Once joined with the Czech Republic to form what was then the country of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia became an independent state in 1993. Landlocked in the heart of Europe, Slovakia is bordered by the Ukraine in the east, Hungary to the south, Poland in the north while the Czech Republic runs along the northwest edge of the country.
A predominantly mountainous country, Slovakia has an estimated population of around 5.5 million with a large percentage of these residing in the capital city of Bratislava or the second biggest city of Košice.
Although Czechoslovakia was an independent state since the end of World War II, the country came under communist control in 1948 and was part of the old communist bloc. The so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989 brought an end to communist rule and, in 1993, Slovakia peacefully separated from the Czech Republic to become an independent entity.
A developed state with high-income salaries, Slovakia has been a member of the Schengen Area since late 2007 and gained admission to the European Union at the start of 2009. As a member of both bodies, Slovakia enforces both Schengen and EU rules as they pertain to visitors from outside the greater European zone.
This means that intending visitors to the country who do not possess an EU passport, or qualify for visa-free access, are deemed to be “world travellers” and must obtain a Schengen Visa before arriving in, or transiting through, Slovakian territory.
Visa for World Travellers
Citizens of countries that are members of the European Union or Schengen Zone require no visa to enter or travel through the Schengen Zone. This also applies to nationals of around sixty countries that have a special visa-exemption arrangement with Europe.
Travellers who do not qualify for visa-free access under one of these conditions are designated “world travellers” and must have applied for (and received) a Schengen Visa before any attempt is made to enter Slovakia or any other Schengen member state.
While the bulk of world travellers will require a Tourist Visa for a short holiday, there are other types of Schengen Visa available and it is vital to choose the one that best describes the purpose of the visit.
Each visa type will have its own required supporting documentation that must accompany the visa application and the following is a guide to the main types of visa available and what documentation may be required for each:
Airport Transit Visa
World travellers using a Slovak airport to continue a journey may require an Airport Transit Visa although this is not always a necessity depending on the final destination country.
- Valid visa for the destination country (if applicable)
- Confirmed flight tickets for destination country
Short visits to Slovakia for vacation purposes are covered by the Tourist Visa which is the most often sought type of visa for world travellers.
- Letter outlining principal reason for the visit to Slovakia
- Outline description of planned outings or trips
- Details of booked accommodation
- Proof of adequate finances for the entire duration of the visit
- Recent (preceding six months) bank statements
World travellers wishing to visit Slovakia at the invitation of friends or relatives currently resident in the country should possess a Visitor Visa rather than a standard Tourist Visa.
- Copy of invitation from friend or family member
- Bank statements for the preceding six month period
- Travel itinerary listing any planned outings or trips
- Proof of sufficient financing for the visit. Note: If the Slovakian resident is paying all or most of the expenses, a Sponsorship Letter (Affidavit of Support) will be required.
World travellers who need to visit Slovakia for business purposes, or on business-related matters, should possess a Slovak Business Visa which is expressly provided for these purposes.
- If applicable, a letter of invitation from the Slovak business concerned
- Explanation letter covering the main reason(s) for the visit
- Employer’s letter explaining why the visit is necessary
- Proof of funding for the visit including expenses and accommodation
A Schengen Study Visa for Slovakia is required for short-term courses or apprenticeships of less than ninety days duration. Longer courses, such as university studies, will require a separate Student Visa.
- A letter or certificate of no objection from the educational establishment which states the student will leave the country on completion of the specified course
- Copy of internship agreement between the trainee’s employer and the relevant company or organisation in Slovakia
- Proof of sufficient funding to cover expenses, accommodation and any course fees due
World travellers who require medical treatment or surgery in Slovakia should have a Medical Visa for this purpose.
- Applicant’s medical report
- Description of treatment or surgery required
- Proof of appointment in Slovakia from hospital or medical institution where treatment will occur
- Proof of full payment made or agreed payment plan
- Dates and location of treatment or surgery being undergone
Other Types of Schengen Visa
There are a number of other types of Schengen Visa available and these are usually reserved for more specialised purposes. World travellers attending, or partaking in, religious, cultural or sporting events will require the appropriate visa application form which will need to be accompanied by the required documentation. This will usually entail supplying:
- Details of the event
- Schedule of events planned
- A letter of invitation
- Proof of participation or event tickets
There are also special types of visa for visiting foreign delegates and for spouses of Slovakian citizens. Choosing the correct form of visa that best describes the purpose of the visit to Slovakia is of extreme importance and crucial to a speedy and successful outcome.
Precautions when applying for a Schengen Visa
Completing the application form correctly and collecting the required supporting documentation is not a simple undertaking and a slow and careful approach is required:
- Check the Schengen Visa application form is completed in full and the information supplied is correct and up to date.
- Ensure that all requested documentation has been collected and checked.
- Make sure that passports are current and valid for at least three months beyond the last date to be spent in Slovakia or the Schengen Area.
- Ensure there are at least two blank pages in any passports to accommodate the visa.
Once all the paperwork is checked and in order, the applicant should schedule a personal interview at the nearest Slovak embassy, consulate or designated visa processing centre. Arranging the interview is the responsibility of the applicant, not the Slovak authorities, and this is where all paperwork is handed over and checked.
Applications should take around two weeks to process but this is not always the case and it is best to err on the side of caution. Although applications for a Schengen Visa may be submitted up to three months before the date of travel, this is not always the best option and the general recommendation is to apply around six weeks before travelling to Slovakia. This should be sufficient to allow for any possible corrections or amendments that may need to be made.