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Reader question: What are the rules for commuting between Austria and Slovakia?

Many people cross the Austrian-Slovakian border for work. Here's a look at the latest rules that apply.

A Slovak police officer checks the papers of travelers crossing the Bratislava-Berg border crossing between Austria and Slovakia during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on June 4, 2020.
A Slovak police officer checks documents at the AUstrian border. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

What are the rules for travel between Austria and neighbour Slovakia for cross-border commuters at the moment?

Entry to Slovakia from Austria

People who are fully vaccinated against Covid can enter Slovakia from Austria for any reason, without needing to quarantine or present a negative test result — although you need to do a pre-travel registration. Note that proof of recovery is not accepted for entry.

If you are a commuter, you also have the option to enter Slovakia with a negative PCR test result no older than seven days (but not an antigen test) even if you are not fully vaccinated. Slovakia considers you to be a commuter if you have permanent or temporary residence in Austria (or another EU country) and work in Slovakia, or vice versa, or if you live less than 100 km from the Slovak border regardless of your purpose of travel.

Austrian or Slovak PCR tests are accepted, but it’s recommended to have the result in either English or Slovak.

If you are entering Slovakia using a PCR test rather than proof of vaccination, you will need proof from your employer that you are a cross-border commuter in case you are asked to show this.

You also need to register on the Slovak government website before you travel using the eHranica registration form. If you are fully vaccinated, you only need to register on this website once every six months (choose the option “I am a fully vaccinated person and I have proof of this”).

If you are a cross-border commuter entering with a PCR test you need to register every month (choose the option “I am not a vaccinated person”; then under the heading “I have an exemption from home isolation, choose the option “I have an exception that requires a negative PCR test result not older than 7 days”, and under Additional entry conditions choose the option “I have a certificate stating that I have an employment relationship, a similar employment relationship…”).

Only a very few kinds of workers are exempt from this registration, primarily transport employees such as bus or truck drivers.

Entry to Austria from Slovakia

People who regularly commute to Austria either for work, study, or for family purposes have a special exception to the general travel rules. If you travel between the two countries at least once per month for one of these reasons, you can enter Austria as long as you have proof of 3G (full vaccination, recent recovery from Covid-19, or a negative PCR test).

Regular commuters may use either a PCR or antigen test. If you cannot meet the 3G criteria, you need to fill out Austria’s pre-travel clearance form before travel and enter quarantine on arrival.

You also need to have proof of your reason to travel in case this is requested. This could include confirmation from your employer that you need to commute for work, for example.

For non-commuters entering Austria from Slovakia, as with most EU/EEA countries, the 2G+ rule applies.

This means that in order to enter Austria from Slovakia, as a general rule you need proof of full vaccination (two doses, or one dose if you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) or medical proof of recovery from Covid-19 within the last 180 days.

As well as this, you also need either proof of a booster dose or a negative PCR test. If you have had a full course of the vaccination and have also recovered from Covid in the last 180 days, you do not need a booster or negative test.

Useful Links

The Slovak government’s Covid information portal

Austria’s Chamber of Commerce has a page (in German) to stay updated on the situation for commuters

The Chamber of Commerce has also created a draft confirmation of employment letter in German, Slovak and English. Download it here

Austria’s entry rules are summarised by the Austrian Health Ministry

The portal to register your travel to Slovakia, if needed, is called eHranica and an English-language version is available here.

The Slovak regulation which sets out the exemption for commuters (in Slovak)

The information in this article was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication, but The Local cannot provide legal advice and we recommend confirming information with official authorities before you travel.

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TRAVEL NEWS

LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?

Travellers entering the country no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test, but masks are still mandatory in some places.

LATEST: What are Austria's current Covid-19 rules?

From Monday, May 16th, travellers coming into Austria no longer need to present proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, have tested negative for the disease, or recently recovered from it.

Previously, the so-called 3G rules were in place for all people coming into Austria, with very few exceptions.

The government over the weekend dropped the requirements just ahead of warmer months, stating that the epidemiological situation no longer justified them.

On Sunday, 15th, Austria reported 3,777 new coronavirus cases after just under 110,000 PCR tests were taken. In total, 807 people are currently hospitalised with the disease, and 62 are in intensive care units. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,303 people have died from Covid-19 in Austria.

Despite dropping the entry requirements, the federal government reiterated that the rules could change, mainly if a variant of concern is found.

READ ALSO: Austria extends Covid regulations as experts warn of autumn resurgence

Domestically, Austria still has a few coronavirus restrictions in place, including an FFP2 mask mandate in some areas.

These are the latest rules you need to be aware of:

FFP2 mask mandate

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask only applies in enclosed spaces of hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

The mask mandate is no longer in place for enclosed places like gyms, restaurants and bars, and cultural establishments, but masks are still recommended.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

Isolation after a positive test

After the fifth day of isolation and at least 48 hours without symptoms, you can end quarantine for mild or asymptomatic cases.

However, there is a “traffic restriction” for another five days, with a mask mandate and no entry permitted in gastronomy venues, health and care homes, and events during this period.

READ ALSO: Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

In order to obtain an early lifting of the restrictions, a free PCR test can be carried out. If the test is negative or with a CT value (short for Cycle Threshold and is the gold standard for detecting Covid-19) above 30, the isolation can be lifted.

If the value is below 30, then you must remain in isolation.

Vienna doesn’t follow the ‘traffic restriction’, so the only way to end the 10-day isolation is with a PCR test (negative or CT value below 30) after two symptom-free days.

You can find more information on federal restrictions on the government website here.

The 3G rule

A 3G rule (proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, recently recovered from the disease or has a negative test) is generally only needed for visitors, employees and service providers in hospitals and care homes.

READ ALSO: Ba.4 and Ba.5 Covid variants detected in Austria: What you need to know

In Vienna, on the other hand, the rules are stricter.

Visitors and workers need to have the 3G proof plus a negative PCR test. However, the city has dropped 2G rules for gastronomy and nightclubs – the only places where it was still required to show proof of vaccination or recovery.

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