Import regulations and customs duties
While the European Union has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, some products need import licenses. There are some restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favouring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
Since its accession to the European Union on May, 1st of 2004, Slovakia has adopted the EU Common External Tariff. Consequently, trade with Slovakia is totally free from customs duties, provided that the country of origin of the goods is one of the other 24 EU Member States. Nevertheless, when introducing goods into Slovakia, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.
When the country of origin of the goods exported to Slovakia is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
>> To get further information on VAT rates, please check the list of VAT rates applied within the European Union
>> More detailed information on excise duties is available concerning alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, energy products on the European Commission website.
In 2004, Slovakian retail business was estimated at 8.4 billion euros, which is a growth of 6.1% over 2003. The distribution sector was amongst the first ones to be privatised in 1993, resulting in an overhaul of all distribution channels. Today, the private sector controls about 90% of distribution, managed by former State run stores.
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
In 2004, the top 50 Slovakian retail stores reached a turnover of 3.52 billion euros, compared to 3.28 billion euros in 2003.
In 2004, Slovakians spent 874 million euros in the 77 largest retailers within the country. This amount is three times higher than the total turnover of the small retail chains operating in Slovakia ( 249 million euros). Principal distribution network is largely dominated by foreign groups:
- The number 1 group Tesco has a turnover of 19.6 billion SKK with 30 stores.
- Then follows Metro with a turnover of 15.7 billion SKK and only 5 stores.
- The Billa group with a turnover of 10.2 billion SKK and 65 stores.
- Carrefour successfully opened in 2000 with the first supermarket in the country. It achieved a turnover of 5.5 billion SKK in 2003.
In the non-food sectors, national groups continue to be of prime importance; for example, consumer electronic goods is dominated by three companies:
The Business to Business (B to B) market
Transportation of goods
The Slovak law very closely follows the European Law in terms of standardisation and certification of products. The Slovak Office of Standards, Metrology and Testing is the body responsible for obligatory and optional tests of a great variety of products. It has 20 centres of experimentation. Many tests are compulsory for the products likely to be harmful for health, safety, life and environment: household appliances, medicines, electrical appliances and foodstuffs ... As far as the optional analysis and tests are concerned, they intervene when the producer or importer wishes to obtain a certificate.
Patents and brands
Slovakia is a signatory member of Rome and Berne Conventions. Patents are given by the Office of Industrial Property (the duration of validity varies and can go up to 20 years). The AOC is working in this country and is under the competence of the office of industrial property.