How to move to
Find A Job
The comparatively low cost of living with respect to other European nations is an appealing aspect of seeking work and residence in Slovakia. The country’s economy is stable and unemployment is currently not high. Teaching English is still a popular way of making a living if you are an expat here, but you may find other opportunities, depending on the sector in which you work. The ease with which you are able to find work will depend on whether you are a EU/EEA national: if you are a member of another EU state, you will find that the job seeking process is somewhat streamlined, as you already have existing residence rights.
If you are a member of an EU/EEA member state and have a Blue Card (a residence permit issued on the basis that you are a highly skilled worker with a university degree), you will be able to reside and work in the country without the need for a great deal of further bureaucracy.
If you are a third party national from outside the EU/EEA, however, you will need to obtain a work permit. This will be issued on the basic of an existing offer of employment, so you will need to secure a post before applying for the permit. Employers must notify the Labour Office at least 10 days before a vacancy opens, as priority for posts is given to Slovak nationals and other EU citizens. If approved, your employer must then issue you with a Letter of Employment, which will form part of your work permit application. You will then need to submit the following to the Labour Office:
• official application form for a Work Permit (completed in Slovak and signed)
• copy of your passport
• copy of the document of residence (if it was granted to you)
• copy of a document proving your status as a third country national with acknowledged long-term residence in another EU Member State (if applicable)
• employment contract or a letter of employment
• proof of your qualifications
• authenticated copy of a business contract, or copy of the in-house transfer (in the case of deployed workers or in-house transfer)
• written power of attorney (if the application is submitted on your behalf by your future employer or by the company you were deployed to). Your signature must be authenticated by a notary
The processing of your permit can take up to a month.
You can extend your permit, but note that it is tied into your employment contract: if your employment ends, your permit will end as well and this may impact on your residency.
Teaching English is a popular choice although salaries may not be high (the cost of living is low, however, and if you simply want to experience the country rather than prioritizing your salary, this is a good option). You will need to have a TEFL certificate and ideally a university degree, which will secure you a higher salary.
Manufacturing is a major sector in Slovakia. The service sector (administration and office work) is also increasing but this may be more an advantage to those who are bilingual in Slovak. Arts and recreation are also expected to expand.
IT is also a growing sector in the country and if you have digital skills, then you may find that there are a number of opportunities opening up to you.
Most available vacancies will be located in Bratislava, unless you are working in the tourist industry. You may, for example, be able to find work in ski resorts.
The typical working week in Slovakia lasts for 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day. If an employee agrees, you may extend your working day but by no more than 12 hours. Overtime is paid at a higher rate.
Your annual leave entitlement is set at 4 weeks, rising up to 5 weeks for employees who are 33 years old or older.
Maternity leave is set at 34 weeks. If you have contributed social security payments for at least 270 days to the health insurance system in the two years preceding the birth, you will be entitled to receive maternity benefit.
The minimum wage in Slovakia is currently set at €520 per month.
Your spouse will be able to work if they are an EU/EEA national. If they are a third party national, then they will need to go through a separate application process for a work permit.
There are a number of job boards and recruitment agencies which cover Slovakia. There are several which specialize in the ski industry. Internationals Bratislava also runs a website which specializes in no-Slovak speaking vacancies in the country. Social media also sometimes features vacancies, too. You can make speculative applications to companies.
Applying For A Job
A standard CV/resume should be adequate.
Slovak anti-discrimination law is in full compliance with EU directives regarding anti-discrimination. An employer is obliged to treat its employees in accordance with the principle of equal treatment. It is prohibited to discriminate (directly or indirectly) against employees on the grounds of their gender, marital status and family status, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origin, language, age, adverse health condition or disability, genetic characteristics, belief, religion, political or other views, trade union activity and any other reasons related to identity.
Qualifications And Training
You should not need to get your qualifications translated into Slovak.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Citizens of the following countries do not need a Slovak entry visa:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, the Vatican, Venezuela.
Citizens of the above listed countries must register with Slovak authorities within three days of arrival if their stay will be in excess of 30 days.
Citizens of all other countries must apply for a Slovak visa at a consular office abroad in person or by mail. Allow at least 5 business days for processing by mail.
- Passport (original) valid for at least 8 months beyond length of stay
- Completed application form (original only). The forms are available at Slovak diplomatic and consular missions and at certain travel agencies
- Two passport-style photos
- Visa processing fee (check with consular office for exact amount)
- Self-addressed stamped envelope if applying by mail. For courier service send prepaid courier envelope.
Note: Visas are NOT issued at border checkpoints. Slovakia is NOT a signatory to the Schengen Agreement.
Citizens of nations requiring visas must register with the Slovak authorities within three days of arrival. If staying at a hotel, the hotel staff will register the guest on the guest’s behalf.
Note: Any foreign national entering Slovakia may be asked for proof of funds sufficient to cover his/her length of stay and sufficient to purchase an onward ticket. Border officials may also require proof of health insurance.
Passport validity required for entry into the Slovak Republic:
- USA, United Kingdom, Greece, Israel, and Italy: six months beyond length of stay
- Spain, Austria, Germany: three months beyond length of stay
- France, Turkey: two months beyond length of stay
- Croatia: one month beyond length of stay
- Canada: one day beyond length of stay
- All others: eight months beyond length of stay
EU citizens may apply for a temporary residence permit at a Slovak consular office abroad or may apply with the Foreign Police while in Slovakia. EU permits are issued for a period of five years.
All other foreigners who intend to work, study, teach, or do business in Slovakia must apply for a temporary residence permit (TRP) at a Slovak Embassy or Consulate General abroad. The TRP allows you to stay in Slovakia for a period of more than 90 days for business and/or educational purposes. The TRP is issued for one year and may be renewed. Non-EU foreign nationals are subject to lengthy interviews by Slovak officials prior to approval.
- 2 passport-style photographs
- Typed application form in Slovak language
- Document certifying reason for request (for business, employment, schooling etc.)
- Criminal background check (Slovak and home country)
- Medical certificate stating applicant is free of contagious disease
- Proof of funds (varies, check with Slovak Consulate for specifics)
- Proof of medical insurance
- Proof of housing (signed lease agreement or ownership deed etc.)
A permanent residence permit entitles a foreigner to stay in Slovakia for an unlimited period of time and can be granted to a foreigner whose spouse or minor child is a Slovak citizen with permanent residency in Slovakia or who has maintained a temporary residence in Slovakia for more than 10 years. The applicant must first apply for a TRP.
It is always advisable to contact a Slovak Consular office abroad prior to going to Slovakia. The website of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in London can be found at http://embassy.dev.dracon.biz/
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
Typically, you will have to pay a security deposit equivalent to one month’s rent, along with a month’s rent in advance. If you find your property through an estate agent, then you will likely have to pay them a commission fee, which will also be equivalent to one months’ rent.
It is always a good idea to exercise caution when renting property. Make sure you ask the landlord to prove that they have a certification of ownership or power of attorney, so that you can be sure that they have the legal right to rent the property out to you. In some circumstances, tenants may sublet properties. You may want to ask to see proof of a subletting agreement or some sort of written permission from the landlord, before you commit to renting from a tenant.
If you do not speak the language and do not have any friends that can help, it may be worth hiring a translator and getting a copy of the tenancy contract translated before you sign it. That way, you can be sure what you are agreeing to and check for any hidden clauses. Most apartments come fully furnished, but this varies depending on the landlord.
You will need to check whether your rent includes utilities or not. Meter readings are usually only done once a year in Slovakia, and consumption is worked out on an annual basis. Therefore, when the reading is done, you may need to pay more, depending on whether the consumption has increased or not
The majority of rentals in Slovakia tend to be dealt with through an estate agent. Often, adverts are posted by agencies rather than landlords. Some websites that may be useful in your search include:
There are also a few websites specifically for renting rooms, such as:
Rental prices vary depending on where you would like your property to be. Bratislava, the capital of the country, draws in many foreign workers. Some of the most popular areas of the city include the Old Town, Ruzinov, Nove Mesto and Raca.
The average monthly cost to rent a one-bedroom city centre apartment in Slovakia is around €487.14 per month. For an apartment of the same size in a less central location, you would likely need to pay roughly €386.29 a month in rent. For a larger place, with three bedrooms, in a desirable location, the average rent is approximately €740.07, while its more suburban counterpart would cost you closer to €589.07.
You will need to make sure that the landlord registers you as a foreign tenant. They must do this by signing and notarising a čestné vyhlásenie (the official document of consent to provide a residence permit). This can often be a prerequisite for you getting approved for a residence permit, or for you being allowed to extend or renew your current residence permit.
Another bit of information you may find useful is the way in which properties are advertised. Slovakia counts and advertises all rooms excluding bathrooms and kitchens. So an advert for a two-room flat will refer to a property with a bedroom and a living room, rather than two bedrooms.
A final piece of advice is that it is worth checking whether the flat you would like to rent is equipped with central heating or not, as Slovakian winters can be brutal.
There are no legal restrictions on foreigners buying residential property in Slovakia, as it is a member of the European Union. However, there are restrictions on buying agricultural and forest land.
Once you have chosen the property you wish to buy, you will be expected to put down a 10% deposit. At this point in time, the pre-purchase agreement will be drawn up and signed by both parties.
Next, you will need to get a surveyor’s report on the property, of which your solicitor will receive a copy. Once your solicitor has received this, and providing that there are no issues, they will begin preparation for the final contract.
The final contract can then be signed (by both parties), and you can submit payment. The property will need to be registered on the The Cadastral Register (kataster nehnuteľností), which includes details of you, as the new property owner, and of the property and/or land itself. Properties in Slovakia cannot be sold without a Kataster.
The title deeds are then transferred to the buyer’s name after a period of four weeks. Notaries are not necessary before registry. Additional fees that are commonly incurred include the estate agent’s commission (which ranges from 3% to 6%), legal fees (generally around 1% of the property value), and notary and registration fees.
A notary is not required to establish certain real estate rights. However, a notary public or local municipality usually certifies the signatures of transferors in such legal agreements.
The transfer of real estate is VAT-exempt, except for transfers made within five years of the official completion of the construction. Transfers of land, except building land, are not subject to VAT. The standard VAT rate is 20%.
Foreign nationals have the right to get a mortgage loan in Slovakia. The mortgage can be used for purchasing an already built real estate or real estate that is under construction. The minimum loan period is usually four years; the maximum period is up to 20 years. Interest rates vary depending on the mortgage provider.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Slovakia health insurance
You will be eligible for state healthcare as an expat only if you make contributions into the national insurance system.
You do not have to sign up with a GP, but if you do not, you will only be entitled to emergency care, so register with your local surgery once you are settled. If you have an EHIC card you can use this, but it is intended for emergencies rather than being a substitute for full health coverage.
You will need to register with the state health insurance system within eight days of your arrival, and if you are not from a EU member state, you will need to bring with you a permit of stay issued by the Foreigners’ Police.
If you are registering yourself, you will need to fill out an application form and a confirmation of employment from your workplace. Otherwise, your employer can do the registration for you.
You will be given a state health insurance card within five days of registration, which you must bring with you to any medical appointments. If you leave your workplace, you are obliged to let the state insurer know within an eight-day period, and your cover will then be cancelled.
Open A Bank Account
The National Bank of Slovakia was established in 1993, and has its headquarters in Bratislava. The National Bank is in charge of national monetary policy, issues Slovak currency and is the supervisory body overseeing the activities of other banks. The National Bank of Slovakia does not handle personal bank accounts, but can assist with investment questions etc. For more information, visit their website at http://www.nbs.sk/
A passport is required to establish a basic bank account. In addition, some banks may request proof of residency prior to opening an account, issuing an ATM card or providing Internet banking services. Many of the larger banks have English or German-speaking staff available to assist foreign customers.
Foreign exchange rates are prominently posted in several languages. There are no restrictions on importing foreign currency into the Slovak Republic, however the exportation of Slovak currency is regulated by the National Bank.
Once an account is opened the customer has immediate access to his/her funds, but will only be able to withdraw them from that specific bank until an ATM card has been issued, which usually takes from one to two weeks.
There are a number of foreign bank branches in Bratislava, chief among them CitiBank.
There is a stock exchange in Bratislava.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
Slovakia is an increasingly popular destination among expats. If you are intending to live and work in the country, you may be asking how easy it will to communicate with your colleagues and local people. Will you need to master the official language, and what is it? What other languages are spoken in this country? Can you get by in English during your stay in Slovakia? We will answer some of your questions below.
The official language of Slovakia is Slovak, or Slovakian: a West Slavic language of the Czech Slavic group. It is spoken by around five million people and is one of the official languages of the EU. It is related to Czech and Polish, and is an official minority language in Poland itself. Slovakia, too, has a number of ethnic minorities, including Hungarians, Czechs, Rusyns, Poles, Ukrainians and the Roma, and all of these groups speak their own individual languages. Hungarian is the second most widely spoken tongue in the country, next to Slovak itself.
Slovak is split into three dialects: western, eastern and central, and you will thus find a range of vocabulary and accents. It does not use the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, but is written in the Latin alphabet with some additional letters.
English is growing in popularity, but due to Slovakia’s history as a former Soviet satellite, the older generation may be more familiar with Russian. You will find some German speakers as well. English is more widely spoken among the younger generation and if you are working for an international company in Slovakia, you will find it as a lingua franca in the workplace. As with most nations, English is also more widely spoken in urban areas such as Bratislava. However, it would be a mistake to assume that everyone you meet in Slovakia will speak the language, or will be fluent.
If you are interested in learning Slovak, perhaps because you intend to spend a long time in the country, you will find plenty of resources available. There are some Slovak resources online, but if you are in the country and have time to enrol in language classes, you will find some Slovak private language schools and one-to-one tuition available, from all levels from beginners to advanced, and for different purposes.
If you want a short course in conversational Slovak, you will find that these are available, but you may want to take more intensive courses for business, for instance. Course duration varies from one-week summer courses to yearly classes. You can also hire a private tutor, athough this usually costs more than group classes.
You can also approach your local university: The Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies for Foreigners and Compatriots (ILPS) of the Centre for Continuing Education at Comenius University in Bratislava, for example, provides tuition of Slovak as a foreign language, as does the the Studia Academica Slovaca (SAS), also at Comenius University.
Slovakia does have some state provision for language training. Nationals of countries outside the European Union/European Economic Area/Switzerland can attend a free of charge "Open Course of Slovak Language for Foreigners" organised by the IOM Migration Information Centre in Bratislava and Košice. You can even apply for a state contribution towards your language training if you can show that the course can help you find a new job or improve your current employment situation or business in Slovakia. Details can be found here.
You will need to apply at least three weeks before the start of your course and the sum is reimbursed after you have completed the course.
Slovak is not held to be an easy language to learn if you are a native English speaker but you will find yourself in an immersive environment, which usually speeds up the process of language learning.
You may be intending to come to Slovakia in order to teach English and the country is an increasingly popular choice for English teachers. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools prefer this although it is not a formal requirement in Slovakia: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work. Peak hiring months are September and January, and you can expect an average salary of around US$500-800 per month. You are most likely to find work in a private language school in cities such as Bratislava, Kosice, Nitra, and Presov.
Teaching English is a popular choice among expats and although salaries may not be high, the cost of living is low, and if you simply want to experience the country rather than prioritizing your salary or saving, this is a good option.
If you are seeking work in translation or interpreting, you will need to be fully bilingual, as well as having the relevant qualifications.
Choose A School
The official language of Slovakia is Slovak, or Slovakian: spoken by around five million people and one of the official languages of the EU. Education in the public education sector will thus be undertaken in Slovakian.
Education in the country is free and compulsory. It is divided into:
• first primary education stage (ages 6 - 10)
• second primary education stage (ages 10 - 15)
• higher education (ages 15 – 19)
These final two stages are spent either in a nine-year primary school or in an eight-year grammar school. There are a number of types of secondary school:
• general education (non-vocational)
• gymnázium (school/high school) – 4 or 8 years
• various vocational schools
• stredná odborná škola (secondary professional school) age 16 - 19
• stredné odborné učilište (secondary vocational school) age 16 - 19
• združená stredná škola (’grouped’ secondary school) age 16 - 19
The Slovak curriculum is a standard one, equipping students with a knowledge of basic subjects. At secondary level, pupils can follow a more academic track or a vocational track, depending on their inclination and choice of school, which equips them with an understanding of more practical, perhaps technical subjects. Vocational schools will culminate in an apprenticeship certificate. Otherwise, students will take a school-leaving certificate, the Maturita, which they will need in order to enter university.
Slovakian education scored slightly below the OECD average on the recent PISA rankings. A recent study by the Centre of Educational Management at the Comenius University suggested that half of Slovak students would prefer to study abroad, and that the educational system is too focused on facts and knowledge and is not endowing students with the critical thinking skills and enquiring minds that they will need to cope with the modern world. The Czech Republic is the most popular student destination, resulting in something of a brain drain from Slovakia itself.
As a parent, you need to be aware of the challenges currently faced by the public educational system, and that there may also be a language barrier: classes here in public schools are obviously conducted in Slovak, and unless your child is already bilingual, this will pose an extra layer of complexity to schooling. Most expats therefore opt for private sector education.
You will find a range of private and international schools in the country. International schools will offer a variety of curricula, ranging from the British curriculum leading to IGCSEs and A Level, to US-based systems and the International Baccalaureate. Private kindergarten provision is also an option.
For example, Kings School International in Bratislava offers education to pupils from the ages of 6-18 in a British curriculum. Annual fees range from US$10K – 14K per annum.
The Galileo School is bilingual in English and Slovak and also focuses on the British national curriculum. It teaches students from 3-18, but you will need to contact the school directly with regard to their fees.
The English International School in Bratislava offers the IB, and fees go up to US$15K per annum.
The Cambridge School uses a curriculum from the University of Cambridge and teaches students from the ages of 3-18. Fees are from US$10K – 15K annually.
The Leaf Academy teaches an American curriculum from 14-18. Fees here range annually up to US$23K. Similarly, the American Academy in Bratislava offers an American curriculum at around US$9K – 10K per year.
International educational chain Nord Anglia also have a school here: the British International School Bratislava. BISB students follow the English national curriculum, leading to the Cambridge International Examinations IGCSE and International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The school collaborates with the Juilliard School, MIT. and Unicef BISB. Fees are between US$11K – 24K per annum.
The school year runs from September to June and the school week is from Monday – Friday. School hours will vary depending on the establishment and the level, but in general the school day begins around 8 am and runs through to around 3 pm.
You will need to contact your selected school directly for a full range of fees but check not only for tuition costs, but also for one-off maintenance/capitalisation payments, registration and admission fees. Check whether you are entitled to a sibling discount. Enrolment policies will vary between establishments but you may need to provide previous school reports as well as supporting documentation relating to your residency. Your child may also be assessed, for instance in English language proficiency.
Homeschooling was made legal in Slovakia in 2008 but only allows homeschooling for ages 6–10, and the parent who gives instruction must be a fully qualified teacher. You must apply to schools for permission to homeschool, and in addition must register your child with a local primary school. You must teach the national curriculum, and your child will be tested every six months.