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Letter to the Editor: Slovak bureaucrats manage to snarl even foreign wedding arrangements

Dear Sir,

Having read the article on getting married in Slovakia (Culture Shock: Marriage - 'Making a Hell in Heaven's Despite'," Vol. 5 No. 8, March 1-7), your readers might like to know what happens if a Slovak girl decides to marry an Englishman in the UK.

The procedure is in fact very smooth and simple. All that the Slovak girl needs is her passport. An appointment is made for the couple to visit the local UK registry office and see the registrar. If the girl has brought with her the usual piles of papers and officially certified documents from Slovakia and presents them to the registrar, they will be very politely rejected as unnecessary. A wedding date is then agreed with the registrar and the formal interview is concluded. The time taken to complete the formalities is less than 15 minutes.

This can be a big shock to the Slovak partner.

The couple then has simply to turn up at the appointed time and bring with them two independent witnesses and pay the marriage ceremony fee.

If I could give some advice to any couples wishing to get married abroad and then return to live in Slovakia (even if they are both Slovak), it would be that they ask for at least five copies of the marriage certificate to be prepared by the registrar. It is cheaper to have these copies produced at the end of the ceremony than to order them at a later date.

Why five copies? Well, it's when the couple returns to Slovakia that the real marriage performance starts.

The marriage document dance is part of a larger burden of bureaucratic nonsense that represents a major stumbling block to foreign investment. It is apparently perfectly acceptable for Slovak-owned companies with the right connections to make billions of Slovak crowns disappear, not to pay any tax for several years, to have all-expenses-paid trips to the Bahamas etc. etc. But if an honest entrepreneur sets up a company and makes one error on an invoice, then the full might of the Slovak tax regime descends upon his head.

Perhaps this reality is reflected in the recent fall in the value of the Slovak currency.

John Skelton
Banská Bystrica

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