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Ukraine

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Ukraine due to the unpredictable security situation across the country. Tensions could escalate without warning, especially in the form of political protests in the capital, Kyiv.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, just as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, including to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site. Armed separatist groups control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. These groups have threatened, detained and kidnapped foreign nationals. The security situation is highly volatile, with ongoing conflict and deaths, including during periods of declared ceasefire. See Safety and security.
  • Do not travel to Crimea. It's not under Ukrainian Government control. See Safety and security.
  • The Australian Government's ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk is extremely limited. See Where to get help.

  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You need a visa to enter Ukraine.

Ukraine introduced a visa-on-arrival scheme in 2016 for Australian tourists, but some travellers have reported significant delays and uncertainty on arrival, even when they have met the scheme conditions.

To obtain a visa prior to arrival or for up-to-date advice on the visa-on-arrival scheme, including the airports where it's available, contact the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine.

To get a visa-on-arrival, you'll need enough cash in Hryvnia, Euros or US Dollars. Bring more than one currency as there are reports of Euros or US Dollars not being accepted at certain times. Boryspil Airport has ATMs, but you'll need enough cash in case the machine breaks down.

If you're travelling to Ukraine for a reason other than tourism, such as for business, you'll need an invitation from a Ukrainian company or individual. Check invitation requirements with the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine.

If you need to extend your visa or wish to apply for temporary, long-term or permanent residence, contact the State Migration Service of Ukraine at the location where you reside.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine for up-to-date information.

Border issues

Do not travel to the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. See Safety and security.

The Government of Ukraine has stated that foreign nationals who attempt to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory through separatist-controlled checkpoints in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces won't be permitted to subsequently pass through government checkpoints.

Do not travel to Crimea. See Safety and security.

The Government of Ukraine doesn't permit foreign nationals to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory from Crimea if they entered Crimea from any other country.

The Government of Ukraine only permits foreign nationals to travel from Ukraine-controlled territory to Crimea (and back again) if they first obtain a special permit from the State Migration Service of Ukraine. You must present this permit, along with your passport, at designated checkpoints along the administrative boundary of the occupied Ukrainian territory.

If, despite our strong advice, you choose to travel to Crimea from Ukrainian-controlled territory, first get the required permit from the State Migration Service of Ukraine.

Other formalities

Declare cash and jewellery upon arrival in Ukraine. Undeclared items may be confiscated. Customs regulations also apply to the export of currency, antiques, art and items of historic significance. Contact the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine for up-to-date information on import and export restrictions and requirements.

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible. You can either:

Entry for dual nationals

Ukraine doesn't recognise dual nationality.

Children born in Australia to a Ukrainian parent are considered citizens of Ukraine by the Ukrainian Government. Anecdotal evidence suggests that tourist visas won't be granted to Australian citizens born in Ukraine or to Ukrainian parents.

More information: Dual nationals section under Laws

Ukrainian citizens (including dual nationals) under 16 years of age need the consent of both parents to exit Ukraine unaccompanied.

More information: Travelling with children

If you're an Australian-Ukrainian dual national, contact the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine before you travel to check the visa and/or exit requirements that apply to you.

Money

The local currency is the Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH).

Excess funds may be confiscated by customs officials and only returned following court proceedings. Contact the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine for up-to-date information on the amount of cash you can take into and out of the country.

ATMs are available and credit cards are widely used in cities. Card skimming is common. Be vigilant when using ATMs and don't let your card out of your sight during transactions. Outside major cities, ensure you have sufficient cash in local currency.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Do not travel to Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea.

Civil unrest, political tension and ongoing conflict make travel to the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk highly dangerous.

Armed separatist groups control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Fighting occurs regularly despite the signing of ceasefire agreements. These groups have threatened, detained and kidnapped foreigners. Conflict has also occurred in areas of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces that are under Government control, including in and around the cities of Slovyansk, Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Svyatohirsk.

Use of landmines in and near the conflict zones makes any travel by vehicle or on foot near the frontline hazardous, even in areas that appear relatively peaceful. Several civilians have been killed or seriously injured by such weapons in Donetsk and Luhansk in recent years.

Crimea isn't under Ukrainian Government control. Existing political tensions in Crimea can turn into armed conflict, particularly along the administrative border. The Australian Government's ability to provide consular assistance in Crimea is extremely limited.

  • If you're in Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea, leave by commercial means if it's safe to do so.
  • If you're unable to leave Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea, limit your movements, avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, the conflict zone, and concentrations of fighters and/or military equipment. Be alert to risks to your safety and security.

In other areas of Ukraine, the security situation is generally calm but can deteriorate without warning. Civil unrest sometimes results in periodic road closures and disruptions to local transport. 

Political unrest can occur in Kyiv without warning, in the form of protests, demonstrations, and occupation of public areas and government buildings by large groups. In 2017, sporadic protests have taken place in the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, outside the Parliament of Ukraine, outside the Presidential Administration and other government offices in central Kyiv. On 5 December 2017, access to the Australian Embassy in Kyiv was blocked by altercations between the security forces and groups of protesters in the nearby streets.

Demonstrations are also likely around anniversaries commemorating events of the Maidan Revolution, from November to March.

In other areas of Ukraine (outside of Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea):

  • Avoid demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
  • Monitor local media and other sources for advice of possible unrest and avoid those areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorist attack in Ukraine. In recent years, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years.

  • In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
  • Be alert in public places, such as shopping areas, places of worship, sporting venues, public transport, airports and other transport hubs, and places of mass gathering.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it's safe to do so. 

A number of assassinations involving gun or car bomb attacks have occurred in Ukraine in recent years. While these attacks have largely targeted specific individuals, such attacks can endanger the wider public.

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Crime

Robberies, pickpocketing and bag snatching occur regularly, particularly on public transport, at crowded markets, in popular tourist areas, and in bars and nightclubs. Street crime and muggings increase at night. There have been cases of drink-spiking followed by robbery.

  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly at markets and on public transport.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch. Hold bags and backpacks in front of you
  • Take extra care at night in Ukrainian cities, given the risk of street crime and muggings.
  • Never accept food or drinks from strangers or new acquaintances. Never leave food or drinks unattended.
  • Monitor on local sources of information on crime.

There have been reports of credit card scams, especially related to the use of ATMs. Street scams are very common. Criminals often target foreigners.

Some Australians have been defrauded by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes originating in Ukraine. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian may be asked by their new friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia or to pay rent. In some cases, the relationship is terminated, with very little chance that any funds can be recovered.
We can't offer advice on the legitimacy or otherwise of specific schemes.

  • Use ATMs in controlled areas such as within banks and reputable international hotels. Avoid ATMs that open onto the street, especially at night.
  • Keep your credit card in sight at all times.
  • Be careful of internet scams and other fraud. Be sceptical of any request for bank account details or personal information and be wary in any business-like dealings, especially online.
  • Be wary of dating or marriage proposals from people you meet through the internet.

More information: Scams

Local travel

MH17 crash site

On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed near Grabovo in Donetsk province. Armed conflict in the area and investigations into the crash are both ongoing. Removing or disturbing material from the crash site could seriously hamper the investigation.

  • Do not travel to this area due to ongoing armed conflict.
  • If, despite our advice, you travel to the crash site, don't touch or remove any remaining aircraft wreckage.

Road travel

Driving in Ukraine can be hazardous. Roads outside major cities are of a low standard and poorly lit. Drivers can be aggressive, drive at excessive speeds, and ignore the road rules. Rural roads are often used by unsafe vehicles. Driving under the influence of alcohol is common despite the zero tolerance law. Drivers don't always stop at pedestrian crossings and regularly park on footpaths.

Driving with a blood alcohol level above zero is illegal. Drivers must be able to produce an original vehicle ownership certificate or rental contract, on demand.

  • Confirm your travel insurance will cover you before driving in Ukraine.
  • Familiarise yourself with local road rules.
  • Drive defensively and to the weather and road conditions.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • If you're walking on or near a road, keep a look-out for vehicles and don't expect vehicles to stop for you or to follow road rules.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

If you plan to drive in Ukraine, you need to obtain an International Driver's Permit before you depart Australia.

Always carry original vehicle-registration papers, ownership documents and insurance papers as you must produce them if stopped by police or when crossing borders. This also applies to rental vehicles. If you don't have these papers when stopped by the police, they can impound your vehicle and charge you.

Taxis

Beware of taxi drivers touting for business at the airports or around tourist locations as they may charge you more. Use official taxis, which have the name and telephone number of the taxi company on the side of the door and on the top of the taxi. Agree the fare before getting in the taxi.

Motorcycles

Confirm your travel insurance covers you before riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Public transport

Transport by bus can be crowded, particularly around public holidays and peak commuter times. Safety standards may not be met.

Rail travel

If you travel by train, make sure your belongings are secure. Don't agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment

More information: Ukrainian Railways

Sea travel

Black Sea ferries operating in Ukraine and neighbouring countries may not meet safety standards.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Ukraine.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Other laws

Carry your passport at all times. Local police may stop foreigners and ask them to present passports and visas.

Ukrainian law regulates foreign surrogacy arrangements. If you plan to enter commercial surrogacy arrangements in Ukraine, first seek independent legal advice regarding Australian and Ukrainian surrogacy laws. Consider all legal and other risks involved in pursuing international surrogacy, including the length of time you may need to spend in Ukraine.

More information: Overseas birth, adoption and surrogacy

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Ukraine doesn't recognise dual nationality. If you were born in Ukraine or if you have a parent who was born in Ukraine, you may be considered a Ukrainian citizen under Ukrainian law.

If you enter Ukraine on a Ukrainian passport, you'll be treated as a Ukrainian citizen by local authorities. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide you with consular assistance if you are arrested or detained.

Ukraine has compulsory military service for male citizens over 18 years of age. If you're an Australian-Ukrainian dual national, speak to the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine before you travel.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Homosexuality is legal in Ukraine, but public attitudes are less tolerant than in Australia. Violence has occurred at some gay pride events and gay venues in Kyiv.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine so you remain in good health. Always carry a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, contact the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine to check if your medication is legal and to get advice on any quantity or other restrictions that may apply.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Tick-borne encephalitis

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases. Ticks are common from spring to autumn.

  • Use insect repellent.
  • Wear long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing.
  • Check your body for ticks during and after travel in forested areas.
  • Remove ticks from your body as soon as possible.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a risk for travellers. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, hepatitis and rabies) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

  • Only drink bottled water from a reputable source. Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Radiation poisoning

A catastrophic nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 spread radioactive material across northern Ukraine and beyond. Chernobyl is open to tourism, but remains radioactive. Tourists are able to visit the area with an organised tour group, but are subject to regular security, passport and radiation checks.

  • In the northern regions of Ukraine, avoid eating dairy products, wild fowl, game, fruits and vegetables unless they are imported.
  • Only travel to the Chernobyl area with a reputable tour operator.
  • Closely follow all safety instructions given by your tour operator and local authorities.

Polio

The Australian Department of Health advises you to make sure you're up-to-date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose if required, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook. Consult your doctor if you are unsure whether you are fully vaccinated for polio.

Medical facilities

Outside major cities, such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Lviv, the standard of state medical facilities is generally low and there are frequent shortages of medical supplies.

Private health care services are of a better standard, but you must guarantee payment before they'll commence treatment.

English isn't widely spoken outside major centres, except in private clinics. Medical reports, prescriptions and related documents won't generally be in English.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Fire: 101
  • Ambulance: 103
  • Police: 102
  • General emergency number (from mobile phones only): 112

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.  

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular services charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia has both an Embassy and a Consulate in Kyiv. The Consulate is headed by an Honorary Consul. If you need consular services or advice about available medical facilities, first contact the Consulate.

The Consulate doesn't issue Australian passports, but it can issue Provisional Travel Documents for emergency travel to the Australian Embassy in Warsaw, where you can get a replacement passport. If you have more time, you can submit your passport renewal application at the Consulate for processing in Warsaw (the wait time can be several weeks). The Australian Embassy in Kyiv doesn't issue passports or provisional travel documents.

Australian Embassy, Kyiv (co-located with the Canadian Embassy)

13A Kostelna Street
Kyiv 01901
Ukraine
Telephone: +380 44 290 6400
E-mail: AustEmbKyiv@dfat.gov.au
Website: ukraine.embassy.gov.au

See the Australian Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

Australian Consulate, Kyiv

45-49 Turhenievska Street
Office 53
Kyiv 01054
Ukraine
Telephone: +38 044 206 6698
 E-mail: australianconsulateua@gmail.com

If you're unable to contact the Embassy or Consulate in a consular emergency, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information