Buying and Selling

flag Slovakia Slovakia: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
International Economic Cooperation
Slovakia is a member of the European Union. It is also a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) which has guaranteed, since 1 January 1993, the free movement of most goods between the European countries.
Multilateral and bilateral agreements with many countries.
Non Tariff Barriers
In accordance with its European Union membership since 1 May 2004, Slovakia applies the European Union trade policy such as antidumping or anti-subsidy measures. The European Union import regime is applied to Slovakia, especially in the  sector of textile products. If Slovakia adopted the main part of the EU regulations on 1 May 2004, a transitional period has been defined for the country to transpose other EU rules.

The European Union has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, and having to obtain import licences is not common. However, you should make sure that importing a particular product does not call for an import licence.

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 favoring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for 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 since 1 May 2004. For further information on CE marking, please consult the Guide to the Implementation of Directives based on New Approach and Global Approach.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Transactions carried out within the EEA are free of duty.
The Common Customs Tariff (CCT) of the European Union applies to goods originating from outside Europe.
Average Customs duties are not high, 4.2% for manufactured goods for example. However, the sectors of textiles, articles of clothing (high duties and quotas) and agrifood (average duty of 17.3% and many tariff quotas, CAP) still have protective measures.


Customs Classification
The combined nomenclature of the European Community (EC) integrates the HS nomenclature or completes it with its own sub-titles with an 8 figure code number and its own legal notes created for Community needs. From a practical point of view, it is the TARIC code (composed of 10 figures) which allows the definition of the Customs duty rate and the Community regulations applicable when importing a product from a country which does not belong to the European Union. To find out the Customs duty on a product according to its country of origin, you should consult the TARIC database.
Import Procedures
Slovakia's import requirements are fully harmonised with EU law and its regulations. When introducing goods into Slovakia, exporters shall fill in a Declaration of Exchange of Goods or 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 CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).

As part of the 'SAFE' standards set forth by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the 'Import Control System' (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Programme eCustoms, has been in effect since 1 January 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

A new system, the Union Customs Code (UCC), entered into force in October 2013 as part of the modernisation of customs.

For more information, please visit the Slovak Customs website.

Importing Samples
Commercial samples imported for a period of not more than 24 months are exempt from Customs duty.
 
 
For Further Information
Customs Bureau

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
With a GDP per capita of USD 21,530 (IMF, 2021), the average Slovak consumer is less wealthy than their neighbours to the north and the west (Austria and Czech Republic), but significantly richer than all other neighbours (Poland, Ukraine, Hungary). The population growth rate has nearly stood still for the last few years while the population is ageing at the same time (young population aged 0-24 accounting for 25.19% of the total population - CIA World Factbook, 2020 est.).
There are not significant income differences between different parts of the country or social groups and the country has one of the lowest Gini indexes in the world (22.8 points in 2019 - Eurostat, latest data available).
Economic growth is improving Slovak living standards, which remain nonetheless below the European average. Slovak consumers have grown conscious of their health and the environment. They also prefer local products to foreign products.
Consumer Behaviour
Price remains an essential factor in the purchasing process of Slovak consumers. However, there is growing interest in buying high-quality products that is in line with the growth in personal income. Slovak consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the composition of the product (contents of artificial ingredients and colourants) and the origin of the product (local, EU, overseas), as healthy lifestyles and fair-trade patriotism are fashionable. Consumers that once welcomed large stores (upon entering the EU) now turn to smaller specialist stores. They also value grocery retailers that feature Slovak products, which had become under-represented with the increase in product diversity. Online shopping has become a significant medium of sales for retailers, with e-commerce seeing a 22% growth rate in 2020 (ecommerceDB) and representing 21% of enterprises' total turnover (EU average being 20%) (Eurostat, 2020).
Consumers Associations
Slovak Consumer Association (website only in Slovak)
Main Advertising Agencies
Jandl
Effective Advertising Agency
Mindshare Slovakia
Zaraguza

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
The Slovak retail sector is composed of private networks of retail and wholesale businesses. The trend in Western-style retailing, which offers a wide variety of products, has been greatly influenced by the operations of foreign companies:
-    Currently, Tesco operates 152 outlets in Slovakia and employs more than 10,000 people. The breakdown includes Tesco department stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets, upscale “galleries,” and a number of small-size retail stores called Tesco Express. Tesco also operates gasoline stations and provides mobile phone and financial services.
-    The second largest retailer in 2016 was Lidl, which belongs to the Schwarz Group along with Kaufland. It operates about 130 stores throughout Slovakia, with more than 4,000 employees.
-    Kaufland, the third largest retail chain in 2016, operates 65 stores and employs about 4,500 people in Slovakia.
-    Billa is the fourth largest retailer, with 130 stores and about 4,000 employees, Billa is an important employer in Slovakia. Billa operates smaller supermarkets and hypermarkets in shopping centers and downtown areas.
-    Metro Cash & Carry is Slovakia’s fifth largest retailer. Metro’s six large hypermarkets sell products and operate on a similar business model as Costco and Sam’s Club chains in the United States.

Other international retail chains in Slovakia include Hornbach, OBI, Bauhaus, Drogerie Markt (DM), IKEA, and KIKA. Major Slovak retailers include COOP Jednota and Terno. The expansion of large retail chains has caused smaller businesses to consolidate or liquidate, laying the groundwork for franchising opportunities.

Bratislava is located in the southwestern corner of Slovakia and has the largest metropolitan population in the country, making it the most important retail market with the best-developed distribution networks. The cities of Kosice, Trnava, Trencin, Zilina, Poprad, and Nitra are the major manufacturing areas in Slovakia and are also important retail markets.
Market share

Hypermarkets are the most popular type of mass retailer, closely followed by supermarkets. Discounters witnessed the fastest growth rate in recent years, and have had great success owing to the low-income level of Slovak households. Convenience stores are the third-largest retailers. Online retail is becoming increasingly popular.

  • Tesco is the leader in the retail sector, with a 16.7% value share and 150 stores. It operates under the Tesco (hypermarket and supermarket) and Tesco Express (convenience store) brand name.
  • Lidl is the second-largest retailer, with an 11.2% value share and 135 stores
  • Kaufland is the third-largest retail chain, with a 10.7% value share and 70 stores
  • Coop Jednota Potraviny has a 10.2% market share
  • Coop Jednota Supermarket has a 7.5% market share
  • Billa (supermarket and hypermarkets) has a 6.8% market share with 132 stores
  • Metro Cash&Carry is the fifth-largest retailer with 6 hypermarkets

(Source: USDA, latest data available)
In the non-food sectors, national retailers are among the largest actors; for instance, the consumer electronic goods sector is dominated by two local companies:

Retail Sector Organisations
Slovak association for commerce and tourism (in Slovak)
Slovak Direct Selling Association
Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic

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E-commerce

Internet access
In December 2017, Slovakia had a population of 5.44 million people, out of which 4.63 million were internet users, making the penetration rate 85%. According to Statista, 91% of internet users between ages 25 and 34 accessed the internet every day in 2016. Mobile penetration is relatively high, reaching 130% by the end of 2017. An estimated 66% of Slovaks own a smartphone (3.59 million people). In 2017, 81.3% of households have internet access. Slovakia's communications infrastructure is rapidly modernising. Telecom operators have promised to bring high-speed internet coverage to all of Slovakia in the next few years. According to the Ministry of Investments and Informatisation, every village and all municipalities in the country should have high-speed internet coverage by the end of 2020. As of July 2018, the most popular browser in the country by market share was Chrome (64.68%), followed by Firefox (12.17%), Safari (9.44%), Opera (4.61%), Internet Explorer (3.29%), and Edge (2.24%). As for search engines, Google (96.54%) dominates Slovakia's market, followed by Bing (1.84%) and Yahoo (0.69%).
E-commerce market
E-commerce has been a fast-growing segment  in Slovakia over the past several years. Revenue reached US$ 860 million in 2018, and is expected to reach US$ 1 billion by 2021, at an estimated annual growth rate of 8.5%. Slovak e-commerce has grown 15-20% in recent years, with an estimated 8,500 e-shops currently in business. Slovakia's low purchasing power means e-shops must draw customers away from traditional retail stores. Products most commonly bought through e-commerce include clothes, shoes, books, cosmetics, electronics, sporting goods and hobby products. E-commerce in Slovakia is generally weaker in real estate, artwork, food and beverages. The market's largest segment is electronics & media, with a market volume of US$ 324 million in 2018. There are currently 3.2 million e-commerce users in Slovakia, a number that is expected to grow to 3.6 million by 2021, which will represent 78% of the total population. According to The Slovak Spectator, Slovaks are avid online buyers, leading companies to outsource e-shops and increasingly using cloud services. Credit cards are not very popular among e-shoppers, as only 17% of purchases are made using one. On the other hand, 76% of shoppers use mobile payments when shopping online, and 33% prefer prepaid cards. As for preferred devices, 90% of online shoppers make their purchases using desktops, while 4% do it using smartphones, and 3% use their tablets. Furthermore, according to the data reported by Eshop World, the average user in Slovakia spends US$ 231 online per year, a number expected to increase to US$ 297 by 2021. Some popular e-stores include Bazos, Amazon, Ali Express, Heureka, Mall.sk, Hej.sk and Andreashop.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Goods transport in Slovakia is dominated by road transport with over 200 million tons of goods transported. It is the most used means of transport as Slovakia has no access to the sea. 48 million tons of goods are transported by rail, 1.5 million tons by waterway and 400,000 by air each year.
Ports
Port of Bratislava
Port of Komarno
Airports
Bratislava Airport
Kosice Airport
Propad-Tatry Airport
Sliac Airport
Zilina Airport
Piestany Airport
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Air Transport Organisations
Transport Authority
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The industrial sector represents 34.4% of GDP and 35.5% of the active population. The main industrial sectors are the automobile sector, transport material, chemistry, food stuffs, wood, paper and clothing. Slovak industry has traditionally been oriented towards the automobile industry. Slovakia is the country which produces the most cars per capita in the world.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Business Register of the Slovak Republic - Register of Slovakian companies
Colist - Slovakia business directory
Directory Spectator - Directory of Slovak companies
Dodavatel - Database of manufacturers, service providers and distributors in Slovakia
Expat.com - Slovakia business directory
Green Pages - Slovakia business directory
Greenpages - Slovakia business directory
HBI - Directory of companies located in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Slovak Telecom Directory - Business directory in Slovakia
 

To search directories by industry in Slovakia, check out our service Business Directories.

 
Professional Associations by Sector
28 professional associations listed for Slovakia.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry
General Professional Associations
Agency for the development of SMEs
Slovak businessmen's association (ZPS)
 
 

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Latest Update: November 2022