is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Consulate General in Bratislava. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Slovakia.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Slovakia country page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Slovakia at
Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s
report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime & Safety Situation
U.S. Department of State has assessed Bratislava as being a LOW-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
The general crime rate is below the U.S. national average. Most reports of
crime come from Old Town, and involve petty theft (e.g. purse snatching, cell
phone grabbing, pickpocketing), vehicle break-ins, or vandalism. The aggregation
of tourists in Old Town leads to the influx of criminal elements. Pickpockets
are professional, and are most active in the summer and during the holiday
season. They prefer locations like shopping centers, markets, public
transportation (in the vicinity of Old Town), areas near major hotels and
tourist sites, and overnight trains to Prague and Warsaw.
scout victims at trains stations, to include Hlavná Stanica and Petržalka.
While not a frequent occurrence, purse snatchings do occur. The most likely
targets for purse snatchings are newly arrived travelers unfamiliar with the
local environment. Purse-snatchers typically work in crowded areas and in
teams, allowing them to cut straps of purses and run away into a crowd. River
cruises have ports of call along the Danube River nearby the Old Town. This
this is how most tourists enter Slovakia. Normal precautionary measures in this
area should minimize risks. Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
gender-based violence is a concern, Slovakia statistically has a low rate of
sexual assaults. It is common to see women alone at night on the streets,
parks, or on public transportation. Still, there is safety in numbers as a
precautionary measure. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female
dining in restaurants, particularly at locations with outdoor seating in the
warmer months, do not hang handbags or suit coats on the backs of chairs.
Thieves can and will steal wallets and other valuables in the absence of
not common, automobile theft does occur. Many thieves transport stolen vehicles
to neighboring countries for resale. Preferred targets are up-market European
and American cars. Theft from cars is more common than theft of cars in
Bratislava, based on opportunity (e.g. unlocked doors and open windows).
Vandalism to vehicles may also occur, even on well-traveled streets.
2018, police reports suggest an increase in residential burglaries, to include
several of occupied residences. There have been incidents where thieves gained
access to residential parking garages, subsequently breaking into storage units
and vehicles. While still less likely than in other countries, this is a new
trend, as burglaries of occupied residences had been rare in Slovakia, to include
indigenous and foreign organized crime (OC) groups are well established. These
groups engage in legal and illegal businesses. Some crime figures have business
interests in Old Town. Power struggles within the OC syndicates do sometimes
occur, mostly outside of Old Town; on occasion, these can be violent. OC actors
do not target U.S. or other foreign individuals and tend to co-exist in the
tourist district, so as not to scare away tourist spending. OC activities include
trafficking in narcotics, persons, cigarettes, and weapons. These groups are
also involved in auto theft, financial fraud, gambling, prostitution, public
corruption, protection rackets, and cybercrime. Though uncommon, auto theft strongly
correlates to OC. Slovakia is actively fighting the trafficking of illicit
goods/people and illegal migration as part of its role in protecting the
European Union (EU) external border with Ukraine. Slovakia has also tightened
regulations regarding the sale and transfer of “demilitarized” weapons.
target tourists at nightclubs with OC ties. In the past, such establishments
have presented foreign customers with inflated bills and threatened those who
refuse to pay. They also spike drinks with disabling drugs and take the
impaired victims to ATMs and coerce them to withdraw funds until they empty
their accounts or the bank blocks the use of the card.
While not as endemic as in neighboring countries, rare cases of
credit card, internet, and ATM fraud have occurred within the past few years. Review
OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
is a concern, on par with most countries. Protect computer systems and
passwords using best practices and up-to-date antivirus software. Review OSAC’s
Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling
with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices
Road Safety and Road Conditions
are typically safe, though sometimes not well maintained. Four-lane highways
exist in and around Bratislava; however, most roads outside of built-up areas
have only two lanes. As a result, aggressive drivers can pose a serious hazard
when attempting to pass at unsafe speeds. Due to poor lighting and narrow,
winding roads, avoid nighttime driving outside of well-developed areas.
of aggressive drivers include continual horn honking, screaming at other
motorists, tailgating, and making rude hand gestures at other vehicles or
people. When such behaviors result in actual physical or vehicle-to-vehicle
altercations, aggressive driving can turn to road rage. Once it becomes
apparent that the aggressive actions of another driver are intentional, make
every attempt to avoid and distance oneself from them; take the same
precautions with erratic drivers.
November through March, there is often heavy snowfall; inadequate snow
clearance is common. Roads in the mountainous north are particularly prone to
hazardous conditions during the winter. Winters tires are mandatory in the
majority of the countries in the EU (review this
website for a list of those countries and the time period of when winter
tires are legally mandatory). Winter tires are only mandatory in Slovakia when
the weather conditions require them. Install winter tires as soon as the
temperature consistently dips below 50°F/10°C.
must use seatbelts and headlights at all times. It is illegal to use cellular
phones while driving. Children under 12 weighing less than 80 pounds must use a
car seat or a booster. You must have a motorcycle license and wear a helmet to
operate a motorized two-wheeled vehicle. Reflective safety vests and first aid
kits must be in each vehicle. The blood alcohol tolerance level is zero percent;
police stop cars randomly to perform breath tests. If you get a ticket, you can
pay the fine in cash on the spot to the officer. If you cannot pay the fine on
the spot, you will receive a notice to appear later at a police station, and
the fine will be higher. Reportedly, police sometimes target foreigners for
additional sums. You must buy an electronic vignette to use certain highways
and motorways; purchase it online.
Drivers require an International Driving Permit (IDP) prior to arrival to drive
OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
all valuables from vehicles, even if parked in a garage. At night, use a garage
if possible, or at least a lighted parking area on the street. Use vehicle
alarm systems or anti-theft devices.
Public Transportation Conditions
companies and rideshare services generally provide reliable, safe, and economical
services. Avoid independent cabs that do not display a company name
prominently. Remain alert to the potential for substantial overcharging by
taxis, particularly in areas tourists frequent. Expect higher charges when
hailing a cab from the street or a taxi stand. Radio-dispatched taxis are often
more reliable and affordable. The cheapest and best option is to call ahead and
negotiate a price before entering the cab. To avoid fluctuations in price and
the need to communicate with the driver, many use rideshare apps such as Uber,
Bolt, or Hop-In.
trolleybuses, and trams are mechanically safe and generally reliable. On public
transportation, you must validate a ticket upon entering the vehicle. The
ticket is valid for your entire journey. Major cities also offer tickets by SMS
message through a local telephone service provider. In most cities, you can buy
passes valid for periods ranging from 24 hours to one year. Children from six
to 15 years of age pay reduced fares. A ticket inspector will fine passengers
who are traveling without a valid ticket; inspectors board transportation at
random. The ticket inspector will have an identification card and must provide
a receipt for the fare.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Bratislava as being a LOW-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. There are no known terrorist organizations present in Slovakia.
There have been few incidents of homegrown “lone wolf” actors planning
terrorist incidents in the country. Since 2015, it is common for the Slovak
government to post additional police officers at government buildings,
diplomatic missions, and public venues during periods of heightened concern or
in response to regional events.
there are no known, specific threats to U.S. interests in Bratislava, U.S. nationals
and U.S. interests abroad remain at risk from ISIS, al-Qa’ida, their affiliated
organizations, and other terrorist groups or homegrown actors. These
individuals do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.
threat from international terrorism remains high in the European Union and is
diversifying in scope and impact. While there have been no incidents of
international or transnational terrorism in Slovakia, there have been
terrorism-related arrests in neighboring Austria. Slovakia’s membership in the
Schengen zone could allow a terrorist to transit into Slovakia from any Western
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Bratislava as being a LOW-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
government interests. Public demonstrations are common, though typically
peaceful and generally small, numbering less than 150 participants. The city
government must pre-approve demonstrations. In 2018, anti-corruption protests
involved more than 20,000 participants, but were orderly with police presence.
Small anti-NATO protests that involve an anti-U.S. element are not uncommon,
but these do not typically attract more than 30 participants and are peaceful
religious or ethnic undertones are not uncommon in some protests, these
messages generally reflect the ideology of certain individuals or groups,
rather than widespread religious or ethnic tensions within Slovakia. Foreigners
have occasionally been attacked over the past year in one-off, after-club,
alcohol-involved fights or incidents late at night or early in the morning due
to perceived nationality or race. Review OSAC’s report, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
local elements tend to be anti-NATO and anti-U.S. It is common for these groups
to hold periodic demonstrations in Bratislava’s Old Town, often in the area
near the U.S. Embassy on Hviezdoslavovo námestie, and other major cities. These
protests are normally small, peaceful, and usually feature sufficient police
presence to maintain order.
Situated in a zone classified as
low risk for seismic activity, Slovakia has not had any significant earthquakes
During the last few years, eastern
and central Slovakia experienced heavy spring and early summer floods. The
floods have resulted in several deaths and a large amount of property damage.
Hate crimes are rare, though some U.S. travelers have reported
being the target of comments or actions because of their perceived nationality
or race. Fringe element groups of neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other far-right
wing extremists continue their presence, but rarely impact foreigners. In many
cases, these elements exist within other right-wing protest groups. Slovakia
has enacted laws that include stiffer penalties for racially motivated attacks
than the “normal” assault statutes, yet the crimes remain difficult to
prosecute. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to charge an offender under the
more easily proven “simple assault” statute to increase the chance of a
successful prosecution; the perpetrator therefore avoids the heavier penalty
carried by the hate-crime statutes.
reported incidents of violence and harassment targeting the LGBTI+ community
are rare, they have occurred. Recent Pride Parades in Bratislava, Košice, and Banská
Bystrica have proceeded without any issues or problems. Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
law requires that public areas be accessible to persons with disabilities. Many
older buildings and areas have not been retrofitted. Slovakia remains a very
difficult place to navigate for those with mobility issues. Many sidewalks are
narrow and uneven, and small towns may lack sidewalks. Most public transportation
and railway stations lack elevators and do not provide easy access for people
with mobility issues. Few buses have lowering platforms, and no trams do. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
is a transit country for illegal drugs coming from Turkey, the Balkans, Asia,
and Afghanistan, but experiences very little violence associated with the drug
trade. Police have made some headway in seizing shipments of heroin, cocaine,
and marijuana. Law enforcement agencies report increasing problems associated
with the domestic manufacture and abuse of methamphetamines. Slovakia does not
have the same restrictions on precursor chemicals or over-the-counter drugs
used in the production of methamphetamines as do neighboring EU nations.
you are over age 15, the law requires you to carry a passport and/or a Slovak
identity card. A photocopy of your passport is not sufficient. Keep a photocopy
of your passport in a safe place.
is illegal to take photographs of security/military installations. If you
violate this law, authorities may confiscate the pictures/recordings, issue a
reprimand or fine, or even expel you from the country. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or
export of firearms, antiquities, medications, and business equipment. Read the
State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
police emergency lines in Slovakia are 112 and 158 (Non-Emergency: 09610 11111). While competent
and professional, police forces may suffer from a lack of personnel and fiscal
resources, as well as equipment. Police responsiveness to criminal incidents
depends on the type and severity of the crime involved and, to an extent, the
social status of the complainant. The government has announced plans for hiring
of additional police officers following increasing security concerns in Europe.
For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
foreigners who have been the victim of crime will find their interactions with
the police to be somewhat frustrating due to the language barrier, as few
police officers speak English. The police try to staff their 24-hour emergency
numbers with operators with some English-language capabilities. Download the
State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
security guard company sector is a growth industry; however, many of these
companies reportedly have ties to organized crime.
medical emergency lines in Slovakia are 112 and 155. An English-speaking dispatcher should be
available. According to the level of the medical emergency, the dispatcher may
send an ambulance, with a staff of paramedics or a physician, if the patient’s
condition warrants. Medical facilities are available, although the quality and
accessibility vary. Not all doctors speak English. Even fewer nurses and
administrative staff have any level of English fluency. Find contact
information for available medical services and available air ambulance services
on the U.S.
prescriptions issued in the U.S. are not valid in Slovakia. A traveler needing
a prescription must request one from a local doctor. Medicines are generally
available locally at pharmacies, where customers ask the pharmacist for every
product, including over-the-counter medicines; if they are not available under
the U.S. drug name, consult the pharmacist or a local doctor for a local
substitute. Medicine brought into Slovakia for personal use may be subject to
comparison against the Ministry of Health list of those authorized for use in
Slovakia. The Slovak Privacy Act generally prevents health providers from
releasing information about a patient to a third party. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling
and hospitals expect payment for health services unless the patient can present
an insurance number from the Slovak National Insurance Company. This includes
ambulance service, for which the cost begins at €120 per transport for those
without Slovak health insurance. Anyone staying in Slovakia longer than the
90-day visa-free visit period must have local health insurance.
medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation (medevac)
to the U.S. can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Consider special insurance
from local providers, especially if mountain hiking and skiing. The U.S.
Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
encephalitis (TBE) can result from the bites of ticks commonly found in the
bushes and grass of forests in Slovakia at lower and middle elevations. Ticks
are most active from spring to late fall, especially in the northern regions of
Trenčín and Žilina. Low risk exists throughout the rest of the country.
Transmission occurs throughout the year, with highest activity from June
through September. Even though the CDC does not explicitly recommend the TBE
vaccine, other official European sources have recommended the TBE vaccine for
travelers who plan to stay for extended periods or who plan to camp and stay
outdoors. Vaccines are available through a general practitioner or a
pediatrician in Slovakia, but are not available in the U.S. The CDC offers
additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Slovakia.
OSAC Country Council Information
is currently no active Country Council in Slovakia. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for more information.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Hviezdoslavovo námestie 4, 811 02
Regular hours: 0800 – 1630, Monday
– Friday, except Embassy holidays
Telephone: +(421) (2) 5443 0861 or
+(421) (2) 5443 3338.
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:
+(421) 903 703 666.
you travel, consider the following resources: