allow for the possibility of occasional misunderstandings.

Decision making in a company is often restricted to a very few, if not just one, person. Even relatively minor decisions may require the approval of a high level official. Appointments should be made well in advance with confirmations made prior to scheduled appointments.

Titles and positions (e.g., "Ing." for Engineer) are highly regarded and routinely appear on business cards.

Business people occasionally have difficulty in receiving replies to letter or fax correspondence. Often mail or faxes do not reach recipients in a timely manner. Business people are encouraged to follow up with correspondence to ensure contact with the intended recipients. As telecommunications standards remain well below those in the United States, calls or faxes may require repeated efforts.

Successful business in Slovakia generally requires the establishment of a good personal relationship and a feeling of mutual trust. Meetings with Slovak business representatives typically include a welcoming toast of an alcoholic beverage such as slivovica (plum brandy) or borovicka (similar to gin). General social conversation prior to business is the norm, and launching directly into business may impede the development of a good personal relationship with the Slovak business partner.

After initial meetings, written summaries of goals, objectives, and points of agreement or disagreement are encouraged to minimize misunderstandings between business parties.

B. Travel Advisory and Visas

There have been no travel advisories issued for the Slovak Republic. Americans are allowed to enter the country for 30 days on a tourist passport without a visa. Individuals who wish to stay between 31 and 180 days must apply for a short term permit either at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic or in-country at the Borders and Aliens Police (BAP). The short term permit is for tourist purposes only. Individuals who wish to stay in Slovakia for longer than 180 days must submit an application for a long term stay permit (ziadost' o vydanie povolenia na dlhodoby pobyt) to the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, Consular section, 2201 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 250, Washington D.C. 20007 (Tel: 202-965-5160 extension 3). Meeting the requirements of Slovak law to obtain a long term stay permit can take several months with health and police checks, among other things, needed to complete the process. Permits are granted for not more than one year with the possibility of repeated extension provided that an application for a renewal of the permit is submitted at least 14 days prior to the expiration of the valid permit. It is strongly recommended that American companies with foreign representatives contact the nearest Slovak embassy or consulate for further details.

C. Holidays

Click here for holidays that are observed in the Slovak Republic from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 1999

D. Business Infrastructure

Transportation: Slovakia's transportation system is well organized if somewhat old. Bratislava's international airport serves other major cities in Slovakia, as well as flights to or from Prague and other parts of eastern Europe. Most travelers prefer to use Vienna's Schwechat airport and take the airport bus or automobile to Bratislava. Overland travel by train is reliable. Travel by automobile is also possible, although -- due to many narrow two lane roads -- travelers often find that car travel can take longer than expected.

Slovakia imposes a "road user fee" for certain roads. The fee applies to all Slovaks and foreigners. The yearly fee varies with engine size. Engine sizes that are 1,600 cubic centimeters or less cost 200 Slovak crowns (approximately USD 6.00). Engines over 1,600 cc cost 400 SK (approximately USD 12.00). Trucks and buses from 1,000 to 2,000 SK, depending on the weight (USD 30.00 - 40.00). Stickers can be purchased at border crossings, gas stations and post offices. If use of a rental car is planned, try to rent a vehicle that already has a sticker showing that the road fee has been paid.

Taxi service is readily available. Drivers seldom speak English. Potential difficulties may arise from the confusing system of multiple prices (based on distance, location, and whether the traveler is Slovak or foreign). Foreigners should confirm a price in advance. It is advisable to call for taxis rather than catch them on the street, as radio-service companies are quite reliable. All major cities have trams and bus services that are convenient and inexpensive.

Telecommunications: Slovakia is slowly upgrading its antiquated telecommunication system. Crossed lines and uncompleted exchanges are common, and fax communication is unreliable due to low-grade connections. Telex services are available, but not commonly used. Other data communication services (e-mail, Internet) are quickly expanding throughout the country as another form of communication.

Accommodations and food: Business accommodations are available but limited. Hotel standards are generally lower than those of western Europe and the United States, though prices may be high, especially in major cities. It is legal and not uncommon for foreigners to be charged a higher rate than Slovaks. The food is varied and of good quality, mixing Slovak, Austrian and Hungarian styles. Food prices in restaurants are generally not expensive, averaging about $5-15 per meal. Travelers to Slovakia should note that while major credit cards are increasingly accepted at major hotels and restaurants in Bratislava, acceptance lags in other parts of the country.