Living as an expat in Slovakia means dealing with the Foreign Police. Every foreigner who ever lived in Slovakia will tell you what a nightmare this is. Apart from the long waiting lines, the biggest problem is the lack of proper communication regarding what documents you actually need for the various applications you can submit at the Foreign Police. Over the past years I have been asked countless times by expats in Slovakia how to apply for a residence permit. So, in the hope to make everyone’s life easier, I am offering here a comprehensive guide on how to apply for a residence permit in Slovakia. Please note this is a guide for EU citizens specifically, although non-EU citizens will find useful information here as well.
A note of caution: the information below is based on my own personal experience as an EU expat in Slovakia, discussions with fellow expats and online research. I am by no means an immigration expert. I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible but there may be expats who fall within a special category and need documents I never thought of. However, what you find below is matching the experience of the majority of the EU expats whose purpose of stay in Slovakia is work. Be sure to let me know if anything is missing or incorrect. This guide is meant for all EU expats in Slovakia, both old and new, so I am very happy to make the necessary corrections to ensure it remains valuable to all of us in the future.
This is a long read, so use the links below if you want to skip to relevant sections.
At the end of the article you will find all relevant forms as well as an affidavit template you are free to use.
Registration of right of residence vs. residence card in Slovakia
First of all, you need to understand the difference between simply registering your right of residence and obtaining a residence card.
Registration of right of residence (registrácia pobytu na území Slovenskej republiky) - in case you stay in Slovakia for more than 3 months, you are obliged to register your residence on Slovak territory. This basically tells the Slovak government where you live and they will provide you with an identification number (rodné číslo), which you need for your health insurance (and any other insurance in Slovakia, for that matter). You will not get an ID card by only registering the right of residence. You will get a confirmation from the Foreign Police that you are a registered citizen on the territory of the Slovak Republic, but that is it. Registering your right of residence is a mandatory step for any foreigner living in Slovakia. However, this “simple” registration does not grant you any additional rights within Slovakia (e.g. voting for local elections), nor can you take care of any official business within Slovakia for which you need a permanent residence (e.g. obtaining a mortgage, buying a car, registering for a phone subscription, securing any optional insurances and pension funds, marrying on Slovak territory, etc.).
Residence card (pobytový preukaz občana EÚ) - as soon as you need to take care of any official business (e.g. obtaining a mortgage, buying a car, registering for a phone subscription, securing any optional insurances and pension funds, marrying on Slovak territory, registering the birth of a child, etc.), you will need to be able to hand over a residence card. Although you may expect an EU passport would be enough within the European Union member states, this is not the case. The residence card is a pink, plastic card, valid for 5 years. It contains your photo and states your name, rodné číslo, date of birth, place of birth, gender, citizenship and, of course, the permanent address on the territory of the Slovak Republic. Nowadays, they are also equipped with a chip, in case you need to take care of any official business with the Slovak government and need access to the electronic mailbox of the government (eID). The residence card works very similar to a regular national ID card. The biggest difference, however, is that it is not a travel document. So, it is useless for travelling outside Slovakia. For that, you will still need your own national passport.
As an EU citizen, you are not obliged to register for a residence card. However, my advice is to get this card anyway, regardless of how long you plan to stay in Slovakia. It will make your life way easier and you will never get into situations where the institution asks you for some form of identification and does not accept a foreign passport. Even though you may be an EU citizen, many Slovak institutions don’t really care about that and will still require a Slovak form of identification.
Permanent residence for EU-citizens in Slovakia
Once you have a residence card for a period of five, uninterrupted years, as an EU citizen you have the right to request a permanent residence. This is a new card, valid for 10 years. It still does not grant you any rights equal to Slovak citizens, though. As far as I know, the only benefit of a permanent residence card is that it is valid for 10 years so, provided you don’t change address in the mean time, you don’t need to deal with the Foreign Police for 10 years.
Which documents do I need to apply for a residence permit in Slovakia?
This is probably the most tricky part of dealing with the Slovak Foreign Police. Everyone will tell you something else when you ask them what documents you need to get a residence permit. Frustratingly, it seems there is not one correct answer. Even the governmental websites are not conclusive on this topic. The rule of thumb is to bring more than you think you need. This means you may need to invest a bit more energy and money in getting the additional documents but it will prevent frustration and stress at the end of the process, when you otherwise get rejected at the Foreign Police for not bringing that one document you thought you would never need.
NOTE: be mindful that the Foreign Police will not accept documents older than 90 days!
Regardless of whether you go for the “simple” registration of right of residence or you apply for the residence card, you will need the following things:
Application form, filled-in in Slovak - see below for links to the relevant application forms
A valid travel document (passport)
Proof of accommodation - since both a “simple” registration and a residence card are directly linked to the address you live on, proof of accommodation is a basic document required in all circumstances. Getting proof of accommodation can be tricky, though. See below for more information how to get the relevant documents
Additional documents (new application)
If you have never applied for a residence permit in Slovakia before, you will need various documents proving your (1) employment and (2) a clean criminal record. Depending on your purpose of stay, you may need other types of documents as well. However, I assume most people reading this guide are in Slovakia for the purpose of work. Do note that moving to Slovakia because you have a relationship with a Slovak is not a valid purpose of stay, unless you are married! Since you will still need to pay the bills, your purpose of stay most likely will be “work”.
Although some people will tell you that you don’t need all of these documents as an EU citizen, I will bet my hand the police officer at the other side of the desk will want to see the following.
Proof of employment - if you are a regular employee, you need to provide a valid employment contract as well as a signed confirmation from your HR department that you are currently employed by the company. It is important that the confirmation is printed on official company paper (i.e. with the company logo and registration details). I would recommend to take a copy of your employment contract as well as the original, in case they would like to keep a copy in their records (you don’t want to hand over the original!). If you are self-employed, you need to provide a copy of your trade license.
Clean criminal record - see below for more information how to request this document
Confirmation from school - if you apply for a residence permit because you move to Slovakia for the purpose of studying, you do not need to provide proof of employment. However, you need to request a confirmation from your school that you are enrolled as a student to their institution.
Additional documents (renewal)
If you already have a residence card but it expires, you do not need to hand over all the above listed documents. The only things you need to provide are:
2 passport photographs (3 x 3.5 cm)
Proof of accommodation
Change of permanent address
Whenever you change your permanent address within Slovakia, you need to notify the Foreign Police because you will need a new residence permit. So, whenever you move to a different rented accommodation or you buy your own property (and you wish to use that property’s address as your permanent address), be ready to plan a visit to the Foreign Police, armed with:
2 passport photographs (3 x 3.5 cm)
Proof of accommodation
Proof of a clean criminal record
If you already live in Slovakia for more than 90 days before applying for the residence permit, you need to get an extract of a clean criminal record (výpis z registra trestov) from Slovakia. Nowadays, you can request this record from the Slovak Post office.
Additionally, the Foreign Police may require an extract of a clean criminal record from your home country as well. This especially applies if you live in Slovakia for less than 90 days. However, in my experience, they may even ask for it if you’ve lived in Slovakia already for more than 90 days before applying for a permit. So be ready to request this document from your government. Also, don’t forget to have this document duly legalized and translated to Slovak by a certified translator, otherwise the Foreign Police won’t accept it (see below for more information).
Proof of accommodation
Here it gets a bit tricky. The type of documents you need as proof of accommodation depends on whether you yourself are the owner of the address you register for or you are rather renting the accommodation from a landlord.
The basic document you need is a report from the land register that shows the ownership of the property (výpis z katastra). Like the criminal record, you can request this report from the Slovak Post office or directly from the Land Registry itself. Since information from the Land Registry is public record, it does not matter whether you are the owner of the accommodation or you are renting it, you can request it nonetheless.
If you are the owner of the accommodation, the record of the land register, showing your name as (co-)owner of the property is enough as proof of accommodation. If you are not the owner, however, you will need to provide a signed affidavit (Čestné prehlásenie) from the owner of the accommodation (i.e. the person(s) stated on the land register) that he/she allows you to live on that address and apply the address as your permanent address.
The confirmation from the property owner has no official form but must be in Slovak. See below for an affidavit template in Slovak that has proven successful in the past. Also, even more important, it must be notarized by the owner in front of the notary (see below).
NOTE: I have heard of people who were requested to provide this affidavit even though they themselves are the owners of the accommodation, basically confirming that they allow themselves to live on that address. Although this is a very odd request, there may be some sense to it. The Slovak government wants to be sure you actually live on the address you provide as your permanent address to avoid you apply for a residence card while living abroad. If this affidavit is needed, you can use the same template as described above and fill it in with your own information and have it notarized. If the accommodation is owned by more than one person (e.g. by you and your partner), you may also need the signed and notarized affidavit from the co-owner.
Applying for a permanent residence card
Once you hold a residence card for five years, you are eligible to apply for a permanent residence card, valid for 10 years. In order to apply for this, you need to submit the application form, two passport photographs and proof of accommodation. I came with far more documentation (clean criminal record, affidavits that both my wife and I allow me to live in my own property, proof of employment, etc.) to the Foreign Police when applying for a permanent residence. However, the officer told me this is not needed as an EU citizen. Such extended documentation is only needed for non-EU citizens.
Which documents need to be notarized or legalized?
Notarizing documents is somewhat of a national hobby in Slovakia, so be prepared to go to the notary before you go to the Foreign Police. But when exactly do you need to notarize your documents? There are two types of documents that need to be notarized before the notary.
Copies of original documents - as soon as you plan to submit a copy of an original document, the copy must be notarized. For example, it is perfectly understandable you do not want to hand in your original employment contract (if they ask for it). However, in that case you can choose to hand in a copy. That copy must be notarized before submission.
Affidavits - each affidavit you submit must be notarized by the person who signed the affidavit. So, if you need an affidavit in which your landlord confirms that you are allowed to live on his address and use it as your permanent address, the landlord needs to go to the notary with this affidavit and have it notarized.
Since notarizing documents applies to both Slovaks and foreigners, there are notary offices aplenty around the country. You can basically pick any from Google, hop in, ask for the notary stamps and be done with it. In the “Useful links” section below, you find a database of notaries in Slovakia, so you can search for notaries based in your city. The costs for notarizing documents depends a bit on the type of document but in my experience you should count on somewhere between 3 EUR and 6 EUR per document. When you go to the notary, make sure you bring your passport and/or ID card with you, because you need to identify yourself before they stamp your documents.
Legalizing and translating documents
In case you are requested to submit a document issued in your home country, these documents need to be legalized and translated to Slovak. Therefore, it is important you take care of the following for each relevant document before you go to the Foreign Police:
Legalization - each document issued by an authority of a foreign state must be authenticated. Since all European Union states have signed the Hague Convention on Apostille, authenticating such documents should be done by an “Apostille”. As far as I am aware, an Apostille can only be provided by a legal institution (e.g. a court) in your home country. Your Embassy is not authorized to legalize documents.
Translation - documents issued in a foreign language other than Slovak or Czech must be translated to Slovak by a certified translator. There are many translators available around the country. Be mindful, though, that the translator you choose is indeed authorized to provide official translations. Any freelance translator won’t do, unless he or she has the “seal” to authorize translations. Make sure the documents are legalized before you send them for translation, since in my experience the Apostille needs to be translated as well (no matter how odd that sounds).
How much does the application costs and how do I pay for it?
Paying for any governmental paperwork in Slovakia is done by way of a so-called e-Kolok. You do not pay for your application directly at the desk of the police officer. Instead, you need to pay up-front at the e-Kolok kiosk and bring the receipt with you to the officer.
This can be very tricky because there is a huge selection of options to choose from. Luckily, all selections are described in both Slovak and English.
Make sure you look for the option “Application residence permit” or something along those lines (I am not exactly sure on the wording). For change of address and renewal there will be a separate option.
The cost for applying for a residence permit in Slovakia as EU citizen is 4.50 EUR.
If you would like the residence card to be sent to your home address, you need an additional kolok for that, so think about that in advance. Police officers are generally not very pleased if you need to run to the e-Kolok kiosk in the middle of them processing your papers. The cost for having it delivered to your home is 3 EUR.
Again, don’t forget to take the receipt with you! It is a slip of paper with a QR code printed on it.
Preparing a visit to the Foreign Police
UPDATE: As of April 2019, twelve Foreign Police departments around the country (including Bratislava) have adopted a new online reservation system. You can submit your application or renewal of your residence permit online here and you will receive an appointed date during which you can come to the Foreign Police department to complete your application. You can request a date maximum one month in advance. Moreover, if you have a reservation, you can skip the line of people waiting at the Foreign Police who did not manage (or bother) to reserve a date online.
The cities where you can make an online reservation are:
In case you did not manage to get a reservation or the date you are given does not suit you, you can still come to the Foreign Police as usual. Nothing changed in that regard. Therefore, regardless of the online reservation system, the trials and tribulations at the Foreign Police departments have not changed. So, I encourage you to read on!
There are a lot of horror stories going around about visiting the Foreign Police. Especially the one in Bratislava is notorious with stories of people camping outside the night before to be first in line. I am not going to lie to you. Going to the Foreign Police is not a pleasure, to say the least. There is unfortunately no good way about it and you will simply have to deal with it. Although in my experience I have never seen anyone camp in front of the building, I do recommend to arrive at least 45 to 60 minutes before opening hours. You may still not be first in line but that is unavoidable.
In Bratislava, the Foreign Police has recently moved to a new location on Regrútska in Vajnory. In my experience, this is a major improvement. There is a police officer who gets you the correct ticket number based on your purpose of visiting, so you are sure you are waiting for the right reasons. The non-EU and EU counters have been separated between respectively the ground floor and the first floor. Since the group of non-EU registrants is generally larger than the EU registrants, this significantly speeds up the processing time for EU citizens.
A visit to the Foreign Police takes time, however. There are no two ways about it. So, do not expect to be in and out within an hour (or two). Make sure your employer is aware of that, in case you live in Slovakia for the purpose of work. To speed up the process and avoid disappointment, here are some tips that might help you (unfortunately, I can not guarantee success):
Arrive ca. 45 to 60 minutes before opening hours
Have your passport at the ready when moving down the line
Make sure you get the correct e-Kolok as soon as you get in the building and before your number is called. If you want the ID to be sent to your address instead of picking it up personally, make sure you have a kolok for that as well
Make sure you have all your papers organized properly, so you can hand them over without any fuss, as soon as the officer asks for them
Make sure all relevant application forms are filled in completely, in Slovak and with a blue pen
Make sure the documentation you provide is not older than 90 days
Ensure all copies and affidavits are notarized
Ensure all documents issued by a foreign government are legalized and translated
If you apply for residence permits for your family, you will need to bring the relevant family members as well as all their passports
Be nice and polite at all times - this may sound obvious but, given the fact that the Foreign Police can be cause for frustration and high blood pressure, it is advice well given…police officers may not be polite to you, so it will not help your case if you counter that with similar behaviour
Make sure your hair looks fine - even though you need to provide 2 passport photographs, for a new ID they will take a photograph during your application process that will go on the ID card itself
And now for the most frustrating question of all - do they speak English at the Foreign Police in Slovakia? Although recently I had a very positive experience with a polite lady police officer, who spoke very well English, unfortunately that is rather an exception to the rule. It is well known that most of the police officers at the Foreign Police do not or do not want to speak English. Therefore, I highly recommend to bring a Slovak speaker with you. It will not only save you a lot of time but also frustration and possibly disapointment.
Click on this link to check the address and contact details of all Foreign Police departments in Slovakia.
Frequently asked questions
Can I vote if I am registered in Slovakia as a foreigner?
All foreigners who have a valid residence card in Slovakia are eligible to vote for the local elections. That means, you can vote for the government in your city district (e.g. Bratislava county or Prešov county) as well as for the mayoral elections in your city. Additionally, as an EU citizen, registered in Slovakia, you are eligible to vote for the European Parliament elections on behalf of Slovakia. You are not eligible, however, to vote for the national elections nor for the presidential elections. If you have opted for the “simple” registration of the right of residence instead of the residence card, you are not eligible to vote at all, in any of the elections.
Can I travel with a residence card?
No. The residence card is nothing more than an official proof of your permanent address and the right to live on Slovak territory. It is not a travel document in any sense. As soon as you move across the Slovak borders, your residence card is useless as any form of identification. For that, you will still need your national ID or passport from your home country.
Can I submit a copy of the original document when applying for a residence permit?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, it is encouraged to never hand over originals to the Foreign Police (or any governmental institution for that matter), because they will not return the documents back to you. This particularly applies to original documents issued by the Slovak state (e.g. marriage certificates, birth certificates). Those documents are your personal property. Whatever document you need to provide to the Foreign Police, make sure you hand in a copy. Do not forget to have the copy notarized in front of the notary before handing it over to the Foreign Police.
There are some exceptions to this rule. The extract of a clean criminal record can comfortably be handed over as original, just as the report from the Land Registry. Also, documents issued by your home country may be handed over in its original form, because they are bound and sealed together with the certified translation.
Should I hire an agency to do the application on my behalf?
Obviously, this is a personal decision. However, from my point of view, the costs for hiring an agency to handle the application for a resident permit on your behalf as EU citizen far outweighs the effort you would put in it, if you go yourself. You would still need to get the necessary documents yourself. The agency most likely will not take care of any translations or notarization either. The main benefit of hiring an agency to handle the application is that you do not need to wait in line one hour before opening hours or to take half a day off from work. So, if you are a regular employee of a company and your management and/or HR department is cooperative in you taking the time to visit the Foreign Police, there is no point in spending that extra money for an agency. If you are self-employed or you run a company and you do not have the “luxury” to spend hours away from work, you may want to consider an agency, if you find the costs to be worth it.
Application forms and affidavit templates
It is not always easy to find the right request forms for your applications. Therefore, I have collected them all in one place. For convenience sake, I have also included forms relevant for other types of application, outside what has been discussed above.
Application forms (EU)
Application forms (non-EU)
Confirmation from owner of accommodation - you can use this template if you need a confirmation that the owner allows you to live in his apartment and use the address as your permanent address. On the second page you find a filled-in example.
Database of all notaries in Slovakia (enter the name of the city in “Sídlo notára”)
Well, there you go. I hope this guide will help you on your quest to apply for a residence permit in Slovakia as EU citizen. We all know it is not easy, so this is my attempt to help out the growing community of expats in Slovakia.
In case you still have any questions, need advice, want to meet and cry on my shoulder from frustration, or you have any suggestions for this guide, please feel free to reach out to me!