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Import regulations and customs duties  - Distribution - Transportation of goods - Standards - Patents and brands

Import regulations and customs duties

In accordance with its European Union membership since May, 1st of 2004, Slovakia applies the European Union trade policy such as antidumping or anti-subsidy measures. The European Union import regime is applied to Slovakia. If Slovakia has adopted the main part of the EU regulations on May, 1st of 2004, some transitional measures have been granted to the country regarding some EU rules like freedom of movement for workers or cabotage inside some countries. For further information about each candidate country’s compliance with the acquis, please consult the Enlargement of the EU Guide to the Negotiations published by the European Commission.

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.

When being introduced into Slovakia, some products must be "CE" marked in application of the European Directives adopted on the basis of the New Approach and the Global Approach. For further information, please consult the Guide to the Implementation of Directives based on New Approach and Global Approach.


Customs duties
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).

The duties for non-European countries are relatively low, especially for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food-processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, PAC) still know protective measures.

In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.

For further information, please consult the information document published by the European Commission about the impact of EU enlargement on customs policy.


Import taxes
>> 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 principal economic zones in the country are in Bratislava, Nitra and Zilina.

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:
- Omnia.
- Nay.
- Datart.

The Business to Business (B to B) market
Less well-known than the Czech Republic, Slovakia is paying the price for its less flattering image with foreign companies preferring to invest in its neighbouring country - the Czech Republic. With regard to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), the Czech Republic attracted 4.463 billion dollars of foreign investment in 2004, placing it in 28th position in the world, while Slovakia was able to attract only 1.12 billion dollars in the same year, nearly 4 times less.
Nevertheless, Slovakia has numerous other advantages: there are plenty of opportunities in material subcontracting, industrial partnerships, and the country benefits from low wages as compared to the Czech Republic.
The franchise system is not very developed in Slovakia: the SFA (The Slovakian Franchise Association) is made up of only 12 members, mostly in the hotel and fast food sectors.
Sectors with high growth potential are the environment, home appliances, automobiles and transportation.


Transportation of goods

By road
The transport of goods is mainly carried out by railways (3,660 km), and then by road especially in the private sector and finally by riverine transport (172 km on the Danube river).

By sea
The main ports are Bratislava and Komarno and the merchant fleet has 4 cargo vessels at their disposal.

By air
There are 37 airports.


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.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Law on Inventions, Industrial Designs and Rationalization Proposals (No. 527 of November 27, 1990) : 20 years :
Trademark Act No. 55/1997 Coll. on Trademarks as amended by the Act No. 577/2001 Coll. and by the Act No. 14/2004 Coll. : 10 years, renewable for a further 10-year period :
Design Law on Inventions, Industrial Designs and Rationalization Proposals (No. 527 of November 27, 1990) : 5 years, renewable for two further 5-year period :


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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