Though there is some information how to do so, some say they still encounter the problems.
“The information provided by the company maybe is enough for the Slovaks, but for us was zero,” Guillermo de Miguel Bielsa, 21-year-old student from Zaragoza, Spain, told The Slovak Spectator.
He added that they as foreign students learnt the possibility to travel by train for free either from the others or by seeing it at Facebook. There was not any information even at the universities.
How to register
The state-run passenger carrier ZSSK has registered 12,221 foreigners so far. Of them, 10,408 were pensioners, 998 students and 815 children younger than 15 years of age, spokeswoman Jana Morháčová told The Slovak Spectator.
The conditions for free travelling for foreigners are the same as for Slovaks. The only limitation is that students younger than 26 years of age asking for registration have to come from EU countries. There is no such requirement for pensioners over 62 and children under 15.
Children younger than 15 and seniors over 62 years of age only need to have a passport and also photo with the size 2x3 cm. The photo requirement is new and comes into force as of mid-June. Morháčová explains that though also cards without photo will be valid, passengers will need to have an ID with them.
Foreign students studying at Slovak universities need to have some confirmation about visiting the school, which is valid for the current school year. For registering, De Miguel Bielsa needed his ID, Slovak ISIC, and also address where he lives. Raúl Pérez Carrilero, 22-year-old student from Malaga, Spain, confirms that he needed his ISIC card when he went to register.
Also foreign students studying at foreign universities are entitled to be registered. They also need to bring with them valid confirmation about visiting the school and officially sealed translation into Slovak (except for the Czech documents), Morháčová adds.
As for pensioners, they need to submit confirmation that they receive pension, which is not older than 30 days. There is a condition that they need to have the documents translated into Slovak and officially sealed by a notary (the only exception is Czech).
Information on the web
Foreigners have to register directly at the cash desk at the railway station. After receiving the card, they select train they want to travel with and “buy” the ticket. The tickets are bound to a specific train and cannot be transferred to another person, Morháčová stresses.
Moreover, the free travelling applies to travelling in the second-class wagons all across Slovakia, except for InterCity trains. It is however necessary to pay extra €1 for seats EuroCity Trans and extra €5 for Super City trains, Morháčová explained.
Foreigners can find the information about free travel by trains on the ZSSK website in both English and German. They can also call to special phone number or write an email. Morháčová says that they receive questions about free travelling mostly from the Czech Republic, but also from Hungary, Poland, and even from pensioners from the United States and Canada. They also got some inquiries by students from Australia and Philippines.
De Miguel Bielsa says that he even created a website where he informs about several problems foreign students in Slovakia may face, and also included the information about free travelling.
“I was among the first to know about the free trains (I was told by a Slovak student in a bar) and after that I spread the information,” he added.
Problems still appear
Though he did not have any problems with registration, Pérez Carrilero admits that he did not know about the extra charges for special types of trains.
“Sometimes trains are extremely crowded and it’s impossible to find a seat,” he told The Slovak Spectator.
De Miguel Bielsa on the other hand had some problems when registering as he first met a woman who asked him to learn Slovak first. At the second counter he however got a card within three minutes.
Another problem was that he has had his card changed three times “because no matter how many times I tell the train workers that in Spain we have two surnames, many times I have a problem”.
“Even when I showed them the ID, in my actual one my name is nowhere since they decided to deleted it and change my surnames, but since it works, I don’t want to go again to change it,” De Miguel Bielsa added.
4. Jun 2015 at 15:04 | Radka Minarechová